Thursday, November 22, 2018

Haditha Massacre

This thread appeared in my Twitter timeline today.

American Values

On this day in 2005, US Marines massacred 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Marines went house to house executing men, women, children as young as 1 yr-old & a 76 yr-old man in a wheelchair. The marines then urinated on the dead bodies. None of the Marines served jail time.

The massacre—which lasted 5 hours and involved two squads of Marines—was immediately followed by a cover-up. The Marines dropped the dead bodies off at a hospital, claiming they’d been killed in the roadside bombing.

Dr Wahid at Haditha hospital said that there were "no organs slashed by shrapnel in any of the bodies”, but instead "the victims were shot in the head and chest from close range." Yet, the US put out a false statement saying civilians were killed in a roadside bombing.

The massacre would have been successfully covered up if not for an Iraqi journalist student & activist named Taher Thabet al-Hadithi. Taher shot a video the day after showing the bloodstained and bullet-riddled houses where the massacre had occurred.

12-yr-old Safa Younis appears on video saying she was in one of three houses where troops came in & indiscriminately killed family members. "They knocked at our front door & my father went to open it. They shot him dead from behind the door & then they shot him again," she said.

"Then one American soldier came in and shot at us all. Safa survived only due to her mother's blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell limp & fainted.

"I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. "But they killed him, and his wife and daughters."

The Marines hurled grenades into rooms then shot children attempting to hide. The neighbors and survivors describe the horrific memory of listening to four small girls die screaming in their homes.

The remains of the 24 lie today in a cemetery called Martyrs' Graveyard. "Democracy assassinated the family that was here," graffiti on one of the family's houses declared.

After the massacre, leaders complained, the Marines paid a small compensation of only $1,500 for each of the 15 men, women and children killed in the first two houses. But 14 others received no compensation.

When residents learned none of the Marines were found guilty for the massacre many were outraged, but others never had much hope for justice.

An Iraqi layer working on the case said, “the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the United States because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans."

Youssef Ayid, who lost four brothers in the massacre, said, "We are sad to see the criminals escape justice.” Khalid Salman, a lawyer for the victims said, "This is an assault on humanity."


I'm too tired and sad to curate this properly.
Here are corroborating links.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Outsourcing, Staffing and Corporate Responsibility Observations

We speak in respectful tones about that primordial soup from which profits flow, the marketplace. Great numbers of people worship at that altar...probably more than worship in old-fashioned religious venues. When the numbers are good, the news announcer reading the results often has happy background music playing, something like "We're In the Money." If the numbers are down, the music might be "Stormy Weather." It's as much a part of our culture as sports and popular foods to rejoice when the "Market" is good, and gloomy if the report is "down." At some level everyone, even those who will never see a stock certificate, some of whom will never guess that there is a cap on social security taxes every year for people earning over a certain amount...everyone feels connected.

It's not fashionable to ask where profits come from, however. It's like asking if someone has had cosmetic surgery or was fortunate enough to come into a lot of money following the recent death of a loved one. We want the dealership from which we get our car to be profitable enough to keep up with the warranty service, but we don't want any profit to that dealer from our purchase, and we sure as hell don't want to pay dealer prices for service. Profit is what happens when a company makes a good deal with someone else. When I have to make the same deal, however, they are taking advantage of me.

Not everyone thinks like this, of course. There are lots of people who cheerfully pay a dear price to be the first or latest in their peer group to see a movie or own a certain fashion or travel to some wonderful destination. Big tips, ostentatiously bigger than the norm, are sometimes found by delighted service people who don't care that they say more about the ego needs of patrons than the quality of their service. And a few people take a balanced view of profits and don't get disturbed about their contributions to someone else's profit.

In the face of all this resistance on the part of customers, clients and patrons to cut them out of reasonable profits businesses are forced to be imaginative about being able to report ever higher profits. The word "bubble" comes to mind first, because that is the easiest track to profits in the short term. We have seen it many times, from the famous tulip bulbs to the California Gold Rush to the explosion of dotcoms. In the end the bubble bursts (hence the term) but there are what I would call "serial bubbles" (see "serial monogamy") in real estate, fashions, entertainment and advertising. I heard a couple of weeks ago that insurance stock prices go up when a hurricane hits because historically that is when premiums go up, not only to cover "losses" due to weather, but improved profits as well. Why do insurance companies jack up the prices at just the time that their policy holders can least afford to pay more? Because they can.

