Thursday 28 November 2013


ED Noor: Mother Agnes, feared by internationally acclaimed "truth tellers" of dubious connections for her tendency to terrorize with unpopular truths, "the ugly truth" I believe it might be called. She is certainly much less politically correct than the revered Mother Theresa because she is dealing with something much more relative to the world at large.

By William Boardman
November 27, 2013

Here’s what it looks like when a respected reporter tweets about his blackmail note to an established anti-war organization regarding the organization’s upcoming conference in a tweet on November 15:
I’ve informed organizers of @STWuk that I will not participate in their conference if Mother Agnes is on the platform. ~ jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) 15 Novembre 2013
The reporter is Jeremy Scahill, who was booked as the keynote speaker and to show his film “Dirty Wars” (based on his book “Dirty Wars”) at the November 30 International Anti-War Conference in London, put on by Stop the War Coalition (STWuk), which was first organized in 2001 in opposition to an American attack on Iraq. More than 12 years later, the coalition notes dryly on its webpage for the conference, “We need more effective anti war resistance internationally. This conference is a chance to analyse, build links and lay plans.”
Scahill’s threat to boycott the conference soon became moot the following day, when the dreaded Mother Agnes withdrew from participation. Her letter read, in part:
“It has come to my attention that my participation in your conference has become a matter of serious contention, even prompting some other speakers to consider withdrawing. This is apparently due to a campaign of cruel and unsubstantiated accusations which seek to work against my efforts and those of the Musalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria.
“The basis of our work toward peace is reconciliation and forgiveness. This means extending an olive branch to some who may initially refuse it, and accepting an olive branch from others who are despised, even by our friends....
“Some may feel that an injustice will be done if I speak at your conference. Others may think that injustice will be done if I do not. Because my participation in your conference may be used by some to distract from your valuable efforts towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation, I believe it best to withdraw from participation.”
Why did Stop the War invitation to nun working to stop war raise objections?
Push comes to shove, and Mother Agnes is an apparent pushover. She’s also not flogging a movie. And the abuse she’s suffered online was as real as the pressure on Scahilll and others to have nothing to do with her.
It’s hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect observations, some of which are actually correct.
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross is a Carmelite nun and mother superior of the Monastery of James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria, which has a community of three monks and twelve nuns. Born in Lebanon in a refugee camp 61 years ago, she is Palestinian on her father’s side and has worked in Syria for about 20 years. She is the spokesperson for the Catholic Information Center in Beirut, where the Musalaha Initiative also has its office. 
Mother Agnes became a nun at 19, after several years in the late 1960s as a self-styled “hippie,” traveling to Europe, India and Tibet. Unlike others with an equally public profile, Mother Agnes has no Wikipedia page.
In June 2012, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire praised Mother Agnes as a peacemaker:
“In her community her voice has been clear, pure and loud. And it should be so in the West. Like many people in Syria she has been placed in life threatening situations, but for the sake of peace she has chosen to risk her own existence for the safety and security of others. She has spoken out against the lack of truth in our media regarding Syria and about the terror and chaos which a ‘third force’ seems to be spreading across the country. 
“Her words confront and challenge us because they do not mirror the picture of events in Syria we have built up in our minds over many months of reading our newspapers and watching the news on our televisions. Much of the terror has been imported, we learn from her. She can tell us about the thousands of Christian refugees, forced to flee their homes by an imported Islamist extreme.”.
What makes her controversial to people around Stop the War Coalition is their perception of her as a supporter of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
Clear reasoning behind this perception is hard to come by. The reality for Christians in Syria is that their choice of friends is limited: the government represses them along with everyone else, but some rebel groups have taken to massacring Christians. With rebel groups numbering 1,000 or more, none is likely to be a reliable protector.
Mother Agnes’s heretical view of the Damascus chemical attack
In August 2013, when the world learned of the still murky chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, Mother Agnes questioned the prevailing western view that the Assad government carried out the attack. She prepared a 50-page report questioning the authenticity of videos of the aftermath and submitted her findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council. As the New York Times of September 21 reported:
“When Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, wanted to bolster his argument that rebels had carried out the poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, he pointed to the work of a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun who had concluded that the horrifying videos showing hundreds of dead and choking victims, including many children, had been fabricated ahead of time to provide a pretext for foreign intervention.
“’Mr. Lavrov is an intelligent person,’ said the nun, Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, with a wide smile in a recent interview in this Lebanese mountain town. ‘He will never stick his name to someone who is saying stupidities.’”
Taking a position on the chemical attacks that is supportive of the Assad government has led to intensified criticism of Mother Agnes as an Assad pawn. French reporters have written a book accusing her of conspiring with the government to kill another French reporter in 2012. She has sued the authors for libel.
The Syrian uprising started with peaceful protests in March 2011, but soon turned violent. Mother Agnes accuses the West of fomenting the violence to create a pretext for military intervention and re-ordering Syria. In November 2011, she wrote an open letter to President Assad, challenging the government over its treatment of hospital patients and prisoners, as reported in Vatican Insider in November 2011:
“Dear Mr. President, I have lived and worked in Syria since 1994, and I have learned to esteem the unique position Syria holds in the world of culture and of religions. But I am shocked to learn from Amnesty International that in the hospitals run by the government the wounded suffer discrimination and maltreatment because of their ideology. And I am saddened to find that, in the prisons, there are people there who have never been tried in court, or even accused of anything.... 
“I ask for a serious inquiry into the hospitals and prisons, under the supervision of the International Red Cross, together with the creation of a committee to accelerate the exercise of justice.”
In late October, Mother Agnes, through the Musalaha Initiative, was involved in establishing a cease-fire and evacuating some 5,400 civilians from Moadamiya, a rebel-held city near Damascus.
Mother Agnes is currently on a six-week speaking tour in North America, largely ignored by most media. In Cleveland on November 14, she received a special peace award from the mayor, a congressman, and a senator. The tour ends December 4.


