This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Mountain Whom All Approach in China

"Since the start of last year, eight ministries and four organizations directly under the State Council, China's cabinet, have been given new chiefs."
South China Morning Post

"He [Xi Jinping] stood still, long arms slack, hair pomaded, a portrait of take-it-or-leave-it composure that induced his visitor to cross the room in pursuit of a handshake."
Evan Osnos, New Yorker, Xi profile
"He's a very talented man. I think he's a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what's right for China."
"Just left China’s President Xi where we had an excellent meeting on trade & North Korea."
"So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try! While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out."
U.S. President Donald Trump
China's President Xi Jinping waits to meet with outgoing Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at a hotel in Hong Kong, China, June 29, 2017.
One-man rule. (Reuters/Dale De La Rey)

The world is immersed in a period of political dictatorships. The trend seemed to begin in Russia with Vladimir Putin deciding that two terms as president of Russia just wasn't satisfying enough for his self-conceived role as the new czar, so he and Dmitri Medvedev did a little twist on the child's game of musical chairs and exchanged positions. Circumventing the Russian constitution that deems two terms at the helm more than sufficient; a legal clause that most nations' constitutions reflect.

The next step was to give himself increased power that would enable him to change the constitution, to cleanse it of the offending stipulation that two terms would serve nicely to bring in fresh blood. Mr. Putin spilled more than his share of blood in erasing his critics' irritating dissents, and now he is able legally in Russia to rule for as long as he wishes. His successful ruse inspired Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan to follow suit, and  he too despite opposition that he made quick work of, succeeded.

Then along came Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro determined to do the very same. Only protest in Venezuela is far more robust than it was in both Russia and Turkey, mostly because the country is in a state of perilous downfall, its economy in free fall, unemployment rife, violence on the rise, and food and medicine and oil in steep decline. No matter, if Putin, Erdogan and other aspiring dictators could succeed so could Maduro.

Next in line surely would be the Phillippines' Rodrigo Duterte, whose inflexibly violent 'war on drugs' will warrant that he will be the only political leader in that torn country battling its very own Islamist insurgency entitled to rule the country. Despite all its horrendous dysfunction courtesy of Islam, drugs and Duterte, popular support of the population will ensure that they will obligingly support the prospect of his continued unforgiving iron command.

No one could rightfully claim that Donald J. Trump pirated the American presidential election to crown himself with the pompous self-regard he showers on himself. It was the decision of an overwhelming number of American voters that brought President Trump to the White House. The nation was already deep in the throes of political polarization which thrived under his predecessor, the redoubtable Barack Obama. This is a nation increasingly at war with itself.

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) to the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6, 2017.
Still from video; G20 Summit

But the biggest fish to fry is now consolidating his influence in the world's most populous nation. If it is considered difficult to administer the affairs of a country whose population originated from all parts of the world and whose politics reflect the full spectrum from left to right, radical to moderate, it [the U.S.] is still merely one-quarter of the size of the population ruled by the Communist Party of China's Politboro and its leader.

The reformist who came to office as an insider with a moderate agenda also undertook like Trump, to 'clean out the stable' [one of the tasks of srongman Hercules, to clean out the gigantic Aegean stable] of the entitlement of the political elite to the additional emoluments of corruption. To make the country run more effectively, efficiently, increase prosperity, become more responsible to its people, that kind of thing. And so, Xi Jinping set out to cleanse the leadership of the corrupting influences of his predecessor.

The 19th National Congress is scheduled for the fall and there it is that China's latest dictator will shine, his keynote address paving the way for re-writing the constitution of the Communist Party of China. This leader of the People's Republic is attuned to winning another, his second five-year General Secretary term. And when that one is completed, there's the third term which the current constitution disallows, but which, like Russia's and Turkey's, in capable hands can will be re-written.

All the preliminaries have been taken care of; he did have five years to install those friends in the party's upper echelons, as well as reorganize the military. Critics were charged with inharmonious activities harmful to the welfare of the state and duly prosecuted. With President Xi flattery and sycophancy goe a long way to please this very amiable man. And intelligent. And literate. As head of the seven-member national committee in any event, it is exceedingly unwise to challenge his authority.

