Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

TRUMP’S PALESTINE “DEAL OF THE CENTURY” REVEALED

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This was a hard post to write. Palestine is at the fulcrum of the world’s problems, a solution to it would be a huge boost for peace. Alas, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I must try though, I write this in the hope of promoting justice and understanding.

This is the map President Trump tweeted to announce his “deal of the century” offer to the Palestinians. It speaks for itself. This is not the map of an independent sovereign Palestinian state. It’s a “state” divided into at least six cantons, each  surrounded by Israeli territory. With numerous Israeli settlements situated inside the Palestinian enclaves. It’s a two state solution where the second state, the Palestinian state, is subject to Israel. The Bantustan solution to the issue. The Palestinians, none of whom were consulted in creating this deal, have already rejected it. As they should, this is not a realistic plan for peace, it’s an outline for Palestian surrender.

Or look at it this way, Trump’s offer basically gives all of Palestine to Israel, but allows the Palestinans to live on American style Indian reservations. Just like Indian reservations in America, the Palestinians can call themselves independent sovereign nations, but they are still subject to Israel. Especially with Israel controlling their borders, water, airspace, and defence. This isn’t really debateable. A “country” so divided up would be ungovernable. There’s no country anything like this on Earth, for good reason, it wouldn’t work. Which basically means that Trump’s offer is designed to be rejected. And then Israel can go ahead with annexation and claim “Well, we made them a reasonable offer, but they refused!”

The question that arises, does Trump actually believe this is a reasonable offer? I suspect he does. Decades of Israeli propaganda have cemented in many western minds.the idea that Israel wants peace but the Palestinians don’t.  Also the idea that the Palestinians aren’t a “real” people, so anything Israel offers them that allows them to stay is a generous offer, and they should be happy to get it. Or worse, Trump knows this offer is a joke, but doesn’t care.

I had Trump hopes before he got elected. Granted they weren’t very realistic hopes, but a man can dream? I hoped by being a populist and an outsider Trump might take a new approach to some of the world’s problems. Like actually trying to solve them instead of just perpetuating them. My hopes have been dashed at this point. Granted I’ve had my hopes for every president since Reagan, sometimes people elevated to high office try to do the right thing! Alas, it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those presidents.

A solution to the Palestinian problem is possible. An actual contiguous West Bank  state, bordering on Jordan, without any Israeli enclaves. Even if it was only half the size of the current occupied West Bank, it would at least be a viable state. If added to modest, essentially symbolic, reparations for Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the past, I think the majority of Palestinians would be happy with it. Oh, an actual independent state too, in every sense of the word. Not a state where Israel controls the borders, airspace, and water … and freely launches military strikes in.

Would this instantly halt all terrorism directed towards Israel? Of course not. There’s always going to be criminals and extremists. Just as there have been in Israel. But in the long run it would make peace workable in Palestine, as long as people have independence and self determination they generally are happy to get along with their neighbours. Ultimately Israel has to make peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, no nation can survive perpetual war.

I don’t think peace now will happen though. At this point it seems like the extremists control Israel’s heart and soul. And they want nothing less than a 100% Jewish Palestine, with the Palestinians gone. And Trump’s “peace plan” is just another step in the process of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that has been ongoing since 1948. Israel has held all the cards since 1948. And it’s they that have chosen war and ethnic cleansing instead of negotiation and peace. Not all Israelis though. I suppose there is hope in that sense. I recommend that the gentle reader read The General’s Son. The IRA and Britain negotiated a settlement to their nightmare war, I can only hope that Israel and Palestine can do the same.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump’s images posted on Twitter. Credit: One of Trump’s minions I suppose, as official government tweets they are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

Posted in Israel, Palestine, Peace, Trump

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ETC

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The year end holiday season is upon us. This will be my last post until after the holidays barring some news event I feel compelled to blog about. Knock on wood, it would be nice to go a week or two without rending my garments. And in that vein of thinking, I wrote a list of garment rending topics to quickly touch on in this post. And now, after a beer and fondue party, I will attempt to expound on them. The cheese fondue course was followed by a chocolate fondue course, so I am feeling no pain on multiple levels.

Australian fires. Yes, Australia is on fire. Two sad truths here, the first being that outside of Antarctica, Australia is the continent least suited to western style civilization, and such is making it even less habitable. Jerrod Diamond is where I got this nugget, so likely lots of codicils. Still, people have been living there for forty thousand years or more, and never found anything better than hunting and gathering. (Which is actually an underrated lifestyle.) And now, all the fires. Welcome to global warming, sad truth number two, which is exacerbating and increasing the droughts and such that are exploding the drier parts of the world. In our lifetime global warming is going to make large portions of the planet essentially uninhabitable, but we can’t do anything about it because it would hurt the economy. Go figure.

