Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 2017

USA citizens, especially the Evangelical Zionists, should have serious reasons to dislike State of Israel

Philip Giraldi: Israeli government is a rogue regime by most international standards, engaging as it does in torture, arbitrary imprisonment, administrative detention, and continued occupation of territories seized by its military, assassination.

Worse, it has successfully manipulated my country, the United States, and has done terrible damage both to our political system and to the American people, a crime that I just cannot forgive, condone, or explain away.

Louis Brendise was US supreme Court Justice in 1915 and the chief of World Zionist Organization. He was very close to President Woodrow Wilson.

From 1915 to 1917, they pressured England to support and ratify an understanding for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Among other economic and financial reasons for participating in WWI, this Jewish question was a major demand. Over 250,000 US soldiers died for this insane new colonization in the Near-East.

In 1946, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry concluded that the demand for a “Jewish State” was Not part of the obligations of the Balfour Declaration or the British Mandate.

Even in the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, when Zionists sought to “establish a home for the Jewish people”, there was no reference of a “Jewish State”.

US reasons to dislike Israel and what it represents that go way back.

1. In 1952’s Lavon Affair, the Israelis were prepared to blow up a U.S. Information Center in Alexandria and blame it on the Egyptians.

2. In 1967, the Israelis on purpose attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty, killing 34 crewmen, and then used their power over President Lyndon Johnson to block an investigation into what had occurred.

3. In 1987, Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel with investigators determining that he had been the most damaging spy in the history of the United States.

4. In the 1960s, Israelis stole uranium from a lab in Pennsylvania to construct a secret nuclear arsenal. And the spying and theft of U.S. technology continues. Israel is the most active “friendly nation” when it comes to stealing U.S. secrets, and when its spies are caught, they are either sent home or, if they are Americans, receive a slap on the wrist.

5. And Israel gets away with killing American citizens — literally — in the cases of Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan of the Mavi Marmara.

6. And let’s not forget Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians which has made the United States complicit in a crime against humanity.

7. Tel Aviv has also played a key role in Washington’s going to war against Iraq, in promulgating a U.S.-led global war on terror against the Muslim world, and in crying wolf over Iran, all of which have served no U.S. interest. Through it all, Congress and the media are oblivious to what is taking place.

8. Israel is a net recipient of over $123 billion in U.S. aid and continues to get $3 billion a year even though its per capita income is higher than that of Spain or Italy. 

9. In 1995, the Senate and Congress enacted a law declaring Jerusalem as Capital of Israel. Nobody even suggested that a referendum by Israelis be conducted on that question. It is evident that the Evangelical Zionists decide for the State of Israel.

Donald Trump and his close Zionist circle has pronounced Jerusalem as Capital of Israel, against the will of the international community. 128 members at the UN gave Trump a resounding slap. Only 8 minor countries, all of them colonies of the US have sided with Trump decision.

No one questions anything having to do with Israel while Congress rubber-stamps resolution after resolution virtually promising to go to war on Israel’s behalf.

Note: Israel cannot be an only and exclusive Jewish State. Here why https://adonis49.wordpress.com/…/israel-cannot-be-an-only-…/

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Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 116

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Bad practices. I love justice and demand justice: If I am practically the only one who patronize a library every day to read for 3 hours, and if I was the first to request reading a new batch of books, I get upset when the books are stowed in a bag on the excuse that a few readers “reserved them”: Readers who show up once a month to borrow a few books.

Last evening, JP Jbara celebrated his birthday in the new large tent, set up for the Petanques players in Cornet Chehwan (Metn, lebanon) during the cold season. The event was a success and many outside players mingled and had drinks. JP and four others players cut the cake, including Ceza, Shadiya and JP of Beit Chabab. Lena catered for her favorite  assortment of bouche’ pizza.

I have been hearing recriminations among the Petanque players in Kornet Chehwan. Apparently, a few players invested themselves (appointed) as favorite and privileged to side-track and antagonize other players. Fact is these Bullies are new players and Not at a par for the game. Two days later, the condition was reformed with a board where a new comer registers his name and given priority.