He is on track to lead his nation toward the "great rejuvenation of the nation"; prosperity, unity and strength. And who could criticize the relaxation of the one-child policy, or the elimination of "re-education through labour" camps, after all? As for the modernization and technical advances brought to the country, helping to increase the numbers of the middle class; high-speed rail and all manner of technical and scientific advances the equal of any first-world country, and more, express China's potential and its present.

Issues such as human rights, independent judiciaries and constitutional democracy Western-style, are simply not the Chinese way. Chinese lawyers who specialize in promoting human rights are actively practising anti-Chinese values, resulting in lack of harmony and social, economic and poliical stability which in and of itself challenge forward-looking success.

No, we haven't forgotten North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. He is in a category of his own. Sharing space with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 3, 2017.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 3, 2017   Jason Lee, Reuters

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hush, Don't Leap to Unwarranted Conclusions....

Rescue personnel cordon off the area at the Turku Market Square in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed on August 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva / Roni Lehti)
Rescue personnel cordon off the area at the Turku Market Square in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed on August 18, 2017 (AFP/Lehtikuva/Roni Lehti)

"Nothing is known about the motives -- or what precisely has happened in Turku."
Seppo Kolehmainen, Finland police head

"We think that the attacker especially targeted women, and the men were wounded after coming to the defence of the women."
"One man was injured trying to help a victim and one man tried to stop the attacker."
Christa Granroth, superintendent, National Bureau of Investigation, Finland
Proceed with caution. Assume nothing. Investigate thoroughly. Leaping to conclusions is ill-advised. Racial profiling is not to be tolerated. Avoid panic, inform the public minimally. Be calm and collected and very, very noncommittal. The police description of a violent attacker as "a youngish man with a foreign background" was surprisingly informative, given the prevailing attitude in Western Europe and particularly the Nordic countries.

No one wants to feed an emerging sense of 'intolerance' among populations that have witnessed the relentless swamping of their countries' borders by a limitless and ongoing number of foreign migrants suffering from Lemmings-Syndrome. This is an untreatable condition whereby people living in countries whose leaders treat them with the contempt of tyrants, where religious, ethnic and minority persecution is practised and tolerated, where conflicts threaten lives, where economic opportunity shrivels, flee to find salvation in civilized countries.

People fleeing tribal conflicts, sectarian discrimination, floundering economies and generalized administrative and social dysfunction persuade themselves they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They prefer to set aside the reality that they have their lives to lose and the opportunities they dream of may be forever elusive. At the receiving end, the European countries being invaded, grin and bear it as their humanitarian consciences demand.

And when situations become intolerable resulting from culture clash, religious diversion, egregious social errors committed by those whose heritage embraces inequality and a tolerance for criminal activities, the indigenous populations slowly begin to recognize the threat consuming their culture, their  laws, their social contracts, their religious commitment, and they become restless, chagrined at their previous attitude and freshly demanding a reconsideration.

Police in Finland discovered soon enough they could no longer cloak the knife attack by a failed Moroccan asylum seeker as one of those inexplicable situations when someone goes berserk, as can occur in any society. This berserker qualifies as a terrorist. The young man with a foreign background whose identity and nationality were initially being 'investigated' killed two people outright and wounded eight others using the preferred weapon at hand as urgently commanded by jihadists.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service had raised the country's threat assessment level to the second tier, resulting from its "stronger profile within the radical Islamist propaganda" situation in which it is considered a partner in the coalition against the Islamic State group. According to the Ilta-Sanomat tabloid, a woman with a stroller had been attacked by a man brandishing a large knife in Puuturi Square, downtown Turku. Oh, and ten others for a scorecard of two dead, eight wounded.
"The act had been investigated as murder, but during the night we received additional information which indicates that the criminal offenses are now terrorist killings."
"[The suspect’s] identity is known to the police. He is an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen."
Finnish police statement 

"There was a raid and we have now six suspects in custody, the main suspect [the 18-year-old Moroccan killer] and five others."
"We are investigating the role of these five other people but we are not sure yet if they had anything to do with [the attack]… We will interrogate them, after that we can tell you more. But they had been in contact with the main suspect."
Detective Superintendent Markus Laine, National Bureau of Investigation

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Unprecedented: The New Reality

"They're unprecedented; we've never seen those numbers [before]."
"Even though our officers are patrolling 24 hours a day, all year long, we've never seen such numbers coming in [over the border from the United States into Canada, illegally]."
Claude Castonguay, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