Generational conflict. So, yeah, some people are blaming the boomers for the state of the world. I chatted with one today. Yeh, right. (As an aside, love the English language, where a double positive can be a negative.) Give me a break in other words. Saying the boomers made the world today is like saying people in the past made the world we live in. Hardly a new or helpful observation. The world we live in is a mess, but hardly because a single generation screwed it up. Divide and distract is what the people running the world want us to do, so welcome to generational conflict. It’s not the hyper-rich families and corporations who have been running the world for centuries who screwed us over, oh no. It’s our parents and grandparents! A suggested fun topic with family over holiday meals.

And speaking of crazy pointless controversy, Merry Christmas! Apparently it’s a sin now in some quarters to say anything other than “Merry Christmas.” News flash, Christianity doesn’t own the calendar. So no one is required to say “Merry Christmas!,” nor is Christianity insulted in some way if one says otherwise. And if someone does get their knickers in a twist because someone wished them happy holidays or what not, it’s their problem. People wishing other people a good time is a good thing, duh.

This faux controversy is just a sign that the times have changed. When I was a kid, Christmas was treated essentially as a universal. It was just assumed and promoted in a million movies and TV shows that Christmas was an integral part of America, and the fact that millions of Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas was simply ignored. And we’re talking white, Jesus centered, heteronormative Christmas to boot. And now a lot of people would rather not be obliged to celebrate, or they want to celebrate it in their own way. None of which affects Christians who want to celebrate Christmas in any way, but lots of them like to pretend it does. And thus the faux “War on Christmas” was invented. Myself, I try to be polite to people in public. It’s worked so far, I recommend it.

Lastly. The 1914 Christmas truce, image above. World War One started in August 1914, And by Christmas the western front (where Germany was fighting France and England) was a line of opposing trenches from Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean. 440 mi (700 km,) millions of men facing each other in a bloody struggle that had already killed half a million. There had never been a war like it. And on Christmas day in numerous places on the opposing trench lines spontaneous cease fires broke out. In many cases just so the dead could be retrieved. In many cases though the soldiers fraternized, even famously playing a bit of informal soccer. One of those historical events that was long forgotten, now resurrected by the magic of the Interwebs. All dead now, such is history.

And shamed by this spontaneous outbreak of goodwill between enemies, the leaders of both sides sat down and negotiated a peaceful end to one of history’s stupidest conflicts. Snort. No, they issued orders making damn sure something like this didn’t happen again, and on subsequent Christmas days the slaughter continued unabated. Phew, close one.

Happy Holidays all, have a great week whatever you are doing or celebrating.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One newspaper front page. Credit:The Daily Mirror. I guess they’re still around, but I believe this image is now Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 23, 2019 at 7:41 pm

AVOID ACTIVE VOLCANOES AND OTHER STUFF

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It snowed again. Only a few inches. And powdery fluffy snow, so it was a breeze to shovel. An evil frigid breeze. When I came inside I could warm my hands in the deep freeze. I did manage to make it on foot to the library/Post Office/bank without suffering from frostbite, but that’s it for today. Today, random blogging. Well, not that random, it would take billions of monkeys eons to randomly type this post. I digress.

So, a volcano killed some tourists in New Zealand. Hopefully it was quick, what a way to go. Explosions can be handy that way, “One second, there you is, the next, where is you?” RIP, and may their friends and family find comfort and solace. I guess it was what they call a phreatic eruption as opposed to the more familiar types of volcanic eruptions. That’s where ground water gets hot enough to flash into steam, boom. I visited some once, quite impressive. This would explain why the eruption struck without warning, a slow rise in underground water temperature is probably tricky to monitor. It’s not  exactly an environment where one can drill down and install sensors.

This tragedy also highlights the disparity of the human condition on Earth. (Why yes, I do point that out a lot.) When westerners are killed by volcanoes, they were often tourists. Sometimes, as in this case, paying for the experience of being on a volcano. When third worlders die on volcanoes, it’s often because they were forced by circumstance to farm the fertile (but dangerous) slopes of volcanoes. And yes, there are far more of the latter dead people than the former. Stuff like this puzzles alien anthropologists to no end I am sure. Hell, I’m puzzled.

Speaking of puzzling, they found a man whose sperm’s DNA is entirely from his bone marrow donor. That’s right, if he fathers a child, another man will be the child’s genetic father. In fact the donor’s DNA has shown up in various parts of his body. Forensic scientists aren’t happy about this, this is going to complicate using DNA to solve crimes. Granted there’s already lots of ways extraneous DNA can get into samples, but still, one more thing to watch out for. Paternity cases could be complicated too, one more fly in the ointment. The takeaway, if one is a man who wants to father children, they should get their bone marrow from a close relative, preferably a twin sibling.

And as an aside to that, ‘they’ was just announced as Mirriam-webster’s word of the year. No doubt Rush Limbaufgh and other folks whose identity is all wrapped up in Biblical gender roles are having conniptions de merde. I really wish these people would get over themselves, but like their implacable efforts to take back control of women’s bodies, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Waaaay too much money and political influence to be had by promoting the Bible as an answer to all questions. Ask Mr Trump, he didn’t get elected by fanatic intellectual cultists. Myself, I don’t give other people’s genitals a second thought, I’ll call a person by whatever name and pronouns they prefer. Whatever floats their boat, someone else eating a donut doesn’t compromise my diet.

On the topic of DNA, I am seeing a lot of ads on Facebook about “get your DNA tested and we’ll tell you what kind of foods to eat!” Wow, it sounds all sciency and shit, who can resist? Hopefully anyone with a functional brain and a lick of common sense. Just another way for slick marketers to cash in on the DNA testing racket. In other words, it’s hogwash, there’s no scientific evidence that one’s DNA determines their optimal diet. If there ever is any such evidence, one’s doctor is the person to talk to about it. Not some shyster company marketing DNA testing for whatever reason.

In some positive news, Russia and Ukraine have come to an agreement over the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. This is a part of Ukraine with a large Russian population that revolted in 2014 when Ukrainian nationalists seized power in Ukraine. One of the many ugly legacies of the ill starred Stalinist Soviet Empire, which moved borders and people around willy nilly. In any event, this is a good thing, it’s hard to see how violence will help this situation. In any event this is a good start, a truce, prisoner exchange, and further talks scheduled. If both sides negotiate in good faith, issues like this can and have been resolved.

And yes, still working on my response to Ukraine comment post. By the same token as the above paragraph, it’s only through engagement with people who think differently that accommodation can be made. That’s why I avoid the dripping anti-whoever <cough> trump <cough> vituperative that characterizes the anti Rush Limbaugh crowd. Hell, there’s no need, the man speaks for himself.

Have a great week everyone, stay warm. Unless you’re near an active volcano, then stay cool.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: First Snow at Veneux-Nadon. Credit: Alfred Sisley 1878, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 10, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Peace, Russia, Ukraine, War, World

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae,1872 – 1918

So it’s Veterans Day in the USA, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Commonwealth countries. Armistice Day was the day Germany signed the armistice ending the First World War. Signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. A war whose bloodshed was unprecedented in the developed world, millions died in the trench warfare on the western front between Germany and England/France. Celebrating the end of such a war, or any war, is a good thing.

It was originally Armistice Day in the USA as well. In 1926 Congress voted to establish Armistice Day to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.” Then in 1954 in a fit of jingoistic frenzy, Congress changed it to Veterans Day. A celebration of war, not peace.

Well, as a veteran, I choose to celebrate the day as a celebration of peace, not war. While I appreciate those who served, the fetishization of America’s military in support of our endless colonial wars I do not celebrate. America’s troops are not fighting to end war, they are fighting to create war profits. Hardly a thing to fight wars over, let alone celebrate. If American really wanted to celebrate its veterans, they would bring our soldiers home and end our destructive and self defeating overseas wars.

At least the veterans of World War One thought they were fighting for peace. All dead now, during the war or after. Their sacrifice was ultimately in vain, as the horrors of the Second World War eclipsed those of the first. And the wars go on.

God have mercy on us.

Poem written during World War One by Canadian Lt Col John McCrae, after presiding over the funeral of a friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres. There’s actually a third stanza, but it’s unashamedly jingoistic so I chose not to reprint it.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A poppy field in Flanders. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, I got it from this site. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2019 at 2:49 am

“IT WAS SOMETHING HE HAD TO DO.”

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Wrisberg, John

Another Memorial Day. Today is the day America remembers its war dead. The holiday more or less started during the Civil War, though exactly how and where isn’t settled. And may never be,  historians are still arguing about it. Doesn’t matter though, it’s an official holiday now, and unofficial start of summer. Picnic, beer, family, and friends.

And memories. There’s a fair number of war dead in Clear Lake. The Civil War, the World Wars, they have their graves and monuments. Lots of flags in the Clear Lake cemetery today. And aside from the cemetery, there is a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flagpole just a few blocks from where I am living. Only one Clear Lake boy died in Vietnam, he is remembered on the Flagpole. John H Wrisberg III. I only say boy because he died before he was 21, just to emphasize the tragedy of a man dying so young.

I was just a kid during most of the Vietnam War. Certainly in 1968 when Mr Wrisberg fell. Most of the people who remember him were also children at the time. The Vietnam War was over half a century ago, like the wars before, it is rapidly fading into history and out of memory. Some remember John still though. Turns out he lived just a few houses away from where I live now. These posts are always hard to write, but discovering that floored me. As I sit here typing I look out on the neighborhood he grew up in.

