Jul 20 15

Sanity Once More

by Calum MacKenzie

It’s getting to be a habit, a very welcome habit to my tired eyes and ears. The announcement that the US is not only talking to Iran but has actually joined an international partnership to reach a deal which limits the proliferation of nuclear weapons, is a joy to all who value peace, tact, and diplomacy. The announcement follows on the heels of an opening dialogue with Cuba leading to a partial normalization of relations there, too. The trifecta is complete with the announcement from the Hillary Clinton campaign that all Americans should be automatically registered to vote on attaining the age of eighteen and that she will push for such registration. Other progressive actions seem to be surfacing to the benefit of the citizenry and to the relief of minorities. Although there is a long way to go, such moves are so welcome that sanity is seen to emerge.

Elected representatives quickly forget that all of the accusations levelled at Iran can and should equally be levelled at the US. They say Iran can’t be trusted but the Iranians remember how the US was instrumental in usurping Iran’s democratically elected government and installing the Shah, a terrorist puppet regime, in its place. They say Iran is a sponsor of international terrorism by supplying arms and support to some of Israel’s neighbours. Is the US conscience clear in every Central and South American nation on the same topic? The US considers it appropriate to tap into the communications of nations on every continent. The latest known victims are Brazil and Germany. Republican and Democrat spokemen alike castigate Iran for actions that the US has repeatedly modelled. The good news is that Iran has risen above the US paranoia and their people rejoice in the outcome.

When Israel acts as the aggressor, creates apartheid conditions and destroys homes and infrastructure in Gaza, they are praised in the US as freedom fighters. They receive funding and armaments from the parent source and do not discriminate in how those arms are used. On several occasions the UN security council has condemned Israel as war criminals and for crimes against humanity. Yet those resolutions do not see the light of day because the US exercises its veto. Despite three years of negotiations (culminating in the day old agreement to limit Iranian nukes) there is not a peep about putting the same screws to the Israeli stockpile. The hypocrisy continues. When will Russia, China and the US trust each other enough to really show leadership in nuclear disarmament?

The thawing of relations with Cuba has been dealt with elsewhere but the third item regarding voter registration requires an airing. The governor of Wisconsin recently announced his running for president in the 2016 election. Part of his platform was a boast that his state now requires government issued photo ID in order to vote. By so doing he has effectively cut the voter rolls for those who can’t obtain a government issued photo ID. A Student card is not good enough. Neither is utility bills, shopping cards, and any of the other myriad ways usually accepted as proof of identity. He is not alone in imposing such restrictions. It is a measure of insanity to make voter registration and ID difficult in a democracy. That is why Hillary Clinton’s announcement was so welcome. If enacted it would cut across the voter registration and ID fiasco and bring a standard requirement to all states for every election.

Jun 19 15

Are Mass Shootings Trending?

by Calum MacKenzie

To call the most recent tragedy in South Carolina a hate crime – as some media types have done – or to treat it with inward looking labels of intolerance, man’s inhumanity to man, racial bigotry, severe prejudice, class bias, etc., is to cover the ordeal with soft soap and furnish a snow job. The mass shootings that have made startling headlines not just in the USA but around the globe all seem to be aimed at those who can’t fight back; church-goers, school children, students, all unarmed and unprepared for gun violence. It follows that the perpetrators are not just mentally unstable and lacking human decency but the lowest in the ranks of cowards.

A similar class of cowards is being recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Given that they are armed with American weapons granted to Iraqi forces and then abandoned, it would seem that a new wild west scene is being opened up with some delight in the Middle East. The question arises as to how the ISIL recruits are to be treated when they are eventually brought to justice. Those same recruits are labelled terrorists and guilty of public beheadings (to mention but one international crime).

As in the original wild west, law enforcement – using brave souls, the rule of law and posses – eventually brought some order to the west. Would the “eye for and eye” old testament justice suit in the Middle East? Why are those perps who resort to gun violence against the unarmed in churches and schools not labelled homeland terrorists? Are they not every bit as guilty of terrorism and crimes against humanity as their ISIL brethern? Semantics? Perhaps. The children of Sandy Hook and the congregation at the Emanuel church felt terrorised!