A few years ago, and to some extent continuing today, the phenomenon of "mergers and acquisitions" yielded breathtaking "profits". When two companies in the same line of work merge it is a win-win situation (except for the people whose jobs are sacrificed for the deal) because the new, stronger company has one less competitor in the marketplace (whew!) as well as a more efficient operation, because the payroll departments, accountants, ad agencies and other support operations can be performed by one department instead of two. All this improved efficiency translates into profits.

Speaking of accounting, now there is the toolbox from which a lot of profits can be made to flow. When they get the cooperation they need from operations there is practically no end to the profits that can result. Just ask the people at Enron how easy it can be.

Have you noticed that so far that nothing has been mentioned about productivity? That is my point. The only real source of profits haas to be that something has been produced. Moving the furniture around does not produce anything, unless you are paid to be an interior decorator. Mergers might squeeze a few cents from the economy of scale, but they real improvements, if you can call them that, is that there is more to report for profits because fewer people are being paid.

This brings us to the notion of outsourcing, the ultimate job eraser. Outsourcing has had it's bony finger in nearly every business enterprise in the marketplace. I would like to advance the notion that corporate reliance on outsourcing is tantamount to an admission of failure. It is easiest to see in something like janitorial work, the bottom of the economic ladder by most standards. Very few organizations today directly employ the people who literally clean up behind them. The reasons are easy to grasp. Nobody wants to take out the trash, clean the restrooms and refill the soap dispensers, so it is easier to pay an outside company to do that job than go to the trouble to hire and train someone and hold them accountable. And don't even mention the benefits that they would expect. After a few years they could be wanting a vacation like everyone else. Next thing you know, they might even want to be getting ahead in life and someone would have to be trained to replace them. Imagine that.

I'm trying not to sound cynical, but I'm not trying very hard. I have watched for years as the idea of people skills and management accountability have become less and less a part of business life. Few supervisors are trained to spell out their expectations in language that is clear but not judgemental. Even fewer are trained to be the patient coaches they have to be if they are to develop their subordinates into more than robots. For the past few days I have been thinking that outsourcing is the contemporary successor to mergers as a generator of false profits, because in most cases the end result neither improves the service nor generates any new value to the owner/stockholder.

And the social consequences of jobs being lost....don't get me started.


This post was about ten days ago. And already I run across a link about the "internet bubble" and its consequences.

The writer begins by arguing that by going public before earnings are possible a new company is really just raising venture capical (VC) from the market rather than from the customary private sources. In time, he says, the marketplace may do better at assessing new business ventures than the private sector.

>>After the excesses of the Bubble, it's now considered dubious to take companies public before they have earnings. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that idea. Taking a company public at an early stage is simply retail VC: instead of going to venture capital firms for the last round of funding, you go to the public markets.

  • By the end of the Bubble, companies going public with no earnings were being derided as "concept stocks," as if it were inherently stupid to invest in them. But investing in concepts isn't stupid; it's what VCs do, and the best of them are far from stupid.
  • The stock of a company that doesn't yet have earnings is worth something. It may take a while for the market to learn how to value such companies, just as it had to learn to value common stocks in the early 20th century. But markets are good at solving that kind of problem. I wouldn't be surprised if the market ultimately did a better job than VCs do now.
  • Going public early will not be the right plan for every company. And it can of course be disruptive-- by distracting the management, or by making the early employees suddenly rich. But just as the market will learn how to value startups, startups will learn how to minimize the damage of going public.

The link is worth following. I cannot post a forward link from the comments, but I will post a backward link to my original post when blogging today.
The most important of all social contributions is providing jobs. The rest is virtually cosmetic. I think an argument can be advanced that the more jobs there are, the greater the social contribution, with recycling, charitable contributions, green space, reduction of toxins and all the rest of what companies like to brag about falling somewhere down the list. Without jobs, all the rest is cotton candy.

