United States suffering from a shortage of psychiatrists

I missed it at the time, and I want to apologise to the people of America for my oversight. I know they’re going through a tough time at present, and they need all the emotional support they can get.

why-1-in-6-americans-on-psychiatric-medication-fbI’ve just learned about the report of the APA (American Psychological Association) published in February. Among their findings:

  • The overall average reported stress level of Americans is on the rise.
  • Two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of their nation, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans.
  • More than half of Americans say the current political climate is a source of stress, while other causes of increased stress are: acts of terrorism, violence toward minorities and personal safety.
  • Interestingly, Americans with a tertiary education report being more stressed than those with a high school diploma or less, as do those who reside in urban areas compared with those who live in suburban or rural areas.
  • 80 percent of people report at least one health symptom because of stress, such as headaches, feeling overwhelmed, nervous or anxious, depressed or sad.

Taxi drivers are reportedly confirming the APA’s findings. Goddy Aledan, a driver of 20 years experience in the nation’s capital said recently, “I would say 60 percent of those that ride my cab are really anxious” and not just because of his driving. Furthermore, that’s in spite of the fact that Washington DC has “some of the country’s highest per capita rates of mental health professionals.” Just imagine how bad things are in Michigan, Texas and California where there are “severe shortages of psychiatric professionals”!

12135345_956942104344282_149358549_nOn the other hand, political writer Belen Fernandez argued recently in an article entitled “The United States of Insanity” that “US society has been sick for quite some time”, and referred to “bipartisan insanity, a pre-existing condition that constitutes one of the very foundations of the US political establishment.” In fact, she claims, the “unrelenting capitalism” that dominates American society, encouraging a “vicious pursuit of profit at the expense of human wellbeing”, inevitably leads to mental instability. Add to this the “permeation of existence with attention-obliterating electronic devices [and] the common predicament of being saddled with eternal debt in exchange for education and other services” and you have a recipe for insanity which is constantly being stirred up by the war-mongering and fear-mongering of political leaders on both sides of the house: the Clintons, husband and wife, and the Bushes, father and son.

To this toxic mix Fernandez adds the “egregious over-prescription” of the American pharmaceutical industry. I’m starting to feel sorry for those poor Americans.

Part of the problem, of course, stems from isolation. As we all know, healthy relationships with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues are essential for mental well-being. So what are the implications of New Yorkers being 5,500 km away from their best friends in the world, the good people of London, UK? And a further 4,500 km from Damascus, Syria, the current target for US bombs and drone strikes? Even Caracas is 3,300 km from those DC taxi passengers, so what can they know of the suffering of Venezuelans? Actually, I had to convert all those kilometre distances from miles. Did you know that, of the 196 countries in the world, only four still use the imperial system of weights and measures? Who are they? Libya, Myanmar, the United States and the United Kingdom. With that kind of determined isolationism, it’s hardly surprising they’ve got psychological problems.

But that’s not the worst of it. “US remains isolated from allies on climate change”. Who is not aware that the Big DT refused to lend his support to a global climate change accord agreed to by the other wealthy G7 nations at their May conference? Trump’s spokesperson claimed that the president’s “views are evolving” on the issue. From what I hear, America’s CEO needs some accelerated evolution in a number of areas. Pretty much everyone recognises that the world’s climate is undergoing change for the worse, that human activity is a major contributor to the problem, and that the United States of America has the planet’s largest carbon footprint. But their presidents refuse to talk about it, never mind set an example for the rest of us to follow.

russia-cover-finalAnd then there’s the paranoia. Of course this is a chicken and egg business. Do you get mentally ill because you think everyone out there is trying to get you? Or is paranoia a symptom of mental disturbance? Certainly there’s a snowball effect, and the poultry question is now largely irrelevant. Apart from the fear and stress of the average American citizen, there is also escalating panic at the highest levels of the political and mass media establishment over the question of Russia’s involvement in determining the outcome of the US presidential election. A recent article in Time Magazine went several steps further, suggesting that Russia has developed the technology to hack into US computer systems, gather personal information about citizens, then hack again into social media sites such as Twitter, spreading links allowing Russians to “take control of the victim’s phone or computer – and Twitter account.”

“What chaos,” the writer asked, “could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States? At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion.”

Paranoia indeed! Paranoia-noia-noia!!

