FTAC: Middle East Conflict: The Absurd Preoccupation


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While the Laws of War may apply to contested space and recognize the division between the “occupier” and the “occupied” — and the “stronger” and the “weaker” for that matter — there’s something now absurd about the preoccupation with an occupation that treats the “occupied” better than their own leaders.

The law and the thinking behind it have become absurd as the conflict becomes redefined. I think I’ve done my part to harp on the Soviet / post-Soviet engineering of the conflict and get in the way of the memorization of political cant and disinformation that keeps the darned thing — and the Arab apartheid of the Palestinians and related exploitation of the main base by the leadership elite — cycling.

Maybe the cadre who most genuinely care about the Palestinian main base are figuring out the true history of the conflict — that would be a better preoccupation than the one to which too many have been and are still indoctrinated.

Related on BackChannels for Palestinian Cadre – A Module









FTAC: Have South African Communists Set an Example for the Suffering of Mexico?


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Inspiration: the briefest tirade against systemic corruption with other parts of the conversation previously referencing the agony of Mexico between the slave wages of the “maquiladora” and the brutality of the narcotics and other trafficking business.

I’ve just spent an hour struggling to deliver the answer, the prescription, that magic elixir in thought that would derail the wicked and cleanse the land with decency in law and the power to maintain the best conditions for economic, physical, political, psychological, and spiritual well being for all The People.

Naturally, I thought of the Communists of South Africa.

http://ewn.co.za/2017/11/18/mapaila-zuma-has-sold-out-the-country (Manyathela, Clement.  “Mapiala: Zuma has sold out the country.”  Eyewitness News (late 2017).

Jacob Zuma had taken millions in British development support to build for himself a compound fit for a king, and in the way of similar autocrats / malignant narcissists, he had developed renown for favors to family and friends. His latest turn was toward the Black Nationalism made so clearly successful (I kid about that) by Robert Mugabe next door in Zimbabwe.

For reasons I cannot explain, but perhaps today’s SA Communist Party will, Zuma’s corruption was found, alas, unappealing by those who were supposed to love him most of all.

My best hope for Mexico will be that the possession of conscience and empathy prove evolutionary even in the worst of gangsters, and that some forms of evil diminish because the criminals in the boardrooms and out on the streets may lose the respect of their children while also finding societies, somewhere, that for all their money and power won’t have them.

If I could time travel back in history, I would have liked to have spent an afternoon fly fishing with Andrew Carnegie and then a couple of hours over scotch AFTER he had given up his position and turned to philanthropy.

I would not have liked to have spent any time with Mr. Frick.

In what must be the weirdest way of the web and Facebook, this wonderfully supportive piece for evolutionary improvement in “self-awareness, social awareness” and moral sense arrived on my desktop:

Arnhart, Larry.  “Von Economo Nuerons: The Neural Basis for Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, and the Moral Sense?”  Darwinian Conservatism, December 14, 2017.

Spindle neurons are also called von Economo neurons (VENs), because Constantin von Economo provided the first comprehensive description of these neurons in 1925 (Seeley et al. 2012). It was not until the end of the 20th century, however, that comparative neurologists began to study VENs as special neurons that might be part of what explains the evolutionary uniqueness of the human mind.

VENs appear in the brains of only a few species. They are present in gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans, although in numbers smaller than for humans. They are also found in the brains of whales, dolphins, and elephants. Thus, VENs are associated with species that have large brains, which suggests the possibility that VENs facilitate speedy communication of neural signals over neural networks scattered over large brains. VENs are also associated with species that have complex social lives and that show mirror self-awareness (recognizing themselves in mirrors).

BackChannels natural interest: the cultivation of empathy in our species and concomitant possession of conscience and related good will and good spirit.


FTAC: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Back In


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Shared inspiration:


More than “eyeballs” are involved in the stimulation of our defenses and imagination: there are tens upon tens of thousands of jobs created to deal with threat as fielded by various industries, and there are governments for which the installation of fear produces political power. Putin, for example, ran a false-flag operation to gain election and then had Russian troops unofficially run amok in Chechnya to strengthen the rebel opposition. He knew how to produce and use war, and there’s great suffering for that today along the spine of Moscow’s favored relationships and colonial or chaos-inducing ambitions.  I suppose for the west, we now have a super counterterrorism industry, much needed, but one also begging the question, “How broad, how large, how institutionalized?”

That’s life.

Rob Dial offers an interesting view of the media-saturated mind.

Indeed, some of us used to do other and more pleasant things than share in the watching of the world’s great issues and tragedies for days, weeks, months, and years on end.

My own answer to that: try to get into retreat! 🙂

And narrow the scope of personal mission dimensions and project: “Tune Out; Turn Off: Drop Back In!”

That today is Counterculture!

In-Line Reference Added

Putin ran a false-flag operation to gain election and then had Russian troops unofficially run amok in Chechnya to strengthen the rebel opposition.

Back Story Reference on a Facet of the Real Counterculture of the 1960s: “Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out.”



Timothy Leary speaking the message (short documentary video).

Visual interpretation of Timothy Leary’s 1967 album, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out”.

Leary, Timothy.  Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.  Via Amazon, USA.

The 18- to 21-year-olds of 1967 would today be 68 to 71 in age, and, oh my, how the once “hippy” world of “recreational drugs” has morphed into the world’s most lucrative scourge — and it’s not the “high”(ness) that makes it so, but in relation the lives thrown into associated industrial control — from manufacture to shipping to sales, related industrial-scale warfare across every continent, and that’s on one side, for on the other comes the policing, and that too would seem a rough business —  and for the end-users, often enough wrecked lives — careers, jobs, homes, ordinary relationships — habituated and racked health, and, also and still, accidental death.

Related affected and infected states and larger regions have stories too in relation to their own “monkey” — there’s another phrase signaled by that metonym — and their own yards and backyards, but BackChannels will here reserve comment on that.


FTAC: Palestinian Captivity: Thank Moscow for the PLO


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It’s Russia that has used its power to keep the Palestinian leaders in loot and the Palestinian main base bereft. If the phrase “free will and determination” of Palestinians is to have any meaning at all, then the same must displace the kind of power (and repressive political methods) represented by both the PLO and Hamas. Otherwise, the population hasn’t any free will — only camps and containers to keep them suspended and held powerless by their own interlocutors.

BackChannels has practically produced a constructive module on this topic:









It wold take multiple acts of willful ignorance to deny what the Soviet Union did in its day to contribute to the political abuse, channeling, and repression of what have become today’s Palestinians locked into camps, patronized (if part of what the Soviet picked up in relationships after the Nazis were defeated) or preserved to act as “human shields” in wars provoked by leaders who happily steal funds intended for their development and welfare.



FTAC: FEMEN, Lady Liberty, Modesty, and Civil Disobedience


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Inspiration: an image with FEMEN topless, of course, up top and below examples of accomplished female professionals and the charge was that FEMEN were not feminists but the workers were.

I like FEMEN.

The Atlantic ran a Pro-Con set on them in 2013:

Pro: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/05/topless-jihad-why-femen-is-right/275471/

Con: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/05/put-your-shirts-back-on-why-femen-is-wrong/275582/

Where women enjoy security beneath the umbrella of reasonable and sound laws, it should not make a difference how one or the other choose to bring attention to political or social issues that concern them.

Free to work; free to bare the breast (at times); free to choose: free.


The hidden principle and cultural value behind this discussion is “modesty”. In civil and day-to-day life, most may agree that modesty is a virtue.

Keep your clothes on.


However, in the liberal western democracies that adjust themselves with thought and thoughtfulness, there’s been ample room for peaceful civil disobedience and protest. It’s in that context that a passionate defense of persons against wrongdoing my be interpreted. Perhaps where attention is needed — perhaps we should discuss FEMEN’s causes more than its methods — attention is gotten.

The Eugene Delacroix painting is famous and here somewhat between camps because she is “Liberty” herself leading the charge against tyranny.

Le 28 Juillet. La Liberté guidant le peuple

Eugene Delacroix, “Le 28 Juillet. La Liberté guidant le peuple.” Source: Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives via artsy.net



A Note from Pakistan on the Anniversary of the Army School Massacre in Peshawar


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Verbatim from source but redacted to spare the family a perhaps too broad and tragic notoriety: “We Remember Army Public School Incident December 16, The pain is endless. Mother of Shaheed ______ (APSACS Student) ______ was the only son of his parents. After his death in APS massacre , his mother used to visit his School for 3 Months and waited for his son to come out till packup time.When all the students left the school she used to cry and shout for his son to come back! Now she has been tied with chains so that she can’t go out to find his martyred son.. Their pain is endless.. May Allah give them patience. Ameeen. She lost her mint. The psychological effects.”

Killed: 144 (minimum as reports vary)
Predominant Age: 12-16.


By Obaid Raza (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Reference: Peshawar Army School Massacre

BBC News.  “Pakistan School Massacre”.  Multiple entries.

Briggs, Billy.  “Remembering the Peshawar School Massacre.”  Al Jazeera, December 16, 2015.

Wikipedia.  “2014 Peshawar School Massacre”.

BBC News.  “Pakistan Taliban: Peshawar School Attack Leaves 141 Dead.”  December 16, 2014.

NBC News.  “Pakistan School Massacre.”  Multiple entries.

Roberts, Rachel.  “Pakistan: Three years after 140 Died in the Peshawar School Massacre, What Has Changed?”  The Independent, December 16, 2017.

Saifi, Sophia and Greg Botelho.  “In Pakistan School Attack, Taliban Terrorists Kill 145, Mostly Children.”  CNN World, December 17, 2014.

A Select Three Videos

Pakistan’s Black Date appears set in myriad videos — news reports, memorials, reenactments.

What is too little?

What is too much?

And what has one to add to so heinous a crime — some “big men” armed to the teeth creeping through a cemetery to climb over a wall and enter a sanctuary for decent education with the sole purpose of butchering children in their studies?

These are my three select — a day-after news report; a reenactment with a song (English in subtitles); and a children’s memorial:


Excerpt: “. . . First Political Terrorist Organization in History . . .”


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Pipes, Richard.  The Russian Revolution.  P. 142. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.

Below: bold type added.

The author noted with dismay the effects of radical propaganda on the peasants:

How curiously our speeches, our concepts were interpreted by the peasant mind! . . . their conclusions and comparisons utterly astonished me.  “We have it better under the Tsar.”  Something struck me in the head, as if a nail had been driven into it . . . .  There, I said, are the fruits of propaganda!  We do not destroy illusions but reinforce them.  We reinforce the old faith of the people in the Tsar.”

The disillusionment with the people pushed the most determined radicals to terrorism.  While many of the disappointed Socialists-Revolutionaries abandoned the movement and a handful adopted the doctrines of German Social-Democracy, a dedicated minority formed a secret organization called the People’s Will (Narodnaia Volia).  The mission of its thirty full-time members, banded in an Executive Committee, was to fight the tsarist regime by means of systematic terror: on its founding, it passed a “sentence” of death on Alexander II.  It was the first political terrorist organization in history and the model for all subsequent organizations of this kind in Russia and elsewhere.  Resort to terror was an admission of isolation: as one of the leaders of the People’s Will would later concede, terror

requires neither the support nor the sympathy of the country.  It is enough to have one’s convictions, to feel one’s despair, to be determined to perish.  The less a country wants revolution, the more naturally will they turn to terror who want, no matter what, to remain revolutionaries, to cling to their cult of revolutionary destruction.

The stated mission of the People’s Will was to assassinate government officials, for the twin goal of demoralizing the government and breaking down the awe in which the masses held the Tsar.  In the words of the Executive Committee:

Terrorist activity . . . has as its objective undermining the fascination with the government’s might, providing an uninterrupted demonstration of the possibility of struggling against the government, in this manner lifting the revolutionary spirit of the people and its faith in the success of the cause, and finally, organizing the forces capable of combat.

The ultimate political goal of the People’s Will was the convocation of a National Assembly through which the nation would express its wishes.  The People’s Will was a highly centralized organization, the decisions of the Executive Committee being binding on all followers, known as “vassals.”  Members were expected to dedicate themselves totally to the revolutionary cause, and if called upon, to sacrifice to it their properties and even their lives.

I have for months spent a good deal of time each day passing along the “Hey, Martha’s” of breaking or recent news, primarily using the BackChannels reader page on Facebook to do it.

That ain’t writing, and even with highlighting and juxtaposing stories (“Related:” appears in the first one or two comments pointing to additional reading), it’s not really opining either.  At best, the method shares this blog’s editor’s interests and outlook of the day.  Much on the web becomes media passing along other media.  With that in mind, both internal reflection and weather — and aesthetic charm — seemed to point toward 19th Century time and the luxury of long reading.

Well, lookee up there — and into the pages wrought by the extraordinary historian Richard Pipes.

Fair use?

Fair advertising and advisement:

Having delved into other of Pipes’ work a short while ago with Russia Under the Old Regime, I felt the present volume its companion – and what a rich companion it is turning out (with 684 pages left to read).

To be fair, one cannot share the whole book, technically, at least, except by recommending it or joining others in classroom or colloquy to discuss it.

As much characterizes a process in democratic and responsible governance in which the general public may follow good advice — buy the book or take it out of the library — but what portion does becomes no longer the “general public” but an enlightened public cleaving away from former peers.

Putin’s game with election hacking favoring our President Trump?

While collusion would seem a possibility that the most determined of ongoing investigations may well dredge up and beat into reality, one might consider the alternative of interpreting Moscow as cynically narcissistic and malign in using methods still related to the “People’s Will” to disparage our noble democracy by seeing elected to head it a bullying businessman and entirely inexperienced politician.

With that interpretation for a base, Moscow (and Tehran) would seem to believe they have figured out how to divide us and undermine our confidence in our democratic integrity and the related institutions and processes that guaranty American justice (truly for all) and robust internal as well as external security.  However, now that that possibility may be seen — 🙂 — BackChannels is starting to like this latest in Presidents of the United States of America.

Go Trump!

And tackle Putin in his nasty dash back to Russia’s imperial glory and apparent future without the benefit of conscience.

Make America Great Again.


On President Trump’s ‘Jerusalem Declaration’


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The prompt: opprobrium for much of President Trump’s other actions and utterances with glowing exception for announcing the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump has to respond to internal personal as well as external political pressures. He has to make decisions with those two universes somewhat in balance.

The “Jerusalem Declaration” sense a message to (you know what I’m going to say   — fill it in), and the timing is right as Israel is somewhat surrounded by PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Russia (which has military stationed about eight miles from the Golan).

The West has symbolically re-planted its flag at the Israeli bridgehead with what used to be more predictable despotic “eastern” dictatorships or “politically absolute” governments (some of them, of course, plainly hideous).

Russo-Iranian imperial aggression in the middle east has pushed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia westward, and the same has focused the remaining liberal states of EU / NATO (so perhaps not Turkey or Hungary or Poland) on resistance to extremist and tyrannous politics). The President’s move in Jerusalem nudges the other side to back off or up its game. We hope that Moscow axis will “hold” where it is and reconsider its ambitions and the means now applied — including election meddling and real fake news — toward achieving them.

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