If most low lands were under water 12,000 years ago, it does Not follow that people in high altitudes managed to create a civilization. Low altitude “City-States” of sedentary agriculture systems, along rivers, instituted the administration of cities, promoted trade and erected forms of viable civilization and culture: writing, accounting, theology, sciences…

Many thousands years later, as high altitude people learned the skills of low altitude civilization, they invaded them and established Kingdoms. I have in mind Assyria in Mosul and current Kurdistan, and Hittite in the Turkish plateau.

If you are a neighboring State to China, you can be assured that USA will Not attempt any pre-emptive war there. China will Not allow it.

Following USA strategy of “Manifest Destiny” in central and Latin America: Same dicta for China “all my neighboring countries are off-limit to foreign interventions”

By working the land, you and your family members should come to own it. As long as the land is worked upon. 

What this “Passive” Silent Majority wants?  They  contributed to the Crimes by encouraging their State to commit mass indignities, humiliation and genocide

The majority of these Passive and Silent “citizens” wants opportunities to publicly acknowledge (trials) their tacit participation in crimes committed in their names.

The activities in Saudi Kingdom are implying an internal palace coup d’etat by families of late king Abdullah.

Lebanon former Saad Hariri PM was forced to resign to remove any diplomatic immunity and be submitted to investigation  by Saudi Kingdom

If there were communication interference on Saad Hariri by USA/Israel, it is Not probably to assassinate him as they did to his father Rafic in 2005, but to discover any communications with the comploters in Saudi Kingdom

This cycle of internal palace coups occurs occasionally. The first coup was performed on Saud ibn Abdul Azir (second monarch) who removed his brothers from power and placed his sons in key positions and opened up Saudi Kingdom to a more liberal system.

Louis Brendise was US supreme Court Justice in 1915 and the chief of World Zionist Organization. He was very close to President Woodrow Wilson. From 1915 to 1917, they pressured England to support and ratify an understanding for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Among other economic and financial reasons for participating in WWI, this Jewish question was a major demand. Over 250,000 US soldiers died for this insane new colonization in the Near-East.

I counted 160 books in one room in the library, displayed on tables and window sells. I read 70 of them. 10 more are worth communicating my notes and comments. It would be great if new batches of books are thus displayed to peruse and select from.

If Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon on Thursday, that implies the investigations didn’t find sufficient evidence to links with comploters. Otherwise. Better he Not return to Lebanon and save us another round of assassinations.

Trump akal 7amraneh min 3ashiret Selman

Metl al 3aada, Al akwa wa al moukaawamat bet3abbi al faraagh. Elleh zarou Saudi Kingdom mou2akharran khesro

Saad ma elo 7az aw 7azwat 3ind al Amercani: bi ser3at youkilounahou 3ala ahwan sabeel

Hal ziyarat Lebanon President Aoun lel Kuwait e7da asbaab estikalat Saad? Ma mo7tawa hal ziyarat?

Saar mojtama3na mozri: badna meen ye tarjem she3r Omar Ibn Rabi3a ila loghat okhra 7ata nafham wa natafaaham

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 115

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Board of director members take their cuts directly from the total revenue.

One of main advantages of females over males: They are rarely Confused of their life Destiny. Good, bad, failed missions are mostly accounted for

La vieillesse? Les souffrance physiques ne se comparent pas a se sentir en charge

When the other party is an “abstraction”, we cannot see or hear, the share they are offered drops on average from over 30% to below 20% because the feeling of unfairness gets out of the picture.

Statistics don’t stir us, but people do.

The preemptive wars of 2014 by Israel on Gaza has upset people around the world: The story was given a face because of disseminated pictures and videos: Israel assassinated a dozen reporters during that war.

The Last Chance behavior is linked to our fear of regret: We need to quickly fall in line in order to conform with the community.

Willpower is like an electric battery: If depleted, your future challenges will falter if you don’t replenish your battery by good sleep and good relaxation techniques.

Most of the lower lands in the Middle East were under sea water 12,000 years ago. Most earlier civilizations were located on higher plateaus, before they immigrated to lower altitudes along the mighty rivers as oceans retreated.

Perceived Legitimacy is based on 3 rules, and All 3 rules have to be applied consistently:

1. People who are asked to obey to authority have to feel they do have a voice: if you speak up, you are heard and negotiation is put on rail

2. The law has to be predictable. A reasonable expectation that the law is not going to be broken or cancelled or “reformed” in a short span of time.

