Interesting chart comparing Communist coercive methods to the COVID policies of today, drawing on the 1956 Biderman Report, which examined brainwashing and manipulation techniques used by the Chinese and North Koreans on American servicemen captured in Korea:
No matter how bad I think the Soviet Union was, it always turns out to have been worse:
These haunting photographs reveal the rotting carcasses of Soviet gulags and a partially built railway where up to 300,000 prisoners died, with their remains still buried in the soil.
The horrific camps were strewn across the Siberian wilderness, just below and above the Arctic Circle, and the prisoners in them were forced to work on a train line dreamt up by Joseph Stalin – the Salekhard-Igarka Railway. His aides knew it was a pointless scheme mapped out in terrain that was impossible to work with, but dared not tell him.
More background on Project 501, aka Death Road:
Stalin conceived of an 806-mile-long rail line to run between the Siberian cities Igarka and Salekhard. Between the years 1947 to 1953, political prisoners were tasked with turning two separate projects into one massive bad idea. Working from the banks on the River Ob prisoners constructing the 501 Railroad’s struggled to unite their project with that of a separate team of prisoners who were actively dying as they laid ties and rails on their 503 Railroad. On either side of the tracks, wooden barracks (also built by the very prisoners they once housed) can still be seen crumbling into the low brush of the tundra. As the years wore on, progress was made with ever increased sluggishness. Supervisors also started to realize that demand waiting on the other side for the completed railroad verged on nonexistent.
When word reached the camps of Stalin’s death in 1953, all work on the tyrant’s insane pet project was put to an end, leaving the railway a simple straight line through the sparsely populated Arctic.
For the second year running, the US remembers the victims of the most lethal ideology that has ever blighted the human race:
On the National Day for the Victims of Communism, we honor the memory of the more than 100 million people who have been killed and persecuted by communist totalitarian regimes. We also reaffirm our steadfast support for those who strive for peace, prosperity, and freedom around the world.
Since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, we have witnessed the effects of the tyrannical communist ideology—anguish, repression, and death. Communism subordinates inherent human rights to the purported well-being of all, resulting in the extermination of religious freedom, private property, free speech, and, far too often, life. These horrors have included Ukrainians deliberately starved in the Holodomor, Russians purged in the Great Terror, Cambodians murdered in the killing fields, and Berliners shot as they tried to escape to freedom. The victims of these and many other atrocities bear silent testimony to the undeniable fact that communism, and the pursuit of it, will forever be destructive to the human spirit and to the prosperity of mankind.
Today, we remember all who have been denied the great blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness under oppressive communist regimes. Together, we mourn the unbearable losses so many have endured under communism, and we renew our pledge to continue advancing the cause of freedom and opportunity for all.
Virginia also becomes the first US state to join in commemorating the National Day for the Victims of Communism, and the 18th state to recognize the Holodomor, in which an estimated 4 million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death by Stalin, as a genocide.
The Berlin Wall came down 29 years ago, on November 9, 1989.
Historic news for the Catholic Church in China:
The Vatican said Saturday that it had reached a provisional deal with the Chinese government to end a decades-old power struggle over the right to appoint bishops in China. It was the Communist country’s first formal recognition of the pope’s authority within the Roman Catholic Church in the world’s most populous nation, Vatican officials said.
Under the deal, Pope Francis recognized the legitimacy of seven bishops appointed by the Chinese government. Because they had not been selected by the Vatican, they had previously been excommunicated.
The Church and China severed diplomatic ties in 1951. According to the article, China would require the Church to cut off relations with Taiwan as a condition of normalizing relations with Beijing.
Conservatives in the Church, who are trying to weaken Pope Francis, were “deeply opposed” to the agreement with China, per the NY Times.
There are around 10 to 12 million Catholics in China, split between those who attend “underground” churches run by bishops appointed by Rome but not recognized by the Communist Party, and those who attend state-approved churches under the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The Vatican seeks to heal the rift between the two communities.
Some have condemned this secret, provisional agreement. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong (described as the most senior Catholic cleric in China), calls it “an incredible betrayal“:
“The consequences will be tragic and long lasting, not only for the church in China but for the whole church because it damages the credibility. Maybe that’s why they might keep the agreement secret.”
Cardinal Zen demands the resignation of the pope’s secretary of state, who was among the chief negotiators of the deal. Sinologist Francesco Sisci has a very different view:
The core of the agreement is a matter of principle on which Beijing has opened its doors. Beijing has recognized the religious bearing of the Pope in China. It’s a concession that had not been granted by the Emperors at the times of Jesuits, thus it is of major import. […]
[This agreement] paves the way to greater religious freedom in China.
One wonders about the fate of the underground bishops under this murky rapprochement. Cardinal Zen fears that many of the underground Catholics could reject the deal and “do something irrational.” Throwing this community under the bus to strike a deal with the atheist Communist Party would not have been my preferred course of action, but we don’t yet know the details of the arrangement. In any case, the Church appears to be playing a long game here, and there is plenty of historical precedent for this sort of thing. The Times again:
But the church has been making concessions to secular powers since before Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne in the year 800. In the 16th century, the pope gave a French king the right to appoint major clerics, and Pope Pius VII signed a similar agreement with Napoleon in the 19th century.
The Vatican accepted limitations to operate under Communist governments such as Vietnam’s. Mr. Melloni also recalled the church’s Ostpolitik, in which it dealt with communist regimes in Europe’s east during the Cold War.
What is not said is that the Chinese authorities will still be first in line in the selection of future pastors, with only a feeble right of veto granted to the pope on any candidates who may not be to his liking.
In this sense, the accord can rightly be defined as “historic,” because it marks a sensational about-face in the journey that the Catholic Church has made over centuries of history to free itself from submission to political powers, particularly in the “investiture” of its pastors.
And to begin with, Pope Francis has put the accord into practice from the day it was signed, exonerating from excommunication seven “official” bishops installed by the regime and until now never recognized by the Holy See, a couple of them with lovers and children.
China is the main source of the insanely potent synthetic opioid fentanyl in the US, which killed more than 27,000 people in the 12 months through November 2017. “The biggest difficulty China faces in opioid control is that such drugs are in enormous demand in the US,” an official of China’s equivalent of the DEA is quoted as saying. The Opium Wars in reverse?
The trade deficit has sliced $457.2 billion off the US economy’s cumulative inflation-adjusted growth, or 14.33%, from the start of the recovery in mid-2009 through the first quarter of 2018, according to last week’s revised GDP figures. But we are told that trade deficits don’t matter.
Britain is probably not going to run out of food in the event of a “no deal” Brexit. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note that the British government cannot guarantee food security for its people, and seemingly expects the food industry to take all the responsibility for stockpiling goods. Meanwhile, the food industry has absolutely no plans to do this.
A simulation models the release and spread of a moderately lethal and moderately contagious virus. It kills off 150 million people over the course of 20 months, including 15 to 20 million people in the US.
Over 100,000 Russians marched last month in the city of Yekaterinburg to mark the centennial of the slaughter of the Romanov imperial family by rabid Communists.
Duterte publicly destroys more than A$8 million worth of contraband luxury cars in the Philippines: