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Monthly Archives: April 2015

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO RUSSIA INSIDER

Ukrainians should be very careful about any training from American police.

American police forces have a well-earned reputation for violence and abuse.

They kill a large number of innocent Americans every year – estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 – far more than any terrorist dreams of. The statistics are not kept, almost certainly to suppress the shameful reality.

Few if any of them ever are dismissed or charged which means implicitly that American authorities accept the behavior.

But as few abroad, happily watching re-runs of American television situation comedies, will know America is a very brutal society in which to live.

Murder and violent crime rates are high. Police are often brutal. Prisons are extremely brutal. America maintains the world’s largest population of its own citizens behind bars. Some of its “super-max” prisons are an affront to human rights and decency. It embraces the death penalty too.

American police are militarized in their equipment, training, and attitudes, and the trend in militarization has only increased greatly in recent years. With all the meaningless colonial wars America has been fighting, there is a huge pool every year of ex-servicemen of course, all trained to kill, who need to be absorbed back into the civilian population, and police work is one of the typical destinations for them.

On top of those horrors, in recent years many American police forces have undergone training from Israeli forces, and surely there is no nation on earth whose record of killing and brutality on a per capita basis exceeds that of Israel.

It is a rather bleak picture in total, and I think any society which uses training or ideas from American police is desperate or lacks basic understanding.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Of course some of the ads are tasteless, but the human race does have a lot of tasteless and even grotesque people, and advertising’s whole point is to sell stuff to as many of us as possible.

Perhaps the truly tasteless ads – “Come out of the bone age” or “House rules” – tell us something about the tribe of apes to which we belong.

I do think the title here, “Selling White Women,” itself a bit trivial and overstated. The “white women” business too completely ignores the army of Asian and African and mixed-background women who have been mainstays for advertising for years.

We enjoy looking at beautiful women, just as we enjoy looking at beautiful birds, and the advertising industry takes full advantage of that.

It would be equally possible to find many examples of truly beautiful photographs of women used to sell stuff.

Indeed, the “will not go dull and lifeless”, while a screaming, embarrassingly Freudian fantasy, nevertheless is a stunning profile portrait of a beautiful woman.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/29/truth-adverts-white-women-hank-willis-thomas-expose#comments

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A YOU-TUBE VIDEO

Jolie is a truly absurd figure.

Blubbering preciously in the past about rape in war – something which always and everywhere has been part of the complete destruction of society and its norms and laws that is the very definition of war – here she is now advocating more war.

There’s no need to go over all the sad facts of Syria, a nation which already is the victim of covert brutality by outsiders, but anyone who advocates more killing there has to be considered stunningly ignorant.

I wish people who clearly understand so very little of what goes on in the world would just stick to buying designer shoes and attending dress-up fundraisers for fantasy causes like ending rape in war.

But one only has to remember that she is the daughter of actor Jon Voight, and things become considerably clearer. Voight has always perfectly fit the description of actors offered by the late Truman Capote, “The better the actor the more stupid he is.”

As for Jolie, she would appear to have missed out on both talent and brains.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE NATIONAL POST AND PROMPTLY REMOVED

This man’s words are pathetically ignorant special pleading and, in publishing them, the National Post shows how far it will go to stir up the right-wing against the proper working of justice. The comments generated by the article, the ones left posted, resemble an orgy of right-wing hate-masturbation.

You go to war, sometimes you get wounded. You don’t whine and snivel about it long afterward, even more so when you were a paid professional killer in America’s special services, as this man was.

The man was a Green Beret, the guys who made their wonderful reputation crawling around at night in the jungles of Vietnam to sneak into villages and cut civilian officials’ throats. They were part of the CIA’s Project Phoenix which included perhaps 40,000 such brave and honorable acts.

But here he is, whining about a 15-year old who was caught up in the bloody mess of war, as though he were a criminal.

Omar Khadr is not a criminal, full stop.

Otherwise every soldier and volunteer who ever went to a foreign war is a criminal, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, including many who ran off to Israel’s various wars to help the IDF kill Arabs.

But they are not treated as criminals by the law.

It has never been the practice, after a war is over, for the winners to try the losers as criminals, unless flagrant war crimes were involved, and even then, it generally has not been the practice.

The United States has itself behaved as a massive war criminal in Western Asia. War after war. Threat after threat. Killing after killing. Massacres. Assassinations. And plenty of torture. The “laws” of war were broken countless times by the United States, and then it had the arrogance to try others for war crimes after torturing them for confessions, including a child, no less.

Only recently, it has been confirmed that a million souls perished in America’s totally illegal invasion of Iraq. Criminal acts do not come a great deal larger than that, but no one received years of confinement and torture for being part of them, much less planning and authorizing them.

This young man was fifteen when American soldiers shot him – twice in the back, a little detail often left out in the telling of the story.

Then they shipped him off for years of torture and isolation in Guantanamo, denying him for a long time all Red Cross-guaranteed rights. His interrogator was a Nazi-like American who made this kid sit up – pulling at his serious and unhealed wounds each time he brutally questioned him, and that after sleep-deprivation.

After years of abuse and without a hope of improving his situation, Khadr finally gave his torturers what they wanted and confessed to killing an American. I am virtually certain he did not kill anyone, but even if he did, he was a mere child and in a war the United States launched. The U.S. in its abuse of him has violated countless laws, including violating the UN Treaty on Child Soldiers, the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War, and Red Cross International Conventions on the Rights of Prisoners.

If you want a world governed by law, then you yourself must live by the law. Otherwise, we have international anarchy where might makes right and where America feels free to tell everyone, everywhere what they can and can’t do and even decide who may live and who may die.

And this man who is whining about Khadr’s finally receiving bail was himself nothing less than part of America’s bloody enforcement mechanism.

Thank God for a Canadian judge with some courage and proper legal values. A lot of the most beloved qualities of our Canada have suffered under the hateful government of Stephen Harper, but every once in a while it’s nice to see the old values shine through the gloom.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO THE GUARDIAN ON AN ARTICLE SUGGESTING WHAT GALLIPOLI TEACHES US ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR

Gallipoli was a terrible blunder, a pet project of the same Winston Churchill who gave the world more than his fair share of arrogant ideas and barbarities, including, later, the first mass bombings of German cities, well before Hitler’s bombings.

Churchill was always an advocate of imperialism and plenty of “backbone in war” stuff, and he was fond of referring to Germans as “Huns.”

Yet his is a seemingly benign and heroic figure in history. You can’t help emotionally responding to some of his eloquent speeches and old news photos even now.

Chamberlain, a genuinely decent man in many respects who wanted to avoid a repeat of the Western Front’s unbelievable horror just 20 years later, comes down to us as a somewhat disreputable figure, in no small measure because of the contempt heaped upon him by Churchill.

The word appeasement was used and has since become a favorite insult from the ignorant Right Wing which virtually always wants war and more war.

Of course the entire set of horrors and issues around the Second World War wouldn’t exist had not Britain entered the completely pointless First World War, one its chief cheerleaders for doing so being Churchill. The only outcome of a German victory in 1914 would have been a European Continent dominated by Germany, which is exactly what we have anyway today. But Churchill’s love of British imperialism could not stand the thought of that.

I shouldn’t say “the only outcome” because the other result, an even larger one, of Germany’s success in 1914 would have been no Hitler, no World War II, no invasion of Russia with 27 million killed, and no Holocaust.

People are so easily swayed by emotional words and appealing faces, and they lose the rational aspect of their minds to the rhetoric and backstage lever-pulling of men like Churchill. Democratic politics frequently yields to the superficial charm and secret deadliness of psychopathic personalities. Witness the recent examples of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Tony Blair – all with their smiles and murders and plots possessing varying degrees of psychopathy, to a certainty.

The smarmy Tony Blair years later dedicated all his talents to making an illegal and unnecessary invasion, which we now know killed a million people, seem reasonable and morally right.

