Saturday, October 08, 2016

The US Election

US elections have never impressed me. They're too much like English elections - all sound and fury and signifying more of the same. At least back in the 'good old days' you got a free drink for casting a ballot - either way,  and there were some election day 'shenanigans' to be had. Now all the fun is gone.

 America has always had this 'royalty' thing, where they consecrate whoever gets the electoral nod with having odorless shit for  four, or eight years. The 'Office of the President' is a holy place.  So in times past, if the candidate was a rum-tugger - as quite a few have been - or a skirt chaser as another few have been,  or even if he had some 'unique personal habits' or a 'delayed sexuality' as more than a few of the rest did, then 'polite' society would keep it under the bonnet o' freedumb.  Much like royal families tended to dress up their obvious weaklings in extra padding, or hide them away if the opportunity arose.

The last 'good' election was that one which swept JFK into office, not so much because I was aware of the nuances,  but more so because my dear old Catholic Mom was so excited, as so seemed to be a large number of 'ordinary' Americans, that a young man, a Catholic, an 'irishman' and a war hero were taking the helm of America's ship of state. It was only later, after some patriot had brained him, that we found out his Daddy had used mob connections  and some of the family millions to possibly play 'jiggery pokery' with the election process.  Kennedy won that election to the joy of everyone and, if he ran true to his secret form, celebrated by dipping his wick in a party volunteer, or two, before wiping himself off on the hotel-room drapery.  He was the last boy scout.

Since then 'feet of clay'  have been the most prominent features of America's 'Chief Magistrates'. Some of them have been crooks, or rogues or charlatans, some ordinary men out of their depth or mere bumblers. And one has been a professional actor.

If the Adams,  Jeffersons, Washingtons and Lincolns were more than mere mortals - their like has not been seen again.  But hey, we've even managed to dish some dirt on some of them, too.

In a nation that has managed to 'cope' with 'Father Feltus' and CBS exposes of wannabe kiddie-porkers from every walk of life,  what kind of a surprise would it be to find out that one of the two latest candidates thinks about, and speaks of his ability to 'grab the girls by the pussy'  because "he's a star" and "they let you do that".   I would hope that the past decade has proven to him that while you can still grab them by anything you like, most of them will run to the media - on the way to the lawyers' office.   But, hey, there is still the 'star power' of the oval orifice - one of the greatest 'analgesicks' of all time - and Melania has to sleep sometime.

 Would we be any less shocked to hear that the other candidate has a predilection for getting money? Most 'decent' Americas share that attribute.  Granted Croesus might have been a 'proto American' but many of them have well-outpaced him, wealth-wise. The shocker here is that the Russians have hacked into somebody's secret emails again and now Wikileaks is trying to disrupt the election by printing things the US media 'didn't know about'  - like State Department  approval for selling-off US uranium production to a Russian oligarch - and somebody's 'charitable foundation getting a hefty donation from him. Apparently Putin's got more to come.

 But none of this changes the fact that America  - not Putin - has set itself up for a choice between  'bad and worse', or possibly 'dumb and dumber'.

Bomben auf Bashir !

US-NATO’s War On Russia: The Winds Howl Before The Storm

A piece from a Canadian lawyer Chris Black got my attention amid the increasing calls for somebody to do something to stop the city of Aleppo, or the part of it that is still controlled by Jihadi terrorists, from being destroyed.  Turns out this is the part of the city frequented by MSF and a number of western NGOs -  one of which brought us the saga of the 'White Helmets'.   Strange that, for all the concern about 'trapped civilians' nobody is calling for their release to join the rest of the civilians of Aleppo, in non-rebel held parts of that city.  Just what does it take to make somebody a human shield?  Our bombs?

Aleppo is one among a number of Syrian cities that have 'fallen' (for we westerners don't think that any of them, legitimately, belong to anybody unlike ourselves) in whole or in part, to either the government forces of Bashir Assad or to one of the numerous 'Islamic fighters groups'  opposing him. Save for a couple of small villages near the Jordanian border, which are controlled by a US-funded and supplied - 'moderate militia'.  Most of the other 'moderate militias' were eliminated by the more powerful forces, or in most instances,  simply took their US weapons, equipment and supplies directly over to ISIS.

Most of those Syrian cities have to varying extents been destroyed - some of them completely - in fighting that has seen the liberal use of high explosives of all kinds and by both sides. Again we in the west have a myopia that makes us, or our media.  think that the destruction is all 'one-sided' and that Bashir has taken into his mind to wipe all other Syrians out.  Or that's what we're told by the media and the government sources they quote.  That would of course be Assad and the Syrian supporters who have kept him in power, much like the government of Ukraine is supported by a 'majority' of Ukrainians fighting-off a russian-inspired insurgency and invasion. Well not quite.  Ukraine is 'good' because we back that government (that took over after a coup), while Syria is bad  because  we don't back Assad (who got himself elected). What it's all about us that Assad is stopping the Syrian people from having a happy, 'free' and, as it turns out, fundamentalist Islamic life.  Stupidly they insist on having their country back, without the rebels. That's just not gonna happen. Nobody can go back from liberty.

So to-day we hear their are voices being raised around the situation room table in the White House action bunker - and they're calling for a kinetic solution. They want America to stop the bombing of Aleppo by increasing the bombing on Damascus. They're the same 'voices' that didn't say anything about the raid last week that scuppered the ceasefire - until they said 'sorry' afterwards.  And if the advisory panel of retired intelligence workers, that has been calling the shots correctly, as least, as long as the anti-war movement has been correct, there is nobody with a pinch of horse sense speaking out against them.  The ONLY thing that could be stopping it is Obama's fear of making his foreign policy legacy even worse than it is.  He spent some time, yesterday,  talking about his 'domestic legacy' to the next guy.

The foreign policy legacy probably keeps him up nights.

Recent developments. Get the proxies busy.

A spate of calls for a war crimes investigation by the World Court  is being spearheaded by the pacifists of France.   Meanwhile the Brits are debating the merits of having the RAF fly top cover for the fighting citizens of north-east Aleppo.  The US is 'all up' for a war crimes trial in a court that neither they, nor the Russians recognize.  And it would probably be 'all up' for an Article 5 duty to protect a NATO ally,  if it gets attacked while flying top cover for the fighting citizens of north-east Aleppo.

 And then there's Mr Obama and his foreign policy legacy.

Friday, October 07, 2016

True Colours

This past week marked the 75 anniversary of 'Babi Yar' - aside from Auschwitz, probably the single other 'iconic' representation of the Holocaust.  It was to that ravine in the northwest part of the Ukrainian city of Kyiv that Sonderkommando 4(a) , assisted by German police and army  units and  number of the new mobilized Ukrainian 'auxiliaries'  marched what Jewish people they could find (they reported some 32 000 over two days) left in the population of that city.  German forces had suffered some significant lost time and lost lives besieging and then assaulting Kiev. They lost more in street fighting and from a number of sabotage attacks in the weeks after they occupied the city. German newsreels of the time made much of local indignation at finding a number of 'patriotic' corpses executed in the recently evacuated NKVD headquarters, and also referred to the Ukrainians' 'natural thirst for revenge' on Communists, and Jews.

From the moment German forces stepped into the Ukrainian SSR , eager Ukrainians were offering them the traditional welcome gifts of bread and salt and volunteering to show them Russian positions or  help track-down Russians left behind in the retreat.  Although there was little love lost between them, the Germans realized that gift horses shouldn't be looked in the mouth and, with the large number of Russian weapons being taken every day, a 'home guard' force might be useful. Those 'ersatz' Ukrainian 'hilfe' units were morphed into auxiliary police units as the invasion pressed east and by the time Kyiv was taken, Ukrainian  'police auxiliaries' were ready to take over those duties among the Ukrainian population if nothing else.

The fall of the city led to a 'squaring of accounts' with any Communist party  'apparatchiks' who hadn't fled east. The Ukrainians among them were killed quite efficiently. So when the einsatzgruppe appeared with their own 'special handling' assignment, it didn't take long to get some help.  But given the Jewish population - some 133 000 -  there was going to be a substantial need. Happily, elements of the 6th German Army were 'resting' in the area and they would help too.

 Babi Yar was itself a godsend when it comes to such things, a short march from the city centre, the deep ravine had been used in previous times  as a burying ground. The Jewish cemetery was there and the sandy loam soil meant that pick and shovel should suffice for earth moving requirements. The physical formation of the gully meant that preparatory activities could occur out of sight, if not out of sound of the final solution. The victims could be herded in close quarters to the execution site with little chance to escape.  There are no recorded escapes after the victims arrived at the site, although some survivors escaped by playing dead among the corpses and clawing their way out of the gully after dark. Some victims were shot on the march to the site.

At the site the sonderkommando personnel attended to the actual shootings while army personnel formed an inner cordon. Ukrainian volunteer 'helpers' escorted the march, guarded the prisoner preparation and formed an outer cordon to see off any of the  curious. Who the volunteers were was not recorded.

At the site the victims, already separated by gender, were relieved on their belongings, forced to undress 'for disinfection', they were told they were being relocated.  They were taken in groups to the 'finger ends' of the gully and either shot into prepared pits or told to lie down on the feet and legs of those ahead of them and them shot individually by SS personnel told-off for that purpose. The sonderkommando report of the 'aktion' and some photographic evidence supports this.

As the war proceeded Babi Yar was the site of further executions and interments - other Jews, partisans,  Gypsies and Russian POWs were done to death there. In early 1944 as things started to take a turn for the worse, a concentration camp was built at the site with the sole purpose of excavating the graves and destroying the bodies by burning. Some 300 prisoners were kept occupied at this for most of the year. that their hearts or something may not have been in their job is evidenced by the fact that numerous bodies have been disinterred in the ravine in the years after the war.

To-day the ravine is a memorial park in the City - with monuments commemorating the dead of all nations involved  - Russia, Ukraine and the Jews. In all some 140 000 were thought to have met their end in Babi Yar.  It is the largest Holocaust event to have happened on Ukrainian territory.

The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, whose family was killed in Ukraine, attended the commemoration ceremonies for the tragedy, held last week in Kyiv. As part of his  role,  he was invited to address the Rada. He mentioned Ukrainian involvement in the deaths of Jews. Within minutes of the conclusion of his speech the fascists and right wingers who 'no longer have a part in the government'  - Rada Member Oleh Lyashko for one - were haranguing the air waves with charges that the Israeli had insulted the Ukrainian people and "spat in the face of the nation" and making demands for an apology.



And again

 A Little Something Extra

He came. He wept. He pulled his Wa -yir.

It's over!  The long dark night of the Mounties' soul is at an end.  After close to 15 long years the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have gotten to the bottoms of their 'groping the gals problem' and the past is, finally, laid to rest.

Last night, in all his buffed splendor, in class 'B' dress, 'Pat' Bob Paulson,  the comedian general of the farce, took to the news podium in Ottawa to apologize for all the hurtin', and heartaches, and real bad things that the band 'o brothers had laid upon a number of females foolish enough to believe that they could be 'sisters', or any more than a field mattress to while away lonely hours on detachment.  If there weren't any squaws or papooses around - even if there were - somebody might be persuaded to polish one's 'buster browns' with a part of their anatomy.

And Paulsen wept! The simpering big bag of Mother Love pulled out a clean hanky and 'honked his hooter' - for effect - halfway through his 'apology' to 'the girls'.

And so it had gone on, apparently, for almost two decades.

For the problem had first come to light under a former 'commish' - Roly Scagnetti, or something. When he retired, after failing to act,  the government of the day appointed the first civilian 'Big Stick' of the Force. He 'studied' the problem for his term, before turning the 'pole of power' over to the incumbent some 5 years ago. Now, at long last, the jury is in, or rather the judge is,  and his ruling is that the government should cough-up $100 million Canadian smackeroos for him to dole out, without appeal from either side, to a number of injured female RCMP officers, as he deems fit and proper.

Possibly the only griping we might have heard would have been from the injured parties,  for the  guys who did it, or watched it, don't have to pay for anything.

So far there is nobody governmental wondering 'What happened to the perps - the 'pokers' and prodders and on/off duty diddlers who done it?' If these gals have a case,  then they know which Studdly - Duddlys were involved.  What happened to them?  On which homeless street corners can they be found? Or was 'Pat's' main job this past 5 years to see them all, 'safely',  off the force - pensioned and on to greener pastures?  They could all be 'defending the Nation' , now,  in CSIS, for all we know.

Not one freakin' word.

The other parliamentary question might be about the 100 million dollars.

Since the people of Canada trusted somebody, like Paulson, to 'vet' these guys and hire them as 'our servants' - with all the other claptrap about risk of life, and honour and duty that they failed to notice, and the bozos failed to fulfill, why should the long-suffering taxpayer have to pay for somebody else's mistakes. This isn't like making restitution for killing something in Afghanistan.  Why not take the  $100 million out of the RCMP retirement fund?  After all, the notion of 'collective responsibility' is regularly applied by RCMP, at least to some people living overseas. They think its 'fair' for them. So why not a little justice starting at home? If the Mounties weren't 'doing' or 'messing with' or harassing the female staff  themselves,  they certainly knew the guys who were - and failed to report them. All Mounties ought to lose some pension money over this - in proportion - with the top 'dogs' losing more. This was an organization 'culturally' dropping their big stick. The culture should pay the freight.

