That was quite a show!

For the record — history worth preserving:

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

June 12, 2018

Sentosa Island
Singapore

Yes, I spent a lot of yesterday watching the rolling coverage on ABC News 24, and this morning I rose early to watch France24, Al Jazeera, and BBC courtesy of SBS.

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So many opinions about what it might mean! Is it comparable to this, for example?

Chairman Mao Zedong met US President Nixon in Beijing on Feb. 21,1972.

Or should we be reminded of another famous meeting? See Singapore summit echoes Hitler-Chamberlain meeting in 1938, but offering ‘lots of great condos’ in our time.

Our Foreign Minister was quite judicious on Channel Nine this morning, I felt.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is “cautiously optimistic” following yesterday’s summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, but believes the truly historic day will be when the last of North Korea’s nuclear weapons is dismantled….

Ms Bishop described the summit as the first positive development involving North Korea in more than a decade, but said the test would be verification Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program had been destroyed.

“We’ll have to see the concrete steps that North Korea takes,” she told the ABC.

Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald was even more cautious. I was even more impressed by what he wrote yesterday. Do read that.

And then there is the New York Times.

The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

We can but hope! Question is, is Donald J Trump now an American Augustus, or is he instead (or also!) the latest incarnation of P T Barnum? There is no doubt about one thing: yesterday on my TV I saw the Greatest Show on Earth, that’s for sure. I hope like I am sure you do that it will turn out to have been much more than a show.

Update 15 June

Well worth reading Justice Michael Kirby, who headed the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  a few years ago: I’ll rejoice in Trump’s triumph when Kim opens his gulags to scrutiny.

Many have learned to live with the bomb. But its fearsome power demands urgent global responses if our species is to survive.

Against this background, one has to welcome the initiative taken by President Donald Trump to hold a meeting with the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un in Singapore this week. Jaw, jaw is, as Churchill declared, much better than war, war. Especially in the age of nuclear weapons. Particularly because North Korea now possesses a number of these weapons and missiles to deliver them far from its own borders.

President Trump got the North Korean leader to the conference table. He has declared that the meeting was a great success. But what has really been achieved?…

And further to our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop:

Ms Bishop has been determinedly circumspect in the face of the unprecedented geopolitical upheaval, sticking to careful talking points.

Not on Thursday. You could hear disbelieving chortles in the audience. This was Julie Bishop Unleashed.

She admitted it was disorienting to see the leader of the free world chumming up to a man who oversees a vast gulag of political prisoners.

Particularly in the wake of an acrimonious G7 meeting which saw Donald Trump take furious pot shots at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is not exactly a traditional enemy of the United States.

“The US trade representative said there was a special place in hell for Justin Trudeau, while President Trump said he had a special bond with Kim Jong-un, aka Little Rocket Man,” Ms Bishop said.

She then veered into gentle mockery, admitting she had been transfixed by the pictures beamed back from Singapore.

“After a while I became quite mesmerised by the contrasting hair styles of the two leaders,” Ms Bishop said….

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No, I didn’t watch it…

By which I mean the “tell-all” paid interview on Channel Seven last night.

I did watch the new TV series of Mystery Road though. Loved it!

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About:

Filmed in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, Aaron Pedersen and Judy Davis star in Mystery Road – The Series a six part spin-off from Ivan Sen’s internationally acclaimed and award winning feature films Mystery Road and Goldstone. Joining Pedersen and Davis is a stellar ensemble cast including Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Anthony Hayes, Ernie Dingo, John Waters, Madeleine Madden, Kris McQuade, Meyne Wyatt, Tasia Zalar and Ningali Lawford-Wolf.

Directed by Rachel Perkins, produced by David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin, Mystery Road was script produced by Michaeley O’Brien, and written by Michaeley O’Brien, Steven McGregor, Kodie Bedford and Tim Lee, with Ivan Sen and the ABC’s Sally Riley as Executive Producers.

I have in fact been reading a lot lately, including some very interesting choices from Wollongong Library. Kudos to whoever is responsible for buying new books there! I may list my recent reading in another post, but here is my current one:

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I am finding it quite riveting. I don’t think I could ever read or see Gone With The Wind ever again! The book is not uncontroversial.  Here is a post by a dissenter. But see also Harvesting Cotton-Field Capitalism.

“Have you been happier in slavery or free?” a young Works Project Administration interviewer in 1937 asked Lorenzo Ivy, a former slave, in Danville, Va. Ivy responded with a memory of seeing chained African-Americans marching farther South to be sold.

“Truly, son, the half has never been told,” he said.

This anecdote is how Edward E. Baptist opens “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” an examination of both the economic innovations that grew out of the ever-shifting institution of slavery and the suffering of generations of people who were bought and sold.

Mr. Baptist, a history professor at Cornell, said in an interview that his book represented his decade-long effort to blend these two aspects. Published in September, “The Half” joins a new wave of scholarship about the centrality of slavery — and the cotton picked by slaves — to the country’s economic development.

Mr. Baptist shows the ways that new financial products, bonds that used enslaved people as collateral and were sold to bondholders in this country and abroad, enriched investors worldwide. He also emphasizes viciously enforced slave labor and migration. The cotton boom led planters to sell slaves — one million moved from old to new slave states from the 1790s to the 1860s. Productivity, he argues, came through punishment. Enslaved and formerly enslaved people like Ivy are at the center of this sprawling story….

Sometimes unfolding in a novelistic way, his book casts unreimbursed labor as torture and Southern plantations as labor camps. Mr. Baptist imagines the thoughts of a slave being put to death. He quotes exchanges between planters about the sexual exploitation of enslaved women….

As he writes in the book: “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African-Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth.”

It is the specific human stories that make this book so compelling. It would appear that our convict era was a holiday camp compared with the ante-bellum South!

Grotesque spectacle? I rather think it was…

I refer to this account by Michelle Goldberg of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

…The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

Religions like “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism” lead people “to an eternity of separation from God in Hell,” Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America’s most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

This spectacle, geared toward Donald Trump’s Christian American base, coincided with a massacre about 80 kilometres away….

Indeed, indeed.

See also Philip Williams, Trump’s embassy opening in Jerusalem is a warm embrace for Israel but a strategic blow for Palestinian hopes.

 

More on part of the previous…

But starting with a photo from April 2012, if only to show I was a little skinnier 6 years ago. It was Anzac Day.

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I see I have my Teachers Federation badge on too — it disappeared between then and now.

On my previous post KVD commented: “Be interested to know where, in Israeli law, the treatment of women or gays is anywhere near equivalent to that of Iran? ”

Or Saudi Arabia of course. Taking just the “gays” bit for now, I have posted before:

Love Is All

06 Feb 2006

Nice title, isn’t it? The blogger [on Blogspot, gone as of 2007] is a young gay man in Teheran, and I should warn you there are some pictures there which some might find offensive, sadly. He is 20 years old. The boy below is 18 and also lives in Iran. No, I don’t know either of them, except through seeing their sites.

Image hosting by Photobucket

They don’t exactly fit your stereotypes, do they? And why not ask: who wants to see either one dead?…

It is hard enough for them as it is, living where they do. If they are gay, see this. More generally, see Global Voices: Iran.

Pray that all who deal in death and hatred will lose their grip on humanity, whether those antihuman forces are of the West or of the East.

On the situation in Iran see Intimate spaces: coming out in Iran.

I never thought I’d find a boyfriend in Iran. After all, homosexuality is technically illegal here.

Consensual sex between two adult males is punishable by death. Tafkhiz – defined as the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks – is punishable by 100 lashes.

If two men not related by blood are found “under one cover without necessity” they can be given 99 lashes (for some reason the same offence with two women is 100 lashes). Curiously, “lustful” kissing between two men is punishable by only 60 lashes.

Despite this draconian statutory prohibition, homosexuality is an open secret. My friends tell me that since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who infamously denied the existence of gay people in Iran – left office, there has been a thaw in official policy towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people….

But then in Saudi Arabia, whose side US policy currently prefers in the Iran/Sunni rivalry:

Saudi Arabia is considered to have one of the worst LGBT rights records in the world. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal. LGBT rights are not recognized by the government of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi social mores and laws are heavily influenced by Arab tribal customs and ultra-conservative Wahhabi Islam. Homosexuality and transgenderism are widely seen as immoral and indecent activities, and the law punishes acts of homosexuality or cross-dressing with punishments ranging from fines, floggings, to life in prison, death, and torture.

And yes, Israel is the best in the region in this area, but:

Likewise, the challenges remain. Israel’s gay and lesbian community is shaped by the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab states. The central part of World Pride, a parade through Jerusalem, had to be postponed (to an unknown date as of this writing) for two years in a row–first because of Israel’s redeployment from Gaza, and then, because of the war that broke out on Israel’s northern border following Hezbollah’s provocations. But before the parade had to be cancelled because of regional tensions, it was shaping up as a struggle between Israel’s religious establishment and the gay and lesbian community.

The Jerusalem municipality and a veritable alliance of religious leaders united only in their opposition to homosexuality were determined to thwart the holding of the parade. An alliance of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders, both local and international, contended that such a parade would constitute an attack on the sacred character of the city. They claimed that homosexuality so contradicted the teachings of all three of the monotheistic faiths that a parade for acceptance and equality of the GLBT community would forever stain the holy city. Even many secular Israelis normally supportive of the Israeli GLBT community viewed holding an international gay pride parade in Jerusalem as an unnecessary provocation, showing just how successful Israel’s religious establishment has been in shaping a degree of obedience to its sensitivities.

Since the writing of this article, the World Pride parade was finally held in Jerusalem on November 10, 2006 without the violence that many feared. Israel also elected its first openly gay member of the Knesset, Nitzan Horowitz.

The main thrust of the first half of my previous post was what I thought a particularly intelligent response to Mr Netanyahu’s propaganda piece on Iran. All the above is more or less irrelevant to that, though undoubtedly important. Let me add more relevantly a pre-Trump article from The National Interest:

A majority of Americans, an even larger majority of Jewish Americans, the entirety of the United Nations Security Council, and a  long list of former U.S. national security leaders and diplomats endorse the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as the best possible option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. But regardless of the merits of the negotiated agreement, some critics, like former Ambassador John Bolton, who explained why in a recent article, are unshaken in their belief that military force is the only way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This shortsighted and reckless approach would be counter-productive; as former director of the CIA Michael Hayden has explained…

We know where John Bolton sits now, don’t we? See below.

Let me add another of my own posts: Tread warily in the graveyard called Palestine/Israel.

Last Sunday afternoon the Al Jazeera documentary Al Nakba (2008) was screened at South Sydney Uniting Church. It is in fact a four part TV series so it s rather long. I wasn’t there for the screening, but I did download the entire thing so I have now seen it.

Yes, we need to know about what really happened and we need to go beyond Zionist propaganda on these matters. Unfortunately, there are some disturbing features about the Al Nakba documentary. For a start, its history of Zionism had uncomfortable resonance with the conspiracy theories the Nazis made infamous but which circulated much more widely than that and still do in the Muslim world, and of course in the KKK and Stormfront. No-one mentioned the evil and fallacious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but I couldn’t help thinking they weren’t far away. The reference to Napoleon was both gratuitous and irrelevant. There was no Zionist movement in the age of Napoleon.

Again the account of Jewish immigration into Palestine in the 1930s didn’t actually mention what was happening in Europe at the same time. That is more than an unfortunate omission.

The account of Harry Truman and the foundation of the State of Israel forgot the same Harry Truman wrote things like this:

6:00 P. M. Monday July 21, 1947

Had ten minutes conversation with Henry Morgenthau about Jewish ship in Palistine [sic]. Told him I would talk to Gen[eral] Marshall about it.

He’d no business, whatever to call me. The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgement on world affairs.

Henry brought a thousand Jews to New York on a supposedly temporary basis and they stayed. When the country went backward-and Republican in the election of 1946, this incident loomed large on the D[isplaced] P[ersons] program.

The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.

Look at the Congress[ional] attitude on D[isplaced] P[ersons]-and they all come from D[isplaced] P[erson]s.

And this:

I received about 35,000 pieces of mail and propaganda from the Jews in this country while this matter was pending. I put it all in a pile and struck a match to it — I never looked at a single one of the letters because I felt the United Nations Committee was acting in a judicial capacity and should not be interfered with.

In my view the BBC documentary The Birth of Israel is much better….

Finally, there are Jewish voices none too fond of current policy directions:

John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor has terrifying implications for the Middle East, the United States, and the world. Bolton is an extreme Islamophobe and an advocate of war with Iran. He has close relationships to anti-Muslim hate groups, played a key role in pushing for the war on Iraq in 2003, and repeatedly calls for bombing Iran and attacking North Korea.

Despite the fact that his appointment does not need Congressional approval, Bolton’s record should disqualify him from public service. His elevation to a key foreign policy position is dangerous and deeply alarming….

But surely we must all hope that wisdom eventually prevails.

Update

Well, it appears wisdom has taken a back seat. I venture to add that Israel is no safer than it was before…. I refer you to just one response in Foreign Policy:

As long expected, Donald Trump has bowed to his ego, his petulant envy of Barack Obama, his hard-line donors, his new set of hawkish advisors, and above all his own ignorance and walked away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the international agreement that prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Together with his foolish decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this is likely to be his most consequential foreign-policy blunder yet.

As the Year of the Dog starts….

Happy Lunar New Year to all concerned. I note that The Rabbit (oddly perhaps) is a dog-year person. He has indeed confirmed this in recent years, having become a greyhound rescuer and more…. So on the Dog Year see Chinese New Year 2018.

But my mind is exercised, as many must be, with that dreadful shooting in Florida. It isn’t enough to say it is an act of evil, because some lessons seem crystal clear to me at least.

See also John Barron on ABC News (Australia).

The facts about America and guns

  • There are almost as many guns (300 million) in the US as people (population: 323 million). This is twice as many guns per capita as 50 years ago.
  • Americans represent 4.5 per cent of the world’s population yet own 48 per cent of the world’s privately held guns.
  • Not all Americans are gun-lovers. Fifty per cent of all guns are in the hands of just 3 per cent of the population.
  • The average gun-owning household has 8 guns.

Now consider this:

Gun violence in the US reached record heights in 2017 — more than 60,000 incidents, killing more than 15,000 people, according to a nonprofit organization that tracks gun violence.

Compare:

Afghanistan suffered more than 10,000 civilian casualties in 2017, as deadly suicide and complex attacks killed and injured more people than any previous year in the war-torn country, according to the UN.

In its annual report released on Thursday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office, documented 3,438 deaths and 7,015 injuries – a decline from the record-high figure in 2016.

Do you find that comparison shocking?  Here’s another story: Australia’s murder rate falls to record low of one person per 100,000. Figures refer to 2013-14.

By comparison, the United States had a murder rate of 4.88 people per 100,000 in 2015, according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime. The office said in 2014 the UK’s rate was 0.92 and New Zealand’s was 0.91.

The report, by the Australian Institute of Criminology, shows knives were the most common murder weapons, responsible for 86 deaths while beatings accounting for 37 deaths.

Guns killed 32 people, marking a 63% decline since 1989-90.

And for those who may question Australia’s gun laws and their relevance, see Snopes.com: “Statistics do not demonstrate that crime rates in Australia have increased substantially since the government instituted a gun buy-back program in 1997. ”

Why the hell should any civilian in a western democracy have such unfettered access to military-style weaponry as appears to be the case in the USA? No-one seems to know. This is what yesterday’s shooter had:

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