True honor lies not with China’s rulers but with the man they imprisoned until his death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The Post’s View

True honor lies not with China’s rulers but with the man they imprisoned until his death

 July 13 at 10:18 AM

POLITICAL DISSIDENCE is a great, and beautiful, mystery. For those living under repressive rule, the path of least resistance is, well, not to resist — to accommodate and survive, or, in less honorable but hardly rare cases, to collaborate. And yet, some do choose the more decent and difficult way. Out of idealism, necessity, sheer refusal to submit or some unfathomable combination of all three, they stand up, they speak out, they assume risks.

China’s Liu Xiaobo epitomized the dissident tradition, fighting back relentlessly but peacefully against a regime in his country that epitomized modern-day authoritarianism — until he died of liver cancer on Thursday at age 61.

Mr. Liu was born in 1955, amid the horrific throes of the early People’s Republic, and went on to study literature and philosophy, earning his doctorate in 1988. Moved by the fall of communism in Europe and the limited opening under Deng Xiaoping in China, he joined the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. This conscientious activism earned him a two-year prison sentence. Later he served three years in a labor camp for other purported political offenses. Mr. Liu’s causes were liberty and democracy, which he considered universally applicable, not Western imports for which his native country was somehow “not ready.” His specific demand was that the Chinese Communist authorities accept the need for a constitutional overhaul that would establish elections, rule of law and freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and of religion.

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In December 2008, Mr. Liu joined other intellectuals in publishing Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto modeled on the Charter 77 issued by Czech dissidents 31 years earlier. Notably, the document not only called upon China’s rulers to enable a better future for their people; it also told the truth about the “gargantuan” price China’s people had paid since the 1949 revolution: “Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled,” the charter observed.

Forthrightly addressing China’s past, present and future earned Mr. Liu an 11-year sentence, for “inciting subversion of state power,” which began in late 2009 and which he was still serving, albeit on medical parole at a hospital, when he drew his last breath. His steadfast dissidence also earned Mr. Liu the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, though Beijing refused to let him travel to Oslo for the award ceremony, just as it also refused to let him receive friends and well-wishers in his final days, or to go abroad for medical treatment.

These final indignities were intended to degrade and humiliate, but the attempt was futile and indeed shames those who made it. Shortly before Mr. Liu died, the man ultimately responsible for this and so many other abuses in China, President Xi Jinping, was basking in the glamour and glory of international politics at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. Yet throughout Mr. Xi’s rule, the true locus of honor in China has been any place of confinement occupied by Liu Xiaobo.

Multiple People Have Been Shot Inside Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Per NYPD

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Four to six people were believed to be wounded on Friday in a shooting at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in New York, according to a New York Police Department spokeswoman.

A shooter is dead at the hospital, according to a tweet from NYPD Assistant Commissioner for Communication & Public Information J. Peter Donald.
Police have no confirmed information on the number of people injured or their conditions, said NYPD spokeswoman Annette Shelton.
The shooter is believed to be a former hospital employee, local law enforcement officials told CNN.
The NYPD has advised people to avoid the area.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has been briefed on the unfolding situation, according to a tweet from the mayor’s office.
The Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in the Bronx borough is among the largest providers of outpatient services in New York.

A Hollow Vessel

(A Kab), a hollow vessel, be ye not

For God’s gathering place is Holy

Know ye not that your body is a Holy vessel

It is a Promised Land, a Home to the Spirit of God

Be ye not vacant, nor your Spirit in drought

For a vacant house is open to the Master of death

Clean thy thoughts O man, for the Lord knows them

Thy heart knows thy words before they touch your lips

Please, seek ye purity of heart and of your Soul

There is nothing that we know that was not given before unto us

Kiss the ground and bow thy head O man, walk with eyes wide open

Evil is trying to snare your life and Soul with your every step

Friends we must keep the stoop to our Souls as clean as we can

At the door to our Soul, the Lord Jesus stands knocking

All of our bodies are a Home for a Spirit, either of God or Satan to dwell

If your Soul lacks God, your hollow vessel, all the way to Hell Satan will indwell!

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition And Torture Of Jews

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition

A close-up of one of Carvajal diaries
Image caption Luis de Carvajal used gold leaf from Bibles to decorate the diary

A story of torture, betrayal and persecution is captivating Mexicans almost 500 years after it happened.

The dramatic life and death of the Carvajal family in 16th-Century Mexico is in the spotlight after a decades-long search for a national treasure came to an unexpected happy ending.

Luis de Carvajal “The Young” came to Mexico – then known as New Spain – with his large, well-to-do family during the early colonisation of the Americas.

His family governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple them from power.

The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practising Jew, a crime punishable by death in the times of the Spanish Inquisition

Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith.

Secret record

When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him.

Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico’s underground Jewish community.

An employee holds the 16th-century manuscript by Spanish-born Jew Luis de Carvajal the Younger as it is displayed to the media at the Anthropology museum in Mexico City, Mexico March 23, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionLuis de Carvajal chronicled his fall from governor to being sentenced to death in his tiny handwriting

When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just 30 years old.

Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jewish people, historian Alicia Gojman explains.

His captors forced him to listen as those “heretics”, which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him.

“He tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t cope with having told them about his family and friends, but didn’t manage it,” says Ms Gojman.

We know the excruciating details of Luis de Carvajal’s persecution because he managed to keep secret diaries.

But these were not any old notebooks. They were painstakingly crafted, miniature manuscripts with almost microscopic handwriting in Latin and Spanish.

Some pages were intricately decorated with gold leaf he scraped from pages of a Bible.

Each of the three memoirs was no larger than a present-day iPhone, most likely so he could keep them hidden away under his hat.

An iPhone lies next to the manuscript
Image captionThe small size of the diaries meant they could be hidden easily

Luis de Carvajal wrote about being a young Jew in the New World, about exploring his heritage and practising his beliefs despite the dangers.

But much of the memoirs focus on his final tragic days before he was burned at the stake, with vivid descriptions of him falling to his knees upon hearing his mother’s tortured screams as she was pulled on the rack.

Luis de Carvajal found comfort in poetry, writing verses and prayers to reaffirm his faith in the face of so much cruelty.

Treasured artefacts

Luis de Carvajal’s memoirs are treasured by Mexico’s Jewish population as chronicles of keeping faith despite the ruthlessness of the Spanish Inquisition.

“Children who go to Jewish schools study the Carvajal family history,” says Mauricio Lulka, executive director of the Central Committee for the Jewish Community in Mexico.

A view of the manuscript.
Image captionThe history told in the diaries is taught in Jewish schools in Mexico today

For centuries, the delicate manuscripts were kept in Mexico’s National Archives. They were treasured as being among the first artefacts documenting the arrival of Jews to the Americas and were studied by researchers from around the world.

But in 1932 they vanished, leading to suspicions among the small group of academics who had access to them that one of them may have stolen the precious diaries. After all, they were small enough to hide under a hat.

With no trace of the documents, the search was eventually suspended and the trail went cold.

More than 80 years after their disappearance, the London auction house Swann in 2016 listed “replicas” of the manuscript at an initial price of $1,500 (£1,150).

But a US collector of Judaica, Leonard Milberg, was suspicious.

Why would someone go to the trouble of recreating the minuscule handwriting of Luis de Carvajal’s original to create a replica?

Intrigued, he contacted the Mexican consulate which confirmed that the originals were still missing and sent experts to check the “replicas” out.

Baltazar Brito is the director of the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico and one of the experts sent to assess the documents.

“When I got there, something told me they were originals, I knew it in my heart,” he says.

A man looks at the manuscripts at an exhibition
Image captionBaltazar Brito said he had a “gut feeling” the documents were originals

For Mr Brito, the documents have relevance beyond their time.

“They tell the story of religious intolerance that we shouldn’t let happen again in the world,” he says. “Despite that, it still happens.”

Leonard Milberg felt the manuscripts belonged in Mexico, so the collector made it his mission to deal with all the international agencies involved and covered the costs of sending them back.

Their safe return was welcome news for Mexico’s now thriving Jewish community of about 50,000 people, many of whom were drawn to the country by its modern-day commitment to religious freedom.

After they were briefly exhibited in Mexico City they are now safely stored in a special climate-controlled vault in the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico, as no one wants to risk the miniature manuscripts disappearing for another eight decades.

Related Topics

Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions and America’s Secret Slave System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE ROOT’ NEWS)

Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions and America’s Secret Slave System

Gerald Herbert/APImages

Contrary to popular belief, slavery was never outlawed in the United States.

This statement is not a debatable, half-twisted analysis or a cynical opinion. It is a fact. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution does not outlaw slavery, it only prohibits slavery in certain situations. It is entirely constitutional to turn drug dealers, gangbangers and thugs into slaves. It is perfectly legal for corporations to use legions of slaves to increase their profit and pass them along to shareholders. Even though it seems like the opposite of freedom, America is totally cool it.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Of America

When Hillary Clinton stood at Keene University and called black men “superpredators” in January 1996, it was only a few days after the New Year’s Day release of her book It Takes a Village. In the book, Clinton spoke about her days in the Arkansas governor’s mansion and the longstanding tradition of using convicted felons as free labor.

