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Monthly Archives: September 2017

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

“Elon Musk: SpaceX can colonise Mars and build moon base”

Musk is a very intelligent man, so what can you say of such a nonsense assertion?

Well, it keeps excitement going and likely keeps speculative investors investing.

Mars is a totally hostile environment, making even the most polluted earth imaginable look cozy by comparison.

Mars offers zero promise of anything except maybe minerals which could be better exploited by robots.

Yes, there are always adventurer types willing to go anywhere, and in the days of the New World being opened, they were important.

But we already know Mars in remarkable detail from all our robots and satellites.

It has almost no atmosphere. It is incredibly cold. Its surface is a vast wasteland which makes the Southwestern American desert look lush, and it now turns out that it is poisonous too.

The only possibility of any life would be bacteria under the surface. Future robots are infinitely more suited to discovering it than people.

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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SABRINA SIDDIQUI IN THE GUARDIAN

Donald Trump unveils ambitious plan to overhaul US tax system

The United States, right now, is running massive, massive deficits in its budgets.

And those are destined only add to the greatest heap of debt in recorded history.

At the same time, the great corporations of America are so unbelievably flush with cash, they don’t know what to do with it.

Of course, one of the things they will inevitably do is buy up other companies and extend themselves into still new areas.

Already, a number of them are troubling-sized multi-corporations, butting into every corner of our lives.

Also, at the same time, individual wealth in the United States has reached grotesque levels, and the division between wealth and poverty has grown frighteningly large.

Personal fortunes like those of Mr Microsoft or Mr Facebook or Mr Amazon are only possible under a tax system already badly axed by the likes of George Bush.

This all means not only great inequality, but, almost more importantly, it means vast concentration of power.

The United States already is more of a plutocracy than a democracy. It took a multi-billionaire to defeat the best-financed candidate in history, one who spent somewhere between $1.2 and $1.8 billion on her defeat.

Too many people in the United States do not appreciate the intimate connection between concentrating personal wealth and lack of democracy because of the deep attachment to the concept that what you earn is yours and yours alone. It is a very dangerous attitude over the long term.

I fear that these measures will only add to the horrors we see in the world. The American establishment – the plutocrats supported by their huge military-security establishment – has been on a non-stop tear for years to dominate everywhere, its Pentagon-generated slogan being, “full-spectrum dominance.”

Increased concentration of wealth in the United States threatens all of us long-term militarily but also economically. Financial instability in the United States has the capacity to put us all back into a Great Depression. Of course, Trump further adds to this possibility with his wolf-pack approach to international trade and destabilizing arbitrary acts.

And here comes boy genius Trump to say we need to pay even fewer taxes. He is playing what likely is the last round of a nasty game played by Republican leaders from Reagan through Bush, reduce taxes to gain votes but also to increase the flow of campaign finances from grateful billionaires, money so crucial to America’s money-drenched politics.

It is actually a nightmare scenario, and we are all going to be forced to live through its results.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Israel shooting: Palestinian kills three at Jewish settlement near occupied West Bank

All of the trouble and violence was started by Israel.

When you do what Israel has been doing in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, you can expect to make serious enemies.

How would the average person in Britain, or anywhere else, act if a bunch of bullies threw you off your farm or out of your house and simply stole it from you, setting up armed guards against your return? The men shot were guards.

And Israel just keeps this kind of ferocious and immoral activity up, using its American-supplied military muscle to abuse almost beyond our imagination.

Israel arrogantly ignores all pleas to behave otherwise, blubbering about democracy. Some democracy!
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Response to a comment offering a dishonest brief account of Israel’s birth:

That is a dishonest summary of what happened in 1948.

It was complex, not simple, and the yet-to-be Israelis were brutal then too, employing terror regularly with gangs of thugs like Irgun and Stern and Lehi, killing and raping to make Palestinians run away in terror.

Several later-to-be prime ministers were terrorists who killed many people. Begin and Shamir for example.

Israel was founded in terror, and it has never ceased to maintain (early Zionist) Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall rule towards the native people.

Those unbelievably-mistreated people of Gaza are only where they are because they fled terror in 1948.

The early Jewish terrorists wanted them all to leave the area completely, not caring what became of them, but large numbers huddled together around Gaza for safety, and the Jewish terrorists were not ready for mass killing on quite that scale.

The horrific publicity would have made American recognition impossible.

But the Iron Wall just keeps slowly moving out, crushing more unfortunates out of their property and lives.

It would be hard to think of a more painful, brutal injustice on the planet, one which just continues year after year, one largely ignored thanks to America’s massive and dishonest influence in the West.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN AND PROMPTLY REMOVED

Labour conference 2017: Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s speech – Politics live

“Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place’

That’s The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland in another article about Labour, an article on which we are not allowed to comment.

