Saturday, August 19, 2017

Concern Over Violent Islam Identifies You as a Fascist Racist

"It is evident to everyone that there is a correlation between illegal immigration and terrorism."
"Europe must protect itself, and the security of the people must be guaranteed."
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto
Las Ramblas after a vehicle mounted the pavement and drove towards crowds
Las Ramblas after a vehicle mounted the pavement and drove toward crowds. Sunday Express
There, it is said. And in the saying this man has committed the cardinal sin of 'racial profiling', of using a sloppy brush to paint a religion, the sacred concept of open borders to welcome the afflicted as being tainted with terrorism. In so doing willingly identifying himself as a typical Islamophobe, a philistine, a black-hearted cretin, a racist and a fascist. It is not fashionable to describe the links between Islamofascism, atrocities and the gentle religion beloved of a significant proportion of the global population.

But he is from Eastern Europe and known to be right-wing, and so his statement is explicable, expected, albeit deplored. In response, demonstrations materialized on the very day that Islam holds sacred for prayers in mosques around the world. Where people strenuously defended the place of Islam within Europe. Counter-protesters presented their faction's concern over the "Islamicization of Europe", a concept which once expressed identifies the utterer as a fascist lout.

The generous acceptance of the presence of Muslims throughout Europe by the left, contrasting with concerned citizens labeled fascists for their well-earned doubts over that stifling and threatening presence. The good-hearted contingent decried Islamophobia, waving rainbow flags shouting "Barcelona! Anti-fascist!", sleepwalking their way to a future of totalitarian Islamism capturing Europe, amending history to gift Islam with territory it had lost in centuries past.

France, it appears, is tightening its border with Spain, the country that has become destination central for Moroccan masses on the move. France and Belgium are familiar with Moroccan respect for the nations that have absorbed them. European counter terrorism circles have attuned their antennae to the large presence of Moroccans that have infiltrated Spain, France and Belgium, while government and municipal authorities assure their indigenous populations that all is under control.

Las Ramblas after a vehicle mounted the pavement and drove towards crowds
Las Ramblas after a vehicle mounted the pavement and drove toward crowds. Sunday Express

The fearfully uncontrolled episodes of Islamic jihad striking Barcelona and Cambrils this week must be viewed with circumspection; these things happen, shrug, shrug. But the police are reliably protecting the population, no need for concern. Unwisely, a Catalan police official, speaking to reporters in Barcelona, stated "We cannot rule out further attacks": tch, tch, Major Josep Llufs Trapero.

If there is a hero, it is the Spanish police officer who reacted when her male partner suffered a broken leg and head wound when an Audi with five jihadis within plowed into pedestrians then collided with a police car, turning the Audi onto its roof but leaving the five within intact to confront the police in Cambrils. She, in lightning reaction, shot four of the terrorists dead. "To kill four people, even if you are a professional, is not easy to digest" commented Police Chief Trapero.

Police check a car involved in the attack in Cambrils.
Police check a car involved in the attack in Cambrils. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Spain's Turn Once Again in Revolving Terrorist Attacks

"[The killings represent a] savage terrorist attack. [Spaniards] are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life."
"Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years but we also know that terrorists can be beaten."
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

"London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It's been Barcelona's turn today."
Carles Puigdemont, president, government of Catalonia 
The evening newspaper splash says it all...
Credit AP -- the local evening paper says it all

Migrants in their tens of thousands are crossing from Morocco to Spain. In a 24-hour period a surge of arrivals through the growing sea route to Europe saw close to 600 migrants rescued. People were extracted from 15 overcrowded rafts by the Spanish coast guard in a one-day period; 424 in the Gibraltar Strait, and 169 close to Alboran, an island between Spain and Morocco. The International Organization for Migration has issued a warning that Spain is on track to overtake Greece as the new gateway to Europe.

Over eight thousand migrants have taken the Morocco-Spain route since the beginning of 2017 in comparison with the similar period last year that saw 2,500 taking the route. That situation is juxtaposed with another set of incidents of fairly lethal proportions in jihadist terrorist activities committed by Moroccans in Spain, or rather Catalonia, set to undergo a separation referendum. It would seem that American intelligence alerted their Spanish counterparts to an impending terrorist attack in Catalonia and somehow the alert failed to make its way to Barcelona.

