Posts Tagged Human Rights

WAS PUTIN’S “FAKE NEWS” END-GAME SOLELY TO PUT TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, OR SOMETHING EVEN MORE DEVIOUS?

As a socialist fighting in the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell developed a better understanding of Totalitarianism, than he had before.  While the Right was waging war against the Left, he realized that the Stalinists and Trotskyites were likewise trying to eliminate each other.  Eventually, he concluded that, whoever wins—whether Fascist or Socialist— will ultimately assume whatever group the wished to overthrow.

Orwell’s epiphany, as such, began to materialize in the first of his two major novels, Animal Farm.  The pigs led the upraising of the animals, and as they took over Mr. Jones’ Farm, Napoleon, the porcine leader, claimed that, “All animals are equal!”  Eventually, as the pigs moved into the farm house, and began acting more like humans, Napoleon then added: “but some animals are more equal than others,” to the mantra!

Recuperating from a serious neck wound and tuberculosis, back in London, George Orwell started to realize that even the most reputable of newspapers, the Times, reported on battles in Spain, which were never fought, and while omitting others where many were killed!  He then began to believe that even the press had managed the news, so as not to print anything that would offend Adolf Hitler; because, British aristocracy and the Intelligentsia preferred appeasement, to war.  Way back then, in the 1930s, Orwell dubbed his discovery, “Fake News!”

Managing the news, had been a primary component of Orwell’s second great novel, 1984, as he described the on-going evolution of “Big Brother” actually owning, managing, and disseminating the news, as is the case today in China, Russia, and several other socialist governments.  Whereas China has focused mostly on controlling its domestic media, Russia, however, appears to have risen to another level—using external thought control as a political weapon.

Europe has known of Russia’s various attempts for several years, both to sway elections and to splinter continental cooperation—specifically through the European Union and NATO.  I cannot say whether Putin’s cyber-warriors had a hand in the Brexit vote; which, might just have been due to frustration with Brussels, or the Independent nature of Great Britain.  But, the rest of the E. U., at least for now, has remained together, and willing to reconcile their differences.

The success or failure of thought control, I can only assume, might be dependent upon the basic human rights of the target country.  Countries with a strong tradition of free speech, the press and assembly, as well as a good public education, are harder to “reeducate!” The Trump Regime, however, in its dissemination of alternative facts, fake news and lies, appears to be playing into the hands of Vladimir Putin’s cyber-controllers.

Since Inauguration Day (January 29), the White House seems intent on:  discrediting any information that comes from reputable media sources; attacking journalists, corporate media outlets, and anyone with opposing points of view; dumbing-down the Public School System through charters and vouchers, which would revert back to the “Segregated and Unequal” Era of some 60 years ago; and Trump’s deemphasizing the value of factual content and individual curiosity.  In fact, Donald Trump boasts that he doesn’t even read!

I have no idea as to whether Donald Trump’s Team did, in fact, collude with the Russians. The Great America, which he claims that only he can build, just portrays an idiot’s style of demagoguery, and it possibly—purposely or not—lays the ground for a Russian cyber-invasion.  The beauty of any form of cyber-warfare is much more cost-efficient, since troops and equipment don’t need to be transported.  Also, consider that our whole system of knowledge—books, education, media—can be easily controlled or edited, on-line.

The 2016 Presidential Election needs to be Invalidated, and all nominations made by Trump must be revoked.  Impeachment or Resignation would be insufficient—especially if there was collusion with the Russians, or manipulations by them—because those actions would merely cut-off the head—and leave the corpus in-tact.  Recently, the Regime has asked for the Voting History of every American! Can the Thought Police and Book-Burners, from Orwell’s 1984, be far behind?

The Trump-Republicans have gone along with much of Donald Trump’s attacks on our very Democracy, possibly because he seems willing to sign their Draconian legislation into Law.  But, what happens when the GOP in Congress transforms to whatever Trump, or perhaps Vladimir Putin, has in mind?  With control of all three Branches of Government, Trump’s Party would be the most likely targets.  Back in the early 1930s, no one thought that Naziism would arise within Germany, but it did!

 

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ISTANBUL ON THE POTOMAC!

Donald Trump, that fellow who resides in the White House, appears to be as narcissistic as The Sun King, and he has the vindictive nature of a small child, who just won’t quite! Donald is so spoiled that he only sees or hear things, which only he “knows” to be true, and his actions bespeak only those that are in his best interest.  So, after five and a-half months, holed-up in the Executive Mansion, is he now ready to make Washington into His Kinda Town?

