Saudi royals holidaying in Turkey

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So why do you need 30 bicycles?

According to our local newspaper, Saudi Arabian Prince El Velid bin Tallal is currently holidaying in Bodrum with his wife and daughters. He has been spotted cycling around the streets near his hotel of accompanied by several large bodyguards.

The royals are staying in a luxury hotel in the Göltürkbükü area much loved by local glitterati and the paparazzi who make a living photographing and writing about them. Prince El Velid is not the richest guy in the world, but with a wealth estimated at $32 billion, he’s definitely up there with the big guns. He and his family and carers arrived at Bodrum Milas Airport on the royal Boeing 747where their 300 suitcases and 30 bicycles took several hours to unload.

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The prince’s private jet and holiday luggage

It seems a bay near their hotel has been closed of for their exclusive use, where they can swim, sunbathe and anchor their 87-metre yacht Kingdom KR5. In case the hotel’s facilities are not up to expected standards, the yacht apparently has a swimming pool of its own.

Who knows – maybe we’ll bump into them at our next concert.

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The Kingdom KR5

What are we fighting for?

Country Joe And The Fish – Vietnam Song

Rock Cellar Magazine called it the greatest protest song of the Sixties, which may well make it the greatest protest song of all time.

Country Joe and the Fish performed it at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Alter a word or two here and there (North Korea, Syria, Iraq for Vietnam, for example), and it’s as relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7Y0ekr-3So

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,

Uncle Sam needs your help again.

He’s got himself in a terrible jam

Way down yonder in Vietnam

So put down your books and pick up a gun,

We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

 

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,

Next stop is Vietnam;

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the pearly gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,

Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

 

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow,

Why man, this is war au-go-go

There’s plenty good money to be made

By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade,

But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,

They drop it on the Viet Cong.

 

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,

Next stop is Vietnam.

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the pearly gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why

Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

 

Well, come on generals, let’s move fast;

Your big chance has come at last.

Now you can go out and get those reds

‘Cause the only good commie is the one that’s dead

And you know that peace can only be won

When we’ve blown ’em all to kingdom come.

 

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,

Next stop is Vietnam;

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the pearly gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why

Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

 

Come on mothers throughout the land,

Pack your boys off to Vietnam.

Come on fathers, and don’t hesitate

To send your sons off before it’s too late.

And you can be the first ones in your block

To have your boy come home in a box.

 

And it’s one, two, three

What are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,

Next stop is Vietnam.

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the pearly gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,

Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

 

Thanks to Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall for bringing the song to mind. Visit her blog The Most Revolutionary Act . . .

And Thom Hickey. If you haven’t visited his Immortal Jukebox, you really should!

Statue of Liberty Debate – My two cents worth

I read an article last week about a debate in American political circles over the true significance of the Statue of Liberty.

sad-statue-of-libertyApparently a CNN journalist was taking an aide of President Trump to task over the administration’s proposals to tighten immigration laws. The journalist was suggesting that limiting immigration was against the spirit of the iconic New York statue, as expressed in a poem inscribed on its pedestal. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The poet, Emma Lazarus, was addressing the nations of Europe, the tired old world with its hereditary aristocracy living in luxury on the backs of its oppressed people. The United States, by contrast, was a brave new classless world of opportunity and equality where merit would rise to the top.

The Trump aide, it seems, wisely avoided entering into a debate about whether such egalitarian ideals formed part of his boss’s plan to make America great again. He diverted the issue by pointing out that the Lazarus poem was not part of the original statue, and was, in fact, added twenty years after the unveiling of “Lady Liberty”.

maxresdefaultSo, what was that “Liberty” thing all about then? The Time article claims that the original idea in the mind of the French government when they gifted the statue was to congratulate the United States for their moral fortitude in abolishing slavery. There is also an implication that there was a diplomatic purpose tucked away – to cement the alliance between France and the US. France, of course, had supported the American revolutionaries in their independence war, and later backed the fledgling republic in the War of 1812 – both fought against Britain. Maybe there was a smidgen of imperialist rivalry going on behind the façade of altruism.

Certainly abolishing slavery in the United States was a worthy achievement – but it’s worth remembering that it wasn’t a unanimous decision. 750,000 lives were lost in the Civil War of the 1860s before the issue was decided; and the USA certainly wasn’t in the forefront of slave emancipation. Just as a matter of interest, here’s a timeline of when slavery was abolished in certain key countries:

1811 – Spain, 1813 – Sweden, 1833 – Britain, 1848 – France, 1851 – Brazil, 1858 – Portugal, 1861 – Netherlands, 1865 – United States of America

A century later civil rights activists were still being imprisoned or assassinated; and some might argue that race relations in the land of the free are far from perfect even today.

