New Year

Acrylic on rice paper ©Lena Tan 2023

Fireworks on the street
cakes steaming over the stove
new pajamas
grandma’s taro pudding
lion dances and white cabbage
tea and melon seeds
the smell and feel of new banknotes
old Singapore
so long ago

Fifteen years


My father, in those sepia-tinted photographs,
looked forward to so much.
After so many disappointments,
he would rise like grass beaten by wind and rain,
then, bent by disease,
and, in the last insult by his own body,
taken by a stroke,
this gentle, unobtrusive man,
always in the background –
life seemed to get the better of him.
He was just a very ordinary man
who remembered all of us
by making meticulous notes of names,
significant events,
and cards given and received.
He did not chronicle the events of his life
nor did he write about himself,
but the things he left
show what he cared about
and how deeply he cared.


April 24, 1921 - October 1, 2007

The Mueller investigation in pictures


1. This Russian meme helped tilt the 2016 US Presidential vote to Donald Trump.

A Facebook ad that cost the equivalent of $1, generated 71 impressions and 14 interactions.


Speaking of memes, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) was selling these during the 2016 nomination for the Democratic presidential candidate.

Hillary Clinton memorabilia

Bernie Sanders memorabilia


Hey DNC – why this meme…

Cropped 1941 Nazi Germany anti-Jewish poster. University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies


… and not this? Just asking.

Image by DonkeyHotey


2. Wikileaks’s denial of collusion with Roger Stone is used as evidence of collusion.




Natasha Bertrand (Feb 27, 2018, The Atlantic) wrote: “Private Twitter messages obtained by The Atlantic show that Stone and WikiLeaks, a radical-transparency group, communicated directly on October 13, 2016 – and that WikiLeaks sought to keep its channel to Stone open after Trump won the election.” Nine paragraphs below, she says, “It is unclear whether Stone and WikiLeaks kept in touch, using Twitter or another platform, after the election.”










The emails published by Wikileaks confirmed that the DNC rigged the nomination against Bernie Sanders.


Western media claimed that Russian outlet RT scooped the email releases because it had a special relationship with Wikileaks – and didn’t just know how to refresh the Wikileaks website.

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations, member Board of Trustees of the RAND Corporation,  International Crisis Group and council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies


RT explained how to do journalism: “Members of [Clinton’s] team have also openly accused RT of involvement in the Podesta email hack due to its swift reporting on the WikiLeaks email releases, which have been shared publicly by the website around the same time every day over the past fortnight.”

Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was given political asylum by Ecuador in 2012 and has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since then. He is in danger of being extradited to the US, where charges, including the possibility of US Espionage Act violation, have been laid against him.


3. Media frenzy


CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb wrote on December 8, 2017, that Donald Trump Jr. had received an email on September 4 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked Wikileaks documents – evidence that he had a special contact in Wikileaks. However, the date on the email was September 14.

CNN made this correction: “The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information. The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.”


4. You are treasonous if you meet with Russians – any Russians – if, and only if, you believe that meeting with Russians is not treasonous.

They met with Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak


Claire McCaskill, US Democratic Senator from Missouri. She met with Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, and lied about it.


And who is Robbie Mook?

Norman Solomon writing at Huffpost quoted from the book Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:

“Within 24 hours of [Hillary Clinton’s] concession speech,” the authors report, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta “assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

Finally, let’s never forget this Jake Tapper interview with Carter Page.


5. The Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower meeting.


Natalia Veselnitskaya is the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. on June 9, 2016. At the time, she was in the US representing a Russian client Denis Katsyv in the lawsuit brought by Bill Browder against the company Prevezon Holdings. She gave written testimony to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary about that meeting. Veselnitskaya had been researching Browder’s activities in Russia and had asked friends to put her in touch with US lawmakers so that she could present her findings to them. Apparently, the intermediary, music publicist Rob Goldstone, had inflated his contacts with the US political class, and the best he came up with was Trump Jr.

From Veselnitskaya’s testimony to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary


Alexander Mercouris speculates at The Duran on whether or not, because of the strange role of Goldstone, this meeting was a sting on Trump Jr.


