JFK – The Guiding Light of My Youth

It’s fifty years ago tonight, I still remember it vividly. I was sitting watching TV with my Grandfather. The newsflash came on – a shooting in Dallas – President Kennedy has been shot.

Then the news that he was dead. How could this be? He was a hero to us teenagers. He challenged us to be better and to look to the service of others. Why would anyone kill him?

That was the end of my innocence. I saw the world differently; there are evil people there – in our own societies – not just behind the Iron Curtain. I saw this video and felt I had to share it. It encapsulates some of the things I feel about Kennedy and the effects of Faith.

Please share this with others you think would reflect on those events – is it really fifty years?

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Edward and the Rabid Right

I was never one who thought Ed Milliband was the best choice for Labour leader. It seems I was totally wrong. The Daily Mail launched an attack on the leader of the opposition in a flanking move by making a flanking move against his dead father.

Why would they attack dead man? Well, obviously a dead man can’t fight back. It’s easier to attack the defenceless, and that’s’ the usual tactic of the right when you can’t win on the substance of the debate.

In footballing terms it’s a professional foul. The Mail seems to aspire to be the Vinnie Jones of journalism. That is a typical tactic of the rabid right; to hell with the facts, a good lie will do.

We can see the same thing elsewhere. In the USA the Republican right have shut down the government in an attempt to stop the implementation of the Obamacare bill. They think it is their patriotic duty to attack the country, the poor in particular.

If the facts don’t suit then invent new ones. Here we have a government who have consistently failed in the central plank of their mission to sort out the economy. They boldly declare that we are now seeing recovery and accuse the opposition of more borrowing while that is exactly what they are doing.

They distract the public’s attention by introducing controversial laws such as same sex marriage and attack the unemployed as the cause of our economic ills. They ignore the failings of banks and financial services whose behaviour continues to be not only counterproductive but often illegal.

Yes, ignore the rubbish coming out of Manchester this week but beware of that dead guy, he must be dangerous still.

I now look to Ed Milliband with a new sense of admiration. If the Mail is attacking him, in a cowardly way, then he must be good. I look to him to keep the country’s eyes fixed on the continuing failures of C

Ready for War?

The use of chemical weapons in Syria has shocked and appalled the world, well, some parts of the world. America and Europe blame the Syrian regime, probably correctly. Something must be done! But what?

Military action seems to be the preferred option now. We are heading for war. Not ‘boots on the ground‘, you understand. We will not be putting our soldiers at risk. Just as we were not putting soldiers at risk in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be limited. This will teach Assad a lesson. He will learn from this.

It’s a pity we never learn. There is talk of bombing, using cruise missiles from ships in the Med, keeping things at arms length. Then what? A quick burst of bombing has never solved any situation. The sad thing is that when you bomb people they rarely just sit back and wail. They usually have the timerity to shoot back.

When they shoot back there will be casualties, captured airmen, dead heroes. Once blood has been spilt there is no going back. A blood sacrafice has been made and we can not dishonour the dead by walking away and making their sacrifice all for nothing.

Remember Afghanistan? Why not just bring our troops home? Because the sacrifice of the dead would be for nothing. So what will be the point of the dead and maimed? What will we achieve? What will be the limit of our involvement?

What about the men, women and children who will be killed and maimed by our actions? Remember Iraq? Remember the ‘surgical bombing’ that cut out civilian casualties? Don’t forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraquis killed there.

And, while on the subject of Iraq, look at the state of things there now, chaos. We caused it and we left it there.

Make no mistake, the politicians find it very difficult to walk away. Syria is well armed and will not be a sitting duck. Once you go to war it takes on a life of its own. You become a prisoner of the war. Try as you might, it is very difficult to get away.

Where are we to find the resources for this action? We have cut back on the airforce – no Harriers. We have scrapped the last of our carriers and literally smashed up the almost finished Nimrods. Who do we think we are kidding?

Threatening war when we are cutting back our forces, making soldiers redundant is just a joke. Nobody is going to tremble at our threats. Better not to make them.

Time to wake up and recognise that we can not and should not go to war. That does not mean we should stand by and do nothing. We complain that we can not bring diplomatic pressure to bear because of Russia and China. Why not bring some pressure to bear on them?

China’s economy is booming because we buy the goods. We could easily stop that. Perhaps we could even make them ourselves. If we want to take action then we must see there is no easy course. Face up to the hard reality and face up to Russia and China.

Secrets and Lies – Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning has been found guilty of all but one of the charges. He is not guilty of aiding an enemy. He is guilty of giving away secrets, not TOP SECRET, classified stuff.

So what did he give away and why did he do it?

He started by releasing video of U.S. Forces shooting Reuters journalists and children. That was shocking! The voice chanel as they waited for permission to shoot was really shocking. Was this what the war in the middle east was all about?

He is to be sentenced and the speculation is that he could get over one hundred years in jail. Many commentators seem to think this is too lenient. He gave away secrets, put American lives at risk, he is a bad guy!

No, that’s not really what this is about. He exposed war crimes! Any material that put lives at risk whould be TOP SECRET and he did not release anything like that. So what’s at risk then?

Bradley Manning exposed the horrors of war to the American people and the world. He exposed official lies and cynicism. He showed politics for what it is, or certainly has become, lies and deception. We pride ourselves in our democratic way of life. In a democracy we have government of the people for the people. The people decide!

How can the people decide when they do not know the truth? Keeping secrets from the enemy is sensible but when the enemy already know the secret who are whe kidding? Bradley Manning’s crime was to expose the lies and deceit perpetrated by the Pentagon and the U.S. Government on the American people ; and the rest of us.

What about his sentence? We shall soon see just how just the U.S. system is when we can compare the sentence Manning gets with the sentences given out to the perpetrators of war crimes like the Mi Lai massacre or the Abu Grade abuses.

Bradley Manning has been judged by the American military. Soon the American military will be judged by the treatment given to a whistle blower. The world awaits the sentence and waits in judgement of politicians and the military establishment in America and we wonder about our own governments? Democracy?