It’s Much Too Easy To Forget

John Hersey

“There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.” ~ John Hersey.

There was really no reason to remember 6th August 1945. It was seventy-one years ago – hardly an anniversary. It’s not like it was a hundred years, or even seventy-five. Besides, the Rio Olympics had just started, and it was a time for celebration – all those bronzed, lithe, bodies displaying their fitness to the world. It helped us forget our own sagging, McDonald-inflated bellies and flabby fat deposits where muscles might once have thrived had we made more effort, like that window box planted in the spring in anticipation of a great floral display only to be left neglected and un-watered, the occupants drawn and sparse with just the odd stinted flower desperate to manufacture at least one seed to reproduce, before expiring from thirst. We forgot they needed constant care and attention. Such hopes when they were planted, but over time other things got in the way and they were left to wither.

That’s how it is with Hiroshima today. With each passing year we neglect the memory, until finally it only takes a sports event to erase it from our consciousness.

One man, John Hersey, was determined we wouldn’t forget. He wrote a book called simply, Hiroshima. It began as a 30,000 word article in the New Yorker magazine of 31st August 1946. Hersey was there, in Hiroshima, in the spring of that year nine months after the bomb was dropped.

As the BBC reporter, Caroline Raphael, writes:

Seventy years ago no-one talked about stories “going viral”, but the publication of John Hersey’s article Hiroshima in The New Yorker achieved just that. It was talked of, commented on, read and listened to by many millions all over the world as they began to understand what really happened not just to the city but to the people of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and in the following days.[1]

Hersey had anticipated writing about the city, the buildings, and the progress of rebuilding. Instead, he found himself writing about the people. They were of a nation castigated and demonized, non-human. Propaganda had them marked as the Yellow Peril. Hersey reminded us they were just people like ourselves, the vast majority innocent of any crime or wrongdoing.

At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk. At that same moment, Dr. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read the Osaka Asahi on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbor tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order’s three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine, Stimmen der Zeit; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city’s large, modern Red Cross Hospital, walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen for a Wassermann test in his hand; and the Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man’s house in Koi, the city’s western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer. A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.[2]

John Hersey died in 1993. His work Hiroshima was adjudged by many the finest piece of American journalism of the 20th century.

On August 31st 2016 it will be seventy years since Hersey’s article first appeared in print. To mark its publication the New Yorker has reproduced Hiroshima in full online. Perhaps, now that the Olympics are over we might find the time to read it.

For surely, that’s an anniversary worth remembering.

[1] “How John Hersey’s Hiroshima revealed the horror of the bomb” BBC, August 22nd 2016

[2] “HIROSHIMA by John Hersey” The New Yorker, August 31st 1946

Owen Smith Wants A Chat With Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Owen Smith ISIS

The British Labour Party is suffering a crisis of leadership. It’s present front man, Jeremy Corbyn, has lost a vote of confidence by his members of parliament and a new man, Owen Smith, is garnering support to oust him.

The convoluted shenanigans of British politics are likely lost on anyone not familiar with the U.K.’s system of government – and that includes most Brits – but the intricacies of the system are not the subject of this article.

On Wednesday August 17th, a debate took place between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, each giving their views on how they would steer the Labour Party forward, if elected to (or in the case of Corbyn, if he retained) the leadership in September.

We’ve all become used to our latest generation of politicians, or would-be’s – uttering the most inane remarks. America’s Donald Trump is a fine example of a possible leader of his country continually announcing to the world his unsuitability for the task.

But even Donald Trump has to move over and surrender his top position on the dais to Owen Smith, given the asinine response he made to a question from the BBC’s debate audience in Britain.

Smith was asked, “What would you do about ISIS?”

His answer was that eventually ISIS would have to come to the negotiating table if there was ever to be peace in Syria.[1]

Take a moment to digest that comment from a man seeking leadership of the only other political party in the U.K. capable of forming a majority government; a man hopeful of one day becoming Britain’s next prime minister.

