Adonis Diaries

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Shifting from Demanding to Executing: Traditional political parties excluded from Beirut Municipal council

Beirut Madinati: The Shift from Demanding to Executing

In the past, I’d care more about getting the scoop and being the first to jump into a story. These days though, I realize that the more prudent thing to do is to observe for a bit and form an opinion and position when things become clearer, intentions become known and the circumstances almost inevitable.

Even if I’m a bit late to the party, here is my formal endorsement of Beirut Madinati’s campaign to win the Beirut municipal elections on the 8th of May, 2016.

Last Year’s Civil Unrest

  • “They’re not organized”
  • “There’s too many demands”
  • “The demands are too little”
  • “Why are they just focusing on the garbage? What about the president? Electricity?”
  • “Why are they focusing on other things instead of just the garbage?”

Those are the most common (and contradicting) comments I’ve heard in every discussion about last year’s protests. It is a classic case of damned if you do, damn if you don’t.

A hallmark of any attempts at a powerful grassroots movement in Lebanon’s recent history.

For me though, those comments were lazy and not taking into consideration how remarkable what was happening was.

After the coma grassroots sentiments were in for decades, they were suddenly back, diverse and plentiful. All we needed to do is add a little time, a pinch of pragmatism and a sprinkle of hope.

Almost 9 months since the unrest began, the Beirut Madinati campaign has signaled the shift in Lebanon’s civil society from demands on the streets, to elected office with a clear agenda and full transparency.

We Still Think We’re The “Youngest”

I still feel as part of the “youngest generation” in Lebanon. That the officer at the checkpoint is definitely older than me, when in fact I’m now probably 6 or 7 years older than him. That running for elections or voting is just an exam question in civics class. That people like us being elected to office is somewhere in the distant future, not the foreseeable one.

But, that’s no longer true for many early 90s kids like myself, who have NEVER voted but have become an integral part of Lebanon’s businesses, banks, hospitals, military and every other institution in Lebanon.

Well-established lawyers, engineers, scientists, architects, entrepreneurs, designers, musicians, journalists, analysts, consultants and academics. So, if you still remember those civics class lessons, at 25, you can run for office, and be appointed to a senior governmental position.

A Real Chance

Personally, my concern was that we were demanding our fair and urgent rights, but we were demanding them from the people who forced us onto the streets with their decades of corrupt and incompetent (and seemingly never-ending) reign.

How can we ask the crooks (mafia leaders) clinging to their seats to fix a problem they are the core of?

My second concern was that we did not always have a clear-cut solution we could all stand behind. That is normal in grassroots, largely leaderless movements.

We are taxpayers, not lawmakers and cabinet ministers. It’s not our job to find the appropriate solution, but it is our job to pressure and monitor the government’s institutions to make sure that they do find that solution.

Beirut Madinati has addressed both those concerns quite clearly. They are offering an alternative to the current status quo with a gender-balanced, independent and diverse group of Beirutis committed to utmost transparency and support from first time voters.

The younger generation that is less sectarian and politically polarized, and more pragmatic and tolerant.

They also put out a 40-page detailed program of what they’ll do when elected to office, and a shorter 10-point summary for you lazy bums who don’t wanna read the whole program. Their FAQ page is also a good read, especially on the weird dynamic between the Beirut municipality and Beirut’s governor.

From now till the 8th of May, I will be regularly posting about the election campaign on the ground, as well as helping make the case for Beirut Madinati.

If you want to contribute or volunteer, please do as soon as possible. There are already 2000 volunteers and the campaign needs all the support it can get in the run-up to the elections! Also, like their page on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Make sure to check out their epic videos too.

They also hold weekly open houses at their offices in Badaro, and many other events which you can find on their Facebook page.

There’s a fundraiser at Bardo tonight too! See you guys there!

Note: The youth movements got bolder once they realized that pro-bono lawyers will Not leave any incarcerated demonstrator behind.

 

Beirut Shutdown Tomorrow Morning: Everything You Need to Know

Honestly, I didn’t have much faith enough people would come down to the streets yesterday, but those fears were put to rest when I met up with the procession heading towards Riad El Solh square from Sassine.

The best way I could think of describing the mood was similar to the early ones in August 2015, when the dangers were only starting to emerge.

Families, friends, a lot of determination and an unwillingness to just sit at home and whine.

Of course, many did just sit at home and whine, which is completely fine as well and it’s everyone’s own decision to make. In this post, I’ll just clarify why I’ve decided to go down, and participate in Monday’s escalation, which in my honest opinion is long overdue.

Positives from Saturday

More people showed up than I expected, I was worried I might find a few dozen, but felt relieved when there were enough folks to fill Riad El Solh square. So, this shows that momentum still survives despite everything, and not just online.

Another thing is how frustrated the government was, spending 8 hours locked up, waiting to see what the protesters will demand before coming out with their own heinous “decisions” so boringly read by the information minister that they must’ve thought we’d get bored 2 minutes in and just switch the channel and say “khallas, they agreed on it, it’s over”.

It’s always good to know the corrupt oligarchs can still be affected by pressure from taxpayers, minor as it has been so far compared to the angst towards their malicious incompetence.

The Kataeb were there, at least many of their cadres. They carried the Lebanese flag only, and banners that condemned the garbage crisis.

I’m not sure if they were there in their official capacity, but it was great seeing an established political party on the side of the people for once, especially after being taxpayers’ eyes and ears inside the dark rooms in the Grand Serail where deals that undermine our health and taxes were brought to the light, helping spark the unrest.

The Decision Must Be A Joke

My theory is that the political elite in this country (mafia military leaders during the civil war) aren’t just evil in the movie villain sense, but just incredibly stupid and greedy. In a nutshell, here’s their “solution”

  1. Dumping garbage in mainly seaside dumps in stark violation of any logic and binding international treaties (the only places their resorts haven’t taken over public property)
  2. Using Sukleen to do that (the root cause of this problem and currently under criminal investigation for fraud and breach of contract with the same government running back to them)
  3. Using incinerators (that are highly lucrative for each fiefdom chief) as the “ultimate answer” a few years down the line (enough time to finish partitioning their piece of the revenue)

So, they basically just want to bury the trash mainly on the shore, exclusively with the same company that got us here in the first place and at a premium price which is being criminally investigated.

That though, is just “temporary” (supposedly for 4 years, and which often means forever in Lebanon) till their money-making, environmentally-devastating and completely unnecessary incinerators arrive and are set up.

Monday

It literally can’t get any worse (I hope). More than half a year of drowning in garbage, with increasingly humiliating and infuriating failures by Lebanon’s garbage government.

The risks to our health, economy, environment and all-round quality of life are no longer risks, they’re realities that have been happening for months now.

We get that massive protests unprecedented in Lebanon’s history that aren’t fueled by sectarianism or financed by political parties aren’t going to be enough to change this government’s mind (or lack-thereof).

All they care about is the money, which is why peaceful civil disobedience is long overdue.

On Monday, You Stink has asked taxpayers to help shut down the entrances to Beirut tomorrow morning for a few hours. (They managed that feat for a few minutes)

This will be followed by other escalations till the demands for a proper solution are approved and executed, taking taxpayer health and our environment as the top-priority, not just 8 hours (after almost 8 months) of discussing how to split the cheese amongst themselves (as Salam himself was reported of saying about yesterday’s meeting).

Will this fix everything? No.

Will it guarantee that the crisis gets solved after almost 8 months of hell? No.

But, this was the final warning, and tomorrow is your chance to do more than just rant on Facebook and give excuses about why you’d rather do absolutely nothing to help make the country you live in better.

Locations & Important Notes:

  • The action starts tomorrow morning at 6:30AM sharp and should wrap up by 10:00AM
  • The locations are as follows:
    • Dora roundabout (near CIT college)
    • City Center (Hazmieh)
    • Khakdeh (muthalath Khaldeh)
  • DO NOT burn sukleen cans or tires, those two things are some of the main reasons we’re in the streets protesting! Our health and our environment!
  • A few hours of skipped work or class is not a hefty price to pay for the years being shaved off your life expectancy from the current crisis

Stay safe, good luck. Tomorrow, taxpayers are going to shut the capital down for a few hours and make their voice and opinions heard and their rights respected. So, please, if you will not come down and help, stay at home tomorrow morning.

Here’s to hoping we won’t need to do stuff like this for much longer, and that things return to normal in our beloved Lebanon, better than normal even.

Note 1: The decision was to encourage parents to join the movement by asking their kids Not to go to school on Monday. Is that a civil disobedience step to stop paying indirect taxes?

Note 2: Unfortunately, half a dozen allies in that movement retracted from this decision on the basis that Not enough discussions were undertaken for a pragmatic move to put the proper pressure on the political system.

Achievements in Lebanon without the backing of any of the  political militia leaders?

I know how hard it must be for all my politically affiliated friends to see what’s happening and the success a group of people have been able to achieve without the za3ims (militia leader).

Don’t feel like you aren’t part of us, you are, but your affiliations aren’t.

Abandon them, admit they’re all shit, including your personal warlord.

You don’t need them, they need you.

We’re gonna solve the garbage crisis, and begin the domino effect for every corrupt, violent, usurper of power in this country of ours.

One step at a time, slowly but surely.

We will have clean streets, we will have electricity and water, our lines will stop cutting and our Internet will no longer be the slowest and most expensive on this Earth.

Abandon your political parties, be a good person and citizen. (parties who believe in the succession of their sons and relatives)

I know “they’re all bad and thieves, by not my warlord”, but truth is, that’s not true.

Abandon your sectarian affiliations and come down tomorrow, and make your voice and opinion matter for once.

Another nasty Beirut Explosion: Exclusive Photos and the death of former minister of Finance and academician Mohammad Shateh

These photos are becoming too familiar.

Walking nonchalantly towards the blast site, people in suits walking to their cars after they got the day off.

A powerful explosion of about 60 kilos harvested Mohammad Shateh, 8 others and injured 70 bystanders.

Apparently, Shateh was on his way to join the March 14 coalition in order to expose his project for putting an end to the endemic violent crises in his home city of Tripoli (Lebanon)

 posted this Dec. 27, 2013

Mohammad Shatah was a friend, and I fondly remember several functions in the states where I had the pleasure of having a conversation with him. The shock is still sinking in, but the reactions are all too familiar.

Rabble of people, security forces shouting, ministers and officials with 5 dozen guards each trampling all over the evidence that was already tampered with by dozens of passerby.

The same broken record on TV stations, the same, old, tired phrases that even the speakers don’t believe anymore.

Shots taken seconds after the blast

 
Saad Hariri’s Political and Financial Adviser, Muhammad Shatah Killed in Huge Explosion that Rocked Beirut   إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية

Naharnet Newsdesk published:

A heavy explosion that rocked the capital Beirut on Friday targeted the convoy of former Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah, who is ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser.

Shatah’s vehicle license was located in the area of the blast.

The body of Shatah was retrieved from the scene and transferred to AUBMC.

The blast that hit Starco area in downtown Beirut near Bank Audi-SAL also killed five people and at least 15 others were wounded. (The statistics has increased to 8 killed and 70 injured)

Around 400 meters of the area was damaged.

Caretaker PM Najib Miqati swiftly called for an emergency meeting for the Higher Council for Disasters.

“Hizbullah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security and foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 years,” Shatah wrote in a tweet a few hours before his assassination.

Shatah had served as adviser to former PM Fouad Saniora and his successor Saad Hariri, whose own father Rafic was assassinated in a huge Beirut seafront car bomb in February 2005 blamed on Syria.

A meeting for the March 14 alliance (as opposed to March 8 alliance) was scheduled to be held at the Center House in downtown.

State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr arrived at the scene to inspect the site of explosion.

Saqr said that the explosion weighed between 50 and 60 kilos.

Higher Defense Council chief General Mohammed Kheir also inspected the area at the head of a delegation to determine the needs of the victims and take the necessary measures to aid them.

Early estimates said around 30 kilograms of highly combustible elements were used in the explosives.

Red Cross Operations Director George Kettaneh told LBCI that “there are more than 15 casualties.”

Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil later ordered all hospitals in Beirut to receive those who were wounded in the explosion.

Television channels showed pictures of thick smoke near the Serail, where Lebanon’s prime minister has his offices, and a major commercial district home to shops, banks, restaurants.

People were seen running to rescue the injured as a helicopter was seen hovering over the area of the blast.

Footage broadcast by Future TV showed people on fire, others lying on the ground, some bloodied, as well as fires blazing at several other points while ambulances rushed to the stricken area.

Civil defense teams battled fire that erupted in the area of the explosion.

The blast, according to media reports, was caused by a booby-trapped car.

According to MTV the suicide attacker’s name was identified by Ahmed.

Security forces were seen opening fire in the air to disperse people gathered near the blast and began checking the identification papers of passers-by in the area.

The blast caused a major dysfunction in mobile phone communications.

Beirut has been hit by several deadly attacks over the past months, including twin suicide bombings in November that targeted the Iranian embassy and bombings in the bastion of Hizbullah in the south of the capital over the summer.

The 33-month war in Syria has deeply divided the Lebanese and triggered political tensions and sectarian clashes in the country.

Shots of the aftermath at around 10:30-11:00AM on Dec 27, 2013

 resumed:

Today, you need to give thought to the innocent passerby. Knowing Shatah makes this exceptionally painful, but the thought of an innocent citizen passing by and getting killed at 9:30AM on a Friday right after Christmas is just too much.

Army and police were hindering our fun and merriment very efficiently the past few days, but to actually do their job and do something to protect us? Absolutely not.

They’re just the clean-up crew when they’re not busy arresting kids on Christmas. Dis-gus-ting.

I’m leaving Beirut for a couple of days, will be back then.

Till then, my deepest condolences to Chatah’s family and all the innocent passerby.

Makes you wonder when’s our turn to get killed while idly going about our lives in our beloved Beirut…

As I finish this post, the tiny church surrounded by massive skyscrapers has its bells ringing, probably on automatic, as the Christmas tree in Omar’s place shifts in the wind creeping in from the broken window… Merry Christmas indeed…

 

Personal Note 1: A powerful explosion that kills, maims and injures innocent people with the main target is meant to send several messaes to different parties.

Since the Lebanese government never divulge the perpetrators and its investigations to the general public, it up to the citizens to conjecture (upfront and immediately) on the assassinating parties and the purposes behind the gory attempt.

Depending on which alliance you consider yourself to lean toward, the Evil or the Saint Alliances, you have the pick among these various choices as to the goal of the massive blast:

1. Shateh was the prime mover of the received funds from foreign powers to be channeled to the violent factions in Lebanon and in Syria

2. Sahteh knew too much of who and how the funds were transferred and was to be eliminated as a dangerous witness since the bloody Syrian case has been settled

3. Shateh received the Green Light from abroad to position himself as a viable Prime Minister and a few parties, internally and externally didn’t want this potential candidate to reach a point of no return in the mind of the citizens as the consensus candidate…

4. Shateh is a dual US and Israeli spy who communicated all Lebanon data (citizens and institutions) to the US and Israel and he was to be eliminated in pomp after the latest assassination of Israel of Hezbollah’s intelligence chief Hassan Laqkiss. Since Lebanon barely gather statistics, not even conduct census, whatever information you need on Lebanon you’ll have to dig into Israeli achieves.

5. Blowing up Shateh is a strong message to the former Prime Minister Saniora that if the judicial system in Lebanon cannot touch him, a bomb will take revenge of his being an Israeli agent since 1976. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/israel-filka-site-fouad-seniora-lebanon-former-pm-an-israeli-spy-since-1974/

6. Shateh has been dipping his hand very deep into the funds meant for other purposes…

7. Shateh has been trying to dissociate himself from the shady operations that he  committed himself decades ago. The Saudi Wahhabi political trend is violence or nothing “Either with us or against us” and Shateh angered this obscurantist monarchy…

8. Seniora is the prime beneficiary of Shateh’s assassination as the natural contender to run the financial business of the Hariri clan… Seniora proved in a hurried speech that he is pleased and immediately blamed Hezbollah for the explosion in order to divert the investigation toward political tangents.

Bref, follow the money trail

Note 2: Shatah was born in 1951 in Tripoli (North Lebanon) and graduated in business administration from AUB in 1974 and received a PhD in economics in 1983 from  Texas University. He worked 11 years for the International Monetary Fund. Late Rafic Hariri appointed him as one of the vice-presidents of Lebanon Central Bank and then ambassador to the US (1997-2000). He became one of the small circle in Hariri financial team. He rejoined the IMF until Rafic was assassinated and returned to take on the finance ministry in Seniora PM cabinet… He was lately the advisor to Saad Hariri…

He is married with two grown up boys.

Note 3: Omar, the eldest of Shateh’s two sons, was in the USA at the date of the explosion and returned to Lebanon. He had this to say:

Going to bury the greatest father one could ever ask for. The funeral is at 10:30am Sunday morning at Mohammad Al Amin Mosque in downtown. I can't believe they took him from us. 

Don't be angry and don't try to score political points. For God's sake don't listen to political speeches or sycophants waxing polemic or poetic.

Just ask for justice and accountability for all the crimes they have committed. We know many of their names. Hold them to account.

I love you dad.
“Going to bury the greatest father one could ever ask for. The funeral is at 10:30am Sunday morning at Mohammad Al Amin Mosque in downtown.
I can’t believe they took him from us. Don’t be angry and don’t try to score political points.
For God’s sake don’t listen to political speeches or sycophants waxing polemic or poetic. Just ask for justice and accountability for all the crimes they have committed.
We know many of their names. Hold them to account. I love you dad.”

14 Priceless Ads from 1950s Lebanon

The Golden Days of Beirut were undoubtedly before the Civil War, especially in the 1950s and early 60s.
Lebanon was a prime destination for the world’s most prominent jet setters, almost every brand in the world was open in Beirut, nightlife was amazing, hotels were next-level and heck, we even had a red light district.
November 22, 2013  by

20131121_172717

On this 70th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence, all we have to show for it is an ugly 50,000LL bank-note with a spelling mistake, two suicide bombings, no government cabinet and a continuing influx of refugees without any light at the end of this long tunnel.

Perhaps, it’ll do us some good to remember what the good old days were like, what our grandparents lived through, how your grandma might’ve had dinner at The Carlton Beirut, which your Grandpa paid for with a cheque from Chase Manhattan…

Wajid Hitti, a good friend of mine, has digitized a massive collection of the ads from that era his father had saved up from the days he worked at Gaumont Palace in Down Town Beirut (which used to stand next to St Vincent de Paul church).

During the war, the building was largely occupied by Syrian troops, and the tower (11 stories was a lot back then) fell into ruin. Wajid’s dad found out the Syrian troops were burning the books and booklets from the 50s-60s era, and made sure he reclaimed them in order to preserve the pop culture heritage of a time when it was a pleasure to live and love in Beirut.

I will be posting ads like these regularly from now.

To kick things off, here are 14 amazing ones.

And again, a MILLION thank yous to Wajid and his father for giving us the opportunity to back in time on this bitter-sweet day.

West Hall ❤

TMA… The abandoned aircrafts you see while taxiing off in Beirut’s Airport

Phoenicia ❤

A nice word by one of Lebanon’s best Presidents, General Fouad Chehab

Opel!

Gotta love the kilt

T. Gargour & Fils!

Buick!

Imagine what the Church and General Security would do to this ad!
Gotta love the 50s ❤

Gandour!

Demolishing Iconic public Stairs: Mar Mikhael stairs in Ashrafiyeh (Lebanon)

Would you protest for the removal of a historic set of stairs in your neighborhood? People in Beirut are suffocating for lack of green spaces, and yet, local residents are willing to fight for stairs.

I watched on the evening news the protest of the neighborhood to that iconic stairs (about 66 stairs) and they all promised to die in front of the bulldozing machine… Many people have taken these stairs as their reference and place of daily work…

Ashrafieh is hilly. Sassine square is up on a hill and Mar Mikhael’s toes dip in the sea (before reclaiming the sea that is).

Anyone who walks around Ashrafieh/Gemmayzeh/Tabaris/Mar Mikhael knows how essential these stairs are, and the time they save. They’re also cultural and historical icons where dozens of festivals, exhibitions and performances take place.

 posted this Nov. 9, 2013

Residents Protest Demolition of Mar Mikhael Stairs

Here’s why the decision by the Municipality of Beirut (dominated by Al Mustakbal movement of the Hariri clan) to demolish the Massaad stairs, known as the Mar Mikhael stairs, is unreasonable.

  1. It means too much to so many people. This is a historic piece of land that many if not most of us have memories on. Personally, I’ve walked up and down (believe it or not) those stairs dozens of times when I lived in the area growing up. I’ve also been to many an art performance and exhibition on those now colorful steps.
  2. It is the only outlet for many houses on it.
  3. It’s too narrow. Just look at it, how can a road (which will have cars parked on the side) be of any use?
  4. Traffic. There’s a vast network of crisscrossing roads already, and adding this one won’t have much value, if any. It’ll just add to traffic on Armenia Street and make the resident’s lives uncomfortable.

I hope the ultra-corrupt Beirut Municipality will reconsider, and that the residents’ pleas are heard. I’d also like to tell the residents we are with them, and will support them in any non-violent action they take to try and stop this unfair and unnecessary plan.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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