 If the Mounties don't actually hurt for misbehaving it may be all over. Until the next time.

The immediate effect is a rash of new lawsuits to get around that 'one judge fits all' solution to the problem. 

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Aw Ratpoop! We didn't prevent a Jihadi.

From the pages of the Toronto Star another tale of Lake Wobbegone Daze at RCMP HQ.

This one involves a 'known jhadi' who was residing in Canada until 2012 when he went east to 'get some', according to 'the good guys',  by killing Syrians for ISIS. They claim he was already 'subversive' when they found him. He claims that the reason he left Canada was because the RCMP, 'security' and law enforcement had 'identified' him and were pulling-out all the legal stops they could to make his life, in our western version of  heaven, as rough as they could - search warrants, raids on his friends and family,  probably 'advisory' visits to bosses, social contacts and friends lest he slip them a bomb or something.

                                                        You should be able to spot 'em

He did leave the country and may have been in Syria,   but he came back, and that's when the fun started.  For if you're a 'suspected jihadi' before you leave, you might as well be a 'convicted jihadi' when you come back. He was charged under the National Security Act and was "released" because he got a smart lawyer and, well, there wasn't much evidence to lay before the bond court. So he walked and the Dudley Doowrights set out to get more 'goods on him' than they already didn't have.

But that isn't what the Star's story was about. It was about his 'jihadi' weapons collection.

It seems he had guns when the investigation started. He still had guns when he left for Syria and his 'arsenal' was still 'properly secured' at his parents' house ('they' - those security and police forces - can take them if they aren't),  when he came back.  Now despite all the NSA charges,  he was able to go right on out, like any regular Canadian, even while he was out 'on bail',  and buy a couple more guns.

 But what's that got to do with Canada's finest you  might ask?  Well, if you've read some of my other posts on the subject you will already know.

                                                              Gratuitous Gun Bimba

Some while ago - maybe close to 20 years back - a former government of Canada (Liberals) thought it might be a good idea to find out what kind of weapons Canadians had lying around the house. So along with some 'stringent' rules about storing guns,  they required all Canadian gun owners to register their firearms. The National Gun Registry was born - a 'free' service that was soon, according to the opposition party (Conservative),  to start costing Canadian taxpayers "obscene amounts of money" spent to maintain "a new. wasteful, government bureaucracy" in Quebec. But police chiefs loved it - knowing who had a gun before a call went out was a blessing, and it was a source of potential charges under the Firearms Act - should any gun owner be dumb enough to afford police entry. For a decade and a half the cries of "waste" were bolstered by cries about "rights" and when, at long last, the Tories (Conservatives) got into a position of political power, they 'de-nutted' the gun registry. Or at least the 'free' part of it.

 For there was an additional wrinkle that had been added,  as time went by. The requirement of a firearms acquisition certificate (FAC)  - obtained by filing a form, and a fee, to cover a local police force making a determination that you weren't too bug shit crazy to own a gun.  This was was transferred into the hands of,  you guessed it, Sargent Presto of the Yukon and his winder-dog 'fetch'. When the Gun registry went 'poof' a better thing took it's place,  the RCMP gun-owners database and need for a Forearms Possession Certificate (FPC)  (the old gun registry).  The RCMP took over the FAC process from locals - adding a required approval from ones' spouse that you weren't getting a gun to blow her head off.  The  Mounties controlled access to buying, possessing guns and kept tabs on the Canadians who did that.

The Mounties gave the 'jihadi' they were investigating,  a certificate to go out and buy more guns. If he's an 'ordinary' enough Canadian - with all the positive references and lack of criminal charges necessary to buy and own a gun, blessed by the law of the land, then WTF is he doing with charges and a pending investigation?

And if he's as bad as somebody(ies) in the security community think, WTF is he doing with a gun, let alone an arsenal?

If his civil rights protect his gun ownership then they should be protecting him - even more - from arbitrary police investigation and harassment.

 But really,  this is just another story about stupid. If I were that jihadi I'd do whatever it takes to get away from guns and the owner's database. Because there are SWAT squads out there who would take it as point of professional pride, regrettably of course,  to introduce you to you some heavenly virgins.