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SACW - 28 Oct 2012 | Bangladesh: family law s; 1971 / Taliban and the govt of Pakistan co mpete; UPR / India: RSS Affiliation ; ‘ Disappeared’ in Kashmir / Vasili Arkhipov / U S: Extremist Candidates

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire - 28 Oct 2012 - No. 2761 ... Contents: 1. Bangladesh - India: Indian secretary s existential crisis (Mohammad Badrul Ahsan) 2.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 27 2:46 PM
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      South Asia Citizens Wire - 28 Oct 2012 - No. 2761

      1. Bangladesh - India: Indian secretary's existential crisis (Mohammad Badrul Ahsan)
      2. Bangladesh - discriminatory family laws: Marriages - Made in Heaven, Living Hell for Many
      3. The absent piece of skin: Gendered, racialized and territorial inscriptions of sexual violence during the Bangladesh war
      4. Taliban and the government of Pakistan compete with each other in marketing their respective brands of Islam
      by Naeem Sadiq
      5. Rejoinder to Official Report by Pakistan to UN Human Rights Council by Civil Society Networks
      6. India: RSS Affiliation No Guarantee of Good Values (Badri Raina)
      7. India: ‘Disappeared’ in Kashmir (A.G Noorani)
      8. India - Kashmir: A question of accountability and memory (Dilnaz Boga)
      9. India: In the eyes of the beholder (Kavitha Shanmugam)
      10. India: selected posts from Communalism Watch
      11. India: Letter to Newspapers (Mukul Dube)
      12. Tilak Ranjan Bera. Ladakh: A Glimpse of the Roof of the World.
      Reviewed by Madhu Sarin
      13. Socialist Identity and the Fog of History in East Germany (Dolores L. Augustine)
      14. Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, the man who stopped nuclear war (Edward Wilson)
      15. USA: Polarized Election Season Marked by Extremist Candidates (Posted by Evelyn Schlatter)

      by Mohammad Badrul Ahsan
      (The Daily Star, October 26, 2012 |OP-ED)

      The Indian home secretary was in town lately, when he supposedly said more than he was willing to listen. He talked about terrorism, extradition treaty, border security and other issues of interest to two countries. But he left us in the no-man's land when the journalists asked him about the border killings. What the secretary said in response was obtuse jugglery of words. He said that when the Bangladeshis are gunned down by BSF, it should be called death instead of killing.

      Who knows why on earth he came up with that distinction, but a matter of life and death for us was play of words for the Indian civil servant. It was as if death was lesser dying compared to killing. That reminds us of the moral of a fable written by Aesop 2,500 years ago. Some mischievous boys were playing on the edge of a pond, and they began to amuse themselves by pelting frogs with stones. After several of these creatures got killed, one of them pleaded that what was sport to the boys was death to them.

      May be the Indian secretary slept better that night after his scurrilous comment. His superiors must have congratulated him on his presence of mind, on how quickly he mustered a ridiculous riposte without so much as a twitch in his face. It was also no less amazing how his Bangladesh counterpart swallowed that insult in an exalted state of intellectual equivocation. And our journalists, who had asked the question, readily froze. It was as if a strutting horse was abruptly numbed with tranquilizer shot.

      Any Indian high official visiting Bangladesh should know that border killing would be the first thing on the minds of the journalists in a room with him. The fact is that the secretary didn't come prepared for that burning issue and it showed he didn't give much thought to it either. That explained why he tried to tackle it with a misplaced sense of humour. His absurd distinction between death and killing sounded like the punch line of a sick joke.

      The size of a country is always inversely proportionate to its share in a bilateral crisis. The big country has the smaller percentage of the problem, while the smaller country has the bigger percentage of it. Border killing isn't a problem for India because all the killings are done by BSF. Our BGB have been goody two-shoes, who never had anything to shoot in their crosshairs.

      How does it change BSF atrocities whether we call it death or killing? Perhaps the Indian secretary was hinting that BSF didn't take any life just because they were trigger happy. Okay, many of those who were killed were trespassers or smugglers. May be, at times some of these people get pesky or cheeky. May be, at times they get on the nerve of BSF men and ask for it. But they are not by any means subversive of Indian interests, surely not terrorists.

      Then why should they get killed? They can be punished with fines or prison terms or even instant justice of a few slaps or beatings. But is it justifiable to shoot and kill them when they are mostly innocent farmers, cattle traders or often emotional folks who would like to frequently visit their relatives living on the Indian side of the border? Although one wonders why none of these ever happens between Indian citizens and BGB.

      Death is a generic name for the cessation of life, whether it's due to natural causes or accidental killing or cold-blooded murder. Accidental killing resulting from lawful acts of violence is excusable as homicide. But accidental killing resulting from unlawful acts of violence not directed at the victim is punishable as manslaughter. Where the BSF killing comes in between these two extremes is for their conscience to tell.

      Even if the Indians choose to call it death on their side of the border, it's still killing on our side because we carry the dead bodies on our shoulders. If that isn't enough to convince him, the Indian home secretary should ask families in his country, whose sons get killed in Siachen or Kargil. They will tell how the killer's cruelty hurts immensely more than the victim's fate. Death is end of journey, but killing is when that end comes at gunpoint.

      It is common sense that watering a sapling is futile when chopped at the base. If India truly wants to secure its borders with Bangladesh and discourage terrorism, it shouldn't only deal with the downstream but also work on the upstream. It doesn't help to send negotiators suffering from existential crisis, because the same despondency also makes the terrorists.

      The Indian secretary's poor sense of humour should get us worried. Anybody, who can diminish death, can diminish anything.

      The writer is Editor, First News, and an opinion writer for The Daily Star.

      Email: badrul151@...

      ARUNA KASHYAP describes the visible as well as intangible forms of gender violence that result from discriminatory family laws

      by Nayanika Mookherjee
      Modern Asian Studies, Volume 46, Issue 06, November 2012, pp 1572 - 1601
      doi:10.1017/S0026749X11000783 Published online by Cambridge University
      Press 04th January 2012
      Link to abstract:

      by Naeem Sadiq
      Both claiming to be defenders of Islam, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the savage militants operating from what they term as Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, are locked in a bloody war of survival. What are the strengths, weaknesses, differences and commonalities of the two warring sides, and what are the chances of success for Pakistan? Let us look at a few key performance indicators.

      Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group is holding its fourteenth session in Geneva from 22 October to 5 November 2012. Civil society networks in Pakistan have come up with a critique of the official report being presented by the Government of Pakistan to the UN Human Rights Council.

      by Badri Raina
      (Mainstream, VOL L No 44, October 20, 2012)

      Anjali Damania, the anti-corruption volunteer, is the daughter of an RSS worker of long, and brought up to believe in the values of clean and patriotic conduct. Such are the facts she has revealed in her long sms sent to Shri Nitin Gadkari, the RSS scion, after, as per her averment, her meeting with him on August 14. Shri Gadkari has since denied meeting Anjali, and issued her a legal notice.

      In that sms message, and subsequently in a number of television interactions, she has expressed shock that the good clean values taught by the RSS should not have percolated to Shri Gadkari, a reputed RSS pracharak.

      Anjali Damania has claimed that she went to see Shri Gadkari upon hearing that a godman named Bhayuji Maharaj had intervened with him to discourage Shri Kirit Saumaya of the BJP from filing a PIL in the matter of the irrigation scandal in Maharashtra.

      Certain that Shri Gadkari would take up the anti-corruption cause against the Congress-NCP combine, Anjali has said how distraught she was to be told by Shri Gadkari that he could do no such thing since, as per Anjali’s statement broadcast repeatedly now on the channels, he and Shri Sharad Pawar had good relations, and often did each other favours. As well as the possibility that the BJP could be headed for a seat-sharing arrangement with the NCP. About Kirit Saumaya, Shri Gadkari is reported to have said, according to her, that the former is an eccentric and an arrogant person, and should not be doing what he is doing. At best, Gadkari advised, Saumaya could raise the matter in the party forum, or take a press briefing on the issue.

      This has clearly been a moment of painful recogniton for Anajali Damania, and she has challenged Gadkari to a face-off on the issues, including his denial that he ever met her. Further, she says she means to take up the legal challenge through due process as well. Needless to say how very significant this occurrence is: not only is the credibility of the two antagonists, although both from the RSS, at stake, but the great pretence that the RSS/BJP is at the forefront of the anti-corruption crusade could be slated to come apart decisively, and at the hands of a good and well-meaning RSS-affiliated activist.

      INDIA’S hoi polloi, of course, needs little proof that the regime of crony money-multiplication plays no favourites and spares few in public life from its all-encompassing tentacles. Indeed, it is now a common experience that the loud and aggressively demonstrative assertions of public religiosity graced by important plenipoten-tiaries that are often on display are deployed as camouflages to keep the nittygritty hidden away under layers of piety and nationalist or community sentiment.

      It will be interesting to see how the Anjali Damania-Nitin Gadkari contention will turn out in the days ahead (there is of course the other matter of the coal allocation to a Gadkari favourite in Chhattisgarh also doing the rounds). What seems clear enough is that unregulated and unbridled capitalism rules over all forms of value-orientation, not excluding the holier-than-thou protestations of the RSS.

      Speaking of which, political parties seem to score over religious organisations in this one respect though: however crookedly, some accounts are maintained of the moneys they receive, and some audits are done, despite the shameful fact that, barring the CPI, all other parties are currently battling the obligation to come under the RTI regime.

      Religious organisations on the other hand seem to have a clear mandate from above never to furnish any account of where their moneys come from, and what they do with the same. In that respect, clearly, religious organisations that seem forever at communal loggerheads belong to one and the same genre.

      As Lawrence would have said: no goddess greater than “money, the bitch goddess”.

      by A.G Noorani
      (Dawn, 27 October, 2012)

      IT is not surprising at all that the chief minister of Indian Kashmir, Omar Abdullah’s written statement on the disappeared persons, in the assembly on Oct 8 should have been received with complete disbelief.

      He said, “Till ending July 2012, 2,305 persons have been declared missing.” FIRs were lodged only in 182 cases. In the rest of the cases, “missing reports and complaints have been lodged”.

      Sana Altaf of the Srinagar daily Greater Kashmir noted “even after 23 years of armed conflict, no authentic official data exists on the number of disappeared persons in Kashmir valley while successive governments continue to come up with contradictory figures”.

      According to the National Conference government headed by Farooq Abdullah the official figure of disappeared persons stood at 3,184. The then People’s Democratic Party government headed by Mufti Sayeed informed the assembly in February 2003 that 3,744 persons went missing between 2000 and 2002.

      According to the Srinagar-based Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) which has rendered yeoman service all these years, at least 8,000 persons have disappeared since the militancy began in 1989. Punjab witnessed a similar pattern of abuse and cover-up during the counter-insurgency operations from 1984 to 1995.

      An inquiry by the police investigation team of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has found 2,730 bodies dumped into unmarked graves in four districts.

      The Inquiry Report of Unmarked Graves in north Kashmir, submitted by the investigating police team to the SHRC on July 2, 2011, said that the unidentified bodies had been buried in 38 sites in the Baramulla, Bandipora, Handwara and Kupwara districts. At least 574 were identified as the bodies of local Kashmiris. The government had previously said that the graves held unidentified militants.

      Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said: “For years, Kashmiris have been lamenting their lost loved ones, their pleas ignored or dismissed as the government and army claimed that they had gone to Pakistan to become militants. But these graves suggest the possibility of mass murder. The authorities should immediately investigate each and every death.”

      The Inquiry Report recommended that the SHRC call for immediate DNA sampling and other forensic tests to try to identify the bodies by matching them with the next of kin of the people who have disappeared. Seventeen of the bodies found in the four districts have already been reburied by relatives in family graveyards. The investigation found that 18 of the graves contained more than one body. But the Kashmir government has refused to conduct DNA tests to identify the bodies.

      New terms have come into vogue. The wife of a ‘disappeared’ man is called ‘half-widow’. International law, especially international humanitarian law, has begun to grapple with the problem. For long the chairperson of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances studied the record in some countries and reported to the then UN Human Rights Commission at Geneva now replaced by the Human Rights Council.

      The International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances defines enforced disappearances as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law”.

      The convention grants all persons directly harmed by an enforced disappearance, such as family members of the disappeared, a “right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person”. India signed the convention in 2007 but has not ratified it.

      The convention prohibits states from claiming a lack of resources to justify refusing to investigate a possible enforced disappearance by placing a duty on states to guarantee those resources. ‘Security’ cannot justify refusal to release information related to enforced disappearances. No “exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance”.

      Mr Ravi Nair, executive director of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in New Delhi, to whom this writer is much indebted for his assistance, rightly holds that the law is violated if governments impose on the families of the victims the burden to provide information before attempting to identify whether any of the bodies belong to disappeared persons.

      The UN Human Rights Committee places the burden of implementing the right to the truth on the state, not the victim’s family: “In cases where allegations are corroborated by credible evidence … and where further clarification depends on information exclusively in the hands of the state party, the committee may consider … allegations substantiated in the absence of satisfactory evidence or explanations to the contrary presented by the state.”

      Disappearances blight the lives of whole families. In Kashmir they spread what The Economist aptly called “a war-borne epidemic of mental illness”.

      The writer is an author and a lawyer.

      by Dilnaz Boga
      (DNA, October 2, 2012)

      We live in strange times where a query to the state about promotions and awards to policemen in anti-militancy operations in one of the world’s highest militarised zones elicits a cold response… that being, that its disclosure would "pose as a threat to national security and the strategic interests of the state and may lead to the incitement of an offence".

      This essentially provides a shield to the guilty in case of human rights violations by security personnel and offers immunity/impunity from prosecution to those “defending our national security and the strategic interests of the state”.

      Imagine if all of us lived in a world where there was no accountability like the men in uniform. Would there be any law and order? Or would we all be prisoners of our own conscience? Wouldn’t we spare a thought for those we harmed in our bid to get what we want? What kind of people would we be if the country’s laws did not apply to us?

      The least one should expect in this situation is anarchy. Only the fit will survive. So, men with guns will triumph over young boys with stones. Men who run torture centers will sleep better than the fathers whose sons are broken and killed in the same centers. Women will never feel safe as investigative reports and toothless commissions are primed to fail in the delivery of justice. Such is life for some in militarised states in the country.

      When Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a Srinagar-based non-government organisation, applied for to the Department of Home, Jammu and Kashmir government, about awards and promotions to the police personnel for anti-militancy operations since 1989 to 2012, the RTI application was transferred to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Police Headquarters 40 days later.

      “This denial is an admission by the Jammu and Kashmir Police that the state does have a policy of incentivising the arrests and killings of militants. It has been from a long time argued by the human rights defenders that this policy of awards and promotions has encouraged the personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the personnel of the army, CRPF and BSF to carry out extra-judicial killings. This denial sustains the institutional impunity and encouragement provided by the government to the soldiers and police personnel operating in Jammu and Kashmir,” JKCCS’s press release stated.

      Khurram Parvez, co-ordinator of JKCCS, said, “It is alarming that the Department of Home does not keep the record of, and chooses not to make a decision on such a sensitive issue which is actually their jurisdiction and has instead relied on the Police Department, a subordinate to the Home Department, for both the record and decision to provide the information. This shows how mechanisms of accountability within the state structures have been deliberately disregarded, where the possible human rights violations and the allegations of corruption amongst the Police personnel could have been checked. This disregard or possible complicity highlights the fact that Jammu and Kashmir Police is not accountable to the superior authorities and also does not believe in having any transparency in the work they do. It is noteworthy that this denial of information from the Police Headquarters suggests that the Department of Home, which is the premier state authority vis-à-vis security, may not at all be involved in the policy and decision making on the issue of awards and promotions to the personnel of Jammu and Kashmir Police for anti-militancy operations.”

      Perhaps the Home Department in the Valley is busy with more important tasks like the inauguration of a T-20 cricket contest in Sopore on a sunny Sunday. “Minister of State for Home Affairs Nasir Aslam Wani, the Chief Guest at the event, set pigeons free and helium balloons into the blue sky,” stated the police’s press release. IGP Kashmir SM Sahai, GOC Kilo Force, DIG North Kashmir (Baramulla) and several other officers from the police, the army and various other departments including J&K Sports Council, Education, Revenue, Forest, R&B, Department of Flood Control, etc, graced the occasion. Strange that such dignitaries don’t grace other mortals like us with their presence at T-20 matches in other parts of India.

      If people could be won over by the state-sponsored quiz contests, medical camps, sports meets, Bharat darshan trips, drug rehabilitation camps, community outreach centers, job recruitment drives and religious conferences, then Kashmir would have had a very different past. For now, the state has asked telecom companies to block Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for the fate of our fragile national security for them, hinges on verdicts of the people on social networks! Only if that were true of our flailing democracy.

      For these psy-ops to work, the Kashmiris would firstly need to obliterate not only their recent memories of the killing of 124 men, women and children in 2010, but also their past, where thousands of lives were lost to massacres, fake encounters, torture, mass rapes and enforced disappearances for almost 70 years. These horrors never fail to rise like a Phoenix, making a home in almost every Kashmiri’s consciousness every time innocent blood is spilled.

      by Kavitha Shanmugam
      (The Telegraph, 17 October 2012)

      Few are enthused by the amendments to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act. Kavitha Shanmugam finds out why indecent exposure? Obscenity is subjective

      The amendments to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986, languishing with the government for the last three years, were finally cleared by the Cabinet last week. However, by and large, the much-awaited amendments have left women’s groups and activists cold. Most feel that they are too little, too late and that no matter how important the changes they will be of scant use without proper implementation.

      The amendments, which will soon be tabled in Parliament, have extended the scope of the IRWA to include not just advertisements, print, electronic media or any other form of visual representation, but also the Internet, satellite communication, multimedia messaging and cable television.

      Punishments for offences under the law have been made more stringent as well. Imprisonment of up to two years has been raised to three years and fines have been raised from Rs 2,000 to between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh. For second convictions, the penalty is now sizeable — imprisonment of up to seven years and fines between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.

      This may sound impressive, but experts say that given the fact that there have been very few convictions under the IRWA so far the enhanced punishments may not amount to much. In fact, Geeta Ramaseshan, a Chennai-based women’s rights lawyer, is frankly sceptical. “IRWA has been a fairly ineffective legislation and basically an add-on to penal law,” she says. Agrees Dr N. Hamsa of Women Power Connect, a Delhi-based women’s organisation, “There are many laws for crimes against women. What we have to see is whether the mechanisms to implement them are effective.”

      The National Commission of Women (NCW), the architect of the amendments, was prompted by the irrational and “indecent” portrayal of women in advertisements and on TV shows to revisit the IRWA, reveals former NCW chairman Girija Vyas.

      “Why show a semi-clad woman in an ad for a chocolate or a banian? We sent notices to advertisers and television serials but we needed stronger laws to move against them,” she says.

      So do we have a stronger IRWA now? That is debatable, say experts. They point out that some of the amendments merely duplicate provisions contained in existing laws. In fact, even the big ticket amendment — that of bringing obscene representation of women in cyberspace under the purview of the law — is not so significant as there are provisions under the Information Technology (IT) Act which are similar.

      “IRWA is good in intent, but there is no point in having multiple laws for the same thing. For example, Sections 292, 293 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the IT Act make obscenity in any form a punishable offence,” says Pranesh Prakash, manager of the Bangalore-based NGO, Centre for Internet and Security.

      Section 67 of the IT Act states, “Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons…” will be considered culpable under the provisions of the law. Which, say experts, is not significantly different from what the IRWA now states.

      Siddharth Narain of Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, and an expert on obscenity laws believes that Section 67 of the IT Act is worded “widely” enough to cover indecent representation and obscenity on the Internet. “These amendments just cloud the distinction between existing laws and the IRWA relating to obscenity,” he says.

      Others feel that the amendments ought to have made offences under the act non-bailable. As cyber law expert and Supreme Court advocate Pawan Duggal points out, “Though the amendments were made to sync the IRWA with the IT Act in terms of punishments, the offence is still bailable and hence will not act as a potent deterrent.”

      In any case, many feel that regulating pornography or any form of indecent or degrading representation of women on the Internet is next to impossible. “While Indian broadcasters and newspapers can be regulated, there is no such thing as the Indian Internet,” says Prakash. “Take the case of the Indian site that showed the exploits of porn cartoon star Savita Bhabhi. When it was banned in India, the creators just launched the website from another country.”

      However, Duggal feels that the IRWA amendments score over Section 67 of the IT Act in that it brings social media under its ambit. He gives the example of a woman executive mentioned in a social media website as a woman who wants to further her career prospects by “warming beds”.

      “The woman faced a lot of harassment after this reference on a public social medium. Such cases can be probably taken up under the IRWA,” says Duggal.

      The IRWA is also criticised for extending its ambit to television, which is already regulated by the Cable Television Networks Act and Rules, the ministry of information and broadcasting’s content code.

      Siddharth quotes the rules under this code to emphasise that television channels are already forbidden from broadcasting “the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory to women or depict women as mere objects or symbols of sexual desires or behaviour.”

      Of course, the basic problem with the law is that “obscenity” is a subjective concept and what is obscene to one may not be obscene to another. This leads women’s rights activists like Ramaseshan to stress that issues such as filming women without their permission or sending obscene messages to them violate their privacy. Hence they need to be strongly addressed with a law without bringing in the issue of obscenity. “Instead of getting into subjective and grey areas such as indecency and morality, one has to focus on the rights of women,” she says.

      An effective IRWA could do that too. But whether it will manage to uphold the rights of women as it struggles to protect society’s idea of indecency is moot.

      25.10.2012 - Press Release - CJP Rebuts Malicious Campaign by The Pioneer

      The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a Mumbai based registered trust strongly rebuts the malicious campaign once again launched by the Pioneer a newspaper edited by Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chandan Mitra. In a story laced with outright falsehoods the newspaper has alleged that the CJP has violated the law, namely the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Since we work in the public domain we place the following facts for your information while emphasising that what the Pioneer has been resorting to since 2010 constitutes unprofessional journalism: not once were we contacted before this or other stories was carried. In October 2010 we had through our lawyers issued a legal notice to the newspaper (pasted below) following a spate of articles which visibly toned down that newspaper’s coverage after the notice. This time too legal action will follow.

      Gadkari in Shit - The BJP president’s financial dealings could jeopardise his political career

      RSS talk of 'impartial probe', ominous signs for Nitin Gadkari's second term

      BJP chief Gadkari in RSS uniform

      India: Times of India report on the funding of a firm run by the president the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party

      All India Secular Forum statement condemning violence in Faizabad

      Photo Exhibition on 1984 riots seeks justice for victims

      UK decision to end boycott of Narenda modi is about how human rights are sacrificed at the altar of commerce


      25 October 2012

      The late Sunil Gangopadhyay had pledged his body to medical science. His son and perhaps other members of his family disregarded his wishes and opted for the cremation of his remains. Their argument was, apparently, that rights over his corpse vested in those who were charged with disposing of it.

      I do not wish to argue absurdly that the dead man continued to own the body he once inhabited. I do say, however, that his family's action is a slap in the face of all those who speak in favour of organ donation.

      Medical science today is in a position to help many, many people by using organs retrieved (I dislike the term in use, "harvested") from corpses. It is people like the younger Gangopadhyay who cause many to die because no kidneys are available for them and many to remain sightless because there are no corneas for them.

      This mediaeval thinking is not tragic so much as it is disgusting. So what if it coincides with the supposed triumph of Good over Evil?

      Mukul Dube
      D-504 Purvasha (Anand Lok) Apts.
      Mayur Vihar 1
      Delhi 110091

      Reviewed by Madhu Sarin
      Tilak Ranjan Bera. Ladakh: A Glimpse of the Roof of the World.
      Kolkata Woodland Publishers, 2012. Illustrations. 253 pp. $133.00
      (cloth), ISBN 978-81-906121-6-6.

