Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Since his passing back in Thursday, December 6, 2013 aged 95 – will the world ever see another one like him?

By: Ringo Bones 

For those who were in high school at the time when every civilized nation in the world are condemning the injustice of South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation known as Apartheid, it seems like we all felt the pain first hand of the oppressed black South Africans. And the whole world had been rooting for Nelson Mandela who was back then serving a jail term in the notorious Robben Island prison. Sentenced to prison back in 1964 when the then white ruled South African government banned the ANC political party advocating for an end to Apartheid, the country became a virtual pariah state by incarcerating Mandela, not to mention a prison labor regime that involves breaking limestone in a sunlit glared quarry that damaged his eyes because the prison authorities didn’t allowed him to wear sunglasses. Other anti-Apartheid campaigners suffered terribly and some even died in prison like Steve Biko. Despite a series of economic and political sanctions by the international community as an anti-Apartheid campaign gesture, it seems that back in the 1980s, Apartheid would still be a part of South Africa until the 21st Century. 

After 27 years in prison Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990 and to prove that he was the better man, Mandela chose to reconcile with his captors to avoid plunging South Africa into a bloody civil war. Fortunately, his bold move for reconciliation led to a peaceful transition of political power and Mandela eventually shared a Nobel Peace Prize with his counterpart, the then President of South Africa, F.W. De Klerk. Mandela was then elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994 in the country’s first ever free elections where candidates of non white ethnicity were both allowed to run and vote. 

Nelson Mandela stepped down as he promised after serving a 5-year presidential term, unlike other notorious dictators elsewhere in the continent. Mandela continues as a guiding force and an inspiration not just for South Africans but also for everyone in the world fed up with injustice and oppression. He retired from the public eye back in 2004 but managed to appear during the 2010 World Cup due to insistent public demand and he even managed to meet visiting boxing icon Muhammad Ali. Though South Africans are still mired in economic equality, the dark days of Apartheid seems now a distant memory in the consciousness of most South Africans. During the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s passing, a biographical movie of his life titled Mandela Long Walk to Freedom that starred Idris Elba debut in London and instead of cancelling the screening, moviegoers decided instead to observe a moment of silence after the screening of the film. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Did Israel’s Mossad Assassinated US President John F. Kennedy?

If Oliver Stone’s cinematic opus JFK failed to fully convince everyone on the conspiracy of the “military-industrial-complex and the US government personnel tasked to protect the then US President Kennedy, did the Israeli Mossad the obvious overlooked suspect of JFK’s assassination 50 years ago? 

By: Ringo Bones 

It seems like the complicity of the state of Israel in the “conspiracy” behind the assassination of then US President John F. Kennedy back in November 22, 1963 seems largely overlooked by mainstream tenured historians and “big-wig” conspiracy buffs. After all, the then fledgling state of Israel did have some very legitimate reasons to “take out” President Kennedy during his visit to Dallas, Texas back in that fateful day of November 22, 1963 – where everyone old enough to remember who are still alive to this very day will never forget where they are and what they are doing at the time when they heard the news that JFK was assassinated. 

It now barely registers on the consciousness radar of self-styled JFK assassination conspiracy buffs that back in 1961 when President Kennedy was freshly voted and inaugurated into the US Presidency. Kennedy vetoed a bill that would allow supporters of state of Israel in the Capitol Hill – i.e. pro AIPAC Republicans – to start their own clandestine nuclear weapons program. President Kennedy signed it into law that forbade the federal government to send nuclear weapons starting material that would allow the state of Israel to start their own clandestine nuclear weapons program – as in manufacture in secret either weapons-grade uranium-235 or plutonium-239 that would never be found out by the IAEA. Even though it wasn’t until 1968 that an international nuclear weapons non proliferation treaty – i.e. Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty or NPT – as far back as 1961, the United States government was already spearheading an internationally binding agreement that would prevent the spread of nuclear weapons – especially to less-than-democratic states. 

Was Lee Harvey Oswald merely a patsy as a still unnamed and unseen by the now iconic Abraham Zapruder footage – the Mossad operative hiding in the now infamous “grassy knoll” that took the fatal shot that took out President Kennedy on that fateful morning of November 22, 1963? Or was the “Mossad operative” on that Grassy Knoll wearing a Ghillie Suit? Well, the Model 1891 Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5mm X 52mm rifle that Oswald used in shooting President Kennedy was later found out by the warren Commission during the course of the investigation that it was not sighted properly and had to be readjusted before firearms tests could be conducted. And the “weapons system” used by Lee Harvey Oswald is not much of a rifle and not much of a cartridge by top-tier professional assassin standards as Oswald was doubtlessly shooting old European made military ammunition.  Or did the Mossad operative who did shoot President Kennedy used a sniper weapons system that fires the 6.5mm X 52mm round but with a way better lower receiver than your stock Mannlicher-Carcano rifle? 

But, as everyone closely following the facts behind the assassination of JFK, Oswald only had a 50-yard shot. A competent shooter – even a licensed civilian gun owner who hunts and shoots recreationally on weekends – with a well-maintained Colt M-1911A semi automatic pistol could easily have hit JFK in the head from Lee Harvey Oswald’s vantage-point in the window of that now notorious Texas Book Depository Building. Though a few years ago I have managed to hit a half-silhouetted target from 50-yards away from an elevated position using a well-maintained 1950s era Smith & Wesson revolver, does this mean that Lee Harvey Oswald had more than luck on his side to have successfully shot President John F. Kennedy back then? 

According to Oliver Stone in his cinematic opus JFK – President John F. Kennedy was allegedly done to death by the military-industrial-complex while aided and abetted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency. Why the Catholic Church was left out by “prosecutor Stone” given that back then President Kennedy was frequently engaged in extra-marital trysts – I don’t know. Possibly it was an honest oversight and after all, we were, as a society, very “Politically Incorrect” during the early 1960s. Yet, a lot more “well-informed speculation” has been surmised about the JFK Assassination since Steve Weston “self-published” his book titled Woodrow Wilson and the Death of John Kennedy through Barnes & Noble and Borders back in 1998.  

But what about the “conspiracy” behind assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan back in 1981 – was John Hinckley, Jr. just a patsy of the Military-Industrial-Complex? The fact is President John F. Kennedy was a proverbial godsend to the US Military Industrial Complex because during the Kennedy Administration, 31 Lafayette Class ballistic missile submarines were authorized and / or built plus Kennedy’s promise of sending a man to the Moon before the 1960s decade is out benefitted major American defense companies during the Apollo program. By contrast, during the first four years of the Reagan Administration, only 3 new ballistic missile submarines were authorized. Might we believe that the “military-industrial-complex” was behind John Hinckley, Jr.?     

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

US Government Shutdown Threat By The US Republican Party – Again?

The general public might now neither be surprised nor threatened of a US government shutdown by the GOP majority House of the Representatives, but should everyone care this time?

By: Ringo Bones 

US Republican Party senators ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had since vowed to shut Obamacare down since its ratification in 2010 – and this time they may do it – by fair means or fowl. It may be a mere government budget battle over President Obama’s flagship healthcare program more popularly known as Obamacare that the 20 most hard-core conservative of the US Republican Party will do a repeat of the 1996 US government shutdown unless Obamacare is repealed. With all the drama surrounding the government deadlock over federal spending at Capitol Hill, should we be concerned this time around? 

The last time essential government services were shut down by a legislative deadlock at Capitol Hill back in 1996, any American citizen wanting a passport would have to wait until the government offices opens again. National parks, museums and even the US Postal Service will be closed and the last time it happened, it cost the US government a little over 1 billion dollars to make things running again. But is holding the American people hostage by the US Republican party just to advance their own political ends truly justifies the means? 

Worse still, there’s a looming crisis this coming October where the US government could default on its international credit obligations if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Federal budget deadlock or not, sometimes I wonder if this US Republican Party “political maneuvering” would alienate their constituents away from them come election time – which is not that far away. Is this just a mere pathological dislike of President Obama by the US Republican Party? Maybe, but does the continued federal budget deadlock spell political suicide for the GOP? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Subjecting Syria’s Chemical Weapons Stockpiles To International Control: A Fool’s Errand?

Despite Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad now fully agreeing to surrender his military’s chemical weapons stockpiles to full international control, is the task making this possible nothing more than a fool’s errand? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Even though Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad managed to reach a deal with both America and Russia without the Obama administration ever firing a single shot on surrendering his military’s chemical weapons stockpiles to international control, I, like many others, have doubts whether this can even be practically achieved within the mid 2014 deadline. There are a number of reasons on why this now looks more like the proverbial fool’s errand and quite a “Quixotic Task” for the international community to fully implement.
As respected international organizations not controlled by Russia shall now be designated to be in charge in putting the Syrian military’s chemical weapons stockpiles more or less under UN control, the difficulty of the complicated process of subjecting Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control and subsequent destruction by mid 2014 has yet to be fully discussed. After all, we all got to this point because Assad allegedly used his chemical weapons on Syrian civilians not loyal to him during their still on going civil war. 

The difficulty of controlling Assad’s chemical weapons centers upon the very fact that UN weapons inspectors are not UN Peacekeepers. They are primarily trained for chemical weapons detection and the supervision of their dismantling once declared – not as UN sanctioned global policemen in charge of peacekeeping via keeping warring factions from harming unarmed civilians / refugees.
Another “fly-in-the-ointment” about the Bashar Al Assad now agreeing to surrender his chemical weapons stockpiles in order to avoid an American lead military intervention is that the UN is utterly unsure about Assad’s honesty and sincerity in the declaration of all of his existing chemical weapons stockpiles for international inspection and subsequent destruction on the agreed timetable. This is where the agreed proposal of the US and Russia on what to do with Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles devolves into a fool’s errand. 

And the on-going civil war in Syria where tens of thousands of unarmed civilians are already killed via conventional means and millions of refugees fleeing the fighting had now become a humanitarian concern for countries surrounding Syria. Imagine the difficulty of UN weapons inspectors dodging small-arms fire while trying to detect the barest of traces of the evidence of chemical weapons being used that will be used in a case for charging Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad for war crimes in The Hague when the time comes.
As the UN weapons inspectors begins in Syria, the proverbial “boots on the ground” – more likely via US special forces operatives – will be a necessity to protect the UN weapons inspectors doing their work in the middle of Syria’s on going civil war. It might be either via UN Peacekeepers or a small cadre of US troops providing an escort role to insure safety of the weapons inspectors, but this might attract attacks from rebel factions of the Syrian civil war with ties to Al Qaeda further complicating the issue. If this doesn’t pass muster as a “fool’s errand”, I don’t know what does? 

Syria Surrendering Its Chemical Weapons to International Control: A Landmark Peace Agreement?

Even though it still won’t halt the on-going bloodshed of Syrian civilians being decimated by conventional weapons, should the Assad government’s agreement to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles considered a landmark peace agreement? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Let’s make it clear, Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad now agreeing to surrender his military’s chemical weapons stockpiles to international control in the wake of overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were used – though by which side is still under investigation – in the ongoing Syrian civil war back in August 21, 2013 is a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol that prohibits the use of toxic and asphyxiating gases and chemical agents will not end the ongoing slaughter of Syrian civilians being decimated by conventional means. A “tentative” time-table has now been agreed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to destroy surrender and put under international control all of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles by the middle of 2014. Given the alternative of the Obama administration launching Tomahawk Cruise Missiles with conventional explosive warheads as a punishment to the Assad regime of using Sarin gas on Syrian civilians not loyal to the regime, is the agreement of Bashar Al Assad surrendering chemical weapons to international control more or less a landmark peace agreement on behalf of the Obama Administration? 

A few weeks ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry somewhat “jokingly” suggested that the Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad could avoid a military strike via conventionally tipped Tomahawk Cruise Missiles as a punishment for its alleged use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians not loyal to his regime if he surrenders his military’s chemical weapons stockpiles to international control. Inexplicably, Russia – who as one of the permanent seat-holders of the UN Security Council and been blocking an international intervention against the Syrian civil war since it started two years ago – agreed with State Secretary Kerry’s suggestion. Unfortunately, right-wing Christian conservatives in America had always criticized this recent Obama Administration decision on not launching any retributive strike on the Assad regime since Kerry and his Russian counterpart agreed on this relatively peaceful settlement. 

From a political and philosophical perspective, the 1925 Geneva Protocol that prohibits the use of poisonous and asphyxiating gases and chemical agents and of biological methods of warfare during times of war – primarily born out of a painful tactical experience during World War I over the indiscriminate way chemical weapons kills everyone on the battlefield and the potential carnage it can inflict on unprotected civilians had never been easy to enforce under existing international law – then and now. During Nazi era Germany, fascist era Italy under the behest of Benito Mussolini and with Nazi top brass as observers used newly discovered nerve gases that were not yet invented during World War I on Abyssinian separatists with impunity. While back in March 6, 1988, Saddam Hussein ordered one of his loyal henchmen Chemical Ali to drop Sarin, hydrogen cyanide and mustard gas on the Kurdish of Halabja over their suspected loyalty to Iran while the then Reagan Administration never spoke out about the incident. 

Part of the difficulty of the enforcement of the 1925 Geneva Convention is that even though most countries had signed it back in June 17, 1925 on behalf of the United States and many other powers, the United States Senate has refrained from giving its full consent to the ratification of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and is therefore not binding to the United States. Even as relatively recently during the Vietnam War, the United States could be considered a non-signatory of the 1925 Geneva Convention. It wasn’t until April 10, 1975 that the United States was in full binding agreement with the 1925 Geneva Protocol. 

Sadly, even if Assad surrenders the entire Syrian military's stockpile of chemical weapons within the agreed timetable, he could still "exterminate" those Syrians not loyal to him by conventional means. And by that time, the death toll in Syria's ongoing civil war could exceed one million.