Category Archives: Topical

Simmer down

We are the luckiest human beings in history, we Americans. We live in a continent-sized nation surrounded by oceans with friendly neighbors north and south. We enjoy the largest economy in the world, an ample safety net for the least among us, an old age pension system for our elderly, beautiful, bountiful lands to explore at our leisure, a highly diversified, free market economy to provide opportunity for all who want to take the risk, and police, military, and rescue personnel to keep the peace.

None of our systems are perfect, and strong, passionate arguments should take place among our leaders to find the best way to make our institutions more fair, more perfect for our great union. But they must do so respectfully, civilly, and while heeding the Constitution and Declaration of Independence that bind us, as a collective, in a national identity devoid of creed, in awe of liberty and the natural rights we enjoy as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Our politicians and media should pause and take stock of how resentments cavalierly stirred over electronic ink, chirped through the fiber optic nerves of our body politic, come home to roost.

America’s leaders must now bring us together, remind us of our common humanity, our great fortune to be by happenstance born free citizens of a free land of abundance.

In lieu of expressions of gratitude we may end up like a pair of rich siblings fighting smugly over whether to take the Tesla or the Suburban to the dance, bound to wreck both in the process, sinking our luxury vehicles in a mire surrounded by a paradise, choking each other zealously as we go down together, a haughty fratricide.

Crazy people need few excuses for mayhem. Let’s give them none. Simmer down the divisive tone:

Florida man charged in connection with 14 bombs sent to Trump critics

The man suspected of mailing at least 14 pipe bombs to some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s leading critics was arrested on Friday in Florida on federal charges in a case echoing the rancor of one of the most toxic election campaigns in decades.

Instead remind the people of our great fortune to be who we are, where we are:

A journey to the poorest place on earth

But the people I met in Niger’s villages and towns illustrated the human cost when food starts to run out in the poorest of places. One of them was four-year-old Adam El Hadji Abail. Ten months ago, his mother died suddenly and now the food crisis has left him seriously malnourished.

Who we are dealing with

As our President works to secure peace, we must, with vigilance, remain eyes-wide-open about the nature of his counterpart, especially the methods Kim Jong-un employs to maintain power.

Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions

With the meeting of President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea on Tuesday in Singapore, human rights groups are watching for Mr. Trump to bring up North Korea’s widespread crimes against humanity. Mr. Kim rules with extreme brutality, making his nation among the worst human rights violators in the world.

Parliament statement

Food for thought from across the pond…

Russian Hybrid Offensives: November Statement to Parliament

Below is the unedited text of a statement sent to to the UK Parliament’s Fake News Inquiry on November 21 2017. The intention at the time of its submission was to provide Parliament and MPs the time to deal with inevitable future disinformation campaigns led by the Kremlin.

 

Al-Atrak

America and her NATO allies might be wise to focus on finding a path forward for the Kurds that works for Turkey. After the vote for Kurdish independence in September, tensions will likely increase in the area. The article and video below provide details.

It’s important to note here that losses incurred in our nearly generation-long engagements in the Middle East have been as much diplomatic as military. Without receiving significant support from Turkey, a nation that fought side-by-side with NATO in the Korean War and supported the first Gulf War, we were unwise to start conflicts in her Ottoman-era territories. The Turkish border has become a conduit for human traffic into and out of Europe, including refugees and jihadists, and the government trends authoritarian and Islamist. This situation is arguably more consequential to world affairs than instability in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so should be reversed.

The good news is that America and her allies have made great strides against the menace of ISIS, lessening the pressures of human traffic. We can seize this opportunity to work wth Turkey, Iraq, Syria and the Kurds to map a future for the region that is as stable and peaceable as possible, a political solution that provides dignity and security to the Kurds — who have earned some freedom — without taking those same interests away from the Turks.

The Trouble with Turkey: Erdogan, ISIS, and the Kurds

Turkey, a key member of NATO, has so far chosen to sit out the war against ISIS. Instead, it is at war with Kurdish militias in Syria, the only ground forces so far that have managed to take on ISIS and win.

— Marcus

The subversive

Chinese Nobel Laureate Released From Prison

Liu Xiaobo was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. In 1996, Liu was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for criticizing China’s one-party Communist system. It was during this time that he married his wife, Liu Xia, who was placed on house arrest in 2010 after informing Liu of his Nobel Prize win.

 

‘The Songs of Birds’

Every month, the Chinese poet, photographer, and artist Liu Xia boards a train bound for the country’s north. Carrying food and books and escorted by four plainclothes police officers, she heads for a prison in the city of Jinzhou where her husband, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, is serving a sentence for subversion of state power.

Keep quiet so he may live

‘Total Catastrophe of the Body’: A Russian Story

After a week in critical condition, the young Russian journalist and pro-democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza has been improving. He remains hospitalized in Moscow, with a diagnosis of “acute intoxication.” Kara-Murza has been a vocal proponent of individual sanctions-so while most Russians have probably never heard of him, he has made a record number of enemies among the people who run the country.

When leaders of a state — or for that matter subordinates operating without accountability within states — abuse powers to harm citizens who question policy and legitimacy, so are planted the seeds of unrest; these seeds, however long they lay dormant, grow, in time, to great stands of resistance.

“And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”

Thomas Jefferson, Traitor to King George, President of the United States of America

— Marcus