Having stripped Corporate Social Responsibility and Perks down to the bones, jobs and wages, take a look at what is really at stake. Economists like to speak of The Marketplace, but they normally are referring to that wonderful macro-universe that captures the attention of analysts, professors and Alan Greenspan. Boy, when you get out there in space you can swim about in an ocean of economic theory and argue til the cows come home about interest rates, trends, world climate and an endless list of fun topics. But I can tell you that when you are at the grassroots of the economy you see things a lot differently.

By "grassroots" I'm not referring to unit managers or field-reps, which is what mostly comes to mind when the word is mentioned. The term "grass roots" calls up messy problems like "turnover" or "liability claims" or "wage pressures" or some of the other boring, nitty-gritty details of operations. But everyone knows that those are like the wheels of a car, the paint on the house, cutting the lawn...that's just everyday stuff that has nothing to do with the real issues of economics. Right?

Wrong. Those are the foundational issues driving the entire economy. From the time that Henry Ford build a car he understood that if no one could buy the thing, all the assembly lines and efficiencies in the world would be of little use. Here's where corporate responsibility and "perks" connect, where the rubber meets the road.

One of my hobby horses has to do with outsourcing, which is another way to say "We don't want to go to the trouble to teach anybody to do something, so we will go elsewhere to get it done." I have watched this trend up close and personal for my whole career. Outsourcing in the food business means getting a factory to furnish what used to be done by ordinary people. When I first started in the cafeteria business every unit was its own little factory. We did everything from scratch. Hanging meat was butchered into everything from steaks to ground meat, and everything in between. We rendered the suet to grease the griddle, boiled the bones to make the best-tasting beef stock, and when we were done, sold what could not be used to a company recycling tallow. Pie shells were hand-made, as were rolls, biscuits and cornbread. Even loaf bread used to make garlic bread was made from scratch at each location. We never used it, but there was a recipe in the file to make jelly from the apple peels that were a byproduct of apple pie.

Everything that I have described was accomplished, not by culinary experts, certified by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America, not the other one) but ordinary people who usually started by washing dishes, clearing dirty tables in the dining room, or serving food on the line. The term "entry level job" had a serious meaning in that context. It meant that if you were not willing to do dirty work, then someone else got the job and you were back in the street. If you wanted to do better after landing that "entry level job," then you could wait for the next available job in the bakery, kitchen or salad department where you would be taught to do something better by a head baker or chef or lead salad maker who got their respective jobs by climbing a ladder, just like you were about to do.

So what about the perks? What about corporate social responsibility?

Corporate responsibility was expressed in the ongoing creation of jobs, a corporate function that clever people in high places saw as "the cost of labor," an expense that needed to be controlled. You can see where this is going. I worked in a situation where the first item on any list of "corporate responsibilities" was being systematically abandoned. In the same way the the doctor's oath says "First, do no harm" the beginning of all corporate responsibility is (or should be) "First, don't cut off the lifeblood of your employees."

Well, control they did, those clever people in high places, by outsourcing -- until the essential staff that once numbered by the score was reduced to a skeletal remnant of functionaries (it's not right to call them cooks any more) whose principal talent is expressed in opening frozen, canned or boxed products and artfully putting them into a display. (And don't get me started on what has happened to the flavor profiles...)

And the perks? I can tell you about the perks.
Perquisites are what the company can furnish beyond wages that do not, cannot, will not cost anything to provide. That's why they are called perquisites. When the definition says incidental to regular salary or wages it truly means incidental. You can be sure that anything that adds up as an expense will be monitored, measured and controlled by those same clever people who eliminate jobs by controlling labor costs. In the end, it is up to the resourceful boss to come up with perks for his people.

And despite the cynical tenor of what I am writing, I can assure you that there are real, important, well-understood, deeply appreciated perquisites in the tool box of any good boss. All he has to do is take them out and use them. They include treating everyone with dignity and consistency, bending over backward to be fair to all, and holding experienced people more accountable than new people. (What? Did I say giving newcomers a break that you don't give old-timers? You bet. And you get away with it by reminding every one of the old-timers that they were once new, and had no one given them a break, they would not be where they are today.)

Other perks might be awarding desirable schedules to deserving people, rewarding those who do well by not pinching off those little bits of overtime earned by doing extra work, or simply making a deliberate effort to speak to everyone, every day, in a tone of voice that really connects and says "I appreciate you and your good work. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be working with you." That's not easy to do when the person must be assigned to a job that can't be seen by the public because either the job or the individual might spoil even the biggest appetite.