Clinton could relax and have her dark-skinned dishwashers clean the mayonnaise residue off her finger-sandwich plates because Arkansas is one of the few states that still uses prison labor without compensating the prisoners. She was cool with it, though—except when she was forced to send “back to prison any inmate who broke a rule.” Clinton lovingly referred to the felons as “emotional illiterates,” which is a little demeaning, but apparently not as much as the ones she hadn’t locked up yet, whose powers allowed them to grow into “super predators.”

America has the largest prison population in the world. According to the Washington Post, about half of the 1.6 million people in state or federal prisons are black, even though African-Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the population. “Black Americans were incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5.1 times that of white Americans,” The Guardian reported last year, “and in some states that rate was 10 times or more.” Even when convicted of the same crime as whites, black convicts, according to a 2014 study (pdf), were even more likely to serve time in private prisons.

The untold, secret story of America’s criminal-justice system is that there are large corporations benefiting from free black labor, and under the Trump administration, business is booming.

The Profit in the Policy

In August 2016, former President Barack Obama announced a push by his administration to end the federal use of private prisons. This directive sent private-prison stocks into a downward spiral. One of the first decisions Jeff Sessions made as the current attorney general under President Donald Trump was to reverse this order. The second move by the Sessions-led Department of Justice was to end the Obama administration’s practice of not seeking mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. When the DOJ released the memo rescinding this policy, private-prison stocks soared to an all-time high.

Perhaps Sessions’ decision was based on Republican ideals of “law and order.” Maybe it was because all conservatives believe private companies do a better job at running prisons than the government (data shows they don’t).

However, it might be because Jeff Sessions’ investment portfolio is filled with thousands of dollars in private-prison stock. It’s likely because GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic, two of the nation’s largest private-prison operators, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump’s fundraising efforts.

The New Slaves

There are prisons and companies all across the country who use free or barely-paid prison labor to make a profit. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, these prisoners make between 12 cents and $1.14 an hour. Some of the products and companies that benefit from this slave labor include:

This list doesn’t include the states, like Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, which don’t pay prisoners at all for labor. Places like Angola State Prison are known for the cruel and inhumane treatment of their prisoners, forcing them to live in tents and work for free.

In February, immigration detention center detainees filed suit against GEO, the private-prison operator that made it rain on the Trump campaign. According to the lawsuit, the corporation used as many as 50,000 federal detainees to work for free, or for as little as $1 a day, even threatening some with solitary confinement for refusing to work as a slave.

As harsh as this sounds, there will be more. With the DOJ’s directive to use mandatory minimums and the renewal of the war on drugs, slavery will make a comeback under the Trump administration.

But this is all legal and constitutional. No one argues that these prisoners aren’t slaves—or even that blacks are more likely to endure this indentured servitude. The only argument for this system of slavery is that it is profitable. It remains a stain on the American flag because we live in an oligarchy. The only reason it exists is because without it, the multibillionaires at Honda, Microsoft and McDonald’s might have to live life as regular, run-of-the-mill billionaires. How else is Jeff Sessions supposed to line his pockets with the bloody dollar bills he’s earned off the backs of the oppressed?

Slavery is still legal in the U.S. because there is apparently one thing that has always trumped freedom, equality and justice: White people’s money.

… and to the Republic, for which it stands, with liberty and justice for all.

Michael Harriot is a staff writer at The Root, host of “The Black One” podcast and editor-in-chief of the daily digital magazine NegusWhoRead.

  • Oh, so we’re back to taking a dump on Hillary now? Hillary’s whitesplaining of felon labour in the nineties is not even close to the level of Jeff Sessions essentially deciding that a child with a bag of weed should get the maximum possible sentence. Not the same level. Not even close. Hillary was whitepeopling back in the nineties as a first lady of Arkansas and FLOTUS. But unfortunately most white Dems were back then. Hell, even Obama was slow to right the wrong of felon labour. (August 2016? Seriously? After 8 years? C’mon) As the culture changed, so did Hillary. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions remained in the past, however. Equating Sessions and Hillary is unfair.

  • I remain confused about one thing and I’m hoping someone can clarify. When the 13th Amendment is brought up, are we saying that there’s a problem with using prisoners for labor as a general concept, or is it because of the fact that people are imprisoned unjustly in the first place and it therefore becomes de facto slavery? Meaning that I don’t oppose the death penalty on a general moral principle, I oppose it because there’s no way in our society we can be sure we’re not executing an innocent person. Is it the same here or is there something I’m still missing?