Still, as the APA statistics indicate, those enlisting the aid of a psychiatric professional tend to be better educated and probably from the higher end of the socio-economic spectrum. I would speculate that they also make up the majority of the 55% of eligible voters who turned out for the 2016 presidential election. The poorer, less educated American tends to have problems beyond the reach of modern psychiatry, and to believe that neither political party has much interest in addressing their problems.

An article in the UK Guardian the other day took an in-depth look at Baltimore, 15 years after the HBO TV documentary The Wiredocumented the poverty, politics and policing of a [rust-belt] city”. “While some parts of Baltimore are thriving,” we read, “others have gone into reverse. In 2015, the death of an African American man in police custody triggered widespread unrest, while the total murder rate of 344 was the highest per capita in the city’s history. Last year the figure was 318. In 2017 so far (up to 10 May), there have been 124 murders, outstripping Chicago and putting Baltimore on course for its bloodiest year ever.”

Compare the stark realism of The Wire with the glamourised political shenanigans of House of Cards, or the surrealistic world of Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. Schizophrenic inability to comprehend the reality of the world you inhabit, and conscious denial when faced with “inconvenient truths” are also indications of serious psychological disorder.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those stressed Americans as they struggle to comprehend “the very fate of civilisation.”

“The Limits of Westernization” – A book review

We fortunate denizens of the First World may not think about it too much – but there is a dominant culture on Planet Earth. It’s not all about the English language – but that’s a big part of it. It’s not all about the United States of America – but that’s a big part of it too. Clearly science and technology play a major role, as do economics (Wall Street and the Yankee dollar), oil and coffee beans.

The good people at Columbia University, NY, are to be congratulated for publishing a series of books, “Studies in International and Global History” examining “the transnational and global processes that have shaped the contemporary world.” Their aim, they say, is to “transcend the usual area boundaries and address questions of how history can help us understand contemporary problems, including poverty, inequality, power, political violence and accountability beyond the nation state.”

9780231182027It’s a worthy aim – and if Perin Gürel’s book “The Limits of Westernization – A Cultural History of America in Turkey” is representative of the series, in my opinion, Columbia Press is on to a good thing. Gürel is Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, an American citizen of Turkish parentage. She is balancing the demands of family and motherhood with a promising academic career, and dedicates this, her first book, to her daughter, Marjane Honey: “May you always keep your love of learning and sense of humor entangled.” Amen! Marjane’s mother seems to be managing, so there is hope for the little one.

In her acknowledgements, Gürel pays generous tribute to a host of academics, friends and family members who she modestly accepts as co-authors of her book, and pre-empts possible criticism by admitting that this work “impetuously pushes the limits of inter/multidisciplinarity”. For me, that is undoubtedly its main strength.

Counting its introduction and postscript, the book’s 200 pages contain six chapters. The essence of Gürel’s thesis relates to the dilemma faced by countries that do not, by birthright, belong to the First World. As the Chinese, Native Americans and the Maori of New Zealand learned, isolating yourself from the dominant culture is not an option. They won’t let you. If you are lucky and sufficiently determined, you may try to find a balance between embracing “modernity”, and preserving the integrity of your native culture. “The Limits of Westernization” discusses aspects of this dilemma using the modern Republic of Turkey as a case study.

Gürel is an academic, writing primarily for her academic peers. Nevertheless, she has managed, at the same time, to produce a work that is meaningful and accessible to the non-specialist lay reader – a commendable achievement!

In her introduction, Gürel outlines the key problem facing Turkey and other developing countries: the siren attraction of modernity, epitomised in the contemporary world by the United States of America, and the fear that the overpowering dominance of that attraction will subvert and destroy the indigenous culture. The leaders/governments of those developing countries attempt to control and direct the process of modernisation/Westernization – while simultaneously, a wild Westernization beyond their control is inevitably taking place.

Chapter One looks at the historical narrative, examining the declining years of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of the modern Republic of Turkey. Gürel discusses the way “history” has been manipulated, in Turkey and the United States, to assist the creation of a national identity. In particular, she focuses on a woman, Halide Edip Adıvar, who seems to exemplify the ambivalence implicit in the emergence of the new Republic.

Chapter Two comes at the issue from a literary angle, and deals with the evolution of the novel in Turkish as writers tried to make sense of the rapidly changing social milieu. The key theme is that allegory was an important aspect of earlier Ottoman literature which exponents of the new genre continued to employ in their attempts to shed light on the seismic changes taking place around them.

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Temel and Fadime feature in many Turkish jokes

In the third chapter, Gürel leaps into the culturally ambiguous realm of humour. In what is perhaps the most perceptive and, for a Western reader, the most entertaining and eye-opening chapter, she gives an overview of the way humour has played a part in reflecting and moulding Turkish attitudes to foreigners over the centuries.

The final chapter deals with issues of sexual identity, in particular contrasting the modern imported concepts of gay-ness/queer-ness, with more traditional attitudes towards sexuality and gender roles. I have to confess, the generation gap kicked in here. I know this is a crucial issue for Millennials. If I were writing the book I might have wound up with a chapter on economics – but there you are.

Gürel’s postscript picks up the “Clash of Civilisations” idea popularised by Samuel Huntington. That writer referred to Turkey as a “torn country” – a disparaging term suggesting that Turkey was “fickle” and unable to decide if it wanted to be East or West. Gürel makes the point that “Turkey was never formally colonised”, and consequently had more room to manoeuvre in the process of modernisation. Nevertheless, she notes that, as the “War on Terror” has moved to the forefront of Western politics, Turkey has suffered from a wilful ignorance – a growing belief in Western countries that Turkey cannot be understood, therefore it is useless to try. “That way,” as Shakespeare’s Lear observed, “madness lies.” Full marks to Perin Gürel for showing us another road.

________________________________________________________

The Limits of Westernization – A Cultural History of America in Turkey

Perin E Gürel

Columbia University Press (May 30, 2017)

279 pages

United States’ first female Muslim judge found dead in Hudson River

A groundbreaking black jurist who became the first Muslim woman to serve as a U.S. judge was found dead in New York’s Hudson River on April 12, police said.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a 65-year-old associate judge of New York’s highest court, was found floating off Manhattan’s west side at about 1:45 p.m. EDT (3:45 p.m. GMT), a police spokesman said.

14judge-master768Police pulled Abdus-Salaam’s fully clothed body from the water and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

 Her family identified her and an autopsy would determine the cause of death, the spokesman said.

On Wednesday, after responding to an emergency call, officers with the New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit found the body of Judge Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court, in the Hudson River in Harlem with no apparent signs of trauma and no indications of foul play. The police are treating her death as a suicide, although an investigation is continuing.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday that Judge Abdus-Salaam was a pioneer with an “unshakable moral compass.” He added, “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She became a public defender in Brooklyn after law school, the New York Times said, representing people who could not afford lawyers.

In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.

Well, let’s hear from the USA. The whole world is waiting to hear your story, guys!

“The President of the Universe holds no real power. His sole purpose is to take attention away from where the power truly exists…”

Once again, hats off to Douglas Adams. He saw it all!

“But it was not in any way a coincidence that today, the day of culmination of the project, the great day of unveiling, the day that the Heart of Gold was finally to be introduced to a marvelling Galaxy, was also a great day of culmination for Zaphod Beeblebrox. It was for the sake of this day that he had first decided to run for the Presidency, a decision which had sent waves of astonishment throughout the Imperial Galaxy – Zaphod Beeblebrox? President? Not the Zaphod Beeblebrox? Not the President? Many had seen it as a clinching proof that the whole of known creation had finally gone bananas.

Zaphod grinned and gave the boat an extra kick of speed.

Zaphod Beeblebrox, adventurer, ex-hippy, good timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terribly bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch.

President?
 No one had gone bananas, not in that way at least.
 Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they knew that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was the ideal Presidency fodder.

There was a mood of immense excitement thrilling through all of them. Together and between them they had gone to and beyond the furthest limits of physical laws, restructured the fundamental fabric of matter, strained, twisted and broken the laws of possibility and impossibility, but still the greatest excitement of all seemed to be to meet a man with an orange sash round his neck. (An orange sash was what the
President of the Galaxy traditionally wore.) It might not even have made much difference to them if they’d known exactly how much power the President of the Galaxy actually wielded: none at all. Only six people in the Galaxy knew that the job of the Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.

Zaphod Beeblebrox was amazingly good at his job.”

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Chapter 4

Thoughts on Transparency and Corruption – and who’s telling the story

I want to preface what follows with a clear statement that I love my country. New Zealand is the land of my birth, the land where my children grew up, and I am always proud to acknowledge it as my homeland. I also love my adopted country, Turkey, for other reasons entirely. However, in neither case does that love blind me to the fact that both countries have their weaknesses and problems.

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Martial law in Paris? Over one guy with a machete?

One thing I find difficult to understand, though, is how those two countries are depicted in international media. Turkey is unrelentingly portrayed as a land torn by internal divisions, corruption and violence. New Zealand, on the other hand, despite much evidence to the contrary, still manages to retain a reputation for squeaky cleanliness in nature and government, a South Sea paradise of equality and opportunity.

