Obama’s Obsession with Russia/Putin Urging Asian Countries to Support New Sanctions Against Russia – Reports

White House

The White House

 

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Washington is seeking a number of Asian countries to back new US and EU economic sanctions against Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday citing a senior State Department official.

The US diplomat said he has met government officials in China, Singapore and South Korea this week to provide “a brief on what we’ve done, answering questions and seeking support,” according to the report.

“It’s certainly our hope that countries in this region — which includes many significant financial and commercial centers — would join us in putting pressure [on Russia],” the senior official said.

The diplomat didn’t give details of the results of the talks but noted that “good and open exchanges of views” took place.

The US official is to hold similar meetings in Japan on Thursday and Friday, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry told The Wall Street Journal that Seoul hasn’t committed to any sanctions against Russia. The representative added the talks with US officials involved not only Russia but also other issues, including Iran.

On Tuesday, the Chosun Libo newspaper reported that Peter Harrell of the US State Department arrived in Seoul in order to persuade South Korea to impose sanctions against Russia.

The same day, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia, once again accusing Moscow of supporting militia forces in eastern Ukraine.

Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB, the country’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank, as well as state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation.

The EU agreed on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, which will be published on July 31 and go into effect on August 1.

Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said last week that the sanctions were “a road to nowhere” and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such actions toward Russia were a way to conceal protectionist measures in the interests of certain companies.

A recent opinion poll by the Levada Center indicates that amid tensions over Ukraine and the takeover of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity rating is at its highest point since 2010. Yet the events of this year have taken place against the background of an economic slowdown. However, in the first several months of 2014, the number of Russians who approve of Putin’s actions as president rose from 65 percent in January to 82 percent in late April. At the same time, the approval ratings of the government and the prime minister received a boost, as did Russians’ readiness to vote for the ruling party and overall optimism.
Firstly, the president’s rating rose by four points on Russia’s performance in the Olympic Games. Russia’s involvement in the events in Ukraine and the takeover of Crimea gave him a further 11 points. Additionally, Putin’s televised phone-in with the nation, practically the whole of which was devoted to the situation in Crimea and Ukraine, allowed him to consolidate this success. It added a couple of more percentage points to the president’s rating at a time when other ratings [the approval of the government and the prime minister, readiness to vote for the ruling party and overall optimism.
The return of Crimea to Russia, gave the ratings a boost for several reasons. The threat of a military conflict always means that one has to choose between “us” and “them”, which inevitably prompts people to rally around the leadership of their country.
The peninsula’s return to Russia (as the president put it) is perceived by the majority of Russians not just as historical justice and as an alleviation of the ‘phantom’ pain for the lost status of “a great power”, but as a noble act. The opinion that Crimea should be returned to Russia and that the Russian leadership should defend the interests of Russians in former Soviet republics has been prevalent since the early 1990s.
An overwhelming majority of Russians are convinced that in Ukraine, Russia has extended a helping hand to the Russian-speaking population, has defended them from an inevitable death at the hand of “fascists” and “nationalists” who have come to power in Kiev, as this is what the country’s main TV channels have been saying for months. Moreover, in the opinion of the majority of Russians, Western governments are only hindering the resolution of the crisis, while pursuing their mercenary goals.
“The Ukraine story” has been effectively presented to the Russian population in a very attractive light, and is essentially unrecognizable from the way it is presented outside Russia. Finally, it matters too that, in the opinion of the majority of Russians, the annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukrainian affairs has hardly cost Russia anything.
The Crimea events took place with the loss of just one life; as for the Western sanctions, Russians do not really believe in them and cannot assess their consequences, since this is something that evening TV news broadcasts hardly ever mention. While it is evening TV news (primarily on the three main state-owned channels) that provides 90 percent of Russians with their information on domestic and world events, the internet serves as the main source of news for 15-20 percent of the population, although there too the audience of independent and good-quality information resources that represent a variety of views and opinions make up just a fraction. An overwhelming majority of Russians do not have access to information that offers other than the official line – this is not true.
Readers from the Russian Federation often visit our Music site offering information hidden by the American mainstream press.

