GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL


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Photo credit: Vladimir Velociraptor Vukmirovich

GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL.

My next book is about ready for publishing and in the next month Bookbaby will produce, design it, and publish digital and printed versions. It is generally recommended to put a manuscript aside and forget about the novel, so when going back to it with fresh eyes, the last draft might become a better product. I put it aside for a year and a half, to write my third novel, which is now waiting for a professional editor.

It’s generally recommended to put a manuscript aside and forget about the novel when you think it is finished, so when going back to it with fresh eyes, another draft might lead to a better product. I put it aside for a year and a half, to write my third novel, which is now waiting for a professional editor will work on soon. In the meantime, I reviewed and re-wrote my second novel: Guardians’ Betrayal. This novel is meant as an addition to the scant material available for prospective adoptive parents.  The novel is written from the point of view of the three main protagonists in the story, the so-called Roshomon Perspective. No one character has the truth in this story, and the reader decides what version of the events are closest to the truth, as they read it.

GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL  is meant as an addition to the scant materials available to prospective adoptive parents beyond the often-dry, scientific excerpts of books on the attachment theory that social workers in the adoption field provide to prospective adoptive families.

GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL is written from the point of view of the three main protagonists in the story, the so-called Roshomon Perspective. No one of these three characters holds the truth. The readers decide what version of the events depicted in this novel is closest to the truth, as they interpret it. An individual reader brings their own life experiences to the act of reading and takes away – from any novel – that what fits into their perspective.

Inspiration. I was inspired by foster parents that I observed in real life who opened their homes and hearts to someone else’s abandoned children and carried on as if this was the completely normal thing to do. Their hard work deserves attention and the joy of the children that were allowed to be kids, and then become whole, should be an inspiration to other parents.

Some time ago, I answered questions about GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL for a blog-hop event. Knowing what the story is about may generate more interest, so I am repeating the information here.

  • Genre: The genre is literary fiction, but it could fit the genres of contemporary fiction, romance, and perhaps even Young Adult. I have some hesitation calling it YA, as the sex scenes might not pass the official category YA. I am including it anyway, as I believe that kids over 18 have already a lot of sex and this novel could help to mature YA readers. Developmentally, it is appropriate to be interested in sex at that age. I would not mind getting readers’ feedback on my ideas of the classification YA.
  • Goal. I wrote the novel to raise awareness of the difficulties that adolescents might experience. Don’t be fooled by what on the outside looks like a completely normal family, and don’t assume normal is all that’s going on behind closed doors. The novel might wake up parents, who assume the kids are alright. While making money and pursuing our own goals as parents, we are all too busy to pay attention to our children. The teen in your home might experience tremendous alienation from her parent growing up in isolation, in emotional pain, and see no other way out than turning against herself. In the novel, that led to Shayla’s cutting, shoplifting, drug and alcohol use, and seeking peer approval through sex.
  • Actors I envision for the characters. As actors for the main roles I would select the following: For sensitive and troubled 17-year-old Shayla, I would select Saoirse Ronan, who played Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones. I could see Ellen Pompeo in the role of Shayla’s mother, Bernice – the hard working social worker who adopted Shayla and her sister. Bernice is nice and easy going; her unfaithful husband, Tom, is perfect for actor John Cusack, while the part of his love interest, the young and charming Marla, should be given to Amanda Seyfried. Shaya’s long lost biological father, the mysterious and handsome Gabriel, should be played by Johnny Depp. These are the four main characters in the novel.

 

  • One sentence synopsis of GUARDIAN’S BETRAYAL: Shayla’s birth-dad shows up around graduation time – seven years after her adoption – which happens to coincide with her adoptive father starting an extramarital affair and his abandonment of the family, and marriage breakdown, which leads, in turn, to Shayla’s breakdown.

 

  • Publisher. This novel will be self-published as an E book and in print, using Bookbaby.

 

  • How long it took to write: about a year and a half from when the idea first came to me (writing on Sundays mainly) to submitting the first draft to my editor, and another year to work through edits. Then, I took it up this April this year again and rewrote the draft, now completed.

 

  • Other books compare to my new novel only to some extent, as each has their own story beyond the subtext of neglect and how a child heals as she becomes an adult: The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls), The Girl in the Mirror (Cathy Glass), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).
  • Reviews: If you are interested in reading this novel and providing your review, please, respond on this WordPress website or on my Goodreads page so I can send you a free copy.

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Your comments are very welcome.

 

Posted in adolescents, Agents, Author circles, Blog Hop, book review, Canadian publishers, Children and child protection, Creative fiction, drug use., latest news items, Mental health, Parenting, Publishing, shoplifting, The truth, Uncategorized, Young Adult books | Leave a comment

IN MY STRATA, THE SMOKERS HAVE IT.


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IN MY STRATA THE SMOKERS HAVE IT.

 

At last night’s AGM, the last item on the agenda was a proposal for a bylaw to restrict smoking. The current restriction established by BC Health – already in place – states no smoking allowed within 6 meters of air intakes, entrance doors and windows. The proposed bylaw formulated by  Strata Council means that smoking would not be permitted in all common and limited common areas. Implicitly, this means that smoking would be allowed strictly inside the strata units.

As a frequent filer of complaints on second hand smoke, I earned the right to second the motion. Doesn’t that sentence sound like a song?

 

You might think that would be a reasonable bylaw and would pass. You’d be wrong.

But alas, the need for addicted people in our strata complex of town houses to keep smoking inside and outside their unit, and in the breezeways, and on their balconies (right beside non-smokers) is strong. That is a fact, well known of addicted people. Pretty soon the smoking is going to be expanded to include the much more pungent fragrance of marijuana –  to be legalized next year – in my unit already a recurring event when my neighbour start smoking it after she gets up around 11 am.

However, what surprised me is their inordinate level of feeling entitled to live out their addiction without thought for neighbours. That was last night utterly self-evident, although it was clearly not evident to the smokers themselves, who spoke with certainty and self confidence, of rights.

 

Four people spoke publicly against the motion and praised the advantages for the complex, for future purchasers, and for the price of the units when smoking is allowed.

They brought arguments to the floor in their defence of smoking, such as:

– when they bought the unit, smoking was allowed; it wouldn’t be fair to stop that now and they had the right to continue smoking,

– others said they didn’t smoke, but wanted their visitors to be able to smoke on their deck.

– another commented he had tried to stop smoking for 40 years and failed and would ignore the bylaw.

– a bylaw to restrict smoking might make it harder to sell units in the future.

– the bylaw was proposed for 20 years and failed each time, so why not give up trying.

– the deck was private property and nobody can restrict what an owner does there.

 

Remarkably, no health issues were within sight of these speakers, or the fact that through your doctor one can get smoking cessation medication for free.

And really, what does it take to ask your smoking visitor to step outside and walk the ten steps to the parking lot, or across the street? Are people that hesitant to confront visitors–friends and relatives–who surely would respect your wish to stay in a healthy environment? But, no – misery wants company.

Changes in a complex are necessary over time and indicate that a council is doing their job in taking care of the complex. If the roof construction turns out to be faulty, surely owners would agree that changes are needed to prevent future leaks. So why are changes rejected to improve the air quality and prevent others from polluted air, easily fixed by a single bylaw? Wouldn’t that make sense to a rational person?

 

And therein lies the rub. Smokers are not rational people. They are addicted and have multiple irrational arguments why to keep on smoking.

Not only that, they want to also control their immediate future and won’t allow rational arguments brought up by others to restrict their freedom to smoke wherever and whenever they want.

The secret they won’t face is: they know it’s unhealthy and kills them, and they don’t want to smoke inside their own home, hoping it will help save them. This is magical thinking: like a one-year-old, who covers their face and thinks you are gone from the room. Smokers think if they smoke outside, it won’t kill them.

Another thought they might have: if their home smells clean, their lungs might be clean too. That is a fallacy. Dear smoker: due to your reduced capacity to smell, you might not know that your house smells, as well as you; it’s in your hair, in your breath, on your hands, in your clothing. Don’t delude yourselves. Non-smokers notice it immediately: you smell bad.

 

In spite of what people might think, decks are (limited) common property, made available by the developer for the owner’s use, but it is still common property and must be maintained and repaired by the strata corporation.

In reality, a bylaw is not needed to restrict what happens in common areas, because a new Rule can cover those. It is only out of courtesy, expediency and efficiency that a council tries to pass a bylaw about smoking on common areas, instead of a rule that only needs a majority vote to carry, and not 3/4 of the membership at the AGM. Limited common areas are more tricky – the decks.

 

Last night, after the speakers finished with singing the praises of continuing the status quo on smoking, I owed it to myself to speak up as a fresh-air advocate and defender of my rights of a healthy environment in my own home.

I went with my personal experiences, and didn’t bring up the rational arguments, as the smoking crowd seemed to be lacking any capacity of following an objective fact to its logical end.

As well, the chair and the strata manager already had refuted some of the irrational arguments with an explanation of the facts.

 

I explained how my life was no longer feasible in the strata complex and that I was leaving to live elsewhere, simply due to smoke in my home, from people that want to smoke and pollute my environment.  I corrected myself and said that well, maybe they don’t want to smoke, as I assume that nobody really wants to smoke, but they are addicted.  I would say get treatment, it is available, and get healthy; addiction is no excuse to continue to make it intolerable for others to live here.

The rest of what I said:

“I live in a block of eight units on my breezeway and owners of six of them smoke. Their smoke enters my home through the leaky walls, through the fresh air furnace intake, through the dryer and stove hood exhausts, the bathroom exhaust and from the outside onto my balcony, and I can’t have open windows. I have smoke in my house regardless if it’s a hot or a cold day. Smoke is distributed throughout my unit by the furnace and A/C systems. I want to say to the smokers that it is the reason that I am moving.

I had a sitter last week to look after my cat. She had three asthma attacks, because of the smoke while living in my home for a week. She doesn’t have attacks unless triggered by something, like smoke.

One last thing, if you think your unit or the complex is less desirable because of a smoking restriction, you are sadly mistaken.”

 

The vote was taken and although the tally was getting closer over the years, the smokers have it: 28 against, 24 for.

 

What didn’t get explained at the AGM and what I leave to the strata council chair and the strata manager to explain to the owners, is that new developments are taking place in the courts.