Evidently, and obviously, tension exists between Spain and aspiring sovereign Catalonia. Intelligence shared between foreign and domestic intelligence agencies is not being shared between domestic intelligence agencies. And an obvious cell, the size and extent of which is as yet unknown, of Moroccan jihadis which Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant lays claim to representing them, had planned a series of almost simultaneous attacks in Spain.

Catalonia police, in the aftermath of the Barcelona attack, foiled another one in Cambrils, a city nearby, killing five suicide-belt-equipped terrorists in the process, which took the life of a Spanish civilian in the wrong place at the right time. But they had managed to avoid another tragedy when officers "shot down the perpetrators" to "respond to a terrorist attack". Eight hours earlier, thirteen people were  killed when a driver of a van (himself now dead after a manhunt) deliberately ran down throngs of tourists on a historic street, and injured another hundred, fifteen left in critical condition.

There were two arrests in the hours after Las Ramblas was placed in lockdown as hundreds of police with hand guns and automatic rifles took part in a manhunt, while ordering stores, cafes and public transport to shut down. One Spanish national from the Mediterranean seafront town of Melilla in North Africa was arrested, along with a Moroccan, neither identified as the driver of the van, who would elude capture for days. A gas explosion in Alcanar that killed one man has been linked to the Barcelona attack, and is where other arrests were made.

This is by no means Spain's only lethal brush with Islamic jihad. Thirteen years earlier 192 people were killed in co-ordinated assaults by al-Qaeda-linked suicide bombers on commuter trains in Madrid. Since then, close to 200 jihadists have been detected and arrested. In the search for the perpetrator and his colleagues, another attacker was shot and killed by police after the vehicle he was driving was used to strike two police officers at a blockade on Barcelona's outskirts.

Barcelona attack
Credit EPA   The attack, the latest in a series of vehicle rammings across Europe in recent years, caused panic on the streets of Spain's largest city and drew condemnation from world leaders.



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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Defining Refugees as Opposed to Illegal Entrants Bypassing Legal Migration Fundamentals

"We need to make sure, first and foremost, that we are protecting the people we are supposed to be protecting, which are the people who are seeking a refugee status."
"Some of them may not be received as refugees, might not meet the requirements of refugee claimant as stated in Canadian law. So, some of them might be sent back to Haiti and we want to make sure if they are sent back, that they won't be facing problems."
"You have to have personal reasons not to be sent back. I am afraid that a lot of them will be returned because they do not meet the requirements of refugees."
Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, head, Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers

"We have an open compassionate country, but we have a strong system that we follow."
"Protecting Canadian confidence in the integrity of our system allows us to continue to be open, and that’s exactly what we need to continue to do."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
A family from Haiti haul their luggage down Roxham Road in Champlain, N.Y., earlier this week, where they crossed illegally into Quebec to claim asylum.
A family from Haiti haul their luggage down Roxham Road in Champlain, N.Y., earlier this week, where they crossed illegally into Quebec to claim asylum. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
"Yes, we are a society with a compassionate, welcoming tradition that we are proud of, but we are also a society that believes in the rule of law and fairness."
"This [obtaining asylum status] is very demanding, and difficult and success is far from guaranteed."
"It is unfortunate that vulnerable persons have allowed themselves to be convinced that their admission as refugees to Canada and with us in Quebec would be simple, even automatic. It is not the case."
"We must not take away people’s hopes … but we have to give people the real portrait of the situation, especially to people who are still in the United States and might be tempted to try the same thing."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard
Fearful of President Trump's stated position that he is prepared to crack down on the presence of illegal and undocumented migrants in the United States, some of those same migrants have decided to take their chances by entering Canada illegally, not at border crossings but bypassing them to declare themselves refugees seeking haven. Many of the illegal border crossers have lived in the U.S. for lengthy periods of time; many are from Africa and many more are Haitians.

Haitians were given special status by American authority to live there in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country and its subsequent tsunami. However, that special status may be allowed to expire next year. The obvious second choice for many is to cross the border into Canada where reputedly, they stand a better chance of acceptance, and Quebec is the likeliest place to emerge into, where a large expatriate Haitian community already exists.

These migrants obviously are unaware that Canada which had a similar special status enacted for Haitians, revoked it a year ago. Perhaps they are also unaware that 50 percent of asylum seekers are turned down, mostly because they don't fit the refugee criteria. Canada's refugee system is overtaxed at the present time, with a growing backlog of refugee claimants delaying procedures to the point that Canadian regulations are badly strained. New migrants have food, shelter and medical care demands.

Canada and the U.S. have an agreement that the first country of entry is responsible for those who reach their borders, as representing "safe third countries"; a safe country where individuals may claim refugee status. Entering at official border points the routine would be to refuse entry to these migrants because they have been settled in the U.S. Bypassing the official border crossings by illegal entry ensures they will be taken into custody and their refugee claims processed, while the claimants are put up in quarters set aside for them and looked after.

To gain entry to Canada through the normal immigration process is a lengthy affair. Even so, Canada welcomes close to a quarter-million new immigrants on an annual basis. Each of whom has had to make due application at Canadian missions abroad, follow the paper process and await results which can take up to two years to complete under normal conditions. What these illegal border-crossers are doing is short-circuiting the system, cutting out the formal process to advantage themselves over law-abiding immigration applicants.

The Geneva Refugee Convention which Canada signed on to ensures that refugee protection be claimed by a small grouping of the world's migrants. It deals with victims of political persecution. It does not represent those migrants whose intention is to further their economic conditions, or those planning to avoid valid deportation orders as may occur in the United States. Migrants like the Haitians fleeing environmental-induced discomfort are not represented within the existing refugee framework.


USA-IMMIGRATION/CANADA-BORDER
A group of asylum seekers wait to be processed in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. As many as 1,200 people were waiting in line Friday to file their refugee claims. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)


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Kim Throwing Trump a Reprieve

"This [Kim Jong-Un's decision to postpone the threatened ballistic missiles strike toward Guam] is a direct invitation to talk reciprocal constraints on exercises and missile launches"
Adam Mount, senior fellow, Centre for American Progress

"Military action on the Korean Peninsula can only be decided by the Republic of Korea and no one may decide to take military action without the consent of the Republic of Korea."
"[No dialogue will proceed until the North halts its] nuclear and missile provocations."
"The government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means." 
South Korean President Moon Jae-In

"There is no stepping back for North Korea. Those who don't know the North very well fall into this trap every time (thinking they are easing threats) but we've seen this before."
Kim Dong-yub, professor, military expert, Kyungnam University Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Seoul 

"He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared."
"[Kim examined the plan to] wring the windpipes of the Yankees [ but decided to wait a while longer before reaching a decision]."
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) 
In this Aug. 14, 2017, photo distributed Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, talks with military commanders during his visit to Korean People's Army's Strategic Forces in North Korea     Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Guam residents can take a deep breath, at least for now. As U.S. citizens they are located the closest to North Korea to identify as an instant target should Kim Jong-Un decide that the American president is continuing to be bloody-minded about behaving himself, deciding to continue threatening blameless North Korea for Trump's bad humour. The threat made a week earlier that just to remind President Trump that Kim holds a few trump cards of his own, he would shoot off three missiles within spitting distance of an American possession, has been temporarily delayed.

Until such time as the United States once again behaves stupidly, that is. And stupid behaviour, according to irascible but so reasonable Kim Jong-Un, is the scheduled military drills the U.S. is once again preparing to launch with South Korea. For the time being, the world can breathe easy. Whatever is destined to occur has been put off for now. No fireworks for the middle of this month, which has in any event, expired.

At this time, Pyongyang would be willing to accept a few overtures of assurances. After all, it had given Washington a reprieve in withdrawing its threat to Guam. And in so doing there is no necessity for the United States to respond, not in kind, but with impressive force of a nature meant to deter the North from any further stressful provocations to raise the ire of the colossus that is America. Japan and its citizens are now able to shrug and get on with life. South Koreans do, in any event.

Pyongyang is busy congratulating itself for its temperance in willingly stepping back from "extremely dangerous reckless actions"; not on its part, of course, but on the part of the United States. Nothing North Korea does is reckless or dangerous needless to say. It is satisfied with its good judgement and that it is most unfortunate that its U.S.-sycophantic neighbours suffer the debilitating effects of nervous tension; they really should do something about that.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledges a welcome from the military officers during his visit to Korean People’s Army’s Strategic Forces in North Korea     Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
Just as the North references the U.S.-South Korean military drills scheduled to begin on Monday; clearly invasion rehearsals, it is intolerable they will proceed. Pyongyang has identified their purpose and decried their intent. In the goodness of its heart, it has volunteered to suspend all further work on its ICBMs and nuclear heads in exchange for cancellation of all such combined military drills. A sign of goodwill between the Koreas and the troublesome Americans that the North would graciously accept.

Such an agreement took place previously. It did not, unfortunately, detain North Korea from its deadly weapons enterprises. So would an agreement by the U.S. for direct talks with the North do the trick? The Trump administration has signalled that it is open to a dialogue, but that Pyongyang has as yet demonstrated no real interest in furthering direct talks. While the North remains under the impression that it is they who declared a need for direct talks, sloughed off by the Americans.

It's a language-communication thing. Each echoes the other and each has impaired hearing function. According to North Korea's state media, Kim has stated that the United States must "make a proper option first and show it through action, as it committed provocations after introducing huge nuclear strategic equipment into the vicinity of the peninsula" and that it "should stop at once arrogant provocations" against North Korea.
A man watches a TV screen showing a local news program reporting about North Korean military’s plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017     Lee Jin-man/AP



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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Congo: Mass Graves and Delayed Elections

"As of June 30, 2017, UNJHRO had identified a total of 42 mass graves in these three provinces (of Kasai), most of which would have been dug by (Congolese army) elements following clashes with presumed militia members."
UN Joint Human Rights Office report, Congo

"The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasais over the last nine months."
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

The UN has recorded more than 2,800 human rights violations in Congo since the beginning of the year. Photo: Aaron Ross, Reuters 
"It's the worst humanitarian and human rights crisis in a decade, when both sides have committed serious crimes."
Jose Maria Aranaz, United Nations mission in Congo, MONUSCO
No fewer than eighty graves have been discovered in the Congo to the present by United Nations investigative representatives. Having discovered the presence of the graves, they await the time when they can be exhumed and perhaps clues detected through forensic science to identify the bodies. The UN representatives can do nothing about exhumation, the responsibility of the national authorities. Earlier in the year two United Nations experts who had attempted to investigate the graves were killed for their troubles.

As far as the government is concerned the graves hold the bodies of militia fighters. They were buried there, according to government spokespeople, by their fellow militia members. Since access to the sites by independent investigators has been refused by the government, there has been no avenue open to them to discover where the truth lies, though they suspect with good reason that the government is not to be trusted in this regard.

In Kananga, the capital of the Kasai region there is a commune, Nganza, where interviews with witnesses took place describing an entirely different situation to what the government insists is their version. Soldiers and police officers who had been ordered to search the town and clear it of militants went door-to-door in March. They looted valuables. They extorted money from residents, shooting them if enough money was not forthcoming.

According to the witnesses interviewed, the soldiers and police slaughtered newborns, the elderly and those with disabilities. They were killed in their homes. Over 500 civilians are among those thought to have been killed in Nganza in a three-day period. A military official paid a group of men to bury the bodies in at least nine different graves, once the killing was done with.

One of the men described how he and other men had been paid $50 to take up spades, gloves and lime powder, to sprinkle over the bodies, going house to house pulling out corpses in the process of decomposing. Most had been shot, they observed. In the middle of a nearby field where children were playing, the man pointed out a sandy patch where he said 120 bodies were buried.

In the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo the dead decompose, after having met their deaths months ago. The ground covering them looks undisturbed. Government soldiers in aviator sunglasses carrying AK-47s are posted in the field to make certain that no one approaches the area of the mass grave. With decomposition so far advanced identifying the bodies will be difficult-to-impossible.