VA Treachery, Fraud, Malpractice And Lies (Part 2 Of 2)

 

Toward the end of part one I was speaking of the Ratings Board for the VA and how crooked they are and have been. In the guidelines for how the VA Ratings Board is supposed to conduct themselves it is stated that if their own Doctors agree with the Vet like their Neurosurgeon did in October of 2012 concerning the MRI I was finally able to get, that the Board would have to side on the side of the Veteran. Those guidelines also say that if the Veteran goes to civilian Doctors and those Doctors in writing agree with the Veteran that it is “reasonable to believe” that an active duty injury “could have caused” the veterans issues that they are trying to get a disability increase on then the Board has to side with the Veteran. As most any and all Veterans who have received negative answers at these Boards of Inquiry know, the VA personnel who are being paid by the VA, they pay no attention to those guidelines. As I said yesterday in part one, poop flows downhill, you know that these actions have to be being dictated to them from higher up in the VA chain of command. Otherwise why would these underlings be going against the very guidelines that they are told to uphold?

 

From about August of 1984 up until the heart attack I had while living in Ocala Fl in March of 1999 I suffered with not only my legs, hips and low pack being in constant pain, I suffered horribly with chest, neck, left shoulder and hand pain from the un-diagnosed heart pains. In 1999 I was working on a dedicated account for J B Hunt and I had another heart attack while at a company safety meeting. I was 42 at the time and my boss didn’t figure it was something serious so he pointed me in the direction of the hospital and I drove myself there. It was a Saturday morning and it was flu season and the ER was full of Mom’s and kids. When I was able to finally get up the ramp and into the building I went to the check in window, told them what was going wrong with me, they thought that I was lying just trying to get in front of the line. They did check my blood pressure though and as normal it was about 110/70.They had me sit in the waiting room for 5 1/2 hours before they finally called my name. When they finally did an EKG they freaked out because of them seeing the heart attacks. 3 days later they did a 4 way by-pass as all my arteries were 100% closed. At that time it seems that even the heart Doctors were unaware that the body in attempts to save itself will grow small veins around the blockages and into the heart. Trouble is that by blood would close these just about as fast as the new ones could grow. Literally your body is in a race against itself as it tries to keep some blood going to the heart. This was the first time that I ever got a hospital to do an EKG, ever. Over a span of 14 1/2 yrs I was never able to get a VA Doctor to do that simple 30 second test. How many yrs of my life did their ignorance, arrogance, and laziness shave off of my life span? This also doesn’t include the fact that during this time I had no quality of life at all. I couldn’t play any kind of games with my kids and my whole life revolved around working (being a long haul truck driver) and when I wasn’t working about the only thing I ever did was to sleep.

 

After my insurance ran out three months after the heart operation I had to rely on the VA system for my meds because I had no other way to afford them. The company I was working for would not let me come back to work so I did the only thing I could do, I had to lie my way into jobs with small companies or starve and go homeless. In January of 2002 I was able to get on with a company in Knoxville Tn that I stayed with until January of 2004 when my health made it impossible to do my job, so I had to quit. As was very normal with the VA system they change who they get their medications with quite often so even if you are getting the same medication from one supplier for a few months the VA would then change and you would get the same medication (supposedly) but the pill would look totally different. It also was and sometimes still is common to get a medication bottle that just says the name of it and to take it once or twice a day or to take at bed time or before breakfast, but that would be all that was on the bottle. About the first of January 2004 I got one such bottle that simply said take it twice a day but not what it was supposed to be for, this was not uncommon. I tended to follow what the bottles said so I started taking it two times a day, about twelve hours apart. Within a few weeks I was feeling so wore out I could hardly function at all. I had to quit my job because I thought I must be having trouble with my heart again. In mid February 04 I was able to get a heart-cath done through the VA in Johnson City (Mountain Home) Tn. When these are done a Cardiologist always has to be present, this day I had a young Doctor named Israel Garcia as the supervisor. I remember the name because of what he did. Before the test he was looking over the medications that I was on and he came across one that he said I did not need to be taking because it is only used if the patient had a history of strokes and I had not had one. Thirteen days after he took me off the med I had a stroke, the very next day they put me back on it, I’m still on it. I have never been mad at the man because all people make mistakes, I don’t believe he meant to hurt me on purpose, I forgive him. Yet because of this stroke I was not able to work until April of 2009, this VA doctors mistake cost me a little over five years of work income for my family.