Well, let’s start with Turkey. An article in Time Magazine in January trumpeted, A Relentless Cycle of Terror Threatens to Tear Turkey Apart”. “The bloodshed,” we read, “has become endemic over the past year and a half, as Kurdish separatist militants and Islamic State jihadists have slaughtered hundreds, and an abortive military coup attempt left more than 200 people dead and sparked a wave of repression by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Another source maintained that “martial law” is in force in Turkey, and the country is under threat of “military intervention” by NATO.

The recently released Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Turkey 75th out of 176 countries, equal with Bulgaria, Kuwait and Tunisia, behind the Solomon Islands and Burkina Faso, but marginally ahead of Brazil, China and India. On that list, New Zealand is ranked 2nd in the world for “perceived” lack of corruption (more on that later); the United States is 18th, and Estonia, 22nd. Well, I don’t want to single out Estonia for unfair attention, but I can’t help observing that, according to the CIA World Factbook, that tiny Baltic state is a growing producer of synthetic drugs; increasingly important transshipment zone for cannabis, cocaine, opiates, and synthetic drugs since joining the European Union and the Schengen Accord; potential money laundering related to organized crime and drug trafficking is a concern, as is possible use of the gambling sector to launder funds; major use of opiates and ecstasy.”

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From Freedom House. Apparently the green countries are free

An organization calling itself Freedom House has also just released a report entitled Freedom in the World 2017. Ranking all countries from 100 (Blissfully free) to 0 (Miserably enslaved), New Zealand again scores at the top end (98). The USA registers a creditable 89, while Turkey’s rating of 38 places it in the seventh group out of ten, in descending order.

OK, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here defending Turkey. Merely, I will observe that, if your intentions are bad, you can blacken pretty much anyone’s name. Paris, I understand, remains on “a high state of terrorist alert” fifteen months after 130 people were killed (slaughtered?) in a series of attacks by ISIL operatives. The state of alert continues and was justified, apparently, when a guy with a machete attempted to “storm” the Louvre Museum, and was shot by police before he could actually harm anyone. Turkey’s state of alert, on the other hand, is labelled “martial law”, and its government is accused of carrying out a “wave of repression”, despite having narrowly avoided overthrow by a military coup in July that left hundreds of civilians dead. I’m not making light of the tragedy in Paris, but come on, people!

When I first came to Istanbul in 1995, platoons of soldiers jogging around the streets carrying automatic weapons were a common feature of urban life. Martial law, high state of alert or whatever, I haven’t seen such sights here for years.

What about New Zealand, then? Well, despite scare-mongering implications by senior government spokespersons, the last hint of terrorism,” according to a recent Bloomberg article, “came a generation ago, when French spies bombed a Greenpeace campaigning ship docked in Auckland harbor in 1985.The focus of that article was New Zealand’s emergence as a popular bolthole for the mega wealthy.” The reason, they suggest, is the country’s location about as distant as you can get from normal terrorist targets without actually leaving planet Earth.

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NZ’s former Prime Minister dining with China’s richest man

 

Maybe those Bloomberg people are right – though if the world is indeed “going to hell in a handbasket”, as Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom reckons, the greed of those “mega wealthy” parasites would be one of the main reasons. But New Zealand may hold an additional attraction besides its isolation and natural beauty. The notorious Panama Papers, leaked to the world’s media in April 2016, brought to light documents hacked from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. Among the revelations:

  • Details from the Panama Papers show how a stream of foreign cash became a torrent flooding into New Zealand trusts in order to avoid tax offshore.
  • Tens of thousands of Panama Papers documents reveal how New Zealand, Niue, The Cook Islands and Samoa have become prime destinations for the rich to hide their financial secrets.
  • Wealthy Latin Americans are using secretive, tax-free New Zealand shelf companies and trusts to help channel funds around the world.
  • Mossack Fonseca actively promoted New Zealand as a good place to do business due to its tax-free status, high levels of confidentiality and legal security.
  • The number of foreign trusts in New Zealand has surged to almost 10,700 this year from less than 2,000 ten years ago, according to Inland Revenue figures.
  • At the centre of the New Zealand operation is Roger Thompson, a former Inland Revenue employee. His accountancy firm – Bentleys, in the heart of Auckland’s business district – is the New Zealand agent for Mossack Fonseca.

