Ukrainian Government: “No Russian Troops Are Fighting Against Us”. Sanctions against Russia based on Falsehoods

By Eric Zuesse
Global Research, January 31, 2015

Region: Russia and FSU
In-depth Report: UKRAINE REPORT

 

unnamed-400x237Ukraine’s top general is contradicting allegations by the Obama Administration and by his own Ukrainian Government, by saying that no Russian troops are fighting against the Ukrainian Government’s forces in the formerly Ukrainian, but now separatist, area, where the Ukrainian civil war is being waged.

Here is a screen-print of a google-chrome auto-translation of that statement:

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The Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko, is saying, in that news-report, which is dated on Thursday January 29th, that the only Russian citizens who are fighting in the contested region, are residents in that region, or of Ukraine, and also some Russian citizens (and this does not deny that perhaps some of other countries’ citizens are fighting there, inasmuch as American mercenaries have already been noted to have been participating on the Ukrainian Government’s side), who “are members of illegal armed groups,” meaning fighters who are not paid by any government, but instead are just “individual citizens” (as opposed to foreign-government-paid ones). General Muzhenko also says, emphatically, that the “Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian army.”

In other words: He is explicitly and clearly denying the very basis for the EU’s sanctions against Russia, and for the U.S.’s sanctions against Russia: all of the sanctions against Russia are based on the falsehood that Ukraine is fighting against “the regular units of the Russian army” — i.e., against the Russian-Government-controlled-and-trained fighting forces.

The allegation to the effect that Ukraine is instead fighting against “regular units of the Russian army” is the allegation that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded Ukraine, and it is the entire basis for the economic sanctions that are in force against Russia.

Those sanctions should therefore be immediately removed, with apology, and with compensation being paid to all individuals who have been suffering them; and it is therefore incumbent upon the Russian Government to pursue, through all legally available channels, restitution, plus damages, against the perpetrators of that dangerous fraud — and the news reports have already made clear precisely whom those persons are, who have asserted, as public officials, what can only be considered to be major libel.

Otherwise, Ukraine’s top general should be fired, for asserting what he has just asserted.

If what General Muzhenko says is true, then he is a hero for having risked his entire career by having gone public with this courageous statement. And, if what he says is false, then he has no place heading Ukraine’s military.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

A Clockwork Orange’s Missing Ending – CoS

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CoS – Melis –February 09, 2015

Novelists can’t choose how they’ll be remembered — that is, which of their creations will be favored after they’ve, to borrow a phrase, snuffed it. Once wielding autocratic control over every thought, action, and detail attributed to their characters, they cede that unique monopoly upon publication. It then belongs to others, who, if sales are strong, will reimagine those stories — those very intimate and specific ideas — a million times over in infinitely different ways. The writer goes from being a de facto Bog or God to, in extreme cases, a slave to press clippings and public reception. It’s a demotion by any standard.

Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, made it known late in his life that he’d prefer not to be remembered for this dystopian novella. But all hope of that wish being respected had vanished the moment he let loose his little Alex “the Large” on unsuspecting readers in 1962. Once the glassy-eyed, diabolical incarnation embodied by Malcolm McDowell stared the camera down and delivered that first voiceover in the Korova Milkbar atop Wendy Carlos’ humanity-stripping synths in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation, Burgess’ fate was fixed. He’d forever be associated with droogies, ultra-violence, and all that cal.
 
 

 
 
 

Burgess’ wishes for letting A Clockwork Orange fade from public memory had less to do with Kubrick’s interpretation and more with the shortcomings he associated with the work, namely that the novella is “too didactic to be artistic.” He’s overly harsh in his self-critique, but there can be little argument that characters like the prison charlie, Dr. Branom, and at times even Alex are little more than mouthpieces for the story’s moral lesson. Going by a small handful of interviews, Burgess seemed to have admired several aspects of Kubrick’s film, particularly how the director and McDowell used “Singin’ in the Rain” as the aural link that tips off writer F. Alexander to Alex’s previous misdeeds. Burgess’ only real gripe with the film — one that seemed to fester over the years — came over the final scene in which Alex, now deconditioned, recoups in a hospital, cuts a cushy deal with the Minister of the Inferior, and declares, “I was cured alright.”

The author’s complaint? Well, that’s not how the novella ends.

Burgess penned A Clockwork Orange with the intention that it would run 21 chapters, a number significant in that it was the age of legal adulthood at the time. His American publishers, however, deemed the final chapter to be, as Burgess put it, “a sellout, bland, and veddy veddy British.” So until 1986, when the book was first published in the States in its entirety, Americans, Stanley Kubrick included, had been reading only 20 chapters. Hence, in the film, we get “I was cured alright,” slooshy Beethoven’s 9th blaring from speakers, and viddy Alex’s depraved fantasy of giving a devotchka with horrorshow groodies the old in-out in-out.
 
 

 
 
 

Chapter 21, by comparison, offers a far tamer cure. We find Alex three years older than when we first met him in the Korova Milkbar and now leading three new droogs. Recently, however, the usual mischief no longer excites him as it once did. When he bumps into his former droog Pete, who is now married, working, and settling down, Alex begins imagining that kind of life for himself.

“He grows bored with violence and recognizes that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction,” explained Burgess. “My young hoodlum comes to the revelation of the need to get something done in life.” In short, little Alex begins to grow up.

To some readers and filmgoers, the choice between endings may seem merely a matter of preference. It was more problematic for Burgess, though. “The twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction,” he noted, “an art founded on the principle that human beings change … The American or Kubrickian Orange is a fable; the British or world one is a novel.”

Burgess is right, of course. In the film, we journey so far only to come full circle. Alex is as Alex was, and we are given no reason to suspect he’ll ever cease to be a menace. Even more important, though, is the change in tone that occurs by dropping the novella’s intended ending. Without that final chapter, we’re left with a hopeless, deeply pessimistic story where, as Burgess described it, “evil prances on the page and, up to the very last line, sneers in the face of all inherited beliefs.”

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Burgess has a stake in A Clockwork Orange as a novella. As moviegoers, though, do we care so much about the flaws of a film having an irredeemably wicked protagonist or an ending devoid of moral hope? Not really. The film owes nothing to those particular conventions of literary fiction. The allure that Kubrick taps into is the fascinating playfulness of Burgess’ Nadsat (the hybrid English-Russian slang sprinkled here in italics); the timeless appeal, however perverted and twisted here, of brotherhood and a night out on the town; a Huxleian distrust of authority; and the chance to vicariously indulge in the very dark, but also very real, human desire to have whatever and whoever we want whenever we want.

Burgess wasn’t ignorant of that last appeal. “It seems piggish or Pollyannaish to deny that my intention in writing the work was to titillate the nastier propensities of my readers,” he confessed. “My own healthy inheritance of original sin comes out in the book, and I enjoyed raping and ripping by proxy.” Without that morally redeeming ending, it’s as if Burgess suspects he’s played the role of pornographer more than novelist.

However, something else quite strange is at work here. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange accomplishes something that Burgess’ does not: the film version actually leads us to root for Alex the thug, Alex the rapist, Alex the murderer, who performs all his wicked misdeeds with unabashed alacrity and zeal. In the novella, Alex, despite being our “Humble Narrator,” feels more at a distance, like a curiosity or an exhibit at the zoo – the beast behind thick protective glass. In the film, Kubrick, with the help of Carlos and, of course, McDowell, manages to make us sympathize with the beast to the point that we feel the urge to open its cage and free it, even though we’ve witnessed its predilection for destruction. It’s this desire, I suspect, that makes viewers agreeable to the film’s ending — that would make them shrug off or altogether reject Burgess’ intended conclusion had it appeared on screen.
 

 

 

 

There are three particular scenes in Kubrick’s film that situate us squarely in Alex’s corner, something the novella never particularly tries to achieve. The first comes mid-film, when Alex the guinea pig is placed on exhibit to demonstrate the effects of Ludovico’s Technique for prisoner rehabilitation. As disturbing as Burgess’ prose is, his scene pales next to the gut-wrenching emasculation and dehumanization smugly witnessed by an audience as McDowell licks the sole of another man’s shoe and crumbles in the mere presence of a nude beauty. The display is made all the more unbearable when the man and woman, both actors, take bows for applause before exiting the stage, Alex left slumped in agony each time.

Likewise, the viewer cringes when a recently released Alex — now declawed, defanged, and entirely helpless — finds himself dragged to the countryside, tolchocked, and nearly drowned in a trough by former droogs-turned-millicents Dim and Georgie as Carlos’s merciless, metallic score gongs in unison with his beating. Finally, we have the unintended side effect of the Ludovico Technique, which has conditioned Alex against the music he loves and causes him to try to leap to his death and snuff it when F. Alexander seeks revenge via surround sound. At this point, we recognize that there is truly no joy or purpose left for Alex in this life. Surely, no crime we’ve witnessed could warrant this punishment – this invasion of mind, heart, and soul that has left him flesh and bone but morally mechanical.

So, when the Minister of the Interior or Inferior, who approved Alex for conditioning and sat front row during that humiliating showcase, carves and forks steaky wakes into Alex’s sardonic rot, we viewers smile all over our litsos in delight at the tables having flipped. No doubt it says something about our society that we take more umbrage with the crimes against the individual than with Alex’s crimes against many individuals. Kubrick’s film ends with true victims discarded and forgotten, political cockroaches surviving the fallout, and our Humble Narrator free to resume life as his terrible self. And as Gene Kelly lightheartedly croons “Singin’ in the Rain” over the closing credits, we sincerely feel that Justice, in some sick, twisted way, has been served. It’s one of Kubrick’s great mozg-fucks.

When we talk about the missing chapter of A Clockwork Orange, it’s not a matter of the book or film being better. Each ends as it must. The novella leaves us with the hope that man, though burdened by original sin and animalistic tendencies, will naturally veer towards decency as youth fades. The film strikes a small victory for the individual, repugnant as he may be, in a sterile, callous world that strives for order and uniformity, but it offers no hope for a more humane tomorrow.

But we aren’t clockwork oranges. We have both book and film and Bog or God’s gift of choice when it comes to which to read or viddy.

What’s it going to be then, eh?

Viking’s Choice: Chris Weisman, ‘Backpack People’

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NPR: Chris Weissman

Chris Weisman’s songs shouldn’t work. Or, at the very least, the massive volume and musical limits the Battleboro, Vt., singer places on his songs shouldn’t work. Stretching his output over cassettes, split releases, CDs with long track lists and even an 88-song YouTube album, Weisman must have hundreds of two-minute songs — not to mention many more unrecorded — each committed to the sparest instrumentation and a curious sense of melody.

This one, “Backpack People” (from The Holy Life That’s Coming), is an acoustic song whose melancholy melody twists the simplest observations ever so slightly, just enough to make listeners take a step back and wonder what Weisman sees and hears.

The Holy Life That’s Coming comes out Feb. 26

NPR – Lars Gotrich

Rhiannon Giddens Takes A Turn On Tradition

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Rhiannon Giddens

As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens is used to turning songs from another era into something her own. Her first solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, consists mostly of cover songs by different women, such as Patsy Cline, Jean Ritchie and Libba Cotton. But one interpretation stands out.

“I just started going, ‘What if I just kind of pushed it a little bit further?’ ” Giddens tells NPR’s Renee Montagne of her funky version of “Black Is the Color,” a folk song popularized by Nina Simone.

Here, Giddens talks about adding words to the iconic song, her love of Gaelic mouth music, and the idea that if a piece of music speaks to you, it doesn’t matter which tradition spawned it.

Renee Montagne: This is so far away from any other version of “Black Is the Color” that I’ve ever heard.

Giddens: Well, it’s the kind of thing [where] if you’re going to do something that’s been covered a million times, you want to do it differently, and you want to kind of put your spin on it.

You rewrote the lyrics. How so?