 

The stroke hit my left side which is my dominate side and I still feel some of the effects to this day, but not major, I’m used to it. Reality was that the medication I had been taking was a muscle relaxer so my taking it every twelve hours just about stopped my heart, as you know, the heart is a muscle. Now I was in a situation where I could not work at all and my family lost our home and we had to move into a ‘state apartment’. I was unemployed until I decided to lie my way into another driving job in April of 2009. I had to lie to get employment because the only job that I could do that I knew how to do was to drive a truck and no company would have hired me if they knew that I was ill. I felt as a husband and a dad I had to try to get our family out of the base living conditions we were living in, just barely surviving. My health for many years had mandated that the only work I could do was if I was sitting down and not lifting anything, that is very limiting in the employment spectrum. The left side of my face is still numb and I still have a little bit of trouble with objects coming quickly from my left to my right. Also I could only be on my feet for about ten minutes at the most before the pain in my low back and legs would force me to sit down, now day’s I am lucky if I can get 2-5 minutes before the pain puts me down and I am forced to use the power wheelchair the VA gave me back in 2007 all of the time.

 

I was able to work from April of 2009 until June of 2013 when I simply had used up every ounce of pain fighting ability that I could muster. In 2007 I had another heart-cath done in Johnson City at the VA and it showed that all of my grafts from the 1999 operation were 100% closed. Yet they refused to even try to do a balloon surgery to see if any of those grafts could be opened because in their words “that operation would probably kill me”. Folks, I know I am not the wisest person in the world but I have a question for you. When all of a persons arteries and grafts are totally closed and the only blood getting to the heart keeping you alive are those little veins I told you about earlier that grow around the blockages in a race for time, what does a person have to lose? You are going to die from this condition guaranteed! Yet the VA refused to do anything except give me more medications.

 

As I told you earlier I went back to work in April of 2009 for a small local company. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would simply work as long as I could expecting that one day I would simply go to sleep in a truck-stop somewhere and not wake up. I felt that the least I could do before I died was to give my family as much help financially as possible. Because I had been out of work for so long I didn’t even have the credits with social security to be able to leave them with even that check so I had to try to work as long as I could hoping I could work long enough to get those credits. Social Security and VA disability pensions are a poor mans life insurance for their families they leave behind. Because of the VA’s methods of operation I was going to not be able to leave anything for my family, this is why I had to try going back to work even though I knew I shouldn’t do it.

 

In September of 2011 I was in Atlanta having a trailer washed out for a customer and was leaning up against the outside wall of the business, it was a hot day and they had the big outside door propped open beside me. When they finished the trailer washout I stepped away from the wall and blacked out. I fell face first into the big metal hinges of that door busting my forehead open about three or four inches. The workers revived me and to make a long story shorter, I was taken unconscious in an ambulance to the nearest hospital which turned out to be less that a half mile away. The first three days I was there I was unconscious and remember nothing of it. Once I was awake the heart Doctors told me that when I got to the ER my numbers were 50/20 and dropping fast and that both of my kidneys had completely shut down, they told me that I would have been dead in another five to ten minutes if I hadn’t gotten there when I did. I was also told that the VA had me on four times too much blood pressure medicine and that it was what had made me black out. Once again I was minutes away from the VA killing me. While I was out on that third day they did a heart-cath on me, it was after that when I woke up. There were two heart Doctors talking with me about the condition of my blood flow. I told them what the VA Doctors had told me about why they couldn’t/wouldn’t try to balloon them open, I remember they just looked at each other and wagged their heads in disgust. Within the hour they had me in surgery where they were able to balloon open two of the grafts from the 1999 surgery and they put stints in them at that time. This is why I am still alive today was because of the quality of the Doctors at the Gwinnett Medical Center just outside of Atlanta.

 

These Georgia Doctors gave me a new med list to give to the VA Doctors and to no surprise they got upset about the new list. One of the meds is a very expensive one for the heart that is actually required by law for them to give to me because of my particular condition. The condition being when a person has no arteries open and all the person has for blood flow are stints in old grafts they must give you this medication. It took them twelve months before they agreed to do it and then it was only after a new VA Doctor I had been assigned went up the chain of command to insist they do it. I am not saying that all people or all Doctors at the VA’s around the country are worthless or evil, but many are and it seems that the chain of command above the Doctors are in many cases just plain evil. I know that the VA system goes through a huge amount of Doctors, it seems like every time you go to one of their clinics you have been assigned yet another new Doctor. Could it be that in many cases when a good Doctor gets a job with them that they see how crooked that system is and they decide to find somewhere else to work?