To my mind, that’s just the worst form of reverse prejudice.

That headline works to tar the party with an ugly accusation without the slightest indication of a fact.

I don’t see how The Guardian can go about in this fashion, claiming as it does to be a voice for the liberal spirit, yet making dark accusations without an ounce of proof.

America’s Senator Joseph McCarthy personified the very opposite of a liberal spirit, and just so anyone who copies his shabby behavior.

COMMENT POSTED TO A REVIEW BY TIM DOWLING IN THE GUARDIAN

The Vietnam War review – Ken Burns makes a complex story immediately comprehensible

This is the second review of Ken Burns in just a few days.

I cannot agree with this reviewer’s “The Vietnam War review – Ken Burns makes a complex story immediately comprehensible”

I am familiar with the work of Burns, and his glossy, pop documentaries cannot do what is claimed for a profound and disturbing event. Baseball, maybe. Hell, no, and the Vietnam War was a jump straight into hell.
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Response to a reader who said “After watching last night it struck me the real baddies were the French?”

The French were supported and encouraged and pushed every step of the way by America.

Nixon, as Vice-President, actually wanted to provide direct American air support for their efforts.

Eisenhower wasn’t having any of that because he always tried to avoid direct military colonial conflicts to preserve his image – it was under Eisenhower that the Allen Dulles’ CIA was heavily used to covertly attack people America didn’t like, from overthrowing democratic governments in Guatemala and Iran to other governments in a dozen other places. Old smiling Ike was responsible for the growth of the ugly CIA we see today.

Anyway, Eisenhower gave the French everything he thought he could, and by Kennedy’s election (1960), the CIA was deeply entrenched in Vietnam as were a fair number of military “advisors.” The (temporary) division of the country, after the French defeat and departure (1954), was itself an American-engineered business.

America wanted a pied-a-terre in mainland Asia, and the whole war which burst out with Lyndon Johnson was nothing more than an effort to establish that permanently. The military-intelligence establishment had been very frustrated by Kennedy’s approach to Vietnam. When he conveniently died, they had their man in Lyndon Johnson.

But he had to get elected on his own first, and he lied his way through doing that – remember the controversial ad of a young girl with a flower and an atomic explosion, an ad aimed at Barry Goldwater saying he was a threat to peace? – before starting the full-scale war he hungered for, wanting to be seen as a great war-president, a new Roosevelt, never dreaming America would be defeated.

The American establishment and leaders in Vietnam were very dark figures, evil, if anything deserves to be called that, but you will never hear that from insipid Ken Burns.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SIMON TISDALL IN THE GUARDIAN

“The Kurds of Iraq have been loyal allies. The west must repay its debt”
Kurdish independence is under threat from powerful neighbours. The west should not stand by and see this dream of self-rule crushed

Loyal allies? Loyal to what? American imperialism in the region? Debt for what? For helping America make a bloody mess of the place?

‘…the Kurds have proven loyal and valuable allies in the struggle against Islamic State”

What struggle with ISIS is the writer talking about?

The real one involving Syria and Russia or the shadow-play version involving the US and its coalition?

Yes, the US finally did some real bombing, after a few years of fake bombing, against ISIS in the last little while, but that was really only in preparation for its fallback plans in the region, having failed in Syria with its support for folks like ISIS and Al-Nusra.

There is nothing heroic or principled or even ethical in the American effort. And use of that loaded and outdated term, “the West” is just an appeal to sentiments from the Cold War that have no application here.

We should be grateful for an invasion which killed about a million people and destroyed a prosperous state for a generation? I don’t think so, but I’m sure Tony Blair agrees.

It did pretty much manage to destroy Iraq, and Iraq’s being split into mini-states was anticipated years ago in an expert book.

You see, the US wants to separate the truncated Iraq from its oil in the Kurdish area. It also wants to put this oil at the disposal of Israel. And it wants the Kurds in Syria to join in, truncating that state too.

The author is right that the Kurds have been badly treated, for sure, but one of those historically mistreating them was the US itself. Henry Kissinger succeeded in getting them to revolt against Saddam with promises and aid. When Saddam ruthlessly suppressed them, the US just watched.

I normally support referendums, but this one has no legitimacy. You see, Iraq is still occupied. Its affairs are manipulated, the US having built a fortress-like embassy/CIA operations center there which is the largest in the region. A vote has no legitimacy under those conditions.

Moreover, the combination of Turkey, Iran, and Syria are going to make it very hard for such a state to succeed. They each have their own reasons for opposing it.

By the way, if loyal allies” automatically deserve something, then the subsidized and trained mercenaries posed as radical Muslims of ISIS and al-Nusra surely also deserve something?

Lunacy begets only more lunacy.

COOMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

Hillary Again Says Putin ‘Kills Journalists’ – Charlie Rose Doesn’t Blink RI
So here his Hillary on his show Monday night with her truly delusional ideas about why she lost the election.

You don’t need to call him names.

Charlie Rose has always been a mediocre interviewer/journalist. He could only pass for deep in America.

His interviews, many years ago when I last heard him, always left you feeling as though you had heard a lot of inflated nothing, much like the feeling you get from eating a McDonald’s hamburger.

He spent years on PBS, and for anyone who really knows that insipid network, that pretty much says it all.

You cannot be a hard-hitting journalist on any American television network, much less PBS which is always just getting by fighting political battles in Washington over its very existence. Controversy simply is not allowed, unless its the kind of manufactured fantasy-controversy you get from a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump.

That Hillary still goes about speaking the way she does is pathetic. Here is a major American political figure with nothing to say except attacking a foreign leader and blaming every official in her own party and the last president’s government for her election loss. She is as devoid of real content as the McDonald’s hamburger.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is an underlying theme in this shabby interview, a theme which literally is symbolic of contemporary America.

Nothing that really matters is ever discussed, from terrible domestic problems of poverty and racism to the horrible colonial wars which have killed and crippled millions and to the overwhelming role of big money in national politics which literally reduces the country to a plutocracy.

No, a national issue in today’s United States is whether football players are being Patriotic enough when they peacefully protest, their gesture being so mild and insignificant you’d miss it if you blinked.

America simply cannot tolerate real talk or criticism of any kind, and It lives in an intellectually-mushy environment of fantasy-problems and political correctness, except when the topic comes around to foreigners, whether foreign leaders who do not take their lead from America or migrants of any kind, all of them being pretty much regarded as horrible and undesirable.

This is an unhealthy national intellectual environment, to say the least. It perhaps reflects all the doubts and uncertainties Americans feel as they sense the coming of a new world, one which before too long will not regard America’s view as quite so important as it has been since WWII. That is a hard thing for any highly privileged and fortunate group to accept, their coming loss of privilege with a threatening set of changed circumstances clearly approaching.

A world where the views of other states are important, with compromises to be made and international arrangements and institutions for governing relationships, something which is highly repulsive to a large part of Americans, both Trump’s Trailer Park supporters and supporters of Hillary’s vicious War Party. In a word, the decline of the American Empire, something whose first indications can clearly be felt.

COMMENTS TO AN ARTICLE BY CHLOE FARAND IN THE INDEPENDENT

‘Have we not learned from the war?’ Re-emergence of Germany’s far-right brings back memories of darker times
The nationalist Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party won 93 seats in parliament, the first time a far-right party has entered the Bundestag in almost six decades

Oh, please, it is Angela Merkel whom you should be addressing.

Her policies created a backlash, policies from supporting Obama’s hideous Neocon Wars to embracing the chaos they created with millions of refugees.

The vote was a protest.

Saying anything else is just unobservant.
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Response to a comment which said “The horrors of AntiSemitism are sadly on the rise…at the Labour party conference”

Only in your mind and in the minds of others who simply do not like Jeremy Corbyn.

Minds which are too afraid to say what they really believe and fear.

It is Corbyn’s fair-minded views on the Middle East which are hated, not any non-existent anti-Semitism.

All the empty charges hurled about are just shabby attacks on a decent man.

And they are an effort to influence Corbyn in an indirect and dishonest fashion should he come to power.

No genuinely liberal-spirited person can be anti-Semitic. It is quite literally an oxymoron to say so.

It is nonsense which is promoted in Israel where the word “liberal” has been deliberately turned into a dirty word when applied to any foreigners.

Why is that? Because liberals are the truest critics of oppression and barbaric policies, so they are hated in a place where those things are openly permitted to exist.

People always forget who the Nazis and fascists really were.

They were the Right Wing – whether in the United States, where there were plenty of them, with people like Henry Ford or Charles Lindbergh, or in Germany whose great industrialists financed Hitler, or to Britain where the Royal Family and good parts of the aristocracy adored him.

It is precisely today’s attacks on liberals that are dangerous and short-sighted if you really think about it.

The Right Wing – whether David Cameron or the kings of Saudi Arabia or Egypt’s el-Sisi or Benjamin Netanyahu himself – gets a pass.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

Famous 2016 US Election Hoaxer Paul Horner Reportedly Found Dead at 38
Horner claimed his fake news articles had helped get Trump elected; he fooled his readers with invented tales about President Obama being gay and a radical Muslim.

I really do not think people making this kind of outlandish claim had any great effect on the election.

He was “preaching to the choir,” as they say.