During his time in office, with numerous sabbaticals at his various resorts, he has seemed to be mad at the world, attacking everyone in sight.  Here’s the Short-List of his targets:  Obama and Clinton; all three major Intel Agencies; members of any and all minority groups; both the DEMs and the GOP; the print and broadcast media, at every opportunity; Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, perhaps as a corporate leader who just won’t kowtow to him; and on, and on.  Equally as bad, is the mass disruption, which Donald has spread overseas, in our name!

Donald Trump acts as if HE owns the place, and that anything that he does, while in office, should be whatever he wishes; because, you see, Donald John Trump is above the Law—or so he seems to thinks!   Now, we can consider Trumpie to be just another loose cannon; but, his actions certainly appear to be more evil than that.  Remember that Donald has literally offended every one of the nations which we have long-term alliances with, while cozying-up to some of our most dangerous adversaries.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are too ensconced in their long-term leadership roles, as Communist dictators, in systems that have been in existence for some 70 years.  But, Donald Trump did invite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, to visit him in the White House, about six weeks ago.  Turkey had been founded in 1923, as a secular democracy, and over the course of time, it had transformed itself into a Western-style nation.  It is also a NATO ally Istanbul, its largest city, is strategically located west of the Bosporous Strait, which, separates Europe from Asia.

Erdogan had been thrown out of office in 1998, and imprisoned, when he was the Mayor of Istanbul.   e was sacked for trying to spread his conservative Islamic views.  He returned to political life as Prime Minister in 2003, and became President of Turkey in 2014.  Ever since then, he has once again, been trying to instill his conservative Islamic fervor, and thus transform the nation into one more to his liking.

Just consider any of today’s authoritarian nations—China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Turkey—and the many commonalities are quite obvious.  Trump is possibly observing how President Erdogan has been re-building Turkish Society, and perhaps getting ideas, but with an American twist.

Human rights have been diminished during the Erdogan Era, as there are other civil rights violations, such as:  peaceful civil disobedience has been dealt with harshly; media has been forced to accept the government’s viewpoint; disloyal corporate leaders have been replaced, and many businesses have been nationalized; and Islamic Law is being gradually installed.  Also, he has made the Kurdish minority into a boogeyman for many of Turkey’s problems, and questions abound as to whether last fall’s unsuccessful coup was, in fact, staged–thus giving him the reason to take an even harsher stance!

Donald Trump has been moving on many of these same issues.  Consider just a few: his Regime is trying to diminish many of the human rights issues by continually attacking the media, and using fake news and falsified facts coming from the White House in order to shift public thinking; middle and upper-level civil servants have been denied work if they do not Pledge Loyalty to Trump; jawboning corporate leaders to follow his wishes; and why are there three generals in his Cabinet?

I cannot honestly say that Donald Trump is trying to transform America into an Authoritarian State; however, there are many similarities with various dictatorships, and  one one can be perceived as more insidious than the next.  At present, except for the Travel Ban, and the apparent over-active protection given to police officers—in very questionable circumstances—Donald hasn’t tried to change too many of our laws to meet his needs.  But, just let your mind wander as to what might be in store for Americans in the future!

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DONALD TALKS ABOUT FIGHTING STREET CRIME, BUT HIS ACTIONS SAY OTHERWISE!

Donald Trump spoke today, in Washington, D. C., at a memorial service for police officers, who were killed in the line-of-duty.  As usual, I personally didn’t care much for Trump’s style; because, however well-intentioned his words might have been, they did not correlate with any plan to understand it.  

In amongst his rhetoric, Donald Trump always seems to have an “Us-versus-Them” scenario in mind, especially when it comes to the Black-White relations on our nation’s streets, which is generally were police officers are killed.  Additionally, he always seems to side with the police officers, in any confrontation  ,without considering the possibility that, perhaps in some cases, the officer might have acted without provocation.

I have several relatives, as well as friends, who are either active or retired from law enforcement.  And, I sincerely believe that most in their profession are dedicated men and women, and they are deeply committed to serving and safeguarding the public.  But, I believe that Donald Trump should work toward understanding the situation, including all possible causes, and only then can he work toward solving the long standing problem.