Well, I don’t know about Mexican or other Latin American tycoons, but I do know that a controversy has arisen recently over the granting of New Zealand citizenship to “technology billionaire and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel”. The story broke when it was learned that Thiel had bought a 193-hectare waterfront estate on Lake Wanaka, near Queenstown – playground for the wealthy in NZ’s South Island. Apparently Mr Thiel was made a citizen at a private ceremony at the New Zealand consulate in Santa Monica, USA, in August 2011. It seems he failed to meet the usual requirements for citizenship, even admitting he had no intention of living in the country, but allegedly donated $NZ1 million to the relief effort after the devastating 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, and got fast-tracked.

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Countries said to be implicated in the Panama papers in red. What colour is Turkey?

It’s a worthy cause, of course, and you can’t criticise the guy for that – but there does seem to have been a certain amount of shady stuff surrounding the rebuild of NZ’s third largest city. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was established in 2011 to oversee reconstruction, but seems to have been plagued by suggestions of mismanagement until it was disestablished in April 2016, with the city still far from recovered. Panel members for instance, were reportedly being paid $1,000 a day for their services, and staff numbers at one stage ballooned to 357. I don’t know if there’s any connection to Peter Thiel’s generous donation, but three former high-level CERA employees are currently under investigation for having abused their positions as public servants to carry out lucrative private property deals.

Another interesting foreign national awarded NZ citizenship under highly questionable circumstances is a gentleman known variously as Yong Ming Yan, Liu Yang, William Yan and Bill Liu. Despite warnings from the Department of Internal Affairs, evidence that the guy was using fraudulent documents, the vast sums he loses gambling in Auckland’s Skycity casino and his Number 5 ranking on the Chinese Government’s list of most-wanted criminals, the NZ Government is in no hurry to hand him over, and he is said to have recently cut a secret deal with the NZ police after $40 million of his assets had been frozen on suspicion of money-laundering – the charge he is wanted for in China.

In view of the above, you may be surprised to learn that Peter Thiel’s name does not appear on National Business Review’s Rich List for New Zealand. Nor is there a single Chinese name, in spite of the fact that Wang, Lee, Chen and Liu have overtaken Smith as the top four surnames in Auckland. The Neo-con National Government frequently reassures local citizens that the remarkable influx of immigrants from China is totally unrelated to the explosion of prices that has seen Auckland become the 20th most expensive city in the world to buy a house, with an average selling price of $911,800. According to that source, you can buy cheaper in Berlin, Madrid or Dubai!

Those people compiling the Corruptions Perceptions Index made some interesting observations in their report, one of which was “This year’s results highlight the connection between corruption and inequality, which feed off each other to create a vicious circle between corruption, unequal distribution of power in society, and unequal distribution of wealth.” Well, no surprises there, but in the light of that, let’s consider a recent UNICEF report stating that “As many as 28 per cent of New Zealand children – about 295,000 – currently live in poverty.” An article in the New Zealand Herald quoted the mayor of a region in the North Island as saying, “subcultures of poverty” persisted in the area despite years of central Government programmes.

“Our failure to deal with entrenched poverty means we are turning our young people into unskilled dependants and, in some cases, drug addicts, gang members and criminals,” he said.

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Auckland, with the population of Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, Arizona

In the mean time, guys like Yong Ming Yan, or whatever his real name is, can steal money from China (at least $129 million, they claim), launder it in New Zealand, lose $300 million in Auckland’s Skycity casino without jumping off the harbour bridge – and be rewarded with citizenship. What’s next? A knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours? For sure the Skycity owners will be pretty happy with the guy who made such a generous contribution to their $1 billion revenue last year. I can’t see the obvious benefits to New Zealand, though, given that those owners apparently live in Australia, and most of the profits go offshore.

All of which led me to ask, who is compiling the statistics and writing those reports about freedom and corruption in the world? So I checked out Freedom House. According to its own website:

Freedom House was established in 1941 in New York City . . . with the quiet encouragement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to encourage popular support for American involvement in World War II at a time when isolationist sentiments were running high in the United States.

Having been created in response to the threat of one great totalitarian evil, Nazism, Freedom House took up the struggle against the other great twentieth century totalitarian threat, Communism, after the end of World War II. The organization’s leadership rightly believed that the spread of democracy was the best weapon against totalitarian ideologies. Freedom House embraced as its mission the expansion of freedom around the world and the strengthening of human rights and civil liberties here at home. As a result, Freedom House strongly endorsed the post-war Atlantic Alliance, as well as such key policies and institutions as the Marshall Plan and NATO.”

Wikipedia provides further insights. I didn’t check out all the board members, but four names caught my eye: Kenneth Adelman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Donald Rumsfield and Paul Wolfowitz. Mr Adelman was a long-term member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, a “lifelong neo-con activist” who was a big supporter of the US destruction of Iraq, and outspoken proponent of the discredited claim that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Brzezinski, clearly of good Protestant Anglo-Saxon stock, is known, among other achievements, for cosying up to Communist China, overseeing the transition of Iran from an important US ally to a major terrorist threat, and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan to oppose the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld was US Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford, and again under George Dubya Bush. He was a major organiser of US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and supporter of using “enhanced interrogation techniques” on unconvicted prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Wolfowitz is another neo-conservative, former president of the World Bank and once considered by the George Dubya administration as possible head of the CIA.

FREEDOM House? Phooey to them, say I! What value would you place on any report of theirs?

As a conclusion that may or may not be relevant to the present discussion, I read reports of an interview with President Donald Trump the other day. Apparently he had appeared on the Fox News channel where the interviewer was giving him a hard time about his refusal to criticise Russia’s Vladimir Putin, demanding to know how he could lend support to “a killer”. Trump’s quoted response?

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That’s Him saying it, up there on The Mount

“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

I have to tell you, the big DT went up considerably in my estimation. The USA has had a few presidents in recent years making political capital out of their Christian faith. This, however, is the first time I have heard one echo the words of that religion’s eponymous founder quoted in Matthew 7:5.

“You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

CIA apologizes to Turkey over ISIL oil trade allegations

Look at this! Two years ago it was all over the international news media! Turkey is buying oil from ISIS/Daesh! And now the CIA are apologizing for having got it wrong! What an absolute disgrace! How can you come out with such allegations without being 100% sure you’ve got your facts right?

What will we hear next? We’re terribly sorry we supported that coup attempt on 15 July. We genuinely thought we were doing the right thing. We apologise for using the money markets to undermine the Turkish Lira – it was all a perfectly understandable misunderstanding. How dare you, America! Who do you think you are? Playing God to shape the world in your image – when you don’t even know yourselves.

john_kerry_pathological_liar_over_syria“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the CIA have apologized to Turkey over allegations in 2014 about oil trade between Ankara and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting in 2014, Kerry had said they had information that Turkey was importing oil from ISIL, a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that Çavuşoğlu denied this claim at the time.

“We know who gave you this information. Some Arab countries are reacting to us because of disagreements over the Egypt issue. They are conducting a campaign on the issue. This is a very serious accusation,” Çavuşoğlu told Kerry at the time, according to the official.

After requesting the document of the allegations in a number of meetings with Kerry, Çavuşoğlu was given a file that included information on coordinates in Turkey.

The file was then investigated by Turkish intelligence agencies, and Ankara determined that the coordinates belonged to an asphalt worksite of Kilis Municipality, on the border with Syria.

After this information was conveyed to the U.S., Kerry apologized and the CIA filed a written apology to Ankara, said the official.

He also refuted claims that the U.S. provided heavy weapons to the People’s Protection units (YPG) in Syria. “We don’t have such information, and the U.S. has also categorically refused the claims,” said the official.”

And look at the weasel words in that denial! “We don’t have such information.” What, you don’t have information on who you are supplying weapons to?

“We categorically refuse the claims.” Not “deny”, you understand, just “refuse” – whatever that means. And tell me what “categorically” means in this context.

Read more

The epic fail of the American electorate

Well, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Washington Post, but this Petula Dvorak seems to have some useful words for American citizens . . . if they have ears to hear.

Hey, America, do you like this election?

No?

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Vote for a corrupt donkey or an elephant in a china shop – and let’s see what you get

But this is what you created.

You, America, stopped listening to facts you didn’t agree with, stopped reading newspapers or watching broadcasts that didn’t entertain you or confirm what you already believed, stopped trying to understand legislation and policy, stopped bothering to engage in civil discussion or master the basics of civic responsibilities.

You, America, blame Washington for everything that’s wrong with this country, but then you tell pollsters that the federal government isn’t doing enough to help you.

You, America, actually believe that reality television is real. And that politics is a form of reality TV. And so, we have an election that’s more “American Idol” than U.S. Constitution.

Canvassers this week actually found voters who thought they could vote online.

What? There’s not an app for that?

You realize we’re probably just one election cycle away from a Kardashian in office. Because, what the heck? Let’s try something new!

Read the whole article