After reading what I have written I have to admit that what I have done is basically a rant. I really mean no disrespect for those "clever people in high places," because many of them got to where they are by climbing the same ladder that I have described. The difference is that they just kept climbing. Nevertheless, it has done me good to get it out of my system.

However, I do wish that with the growth of large corporations more thought could be given to people, the real base of all success. It is true that profits and the marketplace drive everything else. It is not the company that sets wages, it is the marketplace. Prices, like wages, are also set, not by companies, but by the laws of supply and demand. There is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception and fraud. Stated more simply years ago: the worst thing that any company can do - to its employees, its owners or its customers - is to go out of business.

It is that inarguable law of survival that drives all of economics. That law, as unforgiving as the law of gravity, is what causes so many to worship at the altar of profits. Maybe it is for that reason we have allowed corporations to enjoy the same legal status as people. It's too bad that people must cope with survival, and in the end, their inevitable mortality despite all they might do to delay it, without the same safety nets afforded their corporate competitors.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Many Evangelical Christians Feel Protected from Trump's Sub-Christian Words & Actions

Having been reared Christian I continue to be mystified how Donald Trump continues to receive the support of self-identified Christians. I know the backstory, the Cyrus Prophesy and all that, but I never imagined that their blind allegiance would be durable enough to survive this week's dramatic events involving a deranged supporter mailing pipe bombs to individuals and targets repeatedly vilified in Trump's endless rallies. 

As the Khashoggi debacle unfolded over the last three weeks (still in progress at this writing) I had no expectations that it would get much attention. Some of us pay attention to foreign policy but most Americans pay little attention to other countries until wars break out. 

But what some have called the MAGABomber story is different. This is a high-profile sequence of unbelievable events that even as they were unfolding were dismissed by Trump and many of his supporters as a false-flag operation orchestrated by his political enemies. Even now, with a suspect in custody and details of what he did are in the news, many Trump supporters continue to feed the false-flag narrative. 
A surprisingly large number of figures from the conservative establishment — commentators, radio hosts, a Trump family member, and other pro-Trump figures — shared, liked, hinted at, raised questions about or otherwise endorsed an evidence-less theory that this was a “false-flag” attack — one that was staged to advance the political goals of the very people it seemed intended to hurt (in this case, Democrats).
The Wikipedia article Snake handling in religion offers clues to why some Christians clearly feel Divine protection when they associate themselves with Donald Trump's venomous qualities. They deny it, of course, but their words and actions are in agreement with those who believe serpent handling dates to antiquity and quote the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke to support the practice:
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.(Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
Another passage from the New Testament used to support snake handlers' beliefs is Acts 28:1-6, which relates that Paul was bitten by a venomous viper and suffered no harm:
And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Voter Suppression Notes

I don't want these notes from a Facebook comments thread to get lost in the archives. The embarrassing point is that the Russians appear to be paying closer attention to American democracy than we are. 