"It's important Canadians know that this is a situation that, yes, is out of the ordinary, but is very much under control."
"Unless you are being persecuted or are fleeing terror[ism] or war, you would not qualify as a refugee and it's important to combat that misinformation that is out there."
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau

"Coming to Canada, asking for asylum in Canada, is not a guarantee for permanent residency in Canada."
"If people in the States, in certain communities, would like to come to Canada and become permanent residents, it's very important they do so through the regular channels."
Louis Dumas, spokesman, Immigration and Citizenship Canada
Que Asylum Seekers 20170810
Asylum seekers remove their belongings from a truck at a processing centre at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

With the investiture of Donald Trump as president of the United States, there is unease among the vast community of illegal migrants in the United States that he will make good on his election promises to tackle the vexing problem of millions of illegal entrants to the country living in a shadowy underworld of existence fearful of being discovered and ultimately expelled, forced to return to their countries of origin. It is a complicated issue, since many migrants without documents have lived in the United States for years, have found employment, married, raised families.

Others, like the expatriate Haitian community, were given temporary status to live in the United States in 2010 at a time when the country was in great upheaval after an earthquake and resulting tsunami took countless lives and destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. The world had focused on offering relief to Haitians at that time. Canada too gave temporary haven to Haitians, but it was revoked a year ago. There is a community of legal, landed immigrants from Haiti established in Quebec. And it is a goal of many Haitians who have been living in the U.S. for years to navigate toward Canada.

The impetus for that decision was the news that the temporary shelter agreement was to be lifted before the new year. The Haitians living in the United States have no intention of returning to Haiti, they view their aspirational challenges better achieved in the U.S. than in Haiti, and with the perception that they will no longer be able to live in the U.S., they've turned to Canada as an alternative. They are aware that if they show up at an official border crossing they will be turned away, since Canada and the U.S. have an agreement that the first country of refuge being a safe one, neither will accept refugee applications from those already living in the other country.
Crossing to Canada
An RCMP officer standing in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., advises migrants that they are about to illegally cross from Champlain, N.Y., and will be arrested, on Aug. 7. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

The subterfuge of declaring refugee status after crossing at an illegal border area from New York State into Quebec has gained Haitians who pack up their belongings and their children to be taxied to a known, unofficial border point, bypassing the official border posts has been bedevilling Canada and taxing its resources for months. Up to three thousand people have crossed illegally in the month of July alone, quadrupling the number that took that route in June. And the reason is that it has worked for them.

Once they cross, they're taken into 'custody' by the RCMP, which then arranges to bus them to the nearest shelter operated by the province to ensure the declared refugees are housed, fed and their medical needs looked to, while their applications for asylum are being processed. In normal proceedings where crossings are made legally, only 50 percent of those declaring themselves refugees have their applications accepted. The situation is becoming dire, with the influx of mostly Haitians flooding into Canada, straining the ability of the province to cope, let alone Immigration and Citizenship to process that many applications.

With between 200 and 250 people crossing illegally each and every day, the assurance of Minister Garneau that the matter is well in hand rings hollow. These are, after all, people who chose to enter another country, not Canada, when they had the opportunity. These also represent people who made the choice to enter illegally rather than apply for immigration status through normal, legal channels. As such they do a disservice to the country by spurning the legal avenue, and in the process showing contempt both for the country and for those others who take the legal route.

Canada accepts over a quarter-million new immigration applications annually. It is done in an orderly, albeit necessarily slow measure. But those who apply legally demonstrate their respect for the country in so doing, and in so doing demonstrate as well that they will make better citizens than those who spurn normal, legal channels. The crisis of economic migration as well as people fitting the true definition of refugees has struck worldwide, and Europe is experiencing the brunt of it. Europe has been facing a tsunami of hundreds of thousands of North Africans and those from the Middle East washing up on the continent, literally.

Italy, Greece and Spain, entrance points into Europe for many, are not generally the destination of choice. Rather, France, Britain, Germany and the Nordic countries appear to be, and originally appeared to welcome the countless numbers. But as they were absorbed it gave further impetus to others to  also make the journey both overland and by sea, risking lives for the opportunity to find for themselves a more secure economic future and for some, escaping deadly conflict, civil war or government maltreatment of minorities.