3. Authority has to behave fairly. All groups, ethnic groups, religious, minorities, genders, economic classes…have to be treated in the same way under the law.

Israel has detained “administratively” 60% of the Palestinian youth and for long periods without any charges, under the defunct British administrative detention law: A consistent tactics for de-humanizing the Palestinians and humiliating them.

Why the top 1% of corporations have to skim 20% of total revenue, then rearrange all the items in the balance sheet, so that the workers and employees sweat out negotiating on a better minimum wage?

Who is taking advantages of the small prints as footnotes in the balance sheet and other accounting gimmicks? Why should the nation needs expert on how to comprehend the meaning of the footnotes, if transparency is the goal in transactions?

A great day, November 2, 2017: Deir Zour in Syria and Al Qa2em in Iraqi border freed from ISIS malevolent existence.

Why wait to be told what I commented? Send a request to be on my list of friends and followers on FB and twitter

I first post a comment for everyone benefit. If after a couple of days justice was Not served, I confront.

 

 

Christmas of my childhood?

Le Noël de mon enfance

Nada Corbani Akl posted on FB December 23 at 6:39pm 

Il y avait plus de neige et moins de boules rutilantes, beaucoup d’étoiles brillantes dans le ciel la nuit quand on ramenait le petit Jesus de l’Ecole des sœurs de Besançon pour le déposer dans la crèche de l’Eglise Saint Antoine à Baabdath, et moins de guirlandes et de faux sapins.

Apres la messe de minuit, nous marchions en famille sur le chemin du retour sans craindre les intrus.

On recevait un ou deux cadeaux solides qui nous occupaient toute l’année et moins de paquets fragiles, plastifiés et vite inutilisables.

Nos jouets, il fallait simplement les remonter pour les recharger et jouer avec sans avoir à les nourrir de batteries polluantes.

Nos belles robes de fête étaient l’oeuvre de notre tante, une artiste qui nous cousait des robes inimitables qui faisaient l’admiration de tout le village et non pas des tenues 100/100 en polyester portables une saison seulement.

On allait chercher le foin de chez la laitière du village pour tapisser l’étable de la crèche et cueillir la mousse verte des recoins humides de la forêt à côté pour y créer des plaines.

Pendant que ma grand mère préparait le déjeuner familial de Noël qui regroupait cousins cousines, tantes et oncles, autour de la grande table dont le socle nous servait de cachette en temps normal, on jouait dans la neige en se lançant des boules glacées et on courait ensuite se réchauffer les mains sur le poêle en bois de la salle de séjour.

Par mauvais temps, on privilégiait les jeux de cache cache dans les immenses armoires pendant que les garçons mettaient la dernière touche au jeu mécano jaune reçu en cadeau et qui allait trôner au salon pendant tout l’hiver.

Avec autant d’enfants dans la maison et de tantes et d’oncles pour nous aimer, on ne s’ennuyait jamais.

Les Noëls de notre enfance étaient bien mieux mais on se disait la même chose » JOYEUX NOËL » et ça marchait.
JOYEUX NÖEL alors!

Note: J’etais en pension (boarding school) durant 6 ans. Mes parents venaient tous les 2 etes. Nos Noels, mon frere et soeur, n’etaient pas celebre’ en famille, mais avec les etudiants que leurs parents ne pouvaient pas les recuperer. Je  me souvient d’un Noel ou je coupais and gluais des cartons pour construire des mainsons dans une grande sale d’etude, presque vide. C’est tout. Un autre Noel on fut inviter avec mon frere a une maison d’une cousine qui travaillait a l’ecole. C’etait une soire’ simple, chalereuse et memorable, beaucoup plus memorable que tous les autres Noels qui suivirent.

Can we talk about TED? We need to…

Note: A must read article.

I submit that astrophysics run on the model of American Idol is a recipe for civilization disaster

In our culture, talking about the future is sometimes a polite way of saying things about the present that would otherwise be rude or risky.

But have you ever wondered why so little of the future promised in TED talks actually happens? So much potential and enthusiasm, and so little actual change.