Voter Suppression is a feature of American elections, has been since the end of the civil war and is a growing phenomenon.
Wikipedia has an interesting review.
Because elections are locally administered in the United States, voter suppression varies among jurisdictions. At the founding of the country, most states limited the right to vote to property-owning white males. Over time, the right to vote was formally granted to racial minorities, women, and youth. During the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Southern states passed Jim Crow laws to suppress poor and racial minority voters – such laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses. 
Most of these voter suppression tactics were made illegal after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2013, discriminatory voter ID laws arose following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which some argue amount to voter suppression among African-Americans. 
Since then, federal judges have overturned voting restrictions in several states on the grounds that they were intentionally discriminatory.
• In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers requested data on various voting practices, broken down by race. They then passed laws that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans. Among other things, they cut back on early voting.
Later, the North Carolina GOP sent out a press release celebrating the decline in early voting by African Americans.
• In Texas, a voter ID law requiring a driver's license, passport, military identification, or gun permit, was repeatedly found to be intentionally discriminatory.
The state's election laws could be put back under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, the DOJ has expressed support for Texas's ID law. Sessions was accused by Coretta Scott King in 1986 of trying to suppress the black vote. A similar ID law in North Dakota, which would have disenfranchised large numbers of Native Americans, was also overturned.
• In Wisconsin, a federal judge found that the state's restrictive voter ID law led to "real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities"; and, given that there was no evidence of widespread voter impersonation in Wisconsin, found that the law was "a cure worse than the disease."
In addition to imposing strict voter ID requirements, the law cut back on early voting, required people to live in a ward for at least 28 days before voting, and prohibited emailing absentee ballots to voters. 
Other controversial measures include shutting down Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in minority neighborhoods, making it more difficult for residents to obtain voter IDs: 
  • shutting down polling places in minority neighborhoods.
  • systematically depriving precincts in minority neighborhoods of the resources they need to operate efficiently, such as poll workers and voting machine and 
  • purging voters from the rolls shortly before an election. 
Often, voter fraud is cited as a justification for such laws even when the incidence of voter fraud is low.
• In Iowa, lawmakers passed a strict voter ID law with the potential to disenfranchise 260,000 voters. Out of 1.6 million votes cast in Iowa in 2016, there were only 10 allegations of voter fraud; none were cases of impersonation that a voter ID law could have prevented. Only one person, a Republican voter, was convicted. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, the architect of the bill, admitted, "We've not experienced widespread voter fraud in Iowa."
In May 2017, Donald Trump established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, purportedly for the purpose of preventing voter fraud. Critics have suggested its true purpose is voter suppression. The commission is led by Kansas attorney general Kris Kobach, a staunch advocate of strict voter ID laws and a proponent of the Crosscheck system. Crosscheck is a national database designed to check for voters who are registered in more than one state by comparing names and dates of birth. Researchers at Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Microsoft found that for every legitimate instance of double registration it finds,
Crosscheck's algorithm returns approximately 200 false positives. Kobach has been repeatedly sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for trying to restrict voting rights in Kansas.
That's just a summary.
A more comprehensive article can be found elsewhere...
Voter suppression in the United States - Wikipedia