The position of both the government and the military they have posted at the sites of mass gives is clear enough. To ensure that no one, after speaking to witnesses, chooses to proceed in investigating who and how many moulder in those mass graves when security forces went door-to-door gunning down whole families in their homes, then closing the door securely behind as they continued on to other houses.

The Roman Catholic Church in Congo estimates that at least 3,300 people have been killed since October, while over 1.4 million people have been forced to flee from their homes, internally displaced or flooding into Angola as refugees In the Kasai region in the center of Congo, government forces are in conflict with a militia in opposition to President Joseph Kabila. Troops had killed the group's leader and the conflict picked up when his followers retaliated.

Like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, President Kabila of the DRC aspires to change the country's constitution to enable him to remain as president after having served 16 years to the present. The violence he is primarily responsible for represents his stated reason for delaying elections.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Siege of Fear

"[Parents], stay calm [in the event of an emergency]."
"Listen to the news. Do not call the school. Be patient. Wait until you are told to pick up your child."
Guam, Ministry of education

"This goes to show to the other worlds, to the other nations and the countries, that Guam may be small [but] our faith and trust is big."
Father Mike Cristostomo, Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica

"The newspaper says it only takes 14 minutes for their bombs to get here, but, you know, the Lord is going to take care of us."
Elena Sanicolas, grandmother shopping at Kmart, Hagatna, Guam

"It's important, especially today, to pray for peace and for two people being able to come together, two leaders of the world, and think that there is a bigger picture that encompasses everybody rather than to have such huge conflict."
Ronnie Connelly, church congregant, Hagatna, Guam
Local residents attend Sunday Mass on August 13 at Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatña, Guam.
Local residents attend Sunday Mass on August 13 at Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatña, Guam.  CNN

It is, without an iota of doubt, a sobering experience for these U.S. citizens to suddenly find themselves at the eye of an unpredictable storm whose dimensions may become unfathomably gigantic in ramifications that have the potential of swallowing much of the world in a violent confrontation fed by paranoia and pride. The U.S. territory of Guam's 162,000 inhabitants find themselves a potential target of an unstable megalomaniac who will not rest until he has succeeded in blackmailing the world into recognizing him as a powerful world-class leader.

Even that recognition may not succeed in persuading Kim Jong-Un that he has finally achieved his goal. Which is to inspire fear in all who may doubt his divinely gifted strengths. For fear is the instrument he recognizes as the one reliable tool in his growing arsenal of lethal weapons, that can guarantee that none would dare challenge his arsenal, well stocked with advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads of an as-yet undetermined capacity.

It is the withheld unknowns alongside the demonstrated knowns that have been pridefully placed on show, as a combination that instills insecurity and trepidation in the minds of the leaders of nations whose geographic proximity places them within North Korea's weapons' orbits. As the technology advances, the orbits widen and the targets become more potentially plentiful. But in his joyful cat-and-mouse game with the United States, confronting a man holding actual power whose reactions are as unpredictable as his own, Kim delights in sending a warning shot across the bow.

And, as it happens, the bow has been identified as the Island of Guam with its vulnerable population, including American military installations and members. The former Spanish colony, an American possession since 1898, is 85 percent Roman Catholic, and its 26 churches have been urged by Guam archbishop Michael Byrnes to "offer prayers for peace between our nations, just resolutions of differences, and prudence in both speech and action."

The call to prayer is having its beneficial effect on tamping down somewhat peoples' urgent concerns, for knowing that the Lord has been invoked to restrain the impetuosity of two men whose belligerence and egos on full public display certainly does warrant concern, yet the comfort of God's guidance is welcome to an outcome that may preserve lives when and if the threatened four Hwasong-12 missiles touch down adjacent their coastline.

Mid-August approaches.

"We pray", said 82-year-old Dora Salazar from her village of Mangilao "that God will touch his heart", as she and others concentrate their efforts on acquainting God with Kim Jong-Un's threats.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Trump To Rescue Venequelans

"We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option."
"A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue."
U.S. President Donald Trump
Trump's military threat has Venezuelan dictator dancing for joy
Getty Images

No action emanating from outside the country could possibly be a greater guarantee that Venezuelans now railing against their leftist strongman's tactics to rewrite their constitution to favour his remaining in power by instituting a new law to enable that, than the United States, through its impulsive president echoing the goonish statements of Maduro himself, promising to invade their country to stop the great inheritor of Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution dead in his tracks.

The track record of the past that distinguished America's South American interventions that so infuriated the citizens of the countries interfered with by past presidents will not inspire confidence in Venezuela's population any more than had Colombia, now mopping up after its own long run with civil war, sought to challenge Venezuela's military. At least that would have been the inconvenient interference of a neighbour, most of whom have condemned Maduro's authoritarian rule.

A nation struggling with mass unemployment, food and medicine scarcity, a government imprisoning its political challengers, and mass protests in the streets hardly receives the news that a distantly alien country has hostile occupation thoughts occupying its busy agenda with equanimity. What's a country to do other than Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza sneering about the "boss of the empire" seeking to violate international law and the UN charter.

This, in the wake of their president having called for closer ties with the United States, requesting a meeting at the UN General Assembly next month with America's Trump. The response by President Trump was hardly what Maduro might have envisaged, but also hardly surprising, since Trump appears to be on a bit of a trajectory into war-speak, inviting North Korea's Kim Jong-Un to go ahead and make his day, and now promising to make Venezuela's day.

"If the impossible scenario of tarnishing our fatherland were ever to occur, our guns would arrive to New York, Mr. Trump, and we would take the White House", promised the son of Nicolas Maduro. "Solve  your own problems, Donald Trump. You have enough", he blustered. Doing his papa proud.

The unstoppable Mouth That Is Donald has now succeeded in supporting Venezuela's President Maduro's assurances to protesting Venezuelans that he is dedicated to protecting them from the intervention in their affairs by an America that is just looking to capture the nation's oil reserves. An assertion that most Venezuelans simply laughed off previously, but must now be giving second thoughts to.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

A World of Strongmen Gone Amok

"All of these developments point to a growing danger that the international order of the past quarter-century -- rooted in the principles of democracy human rights and the rule of law -- will give way to a world in which individual leaders and nations pursue their own narrow interests without meaningful constraints, and without regard for the shared benefits of global peace, freedom and prosperity."
"North Korea is a single-party state led by a dynastic totalitarian dictatorship." 
"Surveillance is pervasive, arbitrary arrests and detention are common, and punishments for political offences are severe. The state maintains a system of camps for political prisoners where torture, forced labour, starvation, and other atrocities take place."
Freedom House, (non-governmental U.S. agency researching democracy and human rights) 11th annual report

"[People in Europe and North America are now] more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives."
"Earlier generations have a real sense of what it means not to live in a democracy. They have fought against fascism or have experienced fascism or they have been alive at a time when communism was a real force in the world. When they assess liberal democracy, they assess it in relation to these other systems, and they recognize these other systems are bad."
"[Younger people] ... Look at the present reality and they find things in it which they have reason to be pissed off about, like the stagnation of living standards and other things. And so they say, 'Why not try something new? How bad can things get?"
"That doesn't mean they will like whatever system will emerge if we do lose liberal democracy, but I think it makes them much more willing to go down a path that might result in democracy's ultimate demise."
"There is a far right and a far left end of populism. Venezuela reminds us that the far left variant of populism can also have terrible effects."
Yascha Mounk, lecturer political theory, Harvard University

"While the West works out its own problems, despots and dictators have a lot more leverage and a lot longer leash to behave in totally undemocratic ways without any consequences"
"I think it's a perfect storm against democracy right now."
"He [Trump] might actually protect us from a much savvier authoritarian person who could come later, because all of the tests are strengthening our defences. His incompetence is effectively the saving grace of American democracy right now."
Brian Klaas, politics lecturer, London School of Economics
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 06: Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during his meeting with Russian IWAS 2015 Worlds Games medalists on October 6, 2015 in Sochi, Russia. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
(Jabin Botford/The Washington Post and Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

The world, it seems, is reeling in a grip of polarized political and social order and disorder; teetering from one to the other as conflicts rage in the Middle East and Africa with displaced persons spilling over borders as both refugees in search of haven and economic migrants in search of opportunities invade the West. Among them are those with a malevolent agenda; to cause upheaval and violence wherever they can manage to make an imprint.