It is variously reported that the perps are recruited via internet sites such as KKK, Aryan brotherhood, etc. and that there are some 800 such hate groups plying their poisonous doctrine world wide via those sites. Are they not all offering a route to terrorism? Free speech mantras are one thing but such freedoms surely carry some responsibility and accountability to recognise that not all free speech is good or welcome. So much is known to law enforcement entities about those groups at federal, state and local levels that it should be a no-brainer to shut them down permanently. Just as ISIL is treated by the international community, so too should like remedies be levied against our homegrown terrorists.

The ranks of cowardice also extend to the legislative branches of government. To make armaments available to the mentally unstable and registered felons sans background checks and to offer the nonsensical audacity that the availability is a right is to invite chickens to come home to roost.

In the 1950s and 60s, the UK was forced to face up to racial profiling and prejudice. The national conversations that followed brought stringent laws to bear on all cases of discrimination in the workplace and in rentals and sales of properties: People of colour were offered the same rights in public as their local born citizens. Perhaps a similar round of conversations is long past due in the home of the brave.

Apr 8 15

Despite Netanyahu’s pre-emptive strike

by Calum MacKenzie

It was with some surprise and a smidgen of disbelief that I listened to the local news and learned that not only was a nuclear deal with Iran in the offing, but the military was not involved. There were no boots on the ground, no aerial bombardment, no collateral damage, no killing of innocents, and no damage to schools, hospitals, churches, and civilian infrastructure. No f****** semper fi! Those tactics that the US and NATO had used mercilessly and with impunity since world war two were mysteriously absent. Hoo-bloody-ray!

So many pundits were against any sort of deal with Iran that such an event entered the realm of impossible. Those pundits showed their brass necks by noting at some length that Iran was not to be trusted. A short course in recent Iranian history would have taught them that any animosity on Iran’s part would have shown that Iran had multiple reasons for mistrust of US and NATO and their clients. Have the Israelis always treated Iran fairly? Did Iraq have US backing for its military adventures in Iran? Did the US shoot down an Iranian civilian aircraft over Iranian waters? Did agents of the US usurp the democratically elected government of Iran and install the Shah as their puppet?

US and NATO spokesmen have a terrible habit of rewriting history boasting that they are the good guys. War crimes do not apply to them and international criminal courts are only recognised when it’s to their advantage. Even the present incumbent in the White House regards the US as the shining city on the hill and its systems and players as exceptional. The naive might ask, ‘exceptional in what way?’ Surely not exceptionally violent, exceptionally aggressive, exceptionally greedy, exceptionally hypocritical, and the list of negative character traits goes on? How about exceptionally paranoid on a daily diet of media inspired fear?

It’s the Iranians who have reason to be paranoid. They had been caught between a theocratic rock and the hard threat of nuclear annihilation. Their choices were hell or hell!

Has the US and NATO actually listened to the oceans of criticism arising from their decades of misadventures and decided to seek a better solution for foreign policies? There are 47 so-called republican traitors who adamantly adhere to the previous bullying tactics and would disrupt the administration’s attempts at joining the human race and the side of good hearted folks world wide. Freedom of speech is good. Freedom of speech with accuracy and responsibility is better. Hopefully those brain addled clowns will always be in a distinct minority whether they are charged as traitors or not.

While today’s news is uplifting, it is not yet cast in stone having a 3 month respite to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. It does however, auger extremely well for the future of diplomacy. The reasoned talk, debate, tact and courtesy, as shown to a world wide audience, has exemplified that there is hope yet for the future of the human race. Mr. Netanyahu’s pre-emptive strike in his dubiously illegal, certainly discourteous, speech to the US Congress, may have earned him a few votes on the extreme right of Israeli politics but it earned him little, if any, brownie points with the larger audience. Just imagine the furore if Mr. Obama had been invited to address the Knessett behind Netanyahu’s back!