It is now accepted in court that Strata corporations are liable to a certain extent for the consequences of second hand smoke (SHS). The Human Rights Tribunal and a BC Supreme Court judges’ last year’s verdicts on the same subject has taken on new significance. Strata owners (complainants) applied to the courts for recourse to end what they say is a serious ongoing threat to their health and to their enjoyment of their own units that is being caused by the cigarette smoke. (This  complaint  I frequently have made to my strata council as well.)

To that end the complainants sought,  in addition to a declaration that others were violating the nuisance bylaw, an order enforcing it that prohibits the neighbours from smoking in and about their own unit and on any portion of the common property that is likely to result in smoke going into the other units.

 

In their verdicts, the judges in both cases pointed out that the strata council had not done due diligence to address the issues after numerous complaints. Council had assumed it had done all they could, in view of the lack of a smoking bylaw in place – which had been voted down at the AGM. They had not enforced compliance from the smoking strata owner under the Use Of The Unit bylaw (nuisance bylaw), which is always available to any strata council:

No owner is allowed to use their unit in such a way that causes a nuisance to others.

 

Remedies could be:

  • Fines,
  • payment for remedies that might stop the smoke from contaminating the neighbour’s unit.

Where council lacked in action:

  • council members had not visited the unit to investigate first hand how bad the problem really was,
  • council had chalked up the complaining resident as a frequent complainer without cause, and was just a difficult person,
  • council had not held a hearing with the ill resident to investigate the complaint or kept track of the complaints. The owners have a right to be heard by council.

 

Council must apply a system of remedies to avoid the finding by a court against them; they were found responsible for increased health problems and decreased enjoyment of living by strata owners/complainants, due to lack of appropriate actions in dealing with the complaints.

 

Cases:

BC Supreme Court:

 

Chorney v. The Owners, Strata Plan VIS770, 2011 BCSC 1811

 

BC Human Rights Tribunal:

McDaniel and McDaniel v. Strata Plan LMS 1657 (No. 2), 2012 BCHRT 167 and Chorney v. Strata Plan VIS 770, 2011 BCSC 1811

 

My complex contains many elderly people that look twenty years older than their age, due to their smoking and concomitant health problems. The three buildings of the complex, built 30 years ago, are elderly as well, and have outdated HVAC systems. Many dollars are needed to upgrade it, but that’s not in the picture. Other maintenance issues are already a burden that requires a future increase in strata fees. Maybe the smoking elderly identify with that situation of nearing the end of life expectancy; we keep smoking as it’s impossible to do something about it.

As the complex is built on leased land by a local development company consisting of a number of business investors, the purchase price is lower than comparable buildings: the price of the land is added in a monthly fee as a lease payment, which made the units about $100,00 cheaper than other, similar units for an average 2-bedroom unit.

This lower unit price seems to have the side effect of attracting more smokers – education and income levels are correlated. With higher education, the likelihood that a person smokes goes down.

Last year I decided I was waging a losing battle trying to convert the general attitudes of the smokers here who seem to be in the majority. The rights of non-smokers are squashed and not adequately defended by successive councils.

I cannot out-wait the smoking elderly – not a spring chicken myself.  I bought into a newly built complex that has LEED (environmentally responsible) designation, with each unit its own HVAC system that doesn’t interfere with other’s habits. One more year, and I will have left the pollution in my home behind. I can’t wait! BUYER BEWARE.

If you really want to know which complex I am talking about, I could reply that it’s probably any older unit this all applies to, but send me a reaction and I will tell you.

References:  Lesperance Mendes advises strata corporations and property managers on matters such as bylaw drafting, bylaw enforcement and collections. For more information about our strata law practice, contact Paul G. Mendes at 604-685-4894 or by email at pgm@lmlaw.ca.

Posted in apartment and condo living; smoking, architecture, Babyboomer, Dealing with aging and dating, drug use., Exercise; old age; aging gracefully; yoga practice ; wholesome life, Green living, Kelowna event, latest news items, Mental health, Retirement, Smoking, Strata Living, Uncategorized, war on drugs | Leave a comment

ARE THE DUTCH BECOMING COLOUR SENSITIVE?


ARE THE DUTCH BECOMING MORE COLOUR SENSITIVE?

This is a post about the international links of the Netherlands and its jerk towards the right of the political spectrum, with uncharacteristic, overt racism expressed freely in the national discourse.

WHOSE COUNTRY IS IT ANYWAY?

When I left the country in 1982, openly racist attitudes were not tolerated among the general population in The Netherlands, with the history fresh on our mind that saw the Dutch Jewish population decimated–more so than in other Nazi-occupied nations–without much resistance from the general population, and in certain areas with the extensive police collaboration with the Nazi Security SD agents raiding and arresting the Jewish-Dutch at their homes.

Since my departure, I observed the tolerant and open society of the Dutch changing at my regular visits to my home country. The Netherlands has reached a higher density of immigrants and migrants–especially from North-African regions–in certain areas. Although the percentage is much lower than assumed, the feeling among many Dutch is that a saturation point is reached.

Dutchnews.nl: Dutch overestimate size of the Netherlands’ Muslim population.

“The average Dutch estimate is that 19% of the population of the Netherlands is Muslim, but the real figure is 6%. These Dutch also expect the Muslim population to grow to 26% by 2020, while official estimates say Muslims will make up 6.9% of the Netherlands’ population by then. In comparison, the widest gap between perception and fact was in France, where the average estimate of the size of the Muslim population was 31%. In reality, the actual Muslim population stood at 7.5%, according to figures from the Pew Research Centre.”

Counter-intuitively, the areas with the highest levels of white supremacist attitudes are not the regions with the highest density of non-white residents. On the contrary, those attitudes are found overwhelmingly in the white enclaves of smaller villages, especially in the south and north of the country, and areas around the IJsselmeer. In the large cities with more diverse populations, more integration led to more harmony and realistic expectations.

Let’s be clear. Racism is not new to the Dutch. Historically, Europeans escaped to Holland when persecuted for their religious beliefs in their home country: Jewish and Huguenots from Spain and Portugal  during the Inquisition, German Amish and Mennonites on their way to the US, etc. In more recent waves of immigration, the white Dutch population slowly got used to the residents of former Asian and Caribbean colonies mixing in amongst the Dutch, with excesses of actual discrimination always a factor in that adjustment period.

When I still lived in the Netherlands, cops stopped our black employee from the former colony of Surinam more often. The stats indicate non-whites are arrested more often for an offence that a white Dutch might get off on, or for no offence at all. Everybody knows what systemic racism looks like—non-whites overrepresented in jails, earning lower incomes, harder for them to land a job, a rental more often refused, services refused on a whim, etc. etc.

The migrants are generally not earning the highest incomes, so often they end up in the low rent areas of the larger cities, with the side effect that some identity can be maintained among people of the same ethnic group. When different-looking residents moved into an area, the white Dutch then generally moved out.                                                                                             It’s a real phenomenon in this dynamic that the whites (that don’t want to mix) will not integrate, even if the new settlers (migrants, or  allochtones) are integrating in the Dutch neighbourhood. The intolerant, white Dutch (autochtones) moved to another, all-white neighbourhood, further away from the older city centres, and into the suburbs, while those that are more open to integration stay. Those autochtones that moved away are able to maintain the myth that they live in a mostly white, Dutch society: out of sight, out of mind.

Until a critical mass of migrants is reached in a certain area or town (or the autochtone Dutch  think it is reached), or until they have to move more than once, to avoid the “different” new residents. There is a Dutch saying a jar only lasts in water until it bursts: “de kruik gaat zolang te water tot ze barst”, meaning that only a certain amount of stress, or risk, can be tolerated.

If you think you have to move once, because a Moroccan moved in next to you, or a Somalian refugee, you might accept that. But if you “have” to move again, and again, you are going to be resentful of those that you think “caused” your move, and you are going to be angry. Once an individual, white Dutch (autochtone) reached that point, all of a sudden, the Dutch landscape seems to have too many migrants; never mind that the real issue is, the migrants are integrating and making a life for themselves in the Dutch society, and yes, they do so change the landscape of Dutch society. Then that Dutch person can no longer maintain the myth of living in a white society, or maintain the myth of their own tolerance for other ethnicities.

Some of those autochtone (white) Dutch are vocally resisting the integration of migrants, and are holding on to some sort of birthright–being born white in the Netherlands–that they think should guarantee the country will remain unchanged. Geert Wilders, the fascist politician of the Freedom Party appeals to that sentiment.

Familiar comments are heard in the US, as well as in the UK and the Netherlands about migrants:

  • We are losing our country as it was. Our culture is disappearing.
  • The Muslims are taking over. We are muslimized.
  • The new migrants are changing our laws.
  • They are making demands.
  • They get more financial support, while we don’t get the same.
  • They are taking our jobs. Etc.

Prior to the Dutch federal elections, I listened to Geert Wilders on U-tube and I heard many Dutch state in street interviews they would vote for him. I heard him preach in the US at fascist meetings as well. My blood started to boil. I recognize the fear from what I also hear in Canada among the fearful–that whites are losing their cultural heritage and monopoly, and soon might have to change themselves too, if they want to keep up with the nation’s developments. Imagine that! Change! I say that in a  truly democratic nation: No citizen should have more rights than another.

From Vox.com. Updated by Sarah Wildman  Mar 15, 2017, 4:50pm EDT the following excerpt summary of Wilders’ activities in the US, with links to the references in that article.

In April 2015, he was invited by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King to address the Conservative Opportunity Society, a coalition of right-wing politicians in the US House of Representatives. “There is no moderate Islam. Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition,” Wilders told the audience. “Our duty is clear: In order to solve the problem, we have to stop mass immigration to the West from Islamic countries.”

This past summer, he was invited to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. As my colleague Zack Beauchamp wrote at the time, Wilders spoke at a party hosted by internet instigator Milo Yiannopoulos. “I hope that Donald J. Trump wins the election,” Wilders told the crowd. “There is only one Islam, and that Islam has no place in a free society. … We should de-Islamize our societies. It’s a matter of our existence.”

It’s not just ideas that are flowing between the Netherlands and the US, but money. The Dutch press began reporting in 2014 that far right activist David Horowitz of Freedom Center had donated to Wilders in 2012 and 2014. Daniel Pipes, who runs an ultra-conservative organization called the Middle East Forum, has helped support his legal fees. 

Last week, the New York Times reported that funding was far more extensive. Horowitz gave Wilders nearly $150,000 over two years. In an interview with the Times, Horowitz described Wilders as “the Paul Revere of Europe.”

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

We live in a world with large differences between poor countries and rich countries. The world is a changing place and borders have become permeable and international travel became easier, at least in Europe. Politicians’ calls to close the borders, to stop migrants from coming in, are readily absorbed and parroted.

In the meantime, the global corporations are buying into public-funded services, moving production of industries offshore to areas with the lowest labour costs, laying off even more workers in higher paid areas, and the implementation of automation.

Rightist governments in those rich nations are trying to bust the unions and force lower wages, privatize public programs, like education, national security and the military, and allowing corporations (and banks) high incomes from raising interest fees and allowing tax breaks and putting large sums into their own shareholders’ pockets. The lower income and the middle class pay the bill; this is a global trend. An underclass of labourers from abroad are (often illegally) doing the dirtiest jobs. Corruption would be the correct word for this, but the electorate might not see it that way.

I would advocate that citizens everywhere pay more attention to their governments, instead of to their neighbour. If they understood what really is going on within their country’s politics and how it relates to the industrial world, I suspect the issue of race and ethnicity (and its cousin, religion) would quickly disappear.

Trump understands that very well in the USA (and Wilders in The Netherlands). He, the master of smoke and mirrors, magically raised hate to unseen levels by blaming those “others” for the country’s lay-offs and economic decline for the lower and middle class. His message for whites allows them to express what they really think: get those blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, or brown people out of my backyard.

Anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-Mexican, in short anti-other, is raised to such levels that the world shakes. Trump and Geert Wilders both play the game of divide and conquer. Both lie and manipulate. OK, I am not a psychiatrist and cannot confirm their mental illness diagnosis, so bite me! We all see there is something seriously wrong with the picture of leaders seeking mass adulation at all cost.

 NATO POWERS AND THE UN—LESSONS FROM WORLD WAR II

In history, a small number of overwhelmingly white countries economically exploited the rest of the world, causing poverty, civil strife, and human disasters.  Traditionally, rich countries have sent weapons to the poor nations that they have an economic interest in, causing those nations to end up even deeper in debt. Weapons are used to suppress rebel resistance to maintain the status quo, or gain more advantages, for exploitation and to exert influence. In my view, these rich, former colonial powers have a responsibility to assist these poor nations and help solve the civil strive, not to establish a new government that will let them continue to exploit that country for their own profits. The responsible thing to do is to forgive the poor nations’ debts to the IMF, in exchange for the civil strive to end and to restore peace, while utilizing the international bodies, established for that purpose after World War II, like the UN and NATO.

However, that is not happening. Instead, the global corporations try to keep a finger in the pie, just so they can extract more resources, and harness the (increasingly rightist) governments in the rich nations to reach that goal. The best example is the USA:  Trump and his cronies caused a coup by appealing to the lowest and basest of all sentiments: Racism and white supremacism and won the election, with (suspected)  interference from Russia to discredit the Democratic candidate.  Representatives of global corporations have now infiltrated the US government and run it–of course all members within the conservative Republican party and its fascist sub groups.

When powerful nations do not acknowledge their responsibility for international collaboration, like Trump, (yes, and Russia) and willy-nilly bomb other nations-in-trouble on an impulse (Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria), our world is increasingly unsafe. NATO was not even consulted; Trump declared it obsolete.                                                                                     We cannot expect that developing nations sit on their hands and watch the usual suspects rape and pillage the world some more. China and North-Korea are excellent examples of nations that are going rise to the challenge of an aggressive, self-serving US.

 THE FUTURE OF THE NETHERLANDS 

I am happy that the Dutch didn’t fall (yet) into the trap of the Americans and didn’t give Wilders more votes. Well Done!  In spite of that, the writing is on the wall that the pressure from the fascists have not ended with the election. The Dutch rightist party that won the most votes campaigned on the slogan: Do normal, or leave. That sounds to me that intolerance for everything “different” than the white Dutch identity, is already fact and acceptable.  Harking back to a time in the past, when a homogenous, all-white population existed, will create more problems.

Instead, moving forward is needed, with true acceptance of the new Dutch, and the development of a new identity as a diverse nation of Dutch is essential.  To reach that new identity, extensive education is warranted for both newcomers and Autochtone Dutch to convince the Dutch that all citizens are needed and valuable and to set down what those parameters within the Dutch laws are. That must be the message, not the threat of punishment as consequence of not standing up to “normal”, whatever that is.

Netherlands: Beware for the move to the right. Yes, the US was a friend and liberated us from Hitler, but those days are over. It wasn’t only Americans that rescued us; a number of other Allied joined the war: Canadians played an important part, the British, Polish, Russians. Now that the US is turning into a force for bad, not for good, consider the Dutch moral debt to the USA over and its life expired. Misogyny, racism and exploitation of the weak has become the norm for the USA government. Especially in a changing world under the threat of the EU falling apart, and a conservative jerk into isolationism (which allowed World War II to break out), it would be wise for the Dutch to stay on the good side: True democracy and equality for all its citizens.

Europe, you were my light, a shining example of what cooperation and rational negotiations could do to a diverse continent with a history of strive and wars, your wide-open borders a balm for the soul. Netherlands, you were my pride with your leadership in tolerance and acceptance.

As an observer, I would suggest to my fellow Dutch: Look at the facts, educate yourself, and then choose where your loyalty should be.

Please, would you rate this post? I encourage reactions in the comments section.

Posted in Diversity issues, elections, EU, Global immigration, Hitler, Immigration, International politics, latest news items, religion, the Netherlands, The truth, Trump, Uncategorized, war and resistance, women's issues; torture of women, world issues | Leave a comment

TRUMP IS LIKE HITLER IN HOW HE GOT THE COUNTRY IN OVER ITS HEAD.


TRUMP IS LIKE HITLER IN HOW HE GOT THE COUNTRY IN OVER ITS HEAD

Trump’s election has a lot of people very worried, with good reason. History repeats itself for those who will not learn from it.

Hitler’s actions up were not all that alarming, until he got the majority of the German electorate behind his policies. After all, he got there legitimately. Only in hindsight seemed his actions to have unavoidably lead to the mass extinction of the victims of this white supremacist, xenophobic dictator and the devastating extermination of the Jewish in concentration camps and the gas chambers. (Sean Spicer: not called holocaust centres).

Except to his targets–the Jewish Germans–who knew very well by the day that his chancellorship started in February 1933 that their lives were in danger.
Many couldn’t believe that he would do what he had said he’d do; only the smart ones left the country then, which wasn’t all that easy to do.
In those days of economic depression and political turmoil, an exit permit and immigration approvals from other nations were hard to come by. Borders were not as permeable as they currently are in the modern European Community. Many European countries closed their borders for refugees.
The composer Kurt Weil left the country early, and Hannah Arendt, the strong feminist philosopher of fame (who wrote her controversial book about the trial of Albert Eichmann in Jerusalem)—examples of those who saw the writing on the wall.

Hitler promised his supporters economic prosperity, reminding the Germans of their history, when the once-great German Emporium under the Habsburg dynasty ruled the Western world. He was going to make Germany great again, making sure that all Germans would get a share in the wealth. He was a nationalist: Germany first–then the rest of the world. He was a socialist–all Germans would share in the nation’s wealth.

The socialist varnish soon disappeared when he started blaming the communists and the Jews for the troubles in Germany, calling them disloyal and a danger to the unity of the nation, thus marking the targets for his followers’ distrust and anger. The disappointment with the disastrous results of the previous, lost war, only fifteen years prior, and its humiliating defeat fresh in everybody’s mind, they were sensitive to future losses. The Germans in 1933 desperately needed a win.

Like the new USA president-elect Trump said he would do, Hitler started a massive infrastructure program. With shared private-public funding of mass projects, Hitler indeed managed to give the economy a jolt. Things improved economically for the Germans, and poverty disappeared.

Hitler appointed a master of indoctrination and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who further administered the poison pill to the German Volk, to great effect as we all know.
Hitler collected loyal followers around him to govern who would blindly follow his orders and instated the laws, needed to advance Hitler’s agenda.

The masses were no problem. They were already inspired by Hitler’s pride-inciting speeches, delivered in rambled rants and raves that just hit the spot with listeners to raise their blind admiration.
When he was sure he could get away with it, Hitler disbanded the German parliament, effectively making his Germany a dictatorship.

One would think that citizens would protest, and that indeed happened to an extent, but only coming from the intelligentsia on the left of the political spectrum, i.e. communists, socialists, and artists, and from Jewish circles, the latter often fitting more than one category.

Many outside of Europe might not know how the Jewish in Europe got their special position of outliers in the community. During the advance of Christianity all over Europe, Christian religious leadership pointed to the Jewish religion and its adherents in their communities as the original murderers of Christ.
As we all know, people seem to be more easily ‘managed’ by their leadership when provided with a target to distract them from the real issues that their leadership don’t want to be scrutinized.
Adherents of the Jewish religion were officially banned from all official trades and unions in the cities of Europe, could not attend universities, were not eligible for charity, and so on. They were officially at the bottom of European society with the general population’s agreement.

The Jewish Diaspora in Europe successfully survived by reinventing themselves, specializing in trades outside of trade unions (diamond cutters and commerce), forming their own organizations and charities. Their successes for instance in banking and the arts have irked many. Antisemitism among the non-Jewish has continued over the centuries to this day.

After World War 2, the parties in power decided to allocate the former Palestine as the Jewish ‘homeland’ under British protectorate. The Jewish Europeans who had survived the extermination camps still held Palestine in their memory as their original homeland and had started to settle in Palestine.
Israel’s battle for legitimacy as a nation started.
The Allied had conveniently disregarded Palestine’s population, a tribe, related to those that had left the territory centuries earlier, but who had become Muslims like the other tribes of the Middle East, when the Europeans turned to Christianity. Many of the Judean-Jewish left at that time.