 

I am going to finish with one last kick in the privates that they are very guilty of, and that is they refuse to pay their own bills so you the patient ends up with all their medical bills laid against your credit. By their own rules they must pay those medical bills I have in Georgia, it has been almost five years now and they have paid nothing. By their own rules in a life or death emergency and you could not get to the nearest VA Hospital then the VA will pay that bill. I have been told several times that they believe that I could have made it to the VA in Atlanta so they have steadfastly refused to pay the $70,000 dollars in medical bills I have there. Folks, what part of arrived unconscious in an ambulance from a half mile away, five minutes from death do these people not understand? You have to believe that they can’t be that stupid so the other alternative seems to be is that they are that crooked, at least it seems that way to me. Last August my wife and I bought a house in Kentucky just outside of Lexington. We chose here because it is one of only two VA Hospitals I have ever heard good things about and in this twelve months we have been here I have been an inpatient twice already and they do actually seem to give a damn here unlike the other hospitals of theirs I have had experience with. But now about that $70,000 dollars on my credit that I can’t get off. When we bought the house I was forced to use the VA Loan program because I couldn’t get anyone else to finance us, not even the Credit Union that we have banked at for many years. Even through this loan, because my credit score was only 668 because of those medical bills our rate of interest is much higher than it should have to be, meaning that every month we have to pay more out-of-pocket of our set incomes for the house payment, leaving less for life’s other expenses. Okay, I’m done gripping about them, I know this was a long story folks, but I guarantee you this, everything I have said to you is true. As I said early on, I do not believe that anyone at the VA has a personal vendetta against me, I am just one of millions of service connected disabled Veterans who have been and are being treated like this. What is your opinion of the VA now?

 

 

 

 

The Cycle Of Male On Male Rape Within The Family: The Cycle Possibilities

A couple of evenings ago my Wife said something to me that startled me into a line of thought where my mind had never gone before. There will always be families and especially these days, mixed families, where the boys gotta prove who is the Alpha, I was thinking of who could whup whom. But I am going to put a more sinister thought into your head. This sounds like a very badly written Class B Movie Script on an X Rated piece of life called reality. It is a film that should not be made and it is a reality of millions of young boys I fear. It is not just Priests or the ‘odd’ Uncle who do these sickening issues.

 

Lets start this off with a young boy whose Dad had just died. While the boy is still grieving Mom meets and moves in with this wonderful man, you now have a step-dad. Mom’s new man left after a few years, when he found out she was pregnant. Damage done was this former step-dad had done things to the boy he shouldn’t have done. Now this man’s son is in your home with you every day so you do the same humiliating disgusting things to him that his Dad had done to him. The male ego being shattered at such a young age it seems that the cycle just goes on and an on.

 

First: who should we blame? To me it seems obvious, the new ‘step-dad’, right? The horrible things he did to his ‘step-son’, his step-son then did to his new half-brother. Did this child break this chain of abuse, or did he fall victim to this horrible sin himself? That issue is being played out in homes all over the world each and every day. There is another issue or angle that I would like you to consider. The new step-dad, what chances do you think there is that that man, when he was just a boy, his daddy did these same horrible things to him, destroying his faith in his manly-hood? There is an old Gospel Song called ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’, I pray that ‘this cycle’ could be destroyed soon, but I have little faith in humanity to do that which is good. I went with the ‘male’ gender simply because that is what I am but another writer whom is female could write the exact same philosophy just in reverse of the male angle, that is something that I would totally expect to be true. Folks, this sickness has got to stop, in any Country that calls itself Righteous these ‘shadows’ have got to get addressed or it leaves all our belts and shoe strings dangling waiting for one of the Demons to jump up through the fog, and grab ya.

 

 

 

Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia

The White House announcement that US President Donald Trump will carry out his first foreign visit and that Saudi Arabia will be a major stop is a message on a major shift in his foreign policy priorities.

Since Obama’s term came to an end in 2016, relations with Saudi Arabia have changed. During Obama’s last visit to Riyadh, ties were at their lowest in more than half a century. With Trump in power, we are witnessing changes in all aspects: Syria, Iran, Yemen and bilateral relations.

The televised interview of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense clarified the stances from these issues that are expected to be part of the discussions in Riyadh.

Regarding Syria, Riyadh eased its stance to reach a political solution that satisfies Russia and doesn’t grant the regime and its allies a free hand. In the Astana talks, there were two prime developments – approval to differentiate national factions from terrorists and readiness to establish safe zones, two of Trump’s pledges while campaigning for the presidency.

