Michael Palin on “Inspirational Eccentricity”

 

By Michael Palin

This weekend two people who I admired very much died. Jan Morris and Hamish MacInnes. Both were in their 90’s, both had lived quite extraordinary lives, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with both of them. Jan Morris was the author of Venice, one of the best travel books I ever read. It made me want to go to Venice and when I went there, with Helen, in 1967, it made being there even better.

Before she underwent gender reassignment (or ‘changed sex’ as Jan always called it) she was James Morris, the reporter for the Times on the Everest expedition of 1953, and it was he who not only broke the story of Hillary and Tensing’s success, but made sure the news got through on the day of the Queen’s coronation. Continue reading

GasLit Nation: The Breitbart Senate

GASLIT NATION WITH ANDREA CHALUPA AND SARAH KENDZIOR

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We make the case yet again for all the criminal actors in the Trump camp to be held accountable. We demand thorough and transparent investigations of the crimes that have occurred and indictments where merited. Unity without justice is hollow.

Important Note: Hang out with Gaslit Nation at a letter writing party for Georgia hosted by SwiftLeft on Wednesday December 2nd at 6pm.
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Long a source of national pride, the moral integrity of Australia’s military is now at stake

Australia

Analysis by Angus Watson, CNN

All Australians are taught the ode of remembrance, recited for the nation’s fallen soldiers known lovingly as “Diggers.”

That nickname evokes the memory of Gallipoli, the Turkish peninsula where, in the trenches of World War I, the young nation’s soldiers helped to forge a national identity. So Australian school students are taught.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.”
Now the Australian public knows that age shall not weary the 39 Afghan civilians and non-combatants reportedly condemned by its own Diggers in Afghanistan. The Afghans were allegedly murdered, the Australian army itself detailed in its official enquiry Thursday, by elite Special Operations Forces — the Diggers that were supposed to be the liberators and protectors, the best to wear an Australian military uniform.
Those 39 lives now remind Australians that like their own country, the modern nation of Afghanistan has been constructed by the cruelties of war, four decades of it since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
“I am sincerely sorry for their loss,” Australia’s chief of the Defense Force, Gen. Angus Campbell, said Thursday of the Afghan nation. “I can’t imagine the pain, the suffering and the uncertainty that that loss has caused both at the time, and the continuing uncertainty of how that happened.”
The Australian army believes that the allegations gathered by a four-year investigation by the Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force (IGADF) is enough to prosecute 19 of its soldiers for the alleged war crimes of murder and cruel treatment.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a special investigator to bring those men to trial. All names have been redacted from the lengthy report made public on Thursday. For now, the 19 accused of committing war crimes are unidentified to the public.
But just as the collective shares in valor and sacrifice, it is sharing in the shame.
Campbell announced Friday that a review would be commenced into all honors that Australian soldiers received for fighting in Afghanistan. As many as 3,000 special forces personnel who served in Australia’s longest war could now be forced to hand back their medals, including the Meritorious Unit Citation. Senior commanders could lose their Distinguished Service Medals.
“What is now known must disentitle the unit as a whole to eligibility for recognition for sustained outstanding service,” the report reads.
“What this report discloses is disgraceful and a profound betrayal of the Australian Defense Force’s professional standards and expectations. It is not meritorious.”

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Trump Might Be On His Way Out — But His Toxic Base Is Here To Stay

We won’t be rid of this guy or his supporters for a long time.

It’s hard to know exactly how history will judge Donald Trump, but considering that he has presided over a devastating pandemic that he had the tools to minimize, empathizes with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and refuses to accept the results of the election because he lost, it’s safe to say that he will be remembered as one of the worst U.S. presidents of all time. But, even as Trump is on his way out, the forces and people that brought him to power — the same ones that continue to enable his fantasy of having won this election— are unfortunately here to stay.

Trumpism is the political movement based around the president’s cult of personality; it’s a loose set of ideas that can’t quite be called an ideology because it’s so incoherent. Centering around anti-immigration, America-first trade regulations, and a rejection of social progressivism, Trumpism is mostly defined not by policy at all, but by a gleeful and vehement loathing of anything Democrats, the left, and the media (one and the same to Trumpists) say and do.
 
Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding In Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, acknowledges the existence of Trump’s personality cult, but told Refinery29, “He’s also a vehicle for a lot of different people and their disparate agendas: for the GOP extremists that have been trying to dismantle government since the Reagan era, for theocrats like Mike Pence, for transnational organized crime, for white supremacists. But I think in Trump’s mind, it’s about Trump, the Trump family, the Trump brand, the Trump Organization, and the ideological component is just kind of extra. He does what his backers tell him to as long as it’s the route to more money, more power, and immunity from prosecution.”


One of the ways in which Trump has strengthened his power and appealed to his base is by making white supremacy one of the core tenets of Trumpism. And while many Trump supporters will vehemently object if you call them racist, it’s certain that Trump has enabled and encouraged white supremacist attacks and rhetoric, particularly during this summer’s racial justice protests. It’s telling that six in 10 white people voted for Trump in 2020, while 87% of Black people, 66% of Latinx people, and 63% of Asian-Americans voted for President-Elect Joe Biden. For all the national reckoning on race that we have done over the past year, it seems that the majority of white Americans haven’t learned much; Trump received approximately the same proportion of white votes that he did in 2016.

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