Please enlarge thumbs.
Jeremy Scahill has yet to explain his own behaviour, but columnist Neil Clark, writing for Russia Today, blames “liberal hawks and neo-cons” for silencing the nun because:
“Mother Agnes’ testimony reveals that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is a sham ~ that in Syria, the western countries and their regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are on the same side as the extremist Islamic terror groups that we are told are our greatest enemies.”

Thursday 21 November 2013


Above: Le Petit Trianon, the simulated farm estate on Parisian castle grounds, where Marie Antoinette, who was no more than a spoiled aristocrat, played at being an uncomplicated farm girl with her ladies complete with rustic wardrobe as seen below. 

ED Noor: Marie Antoinette started it when, in her yearning for simplicity beyond the complicated court system that hampered her freedoms, she created Le Petit Trianon as an escape from the rigours of court life, but it seems in modern days farming is not good enough. Now, the wealthy are being offered opportunities to experience POVERTY! 


That they do this VOLUNTARILY is a very important distinction since so many people are now in reduced circumstances due to the ruthless international implementation of what is called Agenda 21, but is in reality, the enforcement of the Marxist NWO/JWO. Although perhaps not in the category of these ShantyTown folk, the concept of a poverty vacation does not hold much of an appeal to the average person struggling to survive.

One person describes it as “Poverty Porn.” Yes, indeed the whole concept is just that corrupt and offensive, but does that really surprise anyone in a world currently based on the values of soulless exploitation, greed, and avarice?

The whole concept is beyond calloused and just so amazingly wrong! At first I thought of Huxley’s Brave New World, but then remembered that the process to obtain documents for travel to that place had been complicated and difficult for fear of contaminating the minds of the less mentally “stalwart”. Do any of you remember that scenarios when the couple first landed in the midst of squalor?
Considering the horrendous social upheaval and genocidal activities currently rife in South Africa today, I find this to be a particularly offensive offering from a hotel that also offers the greatest levels of luxury possible and obviously exploits the wilderness and its creatures.
It could take me time to verbalize my initial disgust in this whole enterprise; instead I will leave you to explore and decide for yourselves. After a few articles surface of these types of temporary escapes the thought of Marie Antoinette came to mind. This controversial child monarch met a tragic end due to her excesses, the same types of excesses that we see all around us.

I have just had a brilliant brain storm!

Here we have a lovely spot in Shatila just ripe for exploitation by wealthy tourists or perhaps the occasional curious Israeli. Those Palestinians are missing a great opportunity to reap in the sheckels (!?!) through the tourism hostel business. Although we know, in truth, if it were possible to exploit these folks further, some Israeli would have already done so by now. 
How about setting up similar camps in Sabra or Shatila or even Rafat! Palestine could wipe up offering people of the world  a glimpse of their future if things do not change. The options offered could include camping in a tent with a real destitute Palestinian family.Time your holiday trip to correspond with international food drop days so that you can be guaranteed genuine Palestinian cuisine intended for a hungry child.  Watch the video below from the South African tourist company and apply to Palestine or any other war torn areas of the world.
We have seen over the years the effects of continued deprivations and attacks upon these beleaguered people. It has made them strong, resilient and more determined than ever to survive ~ and maintain their dignity as a people.   I do not think, however, that the Palestinian variety of resilience and strength is quite what the Emoya Estate sells as:

 “team building, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime.”

You can bet that this is not the type of braai (South African barbeque) that the average Shantytown residents enjoy on a regular, if ever, basis.
This Shantytown appears to be as groomed as your average golf course. Just think, heated floors and WiFi in the middle of the veldts!

Shabby chic taken to a whole new level of decadence.

In a regular Shantytown this plump creature would be "dinner on the hoof", not an exotic wild animal of the South African wilderness.

Gosh, where are all the poor people?

November 20, 2013
Emoya Estate 

A South African luxury resort is now offering rich tourists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ~ to experience what it's like to live like the poor. Sort of. 

ED Noor: Yes, live like the natives. The shanty town video is full of poetic imagery of poverty but not a single REAL poor person; we see only a Western style Disney type family strolling down a dirt road between well positioned shacks.

Visitors to Emoya Estate can choose to stay in corrugated metal huts in Shanty Town “for a unique accommodation experience in Bloemfontein.” 

But the luxury Shanty Town is no ordinary slum. Guests have access to “long-drop effect toilets, donkey geysers, electricity and a bathroom with shower.”
As Emoya’s website also points out, 
“This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless Internet access!”
ED Noor: Whoa! Under floor heating? Well I seriously doubt any authentic Shanty Town residence is equipped with that. How about that for authenticity!

Real Shanty Town. These kids would love some wi-fi and a bathroom with a shower. 

Here’s an explanation of the Shanty Town experience:
“Millions of people are living in informal settlements across South Africa. These settlements consist of thousands of houses also referred to as Shacks, Shantys or Makhukhus. A Shanty usually consists of old corrugated iron sheets or any other waterproof material which is constructed in such a way to form a small ‘house’ or shelter where they make a normal living. A paraffin lamp, candles, a battery operated radio, an outside toilet (also referred to as a long drop) and a drum where they make fire for cooking is normally part of this lifestyle.”
A night in one of the shacks costs about $80. They are purportedly great for
“team building, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime.”
In case there was any question, the website points out that the Shanties are completely safe and child-friendly.

ED Noor: Heck, the whole concept is child unfriendly! The local children gain nothing from this. One can only pray that people will realize poverty tourism is not only a bad idea, but one that is offensive to the people actually living in these conditions because they don’t have any other choice. “A lifestyle”! No one wants to live in a shack in real life. Oh, but a shack with WiFi and heated floors? That’s a totally different story.


Tell that to the locals and see if you get out in one piece.

September 18, 2013 

Photo via
It seems like everyone and their mama wants to walk a mile in poor people’s shoes. 

From Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich’s commitment to live on $4.50 a day to highlight food insecurity, to Cory Booker’s Food Stamp challenge, many are using their notoriety to draw attention to larger issues. 