I did solicit my fellow Clear Lakers for memories. I shared them below. One fellow remembers as a little kid getting piggyback rides from John as a kid. Another remembers getting in the way of John and a friend playing pool, so John placed her sitting on a shelf that was five feet from the ground. Others remember him and his family. His younger brother died a few years later in a motorcycle accident. His father was an Air Force pilot, died in a crash in 1960. A lot of tragedy for one family.

John was a real person. With hopes and dreams and and fears and plans. A good person whose life was cut short in a war on the other side of the planet. “It was something he had to do.” I honor his sacrifice, I am glad his memory lives on in those who knew him. As long our departed live on in our memories, they are still with us.

This is a shorter post than usual. I said what I had to say. God bless all who died in the service of our nation. God grant peace to their their surviving friends and loved ones. God give us the wisdom to value peace more than war. When I was a young man peace was considered a laudable national goal. I miss that.

Have a good Memorial Day everyone.

“He was my next door neighbor, he lived at 200 N Shore Dr, I was just a little one back then still remember him giving me piggy back rides, and the sad part….first time I ever went to a funeral home and seem someone in a casket, I still remember that vision, so sad … “

— Todd V Humberg

“John was a year ahead of me in high school, remember him well. I look up his name on the wall in DC when I visit . RIP” 

— Ed Kotz

“His little brother, Mike, who I remember from Clear Lake High School, died three years after John in a motorcycle accident. His father, also named John, was a captain in the Air Force who died in 1960 in a plane crash during a routine mission as a test pilot. Lots of tragedy struck this family.”

— Peggy Ward Kerr

“Rest in Peace, sir.”

— Linda Reid

“I lived across the street. I was good friends with Mike and remember the shock. So sad.”

— Terri Masteller

“He was my oldest brother’s best friend. I was probably 5 y.o. and they were shooting pool in our basement. Apparently I was in the way, he picked me up and sat me on a shelf that was 5ft off the floor.”

— Sheila Sherman

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image copyright unknown. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 27, 2019 at 7:20 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY 1945

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Berlin, Brandenburger Tor und Pariser Platz

The first week of May, 1945, is big in the history books. A lot because it saw the end of World War Two in Europe. Easily the biggest and most destructive war in history, tens of millions of people died, entire countries were laid waste. And then there’s the Holocaust, the first and hopefully last industrial scale genocide in history. America played a big role in the war, though  not as big as many Americans imagine.

Leading into the week, on 28 April 1945 Benito Mussolini was murdered, alongside his mistress. Two days later, April 30 1945, Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, killed themselves in the Führerbunker in Berlin. They had been married the previous day. Hitler had avoided getting married for political reasons, he thought being single broadened his appeal to German women. Hitler was always worried about his popularity with the German people, sometimes to a length where it actually hurt the war effort. In any case, two of the main architects of World War Two didn’t live to see the end of the nightmare they had created.

May 1st 1945, a Tuesday. Radio Hamburg announced the death of Adolf Hitler, claiming he had died fighting in Berlin. Admiral Doenitz was named by Hitler as his successor, much to Doenitz’s surprise. I doubt he had any illusions about how hopeless the situation was, but he ruled what was left of Hitler’s Third Reich for a week. On the same day the American Seventh Army reached Braunau am Inn, the town of Hitler’s birth in Austria. And on this day Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s famous propaganda minister, committed suicide with his wife in the  Führerbunker. They also murdered their six children, though some in the bunker tried to prevent that. Things frankly got pretty crazy in the bunker near the end.

May 2nd 1945. On this day the German forces defending Berlin surrendered to the Soviets, ending the two week Battle of Berlin. The Germans were outnumbered by at least three to one, with critical shortages of fuel and ammunition as well. The outcome was never in any doubt, Hitler’s fantasies notwithstanding. The Allied spring offensive in Italy ended with the formal surrender of German forces there. On this day Martin Bormann, a Nazi who rose to tremendous power and influence as Hitler’s private secretary, died trying to escape Berlin. His fate was a mystery until 1972 when his remains were discovered. Glass fragments in his mouth indicated he had died from biting a cyanide capsule, almost certainly to avoid imminent capture by the Soviets.

May 3rd 1945. Sadly on this day the British sunk the SS Cap Arcona, a German liner loaded with prisoners and slave laborers. About 5,000 died. And in an odd two historical footnotes the Irish Prime minister offered his condolences to the German ambassador for the death of Adolf Hitler. And the government of Portugal had official flags flown at half mast in mourning for same! The true extent of the holocaust had yet to be revealed I guess.

May 4th 1945, a Friday. German forces in northwestern Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark surrendered to the Allies.

May 5th 1945. German forces in Norway surrendered to the Allies. This was also the day the Battle for Castle Itter was fought. It has been called the strangest battle of World War Two, French POWs, American soldiers, and German soldiers(!) successfully defended the castle against an attacking German force. A tennis star was among the fighters! I may have to blog about this one. Sadly this day a Japanese balloon bomb, one of hundreds launched from Japan against the US west coast, had their only success of the war, killing five children and a pregnant woman near Bly, Oregon.

May 6th 1945. Patton was ordered to stop advancing eastward because of the occupation agreement between the Americans and the Soviets, much to his disgust. And two U-boats, U-853 and U-881, were sunk in the North Atlantic. Some of the very last naval actions in the war with Nazi Germany.

May 7th 1945. The Halifax riot. Due to series of unfortunate circumstances, sailors trying to celebrate VE day rioted. I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, but stores were looted and a lot of hard feelings created. And in Germany, German generals signed unconditional surrender documents in Eisenhower’s headquarters, ending the War in Europe. Sometimes good things do happen on Mondays.

OK, this post was not as American centric as I had originally planned. So just a couple quick notes on America in World War Two. A lot of Americans wildly overestimate America’s role in World War Two. Not surprising given how Hollywood portrays the war. In the D-Day movie “Saving Private Ryan,” there is exactly one reference to the British, and it’s unflattering. And no mention of Canada, leaving the impression that D-Day was an American affair. In truth only 40% of the troops that went ashore on D-day were American, the rest were British and Canadian. And while D-Day was important, it wasn’t a “turning point” in the war. By June 1944 the war was effectively over, it was just a matter of who would get to Berlin first.

Hitler’s armies were primarily destroyed by Soviet armies in Hitler’s disastrous attempt to conquer Russia. The Allies provided the Soviets with a lot of their trucks, but when it came to weapons and soldiers, the Russians pretty much supplied themselves. Westerners also love to make a big deal about their bombing campaigns. Post war studies showed they were not nearly as effective as was thought at the time. They also raise the morale of people being bombed.

And in a final bit of unpleasantness, stumbled on this little gem during my research. D-Day GIs ‘raped and killed their French allies while US army generals turned a blind eye’ Oops, they didn’t mention that in “Saving Private Ryan.” The sad truth is that rape and war crimes are simply a part of war. All armies have these horrors. Put people in a situation that utterly dehumanizes people and normalises violence, and some of them will do bad things. By my way of thinking, another good reason war is something to avoid, not embrace.

World War Two is fading into history now. The youngest veterans are pretty much in their nineties now. I hope people are collecting their stories. God rest all who died, let’s try not to have a World War Three, shall we?

(Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 1945. This Image file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Written by unitedcats

May 1, 2019 at 11:02 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

Muslim Brotherhood Takeover Aborted by Egyptian Military, Egypt’s Democratic Revolution Continues

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flypast

“The Muslim Brotherhood stole the revolution, then we took it back. It’s as simple as that.”

Well, big goings on in Egypt. Millions of people recently took to the streets to protest President Morsi’s  attempts to seize absolute power, and his continued refusal to make good on his promises to the opposition. He seemed determined to establish the Muslim Brotherhood as the sole ruler in Egypt, and usher in, in the words of an eleven year old Egyptian boy, religious fascism. When people took to the streets recently they turned out in record numbers, some of the largest crowds in history demanding that Morsi fulfill his promises or step down. He did neither, and when the army tried to arrange a meeting with the opposition, Morsi refused. The army then told him he had to call early elections, or they would intervene. In democratic terms, both the Army and the people of Egypt gave Morsi a vote of no confidence. Sadly, the Muslim Brotherhood has responded with violence, unspeakable violence in some cases. This video is not for the faint of heart. Morsi and much of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership have been detained, but their followers seem determined to start a civil war.

The American government is none too happy about this. They’ve as much as called Morsi’s unseating a coup, and there is much stuff and nonsense in the media. The ugly truth is that the USA has very little influence in Egypt any more. Thirty years of support for Mubarek’s corrupt dictatorship didn’t save him when the people had finally had enough, nor did it endear the USA government to the people of Egypt. Obama’s attempts to influence matters in Egypt are laughable or contemptible, but most of all, they are irrelevant. As an Egyptian contact said:

“The USA has made so many “investments” in/with the Muslim brotherhood, so they don’t like it that he was overthrown after 1 year only but its not up to them, its our country and we get to decide what we want to do with it. People here are outraged that the US Media is calling it a coup.”

Yes, technically Morsi’s removal was “illegal.” The point? What George Washington did was illegal, because he knew that government had to come from below, not from above. If it’s a not a government of the people for the people, it’s just a criminal gang. Egypt is the oldest civilization on Earth, the Egyptian people know what they’re doing. The Egyptian air force flyover above was cheered and welcomed by the people of Egypt, they stood together with their military and took back their country from religious ideologues. We are witnessing a nation’s greatest generation.

That’s my current understanding of the situation in Egypt. And I sure as hell didn’t get if from the farce that is our western media. Even Al Jazeera is towing the western line, much to the ire of Egyptians. I’m getting my view of this from local sources in Egypt, few of which are in English. The translations in the interview with the 11 year old boy are indeed accurate. I will post more as this situation develops. I am filled with hope and fear, it’s 1848 all over again. With modern social media let’s hope the outcome will be different.

Note: This post is subject to revision as my understanding of this situation evolves.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I think it’s a frame grab from a video, I couldn’t even find it again using TinEye, so I don’t know who to attribute it too. Interesting times indeed, for once I don’t feel like ending a post with levity.)

Written by unitedcats

July 8, 2013 at 7:34 am

Those Crazy Atheists

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atheismpeace

Ah, another lovely atheist meme lifted from Facebook. I see a lot of stuff like this. It bothers me for a number of reasons. It’s a wonderful example of how convincing false arguments can be, since I’m pretty sure most atheists have no problem with this image at all. That’s how false arguments work, they sound very convincing if one already agrees with them. That’s how Rush Limbaugh and his ilk cash in, they just endlessly regurgitate strings of false arguments that reinforce the prejudices and misconceptions of their target audience, and they’re golden. It works the same with all belief systems as far as I can tell, atheism among them.

OK, let’s get started deconstructing this mess. “Radical Muslims fly planes into buildings.” Well, appeal to emotion for one thing. One should always be suspicious of arguments that start off by pushing emotional buttons. This is also a propaganda button, since the idea that 9/11 was because they were crazy Muslims has been the central plank of US propaganda since 9/11.  Um, yes, the 9/11 plotters were Muslims, but their reasons for attacking the USA were largely secular and completely in response to US actions in the Middle East. Actions that killed vastly more innocents than died on 9/11. In other words, this first statement isn’t really true, and it’s completely without context. It’s a great way to demonize all Muslims though, even though the vast majority of them are as appalled by 9/11 as anyone else.

On to number two, abortion doctor killers. How many of them have there been, three? To say this is a cherry picked example is being generous. Thousands of murders are committed in the USA every year, most of them with motives as messed up as the abortion doctor killers. One could find examples of murders by any sort of person one likes and then hold it up as an example of how some radical world view poisons people. An argument that can be used to support any position isn’t much of an argument.

And what about radical Christians and Muslims that do good things? How come they don’t get mentioned? Small numbers of radical Christians helped their neighbours avoid the holocaust. Radical Muslims built a holocaust museum on the West Bank and surround churches in Egypt to protect their Christian neighbours. Wow, what monsters these radical religious people must be! In other words, radical religious people do terrible things because when a terrible thing was committed by a religious person, it must have been because of his religion. What?

Lastly, and the most transcendentally absurd considering that the meme is apparently trying to make the case that somehow atheism is a voice for peace, is the idea that radical atheists are just harmless authors. Well, first off, even the radical atheists they are alluding to, Hitchens and Dawkins I am assuming, have been some of the biggest cheerleaders for America’s violent foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia. Um, promoting war against Muslims isn’t about peace, it’s warmongering. It gets even worse. Stalin and Mao were both atheists and they both wrote books. And they were definitely antithetic to religion, which would seem to make them pretty radical. They also did far more than write books, they killed tens of millions of people. In fact they make al-Qaeda and abortion doctor shooters look like amateurs when it comes to mass murder. Why not mention them in the company of radical atheists?

In the real world the reasons for human violence are complex and deeply rooted in history, personality, culture, and politics. And while religion is most definitely used to inspire people in violent endeavours, it’s rarely the seminal cause of those endeavours. Sophomoric tropes blaming violence on religion are just atheist propaganda, and about as helpful as blaming Jews or Muslims or Christians for the world’s  violence. It’s easy to blame the world’s problems on people who are different than you. This is what radical atheists are doing with this meme, it’s just a way for atheists to pretend they have the answer. Kinda like what so many religions do.

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

(The above image appears to have its own attribution, and since they must have released it on Facebook, it must be public domain. In any event it’s not being used for profit and is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I could have also mentioned that a certain famous German atheist wrote a book called Mein Kampf that’s not exactly a handbook for peace. However his atheism is debatable, Mao and Stalin’s isn’t.)

Written by unitedcats

June 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

Japan, a safe haven for Jews in World War Two?

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Oddly enough, yes, Japan was a safe haven for Jews in World War Two. How the hell was this possible, wasn’t Japan an ally of Nazi Germany? Yes, yes they were. Didn’t Hitler want the Japanese to round up their Jewish population? Yes, yes he did. Why did the Japanese refuse? And how come there were Jews living in Japan in the first place? It’s an interesting story, and that’s bread and butter for Doug’s Darkworld, so here it is …

As one might expect, Jews are a recent arrival in Japan. Very recent, mid nineteenth century recent. There may have been the occasional traveler, but no Jews settled in Japan before then. In fact Japan lived in splendid isolation until 1848, when the USA forced them to open their country up to foreign trade. Shortly thereafter, small numbers of Jews settled in Japan. I don’t know why, but suspect it was the usual reason, they visited the place and liked what they saw. Also there was no antisemitism in Japan, and they were generally welcomed as knowledgeable westerners who would help bring Japan up to speed with the west. And no doubt the occasional Jew settled because some cute Japanese girl (or vice versa) caught their eye.  People are people.

All was well for the tiny handful of Jews living in Japan up until the early 20th century. Then the wave of antisemitism sweeping Europe from such things as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” arrived in Japan, and some Japanese bought into the conspiracy theories surrounding the Jews. Most didn’t though, and while there was some antisemitism in Japan, it never reached anywhere near the levels it reached in European countries. If anything the Japanese are a pragmatic people, and their government’s reactions to rising Nazism and other antisemitic tropes was pragmatic indeed. The early 20th century Japanese government instructed their intelligence agencies to look into the whole “The Jews are secretly plotting to rule the world” theories. Japanese intelligence agencies investigated carefully, and determined it was all garbage, there was no secret Jewish conspiracy, and Japan’s Jews were not a threat to Japan in any way.

And that was that. The background at least. And then came the war. A lot of people know about the Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who gave travel documents in World War Two as German armies approached, Chiune Sugihara, saving thousands of Polish and Lithuanian Jews. He was just the best known Japanese citizen who helped saved Jews, partly because he saved so many and partly because he was a diplomat. He wasn’t the only one, numerous other Japanese citizens, mostly ones working abroad for the Japan Tourist Bureau, also did what they could. And all for the right reasons as far as I can tell, IE, pure humanitarianism.

How many Jews escaped to Japan and Japanese occupied territory before and during the war? I couldn’t find consistent figures, but upwards of 20,000 is reasonable. It’s a complicated story. There is even the idea that Japan planned to start a “Jewish Homeland” in Japanese occupied China, the so called Fugu Plan. While most sources still treat this as fact, apparently it’s based on some very limited scholarship by one author, and other historians are not convinced anything of the kind was ever planned. That’s one of the problems with history, it’s not nearly as cut and dried as many people would think.

Sadly the Japanese who helped Jews escape weren’t exactly popular with their countrymen. I’m not exactly sure why, though some, at least in Chiune Sugihara’s case, suffered career-wise because they had acted against the wishes of their superiors. Still, their contribution to humanitarian values is has recently become more acceptable in some circles, and efforts are being made to identify and thank them. One such person was Tatsuo Osako, a young employee of the Tourist Bureau at the time. He died in 2003, and seven photos of Jewish escapees were found in his diary. One of the photos is reproduced above. The identity of the people in the photos is not known, but efforts are being made to find out and track down relatives. Holocaust survivors and escapees got out with very few personal effects, so these photos are a precious and rare reminder of a sad and terrible chapter in human history, and the undeniable fact that there are always a few people who do the right thing no matter what the risk to themselves.

It frankly is the only thing that gives me hope for the race, and it’s a slender hope at best. Next up, another story from World War Two Japan … Japanese war resistors, were there any?

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. God only knows who holds the copyright, since it’s not being used for profit and indeed is posted in the hopes someone may recognize the young man, I think I’m good. Do any of my illustrious readers recognize him? He doesn’t look like anyone in my family, plus they were all farmers back then.)

Written by unitedcats

November 28, 2012 at 8:06 am

Pillar of Lies

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Yes, this image isn’t completely fair. Still, it’s not that far off. Only a tiny handful of people are killed and injured by rockets fired from Gaza. Vastly more people are killed and injured by IDF violence in the occupied territories. That’s because Israel has a vast array of modern weaponry at its disposal, they are one of the world’s great military powers. The Gazans have hand weapons and home made rockets and mortars. So that’s the first lie that is perpetuated by the media, that this is is some sort of conflict between equals. No, they aren’t equal in any sense of the word. This goes hand-in-hand with the lie that Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories are neighbours, and this is some sort of squabble between two regions, and that Israel is “defending its borders.” No, Israel is not “defending its borders,” since the occupied territories lie within Israel’s borders. That’s why they are called the occupied territories, Israel invaded and occupied them in 1967, and since no one wanted them back, they are stuck with them. Israel created the current situation with the Palestinians in the occupied territories, they aren’t some hapless victim.