Dare we imagine that as Iran foregoes being a holder of nuclear weaponry, that all other nations will follow their lead? Will Israel and the US, to mention but two such candidates, also follow UN resolutions on nuclear proliferation? If the world is safer when Iran toes the line, doesn’t it follow that further safety is ensured when all nations do the right thing?

But why stop with nukes? The UN has resolutions on its books relating to the proliferation of all arms. Where is the leadership to take up those challenges? Surely there is a strong desire in China, Russia, and the US to make all nations safer? If those nations led the way, the other nations such as Israel, France, Britain, Italy and Germany would be obliged to follow suite. What a gift that would be to the peacemakers; to see the supply of arms dry up. Police forces would begin to sleep soundly once more and smiles would come back into fashion.

Today’s news was huge. It was not only welcome in our household, it removed a large cloud of cynicism from my shoulders and restored a large unit of trust in my fellow humans. Thank you.

Jan 16 15

Je Suis Charlie: The CyberWar is now MainStream

by Joseph Carrabis

The Washington Post recently published Anonymous hacks terror website in retaliation for Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s a fascinating read on so many levels.

The cyberattack wasn’t on a nuclear station, a power grid, a military base, an operations center, an intelligence command depot.

The cyberattack was on an idea, a belief, a way of doing things.

I remember an IRA member talking about an extremist attack on the London subway system. He said, “Those people are f?cking nuts. They’re not doing this right. We’re getting out of the terrorist business.”

And when was the last time you heard about an IRA attack? They may still be happening, we’re just not hearing about them.

And I’m not condoning the cyberattack, only recognizing it as a new level of warfare and a new type of warfare, a Censorship warfare. Or maybe not censorship as in “I won’t let you get your message out”, more like “I don’t care what you say, just don’t act on what you say…at least not in a way that’s going to hurt people.”

I don’t know where to place this, really.

Thoughts, everyone?

Jan 14 15

Is Paris Burning? And Who’s Holding the Match?

by Calum MacKenzie

The situation in Paris came as no surprise and fell into the category of ” here come the chickens home to roost.” European nations have 500+ years history of crusades of one form or another having learned zilch from those mistakes. The US, its clients and NATO continue to apply violence in many Muslim countries. The perpetrators then have the nerve to ask, “Why do they hate us?”

After all, we are the good guys. We want to further the cause of democracy, but not in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, etc. We want all nations to enjoy the fruits of capitalism don’t we? Not so, the critics sing out. The US has to be in charge. The conditions which they impose on their trading partners would not see the light of day in Washington DC. So we have the enrichment of US banks via “odious debts” which are ruinous in the third world.

Hundreds have been killed, wounded or orphaned in the Yemen, thousands have suffered similar inhumane treatments in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. When the sunshine is too much for the US media to stomach, the US calls on client states, such as Israel and Honduras, and US armed dictators to fill the breach with violent aggression, eg. the Contras, with the usual ruinous results.

Each one of those who have suffered under US led aggression, has a family of relatives all of whom grew up in a culture where revenge is a legitimate remedy. They also live in oil rich areas where access to funding is possible. Some attend Wahabbi schools and learn more than quotes from the Koran. Some learn to read in English and pick up armed forces literature on the art of war.

So with the means, motives and opportunities, are we really surprised that the chickens are coming home to roost? Just as the European colonialists were on the wrong side of history for centuries, the US and NATO have joined that losing side.

So what can be done? How about diplomacy? How about listening to moderate Muslims? How about closing US and NATO bases in Muslim nations? How about treating Palestinians exactly as Israelis are treated and funded? How about doing unto others as we would have them do kindly unto us? How about getting mental health treatment for the national paranoia?

Obviously having nuclear weapons, superior instruments of war, EITs, and a spectrum of legislative and educational tools are ineffective against 7th century warriors who see death as a good thing. Yet we see armed forces personnel being sent as advisors, legislators, and educators; a task for which they are neither qualified nor adequately trained. As the US and NATO media and news releases are far right wing extremists, the general public is continuously misinformed, pinning its hopes on government sound bites. And so the carnage will continue till Obama or his advisors join the human race.