Canada's problems dwindle in comparison to countries like Spain, now recognized as the new primary destination for migrants from North Africa. Thousands of Moroccans have been heading for Spain, and among them are those linked to the Islamic agenda of terrorism through jihad. Germany has been infiltrated by Turks whose millions-strong presence of long duration in Germany originally as 'guest workers', have given Turkey Islamists a bridgehead for interference in the social and political life of Germany.

Algerians and Tunisians living in France and in Belgium have developed their bleak and sinister ghettoes, (banlieus) off-limits to non-Muslims and particularly to police. Aside from being depots of crime and criminal gangs, they are breeding grounds for jihadists and jumping-off spots for planned and executed terrorist attacks in both countries targeting the infidels who die or are injured in atrocities committed against civilians.
Terror returned to the streets of Europe when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100 others.  
Terror returned to the streets of Europe when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at lest 13 and injuring more than 100 others. The Telegram

The damning thing about these situations is that the West feel constrained by humanitarian impulses not to turn away these Muslims among whom lurk future jihadists for fear of being charged with bigotry and racism. Yet by admitting them, their numbers grow to the point where the indigenous culture begins to take second place to the invading one, altering the social contract and diminishing the religious prevalence of Christianity while boosting the presence of Islam and creeping Sharia. And making themselves vulnerable to terrorism.

Policemen check the area after police killed five attackers in Cambrils near Tarragona
Credit Luis Gene/AFP Getty Images      In Canbril, police check the area after police killed five terrorists near Tarragnna

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

"It's Been (very, very) Condemned."

"You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. No one wants to say that, but I'll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent."
"There was no way of making a correct statement that early [when he chose to denounce violence 'on both sides']. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters."
"You can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I call it the fastest outcome to a great verdict . . . You get into legal semantics."
"The driver of the car was a murderer. What he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing."
"You had people in that group who were protesting the taking down of what to them is a very, very important statue."
"What about the alt-left that came charging at the alt-right -- do they have any semblance of guilt? "They came charging, clubs in hand, swinging clubs."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump
President Donald Trump pauses while speaking about Charlottesville. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump pauses while speaking about Charlottesville. Picture: APSource:AP

"President Trump, please, for God's sakes, don't feel like you've got to say these things. It's not going to do you any good."
"Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa."
David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Picture: AP
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Picture: APSource:AP
In Durham, North Carolina, 'protesters', unwilling to await a legal permit, as President Trump reminded journalists the alt-left counter-protesting in Charlottesville over the violent weekend of the hard right coming together to protest a move to remove a commemorative statue to Civil War-era Confederate General Robert E. Lee also failed to secure the requisite permit, toppled a monument that had been erected to honour Confederate veterans.

And another monument commemorating Confederate veterans was taken down in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. These illegal and clearly anti-historical acts of reversing remembrance as though to expunge from history transformational events in the United States that led the way toward abolishing the brutal miseries of Black slavery are on tap to appease the righteous and those given to clasping their victimhood in vengeance-seeking when what they do has no effect whatever.

It is a strange thing about human nature when selective blame and anger motivates people who should make an effort to study their own history. Arab Muslim slave traders initiated the slave trade and drove it for the immense profits to be made. Black Africans were transported in huge numbers with no regard to the tragedy of those who died in the process, to the Middle East, to serve as slaves. Europeans were quick to adapt to this new and useful tool in advancing their economies through slave labour.

Before emancipation, many freed Blacks for whom manumission or the ability to buy their own freedom gave the opportunity to advance their own fortunes took themselves to buying their own black slaves, working them just as Europeans had done and Arab Muslims before them. Raiding parties of Arabs to empty African villages of their populations strove to satisfy the demands of a slave-hungry economy based on the labour of Blacks who lived and died to satisfy white dominance and avarice.

The unbelievable ascension of an ignorant, egocentric lout to the presidency of the United States, one who made no effort to disassociate himself from from the underbelly of racist America gave the signal for the bigoted, racist element in society to emerge from the dark spaces they normally occupy into the light of day after the constraints of living under the administration of the nation's first biracial president who represented the affairs of the nation, and of all its people.
Statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate Civil War General, at Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate Civil War General, at Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.   Source:Getty Images

In Baltimore, Maryland Confederate monuments were removed in the dead of night to be hauled off on waiting trucks. Crews began the removal process quietly to complete the extirpation from public view of four Confederate monuments, a decision reached extemporaneously by the city's mayor with no consultation with the public. "It was important that we move quickly and quietly, and that's what we did, as soon as I realized they were easy to move", stated Mayor Catherine Pugh.

