Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Arab echoes of grassroots protest

If Gamal Abdel Nasser, the late president of Egypt and legendary champion of Arab nationalism, had risen from his grave during the heady days of November 1989, he would have rubbed his eyes in disbelief.

The stirring on the streets of Prague, Berlin and Bucharest not only spelled the end to the “enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” politics that Nasser had mastered in playing off the rival superpowers against each other, it was a sharp break with the sweeping pan-Arab nationalism that Nasser espoused and the top-down political style he practised.

In 1989, the Arab world saw this fervour played out in the dun-coloured hills east of Bethlehem, where the drive for self-determination was attempting to erase the debacle brought about by Nasser's thwarted pan-Arab vision 22 years earlier.

On November 5, 1989 – four days before the Berlin Wall fell – the people of the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour decided they would no longer pay for Israel's occupation of their land. A coalition of Arab armies inspired by Nasser's Pan-Arabist dream had failed in 1967 to expel Israel from the same soil; now, in an echo of the grassroots street protests sweeping Europe, the people of Beit Sahour would try to achieve it by refusing to pay their taxes. “No taxation without representation!” their leaflet cried.

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Barbara Stowe on the concert that launched Greenpeace

By John Mackie, Vancouver Sun

Irving and Dorothy were key figures in the Don't Make a Wave group which founded Greenpeace in 1970. The money to send a protest ship to Amchitka Island was largely raised through a concert Irving Stowe arranged for Oct. 16, 1970 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. A tape of the show has just been released by Greenpeace.

Sun: I understand your dad used to tape live shows in the early 60s in New York.

Barbara Stowe: He was from Rhode Island. He used to drive up to New York every weekend and go to jazz clubs and stuff. He had one of the first so-called portable tape recorders, that took two men to carry. He'd drag it into clubs and he would ask the performers if he could tape them for personal use. They trusted him and he did that. Louis Armstrong wanted to hear himself on that tape recorder, so dad went to Louis' hotel room the next morning. Louis came out in a robe drinking orange juice and they played the tape.

Sun: Someone told me that he taped Bob Dylan before he had a record deal.

Stowe: I wish. [It's] not true. He taped Art Tatum, Buddy Rich...Louis Armstrong singing with Diana Washington, I think.

Sun: So how did your dad tape the Greenpeace show?

Stowe: He didn't tape it. During the concert, he saw a tape recorder under the stage. He went to the sound engineer, Dave Zeffertt of Kelly-Deyong Sound, and said 'Dave are you taping this?' Dave said 'Yes, I tape all my concerts, so I can learn from them and improve my work.' And dad said 'We've got to tell the performers. But if they give you permission to keep that for personal use, I want a copy.'

They all gave permission, except for Chilliwack's manager. So we never had a portion of the tape that had Chilliwack on it, unfortunately. In the last year Bill Henderson searched valiantly for that portion of he tape, the master.

We played [the Greenpeace show] in our living room from time to time. It had been recorded on a Revox, these great big silver reels. My dad was a stereo fanatic, he had to have the best, which was good.

Anyway he transferred it at one point to cassette, or my brother [Robert] did. Over the years we'd play it occasionally for friends, or Greenpeace people who dropped by. Finally my brother transferred it to CD as a Christmas present for my mother and I, and gave us copies. He's very meticulous, he timed all the songs and everything.

He basically made a prototype, and went to Greenpeace and said 'You know, if you got permission, this is a prototype you could use.' So they did.

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'What would happen if Hippies were in charge of the United States Army?'

From 'Goats' boasts New Age war tactics :

 In the new film, “Men Who Stare at Goats,” director Grant Heslov looks at what America's military force would be if it were controlled by New Age tactics rather than violent means.

The film starts with reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) looking for a new way to spice up his life. He then encounters Sgt. Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a retired member of the now defunked New Age Army. Wilton accompanies Cassady across Iraqi lines on a mysterious mission.

This movie's comedy scheme is similar to the Persian sand that Wilton and Cassady trek across: dry and bland. Other than unique moments of hilarity, like when Cassady refers to the New Age Army as a company of Jedi Masters from “Star Wars” (to which McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, acts as if he has never heard of the ways of the Force), the laughs in this film are few and far between.

The film is full of drug and hippie one liners, most of which have already been done on “South Park,” and the plot itself jumps from one scene to another with such abruptness that only those who have taken their Adderall would be able to follow the movie completely.

From 'The Men Who Stare at Goats': Two Hours Worth Staring At :

If you're never one to pass up a good History Channel special on rumored/potential military applications of remote viewing, the psychic ability to locate long-range, unseen targets, then this George Clooney vehicle, inspired by Jon Ronson's best-selling non-fiction book about the U.S. Government's exploration into paranormal combat methods, is for you. But even if you aren't familiar with the Stanford Research Institute or the Stargate Project, you will enjoy this wacky inspirational, morality tale of a movie.

A former member of the New Earth Army, a 1970/80s secret legion of New Age, psychic "warrior monks," Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) is on a mission to find the unit's former leader, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges). Joined by a mid-market reporter, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), the two take off through the Iraqi desert on a hilarious journey, full of pitfalls and pit stops, in which he tutors the journalist in the ways of the "Jedi Warriors." (Yes, you read that right.)

Brian Eno & Nitin Sawhney - Prophesy

Live collaborative performance from the "Stop The War" benefit concert organized by Brian Eno.

Peaceful demonstrations planned for WTO ministerial

Anti-capitalist activists will demonstrate against a World Trade Organisation meeting that starts in Geneva later this month, promising peaceful protests and no repeat of the Seattle riots of 10 years ago.

Protest organisers told a news conference on Monday that several thousand people will march through the Swiss city on Nov. 28 and past the WTO, an institution they blame for helping create economic and social crises by promoting free trade.

"We intend to show that the liberalisation policies pursued by the WTO are having a devastating effect both on the lives of ordinary people and on the climate," protest organiser Alexandre de Charriere told a news conference.

"It must be stopped and a new way of running the world must be found," declared de Charriere of the anti-globalisation ATTAC group which has combined with other bodies to stage what they dub "Anti-WTO Action Days" during the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 meeting.

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The Battle of Seattle - Looking back 10 years

This month marks the 10th anniversary of protests against the World Trade Organization’s conference in Seattle. In preparing for the November 30th opening of the WTO’s “millennial round of talks,” the mayor’s office and local police had no contingency plan for one inconceivable possibility: that protestors would succeed in their goal of “shutting down” the most powerful organization in the world.

How did this happen, and what, if anything, has been the legacy of the “Battle in Seattle” in 1999? Law enforcement officials, civic leaders and trade delegates were unprepared for the hallucinatory events that unfolded in the so-called “Emerald City.” Lifted out of their consensual Kansas by a tornado of democratic dissent, officials found themselves stranded somewhere between a bad mushroom trip and Munchkinland.

By the morning of November 30, Seattle’s streets were transformed by a massive, colourful wave of street theatre, while passively-resisting protestors in the downtown core kept trade delegates from conducting their Oz-like deliberations. To add a nightmarish L. Frank Baum touch, police in riot gear dispensed truncheon blows, tear gas and pepper spray. The only things missing were the flying monkeys –unless you count black-clad anarchists brandishing hammers, crowbars, paint bombs and spray paint.

What’s been forgotten is how massive this event was and how it rippled across the world. Throughout the week, the firefighters’ union refused authorities’ requests to train firehoses on protestors. Longshore workers closed down every West Coast port from Alaska to Los Angeles. Just before, during and after the WTO protest, thousands of Indian farmers marched to Bangalore in solidarity. In 80 cities across France, 75,000 people took to the streets and 800 miners clashed with police. European activists stormed the WTO world headquarters in Geneva. In Turkey, peasants, trade unionists and environmentalists marched on the capital of Ankara. Thousands marched in sympathy in the Philippines, Pakistan, Portugal, South Korea, Turkey, and across Europe, the US and Canada.

This was not a simple gathering of aging, disaffected American lefties or bongo-playing kids with dreadlocks, with a trendy grievance against the world. This WAS the world, saying ‘no more’ to secretive, unelected officials with the power to expand transnational corporate power past the control of all governments.

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Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)

Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. Listen to the sound file here.

The lyrics, courtesy of The Guitarguy:

Words & Music by Carl Sigman & Herb Magidson
Recorded by Guy Lombardo, 1950

C Am C Am C Am Dm
You work and work for years and years, you're always on the go;

Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 C
You never take a minute off, too busy makin' dough.

C Am C Am C C7 F
Someday, you say, you'll have your fun when you're a millionaire --

F Fm C A Dm7 G7 C G7
Imagine all the fun you'll have in your old rockin' chair.


C Am7 Dm7
Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think;

G7 Dm7 G7 C
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink.

C C7 F
The years go by as quickly as a wink --

Dm7 F C Am Dm7 G7 C
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

C Am C Am C Am Dm
You're gonna take that ocean trip, no matter, come what may;

Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 C
You've got your reservations but you just can't get away.

C Am C Am C C7 F
Next year, for sure, you'll see the world, you'll really get around --

F Fm C A Dm7 G7 C G7
But how far can you travel when you're six-feet under ground?

C Am C Am C Am Dm
Your heart of hearts, your dream of dreams, your ravishing brunette;

Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 C
She's left you and she's now become somebody else's pet.

C Am C Am C C7 F
Lay down that gun, don't try, my friend, to reach the great beyond;

F Fm C A Dm7 G7 C G7
You'll have more fun by reachin' for a redhead or a blonde.

Repeat Refrain:

C Am C Am C Am Dm
You never go to nightclubs and you just don't care to dance;

Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 Dm7 G7 C
You don't have time for silly things like moonlight and romance.

C Am C Am C C7 F
You only think of dollar bills tied neatly in a stack;

F Fm C A Dm7 G7 C G7
But when you kiss a dollar bill, it doesn't kiss you back.

Repeat Refrain:

The trial of Alexis’ murderers will take place in Amfissa on 15.12; a whole month of tension coming up

From the After the Greek Riots blog :

A few hours ago corporate media reported that cops Korkoneas and Saraliotis, the murderers of Alexis Grigoropoulos, are to stand trial on December 15th, in the town of Amfissa. With a population of just under 7,000, Amfissa lies approximately 120 km NE of Patras and 210 km NW of Athens. It has been chosen for its small size and poor transport access, in an obvious attempt to to make it harder for people to get there. As if! On December 15th, we'll be in Amfissa then…

Before the cops' trial however, there is the annual commemoration of the anti-dictatorial student uprising of November 17th, 1973. The ministry of public order (in its new doublespeak, ministry of “citizen protection”) is trying to keep the calm ahead of this date – and of course December 6th, the date of Alexis' assassination, is not too far in the horizon.


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

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