Smith is basing his views on his minor role in the peace talks over Northern Ireland – an entirely political issue bearing no relationship to the situation presently playing out in the Middle East. ISIS is intent on conquering the Middle East and imposing a Caliphate on the region, with the eventual objective of subjugating the whole planet under their brutal interpretation of Sharia law.

In September 2014 a Sparrow Chat post compared the threat of ISIS to that of Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s;

ISIS is no minor Arab skirmish between tribes vying for power. It poses a threat to the world comparable with Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The world shilly-shallied then. It’s behaving in a similar manner today. ISIS must be stopped while it’s still possible to do so. It’s forces grow stronger with each day that passes.

Yesterday, it was ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Today, it’s IS (Islamic State). Tomorrow, it will be ICME (Islamic Caliphate of the Middle East).

Make no mistake, its leaders intend world domination. They’ll not be content with reclaiming the lands of the Ottoman. Their quest is total Islam, just as the Nazi intention was world Aryanism.[2]

ISIS cannot be compared to the Irish Republican Army, though Owen Smith appears to think differently. Its rise to power must be seen in the light of Germany 1938. While ISIS may not have the naval fleet, the vast quantities of tanks and munitions, and the air power of the Third Reich, it has something equally deadly, the ability to radicalize thousands of individuals prepared to infiltrate western societies and cause devastation and death to hundreds of innocent people. The war it wages is a guerrilla war against unarmed citizens unable to defend themselves.

To suggest that criminality and cruelty enacted on such a vast scale by ISIS can be appeased by negotiation is to relive the mistakes of Neville Chamberlain.

The Sparrow Chat post of September 2014 continued:

There’s a simple solution to the ISIS problem, but it’s not a politically acceptable one in the West. NATO needs to join forces with the Assad regime in Syria and destroy the ISIS strongholds, put an end to the Syrian civil war, then use its diplomatic muscle to work peaceably with Assad towards an, eventually, democratic Syria.[2]

Joining forces with Assad means joining forces with Putin’s Russia. Donald Trump has suggested doing exactly that. Even madmen occasionally display moments of sanity. The only way to destroy a monster is to cut out its heart, not feed it tit-bits and expect it to become your household pet.

Owen Smith may well be one of those political aspirants who genuinely believe they’re inspired to serve the people. If this is his way of solving the greatest threat to Western civilisation since WW2, then he might serve them better from behind a counter in Walmart, or an Asda supermarket.

[1] “Labour leadership debate: Owen Smith suggests IS talks” BBC, August 17th 2016

[2] “ISIS, IS, Or ICME?” Sparrow Chat, September 12th 2014

It’s Time To Draw A Line Under Political Correctness


One of the problems with ‘social media’ is it gives the deadheads opportunities to spout their nonsense all over the internet. To call this tweet racist is to admit to being a racist. If the fastest guy in the Olympics was a white man and Degeneres had Photoshopped herself on his back no-one would have turned a hair.

Political correctness is out of control thanks to ‘social media’.

“Why do some people think this meme is racist?” BBC, August 17th 2016

Donald’s Trumped-Up Foreign Policy Disaster

Snake Oil Salesman

The actions of the United States of America in the Middle East over the last four decades have revealed the effects of its ‘nation-building’ policies for just what they truly are. Ideals of ‘exporting freedom’, and, ‘bringing democracy to dictatorships’ (when it suits) are no more than propaganda slogans to cover the truth of global empire-building. America’s Middle Eastern foreign policies since Carter can best be described as fine examples of how things should NOT be done.

It’s hard to imagine that any wannabe U.S. president could conceive of a foreign policy even more inauspicious than those in play over the last forty years. Donald Trump has achieved it.

Trump’s supporters no doubt avidly anticipated his foreign policy speech in Ohio on Monday, hopeful of hearing a new way forward for America and the world, after the catastrophes of the last four decades.

From the first word, it was a speech designed to rouse the great unwashed and uneducated of America, and judging from the whoops of enthusiasm growing ever louder as the speaker progressed, it was an overwhelming success – at least in that one regard.

Sadly, for someone attempting to become ‘leader of the free world’, it turned out to be fifty minutes bereft of substance. The subject matter was clumsy: long tirades against Obama and Clinton, interspersed with bombastic notions of how he would send ISIS packing with it’s tail between it’s legs.

The audience loved to hear how, under Trump’s leadership, America would rapidly vanquish its enemies, end the curse of radical Islam, and bring peace and harmony flooding back into the nation, along with economic prosperity and the occasional Garden of Eden thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately, though aspiring to mend ties with Russia and side with Assad until Syria was once more restored to order (both, incidentally, absolutely necessary for any chance of Middle Eastern stability), he then accused Iran of being the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, a farcical notion that blew apart his whole Middle East policy, which was then compounded by the statement that it would all be achieved in partnership with America’s greatest friend and ally, Israel.

Obviously, Donald Trump doesn’t know his ‘Shia’ from his ‘Sunni’ if he believes it’s a plan that’ll work. He talked of help from “our friends and allies in the Middle East” by which one can only assume he meant Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia (presently negotiating a $1.5 billion arms purchase from the U.S.), probably a far greater sponsor of world terrorism than Shia Iran had ever been. Saudi Wahhabism is radical Islam that’s simply been honed a little to become the ideology of ISIS.

It’s unlikely Trump’s ever heard of Wahhabism. If he had he mightn’t be so keen to kiss the lips of the Saudi King Salman, as his Republican predecessor, George W Bush, was happy to do on camera with the late and unlamented, Abdullah…


…and that only shortly after the atrocity of 9/11, committed by a group of nineteen terrorists that included fifteen Saudi nationals.

Trump also spoke at length of al Qaeda being decimated in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, and only allowed to recoup by failures of the Obama/Clinton administration, post 2008. To those with no knowledge of recent history, it may have sounded plausible, but there was no al Qaeda in Iraq pre-2003. The Bush administration’s failure to secure Iraq’s borders, coupled with its cruel treatment of Sunnis already under attack by a Shia majority long suppressed by the Hussein regime, created the perfect opening for al Qaeda, and other radical Sunni groups, to infiltrate Iraq. It was from these factions, coupled with the brutal treatment by the U.S. military of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis housed in U.S. internment camps, that ISIS was born.

U.S. policy makers have long neglected to take account of Islamic history and its divisions. Most had never heard of ‘Sunni’ or ‘Shia’ until after the Iraq débâcle. Such gross lack of knowledge of the region and its people is the primary reason for the instability in the Middle East today.

Listening to Trump’s foreign policy speech one could only cringe at both the arrogance and ignorance of the man. Like so many powerful politicians and policy makers before him he believes that, as the only world superpower, America can dictate terms to all and sundry throughout the globe, and expect instant compliance. The last four decades of U.S. foreign policy blundering is surely proof of how wrong that attitude can be.

Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama…all six presidents have adopted similar policies, with disastrous consequences for the peace of the world and the safety of innocent people. Clinton ‘2’ will undoubtedly pursue a similar course if she’s elected to the White House. To date, the only alternative is Donald Trump, which doesn’t even bear consideration.

Trump’s speech was a fine example of skillful marketing practices. Had he been selling vacuum cleaners it’s likely everyone in the arena would have rushed to stump up the money and left clutching the “Trump Mk 2 SuperVac” under their arms.

Unfortunately, once they got home, they’d soon discover that it had no motor.

“Donald Trump Foreign Policy Speech” YouTube, August 15th 2016 (For those who can bear to watch it!)

R.I.P Geoffrey Jones of Bridgend, South Wales


Today, we are informed by the BBC that the billionaire landowner, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, has died aged 64. In fairness to the BBC, this sudden loss to us all (apparently) was not featured as a major headline on its Home page, but as a ‘sub’ further down, below the threat of a Eurostar rail strike, a report on half of women being sexually harassed at work (it doesn’t define which ‘half’), and the rejection by Peppa Pig of an offer from the media company, ITV.

The report on the late Duke is highly detailed, including video, images of him with the Queen and Prince Charles, and much enthusing on his life and work. It also noted that his bank roll was good to the tune of $10.8 billion, though he lost nearly a billion due to the fall in the value of the U.K. pound following the Brexit result. Perhaps it was the thought of that which brought on his rapid and fatal illness?[1]

It’s never been clear to the writer why it’s necessary to publicise these people so widely just because they’re stinking rich, and dead. This guy owned half of London, (the better half, that is) and much of the fertile county of Cheshire, had estates in Oxford and Scotland, owned most of Liverpool City Centre, as well as land in Europe. He led a privileged existence and wouldn’t have known a darned thing about working class people, though he may have thought he did.

He joined the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to train as an army officer, which is really amazing as he left Harrow with only two ‘O’ level GCE passes. The military demands the equivalent of at least four ‘O’ level pass grades – to include English language, mathematics and either a science subject or a foreign language – plus the equivalent of at least two ‘A’ level passes, to enroll at Sandhurst. One can only assume friendship with Prince Charles and the Queen of England made all that academic nonsense irrelevant.

As a ‘military man’ he was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath, Efficiency Decoration, Volunteer Reserves Service Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration, the Order of the Garter, the Order of St John, the QEII Silver Jubilee medal, the QEII Golden Jubilee medal, the QEII Diamond Jubilee medal, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Lazarus, and the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I. He ended up as a Major-General. And all without once going to war.

Privilege is the preserve of too many and the right of none. The BBC makes much of the man’s life, but in truth he was no different from Geoffrey Jones, a council worker from Bridgend in South Wales, except that he had tons more money than Geoff. The Welsh binman enjoyed the occasional bet on the horses and had been known to frequent the seamier areas of Bridgend, after dark, in search of certain ladies of the night.

Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, was no stranger to such ladies, either. Following investigation into the ‘Eliot Spitzer affair’ it was revealed that said Duke had also made use of the services supplied by the Emperors Club VIP, an illegal, high-class, prostitution ring made notorious by Spitzer, then governor of New York, when it was discovered he spent in excess of $80,000 on prostitutes from the club over a two year period.[2]

There was one difference between the Welsh binman and the Duke: Geoffrey Jones had been a widower ten years, the Duke – like Spitzer – was a married man.

Interestingly, the coat-of-arms of the 6th Duke of Westminster (see above) bears the motto: ‘Vertus Non Stemma’. It can roughly be translated as; ‘Virtue, Not Birth’.

Now that Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, is dead his son, Hugh, inherits the title and all the billions of dollars that go with it. To achieve this fine state of being all he had to do was that which we all have to achieve just once – suffer the necessary contortions to escape our mother’s womb. Only in his case, mummy’s interior could be likened to a one-armed bandit primed to pour forth the jackpot.

Funeral arrangements for the 6th Duke of Westminster have yet to be finalised. No doubt they’ll be lavish. Most of the British ‘gentry’ and their hangers-on will be in attendance.

Geoffrey Jones also died yesterday. His funeral will be paid for out of council finances, as he couldn’t afford insurance and the government’s funeral allowance is paltry. There’ll not be many to say goodbye to Geoff, just a few old mates from the council and a frail old lady, a neighbour, who kept an eye on him after his wife died.

When Geoffrey Jones first came into this world he worked just as hard to get here as the 6th Duke of Westminster, yet he started with nothing. Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor had everything from the moment he uttered his first breath.

Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.

[1] “Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, dies aged 64” BBC, August 10th 2016

[2] “Richest man in England also a regular of prostitution ring in Spitzer scandal” New York Daily News, March 12th 2008