The presence of a man whose intelligence was arrested during that phase when as a juvenile he was delinquent in attaining a decent education, resulting in his presence as an elder who enjoys bragging about his people skills and grasp of business matters while mocking those who fail to fully appreciate his acumen and leadership capability even as he makes one misstep after another on the national and international scene, alarming the party he represents and alienating the bulk of the American population, has unleashed the sinister and full-blown pride of racism in America.

Ku Klux Klan protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Picture: AFP
Ku Klux Klan protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Truth and Consequences

"It pretended to be 'unite the right' but it was basically Nazis saying, 'shit or get off the pot, become a white nationalist or f---k off'. And a lot of people told them to f--k off."
"It seemed like they were drifting into the arena of the unwell. This gathering was a lie. It purported to be about statues; it purported to be about community, but it was really about polarizing the right and saying, 'You are with us or against us'. And I think they're going to find that everyone is against them. Their rhetoric got a woman killed and a boy put in prison."
"It cut the alt-right off from everyone else. [the left and the media] see us all as one dumb unified group, and we're not. And I think what we learned this weekend is, we shouldn't be."
Gavin McInnes, Vice co-founder, head, Proud Boys
Alt-right rally members on Aug. 12, 2017 in Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. Rebel Media's reporting from the rally could spell the end for the right-wing organization, Tim Harper writes.
Alt-right rally members on Aug. 12, 2017 in Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. Rebel Media's reporting from the rally could spell the end for the right-wing organization, Tim Harper writes.  (Go Nakamura / TNS)

Suddenly, Canada's most prominent right-wing personality and his online website The Rebel have been bathed in a very compromising and unattractive light, shading it with a link to a ideology it would vastly prefer not to be associated with. Some of Ezra Levant's most prominent contributors to The Rebel have reacted with viral distaste to any hint in the public eye of possible association however remote and however much denied with the odious alt-right which distinguished itself with brute violence in Charlottesville last weekend.

The white supremacist gathering of neo-Nazis, the KKK fascist/racist illuminati, and the alt-right that used the concept of a protest against the removal of an historical monument to General Robert E. Lee of Civil War fame, to further their agenda of racial bigotry, decrying the presence of immigrants, of Blacks and particularly of Jews in America diluting the fabric of white culture and society as an affront to the United States that must be resisted by any means -- violence if necessary, and violence is always necessary to prove they mean business -- made conservatives blanch in disgust.

"When I first heard of the alt-right a year ago, I thought it simply meant the insurgent right, the politically incorrect right, the grassroots right, the nationalistic right", wrote Ezra Levant in a 'memo' to his staff and contributors explaining his reaction and instant efforts to distance himself and The Rebel from any whiff of connection to those who distinguished themselves in Charlottesville. The situation is similar to what occurs at leftist peace gatherings protesting war, where signs accusing Israel of war-mongering held by Palestinian sympathizers are hoisted alongside the flag of Hamas.

"But the alt-right ha changed into something new, especially since Trump's election. Now the leading figure -- at least in terms of media attention -- is Richard Spencer, and other white nationalists. By that, I mean people whose central organizing political principle is race", he went on, anxious to impress his audience with the sincerity of his rejection of all that the alt-right and its pals represent.

"There were actually some Nazi swastika flags in Charlottesville. Whether or not they were being genuinely carried, or carried by agents provocateurs trying to embarrass the alt-right isn't even important. They were there -- and Spencer's torchlit walk had other Nazi symbology, including the 'Sieg Heil' arm salute, and the chant of 'blood and soil' -- which was a slogan popularized by the Nazis. Sorry, that's not conservative, that's just racist, and I think it's unpatriotic to mimic one of America's greatest historical enemies."

Up until this sordid and violent event in Charlottesville, The Rebel appeared to support the alt-right to a degree, but now that it has linked with white supremacism, backing away with haste certainly appeared the best-case scenario to assure staff and contributors that there was no support of the unsupportable from that quarter. The manslaughter charge against a 20-year-old for vehicular homicide of 32-year-old Heather Heyer has transfixed the U.S. with the horror of internecine warfare.