(We all know the story of Christ, a Jewish pacifist who exposed the religious leadership of being in cahoots with the Roman oppressors, who had occupied the Palestinian lands.
Christ paid for it with his life–after being turned over by his religious leadership. He became the martyr for the Christian rebel movement that later got established as the main religion in the European, Rome-occupied territory.)

Back to 1934 when Hitler came to power in Germany. The non-Jewish intellectuals in Germany also read the writing on the wall, and soon withdrew from criticism on the Hitler government; most had abandoned their Jewish friends and colleagues already by 1934.

Hitler made all kinds of laws with the help of his gang of administrators. He started early on excluding certain segments with approval of the general population. He pushed the buttons of fear and loathing for some Germans amongst them in his speeches: criminals, anti-German elements, those that only misuse the national resources and have no right to the benefits.

Trump calls them Mexicans, criminals, terrorists, and Muslims. Reports said that Trump also used coded words for Jewish, raising the acceptance of anti-Semitism in the USA.

Trump figured about 3 million criminal Mexicans are in the US. What was their crime? Being Mexican and working for decades, paying taxes and having children cannot be a crime. How come the problem was not addressed earlier when it was known of their criminal offence, and where they live without a permit to stay?
They were already paying taxes to the tune of billions of dollars that the US government didn’t want to miss out on—that’s why. The Mexicans and others from Central and South America took the jobs that the local Americans didn’t want to do, just like the European Jewish took the niche markets and made a success of themselves. The industries and agriculture wouldn’t survive without them.

Envy is the green eyed monster that destroys.

Hitler’s National-Socialists (NAZIS) were nationalist first. As the national anthem states: Germany above the World (Deutschland uber Alles in der Welt).

Trump defies any category; he is under the Republican banner, but what is he really? He found a good banner to fly under, but Republican he is not. He certainly is a nationalist, “making America great again, the greatest country in the world”.

Hitler’s ‘socialist’ identity only pertained to the white supremacists themselves, who shared in the wealth–for a while at least, as long as the economic miracle lasted, but those already rich profited most by Hitler’s rape and pillage of parts of the German population and occupied nations’ coffers.
He first annexed various German speaking territories to his Reich. Hitler started his march through eastern Europe in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, six years after his appointment as Chancellor (Prime Minister equivalent), followed by the invasion of many other nations, with disastrous results for all of Europe and the world. Twelve years after his appointment at the end in 1945, all of Europe was in shambles.

Will the world have to look forward to a similar fate with Trump as president of the USA?

Posted in Diversity issues, elections, EU, Global immigration, Hitler, Immigration, International politics, Mexican life, Trump, Uncategorized, war and resistance, world issues | Leave a comment

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER WORLD WAR II?


What happened after the war in the Netherlands?

This is a primer on my next novel, called The Dutch Nazi Lover (in development).

On April 30, 1945 Hitler committed suicide. On May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered to the allied forces. In total an estimated 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 deaths were incurred, making World War II the bloodiest conflict in history.

World War II became the great watersheds of 20th-century geopolitical history, resulting in the extension of the Soviet Union’s power to nations of eastern Europe, enabling a communist movement to eventually also achieve power in China.

It instigated the European Community to become economically united and set aside tribal wars. It marked the decisive shift of power in the world, away from the states of western Europe and toward the United States and the Soviet Union.

Although not known until after the war, about 107,000 individuals out of a total of 140,000 Jewish Dutch were deported from the Netherlands during the war; 102,000 Jewish Dutch were killed in the most inhuman and industrialized manner in extermination camps: over 72 % of the Dutch-Jewish population perished. Yes, Sean Spicer, with poisonous gas. In December 1944, a total of 750,000 Dutch people were locked up in nazi concentration camps. By the date of the liberation by the Allied in April 1945, 450,000 of those were still alive.

CAMP ERIKA

The camp in the novel was modelled on camp Erika, probably named for the heather growing around the town of Ommen, the village that inspired Overdam. After the liberation, the camp was called Erica with Latin spelling instead of German.

One of the prisoners with experiences of other infamous camps in Poland and Germany stated about camp Erika: “Nowhere was I so systematically physically abused as in camp Ommen, namely each and every day.” Many men suffered tremendously and died without reason under the hands of the sadistic, Dutch guards. They died as results of abuse, executions, poor living conditions, malnutrition, and the heavy physical labour.

Many of the prisoners were men dedicated to helping the victims of the nazi-German occupiers, who had become victims themselves, due to their protective actions (hiding people, or helping in other ways). As well, those that resisted the occupation were arrested and locked up, innocent of the so-called ‘crimes’ they had committed: out after curfew, not wearing an ID, not reporting for labour in Germany, or suspected of sabotage actions, etc. In any case, nobody deserved the punishments that were in no proportion to their crime and often without any form of justice.

Near the end of the war during the last period, after the German army lost the Ardennen Attack in 1944 and it became clear that Germany would lose the war, the Dutch guards’s treatment of the prisoners at camp Erika improved somewhat.
On April 10, 1945, the First Polish Tank Division together with the local resistance group took control, and released the prisoners of camp Erika that had not yet escaped or  transferred out.

From then on, the camp was assigned as camp Erica to hold the arrested Dutch collaborators and political enemies for further investigation. In October, 1945 about 1,400 prisoners were still housed at camp Erika; on December 31, 1946 it was closed.

German Kommandant SS officer Werner Schwier, Superintendent of the prison camp, was never convicted by a Dutch court; he managed to escape to Germany after having been kept emprisoned in a Belgian holding camp. He led the Dutch guards and his special commando called the KK all Dutchmen, who were extraordinarily cruel and sadistic to their fellow countrymen.

The novel’s camp boss, the Dutchman Charles Nauwaard’s character, was built on information taken from history about a real person, named Lagerführer (camp leader) and ex NSB member Karel Diepgrond. He was convicted to 20 years in prison and completed eight years, due to clemency by the Queen’s order.

Unterführer (deputy leader) Jan de Jong was shot to death in the Eelde forest, some weeks after he escaped from camp Westerbork together with others detained there, among which was Karel Diepgrond.

Most of the criminal actions within camp ERIKA were executed under the camp’s leadership: German SS officer Schwier, and the Dutch hires: captain Diepgrond and ex-marinier lieutenant Jan De Jong.
The original Kontroll Kommando gang that hunted for victims in the region, were: Jaap de Jonge, Freek Kermer, Toon Soetebier en Herbertus Bikker. The latter obtained the nick name ‘the butcher of Ommen’. During the last four months of 1944, at least ten prisoners were executed by this KK gang.

The novel’s Norbert Bakker character was taken from information known about Herbertus Bikker. He was convicted to death, converted to a life sentence. In 1952 Bikker escaped from the prison in Breda. He was arrested again in Germany, but because his status as a former member of the Waffen-SS, he had German citizen rights and Germany, still honouring that nazi commitment, did not extradite him to the Netherlands for trial. In 1993 the Dutch TV program KRO ‘Reporter’ tracked him down again; in 2003 he finally appeared before a German court for the murder on Dutch resistance fighter Jan Housman. In 2004 the case was closed, because of Bikker’s poor health. He died in November 2008.

The next-worst perpetrator of Bikker’s gang was arrested and escaped in 1952 to Germany from the prison in Breda: Johnny Boxmeer was arrested by the British army in the Ruhr area of Germany (occupied by the British after the war); he was extradited to the Netherlands and got a life sentence, which was converted later to 24 years minus the time spent in jail.
Dutch SS-officer Toon Soetebier was sentenced in absentia to death, later converted to life in prison in 1949. He was arrested later and emprisoned in Breda, from where he also escaped in 1952 to Germany, where he lived until he died in 2006. Jaap de Jonge was convicted to a life sentence.

DUTCH POLICE

Purging the Dutch police force from criminal and nazi-collaborative elements was a massive undertaking, whereby each suspect got a dossier; in total 7500 employees received an investigative file, including administrative and executive staff. Almost half of all staff in the police force (40-45 %) were subjected to an investigation. From those police officers still working by the end of the war, in total 81% did not have any disciplinary consequences.

The total number of police staff fired after investigation was 12 %, while 7 % was put on disciplinary measures. Nine officers were sentenced to death and were executed. Dozens of officers got prison sentences, in particular those in leadership positions who had joined the SS and the special political units, and proven to be involved with hunting and arresting Jewish Dutch and illegal workers (including resistance fighters). Membership in the NSB, the SS and the WA led to immediate dismissal from the force without exemption.

feestje Kameraadschap bond  Marechaussee .jpgWINTER HELP fundraising party of Dutch Policemen of the Marechaussee Corps.

 

Special Courts were formed post-war for the purpose of judging the war actions of the police force and others civil servants. During the trials, many police officers defended themselves that they were merely following the orders of superiors, but the Special Courts did not accept that defence.

The judges considered in their judgments that their very position as a member of the police force entailed they must use common sense and have the ability for sound decision-making; judges held fast to the expectation of police officers to act according to the correct Dutch norms and values. They must be held to a higher standard than civilians, because of their profession. The lack of correct conduct by police officers severely weighted against them.

foto marechausee met duitse marinier.jpgMarechaussee Corps police officer with a German Marine.

At the time, the mere fact of police officers were exposed to many traumatic situations in which they were powerless, was not considered in the trials, nor the need for psychological treatment for the survivors after the end of the war.

Fifteen years after the liberation, by 1960, all prison terms for police employees had ended, due to the completion of their sentences, or by the Queen’s clemency who felt that the Dutch society needed to move on, reconcile, and forgive.

However, for many more decades after the end of war, the police force’s reputation remained severely damaged and caused a split among the old and new officers within the force. In encounters with a police officer, the question whether this officer had been faulty (fout) in the war—on the wrong side—was on everybody’s thoughts. Most did not want to talk about their war-time experiences, afraid for harsh or easy judgements by those who weren’t there.
Dutch Society

Between 1946 and 1950 in total around 60.000 Dutch citizens were investigated for collaboration and criminal acts, of which 20,000 received a sentence.

JEWISH DUTCH POPULATION

In 1940 the total Dutch population was about 9,5 million of which 154,887 citizens stated “Judaism” as their religion on the last Dutch census form; most lived in the province of North Holland (including 79,410 in Amsterdam). Five years later in 1945, only about 35,000 were still alive, about 22%. Many important sectors, such as the diamond industry, were completely wiped out and whole neighbourhood emptied.

