Saturday, August 15, 2020

Chicago Shuts Down Its Business District Overnight This Weekend Due To Continued Riots And Looting. None dare call it terrorism!

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot desperately wants the world to believe that she has the situation in her city under control and that she doesn't need help from the federal government - nor would she ever need it from President Trump.

But while she puts that facade on during interviews and press conferences with national media, the reality of constant looting, rioting and crime in Chicago continues to unfold; as do its consequences. 

For example, this weekend, the city will shut down its Central Business District overnight, effective at 9PM each night. The decision comes "in the wake of looting and unrest downtown, on the Magnificent Mile, and in Streeterville, River North, and the area near North and Sheffield avenues," according to CBS Chicago

A look at the aftermath of the Beirut explosion

Beirut's cultural scene damaged by explosion

The Sursock Art Museum survived 15 years of war, but not the blast. Beirut's historic buildings are at risk of collapse ⁠— along with the city's arts community.

Sursock Museum in Beirut after explosion (DW/J. Neumann)

The 1912 villa survived 15 years of civil war, but now the explosion in Beirut has destroyed the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum. The white facade of the building that housed modern and contemporary art still stands, but the blast that shook Beirut on August 4 took out the blue, yellow and red window panes.

"The interior of the museum is almost completely destroyed," said Elsa Hokayem, the museum's deputy director. "The wood, the lamps, the doors and 25 works of art have been damaged." A portrait of museum founder Nicolas Sursock, painted by the Dutch artist Kees van Dongen, is "torn from one corner to the other," she said.

But the museum is only part of Beirut's vibrant arts and culture scene, the core of which was located where the explosion hit. Among the areas most affected are Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael. According to UNESCO, many of the estimated 8,000 buildings affected by the blast are concentrated in those districts. The United Nations cultural organization added that some 640 historic buildings were impacted, approximately 60 of which are at risk of collapse.

The neighborhoods of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael are home to many cafes, restaurants, galleries and venues for concerts and poetry slams, as well as studios for furniture, jewelry and clothing designers. Many are worried the vibrant scene won't be able to bounce back after the hardship.

Read more: #PrayForBeirut: Monuments worldwide lit in solidarity

The St. Nicholas Stairs in the Gemmayzeh district with rubble after Beirut blast (DW/J. Neumann)

Currently closed, the St. Nicholas Stairs in the Gemmayzeh district were a popular meeting point

Sursock Museum closes its doors

"It will probably be a year before we can reopen," Hokayem told DW. The the Sursock Museum was often used as a popular backdrop for photos and on the evening of the explosion, a bride and groom had taken part in a photo shoot. When the disaster struck, the museum had already closed and its employees had left the building. "Fortunately, the security guard had already finished his inspection tour that evening and had also gone home," said Hokayem.

Ziad Olleik was not so lucky. The manager of Plan Bey, an organization that supports Lebanese artists by selling their illustrations, photos and drawings at affordable prices, was speaking to a friend and a customer in the shop when the ammonium nitrate exploded in the port of Beirut at 6:08 p.m. "We felt this incredible pressure, and I told them to get down on the floor," he said. "Next, the entire shop window crashed down on us." The shards cut deep into his hands.

Read more: New documentary explores Gaza in black-and-white photos

A gallery in Beirut after the blast (DW/J. Neumann)

The Plan Bey after the explosion

Olleik, who is currently living with his family outside of Beirut, said he still sees the images in his mind, even without watching the dramatic footage replay on TV. The explosion destroyed everything in a neighborhood "full of art galleries, cultural centers, yoga studios, many beautiful places where you could have a coffee and read a book." Now, he said, it's all gone. "When I come back to Beirut and walk down Rue Gouraud, I'm sure I'll cry."

Salim Naffah, manager of the Plan Bey (DW/J. Neumann)

Salim Naffah, manager of the Plan Bey

Beirut's arts scene had already long been in trouble. Even before the disaster, many were worried about how they would make ends meet due to the country's economic crisis, including the organizers of Plan Bey. With the inflation rate getting ever higher, it had been difficult for the small business to survive — materials were becoming expensive.

"Paper must be imported and is expensive because we have to pay for it in dollars. That's why we can't print or produce anything new," explains 28-year-old Salim Naffah, also a manager at Plan Bey. The challenges had forced them to close one Play Bey location but they had wanted to continue to keep the business open on Rue Gouraud until the end of the year. After the blast, rebuilding was out of the question.