That it was actual internecine warfare that cost the lives of an estimated 620,000 Americans ideologically polarized over Black slavery among other issues that brought about this current atrocity makes it all the more appalling in that race and bigotry have never been very distant from the public mind. The 'boy' mentioned by McInnis has been a Nazi admirer since childhood; that he also has a medical record of psychosis he was treated for years ago, somewhat complicates the issue, but it was hate, pure and simple, that led him.
"What may have started as a concern over the [Rebel's] harsh tone taken on some subjects came to a head with this weekend's events in Charlottesville, Virginia. [The protest] was really an anti-Semitic white power rally."
"I am not comfortable being associated with a group that, rightly or wrongly, is being increasingly viewed as associated with the likes of Richard Spencer. Like many of you, I had family that fought the Nazis. I never want to be in the same room as one."
"What The Rebel suffers from is a lack of editorial and behavioural judgement that left unchecked will destroy it and those around it."
Brian Lilley, Rebel co-founder

John Robson @thejohnrobson
Parting ways with The Rebel

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Choose Your Poison Carefully

"You have to ride a horse to know whether it's the right mount for you."
"I have tried, and the South is not for me. I want to go home to the North to reunite with my ex-wife and 16-year-old son."
"They [South Korean employers] called me names, treating me like an idiot, and didn't pay me as much as others doing the same work, just because I was from the North."
"In the North, I may not be rich, but I would better understand people around me and wouldn't be treated like dirt as I have been in the South."
Kwon Choi-nam, North Korean defector, Seoul, South Korea
A man watches a barbed-wire fence in Paju
A man at a barbed wire fence in Paju, South Korea, looking over into North Korea    Express

What is that old line about freedom, liberty, being more important than riches? On the other hand, home is where the heart is, isn't it? Where familiarity and the comfort of routine exists, where you know your neighbours and they know you, speaking the same cultural language, sharing social customs and traditions. So as far as Mr. Kwon is concerned, he resents being thought of as different from South Koreans, somehow lesser, not as intelligent, unworthy of regard.

That sense of social alienation is enough to convince this man who undertook a long, hazardous and painful journey away from his native soil that it was an effort wasted. Having escaped the nation of his birth ruled by an egocentric and dangerous dictator whom the military keeps in power -- and whom the people are taught from birth to venerate even as his regime prefers to use scarce national funding for weapons over food security -- he has decided to return.

He had crossed a river border at night, in 2014, crawled over a barbed-wire fence, walked through a Laos jungle to reach Thailand from where he was able to fly on to South Korea where a new life awaited him. His several years living in freedom in South Korea has failed to assure him that the abandonment of life in his country of birth had advanced his fortunes in any way. South Koreans were disappointingly inhospitable.

He missed his own, repressive country with its gulags and its threats against those like him who dared to flee that repression. But his experience as a "second-class citizen" in South Korea soured him. Where evidently he has forgotten, in his bitterness the third-class status he lived in a North Korea that arrests and imprisons any who dare criticize Kim Jong-Un, classifying them as traitors and sentencing them to life in prison or hard labour in the gulags.

Of the more than 30,000 North Koreans who left the North for the South since the 1990 famine, 25 have chosen to return to the North in the past five years. They are suspected by South Korean officials of being "repeat defectors", a classification given those who return to the North, possibly lured to China, and possibly kidnapped back to the North where the government uses them for propaganda purposes, creating scenarios where they speak of the "living  hell" they experienced in the South.

All defectors automatically become South Korean citizens on arrival in the South. And since it is illegal for any South Koreans to visit the North without especial permission of the government, anyone who attempts to return to the North is viewed as having contravened the law, and becomes a subject of suspicion. Mr. Kwon had made an attempt to return to the North but was detained and jailed in the South for several months.

He is busy trying a new tack, by becoming the second defector over the years to ask the South to repatriate him to North Korea. The two countries remain legally at war, given the agreed-upon armistice, so there is no legal formula by which Mr. Kwon's request to the South to extradite him to the North can be accomplished under South Korean law.

Mr. Kwon's experience with the South's hyperactive competitive capitalism failed to impress him and left him nostalgic for the regimented totalitarian culture he left behind in the North. In South Korea he went from farm to construction work but those physically demanding jobs failed to appeal to him. He then moved to Seoul, living in homeless shelters.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

A Nation Divided

"[Heather] Heyer was struck down by a vehicle while exercising her peaceful first-amendment right to free speech."
"This senseless act of violence rips a hole in our collective hearts."
Charlottesville city official statement

"Donald Trump should] look at himself in the mirror."
"[He] should think very deeply about who he consorted with in his campaign, and the forces they chose to work with in their quest for political advancement."
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer

"And yet here it was, the chants of 'Jews will not replace us' (as?). I had two more personal encounters. At Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, a man in a floppy beige sunhat started following me and explaining to me the lie of the Holocaust, the evil of the Jews, the value of DNA in determining purity. I retreated as he ran after me, screaming, 'My mother says I’m a Jew! My MOTHER! Does that mean I’m entitled to something?' (I resisted replying, 'Your mother’s love.')"
Nathan Guttman, 12 August 2017, What a Jewish Journalist saw in Charlottesville, Forward
Members of the KKK escorted by police past a large group of protesters during a rally in Charlottesville, Va. Steve Helber / AP

Journalist Nathan Guttman wrote a first-hand account of his day in now-infamous Charlottesville, there to observe the proceedings as neo-Nazis and far-right activists, the KKK and others marched to make their point that the United States belongs to red-blooded white Americans. None others need apply. They were reacting to the demands by left-wing activists and members of the Black Lives Matter group and their supporters that a century-old statue of a Confederate hero of the American Civil War, General Robert E. Lee, be removed, taken down, hidden, destroyed.

Like sensitive, progressive leftists and self-styled human-rights activists everywhere they demand that history be rewritten to obliterate all traces of those who fought for rights and values today recognized as contrary to the current social values of an enlightened society. Those who were once victims decry and embrace their victimhood at one and the same time, and any visual reminders of what, how and why they suffered, they claim triggers new pain and humiliation.

The past cannot be undone. It happened, and it is called history. We are meant to view history with today's vision, but we are not meant to believe that if we reject the history that betrays our humanity history will be re-enacted and everything will turn out just fine. There are statues of Civil War heroes to the Confederate cause in countless places in the United States. There is also the undeniable fact that the hallowed fathers of the American Constitution like humanist, intellectual and scientist of his day Benjamin Franklin was a slave-owner.

And so was George Washington, and so too was James Madison. Of the 55 founding fathers of the United States of America, 49 percent were slave owners. Should they be expelled from the annals of American history? If monuments and statues must be destroyed, why stop with Robert E. Lee? The absurdity of the righteous demands that such reminders of a dark place in history be abolished and with it the history they represent is beyond impossible.

Setting that aside as a provocation, there is nothing that can explain or exculpate the actions and counter-accusations of those who embrace fascism and express their frustrations in the form of verbal violence, let alone physical violence. That the current President of the United States issued an oblique condemnation of a violent far-right reaction to the entitled demands of those who wear their victimhood with pride and vehemence readily interpreted by the far right as support of their position is a signal that the polarized position of right and left in their extremes have much in common.

The deranged James Alex Fields Jr. whose use of a vehicle to ram the left-wing protesters marks him as an unrepentant murderer, is also someone who was once treated for psychotic behaviour. David Duke and others of his ilk are not insane, but they are dangerously threatening to those who do not subscribe to their fascination with the belief in superior and inferior humanity. And it seems that President Trump has given those threats to the universality of human equality an unspoken lift.

The mother of Fields Jr. whose name is Samantha Bloom may be a woman, given her name and its possible connections, whose offspring is a self-hating Jew by birth to a Jewish woman. It is not unheard of that some fundamentally troubled people detest that from which they were derived; this son of a woman named Bloom appears to have always venerated Adolf Hitler and everything the Fuhrer represented.

His horrified, stricken mother does not believe that her presided supports fascism though those who admire him, fascists, nationalists, anti-Semites and Hitler enthusiasts shouted "Blood and Soil", as they marched through the streets of Charlottesville in defence of a Confederate statue. And counter protesters were there in their numbers to oppose the fascists before one woman died and 35 people were injured by an incoherent man who might have shouted at a Jewish reporter: "My mother says I’m a Jew! My MOTHER! Does that mean I’m entitled to something?"

He is entitled to a fair trial. And the nation is entitled to justice.

Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Steve Helber/AP

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