Are the ideas wrong? Or is the idea about what ideas can do all by themselves wrong?

TED talks in Edinburgh : Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton speaks during TED Global 2011, in Edinburgh. Photograph: James Duncan Davidson/TED

I write about entanglements of technology and culture, how technologies enable the making of certain worlds, and at the same time how culture structures how those technologies will evolve, this way or that.

It’s where philosophy and design intersect.

So the conceptualization of possibilities is something that I take very seriously. That’s why I, and many people, think it’s way past time to take a step back and ask some serious questions about the intellectual viability of things like TED.

So my TED talk is not about my work or my new book – the usual spiel – but about TED itself, what it is and why it doesn’t work.

The first reason is over-simplification.

To be clear, I think that having smart people who do very smart things explain what they doing in a way that everyone can understand is a good thing. But TED goes way beyond that.

Let me tell you a story. I was at a presentation that a friend, an astrophysicist, gave to a potential donor. I thought the presentation was lucid and compelling (and I’m a professor of visual arts here at UC San Diego so at the end of the day, I know really nothing about astrophysics).

After the talk the sponsor said to him, “you know what, I’m gonna pass because I just don’t feel inspired …you should be more like Malcolm Gladwell.”

At this point I kind of lost it. Can you imagine?   Think about it: an actual scientist who produces actual knowledge should be more like a journalist who recycles fake insights!

This is beyond popularization. This is taking something with value and substance and coring it out so that it can be swallowed without chewing. This is not the solution to our most frightening problems – rather this is one of our most frightening problems.

So I ask the question: does TED epitomize a situation where if a scientist’s work (or an artist’s or philosopher’s or activist’s or whoever) is told that their work is not worthy of support, because the public doesn’t feel good listening to them?  

I submit that astrophysics run on the model of American Idol is a recipe for civilization disaster

What is TED?

So what is TED exactly?   Perhaps it’s the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough, then the world will change.

But this is not true, and that’s the second problem.   TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this?

A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I’m sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism.

Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time – and the audience’s time – dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

Recently there was a bit of a dust up when TEDGobal sent out a note to TEDx organisers asking them not to book speakers whose work spans the paranormal, the conspiratorial, new age “quantum neuroenergy”, etc: what is called woo.

Instead of these placebos, TEDx should instead curate talks that are imaginative but grounded in reality.

In fairness, they took some heat, so their gesture should be acknowledged. A lot of people take TED very seriously, and might lend credence to specious ideas if stamped with TED credentials. “No” to placebo science and medicine.

But … the corollaries of placebo science and placebo medicine are placebo politics and placebo innovation.

On this point, TED has a long way to go.   Perhaps the pinnacle of placebo politics and innovation was featured at TEDx San Diego in 2011.

You’re familiar I assume with Kony2012, the social media campaign to stop war crimes in central Africa? So what happened here?

Evangelical surfer bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony’s still there. The end.

You see, when inspiration becomes manipulation, inspiration becomes obfuscation. If you are not cynical you should be skeptical. You should be as skeptical of placebo politics as you are placebo medicine.

T and Technology

T – E – D. I’ll go through them each quickly.

First technology. We hear that not only is change accelerating but that the pace of change is accelerating as well. While this is true of computational carrying-capacity at a planetary level, at the same time – and in fact the two are connected – we are also in a moment of cultural de-acceleration.

We invest our energy in futuristic information technologies, including our cars, but drive them home to kitsch architecture copied from the 18th century. The future on offer is one in which everything changes, so long as everything stays the same. We’ll have Google Glass, but still also business casual.

This timidity is our path to the future? No, this is incredibly conservative, and there is no reason to think that more gigaflops will inoculate us.

Because, if a problem is in fact endemic to a system, then the exponential effects of Moore’s law also serve to amplify what’s broken.

It is more computation along the wrong curve, and I don’t think it is necessarily a triumph of reason.

Part of my work explores deep techno-cultural shifts, from post-humanism to the post-anthropocene, but TED’s version has too much faith in technology, and not nearly enough commitment to technology.

It is placebo techno-radicalism, toying with risk so as to reaffirm the comfortable.

So our machines get smarter and we get stupider. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Both can be much more intelligent. Another futurism is possible.