And another thing. The driving force behind slavery is economics. If you don’t have to pay your work force, your profit margins are going to look a lot healthier than if you have to pay a living wage to your workers and PAYE income tax to your government. The United States economy must have taken a hit when all those slaves were liberated. Certainly the poor huddled masses from Europe had to be paid to work in the industrializing powerhouse they had come to for a better life, but I imagine there was a lot of competition for jobs keeping the price of labour to a minimum. Health and safety regulations would have been pretty lax, and social services, hospitals, schools and so on, not much in evidence. Need a new source of cheap labour to replace those liberated slaves? Why not import a few million desperately poor Europeans and exploit them?

236_cartoon_outsourcing_jobs_hurwitt_largeWe might think that both the CNN and the Trump guy were haggling over historical details and losing sight of the real issue. Whatever shenanigans may have lain behind the erecting of the Statue of Liberty, generations of US politicians have made local and international capital out of peddling the concept that America is a shining beacon of equality, freedom, democracy and hope in a corrupt and dangerous world. The American people have been encouraged (brainwashed?) to believe that these qualities are best exemplified by their own political system and way of life.

I don’t have time to write a poem to the United States of America, but listen, people. You’ve got poor tired huddled masses of your own that need your attention. You may not want the poor tired huddled masses from elsewhere any more, but at least stop bombing them and exploiting them, so they can get on with the business of living and raising their children in their own countries.

IBM’s secret Nazi shame – Book extract

It’s not a big secret these days that Adolf Hitler rose to power with financial support from big business in Germany and the United States. Henry Ford is on record as being an enthusiastic supporter of the German dictator and his ethnic purification programme. The IBM connection, however, was news to me. Read on . . . And think that this was happening while my father and his generation were fighting for freedom and democracy. And if corporate America could do that then, what are they doing NOW?

IBM’s secret Nazi shame, by Frank Walker

Today, IBM (International Business Machines) is a massive New York based multinational technology corporation with operations around the world. It has annual revenue of US$81 billion ($107.8b) and 380,000 employees. Finance magazines Barron’s and Fortune dub IBM the world’s most respected and admired company. However, the huge corporation has a dark, secret past it doesn’t tell you about in its glossy brochures listing Nobel prize winners and technological breakthroughs. What they don’t tell you is that in the 1930s IBM was instrumental in providing groundbreaking technology that assisted the Nazi regime in identifying and tracking down Jews for its methodical program of genocide.

IBM Nazi computerOne of the machines is displayed in a place of prominence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The IBM badge can be clearly seen. It was a technical marvel of its time, the forerunner of today’s computers. The complex-looking machine was a punch card and card-sorting system initially built to assist the collation of vast amounts of information gathered in a census.

In the 1930s, IBM was one of the largest firms in the world, a true multinational conglomerate, with its headquarters in New York.

Oddly, IBM has Germanic origins. Herman Hollerith was the son of German immigrants. Working in the US Census Bureau, he was still in his twenties when he devised a machine using punch cards to tabulate the 1890 census. A smart businessman, he didn’t sell the machines or the punch cards but only leased them to whoever needed work done. It was a formula that kept the money rolling in.

His machines were used in censuses around the world, as well as for major operations such as railways and shipping.

Hollerith set up a subsidiary in Germany called Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft – Dehomag for short – and assigned it all of his patents. In 1911 Hollerith sold his firm to financier Charles Flint, who put tough and ambitious salesman Thomas Watson in charge. The name was changed to International Business Machines, IBM for short, and the company grew and grew.

In 1924 IBM owned eighty-four per cent of Dehomag, and the firm’s New York headquarters kept a close eye on all that its German subsidiary did throughout the war.

American investigative author Edwin Black was deeply shocked when he saw the IBM – Dehomag machine in Washington’s Holocaust Museum. The museum said on the display that IBM was responsible for organising the German census of 1933, which for the first time identified all Jews in the German population. Black was mystified how an iconic American corporation could be involved in the Holocaust, the most evil act of the twentieth century. He then spent decades digging up the links between IBM America and the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews and other inmates of the concentration camps. He said IBM tried to block his access to the firm’s records at every turn. But from archives around the world, and some files from IBM, he managed to assemble 20,000 documents that revealed IBM’s horrific role in the war, and in 2001 Black published his groundbreaking findings in “IBM and the Holocaust”.

