Morning Star now “openly pro-imperialist” shock horror!

December 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm (Beyond parody, comedy, conspiracy theories, insanity, Jim D, reactionay "anti-imperialism", sectarianism, stalinism, strange situations)

Jang Song-Thaek (C) reportedly being dragged out from his chair by two police officials during a meeting in Pyongyang

Above: swift, decisive and resolute action against agent of imperialism Jang Song

The Morning Star (de facto organ of the Communist Party of Britan) took an uncharacteristically critical line on North Korea in its editorial following the Jang Song execution.

Today’s Star letters page carries a swift, decisive and resolute reply from reader Dermot Hudson upbraiding these craven revisionists for (amongst other crimes) failing to mention that the Pyongyang Metro is the cheapest in the world and litre of beer costs just 20p: “What is this if not socialism?” demands the imperious Comrade Hudson, no doubt causing these despicable pro-imperialist running dogs and lackeys to quake in their counter-revolutionary boots.

The Star may have published the letter for its entertainment value, but they should not be allowed to forget that as recently as 2003, a CPB internal report (written by our old sparring-partner Andrew Murray) stated “Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear.” So don’t laugh too loudly, comrades…

YOUR editorial Schism in North Korea (M Star December 16) was without a doubt one of the worst articles ever to appear in the Morning Star.

The Star has truly crossed the Rubicon. It has degenerated from being a revisionist newspaper into being openly pro-imperialist, anti-communist and social democratic.

The editorial rehashed the lies of the capitalist press with a few cheap throwaway jibes aimed at currying favour with Trotskyites.

The article reads like a mixture of the Sun newspaper and the Socialist Worker.

The defeat of the counter-revolutionary faction in the DPRK should be a matter for congratulation.

The swift, decisive and resolute action taken by Marshal Kim Jong Un has dealt a blow to the imperialists — as shown by the reactionary Lord Alton’s comments that Jang Song Thaek was “a real hope for reform” in the DPRK.

The class enemy is angry about the elimination of its agent in the DPRK but why should the Star, a “socialist daily newspaper,” join hands with them in attacking the DPRK?

Had the Soviet Union taken similar decisive measures against Gorbachov and Yeltsin socialism would still exist in the USSR today — this is a fact.

All the old lies of the capitalist media about the DPRK are spewed up by the Morning Star.

Rather than living standards declining in the DPRK they are improving as a large number of leisure and cultural facilities have been built in the past 18 months.

Education and health care are free in the DPRK, housing is virtually free and people do not pay tax.

The Pyongyang Metro is the cheapest in the world at only 2.5p per journey and a litre of beer costs just 20p.

What is this if not socialism?

There is no schism in the DPRK — a handful of counter-revolutionary factionalists do not represent anyone.

The people are solidly united around the party and the leader.

DERMOT HUDSON – London SE18

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North Korea: the Great Terror

December 18, 2013 at 7:53 am (Beyond parody, Cross-post, Eric Lee, hell, insanity, reactionay "anti-imperialism", stalinism, terror)

By Eric Lee (at the Workers Liberty website)

The downfall of Chang Song-thaek, once considered the second most powerful person in North Korea, is a lesson in history for a new generation – and not only in Korea.

The parallels to Soviet history are so striking that one almost wonders if Kim Jong-un read Robert Conquest’s “The Great Terror” – the classic history of the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s.

That’s not an entirely rhetorical question either, as Kim was educated abroad and may well have had access to history books denied to ordinary North Koreans.

In any event, the regime he now heads openly reveres Stalin and is perhaps the only one in the world that does so.

Fidel Castro has criticized Stalin, but also says “He established unity in the Soviet Union. He consolidated what Lenin had begun: party unity.”

People with only a passing acquaintance with Soviet history may be surprised to discover that nearly all the victims of Stalin’s massive purge which peaked in 1937 were not, in fact, oppositionists.

Nearly all the former White Guards, Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries had already been killed or exiled. And there were practically no survivors of earlier purges directed against Bolshevik opponents of Stalin such as Trotsky or Zinoviev by the time the Great Terror was unleashed. (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and others were kept alive – but their supporters were either dead or in the GULAG by the time of the great show trials.)

Stalin’s victims in 1937 were overwhelmingly loyal supporters of his regime, including almost the entire leadership of the Communist Party and the Red Army.

Chang Song-thaek was, as far as we know, a loyal supporter of the Kim dynasty and the North Korean regime his entire life.

His sacking, swift trial and and even swifter execution fit precisely the pattern seen throughout the USSR in the last years of the 1930s as thousands of Communist Party leaders went to their deaths – often believing that the great Stalin had nothing to do with what was happening.

Media coverage in the West shows some basic misunderstandings of how a classically Stalinist reign of terror unfolds.

For example, as soon as word came out that Chang Song-thaek was executed, some Western journalists speculated that his wife might come next.

But then reports came out saying that Chang’s widow, Kim Kyung-hee, had actually demanded his execution.

Instead of being arrested herself, she was promoted to a prominent state committee.

This process – leading the calls for her husband to be killed, thenapparently being accepted back into the fold – is classic Stalinist practice.

Unfortunately for Kim Kyung-hee, it will inevitably be followed with the discovery that she was as guilty as her late and unlamented husband.  Her days are numbered – and she certainly knows this.

The language used by the regime – which referred to Chang as “despicable human scum … who was worse than a dog” reminds one BBC journalist of Shakespeare, but the inspiration surely is the Stalinist prosecutor Andrey Vyshinsky, who infamously declared during one of the Moscow trials:

“Shoot these rabid dogs. Death to this gang who hide their ferocious teeth, their eagle claws, from the people! … Down with these abject animals! Let’s put an end once and for all to these miserable hybrids of foxes and pigs, these stinking corpses!”

The chronology of Chang’s downfall also follows a template perfected by Stalin and his secret police boss Yezhov during the Terror.

First of all, Chang’s closest associates were brought down – and apparently, publicly executed.

It was standard practice in Stalin’s USSR to discover traitors and spies at lower levels, and then to use this to topple powerful men who had “protected” them and covered up their treason.

One cannot understand what is happening in North Korea without understanding Stalin. This lack of historical context is causing even academic experts to mis-read developments – and to make wildly inaccurate predictions.

One of these is the argument that the current purge will somehow weaken the Kim regime.

Some North Korean defectors now living in the South are spreading reports they’ve heard that some North Koreans consider the execution of Chang a sign of weakness by the young leader.

But this ignores not only the Stalinist template he appears to be following, but even the history of the specifically North Korean variant of Stalinism.

Kim’s grand-father, Kim Il-sung, did not inherit his post as Great Leader from his father, but rose to power on the corpses of political rivals – many of them loyal Communists.

His grandson is simply following in the family footsteps – and continuing with a tradition that began in Russia nearly eight decades ago.

******************************************************************************************************

JD adds: the editorial in Monday’s Morning Star indicates a rather dramatic change of line by the Communist Party of Britain since this 2003 internal report (written by our old sparring-partner Andrew Murray) stated “Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear.”

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The segregationists unseated

December 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm (BBC, civil rights, culture, fascism, Feminism, Free Speech, Guardian, insanity, islamism, protest, religion, religious right, Rosie B)

(Jim has already written on this below, but  I want to add my piece.)

Well, can you believe it?. An illiberal piece of policy is advanced by a powerful body, against it comes a petition, a demonstration, media shouting and then the policy is withdrawn. Amazing.

To recap,  Universities UK, (UUK) (formerly The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom)  put out guidelines that allowed speakers at meetings in universities to insist women and men be segregated for “genuinely religious” reasons. Student Rights picked this up.  The bloggers you’d expect – Maryam NazieOphelia BensonJames Bloodworth produced angry posts. The mainstream media moved in – Nick Cohen in the Spectator, and Yasmin Alibai-Brown, finely furious, in The Independent.

Imagine the scenario:-

Sheikh Shifty is invited by some ISOC group to speak about Freedom and Justice at the University of Excellence.  Sheikh Shifty will only speak if the women sit separate from the men.

