Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Pregnant Person May Be Female 

The BMA said its guidance was aimed at its staff      Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA
"The elderly [should be referred to as 'older people; 'disabled lifts' should be called 'accessible lifts'. Someone who is] biologically male or female [should be referred to as] assigned male or female."
"A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women. We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying 'pregnant people', instead of 'expectant mothers'."
A Guide to Effective communication: Inclusive Language in the Workplace
We must not offend those who are prepared to be offended at the least verbal mis-step that may creep into conversation unbidden by the unwary. Not that the offended represent a significant proportion of society, but they are there, different in their social-sexual orientation, and their differences must place upon us an especial, empathetic burden of 'understanding' and total acceptance of their sensitivities.

To this end, the British Medical Association has joined forces with other fey groups such as academics and civil rights groups straining to accommodate the LGBTQQIP2SAA community.

Their 14-page tenderly-constructed manifesto of kind consideration includes such tidbits as the substitution of "surname", or "last name" for "family name". "Mankind" and "manpower" to be strictly avoided as "not good practice"; the use of a "masculine noun" should be exchanged for the anodyne "humanity" and "personnel". To avoid the sin of a "perceived hierarchy", lest one offend, prefixes such as Prof., Dr., Mr., Mrs. or Miss should be left blank.

All medical professionals in Great Britain are urged to be subordinate to this ever-so-sensitive directive whose goal is to give comfort to the discomfited. The BMA has aimed squarely on 'effective communication' in the workplace. And the recommendations are not to be viewed as advice to its 156,00 practising physician members on how they should best deal with patients; heavens, never!

Simply a reminder, a little prod, lest one's sensibilities might somehow have been blunted.

Born a girl but planning to transition to a male, an individual in Britain has temporarily set aside surgery for the more immediately enticing experience of becoming a mother. Until such time as she/he decides to proceed with the surgical portion of her/his transition. At which time the mother will become the father of the child. And if the child will not in due time be baffled, that will be a mercy, won't it?

But Hayden Cross, now legally male, undergoing hormone treatment, has not yet committed to the final sex-change surgery. Childbirth trumps the final step.

Trust a Conservative to tread with heavy foot on such delicate matters: Member of Parliament Philip Davies spoke of the guidelines as "completely ridiculous. If you can't call a pregnant mother an expectant mother, than what is the world coming to?" he rather grumpily and most unhelpfully griped.

Helpfully, Heather Ashton of the transgender support group TG Pals had a useful response: "We know that biological females are the pregnant ones but trans people are parents too, and this is a massive step forward to prevent discrimination against them. The fact that the terminology is changing can only be a positive thing for everyone who wants to be a parent and has the right to be a parent."

Thank heavens for the intervention of sensible people, speaking in plain language that anyone, even people not versed in biology can understand. We stand advised and corrected!

The BMA guidance suggests the phrase expectant mothers could offend Credit: Alamy

Labels: , , ,

Syrian Fallout in Lebanon

"When it's light out and we're looking down from these positions and see groups in the mountains, we fire at any target we see."
"We can go in sometimes [into the Lebanese town of Arsal], but if we go in too often they will remember us and plant a bomb under our car."
"We obey international law, so we can't just go in and kill them all, because we can't afford the legal consequences."
"It's like a border now. A buffer zone. Anyone who wants to leave should be checked. If you're an illegal refugee you can sty here, but  you can't cross further into Lebanon."
"[Relations with the townspeople] ... is excellent. They love that the army is here."
"They're [Islamic State fighters] all over the mountains. These natural shelters are what make it so hard to root them out."
"When we have a good government in Syria we can communicate with, you can get them out very easily [getting rid of the presence of Islamic State]."
Col. Ahmed Assir, commander, Lebanese Army Ninth Infantry Brigade

"Whenever there's a security problem, they let it fester to the extent that the solution is to turn it into an enclave and close it off."
"What they don't understand is that by inflicting this exclusion on Arsal, it's creating lots of resentment in the population. It will sooner or later backfire."
Sahar Atrache, analyst, International Crisis Group
Islamic State fighters as well as al-Qaeda-linked Nusra militias descended out of the mountains above the town of Arsal and into the town of mostly Sunni Lebanese for a short-lived victory in 2014. The Lebanese Armed Forces responded in kind pushing the foreign Islamists out of the town, with thousands taking shelter in the town's outskirts and alternately finding refuge in caves and the naturally occurring redoubts of the mountains.

As the Islamists retreated they took with them 29 Lebanese police officers and soldiers, four of them soon executed and others still being held, years later. Lebanon's population has swelled with the influx of Syrian refugees. At first the country welcomed the Syrians fleeing the vicious assaults mounted against them by their country's Shiite president. Those assaults were aided by Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group representing Iran's interests in Syria. The entry of Sunni ISIL fighters into Lebanon might be viewed as a response to Hezbollah's defence of the Syrian regime in a sectarian conflict.
Lebanese army soldiers work on a 130mm howitzer cannon, pointed to areas controlled by the Islamic State group at the edge of the town of Arsal, on the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon. The Lebanese army is fighting a war against the Islamic State and al-Qaida and has clawed significant territory back from the extremists. The fighting and shelling near the eastern border town of Arsal occur almost daily. Some 5,000 Lebanese soldiers are fighting against a dwindling number of militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Now, for every three Lebanese in the country there is one Syrian refugee. Lebanon is staggering under the weight of refugees. In a country already long divided by Christians, Druze, Shiites and Sunnis all in conflict with one another, and the addition of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, the country is further dissected and fraught with the huge presence of Syrian refugees. The international community has set aside funding to aid Lebanon in its coping strategies. France, the U.K. and the U.S. along with Canada are donors to Lebanon.

The town of Arsal originally housed 30,000 inhabitants. Now there are an additional 60,000 to 90,000 Syrian refugees to swell its population, with large masses of white refugee tents clustered everywhere around the town. The town's locals have become a minority in their own home town, and another reality rears its head; that among the refugees and posing as refugees themselves are jihadi fighters. In response to which the people of Arsal increasingly resent the presence of Syrians.

The municipality imposed a curfew whereby refugees had to remain inside between ten p.m. and seven a.m. The town is surrounded by five thousand Lebanese troops, effectively creating a siege situation. Army outposts are numerous and sandbagged barricades, tanks and artillery guns proliferate on the barren, rocky landscape. Militants and the Lebanese army exchange fire daily.  Col. Assir describes jihadists creeping within range of army positions to open fire with American-made TOW missiles or rocket-propelled grenades.
A Lebanese army soldier takes his position overlooking an area controlled by the Islamic State group at the edge of the town of Arsal, on the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon.  (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Lebanese Armed Forces have their work cut out for them in and around the town. Not only the jihadis remaining in the town's outskirts and those in the mountains, but they are aware that many more still remain among the local population in the town. Where Lebanese soldiers have homes in Arsal, they can be identified and are ripe for murder. They have taken to wearing balaclavas to ensure they cannot be recognized and become targets.

The military perimeter around Arsal enables them to mount intelligence networks hoping for warnings whenever an ISIL leader enters town so they can respond by raiding and making arrests. Those living in the town as normal residents or as refugees cannot come and go as they please. Because of the military surrounding the town both townspeople and refugees -- and terrorists among them -- are virtual prisoners, since access is limited and all within the town are stuck there.

Allegations of torture conducted by the army against Syrian and Lebanese terror suspects detained in Arsal have been remitted to Human Rights Watch. According to its local researcher, torture extracts false confessions used to convict in ensuing military trials. The Shiite Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, Iran's proxy militia, is an integrated part of the government, although their militias have refused to merge with the Lebanese military. It's quite conceivable that the combat-skilled Hezbollah could, if they felt obliged to rid Lebanon of Islamic State fighters, counter their presence.

On the other hand, Lebanon, already freighted with conflicts between its political, ethnic and religious/sectarian groups, would erupt into another tinder-box explosion of violent hatred and vicious conflict, upsetting the balance of each vested interest put to the test once again of setting aside political accommodation and succumbing to the passions of savage conflict, so familiar to the people of Lebanon.

Syrian refugee camps in the foreground, and the town of Arsal, near the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon. The Lebanese army is fighting a war against the Islamic State and al-Qaida and has clawed significant territory back from the extremists. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Germany's Colonial-Era Practise Run at Genocide

"The only difference is that the Jewish are white in colour and we are black."
"The Germans thought they could keep this issue under the carpet and the world would never know about it. But now we have made noise."
Sam Kambazembi, 51, Herero chief, Waterberg, Namibia

"Whenever I asked her [grandmother] about this, she always said a word or two, and then started crying."
"If you would see an old lady like that crying, it also transferred to you that emotion, the hatred."
Marama Kavita, 43, Herero activist

"They can take it [German monument to soldiers who crushed the rebellion] to Germany, or they can take it to a museum."
"We as Hereros and we as Namibians don't want German soldiers [monument] in front of our State House."
Uahimisa Kaapehi, ethnic Herero city councilor
A painting depicts German soldiers shooting Herero people in 1904. Photograph: Chris Hellier/Corbis via Getty Images

Just over a hundred years ago, Germany was on the verge of losing its Namibian colony. Now, a century and more later, Germany is in the negotiation stages with Namibia, owning up to its violent colonialist past and seeking to make amends with the government of Namibia. Like many other European nations, Germany had a stake in what was at that time thought of as South-West Africa.

Germany thought highly of the African colony. Thousands of German settlers gravitated to Namibia to occupy land and to take possession of cattle from local indigenous residents. Understandably enough, the indigenous Herero fiercely resisted the commandeering of their land and their cattle. As traditional cattle herders, they and the Nama tribes valued their heritage and their possessions and fought to retain both from the foreign invaders.

What ensued in Namibia from 1904 and for the succeeding four years was the annihilation of an estimated 80 percent of Herero, at one time as populous as 100,000. In 1904, Lothar van Trotha in his role as German military commander in Namibia stated "every Herero, with or without rifles, with or without cattle, will be shot". A year later, a similar statement of intent was issued targeting the Nama, of whom ten thousand were estimated to have been slaughtered.
Troops in German south-west Africa (now Namibia) at the time of the Herero revolt of 1904. Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

"It will be described as genocide", baldly stated Ruprecht Polenz, German envoy to Namibia, describing an anticipated wording in a joint statement being worked on, to be released. Now in preparation by the two governments negotiating the wording. How Germany will compensate and apologize to Namibia and its people is also now under negotiation.
"We are talking now about the lives that were lost, the land that was taken, the cattle that was killed, the rape, the lost dignity, the culture that was destroyed. We cannot even speak our language."
"[Thousands of women were systematically raped, often taken as] wives  [by settlers]. My great-great-grandfather was German. This relationship was not of love, but a product of force."
Esther Muinjangue,  Herero activist, social worker, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
German soldiers lie buried in a military cemetery, individually identified by name, date and details of death engraved on polished tombstones in Waterberg, Namibia. The names of the countless dead Namibians are unknown, not memorialized as were the infinitely fewer numbers of German soldiers who fought the country's indigenous peoples, other than to refer to them as African "warriors".

Germany, it appears, is preparing to acknowledge that what they undertook in the opening years of the 20th century was a genocide, their first. A practise run for a much wider, better planned and executed extermination of another people whom they regarded as scum needlessly cluttering up the Earth whom they were more than prepared to expunge from existence.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cry, And You Cry Alone

"After the Holocaust our mission became to help survivors of the Shoah in the United States and from all European countries. We are the only national organization whose sole mission is to provide financial assistance to Holocaust survivors in need [in the U.S.]."
"We learned that their greatest need for assistance was for home care in order to remain safely in their homes, instead of living in institutions which often re-triggers trauma."
"Another issue facing survivors is housing and utilities, we see often that many [survivors] did not have children or could not have children or their children live far away, and with the passing of a spouse there is suddenly only one income, and so we begin to see eviction notices or utility notices." 
"The time to act is now, as the number of survivors is decreasing rapidly and the needs of those remaining are very high. We ask that the general public gets involved, is able to contribute, volunteer with survivors, and identify survivors in need and ensure that their final years are lived with dignity, comfort and respect."
Masha Pearl, executive director, The Blue Card NGO

"It's not pleasant to be alone. It gives a good feeling [when people visit]."
"On the one hand, it feels good to have all these people [recognize his existence]. On the other hand it reminds you of such tough times."
"Happy it can't be, because it was not happy times [during the years of the Holocaust], but it is nice to have someone listen."
Ernest Weiner, 92, widowed, childless, Holocaust survivor, Ramat Hasharon, Israel 

"Morally, not just as Jews but as people of the world, we must help them [Holocaust survivors]  finish their life in dignity without them having to beg for warm food."
"These are people whose lives were robbed from them because of the world's silence, and we all have an obligation to give them something back in the little time they have left."
Tamara More, The Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors, Israel
In this Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2017 photo, Israeli Holocaust survivor, Ernest Weiner, wearing crown, sits during his birthday in a restaurant in the central Israeli city of Ramat Hasharon. More than 100 fellow Holocaust survivors and advocates on their behalf gathered for the 92nd birthday party of Weiner -- a blind and widowed survivor who uses a wheelchair to get around and still lives on his own.  (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israel, understandably home to the world's largest Holocaust-survival community of 160,000 elderly people, struggles to fill the needs of thousands living alone, with various government institutions as well as private organizations seeking to fill the gap of their needs in offering material, psychological and medical support. Their experiences during the extermination horrors of 70 years earlier scarred them for life. Half are given government stipends but even so a third live under the poverty line.

The Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors exists on voluntary donations to serve those in need, with the aid of 8,000 volunteers around Israel. The survivors are given help with legal assistance, with paying bills, buying groceries; they are driven to medical appointments and several times yearly parties are put on representing a social highlight on the calendars of Holocaust survivors.

When these elderly survivors die, leaving behind not family members but treasured companion dogs and cats, the charity houses those orphaned animals. Funding can seem scarce at times, to answer to all the needs to make life more tolerable for the survivors, but the more ephemeral but equally if not more vital element of companionship is required to bring the elderly survivors away from the solitude and misery of their memories.

They require more than a monthly stipend and state-provided health care, free medication and discounts on living expenses; their emotional needs are critical and must be met in the true spirit of giving aid. In their final years, the survivors often go full circle from refusing to discuss their Holocaust experiences, to expressing a compelling need to do so. "There is always more you can give them, but what they really want most is someone to just be with them", explained Naama Schultz, senior Israeli political adviser.

In the United States, an estimated 100,000 Holocaust survivors got on with their lives; now a third live at or below the poverty line. Some live on less than $23,000 annually, making basic necessities, adequate medical care, food and mental health seem unaffordable at times. A nonprofit which provides ongoing financial help to Holocaust survivors in the U.S. has witnessed a 20% increase in survivors needing help.

According to the Blue Card, "We see that more survivors are coming forward and their needs are growing exponentially as maintaining independent living becomes more difficult", explained Masha Pearl.

In 1934, the Jewish community in Germany established the Blue Card, whose purpose was to help Jews who were unemployed resulting from Nazi restrictions against Jews. Blue paper cards were issued to Jewish donors who helped raise funds for Jews in need, and this is where the organization's name stemmed from. By 1939, a reorganized Blue Card appeared in the United States to give aid to refugees of Nazi persecution who managed to resettle in America.

Needless to say, it is Jewish organizations which engage themselves in support of Holocaust survivors that represent the mainstay of aid to those in need. The world failed to respond to the anguished appeals for aid during the years of Nazi destruction of European Jewry. A brief period of shocked response to the revelations of the full magnitude of the extermination of European Jews cast a pall over the globe representing a kind of communal shame.

But the world has grown weary of commiserating and feeling any lasting degree of empathy with Jews determined never to forget, to insist on bringing the world's attention at regular intervals to the fact that fully one-third of Jews were destroyed in a terrible effort at genocide that succeeded to a gratifying degree for Jew-haters. Jews persevere and non-Jews yawn with boredom, submitting to a yearly soul-searching, swiftly dissipated.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 27, 2017

Predicting the Collapse of North Korea's Dictatorship

"I am sure that more defections of my colleagues will take place since North Korea is already on a slippery slope."
"The traditional structures of the North Korean system are crumbling."
"[The Kim government] can be held in place and maintained only by idolizing Kim Jong-un like a god."
"I am quite confident that without sacrifice to any individual or any group . . . reunification or the elimination of the Kim Jong-un regime cannot be achieved."
Thae Yong-Ho, North Korean defector in South Korea
He represents the highest-ranking North Korean official yet to decamp from the threatening fantasy world of North Korea. As a high-rankjing official he and his family would have wanted for nothing. Quite unlike the majority of North Koreans who often face food shortages, and certainly face stark life in prison camps if they attempt to defy the dictatorial government of their Dear Leader who has held the world in dread apprehension each time he orders a ballistic missile or nuclear bomb test.

Kim Jong-un's adolescent tantrums and need for adulation from a captive public is legendary, along with his penchant for posturing and boasting. Let alone his very real threats that erupt from time to time aimed at South Korea, Japan and the United States. His brutality in ridding himself of those who fail to retain his trust was amply demonstrated when he had his uncle by marriage arrested, charged with being "dissolute and depraved" and summarily executed.
Image result for kim's arrested uncle
Jang Song Thaek (left) Kim Jong-un (right)

This pompous little tyrant funds research into advanced technological weaponry while failing to provide his nation with an adequate food supply, leading to episodes of mass starvation. The second-highest-ranking diplomat in London when he defected to South Korea last summer with his family, Thae Yong-Ho has been labeled "human scum" by the regime he now claims has "numbered" days before it crumbles.

His very defection however, is now fuelling speculation that North Korean elites are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their volatile, spectacularly unhinged leader. The career diplomat so eager now to share his rejectionist view of North Korea's dictator served in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, and as he did, upholding the glorious Kim family as a loyal subject of a regime that brooked no acquaintance with human rights.

Thae Yong-Ho feels that as long as North Koreans have no exposure to the outside world, they they will continue to support the dynastic regime that persecutes and bedevils them, keeping them in a dark age of demi-god worship and acceptance that the world outside North Korea is so envious of their good fortune that their country is ruled by one appointed from on high, it wishes to destroy them and thus their government is credited with protecting the 'rights' and the future of North Korea.