Read moreLebanon parliament approves Beirut state of emergency, grants military power

damaged Plan Bey building (DW/J. Neumann)

There are no plans to rebuild the damaged Plan Bey building

Unclear future

Now that many historic buildings been heavily damaged or destroyed, many in the culture industry are afraid they will be razed to the ground and the plots bought by investors. They worry that the city's vibrant scene won't be able to bounce back, and that the charm of the areas could be lost through reconstruction. As a result, residents and shop owners have hung signs saying "We are staying" in bright red letters to show that the neighborhood they love is not for sale.

Sign on Beirut building, 'we are staying' (DW/J. Neumann)

'We are staying'

So far, many of those affected have not yet had time to give much thought to the future — there are more pressing needs. They are  helping their neighbors reconstruct their homes, and supplying those in need with food and shelter.

Haven for Artists, which is usually a studio and co-working space for freelance artists, has been converted into emergency accommodation for women and migrant workers affected by the blast. The operators of Plan Bey are also using their second business, the Makan restaurant, to help by cooking food they donate to those in need in the neighborhood.

"After a disaster, people immediately think about food or accommodation. These are two needs, but there is a third: People need to talk and they need to be listened to," said Naffah. "They must be able to tell their stories and know that someone else cares. I see an empty space that the cultural scene can fill — especially these days."

Watch video02:52

Beirut's popular spots reduced to rubble

Friends of the Iranian terror state.

UN Security Council rejects Iran arms embargo extension

The US-sponsored resolution only got two "yes" votes at the UN Security Council, falling far short of the nine it needed to be adopted. China and Russia rejected the proposal, while Germany abstained.

Here are the members of the UN Security Council:

The Council is composed of 15 Members:

Five permanent members: ChinaFranceRussian Federationthe United Kingdom, and the United States, and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term year):

It is because they know how their education has failed to teach people any critical thinking. What a sterile life they propose!

Ridiculous trigger warning for ‘Blazing Saddles’ shows how far culture has gone off rails

Say, kids, did you know “Blazing Saddles” is “an overt and audacious spoof on classic Westerns”? Well, now you do, thanks to the trigger warning that has just been slapped on the movie by HBO Max, which hired University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart to set things up for anyone who might be clicking on the Mel Brooks comedy thinking they’re in for Swedish drama about the lingonberry harvest.

Stewart informs us that the movie features “racist language and attitudes” but “Those attitudes are espoused by characters who are explicitly portrayed here as narrow-minded, ignorant bigots. The film’s real and much more enlightened perspective is represented by the two main characters.”

You don’t say. Stewart’s intro should be called “Blazing Obviousness” since everyone already knew all of that, and always has, for the 46 years the movie has been in release. Next week, HBO Max will be gravely informing us that the “Springtime for Hitler” musical in Brooks’ “The Producers” should not be construed as a celebration of the Third Reich, and that the song-and-dance number about the Spanish Inquisition in Brooks’ “History of the World, Part I” is not meant to glorify the practice of disemboweling non-Christians.

A few years ago, conservatives who pointed out worrying or silly campus adventures in speech modification and idea policing were told, “Relax, it’s just college kids. Why do you care?” Less than a decade later, Andrew Sullivan was able to write a column titled, “We all live on campus now,” and everyone knew he was exactly right.

Ridiculous, unnecessary trigger warnings are getting plastered all over everything, Realtors are afraid to use the term “master bedroom.” But HBO Max seems to think we all live in kindergarten. What kind of melonhead doesn’t realize the purpose of the slurs in “Blazing Saddles” is to make the racists look bad? We don’t need this explained to us, unless we just arrived on this planet from a faraway star system or attended Oberlin.

When director Mel Brooks brought in a hot young black comic named Richard Pryor to help punch up the script, Pryor vigorously added in more uses of the N-word to make the movie sharper as well as funnier. Pryor may be more responsible than any other person for neutralizing the slur’s power to wound. We’d probably all be better off if the word were restored to its place in the 1970s, when it was largely robbed of its mystical properties. Now that it’s unsayable, it’s become scary again.

There’s a reason no comic ever starts his set by saying, “The following remarks are jokes and I will sometimes say things facetiously.” Nobody wants to have the comedy parameters laid out in advance, especially by a humor-challenged professor. HBO Max, which earlier this summer appended a similar trigger warning to “Gone with the Wind,” is not telling its subscribers anything they don’t already know, but it is giving them some useful thumb exercise as they all cringe and activate the skip function.