United States

The last voices of The Holocaust

Today is the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Washington Post has produced this clip.

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Faces of the day

Lest we forget, today’s faces of the day will remind us. These are powerful images drawn by artists who experienced the horrors of Auschwitz themselves.

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The Nazis did all they could to make their Jewish captives faceless, dressing them in uniforms and tattooing them with numbers that would become their new identities.

In the midst of that horror — indeed, in perhaps the most horrific place a Jew could land at the time — prisoners sought to take their images back and made sure that art was still present.

Franciszek JaĹşwiecki, a Polish artist and political prisoner at Auschwitz, made portraits of fellow prisoners. Though the portraits portrayed prisoners of various nationalities and ages, they shared the same haunting quality, according to Agnieszka Sieradzka, an art historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

“The most interesting in these portraits are eyes — a very strange helplessness,” she says. “Prisoners created portraits because the desire to have an image was very strong.”

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The Aussies get it, does our government? What about the opposition?

Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, has returned from the US and a briefing about foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria…and she is rightfully concerned.

I wonder if our government is concerned as they should be, and I really wonder if the opposition parties, the Greens in particular actually understand the issue at all.

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop says she is “even more troubled” by the threat of foreign fighters in the Middle East following briefings with US officials, as Tony Abbott said he was willing to consider expanding Australia’s military role in Iraq.

Australia is facing increasing pressure to upgrade its military commitment in Iraq after US President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address yesterday to strengthen the international effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State.

Ms Bishop, who is attending high-level meetings in Washington, said the terrorist threat was spreading far beyond that posed by Islamic State.

“I’m even more troubled by the phenomena of foreign fighters because of the way that they are organised, because of the way they are metastasising, that we are seeing al-Qa’ida, al-Nusra, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, claiming to have taken part in attacks so it’s not just ISIL,” she said.

“The focus has been on ISIL but there are many other terrorist organisations upon whom our focus is warranted.”    Read more »

Bill Whittle on gun ownership and gun control

These facts are really going to annoy those of you who think that less guns and tighter gun control means less gun crime.

New Zealand gets a mention.

Every time there is a shooting in America, our moral betters on the left immediately ammo up the assault rifle of their rhetorical arsenal: namely, our country’s sick, twisted obsession with personal firearms; our adolescent, psychosexual, dangerous and frankly embarrassing when facing our European film critic friends AMERICAN GUN CULTURE.

Hopping over to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, for example, we discover that when it comes to per capita gun ownership, the USA does in fact top the list: when measured as the number of guns per 100 residents, the US comes in first, at ninety! NINETY guns per one hundred residents: evidence for the Progressives on the left that they do in fact live in the murder capitol of the world; because when it comes to gun ownership, America IS number one with a bullet, with by far the highest per capita gun ownership in the world – 90 guns per 100 people being half again more than the number two spot held by Serbia, with 58.2. Read more »

Face of the day

Churchill patting Rommel, a cocker spaniel owned by General Sir Bernard Montgomery (Monty) in Normandy in August 1944.

Churchill patting Rommel, a cocker spaniel owned by General Sir Bernard Montgomery (Monty) in Normandy in August 1944.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. He is a historical figure that I admire because he symbolises to me the determination and tenacity of the underdog. Britain was not winning the war when he became Prime Minister and he had to deal with defeat and failure but he never gave up. His speeches are still quoted today because of the way he used the spoken word to inspire and to energise the British people. One line from one of his speeches is as relevant today for the UK as it was back in 1940.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

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Al-Qaeda use Ed Snowden’s leaks to evade surveillance

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Ed Snowden, one of Kim Doctcom’s friends, has revealed sufficient security services trade craft in monitoring terrorists, that Al-Qaeda have made a training film to teach the terrorists and interested lone wolf gunmen that have nothing to do with Islam updated methods.

Confirming the fears of Western intelligence agencies, Al-Qaeda has released a new video guide on how to avoid being detected. They based their tutorial on Edward Snowden’s leaks concerning Western spying methods, British media reported.

The seven and a half minute tutorial video made by the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and released by its media platform, provides a detailed guide on how terrorists can avoid being tracked… The report says that the video gives a list of countries and companies cooperating with intelligence agencies and provides a list of software packages to protect against surveillance.

That’s the same Snowden that has been trying to destabilise a democratically elected Government and influence an election right here in New Zealand.  He did so while on the payroll of Kim Dotcom who had the singular objective to destroy John Key.

What continues to boggle the mind is that the Green and Labour Parties will back clowns like Snowden in the face of clear evidence that instead of being a whistle blower, he is in fact a traitor and a saboteur to western democracies. Read more »

Head lone wolf of all the lone wolf gunmen says attack some more, but don’t worry it’s not at all related to Islam

The head lone wolf of all the lone wolf gunmen has called for more attacks by the other lone wolves out there.

But we mustn’t be afraid this has nothing at all to do with Islam.

Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch called for lone-wolf attacks against the United States and the West in a video posted Tuesday, days after the group claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings.

One of the group’s ideologues, Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, urged supporters to conduct what he called “individual jihad,” according to the SITE monitoring group, which tracks Islamist extremists online.

“We are preparing and lurking for the enemies of Allah. We incite the believers to do that,” Ansi is quoted as saying in the online video.

In a previous video, Ansi claimed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the start of three days of bloodshed in France that left 17 people dead.   Read more »

A reader emails on his experience of aid in Africa

Following on from the discussion yesterday about aid, particularly in the South Pacific another reader emailed his experiences in the 1960s in Africa.

Hi Whaleoil Team,

The current debate in your blog on the moral ethics of what has now become the ‘Aid Industry’ reminds me of the fascinating (but probably valueless) years I spent giving ‘Aid’ in several third-world countries.

My rather ominous introduction came when we arrived at the headquarters of the aid organisation in Accra, Ghana in the days when the country was a bankrupt communist dictatorship under the regime of Kwame Nkumah.  The local head of the aid organisation I was to work for, a Scandinavian, asked us not to take photos of the headquarters campus as ‘People back home might not understand’. What he was referring to were the palatial houses the administrators (all Europeans or Americans) lived in.   The one long-serving couple, who actually lived in a tiny single-bedroom house which used to be servant’s quarters, told us they first lived in a mud-brick house and made their own furniture from the wood of their packing cases.  How things had changed!

I spent three years working up country and finished up very cynical about it all.  The hospital I worked at had two doctors and served about a quarter of a million people.  Our own figures indicated that probably 50% of the children born were dead by the age of 5 years. What killed them were the Big Three – Malaria – Measles – Malnutrition.  The annual measles epidemic early each year would kill between 100 and 150 children (that we knew about!) in our area.  Most of these children would arrive at the hospital dead or dying, generally from a combination of pneumonia and sickle-cell crisis triggering heart failure.  There was effectively nothing we could do.  We didn’t even have an oxygen supply.
Incidentally, the ‘official’ figures for infant mortality were much lower.  Of course these were derived only from recorded deaths in the major cities – Accra and Kumasi – and, since death registration was optional, probably under-reported even these.

Of course the local women would have possibly 10 to 15 pregnancies and most would result in live births.  The fact that they would only raise about half of these children was accepted as normal.
We offered – rather limited – birth control advice but, apart from a miniscule number of educated Ghanaians, it wasn’t used.  Cultural reasons – such as the fact that a man’s status in the community was raised by the number of children he fathered – ensured that women did nothing to prevent repeated pregnancy.  Polygamy was legal, though less common than you might think since bride-price meant getting wives was expensive.

As was pointed out in one of the comments in your blog, it was disaster trying to save these children unless matched by measures to limit the birthrate.  Starvation was a daily fact-of-life. ‘Kwashiorkor’, due to protein starvation in children getting adequate calories, was named after the Ghanaian word for the disease.  It, unfortunately, has irreversibly damaged the brain by the time it is diagnosed.  I saw many, many cases of it.     Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photo: Jackson Daily News photographer Fred Blackwell

Photo: Jackson Daily News photographer Fred Blackwell

America’s Recent Past

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Cheap weed in Washington State after legalisation causes glut in supply

Washington State legalised cannabis and in the first year growers rushed to market hoping to make a killing…predictably there was an over supply and prices dropped through the floor.

Have you ever been tempted to buy your dog a truckload of steaks just to see if there was a limit to how many of them they could eat at just one sitting? Well when marijuana became legal in the state of Washington, we were similarly curious about whether there was a theoretical maximum amount of pot that its residents could smoke… and now our questions have been answered.

The Associated Press, via ABC News, reports that marijuana sellers in Washington are actually suffering from large unsold surpluses of pot, as supply is now vastly greater than demand for the demon weed inside the Evergreen State.   Read more »