The nazi German occupiers only needed to employ a relatively limited number of their own personnel, as many Dutch policemen (in special, political units) readily rounded up the Jewish families, to be sent to their deaths in Eastern Europe, while the well paid Dutch Railway Company, staffed by Dutch employees, without fail transported the Jewish Dutch to camps in the Netherlands, transit points on their deportation towards camp Auschwitz, Sobibor, and other death camps. With respect to Dutch collaboration, Eichmann is quoted as saying “The transports run so smoothly that it is a pleasure to see.” Many other Dutch did not see much wrong with betrayal of fellow citizens to the SS or SD.

THE RESISTANCE

In the Netherlands, relatively few resistance actions with use of weapons and other violence took place, but a very successful underground movement was established that led to elaborate organizations to feed those in hiding—under-grounders—by falsifying documentation to obtain the needed food stamps. A total estimate of 350.000 Dutch including 25.000 Jewish Dutch went underground. This meant that many more (hundreds of thousands) Dutch citizens were involved in this support. Passive resistance, such as refusing to abide by the German orders or reporting for labour, is not considered active resistance in Dutch war documentation and thus not counted, although frequently severe repercussions were the result, for instance, if caught in hiding or harbouring someone in hiding.

 

Labour strikes were another successful action, most successfully organized by the communist-led resistance groups and the unions, in which then other, non-members joined.
Important and dangerous work was the support to allied pilots who had crashed above occupied territory and were then smuggled through the Pyrenees in northern Spain/south of France, to England, or to Switzerland.

plane crash attendants.jpgMarechaussee police and other personnel attending at a plane crash. The Allied pilot and other survivors of this crash hopefully were already saved and hidden by the resistance. fighters.

Another important role was provided by the illegal media and the collection and distribution of important information. After possession of radios became illegal, the illegal radio and printed media became even more important.

As the nazi occupation became more harsh, attacks on known traitors, members of the NSB and the German army brass increased. These resistance actions were generally followed by severe retaliatory reactions from the occupier, in which an inordinate number of innocent people were killed.

In post-war Dutch society, the value of resistance activities was frequently questioned by some sectors of post-war commentators and researchers and judged as less desirable, and overall having been ineffective. The value of resistance that most Dutch agreed on as mostly significant, was its effect to renew hope in the Dutch citizens, encouraging them to combat apathy and desperation, and to instil moral resistance to the German occupation.

Beyond those that died in the war years, many more Dutch suffered physical and emotional injuries to themselves or to family members at the hands of the nazi occupiers and Dutch police. Although emotional trauma from war was the subject of research by Dr. Jan Bastiaans (1917-1997), professor in Leiden, and the worst cases of PTSD received some treatment after the war, many families kept silent and suffered in silence. Avoidance of what could trigger trauma experiences are often indicators of untreated trauma.

Many years later, the nation as a whole started to openly deal with the trauma of the war years with a new generation coming to power in the seventies. At that time the national discussion about the clemency of the so-called Three of Breda (emprisoned in the Netherlands on a life sentence) was a hot button issue in the country during 1972. The then-minister of Justice, Van Agt, proposed to free the three German war criminals (Fischer, Aus der Fünten en Kotälla). The proposal was hotly debated and ultimately rejected by parliament. Many war victims—still alive—were triggered, and treatment for trauma became available to those that pursued it.

 

Posted in Author circles, Babyboomer, EU, Global immigration, Immigration, International politics, the Netherlands, Trump, Uncategorized, war and resistance, world issues | Leave a comment

I AM, LIKE, A REALLY SMART PERSON-THE FACTS


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The City of the Dead, Teotihuacan. Mexico

 

I AM REALLY A SMART PERSON

The Facts

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Mexican hero. Zapata. His ghost will haunt Trump in the years to come.

Donald was an energetic, assertive child, and his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at age 13, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.

He spent two years at Fordham University. Fordham was merely a stepping stone. After two years, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. The New York businessman rarely talks about this school. Since he matriculated and didn’t earn his degree, most of us (graduates) don’t even acknowledge him being at Fordham. Trump “doesn’t really represent [Fordham’s Jesuit] values” and that it’s hard to defend him, but campus republicans would still support Trump in the general election.

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Trump has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wharton, the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Many have speculated that his father’s prestigious status played a major part in Trump’s acceptance into the university, and a reference from a friend of his brother. No journalist has been able to find any evidence that confirms Trump’s class standing. The commencement program from 1968 does not list Trump as having graduated with honors of any kind. “He was not first in the class. He was not known on campus for any reason at all.” Trump was rarely seen on campus on weekends, he was not involved in activities, and his picture does not appear in the school’s yearbook. Trump himself states that, in his opinion, a degree from Wharton “doesn’t prove very much.” During his years at college, Trump secured education deferments for the Vietnam War draft and ultimately a 1-Y medical deferment after he graduated

 

As a student, Trump worked with his father during the summer and then joined his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, after graduation from college.

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Protests in Mexico against the results of the economic pressures: raise of gas price at the pump.

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In 1971, Donald Trump was given control of the company, which he later renamed the Trump Organization. He wanted to create unique buildings that people would talk about and admire, and he wanted to place his name on these buildings. He thrived on conflict and the ultimate challenge, on his best when problems seemed insurmountable to others.

Trump’s business practices were called into question when, in 1973, the federal government filed a complaint against Trump, his father and their company alleging that they had discriminated against tenants and potential tenants based on their race, a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. After a lengthy legal battle, the case was settled in 1975. As part of the agreement, the Trump company had to train employees about the Fair Housing Act and inform the community about its fair housing practices.

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It was in 1990, however, that the real estate market declined, reducing the value of and income from Trump’s empire. The Trump Organization required a massive infusion of loans to keep it from collapsing, a situation which raised questions as to whether the corporation could survive bankruptcy. He was forced to appoint a chief financial officer, live on a budget, and standardize operations. In return, Trump was offered a bailout that lowered or suspended his debt interest and, in essence, allowed him to retain most of his valuable assets, namely, his casinos, the rail yards, his residences, and partial interest in the Plaza Hotel.

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The new seat of the American government.

Donald Trump eventually managed to climb back from a reported deficit of nearly $900 million, claiming to have reached a zenith of more than $2 billion. However, independent sources again questioned his math, estimating his worth at something closer to $500 million by 1997.

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In 2000, Trump construction made headlines again when a state court of appeal ruled that he had the right to finish an 856-foot-tall condominium. The Coalition for Responsible Development had sued the city, charging it was violating zoning laws by letting the building reach heights that towered over everything in the neighborhood.

 

On October 7, 1999, Trump announced the formation of an exploratory committee to inform his decision whether or not to seek the Reform Party’s nomination for the presidential race of 2000. However, after a poor showing during the California primary, Trump withdrew his candidacy.

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With his lover, Marla Maples

In 2004 Trump took advantage of his high-profile persona when he began producing and starring in the NBC reality series The Apprentice, in which contestants competed for a management position within the Trump Organization.

(The annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, were already part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump. He was caught on tape uttering derisive comments about contestants.) Upon Trump’s announcement to run for president, his scathing, derogatory remarks about Mexicans and immigration caused NBC to sever business ties with him. Trump was unapologetic and defiant, filing a $500 million dollar lawsuit against the company, with his daughter advocating in the media on his behalf.

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In 2005, Trump launched his for-profit Trump University offering classes in real estate and acquiring and managing wealth. The venture had been under scrutiny almost since its inception and at the time of his presidential bid, it remained the subject of multiple law suits fraud, false advertising and breach of contract. Trump finally settled with the 6,000 victims for USD 25 million after his election for president.

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His public image affected by his odd behaviour, his  appearance and of course, his hair.

 

Beginning in early 2011, Trump expressed doubts about the validity of Obama’s birth country to media outlets. To quell the staunch outcry from birtherists, Obama eventually released his birth certificate in April 2011, verifying that he was born in the United States. In the years since, Trump continued to question the president’s birthplace through his 2012 re-election. In 2013, Trump tweeted that a Hawaiian State Health Director, who died of cardiac arrhythmia following a plane crash, was somehow connected to a cover-up of the president’s birth certificate.

In 2016, as he began to clinch his own nomination as the GOP candidate for president, Trump toned down his stance, telling CNN, “I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I will write a book.” Trump also blamed his presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, on the matter: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

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On July 18, 2015, calling out Senator and one-time Republican presidential nominee John McCain reputation as a military hero. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

 

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After a Fox News presidential debate in early August, Trump made highly insulting remarks about moderator Megyn Kelly for the nature of her questions, and was hence disinvited from an Atlanta speaking engagement.

Despite ongoing criticisms and controversies, including his proposal to ban the immigration of Muslims to the United States, an apparent endorsement of waterboarding, and widespread protests at his political rallies, several of which had turned violent, he became the main GOP candidate, pulling in the support of 1,238 delegates, slightly above the 1,237 delegate count needed to secure the nomination. In August 2016, he confirmed that he would not release his tax returns before the November election.

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Elected at age 70, he is the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the presidency, the first without prior military or governmental service, and the fifth elected with less than a plurality of the national popular vote. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

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Compiled from various articles on the Internet including Wikipedia; Heavy.com; Biography.com; The Washington Post; Encyclopedia.com.

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Posted in Babyboomer, Diversity issues, elections, Exercise; old age; aging gracefully; yoga practice ; wholesome life, Global immigration, International politics, latest news items, Mexican life, religion, righteousness, The truth, Trump, Uncategorized, world issues | Leave a comment

HOW TRUMP PRESIDENCY MIGHT AFFECT MEXICO


_93733565_view_reu976.jpgHOW TRUMP PRESIDENCY MIGHT AFFECT MEXICO

 

Forbes.com reported in November 2016:

Why does it matter so much to Mexico? 80% of Mexican exports go to the US, and so campaign pledges to renegotiate or even tear up NAFTA cast a significant pall over the economy. It appears that, at a minimum, the new USA administration will use the threat of renegotiating or pulling out of NAFTA as a means of pressuring Mexico into accepting concessions over tariffs on certain products – chiefly manufactured goods, in the hope that American firms with facilities in Mexico will move elements of their supply chain back to the US. Mexico cannot afford to lose access to the US market and so would almost certainly have to accept a new deal, but the implications of that on the economy as a whole and Mexican domestic politics could be dramatic in the short term.