It was shocking. Black wrote that IBM headquarters in New York knew all about its German subsidiary designing and supplying indispensable technological equipment that allowed the Nazis to achieve what had never been done before – “the automation of human destruction”. Buried deep in the files of the IBM company and German archives, Black alleged he discovered IBM boss Thomas Watson was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis from the very early years of the rise of Hitler.

“IBM NY always understood from the outset in 1933 that it was courting and doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi Party,” Black wrote.

Nazi flagsWatson was obsequious in pandering to the Nazi hierarchy, writing a grovelling letter in 1937 to Nazi Economics Minister Hjalmer Schacht declaring that the world must extend “a sympathetic understanding to the German people and their aims under the leadership of Adolf Hitler”.

To show his gratitude to Watson and the support of IBM, Hitler personally bestowed on Watson a special swastika-bedecked medal to honour his unique service to the Reich – the Order of the German Eagle with Star. Black writes that in June 1940 Watson was forced to return the medal after public outrage that such a prominent American business leader would be in possession of a Nazi medal while Nazi troops occupied Paris.

Read the whole article . . .

And more if you have time: http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/

What’s the US Government doing in the Middle East?

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Trump is just a distraction from the main issue!

Despite the “Christian” West’s thousand-year infatuation with the “Holy Land”, first Europe and now the United States have succeeded in creating an unholy mess in a region that was once at the forefront of the civilised world.

For more than 60 years, the Republic of Turkey has been a loyal ally of the Western alliance, allowing the US Government to operate military bases and nuclear missiles in its territory, putting its own people at risk during the Cold War. In return Turkey’s interests and approaches for closer relations have been ignored or treated with disdain.

In the latest outrage, the US Government is providing major logistical support to a Kurdish group in Syria known as YPG, which they insist is important in the fight against ISIS/Daesh.

Who exactly are these YPG people? As far as the Turkish government is concerned, they are part of a separatist movement working towards an independent Kurdish state that will incorporate areas of Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. They are linked to the PKK, an internationally recognised terrorist network that has been carrying out violent attacks in Turkey for decades. The “Kurdistan” they want to establish not only poses an unacceptable threat to Turkey’s territorial integrity, it is by no means desired by the majority of Kurdish people in Turkey.

So why is the USA supplying these separatist militants with military hardware? Clearly the ISIS/Daesh excuse is untrue. The Turkish Government has made it clear that they will work with the US to end the ISIS/Daesh threat, and such an alliance will finish the business quickly and efficiently. It seems that, contrary to their stated aim, finishing off ISIS/Daesh is not actually what the US Government wants. What they do want, it seems clear, is an “independent” oil rich Kurdistan whose puppet government will be dutifully grateful to the United States. And to hell with the interests of loyal ally Turkey.

US dispatches 100 new trucks packed with military equipment to YPG

1 August 2017

US arms to YPG

Clearing mines for the US arms-carrying convoy

The United States dispatched 100 new trucks consisting of military equipment to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria on July 30, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

The trucks were reported in the city of al-Hasakah, located in northeast Syria, before heading to the northern parts of Raqqa.

The dispatched trucks were indicated to have entered the region under YPG control though the Iraqi border.
The vehicles were reportedly carrying heavy weapons, cranes, Hummer trucks and jeeps.

With the last aid provided by the U.S., the number of trucks that reached the YPG amounted to 909.


In June, a total of 120 trucks and up to 689 more trucks were sent to the organization until July 27, the agency said.

According to a budget report received by the Anadolu Agency at the start of June from the Pentagon, the U.S. military provides weapons to various armed groups in Syria, including the YPG. This aid reportedly includes a total of 12,000 Kalashnikovs, 6,000 machine guns, 3,500 heavy machine guns, 3,000 U.S. made RPG-7s and 1,000 U.S. made AT-4 or Russian made SPG-9 anti-tank munitions to be given to the armed groups.

The U.S. President Donald Trump authorized the arming of the YPG in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on May 9, causing ire in Ankara.

The Turkish government considers the YPG to be linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has long pressed Washington to stop its support for the group, as it says that the arms provided to the group are handed over to the PKK.

End of Labour as a major political force?

The Light Dawns – The Penny Drops!

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It came to me in the bathtub!

It was a favourite saying of my old middle school teacher, Mr Hislop. It was a mildly sarcastic form of congratulations when one, or all of his pupils finally showed signs of understanding something he had been at pains for some time to explain.

The words came to my own lips as I read an opinion piece in New Zealand’s own Herald newspaper/website. The writer was commenting on the woes of the NZ Labour Party in the lead-up to this year’s General Election. The conservative National Party has been in power since 2008. The Prime Minister for most of those years was an unabashedly rich finance mogul whose standard response to news media questions about the numerous scandals that broke during his term of office was, “Oh, nobody cares about that!” New Zealand has a ludicrously inflated housing market, a playground for wealthy local and foreign “investors”. The country has received dishonourable mention in global reports on child poverty and international money laundering.

In spite of that, and more, the main opposition Labour Party is plunging rather than rising in public opinion polls, and the party’s panicked response has been to choose a new leader, four months out from Election Day. It’s the beginning of the end of Labour as an automatic major political force,” says this political commentator.

Interesting choice of words, don’t you think? automatic major political force”? Unfortunately, that’s what it is, and has been for the last 40 years – and not just in New Zealand A brain-dead response by people unhappy with the social injustice created by traditional conservative economics. Political pundits in the UK are desperately trying to convince voters that the local Labour Party has found, in Jeremy Corbyn, a leader to take them back to their roots. The US Democrats managed to sell Barack Obama to their well-heeled, trendy-lefty supporters, and nearly did it again with Bernie Sanders. The sad fact is that Labour Parties (and their alter egos) in these countries and Australia, and others for all I know, are just a construct of the established financial elite who wield the real power while conning a pathetically gullible electorate into thinking they have a choice at the ballot box.

walking dead

Labour back from the dead – again?

Let me quote you some facts and figures. New Zealand voters elected their first Labour Government in 1935, in the depths of the Great Global Economic Depression. That government did actually manage to implement some genuine socialist reforms, on which their successors have been dining out ever since. By 1949, however, they had turned their back on most of their founding principles, got rid of any dissenting voices in their own ranks, and were deservedly thrown out in that year’s general Election.

68 years have passed since then. Conservative National governments have held the reins of power for 47 of those, and pale pinkish-blue pseudo-Labour governments, the remaining 21. The last possibly true old-style Labour Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, was elected in 1972 on the slogan, “It’s time for a change” – which voters were ready to accept after twelve years of National rule. Unfortunately, Big Norm died two years later, and Labour were thrown out in 1975, having failed to achieve much at all.

puppet

Work it our for yourself.

National returned to office and proceeded to make themselves pretty unpopular, nevertheless winning again in ‘78 owing to their own electoral gerrymandering and Labour’s predictable incompetence. Despite NZ’s manifestly unfair first-past-the-post electoral system, a rejuvenated force had appeared on the NZ political scene. The Social Credit Political League began picking up support from voters fed up with the lies and deceit of the two main parties. After giving the National Party two shock defeats in by-elections, Social Credit actually replaced Labour as the country’s preferred opposition party in public opinion polls in 1980.

That was when the business/financial elite showed their true colours. Going against almost total international opinion, the National Prime Minister arranged for the NZ Rugby Union to host a tour of the country by a team from apartheid South Africa. Whatever naïve political writers tell you, it was a deliberately cynical ploy to divide the country along conventional lines, with the rugby-mad and the libertarians supporting the tour, and left-leaning union-leaders, armchair liberals and “intellectuals” coming out strongly against it. The 1981 General Election returned to the same-old-same-old, manipulators-extraordinaire National and a temporarily ideologically renewed Labour.

The victory went again to National, but by 1984 NZ voters had definitely had enough of them. Seeing the writing on the wall, the same business/financial elite set up a well-financed straw party to siphon off the protest vote and ensure that Labour would finally return to office. But what a Labour Government!! Their public relations creation windbag Prime Minister led a government that implemented libertarian reforms drawing inspiration from the UK’s Iron Witch Margaret Thatcher and US Wild West hero Ronald Reagan.

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Sorry, folks – Labour won’t take you to the Emerald City.

The simple fact of the matter is those who hold the real power in New Zealand (and other Western pseudo-democracies) want to retain the Labour Party as the main political “opposition” to maintain the illusion that voters have a choice. “The end of Labour as a political force?” Sorry, mate, that happened decades ago. They’ve been dead for years – they just won’t lie down.

I’d like to believe that the light is finally dawning in New Zealand, and the penny will drop to activate the machinery of a new political age – but I don’t hold out much hope. Too many people want to believe in the yellow brick road.