      Reviewed by Madhu Sarin (Psychoanalyst and independent scholar)
      Published on H-Asia (October, 2012)
      Commissioned by Sumit Guha

      There are some parts of the world that beg to be photographed. Ladakh is one such place. The strength of this book lies in its use of magnificent and graphic photographs that illuminate the region and its people during different times of year. Tibet has long retained a powerful hold on the Western imagination--with its remote location, high altitude terrain, nomadic peoples, and esoteric monastic traditions that married ancient magical practices with Buddhism. Perennially cut off and relatively inaccessible because of its geographical location, once China asserted its sovereignty over Tibet, the region became even harder to reach. Ladakh, now in India, was part of the Changthang plateau of Tibet. It remains one of the few parts of the world where the landscape and traditional way of life associated with Tibet continue to exist relatively unaltered. Ladakh lies at the northern extremity of India wedged amid a series of high Himalayan ranges and between two contested areas of geopolitical conflict--Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on the West and Akshai Chin on the East.

      The author, Tilak Ranjan Bera, covers more ground pictorially and logistically than is usual in coffee-table books of this kind. His extensive and stunning photographs accompanied by lively, informative text vividly portray this part of the world. Lying along the ancient Silk Route, Ladakh is peopled by groups from Central Asia, Tibet, and India who still retain age-old Bon, Buddhist, and Islamic religious traditions. The author is a doctor by profession. His love for nature, landscape, and ethnography has led him to photograph and investigate many scenic parts of India. Readers are lucky that his interests drew him to the mountain deserts of Ladakh--his photographs are a compelling and mesmerizing tribute to the stark beauty of this region.

      The book begins by providing a historical, geographical, and sociological background to Ladakh, and then it details the origins, history, and traditions of the different peoples who have made it their home. The book proceeds to document two of the road journeys to the capital of Ladakh, Leh, from India--Via Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Srinagar in Kashmir--both of which are considered among the most scenic and beautiful road journeys of all time or any place. The author then highlights and documents five distinct areas of Ladakh: Leh, the capital; Nubra, which lies along the Silk Route and is near the Siachen Glacier; Dan Hanu where people of Aryan descent continue to live; Suru, a particularly beautiful valley; and the remote area of Zanskar, which is an important living site of ancient Buddhism. There are two additional chapters, with one focusing on different Buddhist and Bon monasteries that dot the landscape and the country; and the other on the magnificent turquoise blue lakes of Ladakh along with the plant, bird, and animal life that surround them. Some additional short chapters and remarks on the personal meaning that the Himalayas and this remote region have for the author complete the book. Bera has painstakingly and brilliantly documented the stark, dramatic landscapes often likened to lunar moonscapes with startling rock formations, and has beautifully depicted variegated hues, dazzling turquoise blue lakes, the flora, the fauna, religious monuments, artifacts, rock carvings and buildings, and the different peoples who inhabit Ladakh.

      The shortcomings of the book are similar to those of other coffee-table books. Bera does not include references to sources for historical, geographical, political, or anthropological information. The quality of the photographs and textual material whet the reader's curiosity in this amazing part of the world. The book entices the reader with the images and narrative it provides; its a pity that there are no references--because having entered Ladakh through Bera's mind and imagination, one would wish for further anchoring in fact and bibliography.

      Citation: Madhu Sarin. Review of Bera, Tilak Ranjan, _Ladakh: A
      Glimpse of the Roof of the World_. H-Asia, H-Net Reviews. October,
      URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=36489

      This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


      by Dolores L. Augustine

      Sandrine Kott. Histoire de la société allemande au xx. siècle: III La RDA 1949-1989. Paris: Editions La Decouverte, 2011. 126 pp. ISBN 978-2-7071-6911-2; EUR 9.50 (paper), ISBN 978-2-7071-6906-8.

      Reviewed by Dolores L. Augustine (St. John's University)
      Published on H-German (October, 2012)
      Commissioned by Benita Blessing

      Socialist Identity and the Fog of History in East Germany

      This slender volume provides an excellent introduction to Francophone research on the GDR, of which Sandrine Kott (of the University of Geneva) is the most prominent representative. Rejecting totalitarianism theory, she focuses on social history. Though the East German leadership had totalitarian impulses, society was able to establish limits to dictatorship.[1] Nonetheless, the SED (the Socialist Unity Party, or Communist Party of East Germany) "colonized" society. An interpenetration of society and state took place, described in an untranslatable turn of phrase as a "socialisation de l'Etat" and "etatisation du social." Her study combines a "history from below" with a historical/sociological analysis of the SED and major organizations and institutions.

      In 1949, a "socialist Germany" (p. 6) was created with some German support; for example, that of antifascist groups. Kott argues that those mass organizations that looked back to an older tradition enjoyed a fair degree of legitimacy--unlike those organizations created by the SED to take control of society. The FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend, "Free German Youth"), founded in Czechoslovak exile during WWII, pursued, according to Kott, a rather independent course vis-à-vis the SED in the years after 1946. The FDJ was reorganized in 1953 and made into a recruiting grounds for party officials, a prerequisite for admission to university studies, as well as an instrument of political indoctrination. Similarly, the FDGB (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, "Free German Trade Union Federation") was subordinated to the SED. Strikes were criminalized. Local union officials were surprisingly nonconformist, though they were co-opted and robbed of any ability to negotiate on behalf of workers by 1970.

      Chapter 1 focuses on social engineering, which was vast in scope, yet not always predictable in its impact. The complete redesigning of society ran into some opposition, but not civil war. Owners of large farms lost their land, and were often replaced by "new farmers." The latter were beholden to the SED, but also used the opportunities provided by the SED to their advantage. Their tenuous hold on land often ended in the face of the creation of collective farms. The process of collectivizing agriculture involved violence, and led to deep antagonisms, particularly between established and "new" farmers, as well as between farmers and factory workers. Urban factory workers, sent as "volunteers" into the countryside to promote collectivization, incurred the hostility and resentment of the farmers they were supposed to assist.