If the ordered world of established democracies is facing dissent against the prevailing social and political order much of the impetus can be ascribed to the massive number of people fleeing violence, poverty and death in their countries of origin. In their flight they bring with them the culture, history, values they have been steeped in since childhood of tribalism and sectarian violence, along with a well-instilled revulsion of others unlike themselves. Little wonder people fleeing the atrocities and failures of the Middle East and North Africa where Islam prevails leave for a better life bringing with them the old, failed life.

In some instances, the countries in Europe facing a backlash from their right-wing demographics relate specifically to the threat seen to their own heritage, culture, laws and religious adherence. the dismay felt by people who see their indigenous culture, values and heritage drowned in a sea of introduced culture, values and heritage can scarcely be faulted. From Russia's Vladimir Putin inheriting a battle against Muslim Chechens rebelling against Soviet then Russian rule creating violent havoc and challenging Russian rule, the backlash helped to create the strongman image that promises security and stability that Putin has parlayed to his advantage.

The world surrounding the Middle East viewed Turkey, between the Middle East and Europe, as a bastion of subdued Islam reflecting the veneer of democracy patterned after European values and laws, a stable democracy where human rights were observed in the breach. With the ascendancy of Islamist ideology under Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, Erdogan prolongs his position as Turkey's grand emir by having emulated Putin who juggled national executive positions to remain in power.

From President to Prime Minister and back again, each gave themselves the opportunity to alter their country's Constitution to allow themselves to remain in power long after by law they were meant to retire. They both now are effectively their nation's ruler-for-life. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was on the same track when his plans went awry, so his groomed and chosen successor Nicolas Maduro is wrenching his country away from democracy for the same purpose, one which the Philippines' Duterte will not be long in bringing to his country; ruler-in-perpetuity.

In some instances these returns to tyranny have little impact on their neighbours' stability. In the instance of Vladimir Putin it obviously does since his plan encompasses a return to the glory days of the Soviet Union when neighbours were controlled satellites of the USSR, their personal pawns to be ordered into submission and looted at will. Though some similarities exist between these 'strongmen' who manipulate their way to overweening power and the present president of the United States of America, there democracy cannot be unseated.

The institutions of democracy are too firmly rooted, the people, even those who voted for celebrity business magnate Donald Trump to take over the White House would never allow the uprooting of the American Constitution, its justice system, its Congress comprised of elected representatives in the House and the Senate. Democracy is so well established that though both political parties are dismayed with the performance of their new president, they respect the democratic action that brought him to power.

And President Trump is a counterpart to the aforementioned strongmen all of whom with the exception of the leftist Maduro he admires, openly and vacuously. There are exceptions to everything, of course, and the major exception here is that of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea's threatening little popinjay whose mendacious control over that country appears absolute, partially ideological, partly religious; the issue of the Kim dynasty viewed as semi-gods.

The virulent threat represented by a man who like his father and his grandfather burnish their image as world leaders entitled to the respect owed to a super power battling the force of evil that enviously threatens their nation's security. The paranoid passion poured into the nation's success at building advanced ballistic missiles and achieving nuclear technology has both puzzled and paralyzed the West. Conciliatory bribes of billions of dollars in exchange for promises to neutralize the nuclear ambitions of North Korea have never worked.

What previous American presidents have undertaken in efforts to assure the North that it has no designs to dominate it, nor threaten it in any measure, complete with surrenders to its compensatory demands holding the U.S. and the rest of the world hostage to a demagogic little tyrant have been of no use whatever. That both China and Russia have finally agreed to support the latest sanctions against North Korea as it speeds toward accomplishment of a goal it threatens to use on the United States speaks volumes about the larger concern wracking the world at this juncture.

 

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