E and economics

A better ‘E’ in TED would stand for economics, and the need for, yes imagining and designing, different systems of valuation, exchange, accounting of transaction externalities, financing of coordinated planning, etc.

Because states plus markets, states versus markets, these are insufficient models, and our conversation is stuck in Cold War gear.

Worse is when economics is debated like metaphysics, as if the reality of a system is merely a bad example of the ideal.

Communism in theory is an egalitarian utopia.

Actually existing communism meant ecological devastation, government spying, crappy cars and gulags.

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing capitalism means Walmart jobs, McMansions, people living in the sewers under Las Vegas, Ryan Seacrest … plus – ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?

The most recent centuries have seen extraordinary accomplishments in improving quality of life.

The paradox is that the system we have now –whatever you want to call it – is in the short term what makes the amazing new technologies possible, but in the long run it is also what suppresses their full flowering. Another economic architecture is prerequisite.

D and design

Instead of our designers prototyping the same “change agent for good” projects over and over again, and then wondering why they don’t get implemented at scale, perhaps we should resolve that design is not some magic answer. Design matters a lot, but for very different reasons. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about design because, like talking about the future, it is more polite than referring to white elephants in the room.

Such as…

Phones, drones and genomes, that’s what we do here in San Diego and La Jolla. In addition to the other insanely great things these technologies do, they are the basis of NSA spying, flying robots killing people, and the wholesale privatisation of biological life itself. That’s also what we do.

The potential for these technologies are both wonderful and horrifying at the same time, and to make them serve good futures, design as “innovation” just isn’t a strong enough idea by itself.

We need to talk more about design as “immunization,” actively preventing certain potential “innovations” that we do not want from happening.

And so…

As for one simple take away … I don’t have one simple take away, one magic idea. That’s kind of the point. I will say that if and when the key problems facing our species were to be solved, then perhaps many of us in this room would be out of work (and perhaps in jail).

But it’s not as though there is a shortage of topics for serious discussion. We need a deeper conversation about the difference between digital cosmopolitanism and cloud feudalism (and toward that, a queer history of computer science and Alan Turing’s birthday as holiday!)

I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomes and bronze age myths, but instead on something more … scalable.

TED today is not that.

Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be rearranged and reprogrammed. It’s not true.

“Innovation” defined as moving the pieces around and adding more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary … the only boundary left is our imagination”. Wrong.   If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions).

Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us.

This is not about “personal stories of inspiration”, it’s about the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and re-conceptualisation: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins.

At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest in things that make us feel good but which don’t work, and don’t invest in things that don’t make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder to feel good about not solving problems.

In this case the placebo is worse than ineffective, it’s harmful. It diverts your interest, enthusiasm and outrage until it’s absorbed into this black hole of affectation.

Keep calm and carry on “innovating” … is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.   In the US the rightwing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality … other constituencies have TED.

• This article first appeared on Benjamin Bratton’s website and is republished with permission. It is the text of a talk given at TEDx San Diego

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 114

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Adopt India as an anchor for your population computation, on the ground that more than two third of mankind conditions and life-style resemble that of the varied Indian population.

Never throw any percentage per year increases in vain: The Magic 70 rule and the horrible exponential growth will ridicule your claim.

Antitrust laws do Not apply to multinationals Monsano, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Syngena, Bayer, and Dupont (90% market share) who have deposited more than 500 patents on agricultural genes alteration. 

“Why not” attitudes are generated when learning another language: Your mother tongue generate conservative moral behaviors

Al Jazma (boots) ma3mouleh le safe3 wajeh amthaal Bush Jr, 3oumala2 Israel wa moustawten yo3dem walad Palestinian. al tawboz moush la bawss jazmaat wa la srameh

A “Moral Entity”? Is that how multinationals are identified, accounted for, controlled and put on trials?

In last 2 weeks, viewings of my blog is over 1,000 per day

Information Theory has been expanded to swallow fields such as probability theory, computer science, statistical physics, data science, gambling theory, ruin problems, complexity, even how one deals with knowledge, epistemology.

Democrat and Republican elites and mass media bosses cover one another back in times of “emergency”? Like mass upheaval and crimes against humanity: both defend an immunity that they might one day need themselves?

Why Democrats  in 2008 refused to investigate into Bush programs of torture, warrantless eavesdropping, and the like?

Jane Mayer replied: “One complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned [these activities], so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.”

Law professor Jonathan Turley pointed out the logical result of this bipartisan support for the crimes.

There’s no question in my mind that there is an obvious level of collusion here. We now know that the Democratic leadership knew about the illegal surveillance program almost from its inception. Even when they were campaigning about fighting for civil liberties, they were aware of an unlawful surveillance program as well as a torture program. And ever since that came out, the Democrats have been silently trying to kill any effort to hold anyone accountable because that list could very well include some of their own members.

Why all the colonial powers, England, France, Germany and USA act as if they owe anything to Israel? What Israel did to them but siphon their money, moral prestige, and lavishing abusive recriminations?

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 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 developing States… Dismantling well-run and profitable State institutions, and Privatizing them (read financed by Banks)

The consensus mantra that the only thing that matters is to “make sure it never happens again” is simply the standard cry of every criminal desperate for escape: “I promise not to do it again if you don’t punish me this time“.

And the Beltway battle cry of “look to the future, not the past!” is what all political power systems tell their subjects to do when they want to flush their own crimes down the memory hole.

 With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald, published October 25th by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright © 2011 by Glenn Greenwald. 

Popular work resonates with the people who already like what you do.

Viral work is what happens when the audience can’t stop talking about what you did.

Transparent accounting: Based on revenue, away with totally biased Net Profit gimmick

Revenue is the one item in the balance sheet that no corporation is about to cheat on, not even gang and drug criminal organizations. Why?

 

Can we resolve Lebanon’s child labor crisis?

India Stoughton published in The Daily Star on Oct. 29, 2013

BEIRUT: Mohammad says he’s 13, but it’s hard to believe him. With his tiny, hunched form, cavernous cheeks and emaciated limbs, he looks closer to 8 or 9 years old.

Having fled Syria without his family, Mohammad works as a shoe-shiner on the streets of Hamra, beginning at 7 a.m. every day and working until 7 p.m. At the end of his 12-hour shift he will have earned a total of LL 5,000 ($2,5).

As the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon continues and the economic situation in the country declines, the number of child laborers is increasing.

Solving Lebanon’s child labor crisis

Thousands of Syrian children are working to support their families, while the country’s declining economy has also had an effect on Lebanese and Palestinian children, who are increasingly expected to work.

Mohammad, who says he dreams of going back to school and studying to be a doctor, does a job that falls into one of the worst categories of child labor: work that exposes a child to physical, psychological or sexual abuse, puts their safety or morals at risk, or prevents them being educated.

But while the number of children like Mohammad who sell gum or roses or shine shoes on the streets has increased significantly in the two years since the Syrian crisis began, they represent a fraction of the true scale of the problem.

“What you see on the streets of Hamra or Gemmayzeh is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Andres Gonzalez, the country director of Dutch non-governmental organization War Child.

Most children are working in workshops and garages and things. Now the conditions are even worse because the competition is so high.”

The total number of children engaged in illegal labor in Lebanon has never successfully been established.

An estimate issued by the Social Affairs Ministry in 2002 was recently increased from 100,000 to 180,000, but Hayat Osseiran, a child labor consultant for the International Labor Organization, says she believes the real number is probably closer to 300,000.

Lebanon’s population of just over 4 million has been swelled by over 1 million Syrian refugees over the past two years, many of whom arrive in the country with no papers, making it almost impossible to find legal work.

“Adults are not engaging [in the workforce], either because they’re having difficulty in getting work or [because] they fear that they would be arrested because they don’t have papers,” says Anthony MacDonald, chief of child protection at UNICEF.

“Very often children have become the main breadwinners in the household, which means they’re exposed to huge risks, huge responsibilities.”

There are two main factors forcing young children into work, explains Haifa Hamdan, War Child’s child labor adviser.

“The pulling factor is that they are from poor families, they want additional income,” she says. “And the pushing factor is that they are not able to go to school because the expenses are [increasing] and sometimes there are no places.”

Although education in Lebanon is supposed to be free and compulsory until the age of 15, the cost of registration, books, uniforms and transportation proves too much for some families, Osseiran says, and attendance is not monitored or enforced.

The result is that for children from poorer families, work is easier to come by than an education.

Reem, a mother of four who fled to Akkar from Tal Kalakh in rural Homs last year, says she can’t afford the LL90,000 ($60) per child needed to register her children, aged 5, 8, 9 and 10, for school. Her husband is injured and can’t work, and she has to find $200 a month for rent, she says, so she has no choice but to send her children to pick olives. She says she and her kids collectively earn between LL8,000 and LL10,000 a day, working from dawn until dusk.

Another woman from the same Akkar community of Syrian refugees says local farmers would rather employ children than adults, as they have more energy and never complain – even if they are verbally or physically abused. Money is also an incentive for employers – children are paid half as much as an adult.

“Only 20% of the adults are working, but 60% of the children,” she says.

When it comes to tackling the problem, Lebanon already has a good legal framework, Hamdan says, but the problem is the lack of implementation and awareness.

A survey of 1,500 children working in the southern suburbs of Beirut, conducted by War Child just before the Syrian crisis in 2011, found almost all the laws governing child labor were being flouted and that the children surveyed were totally unaware of their rights.

Labor inspectors were equally uninformed, Hamdan says.

At the time the study was undertaken, none of the Labor Ministry’s 73 inspectors were familiar with the child labor laws.

War Child subsequently trained 19 of them, and now some 50 out of a total of 109 inspectors have received training in child labor legislation, according to Nazha Shalita, head of the ministry’s child labor unit.

As the child labor problem continues to worsen, local and international organizations are attempting to tackle it on a number of fronts.

Lebanon has committed to international agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the ILO Conventions on the Minimum Age of Admission to Employment and the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

After taking office in 2012, Labor Minister Salim Jreissati reactivated the stagnant child labor unit within his ministry as well as the defunct National Steering Committee for the Elimination of Child Labor.

He also issued Decree No. 8987: the prohibition of employment of minors in jobs that may harm their health, safety or morals, which details jobs unsuitable for those under 16 and 18 years of age.

But although Lebanon’s laws are increasingly coming into line with international standards, there is still a major problem with implementation.

On a practical note, UNICEF has begun using education as a tool to combat labor among refugees in the country’s tented settlements.

“We try to bring children out of the workplace completely but because we know that the problem cannot be extinguished overnight we try to mold our education programs,” MacDonald says.

“So in the morning we cater for the younger children and then for those who are working in the fields … we’ve persuaded their families that they just work half a day and come to our programs in the afternoon.

“That allows us to at least begin to engage with them [and] to eventually try to look for other alternatives, but also accept that for many of them stopping immediately is not a reality.”

Several other plans are in motion to chart the growing problem and find a way to tackle it.

The ministry’s child labor unit is working with the ILO and the Central Administration for Statistics to conduct the first large-scale mapping of child labor in Lebanon, based on household surveys, Shalita says.

It is due to be completed by the end of 2014 and should reveal the real extent of the problem for the first time. UNICEF is also partnering with the ILO to conduct a countrywide survey of street children.

On a larger scale, the Labor Ministry and the ILO have teamed up to produce the National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor by the end of 2016, which is due to be presented to President Michel Sleiman and other ministers and parliamentarians on Nov. 7.

It will be the first time a project of this scale has been attempted, Osseiran says. The action plan will detail practical steps for the eradication of child labor, including improved legislation, better access to education and a zoning solution.

It will be put into effect as soon as the funds come in. Some money is expected to be provided by the state and the rest by international organizations, Osseiran says.

The National Action Plan’s launch is coming at a critical time, as the urgency of the Syrian crisis has diverted attention and funding from long-term local problems such as child labor.

MacDonald emphasizes that working long hours can have tragic effects on children psychologically, as well as physically. “The children that we spoke to were already receiving psychosocial support for the trauma that they’d been through in Syria,” he says.

“But in some cases the child labor that they were undertaking here to survive was almost tipping them over – in the case of one particular child she just said: ‘I don’t want to live anymore.’”

Related
Refugee crisis: thinking outside the classroom

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