America’s Extreme Right always loathed Obama, undoubtedly for little other reason than he was black.

People abroad perhaps cannot imagine how much racism exists just below the surface in America, almost like chemical waste under a lake.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A REVIEW IN THE GUARDIAN

The Vietnam War: terror, heartbreak and helicopters ablaze in an epic documentary

Ken Burns produces the video-equivalent of coffee table books.

His past historical series are expensive kitsch, having little historical value beyond viewers seeing some interesting archive photographs.

His whole career has been in doing this for Public Television in the United States, an institution so cautious, so safe, so unflinchingly patriotic, so unquestioning that much of its programming resembles pabulum for babies.

I lived through the war and protests and horror, and I would not give Ken Burns five minutes to lay out his interpretation.

I understand from other reviews that he is basically using the “tragic mistake” line, the line which can be easily swallowed by most now – again, much like baby pabulum – eliciting little controversy or anger or truth.

But it most certainly was not a mistake.

It was a deliberate war of aggression which Lyndon Johnson – always a loyalist to folks like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI or the Pentagon and CIA – started firing up as soon as he was safely in office, having lied to everyone in order to get there.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was no mistake. It was a deliberate fraud to provide an excuse for war.

And what a war.

It was a true holocaust. Americans killed about three million people there, many of them in the most horrible fashion, as with napalm, early cluster bombs, and carpet bombing. It left the country a savage wreck with land mines and Agent Orange spread everywhere.

It helped kill at least a million more in Cambodia, a land it kept bombing and sending troops secretly into until its neutral government fell, making way for the horrors of the Killing Fields, something, by the way, America did nothing to stop.

No, throwing prisoners out of helicopters was not a mistake.

The CIA’s Project Phoenix – in which belly-crawling American special forces slipped out night after night to cut the throats of village leaders and other non-military figures, killing somewhere between twenty and forty thousand in this way – was not a mistake.

And those American helicopters taking off from the embassy at the shabby end, with the desperate hands of Vietnamese associates being pried or gun-butted off the landing gear as they took off to leave them all to their fate, was not a mistake.

Nor were the countless incidents of rape and murder by troops or the thousands of women left with no support for their Amer-Vietnamese children.

And all for what? For Captain Ahab seeking “the damned white whale.”

The war displayed American values at their most raw and vicious. What we see today in Trump and others is almost child’s play by comparison.
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Response to a reader who wrote “Vietnam is a rare war for which Britain (thanks to Harold Wilson) didn’t sign up”:

Yes, thanks to Wilson.

And thanks to Pearson in Canada.

You know, Lyndon Johnson actually grabbed Peace-Prize winner Pearson by the lapels and pushed him against a wall, trying to “convince” him to commit some troops. We have the story from a very reliable source.

That’s the Lyndon Johnson who created all the horror in Vietnam, and much more before he left the presidency.

It is a sad exercise today to compare Europe’s leaders under America’s almost equally-destructive and brutal Neocon Wars in the Middle East.

There is not one Wilson. Not one Pearson.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH

The Danger Of Patriotism

Samuel Johnson had it right at the time of the American Revolution on the subject of Patriots.

He especially had in mind at the time Thomas Jefferson, the biggest hypocrite in American history as well as the godfather of all the stupid militia and extremist groups America has produced since, including, by the way, the American Confederacy whose secession he anticipated and set the example for in Virginia decades earlier.
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Response to another reader’s comment:

Yes, partly right.

Patriotism as practiced in America is actually a secular religion or cult with the Founders replacing the Disciples, the Flag replacing the Cross, the Declaration and Constitution replacing the Bible, plus a strong propensity to think only you are right and others are not worthy.

And all of the things on which the Patriot Faith is founded, as the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence, are heavily flawed and increasingly outdated, just as the Bible is.

Of course, you cannot say that to a Patriot True Believer without being treated much the way Christians used to treat heretics.

The events of the Revolution, which I have studied closely, as recited by True Believer Patriots are as full of exaggerations, myths, and fibs as the Biblical tales of Jonah or Lott’s wife or Jesus and the Devil’s Temptation.

There’s no explaining religion, it comes from dark places in the human mind, and America’s version of Patriotism is absolutely a religion, a very aggressive and unforgiving one, much, by the way, as was Communism at its height.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN ZENGER NEWS

IS THE ANTI-AMERICAN NFL SELF DESTRUCTING?

“Anti-American”?

The words of an idiot.

People in America do not have the right to protest?

Good God, what does it mean to be an American then?

Someone who supports a military which has killed at least 2 million people in the last 15 years of Neocon Wars?

Someone who supports thug police who kill over 1,100 Americans each year?

Someone who supports an elected idiot for President, a man who says you cannot protest?