The Russians do a better job of keeping up with voter suppression in the US than our own elected representatives.
Here is a link to SputnikNews  yesterday, reporting on Georgia's election as an example of "voter disenfranchisement!
With the US midterm elections only weeks away, a wave of voter suppression has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people losing their right to vote due to technical obstacles and voter registration purges. The epicenter is Georgia, where a tight race for governorship has put questions of race, class and gender at the fore. 
On Friday, The Hill reported that the Georgia state government had purged 107,000 people from the state's voter rolls because they had not voted in previous elections. Under the state's "use it or lose it" law, at the end of a three-year process, Georgia voters are removed from lists enabling them to vote at designated voting locations on Election Day, which is the second Tuesday in November in the United States. 
The report came only two days after a group of about 40 elderly, African-American residents of a senior living center in Louisville, Alabama, were forced to get off a bus that was transporting them to a voter registration site. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Jefferson County officials considered the event "political activity," which is banned during county-sponsored events. 
"We knew it was an intimidation tactic," LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told the Atlanta paper. "It was really unnecessary. These are grown people." 
And only days before that, Politico reported that the Georgia NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] was preparing to sue Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate for governor, for having put on hold 53,000 voter registration applications due to supposed inconsistencies in their details. Most of them belong to African-Americans. 
Kemp's adversary in the race for Georgia's governorship is Democrat Stacey Abrams, who would become the state's first black female governor if elected. The extremely tight race could hinge on a relatively small number of votes, and Abrams has argued that Kemp's office has worked to suppress the votes of African-Americans in the state. Kemp maintains that he is preventing voter fraud, a common refrain in cases of voter registration purges and when rules regarding the voting process are tightened. 
Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear spoke with Jacqueline Luqman, the co-editor-in-chief of Luqman Nation, which hosts a livestream every Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. on Facebook, about the wave of voter suppression. She told the show it's nothing new, but rather a purposeful part of a conservative "long game" to "disenfranchise entire groups of people." 
"Let's stop acting like these things are coincidences," Luqman told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker. She noted that it's become common practice for voter drives at black social institutions like churches to be declared illegal in some fashion. 
"This is not new," she said. "The issue with people like Brian Kemp, who implemented that voter roll purge eight months after he declared his candidacy," which Luqman made clear isn't in itself unusual and which states do regularly to keep up with changes in the voting population, "but this is wrong because these people were removed from the voter rolls simply because they hadn't voted before."
"There is no ‘use by' date on the right to vote," she said.
However, the US Supreme Court in June upheld Ohio's aggressive purging of voter rolls based on the failure to respond to a mail-in residency verification card sent out by the state. In an individual dissent against the 5-4 majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the program reflected "concerted state efforts to prevent minorities from voting and to undermine the efficacy of their votes" that were "an unfortunate feature of our country's history." 
"So now we've got [voter suppression] that is coming to light that honestly, people have been talking about, people on the ground, grassroots activists, people have been talking about for years. And now you've got the voter suppression efforts that are new that are going on in North Dakota with the Native American population. This is the long game that these people have been playing for decades," Luqman said. 
On October 13, NPR reported that a final decision by North Dakota's Supreme Court saw the legal review body fail to overturn a controversial voter ID law that requires residents to use a current street address in order to vote. Post Office boxes won't do.
The problem, however, is that tens of thousands of North Dakotans, and essentially all Native Americans living on reservations in the state, have lost their ability to vote. For Native American reservations, the move is permanent and complete: there are no street addresses on reservations, only PO boxes.
NPR noted that it's still possible to get around the residency requirement with "supplemental documentation." But, even then, about 18,000 people are left out in the rain.
"The timing is horrible," said Jamie Azure, the tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who told NPR that his tribe has been preparing for this shift ever since the law was first passed years ago.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said it was sending drivers to take voters to the polls on November 6.
"Native Americans can live on the reservations without an address. They're living in accordance with the law and treaties, but now all of a sudden they can't vote," Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement shared on Facebook last Thursday.
"Our voices should be heard, and they should be heard fairly at the polls just like all other Americans," Faith said.
"Let's be clear here: the people who are doing this are not unaware of the implications. And this is where I think people make the mistake of thinking that these types of actions are not a big deal. People tend to believe, ‘Oh, well, these politicians didn't know what the outcome would be.' That's impossible," Luqman said, adding that "it's impossible that they did not know that these types of policies would disenfranchise entire groups of people. That's why they do them."
And yes, SputnikNews is a Russian outlet. I found this reference at another link at Hamilton 68, a site dedicated to "TRACKING RUSSIAN INFLUENCE OPERATIONS ON TWITTER."

Friday, October 19, 2018

One of Jamal Khashoggi's Last Columns

This is another transcription of an article in Pier 22, an online periodical I follow, using a blogger translation. The language may seem unnatural but the meanings and implications are unmistakable. I linked a few names and sources for clarity. My own reflections are at the end.

Avoid prison as much as you can ... for freedom, imprisonment and depression

Jamal Khashoggi


After two long days at the Oslo Freedom Forum in the Norwegian capital, last week, amidst a hotter heat than the southern world where most of the "wretched" participants came from, I asked myself as I listened to their words and stories with the freedom battle in Togo, Cambodia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Iran, Libya, and Egypt ... Does what I hear reinforce my faith in freedom or call for depression?

My conclusion is the second possibility. The frustrating here is not only the repetition and similarity of the stories, as if the tyrants were settling in from one poisoned well, but the indifference of the world. The US State Department publishes a report on human rights every year, and another on the state of religious freedom around the world. The last one was released last week, and its information is no less accurate than what independent human rights organizations say, but it is no longer doing anything. Only a few penalties and thresholds. The issue of rights has been solved. She remembers Iran's violations and expects the maximum sanctions and forgets Egypt and Zimbabwe.

What if Bernie Sanders, a left-wing Congressman and jurist who is like former President of Tunisia and current rival Moncef Marzouki, won the last US presidential election instead of Donald Trump? Would he raise the banner of rights? Or will the CIA chief remind him that this slogan "will weaken our allies in the region"? Will the importance of achieving the interests of oil companies and weapons be replaced by the priority of human rights? Can tyrants resist America's big hand? Perhaps they will then use their absent peoples and turn their books into fighters to stand up to the new American imperialist onslaught. A scenario suitable for the story of a virtual world, not a political article or a session at the next Oslo Forum.