6. Reputable sources?


In October 2016, after Wikileaks published the Podesta emails, the Russian news outlet Sputnik posted a story that mistakenly attributed to Hillary Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal a quote from Kurt Eichenwald that was critical of Clinton. After Eichenwald pointed out the error, Sputnik took down the story, but the story spread after Donald Trump used it in a campaign speech. As Glenn Greenwald puts it,

“Eichenwald, with increasing levels of hysteria, manically posted no fewer than three dozen tweets last night about his story, each time escalating his claims of what it proved. By the time he was done, he had misled large numbers of people into believing that he found proof that: 1) the documents in the WikiLeaks archive were altered; 2) Russia put forgeries into the WikiLeaks archive; 3) Sputnik knew about the WikiLeaks archive ahead of time, before it was posted online; 4) WikiLeaks coordinated the release of the documents with the Russian government; and 5) the Russian government and the Trump campaign coordinated to falsely attribute Eichenwald’s words to Blumenthal.”

The Sputnik writer, Bill Moran, sued Newsweek over two articles written by Eichenwald that accused Moran of colluding with Russia and the Trump campaign. The suit was settled and Newsweek deleted the articles, although you can find them in various places on the internet (but you might not be able to “picture a headquarters or person”).

Of course, if we take Eichenwald’s advice, we would miss these sorts of things …



7. As James Comey says, “So many questions.”

Here are two Comey will not ask.

How did a sitting president (Obama) use his Justice Department, secret services and FBI to spy on the presidential campaign of an opposing party?

Peter Strzok (FBI, former lead agent on Hillary Clinton’s email server investigation and Robert Mueller’s team), Lisa Page (former FBI attorneyy and special counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe), Bruce Ohr (Justice Department), Andrew McCabe (former FBI Deputy Director), James Comey (former FBI Director), James Clapper (former Director of National Intelligence), John Brennan (former CIA Director), Loretta Lynch (US Attorney General under Obama), Susan Rice (National Security Advisor under Obama), Samantha Power (former US Ambassador to UN) …

How did these countries influence the US 2016 election?

Britain: Christopher Steele (former MI6, dossier author); Sir Andrew Wood (ex-British ambassador to Russia); Sir Richard Dearlove (former head of MI6); Joseph Mifsud (Maltese academic, director London Academy of Diplomacy); Bill Browder (ex-US citizen, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, instigator of Magnitsky Act) …

Australia: Alexander Downer (diplomat)

Ukraine: Alexandra Chalupa (Ukrainian-American, staffer then consultant for DNC), Serhiy Leshchenko (member of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau) …


8. For any head of state to abuse the powers of the state, to whatever end, is always wrong.

Contender for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination, Tulsi Gabbard, wants to prevent new cold wars and end US policies meant to overthrow foreign governments. Her campaign challenges powerful state entities and corporations that profit from war. When asked how she would defeat Donald Trump, she said she would focus on “restoring to the presidency honor, integrity and courage.”


Make Orwell Fiction Again

Liberty Maniacs


Saint Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador when he was assassinated while officiating Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. Pope Francis canonized Romero as a saint on 14 October 2018.

A Mass for the Archbishop

 holy mary mother of god
  have mercy
Virgins murmur at street corners
­  tapping five-inch heels
Officer Christos in a cruiser presses fingers to baton
On #14 the congregation rises for a hymn
  peace to his people on earth

Over the spires of San Salvador the generals sang
 glory  glory
Rutilio Grande  Alfonso Navarro  Ernesto Barrera
kneeling at the altar
Choirboys in camouflage raised candles to the chancel
 holy  holy

“I’d like to suggest to you
that some of the investigations
would lead one to believe
that perhaps…”

 sanctus  sanctus sanctus dominus
  deus sabaoth

“And this could have been
at a very low level of both
competence and motivation
in the context of the issue itself.”

