September 1938. Capels, West Virginia. "Coal miner waiting for lift home."
Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat, the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
It was a long long time ago.
Can't be bothered with anything topical somehow - Arrivederci Roma, perhaps? Instead, it's back to the 1966 WFAA Dallas TV show The !!!! Beat - last seen with Etta James. This time it's Mitty Collier:
It's a secularised version of James Cleveland's gospel song "I Had A Talk With God Last Night".
Collier's singing career ended in 1971, when she developed polyps on her vocal chords. On recovery she devoted herself to gospel music, recording her own version of I Had A Talk With God Last Night. Oh yes she did. It's pretty good.
The North Korean regime's history of sending workers abroad has come under renewed scrutiny recently, most notably with the report on forced labour in the Polish docks. Kim Jong-un's need for foreign earnings, meanwhile, grows ever more desperate as sanctions bite. The latest scheme, which came to light when a North Korean sailor forgot to claim his baggage at Montevideo airport, involves renting crew services to third-country vessels - mainly Taiwanese - via a Uruguayan broker. From the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea:
Available reports indicate that the first overseas North Korean laborers were loggers exported to the Soviet Far East in 1967. Since the inception of the program, North Korean workers have been officially dispatched to almost 50 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Most recently, 16 or more countries reportedly hosted workers sent by the North Korean regime, including: Russia (20,000), China (19,000), Mongolia (1,300), Kuwait (5,000), UAE (2,000), Qatar (1,800), Angola (1,000), Poland (400-500), Malaysia (300), Oman (300), Libya (300), Myanmar (200), Nigeria (200), Algeria (200), Equatorial Guinea (200) and Ethiopia (100). Although North Korea is not a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), all states reportedly hosting North Korean workers are ILO members.
NGOs from South Korea, the United States and Europe have continued to report on the dispatch of North Korean workers overseas and the excruciating working conditions most of them face, in many cases constituting forced or slave labor. UN Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the DPRK Marzuki Darusman paid particular attention to the issue. Following intense scrutiny by international NGOs, media and international organizations, countries such as Poland and Qatar have taken steps toward the termination of programs employing North Korean workers at worksites where their fundamental labor rights are egregiously violated.
The North Koreans dispatched overseas as loggers, construction workers, textile or restaurant workers see their salaries confiscated by the North Korean authorities up to 80 or 90 percent. In addition to egregious wage violations, they are forced to work long days and weekends, to the extent that most of them do not even understand the concept of “overtime work.” Health and safety violations are rampant at worksites run by North Korean government agents overseas. Freedom of association or collective bargaining is inexistent, and dispute resolution mechanisms unthinkable (although all of these rights exist on paper, even in North Korea’s own Constitution and labor legislation).
Faced with intense scrutiny, the North Korean regime appears to be exploring industries and geographic areas where the workers are “conveniently” out of the field of sight of the international community. Sailors and fishermen dispatched to work on foreign ships live and work in tightly contained environments, vulnerable to abuse by both North Korean government minders and foreign ship captains and managers. Moreover, no location in South America has yet been associated with the overseas dispatch of North Korean workers. By dispatching sailors and fishermen through Montevideo, Uruguay, the North Korean regime has been able to avoid international attention.
But such operations may no longer be so easy to conceal. Sources in the country have confirmed that a Uruguayan company is cooperating with the North Korean authorities to dispatch North Korean sailors and fishermen to work on foreign ships. Based on luggage tag information, prior to landing in Montevideo, the sailors transit through Beijing and Paris. Although HRNK hasn’t yet been able to independently verify this information, the company has been identified as “Grupo Christophersen Organizacion Maritima,” headquartered in Montevideo. In order to avoid scrutiny by locals and to deny the sailors contact with the outside world, the North Koreans are picked up as soon as they land in Montevideo. They are then taken to a foreign fishing vessel by taxi. Practically, unless they are accompanied by watchful North Korean minders, the sailors can’t set foot on Uruguayan soil. According to local sources, it is primarily Taiwanese ships that make port in Uruguay and take on groups of ten to twenty North Korean sailors.
The report is particularly interesting, as we get a glimpse into the level of indoctrination of these workers - here in the form of regime propaganda and devotional poems in praise of the Kims.
John-Paul Pagano in the Tablet on the supposed "white privilege" of Jews, and the inability (refusal) of anti-racism campaigners in the West to see beyond skin colour. Jews are, mostly, white. And they are, mostly, well-off - in the West at least. So all this talk of anti-Semitism can only be a distraction - a cover for Zionists to stifle criticism. Anti-Racism Erases Anti-Semitism:
[W]hen discussing racism I often challenge people who blithely saddle Jews with privilege, because it’s clear to me that they don’t understand anti-Semitism. For one, color bias is an insignificant factor in the history of Jewish persecution, so foisting “white privilege” on Jews is parochial—it shoehorns centuries of Jewish suffering into the particular American experience of racism, which centers on anti-black bias. But more important, anti-Semitism doesn’t work like most forms of racism, which denigrate their victims as inferior. Anti-Semitism is special in that it often perceives its target—Jews—as having too much privilege and assails them for it.
Unlike racism, whose modern versions stem from 19th-century pseudo-science, anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory and at root all conspiracy theories envision a demonic elite oppressing and exploiting the common people. They may alight on eclectic topics—war, UFOs, weather and climate, food, medicine, the authorship of Shakespeare’s works, to name just a few—but if you delve deeper, you will find that every conspiracy theory is a narrative in which a secret society of the rich and powerful controls the banks, the media, schools, and governments in order to enslave and exploit the rest of humanity. Anti-Semitism is a name for the conspiracy theory which holds that “the Jews” are this evil elite. To the anti-Semite, Jews are the ultimate bearers of privilege....
With much rhetorical pomp and little practical relevance to issues faced by African-Americans, last year a group of over 1,100 black activists, including BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Talib Kweli, launched Black Solidarity with Palestine, releasing a statement in which they decried Israeli “slaughter” of Palestinians, repeated lies about Israel sterilizing Ethiopians, endorsed the unmaking of Israel as a Jewish state, and demanded “unified action” against the related evils of “anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and Zionism.” The BLM activist Frank Leon Roberts, who took to Twitter after the Gaza Flotilla raid to complain about “Jewish elites” and their “monopoly” of influence, now teaches the nation’s first “Black Lives Matter” course at his alma mater, NYU.
If attempts to link Ferguson and Gaza seem familiar, that’s because they can be traced to an infamous ’70s vintage—the “Zionism is racism” propaganda of Russian ultra-conservatives masquerading as “Soviet anti-Zionists.” Indeed, Black Solidarity with Palestine disinterred a 1970 open letter by black socialists denouncing Israel as “the outpost of American imperialism in the Middle East” and posted it on their website to support their recent declaration.
Eric Hoffer once noticed that the nearer oppressed peoples get to freedom, the more strident their politics become. And so the tools we use today to analyze oppression have devolved, assuming epistemic features of the poorest man’s revolution: conspiracy theory. Three such features inflect academic writing and social commentary on inequality. The first might be called Manichean morality, after an ancient Iranian prophet who preached that the world is made and remade by warring principles of good and evil. Second is class fatalism. And finally there is false consciousness—the belief that the awareness of the people is dimmed by a caul of propaganda in media, advertising, and education.
We see these cognitive distortions in critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and BLM’s favored “intersectionality,” whose jargon is now becoming colloquial. “Settler colonialism” and extractive “imperialism” are irredeemable original sins—non-Natives in America and Jews in Israel are alien exploiters of stolen land; and whites in the West owe incalculable debt to peoples of color at home and abroad. “Structural racism” and “patriarchy” feudally determine the classes people inhabit—the “system” must be torn down and transformed to make meaningful progress. “Internalized racism” and “Whiteness” are fabricated by the machinery of capitalism—they beguile black and brown police officers and whites or liberals who “don’t see color” to misapprehend and perpetuate the American reality of brutal oppression.
The standard definition of racism as belief in immutable characteristics that dispose a hierarchy of races is no longer adequate. The new thinking is that without systemic power, such as that of the state, racism is toothless and better downgraded to the social irritant of prejudice. Racism equals prejudice plus power: The notion of people of color being racist to whites is derided as the fallacy of “reverse racism” and said not to exist.
But if you believe that racism by the weak against the strong doesn’t exist, then anti-Semitism doesn’t exist, either. It can’t. Why? Because anti-Semitism is a racist conspiracy theory—anti-Semites believe they are victimized by a preternaturally powerful cabal of Jews. And there are plenty of Jews today who enjoy a good measure of economic and social success, especially in relation to many Muslims, among whom the self-exculpating belief in Jewish domination thrives. So how can anti-racist campaigners who believe that racism equals prejudice plus power address—or even notice—a form of racism that disguises itself as an emancipatory politics of the oppressed?
Often they can’t, which is why you find them instead building a fanciful and ornate architecture of rationalization around all but the most rank, unwashed instances of Jew-hatred. All it takes to usher expressions of anti-Semitism into the hall of nuance and question-asking is to fit them with the trappings of left-wing analysis. The suffocating octopus of international Jewry is recast as the Israel Lobby stifling dissent and perverting policy—and we are urged never to confuse anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism....
Has the Arab world responded to the Orlando massacre with an outpouring of horror, and sympathy for the victims? Well, no, not on social media anyway. Mohammed Rady at Arab Humanists:
As a bilingual Arabic and English speaker from the Middle East, I took the liberty of browsing through Arabic news pages on Facebook earlier today; namely Al Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC Arabic and a number of Egyptian news outlets to gauge how the Arab world was responding to the Orlando shooting. The results were disappointing, alarming, and depressing to say the least. Each page’s comment section was inundated with posts showing sympathy towards the attacker, praising him for his actions and wishing death upon members of the international LGBT community. Comments ranged from jokes about the incident and how “the gays had it coming,” to long du’as (religious supplications), wishing death upon gays and lesbians, as well as asking God to grant the killer “the highest place in paradise.” I considered collecting screenshots of these comments to raise awareness about the amount of hatred towards the gay community in the Middle East, but it soon dawned on me that such a task would be impossible.
There were simply too many hateful comments, with thousands celebrating the attack, from Tunisia to Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was only through deep digging that a single person who expressed so much as a shred of sympathy to the victims and their families, or even condemned the blatant massacre that took place could be found....
The implications of this are far worse and much more far-reaching than one might initially consider. It has now become commonplace in the Arab world to wish death upon minorities and celebrate their murders. Gays, Christians, Jews, atheists, apostates, heterodox Muslims, liberal Muslims, and secularists are seen as subhuman. Celebrating their deaths is now a norm. At worst, attacks such as the Orlando shooting are met with praise, and at best silence.
Members of the left who claim such terrorism has nothing to do with Islam need to become aware of the issue at hand that is Islamism, and understand the ramifications of evading discussions on it. The Arab world’s moral collapse is the result of decades of fundamentalist Wahhabi indoctrination across the Muslim world which has culminated in the recent rise of Islamic terrorism. Reform must come from within Muslim communities – I can’t stress this enough. An open and frank discussion on the current understanding and interpretation of Islam is much needed.
Well, good luck with that.
Terry Glavin, on the competing Orlando narratives:
We are all supposed to choose one narrative over another, as though it must be that Mateen was either: a) a devoted Islamist whackjob; b) a vicious, bloodthirsty homophobe; c) a dangerously self-loathing, deeply closeted gay man; or d) a psychopath of the kind that no sensible government would allow anywhere near a firearm.
But if you want to be a Hezbollah martyr or a ISIL sleeper operative, those are pretty well the four key job-application prerequisites right there. There is no competition going on among and between these things. It’s the character profile of the misogynist, homophobic, jihadist terror cadre from the Taliban, to al-Qaida, to Boko Haram and back again.
If you don’t know how joyfully these outfits persecute gay people, it’s not just that you haven’t been paying attention. They slaughter gay people all the time, but in locales where none of the deeper competing narratives requires that we particularly care what happens, so the murdered don’t warrant rainbow flags flown at half-mast around the world in their memory.
It’s also not just possible to be insane and a jihadi terrorist at the same time — it’s more or less mandatory...
As Alan Johnson argues, the the new anti-Semitism isn't the same as the old anti-Semitism - which may explain why Labour's leadership is so blind on the subject:
Labour’s crisis has been caused by the spread of a modern anti-Zionism of a particularly excessive, obsessive, and demonising kind. This anti-Israelism has co-mingled with an older set of classical antisemitic themes, prejudices, images and assumptions to create something new: antisemitic anti-Zionism. In short, that which the demonological Jew once was in older forms of antisemitism, demonological Israel now is in contemporary anti-Semitic anti-Zionism: uniquely malevolent, full of blood lust, all-controlling, the hidden hand, tricksy, always acting in bad faith, the obstacle to a better, purer, more spiritual world, uniquely deserving of punishment, and so on.
The party must stop being so intellectually lazy. Antisemitism’s core motif is that the Jews, in their essence, are malign, but over the millennia the content of this perceived malignity has changed with the times and with the needs of the anti-Semites themselves: ‘God-killers,’ ‘aliens,’ ‘cosmopolitans,’ ‘sub-humans’, and now ‘Zionists’, have all served as code words to mark the Jew for destruction. While classic antisemitism wanted to make the world Judenfrei, free of Jews, antisemitic anti-Zionism wants to make the world Judenstaatrein, free of a Jewish state.
The degree to which the party simply does not currently ‘get’ antisemitic anti-Zionism was shown by the warm reception given to the Islamist anti-Semite Raed Salah by Jeremy Corbyn in 2012. Corbyn organised a press conference to defend Salah’s presence in the UK and said of him: ‘He is far from a dangerous man. He is a very honoured citizen, he represents his people extremely well, and his is a voice that must be heard.’ Corbyn even added this personal message to Salah: ‘I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace [of the House of Commons] because you deserve it!’
In fact, Saleh – as many pointed out to Jeremy Corbyn at the time– opposed not the occupation but the ‘bacteria of all times’. He did not criticise Benjamin Netanyahu, but the demonic ‘unique mover’ who was behind 9/11. He did not call for the West to apply diplomatic pressure on Israel but attacked the entire West as a ‘slave to Global Zionism’. These statements were all one click away on the internet and the leader was pointed to them. He ignored them all and instead issued fulsome praise for Saleh. About Saleh’s blood libel speech, the UK Appeal Court decided that ‘We do not find this comment [by Salah] could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews.’ It also decided that this would ‘offend and distress Israeli Jews and the wider Jewish community’.
If the party misses this opportunity to construct an intellectual and cultural firewall to separate legitimate criticism of Israeli policy from foul demonization of Israel per se, then the party’s crisis will likely become chronic. Antisemitic anti-Zionism will flourish, the fundamental perception of the party among the electorate will be that Labour is ‘extremist’, there may well be an exodus of long-standing members; and the climate for Jews in this country will become less welcoming and more dangerous. Much is at stake.