North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Pope names a truth

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at sundown, begins Israel's Holocaust Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, based on the start of the Warsaw ghetto uprising during WWII. It varies between April 7 and May 7 each year. January 27 is the official UN International Holocaust Day, begun in 2015. As most readers know, Israel's holocaust day and the UN remembrance itself is divisive - whole peoples deny or downplay the accuracy of the Holocaust figures. And some nations to this day would apparently love to see another Israeli holocaust occur ...

But there are other events of genocide, attempted genocide, or the vague "acts of genocide" that the US President Clinton tried to parse during the Rwandan darkness in 1994. And unlike many nations who calculate their response carefully, Pope Francis this past week stormed the citadel of obfuscation and declared the massacre of Armenians during World War I as this past century's first genocide that should not be forgotten.

Pope Francis speaking in very non-diplomatic terms ... a few days ago. Photo as published at

From a CNN posting, ""In the past century, our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies," the Pope said at a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacres.

"The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the 20th century,' struck your own Armenian people," he said, referencing a 2001 declaration by Pope John Paul II and the head of the Armenian church.

One can ponder the clothing and the costumes of the Catholic and Armenian churches leadership (no shortage of symbolism and ceremony there), but sharp words can nonetheless pierce through the glitter. Pope Francis in white, the head of Armenia's Orthodox Church Karekin II, right, and Catholicos Aram I, left. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope Francis has made a number of utterances that have offended many. He has criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets; an excessively top-down Catholic Church hierarchy, asked for more tolerance of gays, turned away from the more lavish features of the papal lifestyle, washed the feet of convicts, has repeatedly called for greater efforts to lift up the world’s poor, denounced the killing and persecution of Christians in the past year, and said spanking children isn't all bad. For his troubles, nearly everyone is unhappy with something he has had words for, but also a bit more tuned in to what he might say next.

The mass killings of Armenians by the disintegrating Ottoman Turk empire during and after World War I is still a matter of debate as to which label to use, though the numbers 1 to 1.5 million are generally accepted. Graphic from

Modern day Turkey's response

Somewhat mystifyingly, Turkey's leadership today, under the somewhat erratic leadership of President Erdogan went "postal." As the Deutsch Welle news agency reported, "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused Pope Francis of spouting "nonsense" and warned the pontiff not to make "such a mistake again." "We will not allow historical incidents to be taken out of their genuine context and be used as a tool to campaign against our country," Erdogan said in his first reaction to the pope's comments.

Not to be outdone, another "outraged" response came from Volkan Bozkir, Turkey’s minister for European affairs, who significantly upped the ante on his colleagues by suggesting that Argentines as a whole, and not just the pope, had been brainwashed by rich and powerful Armenians in their midst," so reports an article by the New York Times. Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.

Turkey's President Erdogan defending the honor of his country's past. He also has an interesting take on extremism at least when it occurs in countries other than his own. For example, regarding the killings in France at the beginning of this year, he has what one describes as "an unwavering belief that jihadi terrorism is caused by Islamophobia and thus victims such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists have it coming to them due to their actions ..." (read full article here) Photo from

Here are a few remarks by Pope Francis from this NY Times article,

"In addressing the Armenian question, Francis quoted from a 2001 declaration by Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin II, the Armenian Apostolic Church’s supreme patriarch, in which the two leaders called the Armenian slaughter a campaign of extermination that was “generally referred to as the first genocide of the 20th century.”

Vatican diplomats have been deliberately prudent in avoiding the term, so in using it during the Mass on Sunday, before an audience that included the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan, Francis clearly intended to provoke a response. He equated the fate of the Armenians with the genocides orchestrated by the Nazis and the Soviets under Stalin, while also condemning “other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.”

“It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood,” Francis said. “It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today, too, there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few, and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by.”

The bottom line response from Turkey's Erdogan is that criticism against his country is a form of hate speech.

Interesting how labels are applied freely - what would George Orwell have to say ...

No comments: