Tuesday July 5, 2022
Quite likely a majority of Americans would agree that it is wrong for the government or police to torture someone, though some would surely accept the “ticking time bomb” exemption, where a detainee is withholding information that could save many lives. It is in fact illegal to torture someone as well as it being morally wrong. Indeed, it could constitute a crime against humanity or a war crime depending on circumstances. The United States, which has signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture and is bound by it, has thereby accepted legal sanctions to back up the view that torture is never permissible.
Under US law, torture committed by “government officials and their collaborators upon a person restrained by the government is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, and its fruits are inadmissible in all courts.” Given that background, one is astonished to learn that some in the government have not taken the obligation seriously. To be sure, the US has been quick to react when lower ranking officials, contractors and ordinary soldiers have reportedly been involved in torturing prisoners, as occurred with Abu Ghraib prior to 2004, but the higher one goes up the ladder of power the less do laws apply to even the most egregious misbehavior.
It has long been known that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in the wake of 9/11, resorted to torture in its overseas “black” prisons, but details of what took place and anything that would stand up in court as evidence has been difficult to discern as it has been easy for the Agency to shroud its more nefarious deeds through claims of protecting “states secrets.” But now some more details have emerged. The news that former Donald Trump appointed CIA Director Gina Haspel during her tour overseeing a prison in Thailand in 2002 personally observed at least one terrorist suspect being tortured by waterboarding, which simulates being drowned repeatedly until a confession is obtained. Waterboarding was used by the Japanese on prisoners of war in the Second World War and was subsequently considered to be torture, a war crime.
Monday July 4, 2022
On Independence Day, many Americans think about, at least briefly, the American Revolution. One important thing they should consider in this reflection is that the American Revolution is misnamed. A more appropriate name would be the American Secession.
And an appropriate question for now, when the power of the United States government and Americans’ dissatisfaction have become immense, is whether the time is right for another American Secession.
The misnamed American revolutionaries were not seeking to replace the king or parliament in Great Britain. That is what revolutionaries would seek. Instead, they wanted their respective colonies to become independent of the control of Great Britain — to secede.
Indeed, this American Secession could even be thought of as the Thirteen Secessions, pursued at the same time by thirteen separate colonies of Great Britain. There was coordination among colonies, and people from different colonies did at times fight together against Great Britain’s military. But, the secessions were pursued for individual colonies, not some overarching American government.
Monday July 4, 2022
It’s easy to see why, according to a new Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans said they do not want Joe Biden to run for re-election. As Americans face record gas prices and the highest inflation in 40 years, President Biden admits he could not care less. His Administration is committed to fight a proxy war with Russia through Ukraine and Americans just need to suck it up.
Sunday July 3, 2022
There is no doubt that Poland is and has been the leading voice in NATO and in the European Union advocating for a more aggressive approach to Russia in the context of the war in Ukraine. Apart from the daily reproaches of the Polish government and president against Moscow and in its perversely subservient line of support for Kiev, two recent developments are a clear testimony that Warsaw’s Eastern policy is becoming more and more of an aberration.
On May 9th, the ambassador of the Russian Federation in Poland, Sergey Andreev, was doused with red paint while on a visit to a Soviet war cemetery in Warsaw by Ukrainian activists. Iryna Zemlana, who was personally responsible for the attack, was not apprehended by the police, and what is more, was able to escape Warsaw.
This egregious act, which should have been prosecuted, was even mildly praised by the Polish Minister of the Interior, Mariusz Kamiński, on Twitter. Worth mentioning here is that active assault or insult of a representative of a foreign state is regulated in Article 136 of the Polish Criminal Code. This provision states in the first paragraph that “whoever, on the territory of the Republic of Poland, commits an active assault on a head of a foreign state or an accredited head of diplomatic representation of such a state or a person enjoying similar protection under laws, agreements or generally recognized international customs, shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.”
Saturday July 2, 2022
The media, and the people who work in and around it, the Blue Checks™ of Twitter, have upped the ante over the past few years regarding how far they are willing to go to enforce various preferred narratives.
Pick any major story of the past three years—e.g. Lab Leak, Jussie Smollett, Russiagate, Ukrainian Biolabs, Ivermectin, Hospitalizations From COVID v. With Covid, January 6th, ‘Transitory’ Inflation, and of course Hunter’s Laptop—and you will find absolutely hysterical narrative pushing up front followed by retractions, corrections, and outright denials as reality became undeniable.
In the meanwhile, our civilization was ripped apart, our citizens were gaslit and impoverished, and in countries across the Western world, innocent people were removed from polite society, branded as lepers, and fired from their jobs.
Why? Because there is one story that just won’t die and for which no corrections have been issued—the shibboleth that vaccination can prevent infection, transmission, and help “end” COVID.
While there is never an excuse for hateful rhetoric towards, and intervention in, the personal medical choices of law-abiding Americans, perhaps one could have, kinda sorta, understood the campaign if the new vaccines had provided long-lasting immunity and prevented community transmission. They do not.
Saturday July 2, 2022
Russia’s Ukraine miscalculation dates to 2014 when the Kremlin refused the request of the Donbas Russians in Eastern Ukraine to be reunited with Russia. Historically part of Russia, the Donbas region was attached to the Ukrainian province of the Soviet Union by Soviet leaders as was Crimea. These Russian populated territories, historically part of Russia, rejected the anti-Russian rule installed in Kiev when Washington overthrew the Ukrainian government and installed a puppet regime. Had the Kremlin accepted the request of the Donbas Russians, there would have been no necessity for a Russian intervention in Donbas.
Ukraine sent forces to subdue the two declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian military and Nazi militias were unequal to the task of subduing the hastily raised militias of the two republics, but did succeed in occupying some of the Donbas territory from which they shelled the civilian populations of the Donbas for 8 years.
The Kremlin attempted to stop the conflict with the Minsk agreement. Ukraine and the republics signed it, and Europe was supposed to enforce it, but Ukraine did not keep the agreement, and Europe did not enforce it. Indeed, Washington encouraged Ukraine to ignore it as Washington saw the opportunity to initiate a conflict that could be used to demonize and isolate Russia.
Saturday July 2, 2022
On Thursday, 68 journalists in the White House press corps sent a contentious letter to White House Press Secretary Karine Jeane-Pierre complaining about new means the Joe Biden administration, in contrast with previous presidential administrations, has been employing to limit and control journalists’ access to the president.
Friday July 1, 2022
Much belatedly now that there's a seemingly endless US weapons pipeline going into Ukraine, the Pentagon is worried they might end of in the "wrong hands" and is seeking to take steps to do something about it. It now wants to track serial numbers of US weaponry on the ground as the fight for Ukraine continues.
Thursday June 30, 2022
Russian forces are, to put it bluntly, mopping the floor with the Ukrainian military. Moscow is methodically sweeping up vast amounts of territory in the country’s east, as the Ukrainians remain badly outgunned and outmaneuvered by a superior army. Despite that reality, the Zelensky government's western allies all agree that now is not the time to negotiate an end to this conflict.
Thursday June 30, 2022
I believe one of the reasons many Americans carry such negative feelings about the Russians is our collective failure to understand the price Russians paid to defeat Hitler. The sad truth is that most Americans have trouble identifying the warring parties in World War II and generally believe that terrible conflict was settled because of what America did.
The American people are good folk at heart. They genuinely want to help the less fortunate or the beleaguered. But, during the last 75 years, American politicians cynically have used this trait to convince the public to back foreign wars that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. All of this bloodshed was done under the banner of promoting freedom and democracy. Yet, if you ask the folks in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Libya and Syria how they view the US “help”, they have what can charitably be called a “different perspective.”
I believe one of the reasons Americans have been bamboozled into supporting most of the US foreign adventures is a fundamental ignorance about US military casualties. Misconceptions about US losses in World War II are pervasive. If you ask the average American who knows something about the history of WW II, he or she likely believes that the United States paid dearly in blood to defeat Japan and to help bring an end to Nazi Germany. In fact, the vast majority of Americans believe that the Russians played only a minor role in crushing the Nazis.