Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Iraq War Veteran, Outspoken War Critic Tomas Young Dead at 34

00 Tomas Young. Ground Zero. 2008. 11.11.14

Tomas Young at Ground Zero in 2008

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Iraq War veteran and outspoken Iraq war critic Tomas Young died at the age of 34. Democracy Now! reported his death Monday, the eve of Veterans Day. Young enlisted in the Army following the 9/11 attacks, volunteering to go to Afghanistan. He went to Iraq, and a bullet left him paralysed on the fifth day of his deployment. In 2008, he explained, “many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardised by the administration and sent into the wrong country”. Young was the subject of the award-wining documentary Body of War by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro. In 2013, Young wrote The Last Letter: A Message to George W Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran. He wrote:

You may evade justice, but in our eyes, you’re each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder, and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans… my fellow veterans… whose future you stole.

Asked by Democracy Now! last year how he’d want to be remembered, he said, “That I fought as hard as I could to keep young men and women away from military service. I fought as hard as I could to keep another me from coming back to Iraq”.

11 November 2014

Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/11/iraq-war-veteran-outspoken-war-critic-tomas-young-dead-34

Editor:

What a day for this poor guy to pass on. However… it’s appropriate. I hate the wars that America started… I love the vets. The vets aren’t to blame for the warmongering pols (most of whom are cowards who refused to serve!). The vets didn’t start the aggressions to enrich the greedy oligarch businessmen. The vets didn’t decide to drone-strike civilians. Note well that the sorts who operate the drones from safe locations aren’t like the real vets who were in harm’s way. Do ya wanna meet folks who hate war and don’t want it at almost any price? Meet a bunch of real combat vets! Most of the loudmouth VFW sorts are rear-area sludge… REMFs (Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers… like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina). I seem to notice that folks who actually faced bullets not only don’t want to do so again, they don’t want to see anyone else do it either. Just sayin’…

Light a candle for Tomas. Memory Eternal, bro…

Вечная ему память

BMD

 

Court Reserves Decision in Ex-Archbishop’s Sex Assault Appeal

01 Canadian gavel

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Manitoba’s Court of Appeal reserved its decision on an appeal by Seraphim Kenneth Storheim, a former archbishop convicted of sexually assaulting an altar boy in the 1980s. On Friday morning, Storheim’s lawyer, Jeff Gindin, appeared before the court with photographs that he claims call a key witness’s testimony into question. Gindin said that the photographs show that the witness was not with Storheim in 1985, but in 1986. However, the appeal court justices questioned the validity of the photos… whether they show the boy in question and whether they were, in fact, taken in 1986. They pointed up that the witness who presented the photos to Gindin hasn’t signed an affidavit. The justices also questioned why the witness didn’t come forward during the trial. The judges said that the new evidence isn’t particularly “material”. The Crown argued that the photos are unverified, and even if they were admissible, they wouldn’t be enough to overturn the conviction. Prosecutors told the court that the only affidavit signed regarding new information was by an administrative assistant who was unable to verify the identity of the boy depicted in the photographs. Gindin argued that there wasn’t a “fair analysis of evidence” during the trial. The hearing continued until about 13.30, with the justices reserving their decision on the matter.

In January, a Manitoba court found Storheim guilty of sexual assault involving one of two brothers, who claim that the then-priest assaulted them when they were pre-teens. The brothers, who are now in their 30s, testified during the trial that they lived with Storheim briefly, on separate occasions, when they worked as altar boys in 1985.

31 October 2014

Katie Nicholson

CBC

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/court-reserves-decision-in-ex-archbishop-s-sex-assault-appeal-1.2819696

Editor:

Gindin is a weaselly sack o’ shit who based his defence on shredding the cred of the victims. That’s why many victims don’t come forward… the lawyer for the defence clobbers ‘em in the court without mercy and all the goodthinkers trash them in all sorts of public venues, especially, the internet. It’s a wonder that anyone comes forward at all… I’d say that the loud claques around clergy are the worst… they show such unbridled mean and nasty behaviour that one does doubt the reality of Christianity at times. I don’t know who’s worse… the clergy claques or the pompous phonies such as Freddy M-G and Rod Dreher. Trust me… it does makes me think at times that religion is just a grand n’ glorious mind-fuck, then, we die, for good-and-all. It doesn’t last… but I’ll say that the best argument against Christianity… is so-called “Christians”. Do think on it…

BMD

The New York Times Doesn’t Want You to Understand this Vladimir Putin Speech

00 Uncle Sam. Change Lawless America. 15.02.14______________________________

Give me a sec to count. In my lifetime, the USSR and latterly the Russian Federation had nine leaders. Stalin’s death elevated Malenkov, and then Khrushchyov, and the banishing of Khrushchyov led to Brezhnev. Then, came a pair of forgettables, then, Gorbachyov, and on to the ever-inebriated Yeltsin (whom one wants dearly to forget). For 15 years, counting the D A Medvedev interval, V V Putin held the wheel of the Russian bus. Of all these figures the West only vilified Stalin, and that only in his post-“Uncle Joe” years, to the extent of the current Russian leader. The question is obvious and I hope not too complicated… why?

There are always plenty of answers floating around. I take almost all of them to lie somewhere between misguided and malevolent by intent, but I’ll get to this in a minute. In as few words as I can manage, here’s my thought… Putin fell drastically afoul of Washington… his war is with Washington more than the Europeans… because those in deep slumber don’t like being awakened. It’s an irresistible time to consider this problem for two reasons. Firstly, in history, two sure signs of imperial decline are deafness and blindness in the imperial capital, and as of the past year or so Washington exhibits seriously deteriorating symptoms. The wilful refusal of our foreign policy cliques to look squarely at our world and listen to those in it is getting dangerous.

Secondly, Putin just delivered a speech every American deserves to hear and consider. Few will have done so for the simple reason that our media declined to tell you about the Russian leader’s presentation to an annual gathering of leaders and thinkers called the Valdai International Discussion Club, a Davos variant. Here’s the Kremlin transcript, and now readers have two things to decide… what they think of the speech and what they think of the American media for not reporting it. The theme at Valdai this year was “The World Order: NewRules, or a Game Without Rules”. With the Ukrainian crisis bumbling along toward a conclusion (or not) and the horrifically pointless mess America made of the Middle East now worsens daily, the either/or title is just about right… we can’t continue on in the post-Cold War era as we have until now.

A Russian commentator named Dmitri Orlov, whom I don’t know of, said of Putin’s contribution, “This is probably the most important political speech since Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech of 5 March 1946”. I have no archive of political speeches and can’t cast a vote, but Putin’s remarks certainly have an amplitude that makes ignoring them unforgivable. Paying-attention readers can compare them with the speech that Putin gave as the Crimea rejoined Russia last March. Churchillian or no, this is once again big stuff. Putin began, “Let me say I‘ll speak directly and frankly, some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we don’t speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then, there’s little point in even meeting in this way. We need to be direct and blunt today not to trade barbs, but to attempt to get to the bottom of what’s actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us”. Right away, clear language, shorn of obfuscation. No wonder no one from Washington of any rank attended this talkfest. Plain speaking is no longer in the American repertoire. Guess what else Putin marshalled… historical reference. Out, out, out of the question for the American policy cliques.

I was tempted to read this speech as a post-mortem of the Ukrainian crisis, a looking back. There’s something to this, but not overmuch. Putin has a point to make about the Ukraine and the Crimea, “We didn’t start this”. In reply to a question from Dominique de Villepin, a former French premier, Putin noted, “I believe Dominique referred to the Ukrainian crisis as the reason for the deterioration in international relations. Naturally, this crisis is a cause, but this isn’t the principal cause. The crisis in the Ukraine is itself a result of an imbalance in international relations”. Not Kosovo, not Iraq, not Libya, not Syria, not the Ukraine… one can best understand them less as causes than as symptoms. These are America’s “follies”, as Putin called them, Washington’s “theory of controlled chaos” at work. In essence… the speech is long, carefully phrased, and difficult to summarise… Putin argues that the New World Order the Bush I administration declared as the USSR collapsed was a fundamental misreading of the moment. It’s now a 20-odd-year failure that hacks such as Tom Friedman compulsively term the successful spread of neoliberalism in the face of abundant evidence otherwise.

Putin asserted, “A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts, it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states, we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy, there’s support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals”. Such is Putin’s take on how we got here. His view of where we have to go now is yet more compelling. Our systems of global security are more or less destroyed… in Putin’s words, “weakened, fragmented, and deformed”. In the face of this reality, multipolar coöperation in the service of substantial reconstruction agreements, which honour the interests of all sides, is mandatory. Putin continued, “Given the global situation, it’s time to start agreeing on fundamental things. What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that’d allow for stability and security, whilst encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It’s unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We’d need extensive work with participation by a wdide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours. However, it’s obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms”.

It‘s essential to read this as an attack on the USA… it is one. However, there’s a follow-on recognition that one shouldn’t miss… this isn’t the speech of some kind of nostalgic empire builder… Putin dismisses the charge persuasively… but of a man genuinely afraid that the planet is close to tipping into some version of primitive disorder. Absent less-adversarial international relations, we reach a moment of immense peril. Before I explain my view of the Putin presentation, I urge readers to try a simple exercise. In your mind’s eye, strip all names and identifiers out of the webpage where you read the speech. Read the words for the words alone. Then, make up your minds as to the wisdom or otherwise of the thinking. OK… now, I feel a little safer relating my perspective.

Putin’s speech is so many magnitudes more sensible and credible than anything that we’ve heard from Washington in who can say how long that one must either laugh or do the other thing. To me, Putin has always seemed to honour history, and here, he speaks with its authority. This is where the world is now, these mistakes made it this way, and this is how we can correct them. Since it‘s “all oars in the water”, wake from your slumber, Americans. This is precisely what Washington can’t bear the thought of. It must ignore or actively extinguish any idea of global history that suggests a diminution of American power and prerogative. As to the man who delivered these remarks, there ought to have been no need for me to propose the above experiment… reading the speech whilst forgetting the speaker. Nevertheless, this is where America’s childish undignified name-calling and demonisation, as awful as anything in The Lord of the Flies, lands us.

“What about Putin’s human rights record? What about the oligarchs? What about the fervent nationalism (Russian nationalism always being fervent when described by American hacks)? What about “autocracy? What about Putin’s Christian fundamentalism? What about the Russian press, and the judges, the well-meaning NGOs taking American funding and …?” These aren’t bad questions. They aren’t simply the germane questions, and Russians could best answer them in any case. The question for us is, “What are dissenters from the orthodoxy to do as they recognise that Putin stands for the right of non-Western nations to be non-Western, to escape imitation, to create and solve their problems themselves?” Putin insists this right must be part of a truly new world order… that is what singles him out in the long list of Russia’s postwar leaders. Don’t ask why a leader as evil as Beelzebub by our reckoning enjoys an approval rating of nearly 90 percent. I just told you why.

Even the Financial Times correspondent in Sochi, where the Valdai gathering was held, acknowledged the significance of Putin’s presentation. Neil Buckley wrote, “The speech was one of Mr Putin’s most important foreign policy statements since he surprised the West in München in 2007 by accusing the USA of ‘overstepping its boundaries in every way’ and creating new dividing lines in Europe”. Well done, Neil Buckley. I’d say that your coverage was standout except that almost no one else covered it, so cheap thrills thus. On our side of the pond, recognition is due Alex Jones, the slightly paranoid conspiracy theorist, who at least put the speech and a commentary across to Americans by reprinting the Dmitri Orlov item cited above. The New York Times coverage was notable, as in being notably bad, even by its poor standards of objectivity. So let’s end noting it, briefly. The news piece was brief, buried, and written by Neil MacFarquhar, a correspondent in the Moscow bureau whose habit of slanting coverage has been a topic in this space previously. MacFarquhar missed the point entirely… he had to, as the Times can hardly be expected to render an account that actually got to what Putin said and meant.

The taker of the cake for me, however, was an opinion piece by Serge Schmemann. For the record, I must state that I was briefly a colleague of Schmemann’s during the International Herald Tribune’s final years. Read it… you’ll see a classic case of Times-style innuendo and the use of language as instruction in what to think. Moreover, you‘ll understand, if you don’t already, why I think American responses to Putin can fairly be called childish. Putin’s appearance at Sochi was “his chance to sound off on a global stage”, we have to know in the first sentence, insinuating him into the tin-pot dictator file. Then, Schmemann inserted a quotation from the speech… “‘It looks like the so-called ‘winners’ of the Cold War are determined to have it all and reshape the world into a place that could better serve their interests alone’”. This wasn’t simply an observation, we must understand… it was “one notable riff”. Does anyone have any idea what a notable riff would be in this case?

Here is Schmemann on the Ukrainian passages of the presentation… “In Mr Putin’s version of the Ukrainian crisis, the USA was the instigator of the protests in Kiev that led to a ‘coup’ against President Viktor Yanukovich and the subsequent fighting. One American participant told Mr Putin she was hard put to recognise her country as the one he was describing”. Well, confused American participant, you make an interesting point. Washington has created a version of events in the Ukraine that amounts to a parallel reality, and people such as Schmemann receive a salary to perpetuate it. If it’s of any help… there was a coup, there were neo-fascists among its leaders, the US State Department backed it, and the evidence of all this is indisputable. Schmemann wrote, “What’s hard to gauge listening to Mr Putin is whether he really means to put the blame for all things wrong on the USA, or whether he’s cynically using the old Soviet gimmick of projecting onto America and the West all the faults of which the USSR itself was accused”. Hmm… the thought never occurred to me. I suppose it’s a strange idea to some of us, but I think that even Russians can mean what they say, I think Putin did, and we’re better off for his having said it.

7 November 2014

Patrick L Smith

Salon

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/07/the_new_york_times_doesnt_want_you_to_understand_this_vladimir_putin_speech/

A Note to Orthodox People:

S A Schmemann, who wrote the mendacious NYT op-ed piece referenced, was the son of the late Fr A D Schmemann (the famous partner-in-crime of the late Fr I F von Meyendorff at SVS in Yonkers). Does it surprise you that Sergei Aleksandrovich eased the way into the IHT for Lyonyo’s daughter, S L Kishkovskaya? I’ll say this… it shows that the SVS/Syosset apparat has thrust a knife full-force into the Motherland’s back. That’s treachery and treason. Remember… the OCA is a dependent client of the Centre (its “autocephaly” is more formal than real, and everyone knows it) and depends upon it for its canonicity, regularity, and legitimacy. This isn’t a wise move on their part. Just sayin’…

BMD

Idea for the One-Minute Silence at Remembrance Day Came from a Melbourne Man

00 Australia Remembrance Sunday 2013______________________________

MOST Australians will be familiar with the one-minute silence observed on Remembrance Day. However, where did it start and whose idea was it?

An article on the Australian War Memorial website attributed the idea to a First World War veteran and Melbourne journalist Edward George Honey,who was living in London in 1919 and wished for a five-minute silence to recognise those killed during the war. At the same time, a South African made second suggestion, who noted a moment’s silence was held in South Africa when there were heavy losses on the Western Front. The idea took King George V’s fancy, although he he shortened it to two minutes. He sent a special message to the Commonwealth to stop what they were doing and be silent at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. It’s something that’s still observed today as a one-minute silence.

11 November 2014

News.au.com

http://www.news.com.au/national/idea-for-the-oneminute-silence-at-remembrance-day-came-from-a-melbourne-man/story-fncynjr2-1227119194180

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