Maria Evangelista draws a red heart on her face
Props a red shoe on the sheet
Pulls a rosary between her breasts
Blows smoke from a cigarette
 pray for me a sinner
  i have squandered the inheritance of your saints

Margarita opens her door for pious men
Pouring oil she warms her hands
Schubert plays the violin
Raphael reclines on sandalwood
Lilies sway on the mantelpiece
Jasmine wafts from a celadon vase
 lamb of god have mercy
  grant us peace
 the blessing of god almighty  the father  the son

©Lena Tan, 1993

Quotations from Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State, 1980, during an investigation into the murder of four American nuns in  El Salvador. Fathers Grande, Navarro and Barrera were murdered in 1977 and 1978.

From the Wikipedia page on Oscar Romero:

“‘In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs–they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands…. But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.’
  — Óscar Romero, Speech at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 2 February 1980″


“A 2000 article by Tom Gibb, then a correspondent with the Guardian and later with the BBC, attributes the murder to a detective of the Salvadoran National Police named Óscar Pérez Linares, on orders of D’Aubuisson  [Roberto D’Aubuisson, Salvadoran politician and death-squad leader, President of the Constituent Assembly from 1982 to 1983]. The article cites an anonymous former death squad member who claimed he had been assigned to guard a house in San Salvador used by a unit of three counter-guerrilla operatives directed by D’Aubuisson. The guard, whom Gibb identified as ‘Jorge,’ purported to have witnessed Linares fraternizing with the group, which was nicknamed the ‘Little Angels,’ and to have heard them praise Linares for the killing. The article furthermore attributes full knowledge of the assassination to the CIA as far back as 1983. The article reports that both Linares and the Little Angels commander, who Jorge identified as ‘El Negro Mario,’ were killed by a CIA-trained Salvadoran special police unit in 1986; the unit had been assigned to investigate the murders. In 1983, U.S. Lt. Col. Oliver North, aide to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, is alleged to have personally requested the Salvadoran military to ‘remove’ Linares and several others from their service. Three years later they were pursued and extrajudicially killed – Linares after being found in neighboring Guatemala. The article cites another source in the Salvadoran military as saying, ‘they knew far too much to live.'” [Guardian article is here]

Russia and the Art of War


Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.

No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.

If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.

Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.

But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

非 利 不 動 , 非 得 不 用 , 非 危 不 戰 。 主 不 可 以 怒 而 興 師 , 將 不
可 以 慍 而 致 戰 ; 合 于 利 而 動 , 不 合 于 利 而 止 。 怒 可 以 復 喜 , 慍 可 以 復
悅 , 亡 國 不 可 以 復 存 , 死 者 不 可 以 復 生 。 故 明 君 慎 之 , 良 將 警 之 , 此
安 國 全 軍 之 道 也 。

(孫子  第十二篇 Sunzi, The Art of War, Chapter 12, translated by Lionel Giles)

Tony Cartalucci cited this passage from Sunzi in his analysis of an alarming incident in a part of the world that seemed ready to explode.

“Western and Russian media sources have reported an alleged joint Israeli-French strike on Syria on September 17. The attack included Israeli warplanes and French missile frigates operating in the Mediterranean off Syria’s coast. Amid the attack, a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 14 service members aboard disappeared.

“The attack immediately prompted commentators, analysts, and pundits to call for an immediate retaliation to the unprovoked military aggression, warning that a failure to react would leave Russia looking weak. Some commentators even called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to step down.

“It is not to Russia’s advantage to sink French frigates or expose the full capabilities of its air defense systems to shoot down a handful of Israeli warplanes to satisfy public desires for immediate revenge or to protect nonexistent notions of Russian invincibility.

“Instead, it is to Russia’s advantage to simply win the proxy war in Syria. Just as in 2015 when calls for immediate revenge were made regarding a Turkish-downed Russian warplane, Syria, Russia, and Iran will continue moving forward – slowly and methodically – to secure Syrian territory from foreign proxies seeking to divide and destroy the country, springboard into Iran, and eventually work their way into southern Russia.

“Avenging serial provocations is infinitesimally less important than overall victory in Syria. The fate of Syria as a nation, Iran’s security and stability as a result, and even Russia’s own self-preservation is on the line. The awesome responsibility of those who have planned and executed Syria’s incremental victory over proxy forces backed by the largest, most powerful economies and military forces on Earth could greatly benefit from a public able to understand the difference between short-term gratification and long-term success and how the former almost certainly and recklessly endangers the latter.”


Got it.