On the Yemeni war, the deputy crown prince was persuasive when he boldly admitted that the rush in liberating Sana’a and other cities might cause huge losses on both sides of the conflict.

“Time is in our favor and we are not in a rush. We can liberate it in two days with a costly human price or liberate it slowly with fewer losses,” he said.

Iran is a mutual huge concern for Riyadh and the US as well as other governments in the region. The deputy crown prince specified the Saudi government’s vision and its current policy. He said the history of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran leaves no doubt that Tehran has been targeting it even in times of rapprochement.

He added that the kingdom will defend its existence and will not remain in a state of defense for long. Trump has already delivered clear messages against the policies of the Tehran regime in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Gulf waters.

Talks on arranging regional relations meant mainly Egypt. In the televised interview, the deputy crown prince hinted to the Muslim Brotherhood’s media of standing behind growing Saudi-Egyptian differences. His statement put an end to speculations about the relations with Cairo, depicting them as a passing summer cloud.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not a problem restricted to one country. This is a political group using religion as a means to reach power and is similar to communism which puts it on collision course with the rest of the regimes in the region.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a unified group from Gulf, Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian and other nationalities waging collective wars. The group tried to besiege the government in Egypt through the media and by provoking the Egyptians against it as well as urging the region’s people to cut ties with it.

Though supported by dozens of TV channels, websites and social media, the group failed to achieve its objectives. The Egyptian government is now stronger than when Mohamed Morsi’s government was ousted more than three years ago.

The Muslim Brotherhood project in Egypt has failed. Its losses grew when Trump reversed the foreign policy of Obama who had boycotted the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Coexistence In The Middle-East (And Every Where else On Earth): Or Self Inflected Armageddon?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Coexistence Is the Last Chance to Avoid the Precipice

Last week, Egypt’s Coptic Christians cancelled Easter celebrations in mourning for those who were killed in two separate terrorist explosions targeting churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

In Iraq too, new maps are being drawn by sectarianism, while minorities shrink and ethno-religious fabric change under the violence perpetrated by Iran on one side and ISIS on another.

Likewise, we openly witness how shredded Syria has become, and under the eyes of the international community, it is well on the road of partition and population exchange– finally, the less said the better it is when the subject matter is ongoing events in occupied Palestinian territories.

Given this painful regional climate, the ongoing arguments about Lebanon’s future electoral system become a travesty, not much different from the ‘crowded’ field of Iran’s presidential elections where neither votes nor abundance of candidates mean a thing against what the Supreme Leader utters and the elitist Revolutionary Gaurd the (IRGC) dictates.

In Lebanon, the Middle East’s ‘democratic’ soft belly, the Lebanese’ daily bread and butter is endless and absurd arguments and counter-arguments about what the most appropriate electoral system should look like in upcoming parliamentary elections. This is not actually new. Moreover, true intentions behind what is going on have nothing to do with what is being said, whether the intention is escalation or hypocrisy.

The real problem is that the Lebanese are acutely divided on several basic issues regarding conditions of coexistence, political representation and even the meaning of democracy.

For a start, one must ask oneself whether the next elections – regardless of what system is adopted – are going to produce any change in the status quo? Is there any common Lebanese vision as to what the country’s identity is among the ostensible ‘allies’, let alone political adversaries and those dependent on foreign backing and sectarian hegemony?

Then, one may also ask – given defective mechanisms of governance – would ‘state institutions’ still be relevant and meaningful? Would any electoral law be effective in the light of accelerating disproportionate sectarian demographics, and the fact that one large religious sect enjoys a monopoly of military might outside the state’s umbrella, while still sharing what is underneath that umbrella?

The other day in his Easter sermon the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Ra’i said “the (Lebanese) Christians are nobody’s bullied weaklings, but are rather indispensable (!)…”. This is tough talk indeed, but it too is not new.

From what is widely known about Cardinal Ra’i, even before assuming the Patriarchate, is that he is highly interested in politics, and that political views are as candid as they are decisive. On Syria, in particular, he has been among the first to warn the West against and dissuade its leaders from supporting the Syrian uprising; when he claimed during his visits – beginning with France – that any regime that may replace Bashar Al-Assad’s may be worse, and thus it would better to keep him in power.

The same path has been followed by current Lebanese president Michel Aoun, who was strongly backed by Hezbollah, to the extent that the latter forced a political vacuum on Lebanon lasting for over two years.