The former diplomat, now associated with  South Korea's Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank aligned with the National Intelligence Service, had the good fortune to be permitted to bring his sons with him to London wheres generally most North Korean diplomats' family members remain at home as "hostages" guaranteeing their return once the diplomatic assignment comes to an end.

Once his sons became familiar with British life they asked their father why North Korea executed people without legal procedures, and why the Internet was not accessible to North Koreans. Based on these enquiries Mr. Thae felt his sons would never be able to successfully adjust to life back home again and would be vulnerable to accusations of disloyalty if they returned to North Korea.

He concluded he had little option but to exile himself and his family, as a result.

Labels: , ,

Remembering the Holocaust

  • To ruminate upon exile, to make critical notes upon injuries, and be too acute in their apprehension, is to add unto our own tortures, to feather the arrows of our enemies, and to resolve to sleep no more. Sir Thomas Browne
  • It is more wretched to commit than to suffer an injury. Seneca
  • It is the mark of a good man not to know how to do an injury. Publilius Syrus
  • It is a principle of human nature to hate those whom you have injured. Tacitus
  • But when I observed the affairs of men plunged in such darkness, the guilty flourishing in continuous happiness, and the righteous tormented, my religion, tottering, began once more to fail. Claudian
  • To do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it. Plato
 The Home Book of Quotations
  • Still on Israel's head forlorn, Every nation heaps its scorn. Emma Lazarus
  • Who hateth me but for my happiness? Or who is honoured now but for his wealth? Rather had I, a Jew, be hated thus, Than pitied in a Christian poverty. Marlowe
  • He hath . . . laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Shakespeare
  • If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew. Albert Einstein 
  • Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon. Benjamin Disraeli
  • The Jews are among the aristocracy of every land; if a literature is called rich in the possession of a few classic tragedies, what shall we say to a national tragedy lasting for fifteen hundred years, in which the poets and the actors were also the heroes. George Eliot
  • When people talk about a wealthy man of my creed, they call him an Israelite; but if he is poor they call him a Jew. Heinrich Heine
 The Home Book of Quotations
  •  April 20, 1943: Near Krakow, Poland, Jewish women attack their male SS guards while being transferred from one person to another. Most are killed.
  • April 30, 1943: Two thousand Jews deported from Wlodawa, Poland, to Sobibor attack the death camp's SS guards on arrival at the unloading ramp. All of the Jews are killed by SS machine guns and grenades.
  • May 6, 1943: Hajj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, suggests to the Bulgarian foreign minister that Bulgarian-Jewish children should be sent to Poland rather than to Palestine.
  • May 7, 1943: Nearly 7000 Jews are killed in Novogrudok, Belorussia; a group of Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto is ambushed by German troops while travelling through the city's sewer system; Sephardic Jewish homes in Tunisia are ransacked and looted by departing German troops.
  • August 11, 1945: Anti-Jewish riots erupt in Krakow, Poland.
  • November 19, 1945: Anti=Jewish riots erupt in Lublin, Poland.
  • November 20, 1945: The Nuremberg Trials open. Defendants include Hermann Goring, Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolph Hess, and Julius Streicher.
  • December 1945: Antisemitic Poles murder 11 Jews in the town of KosowLacki, Poland, less than six miles from the Treblinka extermination camp.
  • December 22, 1945: The American Displaced Persons Act makes it easier for Nazi war criminals to immigrate to the United States; particularly benefiting Baltics, Ukrainians and ethnic Germans many who engaged in a "high level of collaboration:" with Germany.
  • 1945 -- 1950: Between 250,000 and 300,000 Jews survive German concentration-camp incarceration. About six million Jews have perished; 1.6 million nonincarcerated European Jews also survive. Jews emigrate from Europe en masse: 142,000 to Palestine/Israel; 72,000 to the U.S.; 16,000 to Canada, 8000 to Belgium and about 20,000 to other countries.
The Holocaust Chronicle


The Autocratic Pope?

"The most remarkable thing about the Order of Malta controversy is not that the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, has resigned. That is extraordinary enough, especially given that it was apparently on the invitation of Pope Francis. No, the most astonishing feature of the story is today’s announcement that the Pope will install an Apostolic Delegate to run the Order. In effect, this abolishes the Order as a sovereign entity. Under international law, what we are seeing is effectively the annexation of one country by another."
"Today’s announcement of an Apostolic Delegate to be appointed by the Pope represents, essentially, the total abrogation of the Order’s sovereignty. Yet the consequences for the Holy See itself may, in the longer term, be equally or even more severe. The disregard for the mutually sovereign relationship between the Holy See and the Order sets a precedent in international law, which will now lurk under the Secretariat of State’s dealings with other governments like an unexploded bomb."
"If the Holy See can so brazenly insert itself into the internal governance of another sovereign entity whose legitimacy stems from a mutual agreement under international law, it now has no legal defence should another sovereign body, say the government of the Italian Republic, choose to view the independence of the Holy See as a similarly anachronistic formality. Cardinal Parolin should prepare to see today’s actions cited as legitimate precedent when the IOR, commonly called the Vatican Bank, finds its sovereign independence under renewed pressure from other countries or international bodies. Pope Benedict XVI said that “a society without laws is a society without rights”; the naked disregard for the law shown in recent weeks has sown a bitter harvest for the Holy See’s diplomatic corps to reap in the future."
"The Pope himself is, as he has often stated, not a lawyer, nor is the law something he is known to have much interest in. Those in his curia who have prompted him to this action have deliberately served him, the office of the papacy, the international sovereignty of the Holy See, and of course the men and women of the Order of Malta, incredibly badly. I suspect it is now just a matter of when, not if, they come to regret it."
Ed Condon, Catholic Herald, 25 January 2017 

"After personally asking the head of the Knights of Malta to resign, Pope Francis is rumored to be reinstating the controversial official at the center of the dispute – despite the official's role in overseeing the distribution of contraceptives through the order's charity."
"German aristocrat Albrecht von Boeselager was fired from his post as Grand Chancellor on the grounds that he violated his promise of obedience. He refused to resign even though his superiors asked him to, thus violating his vow of obedience and allowing the order to take disciplinary action. His superiors had asked him to resign after learning how he had overseen the distribution of contraceptives while leading Malteser International, the order's charity."
"While Pope Francis has spoken boldly of valuing the poor and the dangers of wealth and vanity, the courting of the powerful Von Boeselager family by the Vatican is evident. In addition to the controversial reversing of the decision of the Grand Master and forcing his resignation over Albrecht von Boeselager's dismissal, Albrecht's brother Georg was in the midst of the controversy appointed to a leadership position at the Vatican bank."
Claire Chretien, Lifesitenews.com, 25 January 2017