There are lots of lies in this situation. Israel was based on lies, known as propaganda in the modern parlance. The very first lie set the tone for what was to follow. This was the story that the 700,000 Palestinians who fled what is now Israel in 1948 did so because the Arab governments told them to flee. Even Israeli historians now admit this was a fabrication from beginning to end, Arab governments did no such thing. (Why the f**k would they, no nation wants refuges flooding into its country.) The Palestinians fled because there was a war going on, which people always do when there’s a war. Israel then not only refused to allow them to return, they stole their homes and businesses, and deny to this day that a terrible crime was committed. In fact it’s illegal to commemorate the Nabka, the 1948 Palestinian exodus, in Israel. When one flees their legal residence during a war, one does not magically give up one’s residency. That’s one of the things so infuriating about the “the Arab governments told them to flee” lie, even if was true, so what? It wouldn’t magically change the law, the Palestinians that fled what became Israel were legal residents, and held legal title to their homes and property.

It went downhill from there. One common lie is that “there is no such thing as a the Palestinian people.” There are many permutations to this, basically boiling down the the racist attitude that the Palestinians are Arabs so they should go live in Arab countries. Again, the beauty of this lie is that even it it’s true, there never was a nation called Palestine, so what? The Palestinians living in Palestine were legal residents of the land, because they aren’t mentioned in the Old Testament doesn’t magically make it OK to steal their homes and property. A codicil to this lie is the “no partner for peace” lie. This is the idea that for one reason or another, none of the Palestinian leaders are “fit” to negotiate with. Israel not only chooses its own leaders, why, they are so superior, they can chose what leaders are appropriate for the benighted Palestinians! And of course none of the Palestinian leaders ever lives up to Israel’s standards, convenient, nu? It’s Israel that refuses to negotiate in good faith, not the Palestinians.

Notice a theme here? Racism. Both of these lies are much easier to believe if one thinks that Muslims/Arabs are somehow less than fully civilized, or even less than fully human. This comes out clearly in lie three, the big lie, the one repeated so often that much of western humanity believes it implicitly. And this lie is simple: “Jews are peaceful, Palestinians are violent.” I hardly even know what to say about this. Anyone who believes it is a racist for starters. Humans are violent, and there aren’t really any exceptions. Israel especially isn’t an exception, in fact they are one of the most violent militaristic nations on Earth, the violence they have perpetrated is at least the equal of the violence perpetrated by Palestinians. And in terms of people killed and wounded, Israel is the hands down winner, killing far more Palestinians than vice versa. And as of today, are Israelis striving for peace with the Palestinians in Gaza? Some few are, but many are braying for blood.  Of course the western media and Netanyahu’s apologists love to portray images of Muslims espousing violence, while images of Israelis braying for blood will never sully the airwaves. Jesus wept.

Lastly, the coup de grace, the capstone lie that glues the rest all together. Once one understands that the Palestinians are an illegitimate, uncivilized, violent people, the natural conclusion is obvious. The Palestinians deserve what is happening to them, Israel has no choice but to use violence to defend itself. If the Palestinians would only behave themselves, Israel wouldn’t have to resort to such measures. Siege mentality, biblical insanity, racism, all of the above, whatever one wants to call it … Netanyahu and his supporters have blinded themselves into thinking that violence is their only option. Unless one grants that Netanyahu was motivated by simple domestic politics, a desire to drum up support before upcoming elections. Racism or killing babies for votes, take your choice. If that is the case, I think Netanyahu may have made the biggest miscalculation in Israeli history. Since the last time Israel waged war on its occupied territories the Arab Spring has occurred, as well as an explosion of social media in the Middle East. He is making millions of new enemies for Israel across the Muslim world, this is not the road to peace.

I have a friend in Egypt. She’s an engineer, an educated and good person, someone anyone would be proud to have as a friend. And yes, a supporter of democracy and secular values in her nation. IE she is not some jihadist wing-nut who spends her time calling for the destruction of Israel.  This is what she posted on Facebook about the current Gaza violence:

“May your skies forever rain with rockets … may you never sleep in peace … my you never have a worry-free smile … may you never live in peace … may you never be safe as long as you live on Palestinian lands … go back to where you came from … to where they kicked you out and burned you alive … “

And note she was careful to say that this sentiment is directed at the baby killers in the IDF, not all Jews or Israelis. To put it mildly, Operation Pillar of Defence, is not going over well with Israel’s neighbors. That’s because it is a genocidal cowardly attack on a helpless population, a population Israel has kept imprisoned in stateless limbo since 1967. That Americans fall for Netanyahu’s siege mentality and disproportionate brutality is a sad reflection of how our western media simply regurgitates Israeli propaganda as if it were fact. If a population of Jews or Christians were being treated the way Israel treats the Palestinians in the occupied territories, Americans and the mainstream press would be foaming at the mouth with the injustice of it all. Yes, hypocrisy has become America’s core value.

Merry Christmas indeed.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. This won’t be my last post on Netanyahu’s insanity, and if it goes on, they will get even less diplomatic than this post.)

Written by unitedcats

November 19, 2012 at 7:48 am