A man, by the way, who evaded military service himself.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Donald Trump ‘so proud’ of Nascar plan to sack anyone that protests against national anthem

Here is what America has come to in the 21st century.

Hillbilly Nascar owners threatening drivers over any hint of exercising free speech at the behest of the country’s first Trailer Park President.

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JANE PRINSLEY IN THE INDEPENDENT

Labour is traditionally the party of the oppressed. So it’s about time Corbyn sorted their issue with antisemitism. Until Corbyn is seen to be on our side against the antisemites, British left-wing Jews won’t be able to contribute to the party

“…sorted their issue with antisemitism”?

Sadly, such words are not uncommon today, but they truly are the words of idiots.

They are themselves loaded with prejudice or hate.

You cannot say such things if you have even a touch of fairness in your make-up.

And they are more than that. They are a political threat against someone so he will do the (unspecified) things that you want done. To what level would politics descend if everyone acted along those lines?

It much resembles the United States’ and Israel’s contemporary approach to the United Nations: do things my way or I won’t pay my dues.

If you have any genuine evidence about hate or hateful acts, then you are obliged to offer the specific evidence, minus the name-calling.

But we never get that, do we? We just get the name-calling and innuendo, as we did for months following Corbyn’s first election as leader. It was one of the most shameful displays in postwar British history.

That was an extended display of genuine McCarthyism. American Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s, a secret drunk whose career was failing, exploded onto the national scene waving a fistful of pieces of paper and shouting claims that they contained the names of a couple of hundred communists in the government.

We never saw any evidence, and we never even saw the names.

McCarthy went on like that for some time because there were secret interests backing him, interests like that master of hate and dishonesty and manipulation, J. Edgar Hoover. And just so here.

Many who have used this attack against Corbyn for one reason only: they simply do not like his views – completely fair-minded and balanced most would agree – on Palestine and Israel.

They do not want a Corbyn government simply because it would not be quite so obsequious to the often-unfair demands of Israel as the governments of Theresa May or David Cameron.

A Corbyn government might even expect that Israel show its dedication to peace rather than to territorial expansion and oppression of millions.

Terrible thing, that would be, don’t you think?

Tony Blair was very much in the Cameron camp and had a hand in starting all the original attacks against Corbyn. Now, Blair is a man of high moral character indeed.

Blair’s entire record of invading Iraq, helping kill a million people, receiving the Israel Peace Prize, and being showered with many sinecures in gratitude for his help, such as his well-paid, do-nothing appointment to the Middle East Quartet, display his unquestioning loyalty to Israel’s interests, ignoring fairness and justice.

In public life in the West, you are not allowed to be fair about Israel, you must be fanatically in its corner, ignoring all the rights of millions of others and ignoring Israel’s terrible abuses.

It is a very twisted worldview, and one of the methods for enforcing it in Western countries is a constant readiness to label people as anti-Semites. Or, in party circles, to withdraw monetary support, just as this writer does.
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“Somehow, we as Jews are not allowed the title of minority, and antisemitism, as a crime, is not taken seriously.”

It would be hard to come up with a more dishonest assertion.

Those claims are false, entirely.

Jews are regarded as a legitimate minority, everywhere. I can’t think of an instance where they are not. If anything, in most jurisdictions, Jews are a minority whose rights and interests are more closely guarded than those of any other.

And anti-Semitism has been built into our laws despite the extremely grey and difficult matter of actually defining anti-Semitism in many instances.

We all know Nazi-like gutter literature when we see it, but the truth is we virtually never see it. It is banned, everywhere.

And speeches like Nazis used to make have been banned, everywhere.

Plus, we have dozens of other laws concerned with anti-Semitism, and they are enforced, everywhere.

But we also have demands for unfair new laws such as one making support of the peaceful BDS protest movement illegal. (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – the exact tactics used years ago against Apartheid South Africa or in the American South against Jim Crow laws).

Israel and its lobbies have worked hard to get such anti-BDS laws passed in many Western countries, nearly doing so recently in America, gaining the support of almost half the Senate with intense lobbying, even though such laws are plainly unconstitutional in lands where a Bill or Charter of Rights exists, something which, incidentally, has never existed in Israel where the rights of minorities are at the complete mercy of the majority.

Rather than genuine anti-Semitism, what we do typically see is people rightly questioning Israel’s motives and methods, its abuse and brutality and aggression, and we see other people, Israel’s apologists, suggesting or declaring that they must be anti-Semitic for noticing and saying so.
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Response to another comment:

No one argues with the truly great contribution of Jews to Western civilization, but that has nothing to do with the topic, and, again, you assert what you do not prove, that violence against Jews is increasing.

I cannot honestly recall reading of one instance of violence against Jews in Britain.

On the other hand, we have an almost daily spewing of open hatred against Muslims. It very much is in the news. Daily.

Jews are leaving? We hear this assertion over and over, but where are the stats?

Who are all these people and where are they going?

To Israel? I doubt that. Moving from a relatively peaceful land of opportunity like Britain to one of genuine strife and hatreds and violence like Israel?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood Monday’s independence poll for the Kurdish north is supported by voters but opposed by Turkey, Baghdad and the west, which fear it will deepen instability

Well, perhaps were the vote taking place under normal circumstances, I could support it.

But it is not, and I do not.

The country has been at war, and still is to some degree.

The United States effectively illegally occupies the country with many military and intelligence facilities, including the most massive fortress-like embassy/CIA operations center in the Middle East, built after the invasion with no genuine permission from Iraq.

All of these plans for the Kurds have been made with United States’ covert efforts.

In that sense, the vote is a fraud.

Many condemn Russia about Crimea, where there truly was a free vote before Russia entered, so how can anyone support the legitimacy of this vote after US invasion and under US occupation?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY FARZON NAHVI IN THE GUARDIAN

Universal healthcare in the US is possible. We already have proof Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris’s universal healthcare bill is a step towards a humane and cost-effective system. Naysayers are denying reality

I’ll believe it when I see it, which I strongly suspect will be never.

I just do not think British people have a good grasp on American political attitudes.

“Socialized medicine,” for that is what universal healthcare is widely disparagingly termed there, is a non-starter.

The word “socialism,” which Bernie likes to throw around is only slightly less popular than “communism” or “radical Islam.”

That is the mindset of average Americans after a lifetime of wading through rivers of propaganda from the corporate press and some pretty Neanderthal politicians in key positions for life.

Also, British articles seem to have an exaggerated idea of Bernie Sanders.

He is not a powerful Senator, holding no really important Committee Chairmanships, and he comes from a state with the population of a large neighborhood of London. I believe it’s about 700,000. Tiny. Industrially insignificant. With virtually no corporate headquarters.

Bernie is an attractive figure, but in the brutal terms of American political reality, he is not too far from being a non-person.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Healthcare bill: Latest Republican attempt at Obamacare repeal suffers grievous blow after John McCain announces opposition
‘I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition’, Mr. McCain said.

McCain is no hero on this or any other matter.

A life-long creep, a true war lover, he is, in his last days, behaving in a very strange way.

No one completely understands why this is so. His entire life bespeaks a man of the most extreme selfishness and right-wing sympathies.

He does personally hate Trump, we know.

And we know, in recent time, he has received substantial funds from George Soros. Their extent and what they are supposed to be buying we do not know.

Of course, Soros, in general, is himself kind of weird jokester who likes manipulating others with his wealth, a kind of political psychopath. He too has some very dark chapters in his life, as with his early Nazi associations in his native Hungary.

American politics are a dark and murky place, and few can understand what is going on from the kind of normal, simple headlines we see in newspapers.

For McCain’s life achievements, see: https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/john-mccain-a-matter-of-character/

Another aspect of McCain’s glorious career:
http://theduran.com/john-mccain-and-president-trump-are-at-war-but-these-5-photos-show-senator-mccain-in-bed-with-al-qaeda-and-isis/

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

Top Comedian Expertly Explains – The Washington Post Is a National Disgrace

Sorry, there is nothing new here.

The Washington Post has always been a distorted source of news on many subjects.

It may possibly have become more flagrant under Jeff Bezos, but its essential nature remains unchanged.

Always, always, over my adult lifetime, the Washington Post has been an outlet for CIA and Pentagon interests.

There wasn’t a war or shabby intervention it did not work to boost and support.

It published disinformation regularly.

It was one of the important organ keys in what an old CIA propaganda expert years ago called his “mighty Wurlitzer Organ” and described himself sitting down to it regularly to play new tunes.

All that phony-heroic stuff about “The President’s Men” decades ago was nonsense which gave the paper a big piece of credit for investigative reporting and made corporate journalists heroes for a while.

The truth is that the entire Watergate affair was a CIA set-up to topple Nixon, kind of a quiet coup.

The door-taping in the Watergate offices, which gave the break-in gang away to a guard, was done by James McCord, an old CIA hand recruited by Nixon’s Plumbers operation, the kind of experienced old hand who simply does not make that kind of stupid and obvious mistake.

And the Woodward part of Woodward and Bernstein in “All the President’s Men” had a not-widely-known history in intelligence work. Later, he would do things like writing a book praising George W. Bush.

Even if you don’t accept this interpretation of the Watergate affair, the Washington Post’s long-term record in reporting events abroad and in Washington itself remains shabby and dishonest.

