The Crusades – 21st Century style.

 

 

Mobi-Babble

I wish I could say I was feeling better, but unfortunately that is not the case.  I certainly do not feel as dire as I did last Sunday, when I could hardly breathe and was in such pain from my throat I thought I was about to croak!

Dear Noo bought me some very powerful antibiotics to fight the upper respiratory infection and a decongestant to break up the phlegm and on Monday I felt almost cured. But since then, my illness seems to have regressed and my condition now seems to have slipped into a chronic stage. My chest is still heavily congested, which is still causing breathing problems, especially at night when I try to sleep and I  have occasional fevers. But at least that unbearable pain in my throat has subsided, so life is tolerable, if not overly merry.

 

In preparation for my round of doctors in Bangkok next week I have been finalising the disposition of my personal estate. I am pleased to report that everything is now in ‘apple pie’ order in the event that I suddenly exit this ‘mortal coil’, and both Noo and my two daughters in the UK are now well provided for.

To be honest, my plan is to live long enough to spend all my ill-gotten gains and leave as little to my offspring as possible, (they don’t actually need it as they are both doing very well, with good jobs, their own houses, cars, husbands and all that good stuff), but it remains to be seen how successful I am in this little venture.

 

The Crusades – 21st Century style.

 

Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, some American military officers at a detention centre in Parwan, Afghanistan became concerned that detainees were secretly communicating through notes scribbled in library books, possibly to plot an attack. There was a suspicion that the books were being used as a means to communicate, internal and external, and the fear was that the detainees might “organise.”

Two Afghan-American interpreters were assigned to sift through the library’s books and set aside those that had writing that might constitute a security risk. By the time the interpreters were finished, 1,652 books were stacked on the floor and tables for removal, including some Korans, many other religious or scholarly texts, and a number of secular works, including novels and poetry.

Whether the inscriptions were a security risk is a matter of debate. There were some notes on the margins of the books in which some of the detainees had written memories of their imprisonment, their name, their father’s name, location and the place where they were arrested, and in some of the books, including Korans, words were occasionally written in the margins, translations of difficult Arabic words into Pashto or Dari. They had nothing to do with terrorism or criminal activities.

An American official stated that they overly relied on linguists, (the military term for interpreters and translators), as none of the U.S. military can read any of the languages involved. But the linguists were responsible only for the sorting of the books, not for the decision to burn them.

 

Why was the fatal decision made to burn these books?

Apparently, we are told, they didn’t have the storage capacity – not even for 1,652 books.

 I think I might be able to store that number quite easily in my spare bedroom; maybe they should have given me a call.

Why was the decision to burn them made so quickly?

We are told that it was part of their procedures ‘to do that’, but there is a process in place and ‘that burning is the last thing’. They should have been retained for a while, but in this case they weren’t. No explanation is given for this apparent ‘short cut’ in established procedures.

Any comment from me would probably be superfluous, but this tragic incident, which precipitated the loss of countless lives, both American and Afghan, simply demonstrates the crass ignorance and cultural disconnection of the American military machine and the sheer hopelessness of their task and of its inevitable and utterly predictable failure.

 

There is now little doubt, as I have written on a number of occasions, that within a short period of time following the final withdrawal of NATO forces from this country, it will revert to its previous medieval state and will be once again at the dubious mercy of the murderous, ruthless, and misogynist Taliban.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, who spent last year in a combat deployment touring Afghanistan, writes in the February issue of the Armed Forces Journal: “What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.”

Instead, he was told that the Taliban “controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot” of coalition military bases. “I observed Afghan security forces collude with the insurgency.” He found American officers, “who had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area.”

The mutual ill will has become deadly. Two American officers were shot to death last week at the Afghan Interior Ministry, which is supposed to be one of the safest places in Kabul. But for U.S. military personnel, there are no longer any safe places.

 

Even official assessments of the war are discouraging. In a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper predicted the Afghan government will make “incremental, fragile progress” this year, while noting the persistence of “corruption as well as poor leadership and management” in the police and army.

Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Jr., director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told the committee that “the Afghan government will continue to struggle to fill the vacuum” left by coalition troops. The Afghan defence minister predicts “catastrophe” if the U.S. proceeds with plans to reduce the size of the Afghan force after 2014.

In the meantime, we can already see the start of the slippery slope back to total barbarism and the subjugation of women.

A government-appointed council of 150 leading Muslim clerics last week said that Afghan law should require women to wear the veil and forbid them from mixing with men in the work place or travelling without a male chaperone. “Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the Council said in a statement on Friday.

President Hamid Karzai has signalled his support of this view by publishing the council’s statement on his web site.

And today, Wednesday, we learn of the deaths of six British soldiers in Helmut Province – the largest loss of life from a single ground incident since the start of the campaign. The British government tell us that these brave men sacrificed their lives in the interest of British national security and to protect us all from terrorism back in the UK. Can someone please explain to me how they are doing this?

The government also went on to say that soon this role will be taken over by the Afghan forces….. it has to be a joke… doesn’t it?

 

Libya

 

We now have it from reliable sources that the recent desecration of the World War II graves in Libya was a direct result of the Koran burning incident in Afghanistan.

As many of you are aware, I was a strong supporter of the recent NATO involvement in Libya, and to the extent that their intervention ensured the success of the rebels and the downfall of Gadhafi, then I can still claim that my view was probably correct.

I say ‘probably’, because I am no longer as cock sure as I was. Even during all the murderous years of the Gadhafi regime, there was never any attempt to despoil the graves of the allied war dead. Let’s face it, the country is now in a bigger mess than ever; it is in state of utter anarchy with armed gangs talking control of tribal areas and even some suburbs of Tripoli and other cities and there appears to be no prospect in sight of the central transitional government being able to disarm these dangerous factions.

 

Did you see the video footage of the cemetery desecration? This wasn’t an inflamed, crazy, mob out of control. This was a large, organised group of rebels, going about their business in a well-planned, matter of fact manner, destroying the headstones of hundreds of graves and then going to work on a massive sandstone cross, which must have taken several hours to demolish. And all this after the Brits had given them so much military support in their recent struggles with Gadhafi.

And, ‘hot off the press’ ,we hear that the armed faction which controls the oil-rich Benghazi area, has effectively declared secession from the ruling council in Tripoli.

 

Iraq

This country also appears to be in a state of total anarchy with the Sunni and Shiite factions at each other’s throats and after months of wrangling, they are still unable to form anything approaching a stable government.  Last year, 2011, over 4,000 civilians were killed in factional violence in Iraq, and this year to date, there have already been 800 deaths.

 

Syria

It gives me no pleasure to say that ‘I told you so’, but never did  I make a truer statement when I warned that Russia and China’s veto on the recent UN security Council resolution on condemning Assad’s regime’s violence in Syria was tantamount to a ‘Licence to kill’. And so it has proved to be.

When the dust has finally settled and the historians sift through the full, unspeakable horrors of the crimes that have been perpetrated on Syrian civilians in recent weeks and months, then I truly believe that these two self-serving super powers will be utterly condemned in the eyes of the world.

I have written recently that in some respects I have a sneaking regard from Putin, and while I was not in agreement with much that he has done, at least I could see where he was coming from. But on this matter, he has utterly misjudged the situation, and will be condemned for his heartless veto till his dying day.

 

Reliable reports of killing squads entering Homs and surrounding areas, rounding up all males as young as 12 and as old as 80 and summarily slitting their throats – sometimes in front of their families, is so horrific that it makes me shudder as I write. And this is to say nothing of the wives and daughters of these men who were raped repeatedly in front of them before executing them.

Did you see the news footage of families fleeing the violence to the Lebanon? Did you see any males over the age of 12 amongst their number?

 

 

The Arab Spring

Last year, along with most people in the west, I welcomed the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. At long last, so we thought, these young vibrant Arabs were throwing all caution to the wind in a brave attempt to throw off the yoke of hundreds, if not thousands of years of feudalism and despotic rule.