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According to Latinnews.com:

A number of security experts believe that the “Trump wall” – as described by its main proponent – will never be built. They argue that the cost and technical challenges are prohibitive and that there are legal complications over ownership, right-of-way conflicts, eminent domain disputes, and environmental regulations. But it is feasible that a future US administration would further strengthen and tighten border patrol and deploy advanced technology, including drones and other devices, to make illegal entry significantly more difficult. Mass deportations in the other direction are also possible.

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Mexican stock trade building in Mexico City

As the process would most probably be accompanied by a sharp cooling in bilateral relations, it is likely that it could be poorly managed and would have serious unintended consequences. One is that a less porous border with fewer illegal drug trafficking routes might intensify the struggle to control those routes between the drug trafficking organisations (DTOs). If Mexican criminals are deported from US prisons and simply dumped on the Mexican side of the border that too is going to increase, not reduce border tensions. US-Mexican security cooperation would most likely decrease sharply and the Mérida initiative – a part US-funded joint security programme – might not survive. Poor security cooperation between the two countries might be seen as a great opportunity by the ever-resourceful DTOs.

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Illegal immigration

According to US border patrol statistics a total of 150,304 immigrants were arrested when trying to enter the US illegally between October 2015 and February 2016, a 24% increase on the same year-earlier period.

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Mexico has  a young population, brimming with talent that want to better their lives and are not afraid to work hard.

 

Mexican presidents on Trump:

Former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) said he would not “pay for that f****** wall”, adding of Donald Trump that “He reminds me of Hitler…he’s going to use the executive power to do what he’d like”. Another former Mexican President, Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), pointed out that Trump is himself the son of immigrants but “is talking about immigrants who have a different skin colour to him. Frankly it’s racist and exploits sensitivities, rather like Hitler did in his day.”

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The Economist.com reports:

 

Outside a massive Volkswagen (VW) factory in Puebla, two hours’ drive from Mexico City, workers fret about Mr. Trump’s threats to whack big tariffs on cars made in Mexico. One American carmaker—Ford—cancelled plans to build a $1.6bn plant in San Luis Potosí, some five hours farther north. It may have had other reasons for doing so, but workers in Puebla are not reassured.

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The Trump presidency streaking toward Mexico is already causing problems. Inflation has started rising in response to the devaluation of the peso caused by his election. The central bank raised interest rates five times in 2016; it will probably have to continue tightening. After a sharp rise in public debt as a share of GDP over the past several years, the government must curb spending. Over the past few months, economists have lowered their forecasts for GDP growth in 2017, from an average of 2.3% to 1.4%. On January 1st the government cut a popular subsidy by raising petrol prices by up to 20%. Six people died in the ensuing protests.

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Mexican officials think the Trump presidency poses two main dangers. The first is that the United States will renounce NAFTA, which it can do after six months’ notice, or simply shred it by putting up trade barriers. The second is that, as a way of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall, Mr Trump will carry out his threat to block remittances from immigrants in the United States. These inject some $25bn a year into Mexico’s economy.

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The president-elect’s other big anti-Mexican idea, to dump millions of illegal immigrants on Mexico’s northern border, is seen as a lesser threat. Under Barack Obama, the United States deported some 175,000 Mexicans a year; Mr. Trump will find it hard to increase that number.

 

USA Republican plans to tax imports as part of a reform of corporate income tax would hit Mexico hard. The Mexican government sees that as a problem to be addressed by the United States’ trading partners in concert, rather than by Mexico alone.

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Mexico has few attractive options. In a trade war, it would suffer horribly. Raising its own tariffs would hurt its own consumers. Yet that does not mean that Mexico is defenseless. In 2009 it imposed tariffs on nearly 100 American products, including strawberries and Christmas trees, after the United States barred Mexican lorries from its roads to protect the jobs of American drivers. That got the attention of American politicians: the pro-trade lobby prevailed.

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Mexican analysts are thinking about how the country might fight the next skirmish. Maize (corn), grown mainly in states that voted for Mr. Trump, will be a tempting target. The United States sold about USD $2.5 billion-worth to Mexico in 2016. Faced with the loss of their biggest market, American maize farmers might press the White House to relent. On January 6th, 2017   16 American farming groups warned in a letter to Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-president-elect, that disrupting trade with Mexico and other countries would have “devastating consequences” for farmers, who are already suffering from low prices.

 

Also for the USA, negative impacts are expected for those businesses trading with Mexico. Vinepai.com reported:

 

The stock of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and other Mexican beers into the United States, was tightly correlated with the US race for the presidency. When the FBI recently decided to look at more of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Constellation’s stock dropped. When FBI Director James Comey announced no charges would be brought, it climbed right back up, surging with the promise of a Clinton presidency.

These trends were actually fairly consistent with the markets overall. But things changed the day after Trump won the election. While U.S. markets rallied to record closing highs on November 9th, Constellation saw its stock collapse, closing down nearly 8%, off of even deeper lows.

 

Is a Trump presidency going to threaten the U.S.’s access to Mexican beer?

It would be an ironic twist, since Mexican beer has been enjoying intense popularity in the U.S. in recent years. In 2015, Corona was the most popular imported beer in America. The Mexican beer market — which dominates the beer export market — sends 75% of its exports just north of the border to the United States.

If Trump went through with his promise of knee-capping NAFTA and instituting tariffs, it would make it more expensive to bring finished beer into the United States. It would also make it more expensive for companies in Mexico to make that beer. The Grupo Modelo brewery consumes 6.5 million bushels of barley a year. A large portion of that barley comes cheap from the United States. Barley would become a lot more expensive without NAFTA.

For US shareholders, though, and the 9,000 employees at Constellation, Trump’s impact on

Mexican beer could go deep if the stock doesn’t stabilize. Mexican beer made up 63% of the US company’s  profits in 2016, according to Benzinga, and trade restrictions or tariffs will cut into that and impact business.

 

Marketrealist.com predicts:

 

Mexico stands to be greatly impacted by a Donald Trump victory in the 2016 US presidential election. Renegotiating NAFTA1 would impact a variety of industries in Mexico, especially the auto industry.

Mexico’s auto industry is poised to grow at a good pace over the next four years. Vehicle production is anticipated to increase more than 50% until 2020. So, Trump’s stated intention of restricting trade and financial flows between the US and Mexico would impact industrial growth in Mexico (EWW).

 

In January 2016, Weforum.org published an article by Mexican Enrique President Pena Nieto. Much of his reports about the economy doesn’t hold anymore after the USA presidential elections, but a few areas of economic performance still works:

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Connectivity is the key in an increasingly digital economy. Mexico is one of the few nations in the world whose constitution formally recognizes the right of its people to a broadband internet connection. The goal is to connect 70% of households and 85% of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to high speed internet. In order to reach this target, we have established 65 thousand public places with broadband internet connection, such as schools, libraries and squares.

In the same way, we are channeling more than 460 billion dollars for infrastructure, to successfully integrate Mexican products and services into the 21st century global economy. Mexico has become a manufacturing powerhouse. It is one of the top global sellers of TV sets, vehicles, auto-parts, computers and cellphones, among several other products. With improved infrastructure, we will certainly reinvigorate our competitiveness, by setting the stage for expanding the value and variety of our high-tech, export-oriented industries.

With that aim, we are building and modernizing thousands of kilometers of roads and highways, as well as improving our mass transit and railway systems. Besides, we will construct a new Mexico City International Airport and will almost double our seaports capacity on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, among other large-scale infrastructure projects. Our aim is to make Mexico a world-class logistics platform. (So far El Presidente).

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I feel for Mexico. There are a lot of economics problem in her future, not easily solved. Per year the absent Mexican sons and daughters living in the USA send 20 billion dollars to their relatives in Mexico. What effect will that have on those dependent on that extra money, elderly parents, children, handicapped or healthy?

On the other hand, ties with Canada can be strengthened and those could become relatively more important to the industries than those with the USA. For example, corn is also grown in Canada, as well as barley. Canada could pick up the slack delivering these products, although most likely at higher cost for Mexico with higher wages and longer transport avenues from Canada. If it comes down to that, the tariffs the US might put on those products, might have the effect that a product imported from Canada will have a similar price than if it continued to come from the US.

Here is where bi-lateral trade would come in. If Canada would take more needed workers and immigrants from Mexico to fill in for the lack of agricultural labour and those in other sectors in Canada, such as construction, the governments could develop special deals that offset the economic impacts for Mexico.

 

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Posted in Diversity issues, elections, Global immigration, growing your own veggies., Immigration, International politics, latest news items, Mexican life, Relocation to mexico, travel, Uncategorized, war on drugs | Leave a comment

FIRST YEAR OF RETIREMENT


FIRST YEAR OF RETIREMENT

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Everybody from work I bump into asks how I am liking retirement. The short answer is that I love it. What’s not to like? Getting up at your leisure, enjoying your first coffee of the day in peace and quiet and then determining what else you want to do that day. It is a luxury that I only now appreciate to the full extent, after experiencing this marvellous gift for a couple of months short of a year. It took a few months to completely relax and to let the world of work fade into the background.

I decided that was the time to retire and I set the process in working at the end of 2015. The sale of my home of 15 years would provide me with substantial more than I paid for it and allowed me to pay off my debts. Leading up to the day of retirement, I first took my vacation days for an extended stay at my borrowed, second home in Mexico.
I was enrolled in an on-line writing course with UBC that started in the new year. I worked from the roof top mirador (literally: view point) in the sun. I wrote the outline of my third novel with the smell of Mexico in my nose. I returned to Canada in mid-March.

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On March 1, 2016 I put up my home for sale and sold it within three days for above-asking price, with a couple of offers on the go. I was lucky for it was the right time in the real estate market. After paying off my debts, I had enough left over to put an offer on a home in Mexico the following week, in the quaint village where I have been visiting for a number of years. I had been looking for years while asking the locals about anything available that I might be able to afford.
Until this year, I wasn’t able to move on actually buying. My offer (significantly below asking) was accepted. Houses do not sell quickly in Ajijic and it had been for sale for some years, while the winter rentals provided a nice income for the owners in the meantime. How could I lose?

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The photo is blurry, because the ladies were jumping,  trying to avoid the cucarachas they imagined climbing up to their legs. I had not fumigated the casa before our arrival and there were some of these Mexican creatures running around when we arrived.

I spent two weeks in June in my Mexican village together with two of my friends to take possession of my new home and to get things organised with the caretaker. My home there is larger and more beautiful than anything I owned in Canada, although it is still simple, built and decorated Mexican style.
In November I made the trip again and I will stay here until spring 2017. The weather is perfect to me, between 22 and 27 degrees with cooler nights, sunny most days or at least for part of the day.

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A year of not working, what is that like?

My home in Kelowna in the strata complex was not as restful as expected, with a new problem of second hand smoke from all the smoking neighbours penetrating my digs to a significant level throughout the day. I was glad to lock my door and leave for Mexico.
My days here in Mexico and in Kelowna have evolved into a general routine. I work through the mornings on my book manuscript and writing stories. Then I shop for my daily groceries. It feels like I have returned to the rhythm of my home country in the Netherlands with daily shopping for what you need and not anything more. Stockpiling is a waste and not necessary.

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Here in Mexico I have a small tienda (shop) across from me, and three more around the corner; the baker brings daily fresh bolillos (buns) to the shops. By 11 a.m. these are sold out and the lunch preparations already started everywhere. Many small shops and restaurants offer food for low prices, and most shops have their specialities. No need to make your own tortillas, others will do that for you, and every day fresh. Beans, or refried beans in small or larger containers, tamales and empenadas, or for the Gringos more usual fare. Hamburgesas are everywhere available. From 2-4 most shops close for a rest. I have come to appreciate a little snooze at siesta time.

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The afternoon here starts after 4 p.m. and are really evenings, as it gets dark after 6:00. Most people work till 7 p.m. after which their dinner time starts. I generally am a bit earlier, and I take most meals at home.

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Mexican families in my neighbourhood enjoy their leisure time in the streets, half on their narrow sidewalks, and half inside, with kids playing on the streets. The children are out late, but by 10 p.m. all is quiet. At fiesta times it is not unusual to see a group start a small fire on the cobblestones in the street, to chase the cooler night air away while socializing, sitting on the sidewalk, or on plastic chairs, or just standing around, while the kids are playing.

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The toro and the Zayacas are important symbols of the culture. The bull fighters are the Charros who represent courage and agility and form an integral part of the community and its history of bull fighting, giving young men an opportunity to show courage. Some cities still have bullfights. In Ajijic the bull does not get killed or injured. During the last fiesta the previous year, too many kids had entered the bull pen, so the event was cancelled. Horses are plentiful and mostly pets. During Carnaval there is bullfighting in the evenings.

The Zayacas are men impersonating women, a complicated symbol of a complicated gender relationship. They will have a bag of flower and will”spray” you with flour, if you get too close or are tempted into a dance with them.

Sometimes I am out in the evening to see the procession for a fiesta when there is one happenin or go for a walk along the malecon (boulevard that borders the lake) or I stroll around on the plaza in the centre of town, where all roads lead to. I meet some friends/acquaintances and chat for a minute in the street. I meet new people while having a coffee at the coffee shop, or a margarita rocas at the Music Box pub. When at home, I watch my TV news and a movie on my Apple gadget in the evenings.

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Chapala malecon

Occasional visitors are staying at my place the odd time. We try to do various activities in town and in the region. My last visitor and I have visited the hot springs and pools in the next town over, San Juan de Cosala, and went for a change of scenery to the larger town of Chapala a few times, where I also paid my tax bill for the year—less than the price of a dress. (I now pay my own bills, since I lost my house manager; she found me too demanding and since I am not going to rent out the place in winter, that was just as well.)
For the first time, I went with my friend for a spell at the casino located between the two towns, where a modern mall with food court and a Wal-mart outlet across the road attracts a different kind of clientele, mostly young people and gringos. We even found a Danish bakery there with a breakfast and lunch deli that sold excellent sourdough bread.

It is easy to get around without a car. The local bus in Mexico costs 7 pesos (CAD .50), and the express bus 10 pesos. The latter will go to Guadalajara, which costs more. The local bus runs every half hour and more often at rush hour.
Local agencies offer day tours in the area for about $30 for nearby trips that include a guide who speaks English. For longer trips including hotel around the state of Jalisco you pay more of course, such as to the Monarch buttefly sanctuary.

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Guadalajara’s oldest church in Centro

My visiting friend and I took a trip to Tlaquepaque and Tonala, old towns that have been absorbed by the city of Guadalajara and are famous for their craftsmanship. We visited the workshop (taller) of a well-known, ageing ceramic artist who also took up painting. His family runs the front of his casa where they sell tacos and other Mexican delights.
On this trip we were granted an exclusive visit to a vast warehouse full of decorative metal products where we could purchase anything, if so desired. The trip then brought us to a glass workshop where the recycled glass was used to make decorative as well as functional products.
Everything you saw in that home decor store in the US, Canada, or Europe was most likely made in Tonala, although China has started to copy its products, so look for the Hecho en Mexico sign.

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Salvador Vasquez’ depiction of a Spanish ruler.

My real work is the writing work in which I can determine my own pace. My manuscript for a third novel is now in advanced stage and I am polishing it up, to be ready for the agents I will meet at the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in February, just in case they ask me to send some of my work.

Occasionally I meet others here in the streets, as some gringos on vacation seem nicer here than at home and more open for a chat and making a connection, although many gringos at first walk by you with their noses in the air and hardly bother to greet you back. I found that those who live here full time are nice, and the Canadians are definitively nicer than the Americans here, generally speaking. But then again, I might be biased.

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The patio where I work.

I have gone to another dimension, here in retirement. The life of work is so far behind me that I can’t believe it has only been a year. The nervous tension caused by expectations of others and the demands of supervisors and the conventions of social control is such an invisible environmental pressure that it takes to be completely away from it for an extended time before it even hits home what it was that made one feel tense.

Being away from my country makes it more obvious that the secret of a successful retirement is finding a comfortable environment. The living is very easy in Mexico. Live and let live. Everybody leaves me alone unless I indicate I seek connections. My neighbours know me and say hello and chat when I chat, although with my limited knowledge of Spanish it won’t be a long talk.

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The odd creepy feeling comes over me and then I check where it comes from. Mostly it is from warnings from others that have taken up the media prejudice against Mexico: Is it safe there? That in the USA more attacks and more shootings occurred in which the general public was the victim than in Mexico from violence between the cartels is an inconvenient fact that most ignore.
It took a while to find out that the collection of youth gathering most nights in front of my home, are just that: Friends who gather, have a drink, or smoke up some, and quietly spend time together, talking. They remember their friend, Cleo, who killed himself some years back. His name is on the pedestal of the statue that forms a small altar for the Virgen de Guadalupe. They politely return my greetings when I arrive at my place when they are there.

I feel great.The first year of my retirement has been a success.

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IS TRUMP TAKING LESSONS FROM HITLER?


TRUMP’S ELECTION has a lot of people very worried, with good reason. History repeats itself for those who will not learn from it.This is how Germany got in over its head about 83 years ago. It may serve as a warning.

 

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American Eagle

 

When Hitler got the majority of the German electorate behind his policies, his actions up till then were not all that alarming. After all, he got there legitimately. Only in hindsight seemed his actions to have unavoidably lead to the mass extinction of the victims of this white supremacist, xenophobic dictator.

 

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German Eagle

Except to his targets–the Jewish Germans–who knew very well by the day that his chancellorship started in February 1933 that their lives might be in danger. On April 1, 1933, Hitler implemented a national boycott of Jewish businesses, followed by the introduction of the ”Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” of April 7, 1933, which was one of the first laws to persecute Jews by excluding them from state service.

 

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YOU KNOW WHO

Only the smart ones left the country then, which wasn’t all that easy to do. In those days of economic depression and political turmoil, an exit permit and immigration approval from other nations were hard to come by. Borders were not as permeable as they currently are in the modern European Community. Many thought it wouldn’t be as bad and the hateful talk was just bluster.

The composer Kurt Weil had left the country, and Hannah Arendt, the strong feminist philosopher of fame (who wrote her controversial book about the trial of Albert Eichmann in Jerusalem), both were examples of those who saw the writing on the wall.

(Movie Margarethe von Trotta: Hannah Arend)

 

 

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Hannah Arendt

 

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Margarethe von Trotta

 

Hitler promised his supporters economic prosperity, reminding the Germans of their history, when the once-great German Empire under the Habsburg dynasty ruled the world. He was going to make Germany great again, making sure that all Germans would get a share in the wealth. He was a nationalist: Germany first–then the rest of the world.

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German nazis demonstrating.

Hitler called himself a socialist–all Germans would share in the nation’s wealth. But the socialist varnish soon disappeared, when he started blaming the communists (the Marxists=the Jews) for the troubles in Germany, and for losing World War I, calling them disloyal and a danger to the unity of the nation, thus marking the targets for his followers’ distrust and anger. An overwhelmingly Caucasian population ate it up. In a world full of white skin, the ideal Germanic Übermensch (according to Hitler) had blond hair, and bleu eyes, although Hitler fell short in that category himself.

Disappointment with the disastrous results of the lost war–only fifteen years prior– was fresh in people’s memory, its humiliating defeat still on everybody’s mind. Many fathers had become invalid, if not dead. The ‘common folk’ were sensitive to future losses. All Germans in 1933 desperately needed a win.

 

images-3.jpegWir Sind Die Schrittmacher — we are making strides (in Germany)

 

In the USA (and in other industrialized nations), many whites  recently lost their job,  as the economy became globalized.  They see Trump as their hero, who promises to get back lost industries, although the largest section of Trump voters apparently were those with average income of $75,000. They have indeed something to lose, but maybe not what they think they will lose.

The war in Vietnam was a disaster, so was the Iraq initiative to depose Saddam Hussein, and now Afghanistan and in Syria against the IS rebels. The US army doesn’t seem able to win anymore. Trump says that Putin is a hero, he is a strong man, we like him, if only we had such a leader we could win. Those seem to be acceptable views, although short-sighted thoughts, and  it does indicate what sort of a man Trump is: Violence demands violence, and take what you want.

 

images-4.jpegIn the thirties Americans were willing to take any job.

 

Hitler started a massive infrastructure rebuilding program, just like the new USA president-elect Trump announced he will start. With shared private-public funding of mass projects, Hitler indeed managed to give the economy a jolt.

Trump will undoubtedly favour his own corporations and friends’ businesses with massive tax breaks for working on those projects.

Hitler was not an educated politician, but a frustrated failed artist, rejected twice by the Art Academy, a labourer. He was an immigrant from Austria who was homeless for a while, until he joined the German army as an Austrian. He saw a bit of war, but was mostly stationed behind the front lines, although he obtained an iron cross for having been in WW1.

Working his way up rather quickly to a political appointment  through his way of convincing and inspiring others, he became the German Chancellor. He then appointed a master of indoctrination and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who further administered the poison pill to the German Volk, to great effect, as we all know.

Hitler collected loyal followers around him  who would blindly follow his orders and to make the laws needed to advance Hitler’s agenda.

Doesn’t this sound like Trump’s assignment of Stephen Bannon as his propaganda minister?

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The masses were no problem for Hitler, and were already inspired by Hitler’s national pride-inciting speeches, delivered in rambling rants and raves that just hit the spot with listeners, to raise their blind admiration. Sounds familiar?

It was a politically restless time after WWI, when the German nation had become a republic; a few coups were attempted. After another attempted coup in August 1934, Hitler convinced the cabinet to enact a law abolishing the office of president, combining its powers with those of the chancellor. Hitler thus became head of state, as well as head of government and was formally named leader and chancellor.

As head of state, Hitler became supreme commander of the armed forces. Hitler disbanded the German parliament, when he was sure he could get away with it, effectively making Germany a dictatorship.

One would think that German citizens would protest, and that indeed happened to an extent, coming from the intellectuals on the left of the political spectrum, i.e. communists, socialists, educators and artists, and from Jewish circles, the latter often fitting more than one category. However, the protestors had been effectively  made ineffective in their protest by the propaganda ministry; those that persisted, just got arrested.

images-2.jpegRecent demonstrations in Germany against the rise of white supremacy.

 

Why did the Jewish generate such hate? What was that about?  Many non-Europeans might not know how the Jewish in Europe got their ‘special’ position of outliers in the community. History is conveniently forgotten. Many private citizens, church officials and governments have played a role that wasn’t always nice. It also took a long while before the Jewish themselves believed, no–hoped–it wouldn’t come to this, counting on the presence of rational thinking in others.

It’s a long story, that needs to be explored, but the short version: During the advance of Christianity all over Europe, the Christian religious leadership pointed to the Jewish as the original murderers of Christ. Religion is what ruled the masses, with the priests as the puppet masters. Blindly following religious leaders is not a recent invention.

We all know the story of Christ, who was a Jewish pacifist born in the old territory on the Mediterranean Sea (later called Palestine) that was occupied by the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ, exposed the religious leadership of being in cahoots with the Roman oppressors-occupiers of the Palestinian-Judean lands. Christ paid for his rebellion with his life. After his religious leadership turned him over to the occupying force, he was crucified by the Romans. He became the martyr for the Christian rebel movement that later got established as the main religion in Europe.

As we all know, governing authorities seem to more easily ‘manage’ the masses when providing them with a target and a focus for hate, gladly stirring up emotions, to distract the attention away from the real issues that the leadership doesn’t want to be scrutinized on.

After the start of Christianity, the believers of the Jewish religion (including those non-practicing), were officially banned from all official trade unions (guilds) in the cities of Europe; they could not attend universities, were not eligible for charity, and so on. They were relegated to the edges of European society.

But the the Jewish Diaspora in Europe successfully survived by reinventing themselves, specializing in trades outside of the established trade organizations (e.g. in the arts, as diamond cutters, in commerce, money lending, etc.), forming their own organizations and charities, favouring their own from within their community, once established. Their successes for instance in banking and the arts irked many non-Jewish, then and now. Anti-Semitism among the non-Jewish has continued over the centuries to this day, and not only in Europe.

After World War 1, the Allied had regained the Palestine territory from the Syrian Ottoman empire and it came under mandate of the British through the League of Nations (forerunner of the UN).

After WW2, Palestine became the place Jewish Europeans, who had survived the extermination camps, settled. They still held Palestine in their memory as their original homeland from many centuries ago. The Europeans had demonstrated they didn’t care for the Jewish citizens, so not much attachment to that place lingered, so many survivors elected to move to the land that was historically promised according to their religion. Others immigrated to America, Canada and Australia.

The battle for legitimacy as a Jewish nation then started in Palestine. The Allied conveniently had disregarded Palestine’s then-population, an Arab tribe (originally related to the Jewish brethren that had left the territory centuries earlier). Like the other Arab tribes of the Middle East, they had turned to Islam at the time the Europeans turned to Christianity.

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Back to 1934.

Besides the Jewish German intellectuals, the non-Jewish intellectuals  also read the writing on the wall, and soon withdrew from all criticism on the Hitler government. Fit was made clear that one had to choose, for or against the Nazis: there was no middle ground. Most intellectuals had abandoned their Jewish friends and colleagues already by 1934.

Hitler made all kinds of laws with the help of his gang of administrators. Human principles or international laws didn’t count anymore. Hitler started early on with excluding certain segments of the population, with the acceptance of the general population. He pushed the buttons of fear and loathing in the population that were so well developed in his speeches: against criminals, anti-German elements, those that only misuse the national resources and have no right to those benefits, traitors to the national cause.

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Trump calls them Mexicans, criminals, terrorists, and Muslims. Media reports told of how he also used coded words for Jewish Americans, raising the acceptance of anti-Semitism in the USA. He figured about 3 million criminal Mexicans are in the US. What was their crime?

Being Mexican and working for decades, paying taxes and having children cannot be a crime. How come not any of the previous elected governments didn’t address the undocumented issue earlier in the game, when it was known where they lived without a permit to stay, as they were already paying taxes to the tune of billions of dollars? The US governments didn’t want to miss out on those and needed the labourers. It’s as easy as that.  Ans that the Mexicans and others from Central and South America take the jobs at a lesser pay that the local Americans don’t want to do, just like the European Jewish took the niche markets, and made a success of themselves.

Envy is the green eyed monster that destroys.

Hitler’s National-Socialists were nationalist first. As the national anthem states: Germany over the World (Deutschland über Alles in der Welt).

Trump defies a category; he acts under the Republican banner, but what is he really? He found a good banner to fly under, and the Republican leadership hastily accepted him as their ticket to staying in power. Trump certainly is a nationalist, “making America great again”, the greatest country in the world, many Americans believe right now.

Hitler’s ‘socialist’ identity only pertained to the white supremacists themselves, who shared in the wealth–for a while at least, when the economic miracle lasted. When he started deporting the Jewish Germans, the invalids, the Roma, gays and the mentally ill, it was too late.

He first annexed various territories to his Reich, followed by the invasion of many other nations, with disastrous results for all of Europe and the world. Hitler started his march through eastern Europe in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, six years after his appointment as Chancellor (=Prime Minister equivalent). Another six years later, in 1945 all of Europe was in shambles.

Will the world have to look forward to a similar fate with Trump’s election? Will he act with bluster and actual military interventions to international upsets (the middle east, and the Baltic nations come to mind) and thus invite retaliation, plunging the world into another global military conflict? Will he set back the US democracy and cause the undoing of the American Constitution?

Past this site in your browser to see a convincing video.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/07/what-germans-really-think-about-those-hitler-trump-comparisons/

 

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A Week of Disasters


 

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Today is the morning after Remembrance Day, the end of the week of disasters and of crying my eyes out–a Saturday. Even the heavens are soaking us with an intense downpour in this early hour, the light diffuse and the sound of water on metal roof trying to wash all sadness out of our system.

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I cried for all those hit hard by the choice of half of the electorate for leading our neighbouring nation, the elected man who loudly announces his Hitleresque thoughts on anyone different from him. The future looks bleak for them and us. Will we face a repeat of history that I barely escaped then? The echo of war, not so long ago, reverberates.

The memories are still there, laid down in documents and drawings of resistance during 1940-1945.

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At The Source Of Resistance, The struggle of the town of Ommen against the German occupation 1940-1945. Drawings by Jef Last, editor.

 

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I cried for my father, for my ignorance all those years of who he was, for his life and his troubles from five imminently important years, none of which his children knew. Only when children wish to know–after our fathers are long gone–can we face up to the truth. I wished I had known then, but our parents didn’t speak about their fear, hurt and failure. He is the one with the pipe.

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Seventy years passed and truth looks different now, anger and hurt has shifted; survivors pain and guilt died with the dead. All suffered under Hitler, some more so than others, each survivor finding a way for dealing with their realities in an infinite number of ways, from bad to good and everything in between.

Below a sheet of food vouchers from the distribution services, necessary to ensure that  every family got at least some food, as long as stocks lasted. Aardappelen-potatoes, Algemeen–general, Boter–butter, Melk–milk.

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I cried for my lost generation, turning from dreamy and ignorant love children to desperately holding on to what they amassed. I cried for our poet with the heartbreaking voice singing goodbye so eloquently for the last years, warning us it will all come to this. I cried for my youth that has unavoidably died with his death.

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Grieving, the pain of necessary healing, something we would like to avoid. Nevertheless, we need to feel it, just to become and stay human–complete.

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My wish for the coming year is not to escape, but to use all emotions involved in that process, identify them, and then to hold on to strength, to become stronger, so we can stay human and truthful.

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This statue in Amsterdam of the Dock worker was erected in remembrance of the wildcat strike of the workers in February 1941 against the treatment of our Jewish Dutch by the German occupational authority. The strike started in the docks of Amsterdam and was instigated by local communist leaders. The Dutch government had already prohibited the Communist Party before the German invasion,  because of the party’s criticism on the government that was interpreted as anti-Dutch and a threat to the stability of the country!

The real danger was not the Dutch communist party, but the neighbouring nation and its Nazi leader who already loudly announced his plans then to have an army and fight for its right, making the nation great again, planning to overrun the continent.

Lest we forget…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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