Obvious answer – tell the misogynist theocrat to take a hike, in these words,

“I am sorry to inform you that it is against the principles of the University to allow meetings to occur with gender segregation.”

But not in the UUK’s horrible management speak:- .

if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully

There was a petition and a small demonstration which Channel 4 covered at length.

Then the BBC began to thunder. The Today programme (1:35) on 11th December had a long piece which started with the reporter regretting his old LSE, the one in the 1980s where students were raucous but not so ready to be offended, or offended on the behalf of putative others.

The next day the BBC got Nicola Dandridge, the Chief Executive of UUK, into the Today (2:10) studio. Regular Today listeners recognised the tones with which Justin Webb interrogated her. It’s the one which they use on a duplicitous politician who has no moral leg to stand on –  who has, say, been fiddling her expenses.  It’s the voice of outraged decency against a moral moron and it was music to my ears, an angry liberal telling off a squirming piece of inconsistency and illogic. (For a biting take down of Dandridge’s muddled defence, I would strongly recommend this.)

“If this is all that Dandridge means – that people have the right to sit where the hell they want and some will sit cliquishly by gender or other groupings, there is no role for Universities and no reason why the situation should ever be addressed in policy.

Worse, “If women want to sit where the hell the want”? IF? What is this world in which you live where women routinely have no desires and sit where they are told without a single thought disrupting the gentle currents of air between their ears?

All women always sit where they want unless coerced or forced. The fact that you can’t acknowledge this openly, that women naturally have desires and preferences, that we make conscious choices here-there-and-everywhere, speaks to a profound sexism whose paucity of respect for a woman’s mind truly challenges the ability of words to express. I can only repeat your own phrase:

If women want to sit where the hell they want

and goggle at your idea that you will only impose segregation in times and places where women have no preferences.

The politicians  –  Chuka Umunna , Jack Straw, Michael Gove, David Cameron spoke out.  Under the threads of their statements in the Guardian commenters were saying, Bugger me, the horrible Tory creeps are right this time. I’d normally be spitting that politicians were interfering in University affairs – they really shouldn’t, you know – but I’m cheering them. If the representative body of the Vice Chancellors and Principals are so bloody clueless, and the NUS are so supine, they need to be kicked.

Separatetables

I think a lot of the response has been visceral. The suffragettes weren’t force fed for this, the women who fought a grinding battle to get entry into English universities shouldn’t be pissed  on

So now the UUK has withdrawn gender segreation from its guidelines. It looks like the forces of light have won for once.

Congratulations to those who attended protests and wrote copiously.  If only every campaign could be so successful.  But what a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time and anger-fuelled action.

Flesh is Grass has a sane, thoughtful piece:-

Women always miss out when public spaces are segregated by leaders and organisers – even if voluntary, it’s a small change in culture, in the general view of what is acceptable. Authoritarians always use the values of open, pluralist societies against those societies themselves, and weaken them incrementally. Let’s stop this.

She also pointed out that feminists like Caroline Lucas, MP, Green Party and Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party did not speak out. I read that Caroline Lucas had said it wasn’t a priority. Also there hasn’t been a peep out of that clutch of feminist writers in The Staggers.   Polly Toynbee,  one of the old-guard Guardian, undid the miserable expectations we now have of her paper, by sticking to her old feminism and atheism.  At least they didn’t publish any of their usual apologetics on these matters. The Observer has an editorial  and a good piece by Catherine Bennett.

On the other side:-

Well, one is an article which looks like parody in the Huff Po by Camilla Khan, the Head of Communications,(!) Federation of Student Islamic Societies, who tries to wrap this up in a mixture of post-modernism and spirituality.  She has managed to use every con-trick word – those words that irritate like berry bugs in a bra cup – “discourse”, “empower”, “nuanced”  and “diversity, “

Firstly, the term segregation itself is highly problematic and acts to conflate the reality further. As Saussure theorised on syntagmatic relations, ‘within speech, words are subject to a kind of relation that is independent of the first and based on their linkage,’ and segregation connotes various forms of separation and oppression.

The problem is calling segregation, segregation.  If you called it something else it would be fine. Telling Molly when she walks into a room that she can’t sit here because she’s a woman, isn’t segregation, just nuanced diverse empowerment.

Tendance Coatesey has a bit of fun with Khan’s linguistic studies – Saussure is old hat, I understand – but she really should read a bit of Orwell, and note that calling mass murder “liqudation of anti-social elements” doesn’t stop it being mass murder.  But whoever has influenced her writing style, it wasn’t Orwell.

Her other con-trick is that very old anti-feminist ploy, that women taking a different (and different will mean inferior) place is a path to spirituality.  So the anti-suffragists said that women agitating to take part in public life spoiled their purifying influence and their moral specialness.  They were meant for a higher destiny.

As with life, Islam acknowledges that we form different groups who occupy various intellectual and social spaces. Diversity is celebrated with spirituality at the forefront, forming a broad frame of reference which is not always easily comprehensible to those outside of it.

No, I can’t comprehend how her spirituality is so much compromised when she takes a bus, goes to the cinema or sits in her cultural studies class. What about the diversity of those women who don’t want to be herded with other women, and men also.  Is that celebrated? (Add “celebrate” with abstract nouns to my list of berry bug words).  I think the “diversity” is a pretty damned narrow one.

Second is Shohana Khan. Khan is a member of Hitz ut-Tahrir, the fighters for a Caliphate where apostates will be killed.

Her argument boils down to:- Men and women must be separated because otherwise they will get sex on the brain and not be able to do something.

Rather the concept of separating men and women in public spaces in Islam, is part of a wider objective. Islam has a societal view that the intimate relationship between a man and a woman is for the committed private sphere of marriage, and should not be allowed to spill outside of this sphere. This is because in society, men and women need to cooperate to achieve things in society whether in the work place, in education, in interactions across the public space. Islam firmly believes if the sexual instinct is let loose in this public sphere, it can taint and complicate these relationships. Therefore Islam promotes ideas such as honouring women which are upheld in society, but alongside such ideas specific rules and laws are implemented to help maintain the atmosphere of healthy interaction between the sexes.

And if the woman breaks these rules, eg by not covering her head she’s fair game is she?

I think it has been observed that public school boys for instance, especially in times past, had a highly unhealthy attitude towards women because they weren’t used to them as normal human beings.  So you’re talking garbage – and rather prurient garbage at that.  Islamists are as sex obsessed as Hugh Hefner.

Now I won’t say I haven’t been at a public meeting and thought a chap in the audience was rather a dish. In fact, political meetings at universities is where many of us met our soulmates – that person who was highly vocal about the need to oppose nuclear proliferation and had lovely grey eyes.  The partnerships of couples who fell in love with the shared ideals and the person can be highly productive. The Pankhursts were one such couple.  Jennie Lee and Nye Bevan were another.  So I can’t deny there is a sexual element at public meetings, as there is in the offices where we work.

But that it should dominate someone’s mind so much that it screws up their ability to act! What’s wrong with them?  Knowing how to behave in public is part of growing up, as is concentrating on the matter at hand. The only people offering distractions who should be segregated are those twerps with buzzing mobile phones.

So a victory this time round.  End with Any Questions  (:38).  Shami Chakrabati took what has been a common attitude – why on earth are we even talking about this?

Johnathan Dimbleby: Is there justification for segregation in an educational setting?

Amjad Bashir  (small business spokesman for UKIP, Pakistani immigrant, from Bradford): No.  The answer is no. Absolutely not. . .  All through my life, and my children, my grand children are all mixing, all sexes, whether it’s primary schools, whether it’s secondary schools. whether it’s universities. There is no room. This is England This is the twenty first century.  It’s not Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, It’s not Saudi Arabia, where they are not allowed to have bank accounts. This is England. We should allow our youngsters to mix and decide their own future. This is the twenty first century. I am against this segregation.

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Galloway’s theory: Israel gave Al-Qaeda the chemical weapons used in Syrian attack

August 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, conspiracy theories, crap, Galloway, insanity, israel, Jim D, Middle East, Syria)

Yeah, sure: that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

This marks a new low even for the preposterous tyrant-lover and conspiracy theorist Galloway:

Assad’s man was speaking on Press TV, natch.

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“It was pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and hearty outpourings of loyalty”

July 23, 2013 at 1:18 am (Beyond parody, insanity, Jim D, Monarchy, republicanism)

“It was pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and hearty outpourings of loyalty toward their king and Church and nobility; as if they had any more occasion to love and honor king and Church and noble than a slave has to love and honor the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him! Why, dear me, ANY kind of royalty, howsoever modified, ANY kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when somebody else tells you. It is enough to make a body ashamed of his race to think of the sort of froth that has always occupied its thrones without shadow of right or reason, and the seventh-rate people that have always figured as its aristocracies — a company of monarchs and nobles who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters, to their own exertions…

The truth was, the nation as a body was in the world for one object, and one only: to grovel before king and Church and noble; to slave for them, sweat blood for them, starve that they might be fed, work that they might play, drink misery to the dregs that they might be happy, go naked that they might wear silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might be spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrading language and postures of adulation that they might walk in pride and think themselves the gods of this world. And for all this, the thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited were they that they took even this sort of attention as an honor”  – Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

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The 9/11 “truther” who saw reason

June 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm (anti-semitism, Beyond parody, conspiracy theories, fascism, insanity, mental health, thuggery, Troothers)

Enemy intelligence from the Telegraph:

Charlie Veitch (above) was once one of Britain’s leading conspiracy theorists, a friend
of David Icke and Alex Jones and a 9/11 ‘truther’. But when he had a change of
heart, the threats began. He talks to Will Storr.

******************

On a June afternoon in the middle of New York’s Times Square, Charlie Veitch took out his phone, turned on the camera and began recording a statement about the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.

“I was a real firm believer in the conspiracy that it was a controlled demolition,” he started. “That it was not in any way as the official story explained. But, this universe is truly one of smoke screens, illusions and wrong paths. If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group want to believe. You have to give the truth the greatest respect, and I do.”

To most people, it doesn’t sound like a particularly outrageous statement to make. In fact, the rest of the video was almost banal in its observations; that the destruction of the towers may actually have been caused by the two 767 passenger jets that flew into them. But to those who subscribed to Veitch’s YouTube channel, a channel he set up to promulgate conspiracy theories like the one he was now rejecting, it was tantamount to heresy.

“You sell out piece of s—. Rot in hell, Veitch,” ran one comment beneath the video. “This man is a pawn,” said another. “Your [sic] a f—ing pathetic slave,” shrilled a third. “What got ya? Money?” So runs what passes for debate on the internet. Veitch had expected a few spiteful comments from the so-called “Truth Movement”. What he had not expected was the size or the sheer force of the attack.

In the days after he uploaded his video, entitled No Emotional Attachment to 9/11 Theories, Veitch was disowned by his friends, issued with death threats and falsely accused of child abuse in an email sent to 15,000 of his followers. “I went from being Jesus to the devil,” he says now. “Or maybe Judas. I thought the term ‘Truth Movement’ meant that there’d be some search for truth. I was wrong. I was the new Stalin. The poster boy for a mad movement.”

Above: Alex Jones, ultra-right conspiracy-nut supreme

Charlie Veitch is not Jesus nor Judas nor the devil nor, even, Stalin. He’s currently an unemployed father-of-one who lives in a semi, in Salford, Greater Manchester, with his fiancée, Stacey. Baggily dressed and 6ft 5in, the 32-year-old looks like a student but carries himself like a philosopher, wielding aphorisms and gesticulating theatrically, as if conducting a symphony of his own sagacity.

Veitch is spellbound by ideas, but the problem is that he has two competing world views that he’s never been able to reconcile. Born in Rio de Janeiro to a Brazilian mother and a Scottish merchant seaman, Veitch inherited a Right-wing outlook from his father, a patriotic, working class Thatcherite. But his father also passed on a mistrust of authority.

“He told me, just because someone’s wearing a uniform or a fancy hat, it doesn’t mean they’re your boss,” he says.Veitch Snr was also responsible for Charlie’s peripatetic childhood.

Attending “a new school every six months”, he was bullied on many continents. “I was always birds— head, because I have a patch of white hair,” he says. At Edinburgh Academy, a private school he attended from 14, he fostered an antipathy towards “rugger buggers” who had rich fathers, became prefects and “got all the girls and all the attention”.

For a while, Veitch’s Right-wing opinions dominated his decision-making. He joined the Territorial Army and got a job in the City. But, the other narrative, of a world which pitched “second-rate citizens”, as he’d been at school, against the “rugger buggers” – the privileged elite and the heirs to power – was always there, slowly creeping up on him. And at six o’clock one morning, after a night out at a club, it pounced.

“I was absolutely spangled from the nightclub when my best friend said ‘Charlie, you know you’re Right-wing and you joined the Army? Well, they were lying to you.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘9/11; it wasn’t as you think.’ It was almost like an initiation into a cult, a religion. You’re being given special knowledge.”

His friend showed him the online documentary Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terror, made by the American radio host Alex Jones. It parsed a new version of history, in which governments secretly organised terror attacks to spread fear and extend their matrices of control. From the Reichstag fire to the Gulf of Tonkin up to the present day, it writhed with apparently unassailable facts and sources.

Jones is a brilliantly effective propagandist who recently made headlines for his hostile showdown on US television with Piers Morgan, over gun control. His YouTube channel has had over 250 million views while his masterpiece, Terrorstorm, has been watched more than 7  million times Read the rest of this entry »

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Galloway on North Korea…and God

April 10, 2013 at 8:56 am (Asshole, Beyond parody, communalism, Galloway, grovelling, insanity, Iran, Jim D, populism, religion, Respect, stalinism, surrealism, wankers)

I keep promising myself (and readers) that I’ll never write another word about that posturing charlatan Galloway. But for a blogger, he’s the gift that just keeps on giving:

George Galloway: “But there have been achievements in North Korea. They do have a satellite circling the earth. They have built a nuclear power industry even though they suspended it on false promises from President Clinton and other U.S. statesmen. They do have a cohesive, pristine actually, innocent culture. A culture that has not been penetrated by globalization and by Western mores and is very interesting to see. But I wouldn’t like to live there. And I’m not advocating their system. Not least because they certainly don’t believe in God in North Korea…”
http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/08/british-mp-defends-north-korea-against-wicked-america-and-evil-britain/

H/t: Pete Cookson

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Jill Lepore’s New Yorker article on guns in America

December 16, 2012 at 10:38 am (insanity, libertarianism, mental health, murder, United States)

BATTLEGROUND AMERICA

One nation, under the gun

Just after seven-thirty on the morning of February 27th, a  seventeen-year-old boy named T. J. Lane walked into the cafeteria at Chardon  High School, about thirty miles outside Cleveland. It was a Monday, and the  cafeteria was filled with kids, some eating breakfast, some waiting for buses to  drive them to programs at other schools, some packing up for gym class. Lane sat  down at an empty table, reached into a bag, and pulled out a .22-calibre pistol.  He stood up, raised the gun, and fired. He said not a word.

Russell King, a seventeen-year-old junior, was sitting at a table with  another junior, Nate Mueller. King, shot in the head, fell face first onto the  table, a pool of blood forming. A bullet grazed Mueller’s ear. “I could see the  flame at the end of the gun,” Mueller said later. Daniel Parmertor, a  sixteen-year-old snowboarder, was shot in the head. Someone screamed “Duck!” Demetrius Hewlin, sixteen, was also shot in the head, and slid under the table.  Joy Rickers, a senior, tried to run; Lane shot her as she fled. Nickolas  Walczak, shot in his neck, arm, back, and face, fell to the floor. He began  crawling toward the door.

Ever since the shootings at Columbine High School, in a Denver suburb, in  1999, American schools have been preparing for gunmen. Chardon started holding  drills in 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre, when twenty-three-year-old  Seung-Hui Cho, a college senior, shot fifty-seven people in Blacksburg.

At Chardon High School, kids ran through the halls screaming “Lockdown!” Some  of them hid in the teachers’ lounge; they barricaded the door with a piano.  Someone got on the school’s public-address system and gave instructions, but  everyone knew what to do. Students ran into classrooms and dived under desks;  teachers locked the doors and shut off the lights. Joseph Ricci, a math teacher,  heard Walczak, who was still crawling, groaning in the hallway. Ricci opened the  door and pulled the boy inside. No one knew if the shooter had more guns, or  more rounds. Huddled under desks, students called 911 and texted their parents.  One tapped out, “Prayforus.”

From the cafeteria, Frank Hall, the assistant football coach, chased Lane out  of the building, and he ran off into the woods.

Moments later, four ambulances arrived. E.M.T.s raced Rickers and Walczak to  Chardon’s Hillcrest Hospital. Hewlin, Parmertor, and King were flown by  helicopter to a trauma center at MetroHealth Medical Center, in Cleveland. By  eight-thirty, the high school had been evacuated.

At a quarter to nine, police officers with dogs captured Lane, about a mile  from the school.

“I hate to say it, but we trained for exactly this type of thing, a school  emergency of this type,” Dan McClelland, the county sheriff, said.

Danny Parmertor died that afternoon. That evening, St. Mary’s Church opened  its doors, and the people of Chardon sank to their knees and keened. At the town  square, students gathered to hold a vigil. As night fell, they lit candles. Drew  Gittins, sixteen, played a Black Eyed Peas song on his guitar. “People killin’, people dyin’,” he sang. “People got me, got me questionin’, Where is the  love?”

Russell King had been too badly wounded. A little after midnight, doctors said that they couldn’t save him…

… Read it all here

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A right to bear arms?

December 15, 2012 at 9:59 am (children, crime, insanity, Johnny Lewis, libertarianism, mental health, murder, rights, United States)

“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” -Second Amendment, the U.S. Constitution

todays paper

Whatever the merits of such notions about personal and national security (they are, to say the least, highly questionable in this day and age), it is important to note that the only kind of militia the Second Amendment expressly regards as consistent with security is a “well-regulated” militia. One may rationally and reasonably conclude that this applies both to an organized militia and an unorganized one. Otherwise, an armed citizenry consisting of men and women using guns for presumed high purpose according to their respective dictates of personal whim and political fancy is the stuff from which anarchy could result, and in turn the tyranny against which the private possession of guns is supposed to protect Americans.

The right to keep and bear arms (a term that connotes a military purpose) stems from the English common law right of self-defense. However, the possession of guns in the mother country of the common law was never an absolute right. Various conditions were imposed. Britain today has one of the strictest gun laws in the world.

There is nothing absolute about the freedoms in our own Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech is not freedom to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Freedom of religion is not freedom to have multiple spouses, or sacrifice a lamb in the local park, as religiously sanctioned practices. Similarly, whatever right the Second Amendment protects regarding the private possession of guns, for whatever definition of “militia,” is not an absolute right. It must serve the overall public interest, including (from the preamble of the US Constitution) the need to “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare.” Whatever right there is to possess firearms is no less important than the right of every American, gun owners included, to protection against the possession of guns by persons who by any reasonable standard lack the crucial credentials for responsible gun ownership.

- From a 1977 article by David J.Steinberg, Executive Director, National Council for a Responsible Firearms Policy:  “Does The Second Amendment Mean What It Says?” 

- Socialists debate gun control here: http://www.workersliberty.org/node/4681

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The E1 settlement plan: the end of Two States?

December 9, 2012 at 9:50 am (Human rights, insanity, israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine, reblogged)

The end of the two state solution? Not irrevocably, in my opinion, but Rebecca at the interesting US-based Jewish blog ‘Mystical Politics‘ explains, with the map below, why Netenyahu’s plan is so disastrous, not just for the Palestinians, but for the long-term future of Israel itself:

If Israel goes ahead with its plans to develop E-1 (Dividing the West Bank, Deepening a Rift), located between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem, it will cut the West Bank in half and make a viable Palestinian state impossible. It’s time for the Obama administration to come out publicly against this plan, as publicly as the UK and France are – who are threatening to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel [This has not in fact happened - JD].

The New York Times has an excellent multimedia presentation on the final status
issues: Challenges in defining an Israel-Palestinian border.

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