We all became excited and fascinated as it seemed that one state after another was overthrowing their own particular dictator.

Yet here we are, almost a year down the road, and what have the democracy seeking young Arabs got to show for it? Exactly where is the true success story? Yemen? Tunisia? Egypt? Bahrain? Syria? Algeria? Iraq? Jordan? Libya? Kuwait? Lebanon? Saudi Arabia?

Every country has its own story. In some, such as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Jordan, very little has changed and its business as usual for the rulers in situ. In others, such as Syria and Bahrain, civil protests have been brutally repressed and are an abhorrence to all decent minded people the world over. In still others, such as Libya and Iraq the jury is still a very long way out and the ultimate success in the fight for democratic government and equal rights is still very much open to question.

 

Even in Egypt, where we all held such high hopes, murderous factional fighting has broken out between the Muslim radicals and Coptic Christians and the armed forces seem to be extremely reluctant to relinquish the reins of power. I truly fear the eventual outcome for a country that hasn’t seen democracy for thousands of years.

So what are we to discern from all this mayhem in the Muslim world?

Well for starters, having had our western fingers burned any number of times whenever we try to interfere and instil our western ‘Christian-inspired’ principles on the devoted followers of Islam, we should understand that there is absolutely nothing we can do to hasten their paths to democracy,and human rights and get the ‘hell out of their countries and leave them all to it.

 

We are a million miles and several centuries apart and the more we try to ‘help’ the more we are hated and reviled for our efforts. We must call time and start to build ‘fortress west’ as a matter of some urgency.

I understand that this is easier said than done in this modern,’globalised’ society, where we are all inter-dependant on each other and in particular, where we rely on a number of Arab states to keep our cars running. But at least we can extract ourselves from all political and  social involvement in these states and we must become ever more aloof from the way they run their countries. We must start now to plan our strategic economic withdrawal so that we become less and less reliant on Arab oil and other Arab trade.

Certainly, the West can make  immediate withdrawals from the likes of Afghanistan and even Pakistan, as there is nothing more we can do in such places; places where we are regarded as the very devil incarnate and are their avowed enemies.

 

I actually doubt if there will be much change in the way in which most Moslem countries are governed for at least 50 – and more likely a 100 years or more. We say that some Moslem societies are still medieval in nature and structure; maybe that is an exaggeration, but certainly the evolution of society in many of these countries is at least 100 years behind the west.

Indeed, if we look back at our own history of just the last century, we will find western countries indulging in ‘acceptable practices’ which would appal us today, not least amongst them was the segregation of blacks and whites, and the lynching of Negroes, which was still rife in many parts of the USA a mere 50 years ago.

So don’t expect anything to happen any day soon. I know it is sometimes heart-breaking to watch, but in my opinion, we have little choice but to let them get on with it and find their own way. If we don’t, there soon may be no way forward for any of us.

 

Joke emails

Like most of you, I receive my daily dose of ‘joke emails’ from around the world, many of which I have seen before. Some are faintly amusing, some are offensive, a few are pornographic, and, just once in while I receive one that is genuinely funny.

The other day I received one which was both racist and offensive, but as I deleted it from my computer, I suddenly realised that racist and offensive it may be; there is a kernel of truth in what the author is trying to say. The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that at least part of this email was something worth sharing with my readers, as it is certainly quite thought provoking and it also dovetails neatly into the main subject of today’s blog.

So I recovered it from my ‘Deleted’ file and here it is, in part:

 

The Arabs are not happy!

They’re not happy in Gaza ..
They’re not happy in Egypt .
They’re not happy in Libya ..
They’re not happy in Morocco .
They’re not happy in Iran ..
They’re not happy in Iraq .
They’re not happy in Yemen ..
They’re not happy in Afghanistan .
They’re not happy in Pakistan ..
They’re not happy in Syria.

They’re not happy in Lebanon ..
So, where are they happy?

They’re happy in England ..
They’re happy in France .
They’re happy in Italy ..
They’re happy in Germany .
They’re happy in Norway ..
They’re happy in Canada & the U.S.

They’re happy in every country that is not Muslim.

And who do they blame?
Not Islam.
Not their leadership.
Not themselves.

THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN!

ARABS:
Everyone seems to be wondering why Muslims are so quick to commit
suicide.

Let’s have a look at the evidence:

 

….(I have censored the remainder, but I am sure you can use your imagination….)

 

 

 

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!

 

 

 

The Darkside Beamer is being put out to pasture

 

9 Months, 9 days, still sober.

I have to say that since I returned to Thailand from my trip to the UK, the thought of picking up a drink has never entered my mind for a single second. In fact it is only when I am writing this blog that has it even occurs to me that I am now well into my 10th month of sobriety.

The last time I had even the fleetest of thoughts of taking a drink was when I was in the UK and had that spat with my sister; but it was only a momentary lapse, much the same way as many people often feel like having a stiff drink when they are particularly upset about something. But I quickly realised that for me, a stiff drink was not an option, and I was fine.

Some readers have questioned the value of continuing to count the number days I remain sober and to publish the details at the top of each blog. My response has been that it is more for my readers’ benefit that for mine. After all, the whole purpose of starting this blog was to record my drunken exploits and my various attempts to get sober, so I do feel beholden to keep the record straight during this now, sober period of my life.

I might reconsider the need to do this after I have chalked up my first full year of sobriety, which of course, will be on 31st December. At this point, I will take a look back at the year and reflect on what, if anything, I have achieved, apart from remaining free of alcohol.

 

Mobi-Beamer to be consigned to history

I have made the momentous decision to offload my BMW.

I have been thinking about this for quite a while now, especially during the period when I was having so much trouble with the on-board computer, but the idea of trading it in sooner, rather than later, has  never been far from my mind.

I still love the car and still enjoy driving it and it still occasionally has the ‘wow’ or ‘bling’ factor when I park outside certain places of ill repute – these days, far less so than previously, partly due to the recent proliferation of BMW’s in Pattaya.

Three years ago, my beamer was virtually the only one in town, but the popularity of the 3 series diesel seems to have taken everyone by surprise, (they sell them as fast as they can produce them, despite the 3m Baht price tag); there are now loads of them around – even up here by the lake there is a white model just a few houses away from me in my village and an identical black model, just a few hundred metres down the road from my home.

 

Yes, some of the young ladies are still suitably impressed by my arrival in a shiny, black motorised steed, but many girls are just as likely to be impressed by a farang in a gleaming white Toyota Vios! Actually, for the most part, they neither know nor care what my form of transport is, and often ask me casually where I parked my motor bike???

But all these thoughts of impressing the ladies are very low on my list of priorities, especially as I am now starting my gradual fade into retirement from such nefarious pursuits.

 

It is still a great car to drive; small enough to park almost anywhere and sufficiently compact to drive through and turn in the smallest of sois without too much hassle, but still roomy enough to carry five adults.

It has incredible acceleration which is really handy to get past traffic ‘knots’ and carrying out manoeuvres such as changing lanes without fear of accident. It drives like a dream and you can hear a feather drop when cruising at 180 kph on the open road.

But frankly, I am starting to feel my age and I no longer have the desire to go at the fastest possible speed from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and I no longer have an overwhelming urge to overtake every vehicle on the road ahead of me. 

I must have gone tropo, as for the main part I am quite content to sit behind anything that is in front of me and have no desire to risk life and limb in reckless overtaking manoeuvres. I no longer get angry when I am stuck behind the endless convoys of motorcycles, motorcycle combinations, rusty old pick-up trucks, cement trucks and God knows what else that cram the sois and side roads of Pattaya and its environs.

They all have a perfectly legitimate right to be there, and while some of them could do with a few well-chosen driving lessons to teach them that they don’t always have to crawl along at 20 kph, many of them, particularly the motorcycle-side cars, (which are almost impossible to overtake), have no choice but to go very slowly, if they wish to keep their various ‘businesses’ which are perched precariously on their home-made, rickety side car frames in one piece.

Whereas before I used to be consumed with irritation and often full blown anger when driving in Pattaya, I am now I am quite content to take it all in my stride and am happy to accept that my journey will take as long as it takes. After all, I am rarely, if ever, in any urgent need to be at a certain place at a certain time, so WTF?

 

So I don’t really need to be driving the fastest car in Pattaya, as I no longer wish to drive like a maniac.

I still drive at a healthy lick of speed on the open road, but only when conditions are good and the level of traffic renders it safe to do so.

After all these years I know that even if you are driving along an apparently traffic-free road, you never know when someone might take it into their head to jump out in front of you from nowhere, or suddenly perform some crazy, suicidal manoeuvre. So speed must always be moderated to some extent and you always need to keep your head straight ahead and be prepared for the unexpected.

 

Then there is the problem of road quality, especially as a result of the increasing amount of flooding. I have already had to replace the wheel rims on my car as they were all badly damaged by pot holes, which not only made them look bad, but were also badly cracked and rendered them unusable for my run flat tyres.

A couple of years ago I had to drive through some deep floods in down-town Pattaya and had to spend a lot of money in getting everything properly cleaned and dried out afterwards.

I still plan to do a fair amount of driving in and around Thailand, and although the country has made vast improvements in the condition of its roads in recent years, there is still no guarantee that you will not occasionally encounter roads which are in very a bad state of repair, particularly during and after the rainy season – all of which are particularly unsuitable for low-slung vehicles such as BMW’s.

 

Last but by no means least, there are the financial considerations. My beamer cost me just under 3 million Baht to buy, and now, 3½ years later with 63,000 kilometres on the clock, it is still worth around 1.8 million.

The BMW unlimited warranty is good for the first 100,000 kilometres, which  is a good selling point if there’s a fair amount of warranty remaining. But if I keep it another year or so, its value will not only drop exponentially due to the expiry of the warranty, but I will probably be faced with some very expensive maintenance bills.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that as soon as the warranty expires, there will a whole mass of parts that need replacing, all at extortionate, BMW prices. (Just about every BMW part has to be imported from Germany).

So last week, I called my expat car contact in Bangkok and he advised me that my car should easily sell for around 1.8 million, as there is now quite a demand for them.

 

So what am I going to replace it with?

Take a deep breath ladies and gents.

After due deliberation, I have decided to go from the sublime to the ridiculous – or least some of you may think so.

Yes folks, I have decided to buy a pick-up truck. To be more precise, a top of the range, double-cab pick-up, and after thoroughly exploring the market, I have plumped for a Mitsubishi Triton – 2.5 litre, diesel, double-cab automatic at a cost of just over 800, 000 Baht.

The diesel, turbo-charged engine is relatively new and is rated at an incredible 178 HP, so plenty of oomph. The double cab is virtually the same in luxury and fittings to the Mitsu Pajero SUV, and it even boasts a DVD screen.

I looked at the alternatives, particularly, the Toyota Vigo, which is essentially an 8 year-old model which has just been superficially modified and is due to be completely replaced at the end of next year. It’s also quite a bit more expensive. The Triton seems to be the best of the bunch, although the D Max is a close second.

Why a pick up? Well, I want something that rides high and is rugged enough to take all road conditions and floods in its stride. I seriously considered an SUV, (CRV, Pajero, Fortuner, MU7 etc), but finally concluded that as I didn’t have a large family, why spend  another 300k Baht on a ‘covered vehicle’ when I could get essentially the same ride and power with an equivalent pick up? As it is, the double cab will accommodate 5 adults.

Anyway, I’ve always hankered after a pick up and I think it will be good fun. I will spend some of the excess cash on ‘tarting it up’ with all manner of ‘cool’ accessories.

Just think – I could put the entire staff of a short time girlie bar in the back and take them on a trip to the seaside….

 

Whither Afghanistan?

It was only 4 short months since the USA and NATO were still talking up their ‘planned withdrawal’ from Afghanistan, following which, they tried to tell the world that after the allied withdrawal,  the country would have  a stable, democratic, non-Taliban controlled government which would be in full control of the country.

We now know that this is a very long way from what will actually happen.

As if we needed any further confirmation, the former commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, retired General Stanley McChrystal, recently estimated that the US and its NATO allies were barely half-way to achieving their mission goals, adding that establishing a government in which Afghans retained confidence and which could stand up to the Taliban remained the biggest challenge.

During the past 9 months I have written several articles on Afghanistan and in particular on 29th June, I expressed my total contempt of what the allied forces were trying to claim, and I wrote the following scathing remarks:

Mark my words, by the end of this decade; if not much sooner, Afghanistan will be pretty much right back to where it was prior to the allied invasion.

    The Taliban will be back running the country and all the fledgling democratic structures will be dismantled.

  • Al Qaeda, (by that, or by any other name) will be back in residence, planning ever-increasing world-wide terrorist outrages
  • The population in general will be subjected to an extremist, violent and cruel Taliban regime, including the deprivation of all human rights and dignity.
  • Women will be totally subjugated and locked back up in their homes. All educational establishments for women will be closed and probably destroyed.
  • The drug trade will increase and prosper.
  • The country will remain extremely poor and most people will struggle to find enough food for their daily existence.
  • Infiltration into Pakistan will increase and eventually the Pakistan government will collapse and be replaced by an extremist Muslim regime, similar to that which will be in control in Kabul.

(My full article can be found at:  http://tinyurl.com/64hp5uw)

 

And now, as the Allies and the current Afghan government are attempting to talk some kind of peace terms with the Taliban, there are increasing concerns that the human rights of Afghan women will be once again trampled underfoot.

Amnesty International recently issued the following statement:

“Amnesty International fears that human rights, including women’s rights, will be compromised as the Afghan government and its US/NATO partners seek a quick solution to the conflict with Taliban and other armed groups. The Taliban have a record of committing human rights abuses and abuses against women in particular and if they want to be brought back into the government then they should demonstrate that they will improve their conduct.”

Similar concerns were also raised in the US by Human Rights Watch in a report last week, which carried details of intimidation and murder of women in areas under Taliban control. The group accuses the Taliban of targeting women who work outside their homes.

 

In April, unidentified gunmen shot a 22-year-old woman named Hossai, working for an American development company, after she had received a telephone warning from the Taliban to stop working.

Another woman received a so-called night letter telling her that she would be next: “In the same way that yesterday we have killed Hossai, whose name was on our list, your name and other women’s names are also on our list.”

Human rights groups have criticised Hamid Karzai’s government for failing to adequately address concerns about these attacks in its programmes to reintegrate Taliban insurgents.

“In recent years, Karzai has sold women short when it was politically expedient,” said Human Rights Watch. “In March 2009, for example, he signed the discriminatory Shia personal status law (which denies Shia women rights to child custody and freedom of movement, among other rights), and in 2008 he pardoned two convicted gang rapists for political reasons.”

I really hate to say ‘I told you so’ and I will derive no pleasure in being proved 100% correct over the coming years.

A large part of me says that it would have been better never to have tinkered with such a medieval, outrageously corrupt and misogynous society in the first place. If you can’t fix it, maybe it is better not to build up false hopes.

 

The Wall Street Protests.

Over the past few months I have written about the protesters who have taken to the streets, from The UK, to Spain to Greece and elsewhere to register their extreme dissatisfaction with the state of their country’s economies, and in particular with proposed cuts in state services which they have been asked to swallow.

Time and again I have questioned exactly what they hope to achieve by these protests, which are particularly aimed at bankers and financial institutions?

Similarly in the USA, there have been massive battles between State legislators and the state sector unions, particularly Teachers’ Unions, as the unions adamantly refuse to accept any cuts in their benefits and refuse to contemplate any redundancies in their workforce, even amongst proven non-performers and incompetents.

All these protests and refusals to give ground are symptomatic of the same thing. A stubborn refusal to accept that the world is in a more parlous financial state than at almost any time during the past 100 years and that the living standards of countless millions of previously well- to-do, middle class families will be seriously affected.

They all protest and blame the bankers for fraud and deception and their governments for their profligate, wasteful spending. They are quite right to do this – but it doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, arguably, it makes matters a whole deal worse.

Putting their heads in the sand’, screaming and shouting and taking to the streets is making the politicians increasingly nervous of making THE TOUGH, NECESSARY DECSIONS THAT HAVE TO BE MADE, IF WE HAVE ANY CHANCE AT ALL OF GETTING OURSELVES OUT OF THIS MESS!

These protesters don’t seem to realise that we are staring into the brink of an abyss, and that their protests may well precipitate a breakdown of world order, and that anarchy may start to reign supreme.

Great! Some might say.

But really? Does the world, in its present parlous state, really need anarchy and a total breakdown of human values and democracy? Where will all the disadvantaged in our so-society be then?

 

So just what are all these Wall Street protests all about?

The activists are venting their grievances over the  corporate bailouts, the high US unemployment and the home repossessions, among other things.

Many powerful unions have backed the long-running demonstrations, as their members joined the rally in lower Manhattan and students at several US colleges walked out of classes in solidarity.

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested last weekend on the Brooklyn Bridge.

On Wednesday, smaller protests were held from Boston and Chicago to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are in their third week. The biggest event took place in New York, where at least 5,000 activists joined forces with members of unions and community organisations to march on Wall Street.

The United Federation of Teachers president told Reuters news agency. “Our workers are excited about this movement. The country has been turned upside down. We are fighting for families and children.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Communications Workers of America and the Amalgamated Transit Union joined the New York march, as did the nation’s largest union of nurses, National Nurses United.

 

The Occupy Wall Street protests started on 17 September with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp nearby in Zuccotti Park and have become increasingly organised, lining up medical aid and legal help and printing their own newspaper.

Protesters in New York City on Wednesday carried signs reading: “Jobs Not Cuts” and “Stop Corporate Greed” and chanted “Wall Street is our street”.

“We’re here to stop corporate greed,” a New York City Transit bus mechanic, told the Associated Press news agency. “They should pay their fair share of taxes. We’re just working and looking for decent lives for our families.”

Hundreds of college students at New York’s public university system walked out of classes on Wednesday afternoon.

At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students walked out of their classrooms at noon, holding signs reading “Eat the Elite” and “We Can Do Better than Capitalism”.

In Boston, about 200 Northeastern University students protested against what they called corporate control of government and spiralling education costs.

Occupy Wall Street  protests in other US cities have attracted thousands of supporters

In San Francisco, a crowd of several hundred marched in a loop around the financial district, chanting “They got bailed out, we got sold out”. Union nurses had a large presence at the protest.

In Chicago, dozens of activists kept up their protest at the heart of the financial district, banging drums and holding up signs.

Protests have also been held recently in the cities of Las Vegas, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington; and in the states of Missouri, Ohio and Florida.

The rallies have been largely peaceful apart from occasional scuffles, including the arrests of more than 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

Several Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for the protesters, but some Republican presidential candidates have lambasted them.

 

The protest movement is gaining momentum all over the USA and it remains to be seen if it will grow into a really potent force, similar to the Tea Party movement.

But in effect, it is no different to similar, mindless demonstrations in other parts of the western world. They identify what they consider to be the main culprits, but without one iota of an idea or suggestion on how to change things for the better.

Do they really, seriously believe that by dismantling all the western financial institutions and stringing up anyone who wears a collar and tie and works in a bank that they can save the world?

Seems like I heard something like that somewhere before – was it Mao Tse-Tung, or maybe Pol Pot?  My memory is so bad these days…..

BUTT…BUTT… BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!!!