Rhiannon Giddens – Black Is the Color

 

Well, as I was looking at these versions of “Black Is the Color,” even the one that Sheila Kay sang, I was like, ‘This is not speaking to me.’ I love the song, I love the idea of it, but the part that I loved about the song was sort of that idea of love. That line that I took to add to my words was, “I’ll kiss his mouth 10,000 times” — I mean, that kills me. That line is just, you know, I kind of love that part of it, not the sort of sad, mourn-and-weep idea. I didn’t even really think about it that hard. I just thought, “I’ll just write. You know, this has been done a million times, so I can take it in a different direction. I’ll just write some verses.” And it just came out.

There’s a Gaelic song you perform live. What sort of song is that, and how do you manage to sing it for what is quite a long time without seeming to breathe?

Well, it’s a type of music called Gaelic mouth music. It’s a tradition in many places. The idea of mouth music [is] vocal music to dance to, basically. This particular strain of it is from Scotland, and the reason why it’s usually called mouth music is because the poetry is considered sort of throwaway lines. They’re chosen often for percussive sounds, and so they didn’t really have names. I really got into Gaelic music and the whole sound of it, and I got to go to Scotland. And I’ve studied with native singers, and it’s just beautiful music, and it reminded me a lot of Native American singing. I’ve done some powwow singing. It was just really intriguing to me, so that piece is, I don’t know — it speaks to people.

Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops – Gaelic song (Glasgow, 2013)

 

 

I’m always interested in [the fact that] the largest settlement of Scots-Gaelic-speaking Highlanders in the 1700s was in North Carolina, and there was cultural interactions between them and the natives who were there and the African-Americans. I mean, it was just kind of a fascinating history to me, and I love being able to push that musically and … try to represent that in my own way.

Well, I know you’ve recorded songs in Gaelic. Is that in your tradition? I mean, your name Rhiannon is a Welsh name from mythology.

Yeah, my mother was reading the Mabinogion, the Welsh mythological epic, when I was born.

Queen Mab.

Yeah, and decided to name me Rhiannon. That definitely got me interested in sort of Celtic culture and stuff, but, you know, that whole idea of, “Is it my culture?” It gets asked of me in a way that white people who do blues don’t get asked.

I actually thought it might be actually your culture — there might be a connection.

Well, that’s the thing. Whether I am or not, like, that’s my point. … I don’t know all of my genealogy, but my point is that if music speaks to you, I think that you have the ability to do that. Now, I think you have a responsibility to that.

When I do Gaelic music, I’ve learned about Gaelic culture; I’ve tried to learn the language. Whenever I do mouth music and there’s Gaelic speakers in the audience, and they come up and go, “Good job,” I’m always like, “Phew.” You know, I really feel a responsibility to the music, and I teach workshops in music sometimes. And folks do come to me and they go, “How do I make this blues song my own? How do I feel like I’m not an impostor doing this?” And I’m like, “That’s an excellent question.” That’s where you should start, where you go, “How does this speak to me?”

When I heard that you studied opera at a conservatory, that did seem to explain some of the technical ability to keep on moving through a very powerful song, almost as an athletic feat.

Well, it’s almost the reason why I don’t do a selection of mouth music; I do one. Because over the years, I’ve got it, and also the pronunciation — I mean, it’s hard. You learn one and you want to keep it. I mean, my training at Oberlin has been absolutely valuable. I had to learn how to adapt that training to this kind of singing. It is kind of great, because I’ll be doing that mouth music and I’ll feel, pardon me, but I’ll feel a burp going on and you can’t stop. I’ve learned how to sort of release it as I go so nobody knows that that’s happening. It’s kind of great to feel like, as a technician, that I’ve got this thing that I’ve done over the years now, that I’ve sort of developed this technique. I just do that because I love the mouth music and it’s so much fun.

Well, it’s a showstopper. People start cheering halfway through.

Yeah, I know. I mean, it’s really interesting: I don’t know what it is about that. It’s really tapped into something for people. I mean, I’ve had people come and they just feel, like, the primal-ness of it or, you know — and that, for me, that’s the strength of folk music. It’s like, here’s this piece of music that’s, like, however old it is, and you put a fresh take on it and pull in sort of the energy of today, and it still speaks to people.

Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn (Album Trailer)

Music Concert at Times Square Today

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