      Vaunted as socialist "heroes," factory workers were in fact expected to participate in competitions that intensified exploitation. Frustrated by a lack of real rewards, as well as by the piece-work system in use in GDR factories, workers rebelled in a series of strikes, culminating in the 1953 uprising. The Communist leadership developed a distrustful attitude towards workers.

      Traditional elites were supposed to be replaced by a "new intelligentsia." However, the SED had a rather "indulgent" attitude towards doctors, economic experts, engineers, scientists, and (until 1972) small businessmen. This toleration of a more traditional professionalism is due to three factors: the centrality of technical and scientific innovation in the SED's economic strategies, loss of elites due to postwar de-Nazification, and the danger of losing elites to the West (even after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961). A "new intelligentsia" eventually did take over from older elites, but, ironically, did not enjoy the privileges and higher income of its predecessors. It found itself working under incompetent political appointees.

      Chapter 2 undertakes an analysis of the "social nexus" of power. Kott argues that society itself "was used as an instrument and site of control" (p. 44). SED members kept each other in line and participated in the "political, social and even moral repression of their fellow citizens" (p. 35). Among party members, ideological commitment was replaced by outward conformism in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, party members increasingly expected the party to assist them with personal difficulties, leading to "privatization" of the party. Similarly, members of Communist mass organizations behaved like "consumers," using membership for their own purposes rather than really participating with a sense of inner conviction. Forced to participate in paramilitary organizations and to serve in the military, young East Germans became increasingly pacifistic. Pacifism became the focal point of opposition to the SED. Nonetheless, mass organizations did help to create a sense of "community of the people" (p. 38).

      The GDR upheld the Marxist view of work as essentially liberating. This view of human nature harmonized well with the needs of a planned economy that suffered from chronic labor shortages. In theory, socialist citizenship was centered on the factory, particularly the work brigade or work collective. In reality, the brigade was an instrument for disciplining workers. It also was a working unit that had to deal with the problems of the planned economy. Desperate attempts to deal with these problems helped create a deep sense of solidarity among its members. On the other hand, in accordance with the Leninist principle of "To each according to his contribution," those who did not work were not considered members of the socialist community and were ostracized, and sometimes imprisoned, as "asocials."

      The Stasi was also deeply involved in organizing the policing of society from within, whereby those higher up in the hierarchy were more heavily involved in surveillance and oppression. The Stasi had a vast knowledge of what was going on in East German society, but it was the SED that had to act on that knowledge. The party became incapable of effective action. Thus, society was "tightly controlled but not really guided or governed by the SED in the 1980s" (p. 45).

      Chapter 3 turns to the topic of social inequality. Though the official discourse was egalitarian, inequalities in pay, working conditions, and access to goods persisted and grew, particularly those between manual labor, office workers, and managers; between men and women; and between the generations. Opportunities for social advancement greatly decreased in the late 1960s. Inequalities in consumption were tied to the subordination of consumption to production. In the early years, for example, workers in priority sectors received larger rations. By the late 1950s, attempts were made to create a socialist model of consumption; for example, by promoting an East German fashion industry. This endeavor was abandoned in the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s. This economic downturn engendered austerity, as well as growing inequality. Better housing and goods were available to the intelligentsia (which became like an upper-middle class), inhabitants of big cities, those in possession of Western currency, people with West German relatives, skilled workers in favored industries, skilled handworkers who could offer their services in exchange for goods and services, and people with "connections."

      Kott agrees with Rudolf Bahro--and, though not mentioned here, Milovan Djilas--that the Communist elite was a ruling class in the Marxist sense, a class (analogous to Djilas's "new class") that exploited the economic and social resources of society as it saw fit.[2] She sees the professional class as divided by rivalries and disagreements. She in fact revives the idea of a "counter-elite," first formulated by Peter Christian Ludz.[3] She seems to see the main cause for this rift in the rivalry between younger members of the elite and older, more senior members who rose to positions of power in the 1950s and 1960s, and who proved unable to deal with the increasingly dire economic and political problems of the 1980s. Her account here is somewhat confusing (p. 61) because she also writes that the intelligentsia (i.e., university-educated professionals) rose into positions of power in the 1980s. She hints at a more psychological and cultural analysis in her remark that individuals also had to deal with their own internal contradictions, arising from tensions "between political loyalty and professional competence" (p. 60).

      Chapter 4 explores the contours of private and public identity in the GDR. A distinct East German identity emerged, though it diverged from what political leaders envisioned. Intent on creating a "socialist personality," the SED placed more emphasis on education than was the case anywhere else in the East bloc. Though the school system was modernized in the 1940s and 1950s, schools continued to be dedicated to the "reproduction--not production--of knowledge," as well as to social reproduction (p. 65). The children of cadres enjoyed the greatest successes in school. Children of the working class were, on the other hand, shunted off into technical careers. In theory, apprenticeships were supposed to further the development of class consciousness, but in fact the conditions under which apprentices were trained were wretched. (Here she somewhat understates the opportunities provided to members of the working class.) Despite "extreme politicization," schools "were hardly capable of bringing about the emergence of 'socialist man,' who looks with optimism to the future" (p. 67). A process of "reappropriation" emptied the Jugendweihe (a secular, socialist alternative to confirmation) of socialist content, turning it into a simple "rite of passage."

      The GDR also placed greater emphasis on bringing high culture to the masses than did most socialist countries. Workers were encouraged to write literature and perform in theater groups. These endeavors ultimately could not overcome traditional divisions between "serious" and popular culture. However, average East Germans became voracious readers with a taste for fine literature. This was in part thanks to the endeavors of factory librarians, who brought book carts into factory halls.

      Kott rightly points out that attempts in the GDR to overcome the public/private divide cannot be solely ascribed to the SED's totalitarian instincts (which the author fully acknowledges). They are also the expression of the Marxist ambition to overcome the bourgeois isolation of the individual and the family. Successful attempts in this direction included state-run daycare and nursery schools and after-hours socializing of work brigade members. Other experiments fizzled out, notably the inclusion of public facilities in housing complexes and attempts at socializing housework. In the 1970s and 1980s, the SED encouraged a retreat back into the family; for example, through the introduction of the "baby year" (a year-long, paid hiatus in employment after the birth of a child). A re-privatization of free time also took place, accompanied by an increase in TV viewing. In Kott's view, women did not lose ground as a result of these developments, however. Marxism claims that gender equality is best achieved through the employment of women. She is little inclined to disagree, nor to question the claim that East German women were more sexually liberated than West German women. However, as she points out, attempts to question inequitable gender roles in the private realm were nipped in the bud. Here, the lack of freedom of expression made itself felt.

      Chapter 5 turns to those excluded from the socialist community, or at least pushed to its margins. Despite official proclamations of international solidarity, immigrants were segregated and treated as if they were suspected of being "serious criminals" (p. 85). As a result, the population became distrustful of them. But not until after 1989 did the full extent of the fallout from these xenophobic policies become clear. Worse off until 1989 were those East Germans defined as "asocials" because of supposed moral or psychological deviance, perceived, for example, in their lack of desire to work, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity (in the case of women), homosexuality, or contacts with the West. A multiplicity of institutions were mobilized to control and reeducate them, but many served long prison sentences. Few escaped the label of "asocial," and in fact they seem to have been part of an emerging underclass. The author believes that many were dropouts who could or would not live according to the very narrow dictates of the East German system.

      Political dissidents were also marginalized, and at times were defined as "asocials" because they were unable to find stable employment. The Protestant Church provided "a kind of substitute public space" (p. 100) by the 1980s, but also contributed to a "ghettoization" of opposition. Youthful nonconformism was viewed with utmost suspicion by the SED. In the mid-1960s, those who adopted Western youth culture were branded as traitors, and were subject to incarceration and re-education. Thus, East German society was not only confined within "geographical, but also political and moral borders" (p. 103). The SED succeeded in creating an alternate German society that was "centered on work, more homogeneous, more communitarian, but also closed, intolerant and self-supervising" (p. 104). Nonetheless, the Communist leadership did not get the society it expected. Unable to properly respond to popular wants, the SED "dominated" society without truly "governing" it. Kott sees the end of the GDR as caused by the failure and collapse of the system.

      This is without a doubt the best short summary of GDR history available in any language. Largely steering clear of scholarly controversies, Kott's book provides an excellent synthesis of current research. Her bibliography provides a good, brief overview of recent literature, including German, English, and French titles. She has done a fine job of mining empirical studies and providing salient factual information, while also providing analysis and insightful (if brief) examples that illuminate culture and psychology. The value of this work is greater than the sum of its parts because of the sophisticated manner in which she weaves together accounts of ideology, policy, and (messy) reality. She does somewhat underestimate conflicts within GDR society.[4] However, this study is highly recommended for those interested in twentieth-century German history. Its clear language should be accessible to all who have a reading knowledge of French. Those who do not are left to hope for an English translation.


      [1]. See Ralph Jessen and Richard Bessel, eds., Die Grenzen der Diktatur. Staat und Gesellschaft in der DDR (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996).

      [2]. Milovan Djilas, The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (New York: Praeger, 1957).

      [3]. Peter Christian Ludz, Parteieliten im Wandel (Cologne and Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1968).

      [4]. For an in-depth analysis of these conflicts, see Andrew Port, Conflict and Stability in the German Democratic Republic (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

      If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.

      Citation: Dolores L. Augustine. Review of Kott, Sandrine, Histoire de la société allemande au xx. siècle: III La RDA 1949-1989. H-German, H-Net Reviews. October, 2012.

      URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=34694

      This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

      by Edward Wilson
      (The Guardian, 27 October 2012)
      Fifty years ago, Arkhipov, a senior officer on the Soviet B-59 submarine, refused permission to launch its nuclear torpedo
      If you were born before 27 October 1962, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov saved your life. It was the most dangerous day in history. An American spy plane had been shot down over Cuba while another U2 had got lost and strayed into Soviet airspace. As these dramas ratcheted tensions beyond breaking point, an American destroyer, the USS Beale, began to drop depth charges on the B-59, a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear weapon.

      The captain of the B-59, Valentin Savitsky, had no way of knowing that the depth charges were non-lethal "practice" rounds intended as warning shots to force the B-59 to surface. The Beale was joined by other US destroyers who piled in to pummel the submerged B-59 with more explosives. The exhausted Savitsky assumed that his submarine was doomed and that world war three had broken out. He ordered the B-59's ten kiloton nuclear torpedo to be prepared for firing. Its target was the USS Randolf, the giant aircraft carrier leading the task force.

      If the B-59's torpedo had vaporised the Randolf, the nuclear clouds would quickly have spread from sea to land. The first targets would have been Moscow, London, the airbases of East Anglia and troop concentrations in Germany. The next wave of bombs would have wiped out "economic targets", a euphemism for civilian populations – more than half the UK population would have died. Meanwhile, the Pentagon's SIOP, Single Integrated Operational Plan – a doomsday scenario that echoed Dr Strangelove's orgiastic Götterdämmerung – would have hurled 5,500 nuclear weapons against a thousand targets, including ones in non-belligerent states such as Albania and China.

      What would have happened to the US itself is uncertain. The very reason that Khrushchev sent missiles to Cuba was because the Soviet Union lacked a credible long range ICBM deterrent against a possible US attack. It seems likely that America would have suffered far fewer casualties than its European allies. The fact that Britain and western Europe were regarded by some in the Pentagon as expendable pawn sacrifices was the great unmentionable of the cold war.

      Fifty years on, what lessons can be drawn from the Cuban missile crisis? One is that governments lose control in a crisis. The worst nightmare for US defence secretary Robert McNamara was the unauthorised launch of a nuclear weapon. McNamara ordered that PAL locks (Permissive Action Links) be fitted to all ICBMs. But when the PALs were installed, the Strategic Air Command had all the codes set to 00000000 so that the locks would not impede a quick launch in a crisis. Nuclear weapons security will always be a human issue – at all levels. On one occasion, Jimmy Carter, the sanest of US presidents, left nuclear launch codes in his suit when it was sent to the dry cleaners.

      The cold war has ended, but the thermo-nuclear infrastructures of the US and Russia are still in place. And the risk of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers remains very real. In 1995 Russian early warning radar mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a ballistic missile launched from an American submarine. An emergency signal was sent to President Yeltsin's "Cheget", the nuclear suitcase with launch codes. Yeltsin, presumably with vodka close at hand, had less than five minutes to make a decision on a retaliatory strike.

      "As long as nuclear weapons exist, the chances of survival of the human species are quite slight." Every study of long-term risk analysis supports Noam Chomsky's claim. Ploughshares estimates there are 19,000 warheads in the world today, 18,000 of which are in the hands of the US and Russia. Whatever the exact numbers, the American/Russian nuclear arsenals are the only ones capable of totally destroying all human life. As security analysts Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka point out: "Why should Iran or North Korea respect non-proliferation when the most powerful states lecturing them possess such enormous arsenals?"

      Most of all, the Cuban missile crisis showed that the weapons themselves are the problem. Britain is now in pole position to lead a "nuclear disarmament race". In a 2009 letter to the Times, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach denounced Trident as "completely useless". Ditching the system may be a no-brainer for the generals, but not for politicians afraid of a public opinion that equates nuclear weapons with vague notions of "being strong". And yet getting rid of Trident would gift the Treasury a windfall of more than £25bn – enough to finance a million affordable homes.

      The decision not to start world war three was not taken in the Kremlin or the White House, but in the sweltering control room of a submarine. The launch of the B-59's nuclear torpedo required the consent of all three senior officers aboard. Arkhipov was alone in refusing permission. It is certain that Arkhipov's reputation was a key factor in the control room debate. The previous year the young officer had exposed himself to severe radiation in order to save a submarine with an overheating reactor. That radiation dose eventually contributed to his death in 1998. So when we raise our glasses on 27 October we can only toast his memory. Thank you, Vasya.

      Posted by Evelyn Schlatter
      Southern Poverty Law Center - October 19, 2012

      It’s well known that in recent years, this country has seen its electoral politics polarized to an extent that has only rarely been paralleled in American history. But that polarization in many cases goes far beyond anything resembling mainstream discourse, extending to men and women who are linked to hate groups and racial, ethnic, religious, anti-gay and antigovernment extremism, or who promote extremist propaganda. Their baseless claims typically include demonizing propaganda about certain minority groups, or conspiracy theories that have the same demonizing subtext. What follows is a look at 15 political candidates, including Democrats, Republicans, independents and members of extremist political parties, who are running for office this fall or ran earlier in the year. Research on these candidates was carried out by the SPLC Task Force on Hate in the Public Sphere.

      Virgil Goode Jr. (Va.)

      Office sought: President of the United States

      Virgil Goode Goode got his political start in Virginia as a conservative Democrat. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, he switched to independent in 2000 and then Republican in 2002. He lost his seat in 2008 by just over 700 votes. In November 2010, Goode joined the executive committee of the Constitution Party, after serving as a member of the party’s larger national committee. Formed in 1991 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party by hard-line conservative and Christian Right backer Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party’s planks include opposition to hate crimes legislation; opposition to the so-called “New World Order,” a much-feared global government said to be imminent; support for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act; and support for “well regulated militias” at the state level and unorganized militias at the community and county levels. During his years in Congress, Goode also developed a reputation for his hard-line stance on immigration. In 2006, Goode claimed, in the wake of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.) using the Koran to take his oath of office, that if Americans didn’t wake up to the Goode point of view on immigration, “there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” In February 2011, he spoke on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee organized by Youth for Western Civilization, a now-defunct student group with ties to racist groups, calling for an end to all illegal immigration and most legal immigration, which, he warned darkly, will eventually lead to socialism. Goode also promises to defend Americans from the North American Union, a non-existent entity that conspiracy theorists claim the U.S., Canada and Mexico are secretly planning to form.

      Merlin Miller (Tenn.)

      Office sought: President of the United States

      Merlin Miller Miller is an independent filmmaker who is running on the white nationalist American Third Position (A3P) ticket. (The party’s chairman, William Daniel Johnson, once proposed a constitutional amendment to deport any U.S. citizen with an “ascertainable trace of Negro blood.”) In his 2012 book, co-authored with A3P board member Adrian Krieg, Miller states that “A3P stands to protect traditional White American interests, as no other political party has shown interest in doing.” Miller has also written pieces for the Holocaust-denying Barnes Review, founded by notorious anti-Semite Willis Carto, and The Occidental Observer, founded by anti-Semitic California State University psychology professor Kevin MacDonald. (The Observer focuses on white identity and white interests.) In 2011, Miller wrote an article in the Barnes Review about Walt Disney, described by Miller as a “Christian Patriot and anti-Communist” who, Miller says, built a major motion picture studio that was not controlled by Jews. In September 2012, Miller — who has addressed meetings of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that once described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity” — was interviewed by Press TV in Iran, where he was attending an international film festival. During that interview, he claimed that charges against him of racism stemmed from his criticism of Zionism and the Jewish-controlled media. He also stated that he believes 9/11 was a Mossad-orchestrated event carried out with “considerable inside help.”

      Mark Clayton (D-Tenn.)

      Office sought: U.S. Senate

      Mark Clayton Clayton won the Democratic primary for a Tennessee Senate seat in August 2012, after competing in a field of seven other candidates. Clayton, an anti-gay fringe conspiracy theorist who served a stint in the Army reserve and has worked a variety of odd jobs, won 26% of the vote despite raising no money. The Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed Clayton the day after the primary, but his name will remain on the ballot opposing GOP Sen. Bob Corker. Clayton’s views align more closely with those of the John Birch Society, which once called President Dwight D. Eisenhower a c ommunist, than the Democratic Party — though some of his ideas might be a little much even for JBS. He believes the government is building concentration camps to imprison Americans and that elite<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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