The Crimea story has improved the image that Russian politicians have in Russians’ eyes but it has had no effect on the overall assessment of the economic situation, not as bad as the fragile European Union.  In other words, no situational mobilization of public opinion can change a long-term trend that has been established by the economy. That is why Putin’s further popularity as well as the stability of the political system as a whole will depend on how good or bad economic growth is.  In the United States,however, President Barack Obama’s popularity rating is at its lowest point – 30 percent, with most criticism directed to his lack of a foreign policy and an stagnant economy.

Russians less afraid of sanctions – Kiss My Butt Dahlinks!

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“Sanctions against Russia are sanctions against me!” People participate in a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow in early March, when the first restrictions were imposed. Source: RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov

 

 

July 30, 2014 Kira Egorova  –  A new survey shows that the number of Russians concerned about economic restrictions imposed by the West is steadily decreasing.
A new poll from the Levada Center has revealed that Russians are becoming less afraid of sanctions. The most recent survey, conducted between July 18-21 after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, revealed that only 36 percent of Russians were concerned about sanctions being introduced against Russia by the United States and the EU over events in Ukraine. This number is down from early March, when 53 percent of Russians were concerned about sanctions, and April, when 42 percent of respondents admitted to being concerned. The results of the survey also showed that Russians are unconcerned about the possible international isolation of their country. In the most recent poll, 38 percent of Russians were worried about international isolation – down from 42 percent in April and 56 percent in March.
Denis Volkov, a sociologist with the Levada Center, said the results show that Russians have become used to the idea of sanctions. “After the first sanctions against Russia took place, Russians felt fear,” Volkov said. He argues that this fear is now gone, primarily because Russians do not understand the possible effect of sanctions. Additionally, Volkov said, few Russian take the situation seriously because the issue is not being properly discussed on Russian TV.
He argues that this fear is now gone, primarily because Russians do not understand the possible effect of sanctions. Additionally, Volkov said, few Russian take the situation seriously because the issue is not being properly discussed on Russian TV.
Personal ties
Russians are generally offended about the imposition of sanctions. Sixty-six percent of respondents had negative feelings about the decision by the U.S. to introduce sanctions against major Russian companies, including oil major Rosneft, state-owned banks Vnesheconombank and Gazprombank and the country’s defense enterprise while only 28 percent said that they were indifferent to the sanctions.
At the same time, only 29 percent of Russians think that these sanctions will create big problems for the entire country; 35 percent believe that the problems caused by the sanctions will not be too serious and 30 percent are certain these restrictions will not affect ordinary people, the poll showed. In Volkov’s opinion the consequences of the sanctions are unclear for ordinary people: “Russians will change their opinion on sanctions only when they will be able to make a logical link between the adoption of sanctions and a decrease in living standards,” Volkov said. Nevertheless, there is some indication that these attitudes are changing.
The number of Russians who agree that sanctions “really affect only a narrow circle of people responsible for Russian policy regarding Ukraine,” declined slightly from 63 percent in May to 59 percent in July. Accordingly, the number of people who think that restrictions would affect a wide range of citizens has increased – from 24 percent in May to 34 percent in July. Sergei Smirnov, director of the Institute of Social Policy and Socio-Economic Programs at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow said that the delay in understanding the effects should be expected.
“There must be a certain period of time between sanctions taking effect and the first changes appearing in the country’s life,” Smirnov said. In Smirnov’s opinion, Russians will feel the effect of sanctions when the cost of gasoline goes up, when there is a rush to buy dollars, or when they cannot buy some imported goods.
How will new round of sanctions affect Russia?
Sergei Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies, thinks that Russians may feel differently soon. “Russians may face the effect of the latest sanctions already in September, when business season starts,” Markov said. In his opinion, Russians do not believe that they will be affected by this latest wave of sanctions because they were not affected by previous ones. However, Markov notes, while the previous two waves of sanctions were targeted at specific individuals, the latest wave is focused on key sectors of Russia’s economy. This poll was conducted by the Levada Center between July 18-21 in 46 Russian regions among 1,600 respondents.

The United States and European Union Sanctions Against Russia – What to expect?

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Anti-Russian Sanctions: ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger’

1. WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Group of Seven (G7) is ready to introduce new sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine, the joint statement said Wednesday.

2. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The third phase of EU penalties on Russia will eventually backfire, and the fact that the new economic sanctions are less harsh than Washington wanted them to be indicates that the 28 European nations are well aware of this impact, an expert with the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels said Wednesday. “Of course, given the economic interconnectedness, there will also be an economic impact on the European Union,” Hrant Kostanyan said. “This depends on the area of the sanctions. There is also geographic proximity. Sanctions could have been much harsher. They aren’t that harsh. This is being done gradually.”

3. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Poland is going to pay a great price for agreeing to sanctions against Russia, an independent Polish expert told International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya Wednesday. “The introduction of sanctions against Russia will certainly deal a heavy blow to the Polish economy, but Polish politicians haven’t realized it yet,” Andrzej Schensniak said. Schensniak stressed that despite Poland’s political focus on Europe it remains very much dependent on Russia in terms of its energy imports and transit.  “The oil and gas sector is likely to bear the brunt [of EU sanctions] since it was created as an integral part of the [country’s] cooperation scheme with the Soviet Union and now with Russia,” the pundit said.

4. BRUSSELS, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The new round of sanctions against Russia announced by the European Union do not target the country’s natural gas sector, a source at the European Commission told reporters Wednesday.  “The gas sector is completely and totally excluded from the scope of sanctions we are going to publish tomorrow,” the source said.  The European Union agreed Tuesday on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, which limit Russian state-owned financial institutions’ access to EU capital markets, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies, particularly in the oil sector. The sanctions are to be published on July 31 and go into effect on August 1.  Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said last week that the sanctions were “a road to nowhere” and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such actions toward Russia were a way to conceal protectionist measures in the interests of certain companies.

5. NOVO OGARYOVO, Moscow Region, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia could loosen the tightening grip of western sanctions on its economy by improving the economic climate in its far-eastern territories, designated as “advanced development zones” in a bill that may be laid before the Duma in autumn, Russia’s Far East Development Minister said Wednesday. Speaking at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka said the plan to make the region a lucrative investment opportunity for foreign business is “probably the best response to attempts to thwart Russia’s development by throwing foreign policy obstacles in its path.” Advanced development zones are export-oriented zones with preferential conditions for businesses. Their creation signals Russia’s strategic Asian pivot that comes amid toughening penalties on its exports to Europe. According to the minister, a special committee in charge of the development project has drawn up a list of the region’s 4,400 largest companies that today export $10 trillion worth of products to the Asia-Pacific Region. “The first five memorandums of understanding have already been signed with foreign investors,” Galushka said. The minister added that a draft law on advanced development zones may be submitted to the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, during the autumn session. In June, the Far East Development Ministry unveiled a targeted support program for the region that is expected to attract some $65 billion in investment.

6.  MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Washington’s newest update to the list of sanctioned Russian banks will not affect Visa or MasterCard operations in the country, the companies’ representative offices in Russia told RIA Novosti Wednesday. “These sanctions prevent blacklisted banks from accessing US capital markets and do not affect our activities,” a MasterCard representative said. Visa explained the US-imposed restrictions do not compel it to block operations at any Russian banks.

7. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russian banks, targeted by US and EU sanctions, will be supported by the Russian Central Bank if necessary, the Central Bank’s press service said in a statement Wednesday.  “In light of the US and EU sanctions targeting some Russian banks, the Central Bank of Russia states that the financial institutions operate normally, providing all the necessary services to clients, including money transfers and bank cards transactions,” the press release said. “Appropriate measures will be taken, if need be, to provide support to the enlisted organizations in order to protect the interests of their clients, depositors and creditors.”

8. BRUSSELS, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – New EU economic sanctions banning supplies of technologies and equipment for Russian projects in the oil sector are expected to affect exports worth 115 million euros ($153.8 million), an EU source told reporters Wednesday. “This will hit trade estimated at around 115 million euros per year,” the source said, adding that the figure is based on the data of the European Commission on exports to Russia in the previous years. EU exports to Russia of certain equipment and technologies linked to energy sector are to be preliminary approved by the competent authorities of the European Union. Export licenses will be denied if products are destined for deep water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia.

9. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Sanctions against Russia will negatively affect Austrian businesses, Christoph Leitl, head of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce stated Wednesday, as reported by The Local website. “As (sanctions) are now, we expect exports to fall around 20 percent this year versus last year and in tourism the collapse in Russian guests is already very strikingly tangible,” he stated, quoted by The Local website. Leitl is one of the opponents of strengthening sanctions against Russia. “I am still against sanctions, but if the politicians decide otherwise then of course one is bound to this,” he noted, quoted by The Local website.  Analysts suggest that the sanctions will hit Austrian banks the hardest, especially Raiffeisen.

10. EU Sanctions Against Russian Oil Sector to Affect Exports Worth Over $150 Mln. NOVO-OGARYOVO, July 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s defense industry is capable of producing all parts and military hardware on its own, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday. “Some things are evident for all of us. First of all, we are absolutely capable of doing everything on our own. Absolutely everything,” Putin said at a meeting devoted to import substitution. “Our task is to insure ourselves against risks of non-compliance with contracts by our foreign partners,” the president added. “We need to ensure reliable and timely supply of required components and monitor their quality closely.”  Putin said that although he saw no particular risks for the Russian defense industry, “all difficulties should benefit us, because we should launch our own production where it did not exist before.”

 

* More to be added as we receive data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The downing of flight MH17: What ordinary Russians think

Many Russians rely principally on television as their news source. Source: RIA Novosti Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines - http://rbth.com/society/2014/07/23/the_downing_of_flight_mh17_what_ordinary_russians_think_38469.html)

Many Russians rely principally on television as their news source. Source: RIA Novosti
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – http://rbth.com/society/2014/07/23/the_downing_of_flight_mh17_what_ordinary_russians_think_38469.html)

RBTH asked Russians of various ages and backgrounds, living both in Russia and abroad, for their opinions on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster, including who they thought was responsible for the crash and how the events are being reported in the media.

Mikhail, 80 – engineer, retired, Kuznetsk (Penza Region)
I’m very sorry for the innocent dead. My most heartfelt condolences to their families and friends. The perpetrators of this heinous provocation, whoever they are, should be severely punished. Not having accurate information about what happened, it’s hard to say who is to blame. But those who gave the command to launch are guilty most of all. I suppose (but I’m not 100 percent sure) that it was the militia commanders.
On the whole, the political figures are to blame in Ukraine (Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk, Turchynov, Poroshenko), in Russia and in the United States. It’s Ukraine’s fault because its politics led to a civil war. It’s Russia’s fault because it contributed to sending the Cossacks, Chechens and others to this war.
It’s the fault of the U.S. because it provokes divisions in other states. Remember Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Zbigniew Brzezinski openly argued that one of the goals of the U.S. was the collapse of the USSR – and then Russia. Yulia, 43 – accountant, St. Petersburg

 It’s difficult for me to say, I don’t know the complete picture. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read the papers, I don’t really use the mass media – either Russian or any other. I first heard about it on the TV, when I was at my parents’ dacha, when the plane first disappeared from the radars.
Yulia, 43 – accountant, St. Petersburg


It’s difficult for me to say, I don’t know the complete picture. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read the papers, I don’t really use the mass media – either Russian or any other. I first heard about it on the TV, when I was at my parents’ dacha, when the plane first disappeared from the radars.
My first thought was that the militias had shot it down (they are separatists, after all) through stupidity, by mistake, by virtue of their unprofessionalism. My father said that you need serious weaponry to shoot down a plane at that height. But then Russia’s helping them out with arms, isn’t that the case?
But then Russia’s helping them out with arms, isn’t that the case? They were my first, intuitive thoughts. After that I didn’t really follow the situation. I feel sorry for those who died… and it’s terrible to think that in peacetime you could set off on holiday, and instead this.
They were my first, intuitive thoughts. After that I didn’t really follow the situation. I feel sorry for those who died… and it’s terrible to think that in peacetime you could set off on holiday, and instead this.
Vadim, 28 – contract soldier, North Caucasus
A passenger plane flies at a height of 10 km [33,000 feet] – only the BUK has such a range, but the guys from the militias don’t have it! Plus, in their defense I can say that if they had such a facility, they’d shoot down enemy aircraft much more effectively. I see no reason for them to do this, everyone already wants to kill them. But the U.S. has a global debt, they need war!
Vitaly, 28 – teacher, Wetzlar, Germany (originally from Moscow)
I suggest waiting for the official investigation. I’ve read and translated different articles by foreign and regional media: They show different versions of the crash, even including mystical theories. My worldview does not allow me to lash out at any side with criticism.
Ilya, 27 – historian, Sevastopol
In the complex situation that is taking place at the moment in eastern Ukraine, discrediting the opposing side in the eyes of the global community is in the interests of both Kiev and the militias. So it’s impossible to say with 100 percent certainty that the militias are not involved, though it is unlikely they have the means to destroy a plane at the height at which the Boeing was flying.
On the other hand, Kiev also has a motive for destroying a plane and the means to do so. It would have been of great benefit for Kiev to shoot down a plane and then accuse the militants of the south-east and Russia. But is the leadership of Ukraine really cold-blooded enough to deliberately shoot down a passenger jet and then accuse the other side of this? I think everything’s possible, but this is unlikely. But as I see it, everything’s a lot more banal. It doesn’t matter whether the plane was shot down from the ground or from the air; it was probably a tragic mistake on the part of the Ukrainian Army that led to this tragedy. The worst of it is that all parties to the conflict and the global community are trying to speculate in favor of their own interests, accusing each other and Russia of their guilt.
Natalya, 25 – geodesist, Kaliningrad
The Boeing was shot down by those creepy guys for whom the only possible path to self-realization and success was the war, looting, and terrorism they are now engaged in on Ukrainian soil. These people only yesterday were nothing, and now they control military equipment, command forces and, given that they don’t do it for the idea, but solely for the sake of profit, they certainly might “confuse” a Dutch passenger Boeing with a Ukrainian cargo plane. I have a feeling that neither Putin nor the European Union – no one is able to control what is happening. Accordingly, the guilty ones are those who make such a mess. Putin – because he provokes and fuels it, the U.S. and Europe – because they take no kind of action except issuing statements.
Igor, 31 – computer programmer, New York.
I think the fact that certain precautions did not take place to prevent the crash is unacceptable. And obviously everyone is responsible, especially the new Ukrainian government, which was hiding the severity of the military operation. I am sure government officials of the EU, the U.S. and Russia knew what was going on in Ukraine and could have prevented this tragedy by not allowing any air traffic in the region or possibly figuring out a compromise to avoid the war in the first place. Thus making them responsible as well. Now they are just passing the blame to one another. I guess that’s what modern politics is all about, unfortunately. Also, as a Russian-born, when I see a newspaper saying “Russians fired the missile…” before the investigation is over [it] makes me very sad. Now it looks like we (the Russians) are being found guilty before the official investigation. We do not have this approach in courts so why is that ok in politics? I feel very sad, and afraid that people around will form a certain opinion about the Russian community here in New York because of the selected media coverage and will perceive us as warmongers.
Svetlana, 28 – bank clerk, St. Petersburg.
My opinion is that the Ukrainian rebels shot it down. They wanted to shoot down a Ukrainian military plane and hit a civilian one. [My boyfriend] believes it was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers; as a person who’s served in the army he says that the rebels don’t have the equipment to shoot down a plane, it’s very difficult, you need radar equipment and training. It’s hard for me to argue with this and it’s not my field, but what use was it to the Ukrainians to shoot down a civilian plane on purpose? It’s complete nonsense.
Everybody’s already used to the fact that everybody lies. So everyone watches different versions and opinions and forms their own. I don’t believe anybody either because when you don’t know the truth it’s hard to judge what the truth is. In the press there’s also an information war going on. It’s strange of course that this fighter jet was flying beside the passenger airplane, especially as fighter jets don’t fly at that altitude. Maybe the Ukrainian forces specially tried to make sure the militias hit a peaceful plane. Basically it’s all weird and creepy and I only hope that they shot the plane down by accident after all, otherwise if they are already killing innocent people then it’s already the last step.
In the press there’s also an information war going on. It’s strange of course that this fighter jet was flying beside the passenger airplane, especially as fighter jets don’t fly at that altitude. Maybe the Ukrainian forces specially tried to make sure the militias hit a peaceful plane. Basically it’s all weird and creepy and I only hope that they shot the plane down by accident after all, otherwise if they are already killing innocent people then it’s already the last step.
Sofia, 28 – scientific researcher, Marburg, Germany (originally from Moscow).
As I watch both German and Russian news, it’s hard for me to say what I feel, I think the truth about this disaster is difficult to know. What’s happened, of course, is horrible, but I don’t think it was planned and this airplane was the target; at least I want to believe this. In Germany, I feel, they’re sure it’s the fault of Moscow and Putin, and that he’s able to give instructions to the militias to stop fighting… and I suffer for the dead people, it is terrible to imagine what they and their families had to go through.
In Germany, I feel, they’re sure it’s the fault of Moscow and Putin, and that he’s able to give instructions to the militias to stop fighting… and I suffer for the dead people, it is terrible to imagine what they and their families had to go through.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines –

Western Sanctions Against Russia Illegal, Beyond National Jurisdiction – Russian Lawmaker

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – Western countries are going beyond their national jurisdiction by imposing sanctions against Russia, as such measures are illegal, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.

“Such actions are illegal and thus void, and not only because they are unilateral. Apparently, some Western leaders, especially from overseas, imagine themselves judges when arbitrarily finding someone guilty and identifying responsibility for entire countries and nations,” the speaker said.

“They [Western leaders] do not mind that this issue is completely beyond their jurisdiction,” Naryshkin added.

The time of confrontations between empires has gone, but containment policies against Russia “and geopolitical ploys aimed at weakening it are still present. These are the real reasons behind the replication of cold war methods as well as various sanctions and black lists,” the parliamentarian concluded.

On Tuesday, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB, the country’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank, as well as state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation. The EU agreed on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, which are to go into effect tomorrow, August 1.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it was involved with the eastern Ukrainian militia and called the “language of sanctions” counterproductive.

 

Brian Eno Addresses Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Passionate Letter on David Byrne’s Website

Brian Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer, and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.

Brian Eno has shared his feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a passionate letter that has been published on David Byrne’s website.

“I received this email last Friday morning from my friend, Brian Eno,” Byrne wrote on his site. “I shared it with my office and we all felt a great responsibility to publish Brian’s heavy, worthy note.”

The artists have collaborated on such albums as My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in 1981 and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today in 2008.

In the note, which can be read in full below, Eno questions the United States’ response to the violence, asking, “Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing?”

Eno also shares details about his 2013 visit to Israel where he witnessed brutal violence against Palestinians. “I kept thinking, ‘Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?'”

Numerous musicians have spoken out against the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent weeks, including One Direction’s Zayn Malik, Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Eddie Vedder. Artists like Neil Young, Backstreet Boys and Paul Anka have canceled performances in Israel as well.

In a video released by freedom4palestine.org, a group including Eno, Chuck D, Ken Loach, Mira Nair, Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, and Naomi Klein hold up cards with the names and ages of Palestinian civilians recently killed in Gaza. The UN estimates that more than 70 percent of those who have lost their lives in the fighting were civilians, including more than 220 children and 110 women.

 

Read Eno’s full letter below (via davidbyrne.com).

Dear All of You:

I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.

XXB

Wampire announces new album, ‘Bazaar’, stream 3 tracks

wampire_bazaar

Despite their insanely silly band name, Portland’s Wampire managed to sink their teeth into many a people’s hearts last year (including ours). That was thanks in part to their debut album, Curiosity, which saw the duo of Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps deftly blend playful psychedelia with bits of ’70s rock and synth-pop for a joyful yet nuanced sound. They parlayed the album into tours with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns, plus a bevy of festival dates the world over.

Now, Tinder and Phipps are looking toward the future, recruiting a full band for the release of Wampire’s sophomore album, Bazaar, due out October 7th via Polyvinyl. For the nine-track effort, Wampire once again tapped UMO’s Jacob Portrait to serve as producer, spending time recently at The Museum studio in Brooklyn. In a press release, Phipps called his state of mind during the album’s recording sessions as that of a “Kafka-esque insomniac musical novelist”.”

Listen to three tracks below:

In support of Bazaar, Wampire will be on tour this fall. Consult their full schedule below.

Wampire 2014 Tour Dates:
08/22 – Rock Creek, BC @ Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival
09/19 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom *
09/20 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre *
09/21 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater *
09/22 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium *
09/24 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore *
09/25 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda *
09/26 – Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse *
09/27 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern *
09/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom *
10/01 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre *

Listen in below (via Stereogum):