Friday, February 20, 2009

Kerouac, Charlie Parker & bop prose

From Beat angel - The spirit of Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac returns to Earth in the abandoned body of a street bum on the 30th anniversary of his own death. He drops in on a poetry slam held in his honor and tells the crowd how bebop sax player Charlie Parker helped inspire a new writing style. Vincent Balestri as Jack.

A world in dire need of peace studies and conflict resolution

From A world in revolt by Paul Rogers

The social discontent in India, China, and elsewhere is all the more significant in that it is erupting in what are still the early stages of a worldwide recession. The primary target of widespread resentment and anger is the mismanagement, corruption and injustice which disaffected groups attribute to domestic authorities. So far, these radical protests pay little attention to the financial misdemeanours in the minority world of the north, which have led to huge tranches of debt being pledged to save unstable banking systems. The sums involved are massively greater than those required to meet all of the United Nations's Millennium Development Goals; yet the link between the urgent bailouts in one kind of emergency and the neglect and delay in the other has not yet been fully made (see Simon Maxwell, "Development in a downturn", 4 July 2008). This, perhaps, will change with the emergence of transnational radical social movements.

There is evidence for this suggestion in the context of what happened in Mexico on new year's day, 1994: the launch of the Zapatista rebellion in the southern (and largely indigenous) province of Chiapas. A rebel source outlined the roots of the revolt:

"We have nothing, absolutely nothing - not decent shelter, nor land, nor work, nor health, nor food, nor education. We do not have the right to choose freely and democratically our officials. We have neither peace nor justice for ourselves and our children. But today we say 'enough'!"

It was little less noticed at the time that the Zapatistas saw their movement and rebellion in global terms, not just as a local or regional revolt. Indeed, their insurrection was timed to coincide with the coming into force of the North American Free Trade Area (Nafta), an agreement they were convinced would make their predicament even worse.

The aspiration to what might be called the internationalisation of dissent has not yet been fully realised. But there are more than glimpses of the phenomenon in social, environmental and workers' movements - reflecting the fact that one result of globalisation is the much wider understanding of the transnational nature of marginalisation and exclusion.

From Guidelines for Peace Reporting

V. Duty to report on peace efforts:

A. We should report on the efforts of those working on peace and reconciliation every bit as much as those who exacerbate the conflict.

B. We should actively seek out sources outside the primary belligerents, especially those who break from simplistic, bipolar interpretation of events. This expands our understanding and our readers' understanding of the conflict.

C. This does not mean taking sides or “propagandising for peace”; it simply means reporting on peace efforts as well as war efforts.

VI. Duty to recognise our influence:

A. We should always be aware that our reporting will affect the conflict and the lives of people in it.

B. We should be ever vigilant to avoid being used by one side or the other in their war efforts and to expose those attempts at media manipulation if so found.

On the road to terrorism, mother's love saved him

Muhammad Ayaz Shafqat, like many young men caught in his circumstances, acquired training in insurgency from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to cross over the border from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). But as the day of reckoning came closer, Shafqat's soul was tormented by the gentle feelings he got whenever he thought about his mother. He fled the terror camp.

Today, Shafqat, who believes Kashmir should be free, attends a peace course in Bangkok from where he plans to reach out to the world with his 'Azad Kashmir' cause.

"My mission is still the same: to see a united, peaceful Kashmir. However, I feel that the means to achieve it must change. I strongly believe that my dream cannot be realised through violence. We have to take recourse to peaceful means," Shafqat, a fellow at the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Centre, Chulalongkorn University, says, explaining the profound change he has undergone in his political outlook and personal life.

He says it is easy for him to put himself in the shoes of Ajmal Amir, aka Kasab, the lone terrorist caught in 26/11, an event that for Shafqat brought back memories of his days in the ISI's terror nursery. "You must understand that had Ajmal refused to do what he did, he would not have remained alive. I backed out after the first round of training. Had I crossed over into Kashmir, my fate would have been sealed."