"It's not for the Holy Father to accept the resignation of the Grand Master, it's for the sovereign council to accept it."
"You are giving ammunition to those who are opposed to an international status for the Holy See."
Kurt Martens, professor of canon law, Catholic University of America
Pope Francis delivers his blessing during a June 2016 meeting with Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Matthew Festing. Pope Francis will now name a delegate to run the embattled Knights of Malta, effectively taking over the sovereign lay Catholic order after Festing resigned in a bitter dispute with the pontiff over condoms.
Pope Francis delivers his blessing during a June 2016 meeting with Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Matthew Festing. Pope Francis will now name a delegate to run the embattled Knights of Malta, effectively taking over the sovereign lay Catholic order after Festing resigned in a bitter dispute with the pontiff over condoms.  (Gabriel Bouys / AP)

Pope Francis distinguished himself earlier by cordially offering the status and influence of his office to the Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas, a man who has chosen to overextend his elected mandate to represent Arab Palestinians, thus effectively legitimizing the PA's self-assigned 'right' to recognition as a sovereign state in the United Nations, bypassing the need to negotiate with the State of Israel. This man's selective choice to be oblivious to the PA President's frequent incitements to violence against Israeli citizens bespeaks an authority whose link to the heavenly father must be questioned.

His newly-observed officiousness in intervening in an internal sovereign matter of the Knights of Malta in a dispute pitting the leader of the sovereign lay Catholic order against an appointed Grand Chancellor answerable to the Knights' Grand Master speaks of a display of arrogance and unseemly interference. The aristocratic order of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta operates a network of charitable operations worldwide. Albrecht von Boeselager tasked with overseeing one of the charitable arms, Malteser International, had been distributing condoms in Myanmar.

Since Church practise strictly forbids artificial contraception, the order was incensed at the "disgraceful program", all the more so that Mr. von Boeselager refused to resign when his superior,  Matthew Festing, ordered him to. When Pope Francis sought to overturn that order through a papal investigative commission, the Knights' Grand Master Festing, refused the Pope's interference. Summoning Mr. Festing to the Holy See as though he had the authority to dictate to a sovereign state, the Pope pressed his divine authority, leading Mr. Festing to offer his resignation which the Pope accepted; an absurdity since he had no Malta authority to do so.

Irrespective of which, after the audience and Francis's acceptance of Grand Master Festing's resignation, the Pope decreed that he would take it upon himself to appoint a papal delegate to take the place of the dismissed grand master. When Mr. Festing refused cooperation with the Pope's investigation, he cited the obvious, that the Knights were a sovereign entity. That canon lawyers supported his defence, questioning the Pope's intervention in law to intervene in another sovereign entity's internal governance. Pope Francis has erred under international law.

He now joins an uncommonly ungracious pantheon of world figures, not the least of whom is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also extended his authority illegally by annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine's possession. Although the Crimea has a long history of Russian involvement and had an especial historical significance in the joined history of Ukraine and Russia, and was indeed part of Russia before it was deeded a half-century or so earlier to Ukraine, there is no such link between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta; they have never been joined other than through cordial relations -- up to the present.
Fra’ Matthew Festing at the Order of Malta's traditional new year audience (Order of Malta)
Fra’ Matthew Festing at the Order of Malta's traditional new year audience (Order of Malta)

The Knights of Malta, in fact, an ancient order dating back to the late Medieval era and the Crusades, is involved in providing health care in hospitals and clinics around the world in places where people live in poverty, neglected and otherwise forgotten. It cares for people of all faiths, traditionally, with the use of a hundred-thousand staff and volunteers dedicated to charitable action. Which, it might be said, is more accountability to the world at large on a practical level than the Catholic Church which focuses on spiritual guidance; important yes, but under this pope seemingly hypocritically.

Pope Francis has humiliated a peer -- deserving of far better treatment in recognition of the highly respected patrician order he serves and his dedication to it -- while choosing to rescue a wealthy papal benefactor from the embarrassment his dismissal represented, owing to his own lack of attention to the precepts and traditions of the order he was meant to serve. Gross malfeasance of a social order on both their parts. What happened to the humble, endearing man of God who was also the man of the people?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

With Infectious Trust and Good Will All Around

"The rebels do not trust Russia. This will be a test to see how much they can control their allies [the regime and Iran]."
"Moscow presented itself as the moderator, so it must moderate them."
Asaad Hanna, spokesman, Free Syrian Army

"[The sides will] establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire and prevent any provocations."
"[The three nations support the participation of the armed opposition groups in the Geneva talks to commit to] minimizing violence, building confidence, ensuring humanitarian access, protection and free movement of civilians."
Kairat Abdrakhmanov, foreign minister, Kazakhstan, Astana, Kazakh

"I don't believe that the communique will be strong enough to be taken to the UN." 
"[Rebel demands, including the lifting of sieges, the release of prisoners and the delivery of aid to besieged areas, had not yet been] confirmed."
Opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi

"[The opposition is] misinterpreting [the tenets of the truce. The] provocative tone and lack of seriousness in the opposition delegation chief's speech [had] irritated the attendees' diplomatic senses and experience."
"[Opposition groups who signed the truce deal were] trying to undermine and sabotage the Astana meetings."
Bashar al-Jaafari, head, Syrian government delegation
Off to a promising head-start yet again! The Syrian government and its rebel groups have tentatively agreed that Russia, Turkey and Iran will act as monitors jointly to ensure the ceasefire holds beyond its current fragile state, in hopes that the six years of unremitting violence will finally come to an end. Signed by Ankara and Moscow, along with Tehran on behalf of its client state, the armed rebel groups have not yet officially endorsed the accord.

Which didn't stop Bashar Jaafari, Syrian representative to the United Nations, hailing the talks as a resounding success, even while the opposition objected that it had unresolved major reservations. The objection of the 14-member rebel delegation pointed to the inclusion of Iran as lacking credibility as a monitor, given that its Shiite militia proxies in Syria had violated the ceasefire repeatedly. Hezbollah in particular was singled out.