I felt especially sorry for Leyla Younis, the Azerbaijani fighter who looked to me more like a good grandmother who deserves to retire and spend a good time on her beloved nest and around her grandchildren to tell her tales and jokes in her home in the capital of her oil-rich country. nothing new. So are the republics of our world. I discovered during the forum that the inheritance of power is common in Africa as well as in Latin America, without forgetting the North Korean Republic inherited by a father and grandson, even though it is "democratic communism"!

Leila left the theater after she had exhausted her touching words. Do not forget human rights in Azerbaijan. " Would anyone but rights organizations care?

I do not know why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jumped to my head as he celebrated Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev before I thought of others who deal day and night with him and with the rest of the tyrants of the world. Perhaps to the interrelationship between the two countries. It is the interests that make Erdogan care about human rights in Egypt and ignore them in Azerbaijan, the same interests that make thousands, but millions of Arab refugees claim that Erdogan will win the next elections and not interested in about 50,000 Turks detained since the failed coup attempt more than a year ago. They have a haven to turn to if Erdogan and his party lose. Opposition candidate Miral Akchnar frightens them by saying that they will return the Syrians to their homeland if they win the presidency, the homeland ruled by their murderer!

This paradox between Azerbaijan and Erdogan has been used to explain how interests and pragmatism overwhelm human rights issues, regardless of their fairness, a reality that is now recognized by those who have spent time in the field of opposition and rights.

Many have abandoned the expectation of immediate results and are working in the long run on the method of "planting a tree for those who will come after you to shade or build up an arch and gang." Their interest in political struggle has been reduced and they are spreading education, self-education, democratic values, Above the constitutional, "a term I first heard in Egypt in 2012, a number of jurists and liberalists raised the fears of the Islamists, opposed by the brothers who were more faith in the strength of the Fund. It seems now that even the owners of the "constitutional principles" no longer believe in them, as they quickly collapsed and joined the coup, with no respectable constitution, no fund, let alone "supra-constitutional principles."

Leyla Younis
Before Leyla Younis was deposed, I must mention some of her story. In 2014, Azerbaijan won the hosting of the European Games. Leila protested, and "scoffed" at the granting of this honor by the "free" European countries. The next day, she was arrested and charged with treason and stabbed her in the back. The state presented its position that it was against the homeland and not against the government. She certainly loves her country, but she does not like the government. Who explains this to the leader and his media, which promotes the concept of "I am the homeland, and the homeland I"? She's perfect. Long live her leadership of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, which calls for the rule of law to be its homeland for its people, not a dictator who governs a people who betrayed him with praise, people who do not see a homeland without the leader.

Laila ended up in jail despite her advanced age, and her husband, Aref, was also right. Her health collapsed in the prison and she and her husband were released after a year and a half. Now living a refugee in the Netherlands. I almost hear a citizen praising his leader day and night or being defeated from within saying, "What did you benefit?" Someday, Azri will say of a free homeland, not ruled by Aliyev, the son or grandson, and we enjoy our freedom thanks to Leyla Younis.

The last idea moves the testosterone, and re-optimizes, but the overall forum is depressing. I found out that I was not the only one suffering from distress. I always thought of it because of the loss of my country. I found out during a subsequent lecture that 19 percent of human rights activists suffer from PTSD. And is trying to develop medicines and treatment programs for this disease, which prompts some to think about suicide or isolation and even drugs. The politician does not realize the extent to which the writer, the imam of the mosque, the journalist, the intellectual, the economic person are harmed by the "son of the people" when he is thrown in prison for no reason, just to intimidate the rest of the people, even in solitary confinement for two or three months. It would be a nightmare to pursue even if he was not severely tortured when he was out of prison.

One of those who passed this experience told me that he had thought of committing suicide twice. He is busy with people or in a bus and he is transported by the "flashback" to the cell and the feelings of despair, loneliness and fear he has experienced.

I remembered a journalist colleague who had now settled in Washington and had experienced prison. She hardly leaves her home even though she is safe now. I did not understand why. Maybe she was wrong and I thought she was exaggerating, she was saying to me: "I cannot do anything, I'm still there." I understand her situation better now, and more on her, after I sat with Rick Doblin, who leads a non-profit organization to provide treatment for these. Tell me about the coping difficulties they are living amid the lack of understanding and conviction around them.

My narrowness of the "narrowness" I woke up sometimes, after I chose the alienation and the safety away from home, compared to what I had heard about the suffering of others who had experienced the prison, but increased my anger at those who are cured of their "colleagues" and their lucky citizens who ended up oppressed A dismal prison. [This paragraph needs a better translation.]

The hardest thing is to jail without reason. The intellectual is not a criminal, so he is always unprepared for imprisonment. A friend of mine called me and ended up in prison last September after being allowed to visit him. "He broke him in solitary confinement, you do not know him when you meet him," he told me.

Did you not do this, O leader, your best people? Someday, she will order the release of my friend and his companion, they will free themselves with their bodies, but some of them will remain in prison, followed by that enormous temporal void. I feel selfish when I write now. "Thank God I did not go to jail." I know how they live in prison now. I know how much deprivation and pain their people live in, and the fear that lies on those around them who are free with their bodies and detained with their lives and aspirations.

We are in a time when prison is part of the tools of governance and control of the "public." No longer in need of law and regulations. Became a weapon in the hands of the leader and his party and his army and his ruling class. Therefore, I hope that the Islamic movements, especially the glorification of the prison and its experience, will stop. Do not seek the poem of Sayyid Qutb, "My brother, you are free from restrictions" in your private closed sessions, if you dare to hold them until now. Look for a formula for the opposition that does not lead to prisons and confrontation. I know this is easy to say, and difficult to do. Prison in our world is not always punitive or prudent. It is part of political negotiation, lobbying, and public control skills.

Any political movement that tolerates decisions that bring its youth to prison is irresponsible, as are opponents of the outside, who incite from inside to anger, move and harass the ruler. So I always say to the youth in my country: Do not listen to them and avoid prison as much as you can, all you will get is a speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a great deal of depression.
Platform 22 An independent media platform that addresses millions of readers in Arabic through an innovative approach to everyday life in our world, keen to respect the local customs and traditions of the peoples of the region. Quay 22 is connected to the pulse of the Arab street and raises issues concerning its 22 states. The principles of democracy are at the core of his editorial plan, which is supervised by an independent, critical but constructive team that has its positions on the region's affairs, but is far from the existing political rapprochement. Platform 22 is a platform designed to simulate the new citizen. Arts, culture, investment, industry, economics, politics, justice, equality, travel, education, and accepting the other, with a background that always revolves around respect for citizenship and social justice. Platform 22 is a media outlet designed to create a sense of common future among the citizens of the Arab world, but away from the discourse of Arab nationalism. The site keeps abreast of the change taking place in the region and attempts to explain it by revealing the commonalities among the 22 Arab countries, their strengths and weaknesses, their problems and their aspirations. Quay 22 is a publication of Levant Laboratories SA, BVI (Mashreq Laboratories). Further, Download the brochure on Pier 22
Miral Akchnar
Jamal Khashoggi was on staff at Pier 22. Prior to his murder I didn't know Khashoggi's name or reputation. I have no way to know, but as a layman blogging in retirement, my guess is that when he mentioned Miral Akchnar, the Turkish opposition leader, he struck a nerve with Erdogan. Why do I think he was not killed in Turkey by chance? Why not some other country? Why do I wonder if MbS was set up? His hit squad apparently came and departed without a problem -- except for a recording device that enshrined their diabolical mission for the record. And who orchestrated the release of that record -- slowly, slowly -- in a way designed to torpedo the Prince, his Davos-in-the-Desert dream, his credibility and his American partners in criminal activity, the American president and a boatload of his cronies?
Take another look at the part of this column where he says "I do not know why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jumped to my head..."
Tell me I'm imagining things.
Turkey's opposition opposition party leader Miral Akchnar is due to resign after an emergency meeting of the party after growing criticism of her performance in the election. 
Akchnar - formerly an interior minister and deputy to the nationalist party - the Good Party - was founded last year after she broke away from the nationalist party that backs President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party. 
Akchnar was seen ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections last month as Erdogan's biggest and most credible challenge before he pulled the rug from under its feet Muharram Engha, the main opposition candidate. After a two-day gathering of party officials to assess the election results, Akchnar on Sunday called for an emergency conference in which the good party would elect a new leader.