Donald Trump, and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions; however, seem to be escalating the street crime problem, rather than diffusing it.  The whole “Black Lives Matter” movement reflects the evils of Racism, which had never been settled—400 years since Black Africans were first forcibly brought to America, and sold into Slavery.

For instance, many of the incidents of police officers shooting Black Men have stemmed from the police harassing the Black Men, rather than just giving them a ticket or a warning, as they generally would to a White Man.  AG Sessions further raised the level of distrust last week, when he announced that he was asking the Courts to hand-down the harshest sentences possible, even for non-violent crimes.  WHY?

Part of the racial distrust, which is at the heart of the heightened street crime, is due to the fact that many more Blacks and Latinos are in prison, than Whites.  Also, minorities often get harsher sentences for the same crimes.  A rational person might conclude that the Trump Regime intends to make the problem worse, rather than better.  Is that how Donald Trump might chose to remember those officers who were killed in the line-of-duty?

NOTE:  Please consider me a rational person.

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WORLD WAR II INTERNMENT CAMPS ARE STLL AN EXPLOSIVE MEMORY!

Today, the last Saturday in April, commemorates one of the darkest days in American history, especially for Japanese-Americans and, as it appears–today’s Muslims.  We Americans always seem to act like we’re the Good Guys, in the White Hats; but, save that for the movies.  Because, that’s just not really US!

Just consider a few of our Crimes Against Humanity:  widespread Human Slavery from pre-Colonial America, through the mid-19th Century; stealing the ancient tribal lands of Native Americans, and relegating them to barren reservations, barely capable of sustaining life; and the massacre of 550 Vietnamese old men, women, and even nursing babies, by the “Men” of the U. S. Army Americal Division, at My Lai4,  in 1968.

The following Op-Ed from the NY Times, “Internment, America’s Great Mistake”, by George Takei (“”Mr. Sulu”, on StarTrek), beautifully conveys the sorrow and hardship, that many Japanese-American had to endure—by someone who was there. As Mr. Takei noted, he was expected to “Pledge Allegiance to the Flag”, every morning, while living in such a “Camp”.  And to add the harshest insults to War Heroes, when Japanese-American men returned to their Homeland, after fighting in World War II, they too were placed in the same “POW” Camps, with their families!

Along with the many Japanese and other Americans remembering that Darkest Day on America, many of whom were born after The War, there are also a number of Muslims.  Just two days ago, eight Iraqis were deported to Iraq, and many other Muslims wonder if they, too, might be sent “back” to a land they had never known. Once again, is this what Humanity is all about?

As Donald Trump has reached Day #100, we can only be happy that he hasn’t blown -up the planet yet.  But, as each day passes, I can only think how wonderful it would be to have a Parliamentary Government, and with a “No Confidence Vote” scheduled first thing on Monday! morning

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SYRIA ATTACKED! WILL NORTH KOREA BE NEXT? BUT, THE CURE MIGHT BE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE!

trumpAnyone with TV or broadband access, undoubtedly saw videos of the dead and wounded, following a poison gas attack, in Syria on Tuesday.   The U. S. responded with a massive 59 Tomahawk Missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield, the base which the U. S. believes that the planes, loaded with the Sarin-laden bombs, took-off from.   Russia helicopters also uses that base, however!  It is unclear as to whether the Syrians, or the Russians, heeded the advanced-warning of the attack; however, there did not appear to be any aircraft debris on the field, in photos that I saw on the following day.

It is commonly believed that, since the War began six years ago,  President Bashar Assad’s forces have killed 500,000 of his own people.  The photos of dead and wounded, after the Sarin air strike, were horrible to watch; but still, I remember the lifeless body of a three year-old boy, a couple of years ago, who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, with his mother and brother.  That still photo reminded me of just about any small child, just curled-up sleeping; but, that small boy was dead!   Why hasn’t anyone acted before—the     U. S., Russia, the U. N., the Arab League, etc?   How approaching this problem like the seven nation Nuclear Agreement with Iran?

Why didn’t Donald Trump delay the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping,  iust a day or two, so that he could devote his full attention to the missile attack?   Or, he could have changed the venue to the White House, rather than to his Mar-a-Lago estate.   How much time did the two presidents, and their various advisors waste, in flying down to Palm Beach?  And that faux “situation room”, with flags a-flutter, truly looked just like a group of businessmen waiting for their dinner reservation.  The flags were a photo-op give-away, in a room where tough decisions were charaded to be made?   And, no jackets off. sleeves rolled-up?

In a recent post, I had suggested that Congress needs to reaffirm its sole authority to Declare War!   Whether we like it or not, Syria is a sovereign state.  Also, as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, we can only use military force on another country’s soil, either with its consent, in cases of self-defense or with the approval of the U. N.

As morally warranted as last Thursday’s attacks might have been, what the Trump Regime did was unconstitutional, and also against International Law.  The U. S. Department of Defense justified the attack as being: “intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again,”   That is clearly NONSENSE!.

An initial use of force against an enemy, by the way, would generally be the first of several, or ,many, narrowly-focused actions, designed to progress toward a long-range, strategic mission. So far, however, since no end-game has been revealed, it certainly appears that the Trump Regime is just making this up as it goes along!

During the Administration of President (and former General) Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Defense Department formulated its “First Offset Strategy”, which has always been expected to be an on-going blueprint, for keeping militarily our superiority over the Soviet Union.  Ike’s Plan was to take advantage of on-going advanced technological applications within our weapons arsenal.  Currently, that top tier of adversaries is composed of Russia and China, with lesser adversaries grouped accordingly.  Two years ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, described the newest version of that blueprint, the “Third Offset Strategy”, to a group of U. S. partners and allies.  In his presentation, Mr. Work said:

“While the United States and our closest allies fought two lengthy wars over the past 13 years, the rest of our — the rest of the world and our potential adversaries were seeing how we operated. They looked at our advantages. They studied them. They analyzed them. They looked for weaknesses. And then they set about devising ways to counter our technological over-match.”

Donald Trump boasts about his unpredictability.  After the Election in November, when he received the full Presidential Briefing, he allegedly asked:  “Since we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?”  So here we are, just three days after the (conventional) attack on Syria, and he’s already talking about installing nuclear weapons in South Korea.  He had also suggested sending a (presumed) special ops team to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.

Donald Trump boasts about being unpredictable and, with his lack of any clearly defined strategic objectives, as well as his total disregard for the Rule of Law, I am deeply concerned about the potential outcome.  He does;t seem to realize that Power Kills, and that means real people’s lives!  Under his misguided “Leadership”, Donald Trump could transform America into just another irrational state, but with a vast nuclear arsenal!    

Given Mr. Trump’s unprecedented conceit, he doesn’t realize how ignorant he is about: knowing where the Syrian attack might lead America to militarily; the disapproval that the recent action might bring from the International Community; the ramifications from ignoring the U. S. Constitution and the International Rule of Law…and, now he wants to “Do it again”–in North Korea.  The GOP seems enamored with him; but, only so they can push through their Draconian laws.  But, when will the American People put a stop to this Megalomaniac?

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WHEN DID HEALTH CARE BECOME A POLITICAL ISSUE, RATHER THAN A MORAL ONE?

President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was designed to provide health insurance for poor Americans who could not afford it.  Many people already have health insurance through employer-sponsored programs, or through Medicare, for Senior Citizens.  Small businesses, however, often do not offer insurance, and minimum-wage workers cannot afford it anyway.  Uninsured Americans were just left to fend for themselves and, of course, private insurance has always been quite expensive.

The Affordable Care Act provide subsidies for poor Americans, including seniors who could not even afford Medicare, and to extend the Medicaid program to more low-income citizens.   Many GOP-controlled states, such as Florida and Texas, have not accepted the Extended Medicaid, even though the Federal Government picks-up most of the cost for the first ten years.

Prior to ACA, cheap health insurance policies, designed for young adults, excluded “pre-existing conditions”, and even maternity was often excluded for young women. For older Americans, the premiums were exorbitant, and out of reach for many.  Policy holders took comfort in being “insured”; however, they didn’t realize how little the policies actually covered—that is, until they became sick or injured!

The total number of previously uninsured Americans, who were able to buy subsidized health insurance, through ACA, approaches 30 million, when the 11 million covered by the Medicaid Extension is included.  Many state Legislatures, that have Republican majorities, have not even allowed their Insurance Commissioners to negotiate for lower premiums, with the insurers.  Basically, those states were working against ACA—and against their own residents.

ACA was assumed to be the first step in providing Affordable Health Care for all Americans.  Like Medicare, some 50 years before, this comprehensive program was expected to need to be amended and modified over time.  But the Republicans, at the Federal and State levels, just fought against the program every step of the way.

TChe Affordable Care Act also required the Health Insurance Industry to meet certain goals:  pre-existing conditions would be covered; contraceptives and maternity must be included for women; equal premiums for males and females; premiums for the elderly could not be more than three times those paid by the younger insured; and no more than 20% of customer premiums would go toward expenses.  Many of these requirements have been dropped, or watered down, under the GOP’s AHCA.

When people do not have health insurance, they only seek medical assistance when they are gravely sick or injured, generally at hospital Emergency Rooms.  By then, the medical condition is usually more aggravated, and the medical personnel are working without any knowledge of the patient’s medical history.   The cost of health care, in this advanced stage, is normally much more expensive, and society and the hospitals bear the expense.

The most humane, as well as the most cost-effective, way to address the need for Affordable Health Care, is to make it available on a regular preventive basis.  Should we ignore the grievously sick, and allow them to die on the streets?  Do we continue to just ignore the overall costs—assuming that they will just go away?   Realistically, we should take pre-emptive action!

Among all of the world’s industrialized nations, American spends the most on health care; but, it gets the lowest return on its investment, by most every metric.  Is this how we wish to continue on?  Should we address the need for providing Health Care for all, in a caring and effective manner?   Or do we, as a Nation, just continue to sink. further and further into the bowels of Humanity.

NOTE:  I was wondering who Donald Trump would try to make the scapegoat when his first foray into major legislation had to be canceled twice, for insufficient support.  Would it be House Speaker Paul Ryan or the entire GOP?  No, he blamed the Democratic Party since they were perfectly happy with the ACA, which they passed seven years ago!   Next stop: Trump’s Tax Scam!

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THIS ST. PATRICK’S DAY, NOT ALL OF THE IRISH EYES WERE SMILING!

As the Irish are one of the oldest, and most easily assimilated groups of immigrants, St. Patty’s Day has come to be a day of celebration, not only for the Irish, but for many Immigrant groups.Ω even those who might seem to be flying under the radar—because they are of European stock. But they realize that Trump’s racially-motivated immigration ideas today could turn against all other groups tomorrow.  So, they stand together! 

Sure, Donald Trump might have toasted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly with green beer, on Thursday, and both men had-on green ties, and the fountain on the White House’s south lawn glowed green, for a day or two.  The undocumented Irish find little solace in those hollow events, however, due to the fact that they entered the    U. S. on perfectly legal Visas, and remained here after they had expired.  Besides the Irish, many others, like the Polish, the Mexicans, Nigerians, Filipinos, etc., are hard-working taxpayers, who are raising families here.

Perhaps the Irish won’t be the first group to be deported; but, how can they ever be sure that, as Trump or some other demagogue like him, works their way down the list of nationalities that, at some point, they might be next!  As much as Trump talks about creating jobs, he doesn’t realize that immigrants often are the reason for economic expansion as they add (usually) younger workers, entrepreneurial and technological skills, and they also increase the consumer base, as more spenders can grow the economy exponentially.

Undocumented immigrants normally enter the U. S. incrementally, and they are eventually assimilated into our society.  Unfortunately, racist actions do make it difficult for some, such as today’s Muslims, and of course blacks after centuries of living in America!

In 1981, 120,000 Cubans came ashore in Miami, in just two months time, and they were quickly assimilated into the local, very large Cuban-American community.  That many refugees, arriving in one area, and being quickly assimilated was, of course, an aberration.  Even though some of those “Marielitos” were, as Donald Trump would say, “Bad Hombres”, their proportion generally pales when compared to the overall percentage of criminals in American society.

So, while Mr. Trump was toasting Prime Minister Kelly at the White House, Joe McHugh, Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora and International Development visited the Aisling Irish Community Center, in Yonkers, N. Y.  Aisling is one of a number of community centers that provides social services, health screenings and other assistance to, what it calls, the “forgotten Irish”.  Staff members at Aisling, and other such centers, say that anxiety is peaking because of Trump.  Minister Joe McHugh, said, after his visit: “They live in fear.” But why?

Is this what America has come to:  like those billionaires, who have more money than they could ever hope to spend, and they just seem to want more?  Everyone of us are descendants of people who had come from somewhere else–even the Native Americans.   And for all of those “god-fearing Christians”, I surely wonder how you can mouth the words: “Do unto others…”

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