Context, Not Plot

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Incoming President Trump will have a foreign policy shaped by people who have been part of the US foreign policy establishment for decades. That might or not be a good thing, time will tell.

But there is a danger of having a cabinet that would look no different than if any of the other Republican candidates had won the election. And so we just turn the clock back 10 years?

Some of the individual names being floated (like Romney) are very fair minded and reasonable people; while I differ on some of the policy issues, he seems like a guy who could handle a 3 am phone call. If he and others are willing to look more critically at the overall context of US foreign policy, then he would be a good choice for the job.

Consider the hot-button issue of Iran, for example. It is easy for people to parrot the neo-cons, and to bloviate about how dangerous the regime is, and how it supports enemies of the US and Israel. Yes and No.

While Iran has a political system that integrates religion (I am very opposed to political religion), there are three things most establishment types forget:

First, the original motivation for Iranian anti-westernism is legitimate and understandable: US and UK intervention in the ouster of a democratically elected president, Mossadegh.

Second, additional motivation for Iranian anti-westernism is legitimate and understandable: US support for the Shah and his secret police, SAVAK, which tortured and killed thousands.

Third, ongoing motivation for Iranian anti-westernism is legitimate and understandable: US ignorance of the first two motivations and present military encirclement of Iran with NATO bases in neighboring countries.

These three concerns have to be recognized and validated. And then the US-Iranian relationship can move on.

Finally, it only makes sense to warn about “political Islam” if there is a similar attack on two other nefarious franchises: Fundamentalist Christianity and Orthodox Judaism, two strains of old testament infection that continue to plague the modern world.

Without historical context, and without the a universalist (for the West) reaffirmation of human values, then criticizing Iran becomes something for brainless puppets – and wooden puppets at that, because the nose will keep growing with all the lies.

Fine Line

What are the limits on freedom of assembly and protest? The past few weeks have raised this question, not only with the Dakota pipeline but also with anti-Trump protesters blocking highways.

As posted on zerohedge (linked below), there is some pushback.

Last week, Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen announced plans to propose a bill in January that would criminalize certain protests as “economic terrorism,” to be punishable as a Class C Felony.

The proposed bill would penalize protesters who engage in “unlawful disruption of transportation and commerce,” and if passed, those found in violation of the law could face punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The proposed bill would also go after organizations and funders backing the protests by forcing them to pay restitution at a rate of three times the calculated amount of damage. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Ericksen specifically named philanthropists George Soros and Tom Steyer, as well as the Sierra Club organization, as intended targets of the legislation.

Actually the term “economic terrorism” has been bandied about before, most notably fot the vegans who wore bloody chicken outfits and paraded in front of KFC. In Europe animal rights protests are more risque, featuring naked women trapped in cages. Again, when these disrupt regular businesses, do they represent acts of “economic terrorism?”

What is a KFC was disrupted for 45 minutes? Is that “economic terrorism”? I don’t think so… But it is a slippery slope.

Blocking highways should never be permitted – but that is my personal opinion. There are ambulances needing to pass. Cars with kids, and so on…

In the Dakota protest civilians are not inconvenienced. It is just a raw contest between popular will and corporate interests. When the stakes are higher, and valuable, the risks are worth it.

 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-30/state-senator-slams-soros-proposes-bill-charge-protesters-economic-terrorists

Incomplete Criticism

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Guatemala: 200,000 killed

Yes, Fidel Castro was a dictator. Apart from over-centralizing authority, the Cuban revolutionary regime did something that infringed upon political rights as known in the West: It routinely prevented people from leaving the country who would have been admitted elsewhere for travel, work, or living.

The regime criminalized efforts to leave Cuba. (That being said, there was probably more injustice under the previous Batista regime than under the Castro regime).

Criticism is misplaced, however, when it points to the casualties, or number of killed, across the Castro years. It was probably less than 3,000. Numbers a little higher would include Cubans dying in the Angolan wars, etc…

While these executions or deaths are usually unjustifiable, it represents a small drop in the Latin American bucket. Guatemala’s regime (supported by the United States) killed over 200,000 peasants who resited land seizures by the oligarchy and corporate interests.

Chile’s regime (backed by the United States) killed more than 30,000 people, many of the leftist university students. The Pinochet regime turned the soccer stadium into a torture chamber and slaughterhouse for university students.

The numbers are similar for Argentina, which also routinely tortured and killed university students. Not to be left behind, Mexico’s regime in the 1980s also targetted students. (Actually, people who think university students are a threat to the state should be summarily executed).

Wihtout making reference to mass murder across Latin America, the scale of which was much larger than in Cuba, criticism of the Castro regime becomes, well, pathetically ignorant.

Without any historical context, that is, without reference to what happened in Guatemala for example, criticism of the Castro regime is just a knee-jerk reaction. This behavior was programmed into people by the Cold War, which slandered one side of the conflict for executing opponents, while sponsoring, on the other side of the conflict, mass murder.

 

Food For Thought

The one hour video below represents one of the latest documentaries on the Flat Earth model.

It is new European documentary with very high production value. Fascinating. I do not endorse everything in the video. Some of seems a bit out there. But it is very much worth a look.

But it is interesting to see how many people (few, it turns out) are willing to seriously consider the arguments in the debate. Is this debatable? Can everything be questioned? If not, why not?

The Youtube channel of Tommix provides this intro to the video:

“This documentary, based on international research material, a certain amount of which based on philosophical premise, condemns the astronomical fraud of the Round Earth model, goes deep into scientific details and shifts into a political analysis. Creating the field for new awareness: the model can be subverted.”

 

Missing the Point, Twice

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The Khmer Rouge launched a revolution in Cambodia that killed a higher percentage of its population than any other revolution. In an effort to drag the country back to “Year Zero” and start over, anyone with foreign influence was either detained or killed. The capital city was emptied at gunpoint and people forced into labor camps, where they died of starvation.

Regular readers will remember my photos last year from the high school on Phnom Pehn that was converted into a torture prison.

So a Cambodian _ United Nations hybrid court sentenced “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and former President Khieu Samphan to life in prison.

Here is a passage from an article linked below:

“The Supreme Court Chamber affirms the sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the trial chamber on both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan,” judge Kong Srim said on Wednesday.

“The Supreme Court orders that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan remain in custody.”

David Scheffer, the U.N. Secretary-General’s envoy to the tribunal, said that the judgment sent a message to leaders around the world.  “…International justice isn’t backing down, it is actually forging ahead.”

There are two problems with this conviction.

First, Brother Two is 90 years old, and the former president is 85 years old. So, at the very end of their lives they get a life term. It will probably be with house arrest. So it mkes no difference.

Second, this ruling ignores the real cause of the Cambodian revolution: the Vietnam War, started by the French and brought to its absurd conclusion by the United States, particularly by the administrations of Johnson and Nixon.

Cambodia was carpet bombed. With its way of life completely destroyed, a shell shocked and landless peasantry went into collective shock: the Khmer Rouge.

This world, apparently, does not mete out justice to the warmongers. The next world might, or might not, depending who is really in charge.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/khmer-rouge-leaders-appeal_us_58354c10e4b09b6055ff9d1f

Not Front Page News

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There has been some fighting in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Refugees have come into China. The Chinese military is on high alert. Here are some details from a Reuters report:

China is giving shelter to more than 3,000 people who have fled Myanmar after fighting between the government and rebels, and stray shells have fallen inside China causing minor damage but no deaths, the government and state media said on Tuesday.

Four ethnic armed groups have attacked security forces in the north of Myanmar, dealing a major blow to leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s top goal of reaching peace with ethnic minorities.

China, which has been alarmed by previous fighting along the porous border, has put its armed forces on high alert and called for all sides to exercise restraint.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said injured people among the 3,000 Myanmar citizens have been taken to hospital. The refugees are in the southwestern province of Yunnan, which shares a long border with Myanmar.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-myanmar-idUSKBN13H07I

Good Grief

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The New York Times seems to be urging mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to do more to combat “fake news.” The Times wants Facebook to “defend the truth!”

Facebook seems to be on board with that, and with using “trusted third parties” (whatever that means) to filter out bogus news.

If Facebook was once considered a kind of flea market of ideas it will now increasingly look like Wal-Mart: santized, homogenized, and safe. For a long time, Zuckerberg seemed to resist this kind of censorship, but now it seems like Facebook will cave: “Pickup on Aisle 7.”

What constitutes “fake news?” A critical analysis of the Sandy Hook incident? Another theory regarding 9-11? How about reporting on some experiment, or observation, suggesting that the Earth is flat?

Or how about all those political polls running up to the recent presidential election? Those were all faked…

Facebook should stick to its original mission, to its original promise. It began as a site where people could post virtually anything short of pornography and overt calls for violence. Of course Facebook also bans blatant libel and slander, although for public political figures – as the Supreme Court ruled – the level of accepted speech is much higher (or lower, depending on how one looks at it).

Scouring fake news from Facebook sets a bad precedent. Plus this obscures the fact that most mainstream news is actually propaganda.

Facebook should just leave well enough alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/business/media/zuckerberg-and-facebook-must-defend-the-truth.html?_r=0

 

 

Crazy Scandal

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The article linked below goes into greater detail. But it is surprising that this story regarding the South Korea’s female President, Park Geun-hye, is receiving so little attention.

The scandal involved financial corruption, as usual, but the root of it is much stranger. Apparently when park was very young she was integrated into a bizarre shamanistic cult, the Eternal Life Church, and supposedly one of its leaders, another woman named Choi Soon-sil, used Rasputin-like mystic powers to influence the President.

Now they are both repentant, but there is political fallout. Maybe legal issues.

 

 

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/20/asia/south-korea-indictment/index.html

International School

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Daisy from London

 

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New to the art, or science, of the selfie.

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Above, the guy in the background really makes the shot.

 

 

It Happens

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I love the smell of sulphur in the morning…

Actually, Chengdu is not normally as bad as a few other cities in China, but Tuesday was, spiking at 329.

Rugby practice was cancelled.

In a nutshell, anything over 100 is not good. At 500, you might as well be inhaling the exhaust pipe of an old tractor running on bad gasoline (and breathing only that).

AQI is divided into six categories:

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Today was a little better, not much…

Meantime: Under the Dome.