He was rewarded afterwards by immense wealth, having served the interests of immensely wealthy people, while the poor people of Iraq were left a disgusting mess of broken infrastructure, no reliable water and power, poisons and explosives everywhere, millions of refugees, no jobs, no hopes, and constant ripples of violence.

Large parts of our people still respond like murderous chimps thumping their chests at the right words put in their ears by the establishment through figures like Churchill and Blair.

I don’t see the author’s suggestions as helpful, and I don’t see any corrective for the foreseeable future. The ugly system we have works for those with power and influence, and it will keep right on working. Only the most fundamental changes in our political institutions offer any hope, and that only far into the future, if ever.

John Chuckman

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

“Many illogical wars followed Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.”

This is a remarkably subtle and profoundly true observation.

Sergey Lavrov isn’t just Russia’s top diplomat. He pretty much reigns supreme in today’s world.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO MICHAEL ENRIGHT ABOUT AN EPISODE OF CBC RADIO’S SUNDAY EDITION

What a shame you had a long segment about a very important and fascinating topic, the Armenian Genocide, and your effort was just plain dreary and uninteresting, all of it the personal reflections of three not-particularly-interesting people, like an hour’s worth of low-key chatter at a cocktail party.

You missed a great opportunity to do something worthwhile.

Why has this subject been so repressed, not just in Turkey but in many countries? What were Turkey’s motives? Why have the United States and others deliberately avoided offending Turkey for decades over this subject?

Perhaps most interesting, why has the Vatican at this time made this statement? Nothing the Vatican does is without politics, and there is, to a certainty, something which has occurred behind the scenes causing this statement. Concern over Turkey’s dealings with Russia?

Last, I have in the past heard spokespeople for Israel, one being Elie Wiesel, expressing sputtering fury over the very mention of an “Armenian Genocide.” According to these folks, there can be only one event in history worthy of the term genocide. Why? There’s an interesting sidelight on the subject.

You didn’t enlighten, Michael Enright, you only schmoozed with some folks who had little to say.

FOOTNOTE: Only shortly after this event, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a stunning public statement that it would be incorrect to call the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide! He said it was an “atrocity crime,” a silly minted-to-the purpose term which reminds me a bit of the time when Israel pressured everyone to stop saying “suicide-bombers” and use the silly expression “homicide bombers,” something the insipid George Bush quickly did in a speech, making himself sound more tongue-twisted than ever.  Clearly, new back-scene political pressure is being applied by someone.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Is there a sillier leader on the planet than David Cameron?

“Calamitous”? What an utterly inappropriate and inflated word to describe his own fears of losing office.

I won’t comment on Mr. Cameron’s handling of Britain’s domestic affairs, although my reading is that a great many people in the country are considerably less than charmed.

But Mr. Cameron’s record in running Britain’s foreign affairs is just a dreary and embarrassing series of daily salutes to Washington, each time asking, “Yes, Sir, what do you want me to say or do today?”

I didn’t think it possible that Tony Blair could ever be outshone in pure obsequiousness, but Cameron seems to be making a great and mighty effort to do so.

God, what a relief if a Labour-SNP coalition could put an end to that.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A STORY BY DAVID PRIESTLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

Well, the reference to “hunchbacked” shows something important of the writer’s understanding.

We now know definitively from his bones that Richard was not a hunchback, that legend undoubtedly having been created by apologists for the Tudors, apologists like the brilliant but biased Shakespeare.

I love Shakespeare’s Richard III, one of his greatest histories, but it is riddled with exaggeration and inaccurate information.

The historical Richard actually appears to have been a rather brave and admirable king, at least according to some serious recent biographers.

As far as his re-burial’s negative effect on the city owing to his bad reputation, I am sure it will in fact prove the opposite, to be beneficial in economic terms. Like it or not, tourists do go to see the places associated with villains. We actually had people going to the place O. J. Simpson’s wife and another person were literally butchered like livestock to take smiling snapshots of themselves.