Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Vegetable Orchestra

'Police are not generally associated with poetry'

From Portland Police Department read original poems at Thin Blue Lines by Danica Koenig

It is not often you get to hear the police officers of your city pouring out their souls in poetry they wrote, but on Thursday March 5 at the Portland Public Library the citizens of Portland got a chance to hear the members of the Portland Police Department read poetry they had written about what it is like to be a police officer.

The poetry reading, "Thin Blue Lines," was part of the Arts & Equity Initiative, which is a targeted arts project in which public officials improve their city through the arts.

[ ... ]

Some of the poems dealt with some pretty heavy material; one that was read by local poet Michael Macklin who worked with an officer was about the difficult situations police officers find themselves in and how it affects them.

One line read, "One crack bust, a suicide, then silence."

Later the poem asked the question, "How do you protect your heart?"

A couple of the poems incorporated real questions and comments kids of the police officers had asked.

One of the lines from the poem read by Michael Macklin was, "Who are the bad guys, Dad? How do you know? Who do you trust?"

In a particularly moving poem Don Hayden put together a series of questions his son had asked him and used it as his poem, all of them perfectly capturing that balance of childhood curiosity and fear toward police officers.

"Hey dad, put any bad guys in jail today?"

"Hey dad, are you going to put me in jail?"

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A Quartet in motion, with ‘Howl’ and other poetry

Artists from different disciplines have long been inspired by one another's works, often with remarkable results. But both words and music suffer in Lee Hyla's “Howl,” a string quartet written in 1993 to accompany Allen Ginsberg's 1956 poem of that name.

A performance on Friday at Zankel Hall by the stellar Brentano String Quartet made me want to scream. The ensemble — Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violinists; Misha Amory, violist; and Nina Lee, cellist — played Mr. Hyla's work against a recording of Ginsberg reading his colorful rant at the status quo, a major work of the Beat Generation.

A poem as long and as dense as “Howl” — whose myriad vivid images are crammed into long run-on sentences — is ill suited for simultaneous musical accompaniment. Music and words seem engaged here in a cacophonous battle with no clear victor.

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'Live Nude Girl': Earning a living unclothed

"...In her book, Live Nude Girl, Rooney raises the philosophical and personal concerns of posing for art, and makes a distinction between nudity and nakedness.

[ ... ]

'The first thirty seconds of nudity are always the most jarring, charged for me and for those who are looking at me, at least if it is a class or artist who has never seen me naked, never worked with me in the past. The disrobing is a gentle shock, a surprise, a kind of eyewash, and the instant is electrified, more vivid than those that preceded it and those that will come after. My nudity might seem unreal, as if it can't really be happening, as if this strange other person can't possibly be presenting herself without a stitch and letting her body be drawn. So too might my nudity feel hyper-real, as if this person is the most three-dimensional object in space, vulnerable in her nakedness, but powerful in her command of the entire room's studious and uninterrupted attention. But after these first few seconds, the flamboyance and the frisson seem to settle a bit, and the artists get down to the task at hand, which is not merely to gawk or to watch or to gaze, but to transmit from their eyes to the model, to their hands, to the page or the canvas or the clay the image they hope to render over the course of those three short hours.' ..."

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At UN, Greece's Bakoyannis called "Not Ready for Prime Time" by some: Sri what?

Matthew Russell Lee reports for Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- Dora Bakoyannis, the foreign minister of Greece, was unable on Friday to comment on the 2000 civilians killed this year in Sri Lanka. She came to speak to the Press outside the UN Security Council, which was holding a three-part session on the OSCE, peacebuilding and Sri Lanka. Inner City Press asked for her or Greece's position on Sri Lanka, the debate on which in the Council has concerned the right of a government to kill civilians while fighting a separatist or terrorist group.

"I will not comment on that," Minister Bakoyannis said, "I have to catch up with it." Video here, from Minute 5:01. Several Greek observers shook their heads, some embarrassed, some judgmental. Not ready for prime time was the verdict, they said.

Beyond such intra-Greek critique, the larger question which we hope going forward to explore is, Does a foreign ministry such as Greece's only take an interest in conflicts outside of their region while they are on the UN Security Council, or are aspiring for a seat?

When asked if Russia building military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be helpful to her and the OSCE's attempts to keep a OSCE mission in these areas, Ms. Bakoyannis answered only that it "should be discussed within the OSCE." Video here, from Minute 4:54.

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US make fun of Greece on visa lifting issue

US make fun of Greece on visa lifting issue, Greek Ta Nea newspaper informs. It is promised at official meetings between Greece and US visas for Greek citizen who travel to US will be lifted until the end of 2009. Meanwhile Washington makes it clear in the contacts with EU it does not have the intention to include new countries in Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania. This became clear in the frames of the informal meeting between EU and US on February 5 and 6.
A promise visa to be lifted was given to Greece by the American Ambassador in Athens Daniel Speckhard as well as by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

~ FOCUS News Agency ~

The San Antonio docks in Santorini

From Navy, Marines Bolster Ties With Greece :

Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and embarked Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26 MEU) helped strenthen ties with Greece during a reception on board the ship while in port Santorini, Greece.

San Antonio is the first U.S. Navy ship to visit Santorini in 10 years.

Angelos Roussos, mayor of Santorini, expressed his appreciation for San Antonio's Sailors and Marines.

"We are privileged that this city was selected for your visit and that the Sailors and Marines were able to witness the beauty of this country and the culture of our people," said Roussos.

"We extend our appreciation for this event and hope to have more visits from U.S. naval ships in the future."

[ ... ]

The Sailors and Marines appreciated the port visit following a deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

"The town and people of Santorini have extended a warm welcome to San Antonio Sailors and Marines, and for that I am grateful," said Cmdr. Eric Cash, San Antonio's commanding officer.

"For many of us, this is our first visit to Greece, and it will no doubt be remembered for the breathtaking views of the town and its people."

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Concern about 'continuous' attacks on media in Greece

From a report by Clive Leviev-Sawyer in The Sofia Echo :

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) said in a March 5 2009 that it was concerned about "continuous attacks" on the media in Greece.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI).

According to information received by SEEMO, during the evening of February 26 2009, the offices of Athens-based newspaper Apogevmatini were attacked by a group of masked men throwing rocks and wielding iron. Damage was caused to the premises of the newspaper and to several cars parked outside the building.

Less than two weeks ago, four armed men fired shots and threw a suspected explosive device outside the central offices of TV Alter in Athens.

"SEEMO notes with concern this trend of attacks against journalists in Greece. It calls on the authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the protection of journalists, and press freedom in general, by taking all steps possible to counter these disturbing developments."

"The media functions as an important pillar of democracy in society by providing
information in the interest of the public," SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said.

"SEEMO calls for the maintenance of a safe working environment for journalists and media outlets in Greece. Any attacks against journalists must be fully investigated and carry consequences," he said.

Greece: Bomb at Citibank branch

Anthee Carassava reports in The New York Times :

A makeshift bomb exploded Monday outside a Citibank branch in Athens, gutting the ground floor of the two-story building but causing no injuries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police and counterterrorism officials said the attack bore the earmarks of the Revolutionary Struggle, a leftist militant group best known for firing a rocket-propelled grenade into the American Embassy in Athens in 2007. The police defused a bomb outside Citibank's administrative headquarters in northern Athens a month ago.

Musical Innerlube: Rage Against the Machine - 'People of the sun'


Chavez Plans $14 Cellphone

Forget the $10 laptop from India. Down in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is planning to make a cheap cellphone for his democratically-challenged subjects. The handset, to be named El Vergatario, will cost the equivalent of $14 and will contain an MP3 player, a camera and a radio.

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Say no to 42 hours (UK detention law)

Afghanistan and the financial crisis: Learning lessons from the past carnival of folly

By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD

I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

-Martin Luther King, Jr. “Beyond Vietnam”

A published list of the wealthiest entertainers (film stars and athletes), was fine. A published list of the wealthiest politicians was fine. A published list of the wealthiest Americans was fine. A published list of the wealthiest corporations, the Fortune 500, was “priceless.” The lists were signs of the American Empire's growth and prosperity. Then some names appeared on more than one list. The number of zeros beside some names grew and grew. It was transparent! In the evenings, U.S. citizens and citizens anywhere in the world sat in awe as television showed “estates” (mc-mansions) with multilayered homes with an unimaginable number of rooms, maids and caretakers. Oprah came along and made it even more acceptable to more people to visit a bathroom the size of an average U.S. home. Airports made space for “private” jets. The number of zeros attached to “bonuses” exceeded the zeros of the up and coming millionaire. Multi-billionaires with multi-million dollar bonuses - too much for just a few!

What's the U.S. to do when the CEOs and “hot shot” consultants of Wall Street reflect back to North Americans its own creed: money is all that matters?

Senators Patrick Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse claim they want to change the creed. They now want to know the truth! Senators Leahy and Whitehouse are calling for a truth and Reconciliation Hearing in the U.S.

Leahy: “The citizens of this country have said we should have change. And we should. But we also know the past can be prologue for the future unless we set things right.”

His proposal for a commission to examine the previous administration would come to “understand how…policies were formed and exercised. I do this to make sure the mistakes are not repeated,” said Leahy.

I hear the moans of my ancestors!

Whitehouse: “We have to learn the lessons from this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and wrongdoings so that the damage can, under democratic process, be pointed out and corrected. If we blind ourselves to this history, we deny ourselves its lessons - lessons that came at too painful a cost to ignore. THOSE lessons merit disclosure and discussion… We may have to face the prospect at looking with horror at our own country's deeds.”

They want hearings to reveal the “wrongdoings” and the wrong doers. They want to look into the past to understand how the U.S. came to this financial crisis. Senators Leahy and Whitehouse, beyond the average American citizens themselves, see in the previous administration and in the former CEOs of Wall Street culprits of the financial collapse of the Empire's growth. How did these seemingly decent white American men do this to the U.S. modus operandi, to capitalism!

Well, senators, these guys simply did what they were encouraged to do. Their climb to the stratosphere of wealth was cheered, awarded, and legislated as the standard business goal for Americans long before King Bush's reign. The senators, however, see “scapegoats” for American policies and lifestyles of greed. Scapegoats, Senators Leahy and Whitehouse, help Americans deny themselves the lessons of history. Scapegoats allow individuals to disengage themselves from the collective.

In the meantime, two-thirds of Americans support President Obama's decision to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan! The fight for freedom and democracy must continue in Afghanistan.

Capitalism funds imperialist ventures such as regime change, torture, rendition, and wars to bring freedom and democracy to others. The individual taxpayer has an institutional stake in violence and this collective violence is evident of a moral crisis. Senators Leahy and Whitehouse want to “understand” the “wrongdoings” that brought about the financial crisis. Think there's any connection?

Look again:

There's a woman in her burqa, sitting on the ground, surrounded by men, agitated and angry. One man picks up a stone and throws it toward the woman's head. She leans forward. The other men pick up stones, large chunks of stones. The woman falls flat one the ground. She is dead.

Thanks to a CIA funded campaign in support of the mujahideen against Russia, writes Michael Parenti, the Taliban (“an extremist strain of Sunni Islam”) took over most of the country. Until 1999, “the U.S. government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official.” A CIA funded campaign allowed the Taliban to unleash a “religious reign of terror,” condemning “forms of 'immorality'” particularly devastating to the pursuit of freedom by women and girls. Afghani women must wear the burqa now. Despite Laura Bush's claim that the U.S. is committed to the freedom of Afghani women, oppression continues. “Outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home,” women and girls in Afghanistan are between a rock and a hard place: the U.S. war doctrine to rid Afghan of “terrorists” and the Taliban's strict interpretation of Muslim law.

According to Kathleen Foster, documentary filmmaker, Afghan Women: A History of Struggle, before the rise of the CIA funded Taliban, “Afghanistan… had a very progressive movement.”

There was a big movement of communist people, various Marxists, socialists, and eventually a takeover by the communists. And women's rights at that point were one of the major - one of the major thrusts. And women were becoming - were getting educated. They were deciding their own destiny, no more forced marriages, and so on and so forth.

Under the mujahideen, who were “allied with the wealthy landowners” and funded by the CIA, a class struggle began. “Women started to lose their rights totally,” Foster explained. “Schools were bombed. People who had any contact with the government, like government officials, like teachers, and so on and so forth, were killed. Women were raped.”

The history of the U.S. is such that any hint of a “progressive movement,” any hint that the oppressed and excluded is determined to correct “wrongdoings” under a “democratic process,” sends the capitalists in Washington to confer with the bankers on Wall Street. A hat is passed around and money flows to the wrong side of freedom. Politicians supply the rhetoric: The U.S. takes the moral highroad! Communist “terrorists” then; Taliban “terrorists” now!

What lessons can Americans learn from this mess of “wrongdoings”? What lessons has this nation ever learned about its “past carnival of folly”?

A young U.S. soldier dressed in desert camouflage speaks to the camera. “We try to help them out with little projects,” he tells Frontline. “But they don't want our help.” The they are the Afghanis. They are - the Afghanis - “so backward.”

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago.

~ Source: BlackCommentator.com ~

Istanbul revelers revive a Greek bacchanalia

Iason Athanasiasis reports in GlobalPost :

The Republic of Turkey was founded from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire upon the principle of 'Turkishness' after the end of the World War I, following the expulsion and elimination of about two million Armenians and ethnic Greek Ottoman subjects during the war and its aftermath.

Minority survivors were subjected to restrictive legislation and the confiscation of their properties and livelihoods. In 1955, three days of anti-minority pogroms prompted many to emigrate.

But things are changing. The assassination of an Armenian newspaper editor by a right-wing nationalist in 2007 shocked Turkish civil society into action. Millions poured out to protest the crime, uniting under the previously unthinkable slogan, "We are all Armenians."

Rigas studied classics at Oxford University before moving to Turkey, renting a room in an Istanbul slum, learning Turkish and starting to play an extinct form of traditional Greek-Turkish crossover music at Istanbul's bars and taverns. His revival of the Baklahorani carnival brings back the days when processions of bawdily dressed revelers drawn from the lowest strata of Ottoman Greek society would parade through Istanbul's minority districts in a bacchanalian feast involving prostitutes, criminals and ample cross-dressing.

This year's group followed that tradition, taking a sloping route down to Tarlabashi, a formerly solidly working class neighbourhood populated by ethnic minorities that beginning in the 1970s became a ghetto of emigrants from rural Turkey.

Greek author Maria Iordanidou described the carnival in her novel "Loxandra":

“When it got to Baklahorani day before the big fast, Rum from all over Istanbul would sing their way with folk-songs to meet in Tatavla. Groups of young girls sang songs and children swung on gondolier swings or ride merry-go-rounds decorated with bands and flags. The young men of Tatavla would give displays of their unique dances and games.”

In a 1918 edition, the Greek newspaper Proodos (Progress), which was printed in Istanbul, described the atmosphere of gay abandon as revelers dressed as “Greek bandits with fustanela [pleated, skirt-like garments worn by men in the Balkans] and scimitars, others appeared as Oriental hamalides [porters] or doctors pretending to deliver pregnant women in the middle of the street. Mock funerals processed with pretend corpses inside the coffins and followed by priests, widows and relatives … .”

A law banning people from wearing masks ended the original Baklahorani carnival in 1943.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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