The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah continued to carry out attacks on the Wadi Barada valley outside of Damascus where the conflict has continued to be fiercely fought since the truce came into force on December 30. Iran has seen to the manpower and resources represented by its Shia proxy militias, that have so hugely aided the government of Bashar al-Assad in its determination to strengthen its influence.

The Islamic Republic of Iran views the conflict in Syria as a reflection of the larger Sunni-Shiite campaign for supremacy. The Syrian opposition places no trust whatever in Iran being invested in a political solution to the civil war. The current negotiations, however, represent the first breakthrough in the six-year conflict in the very fact that the rebels and government had appeared in the same room, even for the brief time it took to agree to disagree.

It seems that since Turkey and Russia straightened out their 'misunderstanding' whereby Turkey's airforce shot down a Russian jet that had momentarily strayed into its airspace, with an abject apology from Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a gracious acceptance from Vladimir Putin who had exerted trade and isolation punishment on his errant colleague, the matter had moved forward as it never had with U.S. involvement.

There was the expectation that the moderate among the rebels would take steps to distance themselves from Islamist groups established among them. And that the three partners in the Syrian civil war would now divert their attention and their military intentions toward the greater imperative of jointly attacking Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Even as the talks were progressing,

Free Syrian Army groups in northwestern Syria where the rebellion had its major foothold in Idlib, came under attack by a jihadist group formerly linked with al-Qaeda. Finding a solution to this multi-pronged war between the sects in Islam, the tribal affiliations and aspirations of the terrorists in their multifold manifestations will certainly be more difficult to attain that a declaration of ceasefire, one element against the other.

syria who controls what map

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Europe's Race to the Ballot Box

"We feel a growing unease when people abuse our freedoms to mess things up, while those freedoms were the reason they came here in the first place. People who refuse to adapt, blemish our habits and reject our values. Who intimidate homosexuals, scold women in short skirts and call ordinary citizens racists."
"I fully understand when people think: if you reject our country in such a fundamental way, I would rather see you leave. I feel the same thing. Act in a normal fashion, or get out."
"Be normal, or be gone!"
Dutch Liberal Party advertisement message

"[Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is attempting to] deceive [the electorate]."
"The man of open borders, asylum tsunami, mass immigration, Islamization, lies and deceit."
Geert Wilders Dutch Party for Freedom (tweet)
"According to the latest poll, soon, we are going to have two million voters. Members of the court, you know these people. You meet them every day. As many as one in five Dutch citizens would vote the Party for Freedom, today. Perhaps your own driver, your gardener, your doctor or your domestic aid, the girlfriend of a registrar, your physiotherapist, the nurse at the nursing home of your parents, or the baker in your neighborhood. They are ordinary people, ordinary Dutch. The people I am so proud of."
"They have elected me to speak on their behalf. I am their spokesman. I am their representative. I say what they think. I speak on their behalf. And I do so determinedly and passionately. Every day again, including here, today."
Wilders' statement, Trial, November 2016

"[France can accept no more refugees and will] make a different choice [from Germany under his leadership]." 
"Schengen must be reformed. Free movement in Europe must have a non-negotiable counterbalance: systematic controls at the external borders."
"My position is clear. France cannot accept more refugees. The right of asylum is not migration chaos."
Francois Fillon, French conservative candidate for French presidential election
France and the Netherlands teeter on the cusp of elections that may bring nationalist parties to power as Europe reels under the flood of Muslim migrants and refugees fleeing Syria, Libya, Iraq and opportunistic economic migrants have joined them from North Africa, where they suffer from oppression, unemployment and lack of a future in war-torn and jihadist-inflicted nations throughout the Muslim world. Accompanying and sandwiching the refugee/migrant floods have been a tsunami of social crimes committed against the indigenous populations of the host countries.

Combine that with mass atrocities where jihadists often tied to Islamic State or al-Qaeda have succeeded in terrorizing countries which have long hosted Muslims reflecting their colonization days in Algeria, Morocco, and countries like Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan bleeding nationals who end up in Europe so that mosques and calls to prayer ring out over lands once dotted with churches that people faithfully attended and no longer do, finding themselves challenged by the oppressive presence of people whose customs and values let alone their faith is completely alien.

Even while Germany, Holland, Austria, Sweden and Norway extended their generosity to embrace the floods of refugees in a humanitarian gesture difficult not to comprehend in the Western mind, they have been rewarded by resulting chaos and social backlash; chaos from the inability and/or unwillingness of many of the refugees to accept the laws and values and social culture of the welcoming country, and social backlash from their indigenous populations suffering the consequences of the hordes of strangers in their midst, threatening their homegrown culture.

With the popular ascendancy of parties promising to reverse the changes that have made the familiar so drearily, frighteningly unfamiliar and occasionally dangerous, the governing left-wing parties that were so generous in opening their borders to the never-ending crowds of people seeking haven, make their desperate bids to adopt some of the measures more familiar on the right, to reassure voters that they understand their anguish and once re-installed they will reverse some of those now-rejected welcomes.

In France, immigration has become a priority issue in the French presidential election campaign, where the National Front's Marine Le Pen's popularity has risen in lock-step with each new jihadist attack perpetrated in the name of Islam. That vote will take place in May, when the current leftist President Francois Hollande is destined to step away from the helm of governance. Preceding that election will be the Netherlands' where Mr. Rutte's rival was convicted for 'insulting' Moroccans and charged with inciting racial strife.

The populist Party for Freedom of which Mr. Wilders is head, has become very popular among Dutch voters. Its manifesto claims that in governance, it will close all mosques, ban the Koran and close the nation's borders to asylum seekers. This is an agenda popular with eastern European nations who had steadfastly refused to accept any Muslim refugees, EU orders and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel be damned, under their right-wing political parties in power.

Germany Europe Nationalists
France's Marine le Pen, right, and Geert Wilders stand together during a meeting of European Nationalists in Koblenz, Germany, on Saturday. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, January 23, 2017

Battered and Bruised : A Grim Expression of Love

"If the father spanks his child for a good reason as a means of education, a traditional Russian one, he will be sentenced to two  years in prison -- and if a neighbour does this, he will get away with a fine."
Russian journalist at press conference, addressing Vladimir Putin

"It's better not to spank children and refer to some traditions."
"We should not go overboard with it [punishment for battery]. It's not good; it harms families."
Russian President Vladimir Putin

"[The penalty for battery should be lenient for violence] committed in an emotional conflict, without malice, without grave consequences."
"Battery doesn't even involve grave bodily harm. We're only talking about bruises, scratches, which is bad, too, of course."
Olga Batalina, Duma co-author of new bill, Moscow

It's a brutal society, one invested in 'tradition', a culture that accepts the casual slamming about by a man of a woman in a domestic altercation. Considered normal and unavoidable, it is to be tolerated and women should continue to display that stiff upper lip; you know the one with a bruise to match that partially closed purple-fleshed eye...? Parliamentarian Oleg Nilov responded to colleague Olga Batalina's statement by retorting: "Has anyone tried going a round with a bruise for a week? Does anyone think it's OK?"

Well, obviously there are those who think it is quite all right. Not ideal, perhaps, but nothing to get all upset about. You take your knocks and you get on with life. If you're a Russian woman who knows her government is quite in accord with domestic violence as long as it doesn't descend to the kind of violence where matters really get out of hand and before the man knows it his passion has taken him so far that the woman he's busy teaching a lesson to, is suddenly dead. That will merit punishment, not the foreplay.

Though battery is currently a criminal offence in Russia, because close to 20 percent of Russians confidently give their opinion that sometimes, on some occasions, it is perfectly all right to hit out at a spouse, or punish a child with physical force, it is set to change. The opinion of that vocal 20 percent is evidently sufficient to have lawmakers in the lower house of parliament give their initial approval to a bill which would eliminate criminal liability for the kind of violence that stops before it ventures into serious bodily harm, or rape.

Family harmony wrapped in bruises.

Should it pass second reading in the Duma, as it appears it is heading toward, the third level of approval will follow readily upon which it will be sent to the upper house and from there on to the official desk of President Vladimir Putin. Yelena Mizulina, responsible for writing up Russia's "gay propaganda" ban, introduced the bill to decriminalize domestic violence. Set aside, it was resurrected when a journalist brought the subject up with President Putin at his annual news conference.

Interior Ministry statistics indicate that 40 percent of violent crimes in Russia are committed within family situations. Over 9,000 women were reported killed in incidents of domestic violence in 2013. Should the bill pass, as seems likely, battery on a family member would be punishable through a fine of under 30,000 rubles ($650), or a 15-day prison stay. Yet family violence is there, it is endemic, and it doesn't really need state approval, as an institutionalized cultural artefact to be shrugged off as inevitable and therefore acceptable.

The ANNA Centre foundation based in Moscow, Russia's only domestic violence hotline, catalogued over five thousand calls in the past year, with many more urgent calls missed, since the line is only in operation between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 .p.m. Irina Matvienko, the operator of the  hotline, has this to say: The Duma bill "is not going to improve the situation, to say the least. Domestic violence is a system which makes it difficult for a woman to seek help. It's not a traditional value. It's a crime."

"I think it's part of an overall ideology: aggression and violence are on the rise in society in general since war is everywhere and we're surrounded by enemies", explained activist Alyona Popova, who established an online petition against the bill, which has garnered over 180,000 signatures. As far as she is concerned, it represents a continuation of aggressive policies by the Kremlin in line with new, repressive laws targeting groups such as foreign-funded NGOs, and gays.

Domestic violence is a problem in every society, anywhere in the world. Usually it's male-on-female, though the opposite also occurs. But largely, it is men violating women's human right not to be bruised and battered by a physical presence to whom a woman is tied by familial obligations, and whom she is also often dependent on emotionally. Effectively legalizing domestic violence is a dramatic step backward.

Yet, it appears that many Russian women are not even aware that such violence is illegal. For the time being.

One in three Russian women experience domestic abuse, and 40 die a day at the hands of their spouse or partner Getty

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The United Nations, the United States and Competing Religious Warfare

"There are two situations in the world that should shame [Samantha] Power [U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations], the anti-genocide activist. The first, and less obvious one, is Burma. The Obama administration cites this country as one of its foreign-policy successes, because the ruling junta took steps toward liberalization in return for lifting some sanctions against it. But then everybody seems to have forgotten about it, and in doing so forgot about the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority currently being subjected to an unmistakable genocide—among the clearest examples ever to emerge in real time. This is genocide on Power’s watch, and we don’t hear a peep about it."
Seth Mandel, Commentary 

"Earth to Samantha: 500,000 Arabs died in Syria. Do you really think the problem in the Middle East is Jews building extra bedrooms in communities in Beit-El?"
"You couldn’t pass even one United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Russia, Syria, and Iran for the slaughter in Syria. But you passed this motion condemning peace-loving Jews who live in the ancient Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria?"
"As someone who has dedicated much of his public life to fighting genocide, I was once honored to support Samantha’s nomination to the UN post, even while others were outraged, because she was one of the world’s foremost voices against mass murder. That was prior to entering the Obama administration, and adopting a policy of humiliating silence as Iran threatened genocide against Israel and actual genocides were carried out in parts of Africa and the Middle East."
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach,  Breitbart
AP Photo
"Some [Rohingya] were shot, some were killed with a blade. Wherever they [Myanmar military] could find people, they were killing them."
Jannatul Mawa, 25, Kyet Yoepin, Myanmar

"They grouped the women together and brought them to one place."
"The ones they liked they raped."
Noor Ankis, 25, Kutupalong Camp, Bangladesh

"I feel no peace."
"They killed my father and mother. What is left for me in this world?"
Sufayat Ullah, 20, village of Pwint Phyu Chaung, Myanmar
A protest rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday against attacks on Rohingyas in Myanmar
A protest rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday against attacks on Rohingyas in Myanmar. Photograph: Abir Abdullah/EPA
“She [Aung San Suu Kyi] is obviously very reluctant to criticize the military, because she fears that any sort of antagonism towards it could prompt it to assert itself more forcefully."
"If the military felt that it was losing power to the civilian government, because that government is criticizing it and trying to reign it in, then it might try and reassert its supremacy."
"You do have a very difficult relationship between the civilian government and the military, but at the moment, the civilian government is playing into the hands of the military."
Francis Wade, writer, Myanmar observer, Time contributor

The plight of the Rohingya who originally, historically fled discrimination and poverty in Bangladesh, crossing the river that separates that impoverished Muslim country into the Buddhist nation of Myanmar only to face discrimination and poverty there as well, has been fraught with fears of genocidal intention in the last five years, as animosity to their presence has slowly built to a crescendo. The brutal military regime that ruled Myanmar for so long is no longer a factor. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who had been under house arrest for many years was released.

