Tag: Europe

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”: May I have your PIN?

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”: May I have your PIN?

The debate recently about NIDS (The National Identification and Registration Act, if I am to give it its proper name) is now done and dusted after doing the rounds in both parliament and the media, it has (naturally) been met with strong support for it along with an equal amount of dissent. The majority of supporters say that the bill is of the utmost necessity (even with the amendments exceeding that of the ZOSO bill) as the nation faces the dual threats of crime and corruption which are (and always have been) eating away at the nation. They also say that the law (even though they admit it is heavily flawed) is a must because the state has serious issues when it comes to identifying its citizenry because things like the driver’s license can be easily and cheaply falsified and obtained.

These vocal supporters chide the critics as being deliberately obstructionist, hoping that this new tool in the state arsenal fails, painted as plain old badmind or as being PNP sympathizers. However, an increasing (and very dangerous) grenade that is being thrown by the supporters of NIDS if ‘if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear’, a statement that 1. acknowledges the bills massive and blatant flaw, and 2. the statement shows just how ignorant most are of history, even recent history.

Now I openly acknowledge that we need a good ID system and one that is easily accessible (to the state and its various arms), but is everything in this law really necessary? Again, I can see the relevance of fingerprints, very necessary to capture someone’s identification. But when coupled with palmprints, foot and toeprints, retina and vein mapping and blood type along with the normal i.d. things (such as address etc), one is forced to ask ‘are we also waging a war against radical Islam?’. I am not a religious man but as a student of Jesuits, and as someone who reads a lot of religious literature, I personally struggle to see the Christian fundamentalists easily accepting this as it looks very ‘mark of the beastish’. I love but poo-poo a lot of sci-fi but does this not read like some sick John Wyndham/Issac Asimov novel?

I do not put my trust in sci-fi and religion, I do however put my trust in history, both distant and recent, as that is a very good way to gauge how something in the present will pan out and frankly, history is saying that this policy, however well intended will eventually fail. Fail in this instance does not mean that it does not meet its objective (assisting the state in identifying the citizens), instead, it means that it will eventually be abused by persons and actors with ugly motives. The Netherlands, for example, had in the early to mid-1900 ‘s an excellent (albeit a bit intrusive) ID and census system, inclusive of religion.

Now no one can say that the Dutch authorities (internally at least as the practices changed radically in the colonies) were a repressive and oppressive regime, it was a byword for liberalism, a stable constitutional monarchy and home of the Hague (whose name has graced so many important European liberal milestones) , so nothing to fear, no issue. But when the Axis invaded, that intrusive and well-recorded identification and census information was gobbled up and readily utilized in its final solution i.e. the Holocaust.  Now I do apologize for the WWII reference as I am sure most have grown weary of hearing them, but I and others keep bringing that war and its atrocities up because we as a species seem to constantly repeat and actually refine them.

The genocides in both Rwanda and Burundi were made childishly easy by an intrusive (by the standards of the day) census and id system, as is the genocide and ethnic cleansing that has been going on in Myanmar/Burma (most notably against the Rohingya) for the past fifty years. With a track record and trail bathed in blood, why exactly would we want, let alone rush into this type of scheme without a serious discussion about the pros and cons?

These types of systems (with all of its intrusive elements) if, placed in the wrong hands could most certainly be used as it relates to divvying up the spoils of political conquest. This type of legislation is laughable, for heaven’s sake, one won’t be able to access anything sate related without this identification and something like that just is asking for and breeds corruption and pork belly politics. That means no PATH, no access to KPH, no access to schools, no access (or rather use of) places like the RGD and Companies Office, that is a system begging to be abused by politicians and others who know nothing but practising corruption.

Imagine for a minute if you will the dystopia that we would be living in if the creators of what are today’s monster garrisons had access to such an awesome (potential) power such as this that is found in this system? Hell, how would our current MP’s use this power when they already know and use the ‘unknowable’ such as the names of the persons who voted in their constituency during elections? Do we, as a nation really believe that the parties which gave us Tivoli and Arnett Gardens, the ones that gave us Trafigura and consistently run drugs and guns, have at the snap of a finger, or by the sprinkling of some magic dust become trustworthy and able to use this, such an awesome power?

As for persons who say’if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’ may I say; I am more trustworthy than the state apparatus and either party, I have no record of corruption. May I, therefore, have your ATM PIN (again I have more credibility than the state) and demand all personal information of both you and your employees (if you are a business owner)? After all, if you have nothing to hide you should, therefore, have nothing to fear. If one really has nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear then, by all means, please be the first to have the JCF arbitrarily kick open your door (without a warrant) and then proceed to search both you and your belongings.

I don’t expect many (or any) to take up my suggestion of giving me the data, some because they may think me mad, some because they may think me an undercover criminal and some still because what I ask is just plain intrusive, overbearing and overdemanding. Some will refuse because what they have is either embarrassing or personal and that is the kicker, some things we keep to ourselves because it is personal. One expects a degree of privacy, even while acknowledging and allowing for the necessary intrusions on life, therefore if we as a nation insist on styling ourselves as a liberal democracy we must hold the cornerstone of that institution, The Magna Carta, to be true. If we are going to continue to style ourselves as a liberal democracy then we must look at the uproar that took place in the UK and Australia and the court ruling in India when they tried to implement such legislation.

With European nations and the U.S. who are  fighting any and everyone at the moment still debating about the intrusiveness of such laws (just look at the U.S. and  how they are tearing themselves apart over data retention and grabbing), we wish to rush headlong into this thing, we aim to implement it without even a proper debate. It should not be lost on anyone that the PNP (who loved it while they were in office) have done and continue to do little to challenge this law (apart from walking out of parliament) while JLP (who have always openly wanted such a sweeping law) have rammed this through, this is so because they love nothing more than control and power, and this law has the potential of cementing both.

Politics makes strange bedfellows and this matter is no different, it is telling that groups with such differing views and agendas such as JFJ, JFLAG and JCFHS all agree (though for differing reasons) that this law as is is bad. We need a proper and wholesale ID, I agree, but not like this. It is costly and intrusive, whats-more we all know it will do squat in relation to crime (as the killings in Mt Salem, the chronic undereducation and the recent gun find show). If we honestly intended to do a proper ID we could have done it without all of the unnecessary trappings, cost and fear by melding together existing things.  The TRN, NIS, birth certificate, driver license, electoral ID etc, these individually do what the NID will do, they capture already what would be in the future NIDS database, and without the intrusion. To do such a thing would have needed amendments to many laws, and probably a constitutional change or two, however as no party has the required majority to do this it won’t be done as that would mean dialogue, compromise and most of all a love for nation above party or self and the ramming through (and the walkout) show this.

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Zionism, mdern day Nazism

Zionism, mdern day Nazism

The Jewish people have been through a lot. Be it expulsion from Israel by the Romans, the countless pogroms in Europe, the many inquisitions and expulsions that they experienced, the second class citizenship the ‘enjoyed’ in the Middle East or even most notably the Holocaust. The Jewish people have been through hell and therefore one would find it normal and even just to sympathize with them, but some deserve no sympathy, not because of religion or ethnicity, but because the ideology that some of them hold is evil and to sympathize with them will have you ending up on the wrong side of history and being a partner to evil.

Yes, the Jewish people deserve our sympathy, but the state of Israel does not and should receive any world sympathy, it should be called out for what it is, evil. It is an evil regime that would make Hitler and his Nazi cronies proud.

Israel was founded on shaky grounds, a people without a home, a people who had just experienced the massive trauma that was the Holocaust, they were placed in the British Mandated Palestine and a deal was struck up (by the U.N) to divide the nation between the Jews (both newly arrived and the few who preceded them) and the local population (mostly Muslims but also quite a few Christians). The shaky deal fell apart (just who destroyed it is still up for debate though both sides despised it) and the first Arab-Israeli war took place, and following Israels unexpected victory we saw what was to become the hallmark (though even that would not be the high-water mark) of Israel, occupation of conquered lands (a direct violation of the UN that birthed them) and expulsion of its native inhabitants (another violation of the UN).

Following that, there was the capture of east Jerusalem after yet another Arab-Israeli war and that was the cementing of Israel for what it is now an apartheid state. Israel far from being the ‘shining and sole democracy in the Middle East’ is actually an explicitly racist (religiously intolerant?) nation with this codified in its constitution. Israelis of Palestinian origin live an existence that would make second-class citizens feel like emperors. With extremely restricted political representation, almost nothing relating to state assistance and a justice system that is set up to be extremely pro Jewish-Israeli, we see where the Palestinian-Israelis regularly lose their land in sham trials and where police and public abuse against them is not condemned but even endorsed by some government ministers.

The treatment of Palestinian-Israelis, however, pales in comparison to those unfortunate Palestinians who live in both Gaza and the West Bank, these people bear the brunt of the Israeli force as they look to impose a racial and religious purity on the land. They face the daily dehumanising policy of queuing up in checkpoints (most times to enter lands legally belonging to the Palestinian people), along with a blockade, a blockade that makes the Cuban embargo look like a joke. This blockade means that cement, gas, food and even medicine are harshly restricted to the point where the majority of the people regularly live teetering just above the poverty line while living in what really amounts to a slum.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the Israeli state then adds the ‘cherry’ by saying that (firstly) that any criticism of Israeli policy, no matter how egregious or morally reprehensible those policy actions may be, is always rooted in blatant antisemitism and (secondly) that they have absolutely no dream for a greater Israel and they are actively seeking a two-state solution. If I may be frank, those lines that are oft repeated by Israeli sympathizers and members of their government are absolute bollocks.

Now I would and could never say with any honesty that none of the criticism levelled against Israel is antisemitic, that would be both crazy and a lie. However to state that persons saying that the using of white phosphorus is a war crime and the perpetrators should face justice, or persons who say that the shelling of beaches resulting in the death of children is a crime against humanity are all Jew-hating persons is a logical hoop I can’t seem to bend myself to fit into. As it relates to Greater Israel and the Israeli ambitions for a two-state solution, history and facts on the ground run counter to anything the Israeli state has to say on those subjects. With the continued blockade and the refusal to negotiate with all relevant parties (who can forget Israel punishing the Palestinian people for having the nerve to vote for Hamas as their representatives?) it is obvious that the Israelis have no time for an actual two-state solution and are quite happy with the status quo (a one-state solution along their lines) and are just waiting for the Palestinians to die off or leave.  And as it relates to Greater Israel, while it may be a ‘conspiracy theory’ along with ‘Israeli nukes’, they sure do not help themselves when MP’s and government members openly call for greater Israel while still retaining the Occupied Territories of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, areas that if fully incorporated into Israel (they are still, for the most part, a burden with settlers subsidised by the state) would allow Israel to oh so easily conquer the remaining lands that make up Greater Israel.

Stating that Israel is a nefarious state that is really up to no good is not antisemitic, stating that those who starve people and kill babies should be held accountable does not mean that one hates Jews. Zionism, the belief that Israel has a right to ride roughshod all over the Middle East and destroy the lives of the inhabitants is not representative of the majority of Jewish people and is a belief that should be reviled by all who encounter it. It is sad but here we are, Israel the state born out of the atrocities committed by the Nazis and created by a UN mandate are now the villains, acting just as bad as the Nazis with their slow starvation tactics (Warsaw Ghetto) and blatantly disregarding the international community (refusing to leave the Occupied Territories), take a bow Israel you are the true successors of the fascist past.

Why i’m glad Trump won, upset Le Pen lost and hope that Merkel wins

Why i’m glad Trump won, upset Le Pen lost and hope that Merkel wins

Donald Trump is in the White House, Le Pen almost secured power in France and Merkel looks like she should take the German federal elections, all in all, things are looking pretty crappy and that has me extremely happy. Now please don’t get it twisted, it’s not that I  have woken up and suddenly said “Hark, I love the far right”, nor is it that I have drunk the neoliberal kool-aid of Mrs Merkel and her ilk, so what then would bring on such an odd statement from me, a person who has written from a position of the left?

The answer is simple though I’m sure many will find it both upsetting, sad and disgusting all at the same time. Again it’s not that I have become a new Mussolini, instead, I am chuffed that these people are doing well because it will and more importantly IS both undermining and showing what the neoliberal system is and hasten its downfall. In a nutshell, the electoral success of these people will bring the whole feculent and oppressive house of cards down. But it is more than that, it is quickly opening up peoples eyes to the fact that they system is rigged firmly against them and they are fighting back for a more just system.

This can be found all over the place, take for example France and their recent elections. In the end, the centrist Macron beat out the far right Le Pen, but that is not the whole story. While Macron was pushing for more of the same (the decimation of the French welfare state, increasing military adventures abroad, further integration of the EU and opening up the nation to neo-liberal regulations), Le Pen and her policies looked like they came from the left wing. She promised nationalisation of industries and the keeping of jobs that Macron wanted to get rid of. Needless to say she lost, but just barely (showing just how disgusted people are with the system), and now that we Mr Macron doing just as he promised (starting with the cutting of housing subsidies that will mainly affect the poor and students) we are seeing the push back from the poor and students who are demanding not just the safeguarding of the current system but also the creation of a whole new and more just France.

Germany is also a nation where the neoliberals have gone a bridge too far. Germany under the neoliberal model has done well only in a superficial way post-Berlin wall, but more so since the great international recession during the tenure of Mrs Merkel(which is still haunting the Eurozone). For while Germany has a great employment rate and a ‘robust’ financial sector, when one looks closer at the data we see wages that have been stagnant for over a decade and we see where the biggest and most important German financial institution Deutsche Bank has more debt than they can ever hope to repay in a thousand lifetimes. We have a nation that talks about multiculturalism but fails to integrate people while keeping old prejudices that then gives rise to parties such as the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland), we have a nation that pumps money into governments with actual neo-Nazi members as is the case with Ukraine while also supporting and funding groups that lead to the rise of ISIS (the very threat they now fear). The German people are waking up to the realities that the neo-liberal system is failing as seen in Mrs Merkel’s low (at least for her) approval ratings, hopefully, one more term of the abject CDU/CSU-SPD coalition will hasten the collapse of the failed neoliberal experience in that nation.

Finally, we come to the United States and Mr Donald Trump. What can one say but thank you for showing the world the true unabashed face and the end result of neoliberalism and all that it carries? Imagine if it had been Mrs Clinton in office who had announced the massive tax giveaway to the rich, would MSNBC, CNN et all be up in arms and calling out the oppressive administration and policy? How would the American citizenry have reacted if a hypothetical president Clinton met Field Marshal President Al-Sisi and the members of the house of Saud, would the media have its panties in a bunch or would they praise her on her ‘many air miles racked up’? How exactly would American society have reacted if say President Clinton was to have basically ok’d the sideswiping and blockade of Qatar by the Gulf Arab nations because of (and please don’t laugh) their support of terrorists (who amongst the Gulf monarchies doesn’t support terrorists), would they be roundly condemning her as a ‘dictator’ or would they praise her as they did in her inglorious Libyan adventure? No let us not condemn Trump but thank him for showing what the system is all about, the expansion of fossil fuels (as done under Obama who wanted oil independence), the cementing of the super rich and their companies (as seen with the Democratic bailout of Wall Street) the beating up of the poor and marginalized (like homosexuals who Democrats only took seriously when they realized that it was a great vote winner) for no one would dare raise a protest if it were a Democrat in office doing it (as we saw with Mr Obama). Mr Trump has awoken people to the fact that the American system is failed and that a change is needed, a change on both sides and a change that is more equitable and bereft of the twisted neo-liberal ideology.

The neoliberal system is a sick one and this is its end result the rise of the far right. The far right thrives in situations like this because they despise liberalism and in scenarios like this can point to the hard evidence of the failures of liberal (neoliberal) variety. When a government is more concerned with exploiting persons for the profits of the super rich rather than the welfare of their starving society (almost half Americans live near or below the official American poverty level) then that is a breeding ground for the rise of the far right. The sooner the neoliberal experiment fails then the faster the far right can both fail and be tackled, that is the reality of things, so again disgusting as it may sound let us have a drink in the name of the trinity who may very well cause the system to implode.

The new dark age

History does not repeat itself, that is one of the first things drilled into anyone who has studied history, and  that statement holds true almost always. History cant repeat itself as the conditions that man faced during the 1700’s is totally different than the conditions facing mankind today in the twenty-first century. I repeat, history cant repeat itself, but as we know, current events almost always look, smell and sound very similar to past historical moments in time.

It is  my theory that the world is experiencing, and currently living through what seriously mimics the ‘Dark ages’.We are witnessing the birth pangs of a new era and history sows that it will be very messy before some order is restored. Examples of the world slipping into the darkness is all around us and is happening at a frightful speed. Take for example the collapse of the empire that is happening right now. We are seeing the great American empire disintegrate before our very eyes if only we care to take a cursory look at the situation.

America, much like ancient Rome has reached its zenith. Just as the Romans were the masters of the then known world, we have the Americans being the master of our world today. Much like Rome the american empire survives and is feared/respected because of its awesome military might. Much like Rome the Americans are the masters of soft power, so that foreigners look and hope with baited breath to become a citizen of the empire. And much like Rome then, the american empire dominates economically as well.

However much like its Roman predecessor america is entering a period of terminal decline, the kind of decline that precipitated the ‘dark ages’. We see the once great and vibrant american economy now on its knees and they are now a country where half of its working population is hovering precariously above or live in poverty (earning $30,000 or less a year is the benchmark for American poverty). It is a nation that produces nothing and it is a nation of many disgruntled persons who are unsure as to why their standard of living has plummeted off a cliff.

Along with a tanking economy we witness how person a social breakdown.The societal breakdown that we are witnessing today is a clear indicator of us slipping into the darkness.

Staying with America, it remains the preeminent military might, and that is the key reason for it still remaining a powerhouse. The American military is strong, probably the strongest in the world, but again like its predecessor Rome, the army is also eating away at the American empire even while they project their might. Like the Romans the American army is massive, however that fact alone is not killing it. The fact that it is an all volunteer army is however destroying it. It is destroying it because the army firstly eats up over half of the budget (and discretionary spending) of the American budget and quite frankly no one wants to join, except persons from the ‘redneck’ states or as is increasingly the case immigrants. Now i do not believe that the american army will go the way of the roman army and have troops loyal to a general and not to the nation, however much like the Roman army the volunteers are mainly from the poorer parts of the world and as such will think twice before going to war and collaborating with the enemy (as seen with the Romans found out with the Germanic legion that they implemented).

The fall of America is not however the only harbinger of our new ‘dark age’, a look at technology and how we use it also spells doom. The internet is the modern day printing press, and it going through all of the birthing pains that the printing press went through. When the printing press was invented it saw an initial explosion of knowledge as books became more available to the general populace, we see this in the internet that has also ushered in age of mass knowledge. However the internet, much like the printing press, is about to meet some hard times. Persons with vested interests will, are and already have in some instances but the brake on internet expansion and freedom.

These persons with vested interests much like there middle age predecessors do not like, want or desire the populace being informed and are working hard to stop it. Be it the ‘Great Firewall of China’ or the simple blocking of Twitter and Facebook by the Turkish authorities we are seeing where the explosion of information has been tamed. Those actions mimic those of when the monarchs and clergy of the day put a brake on the expansion of knowledge by regulating the printing press.

Just like the middle ages (dark age) we are witnessing a mass movement of people as persons flee nations failing, escape war, to just make a better life or (as is increasingly the case) to escape a land with no more vital resources (such as water). This mass migration during the middle ages caused much distress and played no small part in keeping the world ‘dark’. In the middle ages this mass migration resulted in both new nations and the re-configuring of others. While we are yet to see the birth of a new nation due to migration, we have witnessed the destabilizing and re-configuring of existing nations.

A casual glance at west Europe confirms this view. We have nations like France, Germany and the BENELUX countries all experiencing serious demographic shifts as members of the old colonies displacing the native population. They experience this when the native populace continues to have a low birth rate while the migrants retain the high birth rate along with them coming in en mass. Just as the middle ages saw the Magyars enter the Hungarian plains we see the Congolese enter Belgium or the man from Ivory Coast lands at Marseilles, and just like in the past we see where the newly arrived rapidly change the face of the nation in ways that are violent or through the gradual wearing down of the existing status quo (as seen in the UK where sharia law is used in some legal cases).

One way we are also entering some ‘dark age’ is the retrenching from globalization. Just as in the middle ages we are witnessing a world with countries looking more inwards rather than outwards. We see this in action with the demagogues who are either in power (Donald Trump) or through the labour unions that demand some isolationism as they seek to rebuild a manufacturing sector.

This retreat from each other was also a hallmark of the middle ages and played no small part in the conflicts that erupted during those times. We are seeing nations retreat from each other and starting to be more insular and as a result we are seeing nations act in ways that could inevitably lead to a conflict that would dwarf any past conflict we have witnessed as a species.

Finally another harbinger of the age we are approaching is the war and thirst for conflict. The west led by the Empire has been at war for sixteen years and it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. The nations are bleeding their coffers to remain at war (against an idea) at the expense of their populations well being and we are witnessing the fruit of that blossoming. The nations are spending billions yearly to conduct these wars and they are fast becoming bankrupt as a result. The wars that the west is waging is playing a large part in the ‘dark age’that we are witnessing. As the military becomes the be all and end all of a nation it does so at the expense of the citizens in that country. Just as no one during the time realized they were living through the one hundred year war which broke Europe in terms of manpower and expense so too are we are living in our own hundred year war, and we will not know it until decades later when we have long been broken and poor.