Tag Archives: human rights

Yep, he’s a killer

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Vladimir Putin laughed when someone asked him if he is a “killer.”

Then the Russian strongman/dictator/despot told the interviewer that he has no interest in dealing with rumors and reports about what kind of guy he is.

President Biden hung the killer tag on Putin in an interview some weeks ago. The two men will meet in a couple of days in their first head-to-head encounter as mutual heads of state.

In actuality, Putin is the killer that Biden has described. Thus, it is imperative that President Biden refuse to give any quarter in their talks … not that Putin is going to pull a gun out of his pocket during the meeting and, well, you know.

Putin laughs when asked by NBC reporter if he’s a ‘killer’ | TheHill

I have some hope that Biden is going to present a different sort of approach to this bilateral relationship than the individual who preceded him as president of the United States. Whereas the previous POTUS extolled how Putin flattered him, I don’t hear such nonsense coming from President Biden.

To be sure, the country Putin leads is a formidable power, although it it falls far short of the U.S. standing as the world’s remaining military superpower. Indeed, Russia’s economic standing sits on its tenuous supply of oil, which is the driver behind the Russian economy.

I want to bring this up because Putin is not our equal. Yes, the Russians have plenty of capacity to perform havoc on our democratic system, which they have done through at least two presidential election cycles.

President Biden vows to confront Vladimir Putin on his nation’s interference in our elections, on its abysmal human rights record, its efforts to undermine independence in Ukraine and its paying of bounties to Taliban terrorists who have killed American service personnel in battle.

If the men are engaging in what is called “frank discussions,” perhaps President Biden will be able to ask Putin what’s so damn funny about being called a killer.

Sanctions against Belarus? Uhh, yes!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Think for just a moment how the immediate past president of the United States might respond to the act of state-sponsored thuggery that unfolded in Belarus the other day.

Donald Trump well might applaud the action that took a journalist into custody for — get this — criticizing the autocrat who runs his country.

President Biden is planning to invoke sanctions against Belarus and also has hinted that the audacious display of ham-handedness will be on the table when he and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin for their first summit.

Biden administration to reimpose sanctions on Belarus over diverted flight | TheHill

You know the story, yes? A jetliner took off from Athens en route to Lithuania the other day. When it crossed Belarus air space, air traffic controllers ordered the plane to land, contending it might have a bomb on board. The plane landed. Authorities found no bomb. Instead, they arrested Raman Pratasevich, a Belarusian journalist who also is active in the opposition movement against Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator who runs the country.

This act of repression borders on terrorism, in my humble view. This kind of aggression cannot be allowed to stand.

It is my fervent hope that President Biden follows through with his threat to deal strongly with the dictator who has demonstrated a callous disregard for basic human rights. Indeed, the entire issue of “human rights” has returned — thankfully — to the West Wing of the White House, where for the previous four years it was ignored by the Strongman Lover in Chief.

Human rights returns!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has laid the law down on a dictator with whom this nation is bonded through a military alliance.

Biden and Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan have talked. The president told Erdogan that he considers the Ottoman Empire’s extermination of millions of Armenians to be an act of genocide. He intends as well to bring it up when the men meet in a bilateral encounter later this year during the annual meeting of nations that belong to NATO, of which Turkey is a member.

This is a big deal. Why? Because the American presidency has lacked any open discussion of human rights violations for the past four years. Donald Trump chose to ignore these and other international abuses of human dignity during his tenure in the White House. President Biden is returning human rights to the table.

To which I say … yes!

The Hill reports: The White House readout of the call noted the two men would meet this summer but made no mention of discussion about the potential genocide declaration, which Turkey has long lobbied against strenuously. Bloomberg News later reported that Biden informed Erdogan that he plans to recognize the massacre of Armenians as genocide.

Biden, Erdoğan speak amid tensions over Armenian genocide (msn.com)

The world is full of human rights abuses — and abusers. You can spare me the rejoinder about such abuses occurring here at home. I am fully aware of them. As is President Biden. Still, he intends to exert his moral authority as the leader of this great nation to remind others around the world that all humans have inalienable rights that deserve honor and respect.

I welcome the president of the United States engaging in  that critical discussion.

Let’s talk about existential threats … OK?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Among the reasons I have welcomed the presidency of Joe Biden is  the return of frank and open discussion by our head of state of existential threats to our nation and to Planet Earth.

Donald Trump called climate change a “hoax”; he said the same thing about the pandemic. He chose to ignore those subjects whenever he appeared in public, which was quite often given his penchant for self-aggrandizement.

President Biden has turned our attention toward issues that really matter. They present serious  threats to all of us.

Climate change? Biden is all in on efforts to combat the change in our worldwide climate. Do not tell me that the bitter cold wave that recently swept in over much of the nation, including Texas, puts the lie to the notion that our climate is changing.

President Biden at least is talking about developing cleaner energy sources, which will — make no mistake about it — produce jobs that could be lost from the fossil fuel industry.

The major beneficiary will be the planet. That’s a bad thing? I think not.

The pandemic? We are welcoming a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson. It’s a single-shot dose. It joins Pfizer and Moderna as vaccines that are inoculating millions of Americans each week. Again, Trump chose to downplay the sickness, misery and death that afflicted the nation. Joe Biden is talking openly about it, reminding us to not let up in taking safety measures to prevent infection. Did his predecessor issue such warnings? I cannot remember hearing those warnings fly out of Trump’s blow hole.

Human rights? Donald Trump wouldn’t dare talk about human rights abroad while proclaiming he and North Korea tyrant/despot/killer Kim Jong Un had fallen “in love.” At the very least we are hearing President Biden give needed lip service to the quest for human rights in places where human beings are enslaved, starved, abused by those in power.

Domestic terror? It exists in the form of white supremacists who, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, pose the greatest existential threat of all to Americans. President Biden vows to attack it head-on and is saying so loudly.

These threats have been all but ignored for the past four years. They require laser focus from the president of the United States. I happen to believe President Biden is devoting the attention to all of them that they deserve.

‘Human rights’ has returned

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

For four years the words “human rights” were rarely uttered by the president of the United States.

Now they have returned to the presidential vernacular. President Biden’s statement this week after the release of intelligence on the death of a prominent Washington Post columnist includes a fulsome statement about the need to protect the rights of all human beings.

The report blames Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, for ordering the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime. President Biden has refused to sanction the man known as MBS, fearing some long-term harm to U.S.-Saudi relations. I wish he would have dropped the hammer on MBS, but that’s another story.

It’s out: MBS ordered killing | High Plains Blogger

As for the human rights mantra, I welcome its return to the top of our foreign policy pecking order.

We must stand in this country as a beacon of individual liberty and respect for the rights of all humanity. Only the president of the United States can speak to that priority and only the POTUS can alert the world that we mean it when we invoke those rights for everyone.

Human rights did not get much attention from Donald J. Trump. Indeed, the ex-president sought to curry favor with despots and dictators, such as, oh, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, by proclaiming some sort of bizarre “love affair” with him. Of course, Trump infamously refused to criticize Russian bad boy Vladimir Putin for anything, let alone for the way he treats those who live under his ham-fisted rule.

I hope those days are gone. I also hope to hear much more from President Biden on the value he will place on human rights. May he say it loudly and often going forward.

Human rights need renewed emphasis

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If you could list all the key policy issues that went ignored by the Trump administration, you could say that human rights was arguably the most critical unattended issue of them all.

You see, Donald Trump once called North Korean murderer/despot/tyrant Kim Jong Un a “smart cookie” and professed to “falling in love” with the Marxist madman. Trump’s fealty to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has been chronicled on this blog countless times. Indeed, he has given a pass to the conduct of despots all around the world, from Saudi Arabia to Turkey to the Philippines.

So … with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris set to take office in four days it is good insist that they return human rights advocacy to the top of their agenda.

President-elect Biden has heralded the return of the United States to the family of nations, by re-engaging in international treaties and pacts to stem climate change, to fight international pandemics and to prevent rogue nations — such as Iran — from obtaining nuclear weapons.

It is imperative that as president, Biden insists that all nations work toward adhering to basic principles of decency and humanity when governing their own citizens.

Donald Trump never spoke to the nation about those issues in a forthright and authentic manner. He was too busy taking undeserved credit for matters that had nothing at all to do with advancing human rights abroad, let alone at home.

Human rights has been the linchpin of many previous presidential administrations. It is time to restore the issue to the place of prominence at the White House … where it belongs.

Joe Biden has pledged to restore our national “soul.” He contended during the campaign that Trump had inflicted heavy damage on our image abroad, if not at home as well. The quest for adhering to human rights issues should become paramount as part of President Biden’s soul-restoration project.

The first place he can start is by ending the coddling of murderous dictators that infected Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

KKK = Confederate flag

I cannot let this photo stand without offering a brief comment about the juxtaposition of two key elements this picture contains.

Look at the fellow gesturing. He is a Ku Klux Klansman demonstrating in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., the site of that terrible riot that killed a young woman protesting against the Klan, neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacists.

Now, look at the flags flying behind him. Do you see a familiar pattern? It’s the Confederate flag, the piece of cloth that some Americans want to keep displaying in public places because it “symbolizes heritage” and is a “piece of American history.”

It seems to be lost on those pro-Rebel flag folks that the KKK stands with that flag because of what it represents: the maintaining of slavery in states that seceded from the Union in 1861 and launched the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history. Then again, maybe it isn’t lost on them at all!

The Confederate flag represents the very thing that the moron seen in this picture snapped by the New York Post represents.

It represents oppression, which my reading of history tells me caused our founders to create this nation in the first place, to live in a place free of the kind of oppression symbolized by the Confederate flag.

Spare me, then, the clap-trap about “history” and “heritage.”

Human rights, Mr. POTUS?

John Bolton’s scathing memoir about his time as national security adviser to Donald John “Numbskull in Chief” Trump is full of information and disclosures that have become part of the common knowledge that many Americans already have about the president of the United States.

It does have at least one new element that I want to examine briefly.

Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” discusses how China’s leadership told Trump about its plans to build concentration camps to house about 1 million Muslims in China. Trump’s reaction was, in effect, “No sweat, guys. You do what you gotta do.”

That paints an amazingly vivid picture of one of Trump’s many failings as a world leader. He doesn’t give a damn about human rights. He lavishes praise on strongmen. Trump speaks to the leadership qualities of the likes of North Korea’s murderous tyrant Kim Jong Un; he, of course, admires Soviet strongman Vladimir Putin; he touts the strength of Turkey’s Reccip Erdogan.

What do they all have in common? They are dictators who imprison their countrymen and women. In Kim’s case, he starves them while building a nuclear arsenal to go along with a massive conventional military machine.

Has Trump ever questioned publicly the plight of those who live under the iron fist of any of these individuals? Has he ever condemned them for their failure to acknowledge the human rights that we all have?

Now we hear this revelation about Trump giving China a pass on erecting concentration camps to suppress a religious minority. It comes from Bolton’s book, a tome I have suggested is nothing more than a money-maker for the former national security adviser.

I just felt the need to suggest that Bolton’s book tells us as well that Donald Trump’s interest in human rights and in the condition of his fellow travels is, well … non-existent.


Human rights, Mr. POTUS; they matter, too!

Former President Jimmy Carter made some news the other day by questioning the “legitimacy” of Donald Trump’s election as president, suggesting that Trump is in office only because of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

What has gotten little attention, though, was the setting in which Carter made the statements. He was conducting his annual human rights conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta, which seeks to call attention to one of the hallmarks of the former president’s single term in office.

Jimmy Carter made human rights arguably the hallmark of his foreign policy, which of course have been virtually ignored by Donald Trump.

While the current president kowtows to dictators, strongmen and despots, the former president called attention to their hideous treatment of fellow human beings.

A foreign hostile power led by a strongman attacked our electoral system in 2016 and the president blows it off. Trump speaks glowingly of a North Korean tyrant, talking about the “beautiful letters” he receives from the overfed Kim Jong Un, who lives in relative luxury while his fellow North Koreans are starving. Oh, and then the president recently spoke directly to Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, telling him how “honored” he was to meet the man who has been implicated in the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

President Carter’s legacy is still being determined. Historians are going to argue perhaps for the rest of time about the quality of his single term in office. On the issue of human rights and the huge stake Carter placed on furthering them, there can be no argument.

Jimmy Carter towers over Donald Trump in that critical regard. If only the current president understood the danger he poses when he cozies up to killers.

Human rights, Mr. POTUS . . . don’t forget to mention it

When Jimmy Carter was president of the United States, he spoke a lot about human rights and the need to ensure that all human beings were guaranteed basic rights of citizenship.

We don’t hear that kind of talk these days from Donald J. Trump. So, as he prepares to meet for the second time in a year with North Korean dictator/despot/megalomaniac Kim Jong Un, I am wondering if he’s going to mention human rights. At all! In any form!

Reports suggest that North Korea’s human rights record ought to be a deal breaker between Trump and Kim. Yes, it should, given North Korea’s abysmal human rights record and Kim’s demonstrated cruelty toward his own people, not to mention members of his own family. Trump, though, has an affinity for despots — or so it appears. He’s chummy with Kim, with Vladimir Putin and any assortment of tinhorn dictators from Turkey to the Philippines.

It’s instructive, too, that the two men are meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam — the country that introduced the world to “re-education camps” after the communists won the Vietnam War by overrunning South Vietnam in April 1975. Re-education camp was a euphemism for concentration camps, where the communists sent sympathizers of the defeated South Vietnamese government. They were “re-educated,” all right.

So, will this be the moment for Donald Trump, the president of the world’s strongest nation, to hold Kim Jong Un accountable for the atrocities he commits against his own people?

I am not holding my breath.