She had been recognized for her fight for human rights. And she is now the leader of Myanmar. And the international community has felt perplexed as Aung San Suu Kyi has appeared unmoved by the brutal attacks against Myanmar's Rohingya population. She appears to have done nothing to alleviate their desperate situation. Instead, the military has embarked upon a renewed mission against the Rohingya. Their tale is that they carry orders for a counterinsurgency.

The military campaign is one dispatched by Myanmar's government which believes it must disarm militant groups that have risen among the radicalized Rohingya in response to their desperate straits in the Burmese nation. The refugees that have fled Myanmar to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh to find haven in refugee camps there, tell stories of villages in Rakhine State where rampaging soldiers shoot at random, set homes on fire with rocket launchers and rape girls and women.

Myanmar's government appointed a commission to examine the situation while defending its military, denying allegations from abroad that genocide was taking place in the villages where Western journalists and human rights investigators have been denied entry. Rohingyas, according to the official line, have been fire-bombing their own houses. The military attacks were precipitated by three border posts in Rakhine State coming under attack, killing nine police officers. A Rohingya insurgency group stands accused.

Thus far, 65,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh, according to the International Organization for Migration. "They started coming in like the tide. They were a mess", commented a Rohingya refugee managing the Leda refugee camp at the border with Myanmar. Nazir Ahmed, imam of a mosque in Bangladesh, said that Rohingya, furious over a generation of discrimination, organized themselves to become a militant force, but its proportions and threat have been over-emphasized by Myanmar.

The International Crisis Group focused on the group, claiming them to be financed and organized by emigres living in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's very particular brand of Wahhabist Islam is, in very fact, responsible largely for the ascent of Salafist Sunni jihadists, from al-Qaeda to Islamic State. And Islam itself represents an ideology of conquest, from its origins to its current aspirations, tirelessly exhorting the faithful to commit themselves to Islam's destiny -- to surmount all other religions in full domination of the world order.

A reality and a curse the world will be grappling with for a long time. There are many victims of this unending struggle for Islamist primacy, none more numerous than Muslims themselves.

Bangladesh: Myanman Rohingya Refugees Flee to Bangladesh
Anik Rahman/NurPhoto/Sipa USA A patrol of Bangladeshi Border Guards attempts to prevent Rohingya refugees from crossing into Bangladesh from Burma, on the banks of the Naf River, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Nov. 22, 2016

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, January 21, 2017

America Is Back!

"From this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward it's going to be America first. America is back!"
"The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the moment for action."
"Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed ... The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their hands and redistributed across the world."
"America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American ... Every decision ... will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries, taking our producers, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs."
"[Overseas, America will] unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will completely eradicate from the face of the Earth."
U.S. President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017.
Getty Images
Abandon Hope all ye who enter here,
Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Dante Alighieri
divine comedy - hell

The photo above? the Gates of Hell. Well, Washington doesn't qualify. And although many have abandoned hope for the next four years, figuring that it will be four years at the very most, never to be extended to two terms, it is also likely, dare we hope, that the worst fears of those who read the new American President as a threat to the world, let alone to the United States of America, may be proven a trifle too alarmist, although it might also be said that many of the musings that have emanated from the flappy mouth of the winner of the world's biggest lottery will prove elusive to carry through.

We can hope that this man's aversion to 'political correctness' which in all honesty has been carried to excess will prove -- as expressions and thoughts of a lazy mind emanate all too often to stumble their way onto Twitter -- to represent the extent of the damage he is capable of producing. That in this real world of reasonable intelligence others appointed to proffer the wisdom of care and consideration and just plain decency will persuasively keep the beast in check. There are times when rough threats may be needed in an uneasy world of violence unleashed. But not if they result in unleashing unstoppable violence.

Although the United States is in fairly robust financial shape at this juncture, there are malcontents who feel their share of the national burden is insufficient, many of them with good reason. Yet these are the very same people who studiously look out for consumer bargains, when at no time is it a bargain to produce and sell goods made in a country with a high standard of living and living wages to support that high standard, producing goods too pricey for the middle class to pay the freight. It is a blood sport in America to buy cheap, and that translates to Chinese-made products.

The companies may be American, the designs American, the buyers American, but the workshops are no longer in America  to satisfy the purchasing demands of American consumers. So how can foreign countries where American manufacturers shop out their manufacturing be held accountable for what American entrepreneurship has wrought? Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, if it can even be seriously contemplated, would result in consumer products that American consumers will refuse because of pricing reflecting high wages.

During the inauguration ceremonies there was an omen auguring potential problems for the near future. Even the heavens wept, as rain descended upon the hundreds of thousands who swelled and pulsated at Washington's National Mall. The ceremonies continued regardless of discomfort and annoyance with nature's inconvenient response to the solemn occasion. Even as the new president announced that January 20, 2017 would go down in history as an event of world-altering importance.

For on that day forward much would occur, from hardened national borders, to a reinvigorated military, to repaired urban infrastructure and returning employment. The triumph of America would be seen in an education system suddenly transformed into a shining beacon of the future, and where the urban landscape of poverty and crime would change itself as  crime dwindled and people became prosperous even in the ghettos. Because, of course, America First had arrived. "We are giving it [America] back to you" promised the new president to his adoring fans.

Changes are overdue. Which can be seen in the priorities and attitudes of the cabinet nominees that President-elect Trump had chosen. Each of whom appear to express their own opinions, often in conflict with that of the now-President. With the nominee for Secretary of State viewing Moscow as a serious threat to his country, and the nominee for Defense Secretary lauding the NATO alliance, while the nominee for Environmental Protection assures that climate change represents no hoax.

All of them a vital "part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before".

Tweet from Bernie Sanders

Labels: ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet