Election 2020 Editorial: Bury Trump

The clock is now ticking down to the general election being held in the United States, in which a U.S. president, members of Congress and local issues will be decided by voters in just a couple more days. The most important campaign being watched, of course, is the one deciding which candidate — Donald Trump of the Republican Party or Joseph Biden of the Democratic Party — will occupy the presidential office in the White House. Both candidates’ campaigns are calling this particular election a “battle for the soul of the nation,” and it would be hard to disagree on that point.

The nation’s soul (if it ever had one) is indeed now at stake, and a deeply divided country will decide the outcome. Will the USA step back from the abyss and reject Trump and all that he stands for? Or will the country gleefully dive head-first over the edge of the cliff and reject Biden as president instead?

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When in Washington, Do as the Romans Do

A damaging impeachment trial, a ravaging global pandemic, a crashing domestic economy and explosive uprisings in cities across the United States: Any one of these factors would be enough to seal the fate of an American president, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, and consign a president’s legacy to the trash heap of history.

But then again, the Fake President of the United States, Donald Trump, is no ordinary president. He has managed to linger on, surviving one of these crises after another. Trump has done so by breaking all the norms of presidential tradition, fostering a culture of corruption and causing deep, lasting damage to the American republic.

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Declothing the Emperor — A Viral Story

Folktales abound in ancient cultures and countries of some vainglorious king who is hoodwinked by a dishonest tailor and made to believe he is wearing a magnificent suit of fine regal robes, when, in fact, he is wearing nothing at all — as he finds out only after he leaves the castle walls and parades himself to a gawking public that sees his royal highness in all his nakedness.

India has just such a folktale dating back to around 1200 AD; Spain too has a story like that from back in the 1300s. For most of us in the modern world, though, the most famous version of this tale is The Emperor’s New Clothes, written by author Hans Christian Anderson of Denmark in 1837.

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First Steps to Freedom: A Mandela Moment in Time

It is the only historical event in modern times that literally takes my breath away whenever I see a picture of it or stop and think of it, with time itself standing still and my heart overwhelmed just in the simple act of remembering that day. No other event ever does that to me. I’m talking about the moment Nelson Mandela walked out of prison in South Africa on 11 February 1990 — today, exactly 30 years ago.

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High Crimes and His Demeanor, Part Two

In the end, one political party found its backbone, another party sold its soul to the fire down below, one senator found righteousness in religion, and one president finally achieved something he could crow about as a “victory”. That, in a nutshell, is the legacy of the impeachment trial in Washington DC of Donald J. Trump, the fake 45th president of the United States, that resulted in his acquittal instead of dismissal from office.

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Inside the Quake Zone, 25 Years On

We walk the streets of the old neighborhood this afternoon, remembering another place, another time. Our former apartment building is still there on the south side of JR Koshienguchi station in Nishinomiya, but the cozy third-floor unit where my wife, son and I first lived as a new family, apartment #303, is now being rented out to some local business. The family-run liquor shop just across the way from us in the local shopping arcade is still there, as is the old family-run stationery shop, the shelves filled with office supplies and paper that seemed unmoved since 17 January 1995, the day of the big quake.

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The Perfect President!!! and Other Popular Children’s Fables

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a babe was born in a manger to Joseph and Mary, two proud and happy parents. The manger, located in the top-floor executive suite of the highest skyscraper in America, Trump Castle & Palace, was soon filled with the Wise Men of Wall Street below who had come to the top of the building by express elevator, eager to look at this new bright and shining baby. “A Child is born!!!” they said excitedly. He was found to be a one-in-a-million-boy, an Orange Albino with wavy orange hair and an artificial orange-and-white skin tone. This was a sign from God, the Wise Men said, that the boy was destined to grow up someday and rule the land forever. Or at least until he was kicked out, whichever came first. And so, they christened him The Chosen One. And so he was, from then on.

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Banned in Japan: The Little Statue that Roared

Welcome, dear readers, to Aichi Trienniale 2019, one of the largest Japanese contemporary festivals in the country. Held every three years since 2010, this festival attracts artists from around Japan and the globe, while promoting such lofty goals as “contributing to the global development of culture and art” and “bringing culture and art into people’s daily lives” as its mission.

The exhibitions for year’s Aichi Trienniale are being held at several major art venues in the cities of Nagoya and Toyota (home of the famous Japanese Toyota cars), in central Japan, under the theme of “Taming Y/Our Passion”. The festival is running 75 consecutive days from 1 August to mid-October 2019.

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Meet the Neo-Fascist Leader’s Long-Lost Twin Brother

You can always judge a person by the company he/she keeps, as the old saying goes, and nowhere does that hold truer than in the world of global politics. The fake president of the United States (FPOTUS), Donald Trump, for one, has never met a right-wing extremist leader of a nation or a military strongman he didn’t like, and these dangerous leaders have returned the love to the American fake president in kind.

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The Ghosts of Tiananmen, Thirty Years On

Like many around the world, I sat glued before the television set, transfixed by the scenes of thousands of people jamming a public square in the Chinese capital of Beijing for weeks on end as they demanded democracy and a more honest, open form of government from their political leaders. It was the spring of 1989, and I was living in a tiny one-room apartment in downtown Osaka, Japan and working as a journalist.

It took my breath away, watching these scenes unfold in a nearby Asian country. My reporter’s instinct kept on nudging me, and for a time, I thought seriously of getting on a plane and trying to file stories from the heart of China’s growing grassroots democracy movement to the outside world.

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All Power to the Peaceful

Both tragic events happened on the 15th of the month, one on a Sunday morning before church services inside a Christian Baptist Church and the other on a Friday afternoon during open worship inside two Muslim mosques. One of the events resulted in the deaths of four young girls of the congregation, the other in the deaths of 50 young and old faithful followers.

Both events were cold-blooded, calculated acts of murder committed by believers in the supremacy of the European race and the inferiority of dark-skinned “others”, with the added hope of sparking a race war between them. Both tragedies shocked the conscience of people around the world, jolting them out of any sense of complacency they may have been in regarding the deadly violence of white supremacists.

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When Freedom of the Press Means ‘Unfree’

An independent journalist decided earlier this month to travel overseas to the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, hoping to cross over legally into the war-torn country and report on the dangerous situation there. Saudi Arabia, using military weapons supplied in part by its ally, the United States, has joined the civil war in Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the Arab world, and the result is one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. This particular journalist decided to take a risk and try to get into Yemen, with the idea of telling the world what is really happening there on the ground. That is what journalists do, after all.

But when the journalist tried to board an airline flight to the Middle East, he was stopped cold at a major international airport in Japan by an unexpected source: the government of his own country. Passport officials invalidated his passport right there at the airport and ordered him to surrender the passport or face the consequences. The journalist was effectively banned from traveling outside of his country and is now prevented from doing his job.

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Don't Say the Dreaded I-word!

A reigning right-wing president of the United States of America becomes increasingly unpopular among the people, as poll numbers show. His economic policies at home and his foreign policies abroad — especially concerning war and the threat of war — spur on public calls that this boy-emperor of a president be impeached and be punished for his illegal and immoral crimes while in office.

Articles of impeachment are introduced into the U.S. Congress in an attempt to permanently remove this maniac from the White House and see that justice is done. But the impeachment attempt is essentially stopped in its tracks — not only by the unpopular president’s own party, the rightwing Republican Party, but also by the so-called opposition party of Democrats. A powerful leader in the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, in particular, stands in the way of the natural impeachment process.

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Parry’s Way: Journalism as It Should be Done

All the recent obituaries, eulogies and rightful praise for the work of the late American investigative journalist Robert Parry have now moved on by, leaving us only to reflect on the impact that his kind of journalism has had on the mass media field in our time and, just as importantly, where that kind of journalism could and should go from here.

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No Necktie for a Dictator

It was January 1990 and here I was at a conference center in Harare, the capital city of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, sniffing around for some kind of a good story I might report at a high-level, ministerial meeting of British Commonwealth nations — a gathering of sovereign countries, like Zimbabwe, that still bowed down and answered to their former colonial master, the United Kingdom, out of economic necessity and survival. Nothing much happening here, I thought, and I was just about ready to leave the boring governmental event empty-handed.

Then, luck of all luck, I spied over in an isolated corner of the lobby of the conference center a VIP greeting the occasional straggling guest. But it was not just any old VIP. It was Robert Gabriel Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, who had just delivered the welcoming speech.

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The Most Curious Creature of All

The world of politics, as they say, makes for strange bedfellows indeed. The Right sleeps around with the Left, the Left sleeps around with the Right, and the Center sleeps around with just about anybody they can find across the spectrum. Nothing unusual about that, though, right? Politics, after all, is arguably the world’s oldest profession.

But among all the individuals that we can find whenever we explore the wondrous world of politics, none is more exotic, alien, peculiar and vexing than the most curious political creature of them all. I’m talking, of course, about the White American Liberal (WAL).

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A New Media Storyline for MLK (pt. 1)

Today, 16 January, the people of the United States of America will recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday. And just as they have for most of the 31 years that the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been a nationally observed holiday, the American news media will basically get the story wrong.

Every year around this time, the storyline of the U.S. press goes something like this:

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A New Media Storyline for MLK (pt. 2)

• 1968 — The new year of 1968 begins on a turbulent note with a severe routing of U.S. forces in South Vietnam as part of the successful “Tet offensive” of the North Vietnamese guerrilla fighters, exposing the lies of U.S. military commanders and President Johnson himself that the USA was winning the war in Vietnam. U.S. public opinion against the war rises steadily from this point onward. Rev. King, at this critical time, stands at the forefront of the nation’s anti-war movement. And, as the above editorial cartoon shows, King is being increasingly viewed by white America as a rabble-rouser and a "troublemaker" who needed to be dealt with; U.S. government agencies such as the FBI are treating King as public enemy No. 1.

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Arigato, Japan, for Thirty Years

The sight of huge gaudy billboards, one next to another, advertising some of the biggest names in Japanese electronics: Sony, Panasonic, Fujitsu — that was my first image of Japan. That was how Japan presented itself on the world stage back in the 1980s, and several decades later that is still the strongest memory I have of the country I’ve long called home.

The date was 23 December 1986, exactly 30 years ago today. It was the day I first arrived in Japan.

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Three Books in the Bag (or, A Year of Living Creatively)

It is always worth a celebration when you get a book project finished. You naturally want to share with the world the results of your labor, and you watch with great anticipation how your work is being received one way or the other. These past few years I’ve been lucky enough to get at least one book project (and sometimes two) brought to completion in a year’s time.

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