So, as the French say, “The more things change…”

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SADIQ KHAN IN THE GUARDIAN

Uber deserved to lose its licence – Londoners’ safety must come first

Oh, please, Mr Sadiq Khan, you are just so insincere.

Opponents of Uber are cut from exactly the same cloth as the Old Luddites. They even make similar arguments, as you do.

They oppose innovation which comes from new technology because it works against the interests of the old ways of doing things.

New technology almost always cuts into old-style jobs and old-style government administration programs. It’s inevitable.

If you were a better mayor, you would have negotiated a compromise arrangement which in one way or another allows both services to operate, effectively giving people a choice of premium or bargain service.

This has been done in a number of places, notably, recently in Toronto.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ROBERT PARRY IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

TRUMP FALLS IN LINE WITH INTERVENTIONISM

“Falls in line” is almost too tepid a description.

“Grovels” is closer to the mark.

Trump is a stunning disappointment along virtually every policy line.

Hillary Clinton in drag.

His UN speech was the most inappropriate speech likely in the entire history of the organization.

Bristling with threats and dishonesty and not a word of statesmanship.

I almost could not believe my eyes when I read what he said in an organization whose entire purpose is supposed to be about peace.

Every knowledgeable official from the chief UN expert on nuclear weapons to the President of France has said, in effect, Trump is lying about Iran.

Why would he do that?

Because he is completely under the influence of Washington’s Neocons and the war criminal, Netanyahu, something I doubt any Trump voter would have expected.

Instead of courageous new initiatives in the world from a maverick Washington-outsider, we have just one more typical Washington coward shouting threats at less powerful states who have done nothing.

And at a time of economic peril, we have a man who has done nothing worth doing to improve things. Instead, almost his every measure limits economic policies and threatens economic catastrophe, from imposing sanctions on Russian-European trade to threatening major steps against China.

If the man had any pride, he’d resign with an apology to the American people, but he doesn’t have any genuine pride, no one who grovels, as he does, has any pride.

He has only boastful bellowing, unwarranted arrogance, and no sense of shame in having proved such an utter failure.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CAROLINE MOOREHEAD IN THE GUARDIAN

Memo to Trump and the SAS – send the Afghans fewer bullets and more books

It was always stupid and brutal to send bullets, especially since the people of this poor, hardscrabble society, a place which can only barely be called a nation state, never in fact did anything against America.

But sending books to such an extremely poor and backward place, despite sounding nice, largely would be futile.

Our civilization is built on a foundation of increasing prosperity since the Middle ages.

Remember, in the Middle Ages, even many of the “lords” were genuine illiterates, and no peasants could read.

Only rising prosperity yields all that we have in schools, skills like reading, supplies of books, and almost everything you care to mention in real civilization, to say nothing of the opportunities to even use a skill like reading.

If you seriously study history, there is no other way to look at it.

The United States, if it dropped anything on these poor people, should have dropped dollar bills, not bombs.

But the truth is the US was never seriously interested in advancing Afghanistan’s poor people, nor is that the case now.

The invasion was about Captain Ahab seeking the “damned white whale,” and nothing else.

All the stuff about women and learning, while true enough, simply never seriously mattered except as copy for the press and official spokespeople for Washington.

You would have had no more luck in 14th century England dropping books. Why would you think it is different in Afghanistan?

Sounds thoughtful and cute, but it is pretty much a non-starter of an idea.
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Response to another comment:

Governance, just as with every other aspect of human culture, advances with prosperity too.

Eventually, instead of absolute king in Europe, groups of powerful nobles gained authority.

Then, as prosperity increased through changing technology – roads, ships, etc. – a middle class arose, people at an early time in England who were termed “the new men.” The “new men” did not own great estates or have castles but they had know-how and increasingly they had wealth by applying their know-how.

That is the key to modern society, the middle class.

Those are the people who eventually build parliaments and congresses. Those are the people who say we don’t need decisions made by kings or lords. Those are the people who get real public education going.

You cannot do these things in a very poor and backward place.

It’s a little like talking about putting clothes on farm animals.

Without growth in prosperity, there is little of what we all take for granted.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PATRICK COCKBURN IN THE INDEPENDENT

Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeat in Iraq and Syria, where the vast majority of terror victims are
The only long-term way of preventing these terrorist attacks is not only to eliminate Isis in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere but to end these wars which have allowed al-Qaeda to become a mass movement

Please remember, the United States and, especially, its comrade in arms, Israel, have not really given up on the goals they set when then helped create and sustain ISIS and Al-Nusrah.

Israel’s leader is launched off madly in all directions, from recognizing a phony Kurdish state before it even exists to demanding more land from Syria to bombing in Syria and to threatening Iran for being involved in Syria.