From NATO Summit: A Chance to Kick the Nuclear Habit by Ernie Regehr

Richard Burt, the senior arms control official in the administration of the first president Bush, now works through the Global Zero initiative, supported by the Simons Foundation of Canada and a broad range of public figures, for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The group is pledged to work "for a legally binding verifiable agreement, including all nations, to eliminate nuclear weapons by a date certain."

Even the alliance leader is now committed, as the Obama White House website puts it, to pursuing the "goal of a world without nuclear weapons."

All these statements represent a rather large shift away from NATO's claim that nuclear weapons are "the supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies."

This recent wave of nuclear abolition statements by mainstream security professionals is rooted in two linked concerns.

First, the 20,000-plus nuclear warheads remaining in current arsenals, several thousand of them poised on missiles ready for firing at a moment's notice, represent an ongoing threat of mass indiscriminate destruction to the point of global annihilation.

Second, that threat is heightened by the growing risk that nuclear weapons, as well as weapons-friendly technologies and nuclear materials, will spread to more states, and even to non-state groups.

NATO thus has the opportunity to fashion a new strategic doctrine that, on the one hand, takes full account of the threats posed by nuclear weapons, and, on the other hand, takes full advantage of the political momentum that is now finally available to allow states to get serious about doing something about that threat. Rather than continuing to insist, for example, that nuclear weapons "preserve peace," NATO doctrine would do well to follow the new realism of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's assessment that "with every passing year [nuclear weapons] make our security more precarious."

From Letter to President Obama from Conflict Analysis Professionals for Enduring Security by Diane Perlman

Doing “whatever it takes” to create conditions for a viable and just coexistence, addressing the desires for self-determination of all people, will reduce desires for revenge and give hope for the future. Then you, the Israelis, and the Palestinians will sleep safely.

However, if by "whatever it takes" you mean killing those who threaten you and destroying their community, then we must be prepared for long term violence and suffering. People are more dangerous when afraid.

As conflict analysts, we recognized that Israel's overwhelming military reaction, supported by the US, understandably believed to be in "self defense" would have the opposite effect. We predicted that military action taken to eliminate a threat, would inevitably terrify, enrage and embolden widening circles of witnesses, and strengthen extremists. Their descendents may reenact a globalized version of the Hatfields and the McCoys – unless we address profound historical wounds.

We are aware of political pressures to take positions falsely framed as so-called “pro” or “anti” Israel or Palestinian. This zero sum thinking has no endgame. The only way to be more secure is to make your enemy more secure. We must rethink what it actually means to support Israel. We can be pro-coexistence, and establish a new policy of “Mutually Assured Survival” and mutually supported flourishing.

A rich body of knowledge, not well known outside academia, describes methods demonstrated to reverse cycles of violence. We are beginning to understand how terrorism ends and how extremist groups become nonviolent and productive through participation in legitimate political processes — and also what causes radicalization and drives people to extremes (as, in this connection, when Hamas won in a fair election, they were prepared to form a coalition with Fatah, until they were punished and threatened).

Since the dominant public mindset believes in the use of violence to defeat enemies, it is important to educate the public about more effective, tension-reducing strategies, and a balanced rendering of historical narratives. People must be mature enough to realize that by focusing on blame, which is easy and automatic, we can always get to be right (and so can they) but we will never get to be safe.

We offer any assistance in analyzing conflict dynamics, working with you to design strategies for healing and detraumatization, and guiding the delicate work of reconciliation needed to rebuild viable social and political institutions and reach equitable solutions to this historic tragedy. There are many creative strategies of conflict transformation, beyond dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation, beyond carrots and sticks, and even beyond Smart Power. Wise Power can address complex ecology of interacting forces and events within the depths of human experience. Understanding principles of conflict studies, psychology, and other social sciences will go along way to help produce conditions for viability and enduring security and a lasting, just peace.