But what about those who are just curious to see what poverty feels like?  

Recently, a White South African family traded their cushy suburban digs to see how their poorest countrymen live. Julian and Ena Hewitt moved (along with their two daughters) just six miles away from their gated estate in Pretoria, to a tiny shack in Phomolong, a densely packed shantytown. 

The Hewitt’s blogged about their “experiment in radical empathy,” which found the middle-class family living next door to their part-time housekeeper (let that sink in) in one room house with no electricity or running water.  
“Like so many people in South Africa, we live in a bubble,” Ena Hewitt explained the reason for the move, “We wanted to get outside that bubble.”  
The Hewitts spent the month of August slumming it and documenting their experience, which divided many in South Africa. While some commended the family for daring to give up the comforts of home to live with only the basics (food, clothing, and shelter), others derided the couple for their experiment.   

Many felt the attention the Hewitts received only further highlighted the disparities in poverty rates among Black and White South Africans, noting that poor Black South Africans are wholly invisible until they are being gawked at by tourists or their White compatriots looking to see what it’s like to be poor.  

Busi Dlamini, executive director of Dignity International, a rights group, said that the Hewitts’ motives were clearly noble, but that their experiment in township living was bound to be fraught given the history of South Africa.  
“It is what I call poverty pornography,” Ms. Dlamini said. “They put themselves at the center of the narrative that reinforces the centrality of whiteness in South Africa.” 
He added:
“They have sought out, won and accepted sympathy and praise for living the hardships others experience daily without receiving the commensurate plaudits.”
Unlike others who want to help, the Hewitts did not choose donate money, build homes, or start a school; their experiment was personal.

ED Noor: Then, according to this summary, the family took and did not give back.  Their comment is self-oriented. "We did it to change ourselves." No comment.

Photo via 
“We’re doing it for ourselves,” Mr. Hewitt explained, “We’re doing it to change ourselves.”
Because of its horrific history of apartheid, South Africa still struggles with deep racial divides. Even poor residents live in racially homogeneous districts, keeping the country’s poor White and poor Black residents apart.
Although their parents were horrified by their move, the Hewitts wanted to cross the racial divide and expose their daughters to South Africa’s Black residents. While they are back home, the Hewitts say they will continue to keep in contact with their former township neighbours

ED Noor: Only in South Africa you say? Well, not quite. The phenomenon seems to be spreading to North America. One can only wonder how many other scams there are out there similar to the one below that enriches an entrepreneurial opportunist at the expense of the street people whose "lifestyle" he is prostituting for profit.

“A well known Seattle dominatrix had a service where clients would pay thousands for her to render them homeless. She and her assistants would effectively kidnap them, strip them of any identification or money, dress them in appropriate garb and then toss them out on the streets of Seattle for 48 hours to survive. She then kept a circumspect eye on them during this time and paid someone to drive by and toss them food once a day. I always felt this transcended sex positive to just highly highly bad taste.” ~ Jezebel commentator
Aaaand that's why people think a lot of panhandlers are liars. If you can afford to spend $2,000 to act like a homeless person, you shouldn't even "try your hand at panhandling" unless that money is going to a charity that helps to homeless. You don't need that money. ~ Jezebel commentator

The Clutch 
October 2, 2013 

Homelessness is badass, according to this guided three day "sub-urban adventure" tour of the "gritty underbelly" of Seattle, which can be yours for $2,000. Have you ever wondered how would it feel to be homeless? Living life on the streets with only the clothes on your back and if you’re lucky, access to a shelter?  

No? Me neither, but Seattle native Mike Momany is hoping that people will shell out $2,000 to find out.

Yes folks, you’ve read that correctly. Sub-Urban Adventures is a new company that specializes in poverty tourism.  For $2,000 you can get a 3 day, 2 night “reality tour” to live as a homeless man in Seattle. Yes, a homeless man, because women aren’t allowed in the homeless shelter Momany is using.

ED Noor: Real people experiencing real "minimalism".

Here’s a bit from Momany’s “about” section of his site: 
Howdy, my name is Mike. I am a 44 year resident of Seattle. As Seattle grew and became more expensive I wondered how homeless people survived as costs rose. I also began practicing a form of minimalism.

I took 2 months in the summer of 2013 to find out for myself. I intermittently lived on the streets and learned about all the great resources provided by our city. I also met many interesting people and experienced a minimalist lifestyle like none I’d ever experienced before. You Can Live on $600 a month in Seattle!

I learned that homelessness is nothing to fear; albeit nothing to aspire to either. In 3 days I will give you a crash tour of the homeless life style. You will gain a new respect for the folks that are forced into this existence.

You will see the seedy side of Seattle in a new light and have an experience that you will never forget. Embrace the Adventure!

Adventure? I’m pretty sure the people utilizing the homeless shelters in Seattle would never call it an adventure.

ED Noor: There we go with that ridiculous "lifestyle" rhetoric as if everyone chooses homelessness the way they might choose farming or working on Wall Street!

Here’s how your 3 day “adventure” in homelessness pans out:

Day 1: 

Your homeless adventure will begin by transforming your look and persona into that of an anonymous homeless person. You will get a nickname and a simple life script. You will be completely anonymous.

The first day we will start at the Public Market and visit some of its homeless gathering spots. We'll walk down to Pioneer Square, via the waterfront, and visit the favoured spots along the way including the Compass Center; a major resource under the viaduct. We'll wander over to the International District via the Courthouse on 3rd and James.

We'll have to check in at our shelter, in the International District, by 7pm so we'll pick up some fruits and vegetables on the way for dinner.

Day 2:

Out of the shelter by 7am, we'll get some coffee and head up broadway to check out some parks and Tent City3, frequented by the homeless. You might have enough chutzpah to try your hand at panhandling or sleeping on a park bench on this leg. You'll get a real perspective on how the public perceives the homeless.

We'll meander on down to the Recovery Cafe where we'll get a nice free lunch and espresso. Here you'll have a chance to sit and converse with fellow homeless folks. It's very nice. It was funded by the Gates Foundation. Then it's off to the beautiful Seattle Public Library. Many homeless people spend their days here.

At this point, you may be a little hungry, so you’ll head to a place that gives out free food to homeless people, because using the resources for people who actually need them, is fun.  After you eat your free food, you’ll then head to the library, because homeless people spend their time there. 

Then it’s dinner time! Of course you’ll head to another location that actually benefits the real homeless people of Seattle. Instead of heading back to the shelter, Momany switches it up with a stay at a hotel. Maybe this is where the $2,000 comes into play.

“We'll have a first class dinner at Fare Start, where homeless folks are trained by world class chefs. Tonight we'll stay at the historic Moore Hotel.”

Day 3  
Day Three sounds quite pleasant:
We stayed at the Moore Hotel so that we could get out and wander the wiley streets at 3am. We'll sleep in a bit and then have a nice breakfast at the Moore Coffee Shop before meandering up through Belltown checking out more homeless haunts along the way as we head towards Queene Anne and the Seattle Center; a favourite hangout for the homeless ~ because that’s what the homeless do
After a pleasant afternoon at the Seattle Center we'll test the dress codes at some of the finer restaurants on Queen Anne and then top it off with a cocktail and conversation at a long time watering hole, a historic working class dive bar the Mecca Cafe.
Momany added.
This service is dude-only at the moment, because the shelter you'll slumber party it up in only hosts men, and it's 100% safe:
Will you be safe? ~ Absolutely. We will be GPS trackable online and 911 will be one click away. It's also not near as dangerous as you might perceive. I will teach you some homeless etiquette that will go a long way towards gaining respect and facilitating interesting conversations in our encounters.
So there you have it folks. Poverty tourism at its finest, for just $2,000 because Momany wants you to give you a “keener perspective on what it means to be homeless; a place all of us might not be too (sic) far from”.