Of course, Hezbollah, in the meantime, had been imposing its hegemony over Lebanon, fighting for Al-Assad in Syria, and training the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as part of Iran’s project of regional dominance. In promoting this ‘project’ globally, but particularly in the West, Iran has given it the themes of ‘fighting terrorism’ – meaning ‘Sunni Muslim terrorism’- and ‘protection of minorities’ within the framework of a tactical ‘coalition of the minorities’.

A few days ago Aoun said during an interview that “the aim behind what is taking place in the Orient is to empty it of Christians and partition the region into several states”. Again, this is not something new, as it used to be said on the murder and kidnapping road blocks during the dark days of the Lebanese War between 1975 and 1990. Those days the fears of uprooting were common and widespread; reaching the climax within the Christian community with rumors that the mission of American diplomat Dean Brown was to evacuate Lebanon’s Christians to Canada, and within the Druze community during ‘the Mountain War’ (1983-1984) that they would be expelled to southern Syria.

However, Aoun, as it seems, has not been quite aware of who was applying the final touches on population exchange, and drawing the map for the ‘future’ states he has been warning against. He has simply ignored the full picture, turning instead, to repeat old talk in order to justify temporary interests that are harmful if not fatal to minorities, rather than being beneficial and protective.

In this context, come the ‘try-to-be-smart’ attempts to impose a new electoral law in Lebanon as a means of blackmail, as if the country’s sectarian ‘tribal chieftains’ are naïve or debutants in the arena of sectarian politics. The latest has come from Gebran Bassil, the foreign minister and President Aoun’s son-in-law, when he expressed his “willingness to entertain the idea of a Senate, on the condition that it is headed by a Christian!”. This pre-condition was quickly rejected by the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri on the basis that the presidency of a Senate, as approved in “Taif Agreement” – which is now part of Lebanon’s Constitution – was allocated to the Druze; and thus, what Bassil had suggested was unconstitutional.

It is worth mentioning here that all suggestions regarding the future electoral law have ignored the issue of a Senate. It was has also been obvious that another item in the “Taif Agreement” was being intentionally ignored too, which is adopting ‘Administrative De-Centralization’.

However, if some Lebanese parties feel uncomfortable with the idea of ‘De-Centralization’, more so as both Iraq and Syria seem to be on their way to actual partition, it is not possible anymore to separate Lebanon’s politics from its demographics.

The latter are now being affected by radical and everlasting demographic changes occurring across the country’s disintegrating eastern borders with Syria. These include what is being reported – without being refuted – about widespread settlement and naturalization activities in Damascus and its countryside. Furthermore, once the population exchange between Shi’ite ‘pockets’ of northern Syria and the Sunni majority population of the Barada River valley is completed, the new sectarian and demographic fabric of Damascus and its countryside would gain a strategic depth and merge with a similar fabric in eastern Lebanon.

This is a danger that Lebanese Christians, indeed, all Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and all Arabs, must be aware of and sincere about. The cost of ignoring facts on the ground is tragic, as blood begets blood, exclusion justifies exclusion, and marginalization undermines coexistence.

Nation-building is impossible in the absence of a free will to live together. It is impossible in a climate of lies, while those who think they are smart gamble on shifting regional and global balances of power.

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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China Is Getting Fed Up With North Korea’s Little Fat Boy With The Bad Haircut

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) China may be getting fed up with continued nuclear bluster from long-time ally North Korea and tilting toward the United States.

A day after North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister said Pyongyang would test missiles weekly and use nuclear weapons if threatened, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activities.
In the same press conference, spokesman Lu Kang praised recent US statements on the North Korean issue.
“American officials did make some positive and constructive remarks… such as using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the (Korean) Peninsula nuclear issue. This represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to,” Lu said.

Watch: N. Korea performance shows US in flames

 Watch: N. Korea performance shows US in flames

That direction was not evident from North Korean leadership, as state-run TV highlighted a propaganda video showing missile strikes leaving the US in flames.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol ratcheted up the rhetoric in an interview with the BBC.
“If the United States is reckless enough to use military means, it would mean from that very day an all-out war,” Han said.
Statements of that vein do not help the situation, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Trump: North Korea pushed off by past presidents

 Trump: North Korea pushed off by past presidents

“China firmly opposes any words or actions that would escalate rivalry and tension,” Lu said.
US President Donald Trump has been pressing China to rein in North Korea, suggesting that doing so could ease US-China relations over trade and other issues.
Experts point out that China also wants to prevent North Korea from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power — and certainly wants to prevent a war on its southern border that could send millions of refugees flooding into China and potentially risk bringing a US military presence to China’s borders.

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