From Voice of the people by Winnie Fox

I recall a time when the location of the new Huntington High was being decided. A large group of us favored a site near Fairfield Stadium where students could have had access to the public library, Marshall University and many could have walked to school. Much substandard housing in the area could have been replaced with urban renewal. We attended a board meeting to present our case. Our agenda was at the bottom of the program. When the board realized why we were there, they ran it to the top and voted on it without discussing it.

As I recall, there was racism involved because the property was in the heart of the black community, and there were many who opposed it for that reason. Many of our group had been trying with no success to get peace studies into the school system, and we mailed letters to all the pastors offering conflict resolution seminars, but there was no response. While our efforts were rejected, ROTC programs were welcomed with warm arms. Thus began our children's induction into the military-industrial complex in plain sight.

From Middle East peace studies arrives at Loyola this fall

Since assuming office, President Barack Obama has placed the crisis in the Middle East at the forefront of a number of critical issues.

On Feb. 18, Middle East expert Robert Malley spoke to a crowd of about 50 students and faculty in Nunemaker Hall about how the conflicts may evolve and potential courses of action for the new president.

Co-sponsored by the Biever Guest Lecture Series and the Department of History, the speaking event sought to promote a Middle East Peace Studies Program for the University.

Malley, the program director for the International Crisis Group, formally assisted President Clinton in Arab-Israeli affairs and provided informal advice to Obama in his early campaign for the presidency.

“Its curious that President Barack Obama would have chosen, in his first weeks in office, to send a clear message that he was going to get involved in an area where so many others, and many of his predecessors, have failed,” Malley said.

'Is it true that we're all in heaven now, but we don't know it?'

Robert Frank - 'Pull My Daisy' 1959

Robert Frank, a Foreign Look

Paris / The Americans
du 20 janvier au 22 mars 2009

In his work Robert Frank (American, born in Switzerland in 1924) has developed a dialogue between photography and poetry, literature and painting, and created a language that both conveys subjective experience and continues the heritage of documentary photography.

One of the highlights of his abundant production of photographs and films is a legendary book of photographs, The Americans (published in France in 1958). In the early 1950s, when living in New York, Frank also produced a series of images of Paris, his vision sharpened by his distance from Europe.

This exhibition proposes a dialogue between a selection of photographs of Paris, chosen by Robert Frank and Ute Eskildsen (presented at the Museum Folkwang in Essen) and the complete ensemble of photographs from The Americans, loaned for the occasion by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris).
Extending the two photographic series, Paris and The Americans, this exhibition offers a selection of his movies, both in the exhibition — Pull My Daisy (1959, 28 minutes); True Story (2004, 30 minutes) and in a special programme shown in the Auditorium.

Curator: Ute Eskildsen, curator of the photography department at the Museum Folkwang, and Marta Gili, director of Jeu de Paume.

In partnership with A Nous, Blast, de l'air,, Fip

Scenography: jasmin Oezcebi / franck Vinsot.

Is the UN putting George Clooney in danger because of a gag order?

19 Feb, 2009

Chad (ChattahBox) – A new report posted in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof has accused the United Nation of being “petty and mean-spirited”, after they allegedly pulled security details off of George Clooney as he traveled through the dangerous region of Chad.

The report claims that the UN pulled security after the actor made his way into the country, for fear that he would say something critical about Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is widely held responsible for the crisis in Darfur, and is accused of conducting genocide within the torn region.

“Apparently concerned that Mr. Clooney might say something strongly critical of Mr. Bashir—perhaps come down on genocide?—the United Nations called me on Wednesday to say that effective immediately it was pulling Mr. Clooney's security escort as he traveled these roads along the border,” Kristoff said in his column. He and Clooney are currently traveling through Africa together.

“If the U.N. is too craven to protect its own goodwill ambassadors—because they might criticize genocide—it's not surprising that it and the international community fail to protect hundreds of thousands of voiceless Darfuris.”

The UN is denying the claims, saying that they never provide security within that area, and that it is the responsibility of the country's local law enforcement to see to the actor's safety. They also claim that Clooney is not there on the UN's behalf, although the spokeswoman who commented on the incident admitted that they were “still trying to ascertain the facts.”

Sri Lankans dissing rapper M.I.A.

From Sri Lanka youth turned off by Oscar-nominated rapper's war views

She's the songbird of the hit movie "Slumdog Millionaire" but in her native Sri Lanka suspicions about Oscar-nominated hip-hop star M.I.A.'s political sympathies have cost her success and fans.

Born in Britain to Sri Lankan parents -- both ethnic Tamils -- the 32-year-old rapper, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, grew up in the island's conflict-ridden north.

It's an experience she has said informs her music and she is unapologetic about her outspoken condemnation of the atrocities that have taken place during more than three decades of civil war.

[ ... ]

While the accolades flood in, however, she said in a recent interview with that her current focus is not on awards but on the Tamil struggle for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka.

Her father is said to have been a Tamil militant linked to a group known for its bombing campaign in the capital Colombo in the mid 1980s.

The Tigers' 37 years of armed struggle is said by the government to be nearing an end with security forces on the verge of crushing the rebels, who are now coralled in a narrow jungle strip in the island's northeast.

Arulpragasam, in her interview with the US-based website, described the current situation as one of "systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing".

"I actually come from there and the fact is that this is happening now," she is quoted as saying.

"I lived in Sri Lanka when the campaign for ethnic cleansing started and if I could stop it and see the end of it in my lifetime that would be amazing. I can't justify my success otherwise."

Such comments have not endeared her to parts of Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community, with some people accusing her of sympathising with the Tigers -- branded a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the US.

The music video of her song "Bird Flu" shows children dancing in front of what looks like the Tamil Tiger insignia of a roaring tiger. ...

M.I.A - Interview

An extract from Specialten DVD Magazine issue #20.
Interview in full appears on Specialten Magazine issue #20.

The smoking gun that may incriminate George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al

From War criminals, including their lawyers, must be prosecuted

Obama may be off the hook, at least with respect to investigating the lawyers who advised the White House on how to torture and get away with it. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has written a draft report that apparently excoriates former Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the infamous torture memos, according to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. OPR can report these lawyers to their state bar associations for possible discipline, or even refer them for criminal investigation. Obama doesn't have to initiate investigations; the OPR has already launched them, on Bush's watch.

The smoking gun that may incriminate George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al., is the email traffic that passed between the lawyers and the White House. Isikoff revealed the existence of these emails on The Rachel Maddow Show. Some maintain that Bush officials are innocent because they relied in good faith on legal advice from their lawyers. But if the president and vice president told the lawyers to manipulate the law to allow them to commit torture, then that defense won't fly.

A bipartisan report of the Senate Armed Services Committee found that “senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”

Cheney recently admitted to authorizing waterboarding, which has long been considered torture under U.S. law. Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Colin Powell, and John Ashcroft met with Cheney in the White House basement and authorized harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, according to an ABC News report. When asked, Bush said he knew about it and approved.

John Yoo wrote in a Wall Street Journal oped that Bush “could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.”

Musical Innerlubes: Misc treats

The Future Sound of London - 'Papua New Guinea'

Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians -
'Enjoy Yourself'

Melo M - Song festival

Anti-establishment rebetiko

The Blitz tragedy that Churchill erased from history

The official cover-up of the Bethnal Green Tube disaster was one of many instances of the government suppressing bad news in the Second World War. Concerned that morale would be affected by a tragedy not directly caused by enemy action, Churchill allowed newspapers to report only limited details. The reason why more than 700 US Marines died while practising for D-Day is also unclear. The official line was that a German E-boat launched a surprise attack, but many descendants of the victims believe they were killed by friendly fire. Writers were also closely monitored; George Orwell's Animal Farm was only published after VE day because Britain feared any criticism of the Soviets would harm the war effort.

~ more... ~


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