Were there any justice or decency left in international institutions, Netanyahu would certainly be named for what he is, a war criminal, and perhaps charged.

But that doesn’t happen because America has crushed every international initiative and cut-down every organization with private threats and bribes.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Is Trump about to repeat George W Bush’s worst mistake?

Yes, especially the greatest and bloodiest one, listening to the Prime Minister of Israel.
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Response to another comment:

No, the problem isn’t that simple.

What you’ve said is right out of Netanyahu’s fantasy playbook.

Good God, what does Israel have to do with any of this?

Here, the answer is simple. Netanyahu wants Trump to hurt Iran. In return, he’ll support any activity Trump likes, including making the most threatening and inappropriate speech in the UN’s history.

They were the words of a street thug, and Netanyahu praised them as brave.

By the way, whenever we speak of illegal nuclear weapons, weapons causing terror for all neighbors in a region, it is absurd to ignore Israel.

Somehow, it’s okay for Israel to have 150 nuclear weapons plus medium range missiles that can reach most of the capitals of Europe plus submarines, some of which have been jerry rigged to carry a nuclear missile?

But North Korea, which the US literally flattened in the 1950s, killing a full twenty percent of the entire population, is evil for its far more limited number of weapons?

Readers who don’t know, should read:

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/03/why-do-north-koreans-hate-us-one-reason-they-remember-the-korean-war/
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Response to another comment:

As does every knowledgeable official from the chief UN expert to the President of France.

These stupid charges about Iran are owing solely to Netanyahu.

He is upset how things have gone in Syria, so he is ready to attack Iran.

Not for any claimed threat – there is none, Iran never having attacked anyone – but because Israel wants to completely dominate its region, just as the US dominates much of the world, and Iran is now a serious competitor.
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Response to another comment:

In fact, the Saudis assisted the Pakistanis with big money in developing their weapons.

There is an agreement under which the Saudis can get some number of weapons if they feel threatened.
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Response to another comment:

But even more unfortunately, it isn’t just Trump.

American presidents cannot alone start war.

Look at the leaders of the Congress, pretty much a group of disastrous characters, all of them beholden, under America’s money-drenched election system, to the lobby representing Mr. Netanyahu’s interests.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Facebook’s war on free will

You forgot Facebook’s war on intelligence and decency.

What a horrible site it is, manipulating and cheating its users every step of the way.

Packed with snares to extract information every time you click anything. The questions popping up in boxes are so clearly calculated not to let people answer the way they might want to, to force them into unwanted choices.

The site also has been caught cheating numerous times, as with phony trending news stories and phony, purchased “likes.”

And the truth is, it is just an ugly thing.

I do not understand why people use it, except they want “one stop shopping,” so to speak.

There are so many ways to do things on the Internet, Facebook is just a waste.

A good example is when looking for a new restaurant. If a restaurant has its own little site, you will be able to find it quickly with a search engine and the owners will have a showcase, often quite attractive, to give you a quick idea of what to expect, as a few photos and a menu.

Restaurants which only use Facebook unwittingly create an unpleasant experience for would-be customers. First, many will be greeted by one of Facebook’s snares before they are even able to look. Very off-putting.

Second, the actual structure of Facebook sites is ugly and inflexible (compared to your own site).

I think people only turn to it out of laziness since it is a kind of internet within the Internet, a single site whose name has become a household word.

There’s a lot more that’s unpleasant about Facebook, including its connections with the CIA, its sale of user information, its constant effort to create new ways of extracting information from users, and the insufferable smugness and pronouncements of its founder.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SUZANNE MOORE IN THE GUARDIAN

“Don’t laugh at liars like Boris Johnson and Sean Spicer. Call them out”

I am not a fan of either of these individuals, although Boris has supplied the odd laugh over the years.

However, the attitude here is highly selective.

“A known liar”?

Well, I guess that eliminates half the Prime Ministers of Britain.

Certainly, it eliminates Tony Blair, a man frequently given publicity or praise in these pages.

And certainly, David Cameron, as colossal a failure in his own way as Trump, and one who rarely told the truth.

Hillary Clinton? Good God, what a dismal record she has.

Bill Clinton? He actually made a joke or two about telling the truth while telling a great many lies.

And it is hard to imagine a more practiced liar than the baritone-voiced, boyishly-smiling previous President.

He killed an awful lot of people bombing in seven different countries and running America’s first organized extrajudicial killing operation and on a massive scale. He never told the American people what he was doing.

He loved secrecy, hated whistleblowers, and rarely told the truth.

It is a rare modern politician who tells the truth. When an honest one does come along – I think of Jeremy Corbyn – he is attacked ruthlessly, as he was very much in these pages.