The U.S. Is Destroying Europe

 

europe-usa-eu-flags-400x199In Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and other countries at the periphery or edges of Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama has been pursuing a policy of destabilization, and even of bombings and other military assistance, that drives millions of refugees out of those peripheral areas and into Europe, thereby adding fuel to the far-rightwing fires of anti-immigrant rejectionism, and of resultant political destabilization, throughout Europe, not only on its peripheries, but even as far away as in northern Europe.

Shamus Cooke at Off-Guardian headlines on 3 August 2015, “Obama’s ‘Safe Zone’ in Syria Intended to Turn It into New Libya,” and he reports that Obama has approved U.S. air support for Turkey’s previously unenfoceable no-fly zone over Syria. The U.S. will now shoot down all of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s planes that are targeting the extremist-Muslim groups, including ISIS, that have taken over huge swaths of Syrian territory.

Cooke reports:

Turkey has been demanding this no-fly zone from Obama since the Syrian war started. It’s been discussed throughout the conflict and even in recent months, though the intended goal was always the Syrian government. And suddenly the no-fly zone is happening — right where Turkey always wanted it — but it’s being labeled an ‘anti-ISIS’ safe zone, instead of its proper name: ‘Anti Kurdish and anti-Syrian government’ safe zone.

The New York Times reported on July 27th, that,

“the plan calls for relatively moderate Syrian insurgents to take the territory, with the help of American and possibly Turkish air support.”

However, the Times, stenographically reporting (as usual) from and for their U.S. Government sources (and so propagandizing for the U.S. Government), fails to define “relatively moderate,” but all of the “relatively moderate insurgent” groups in Syria cooperate with ISIS and help them to find and decapitate, or sometimes hold for ransoms, any non-Muslims there. Under Assad, Syria has been a non-clerical state, and has enjoyed freedom of religion, but all of the Syrian opposition to Assad’s rule is alien to that. The U.S. is now, even more clearly than before, anti-Assad, pro-Islamist.

Seymour Hersh reported in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, that the Obama Administration’s Libyan bombing campaign in 2011 was part of a broader program to bring sarin gas from Libya to the al-Nusra Front in Syria, in order to help produce a gas-attack upon civilians, which the U.S. Administration could then blame upon Assad, as being an excuse to bomb there just as Obama had already so successfully done in Libya. Both dictators, Gaddafi and Assad, were allied with Russia, and Assad especially has been important to Russia, as a transit-route for Russia’s gas supplies, and not for Qatar’s gas supplies — Qatar being the major potential threat to Russia’s status as the top supplier of gas into Europe.

Obama’s top goal in international relations, and throughout his military policies, has been to defeat Russia, to force a regime-change there that will make Russia part of the American empire, no longer the major nation that resists control from Washington.

Prior to the U.S. bombings of Libya in 2011, Libya was at peace and thriving. Per-capita GDP (income) in 2010 according to the IMF was $12,357.80, but it plunged to only $5,839.70 in 2011 — the year we bombed and destroyed the country. (Hillary Clinton famously bragged, “We came, we saw, he [Gaddafi] died!”) (And, unlike in U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, that per-capita GDP was remarkably evenly distributed, and both education and health care were socialized and available to everyone, even to the poor.)

More recently, on 15 February 2015, reporter Leila Fadel of NPR bannered “With Oil Fields Under Attack, Libya’s Economic Future Looks Bleak.” She announced: “The man in charge looks at production and knows the future is bleak. ‘We cannot produce. We are losing 80 percent of our production,’ says Mustapha Sanallah, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.”

Under instructions from Washington, the IMF hasn’t been reliably reporting Libya’s GDP figures after 2011, but instead shows that things there were immediately restored to normal (even to better than normal: $13,580.55 per-capita GDP) in 2012, but everybody knows that it’s false; even NPR is, in effect, reporting that it’s not true. The CIA estimates that Libya’s per-capita GDP was a ridiculous $23,900 in 2012 (they give no figures for the years before that), and says Libya’s per-capita GDP has declined only slightly thereafter. None of the official estimates are at all trustworthy, though the Atlantic Council at least made an effort to explain things honestly, headlining in their latest systematic report about Libya’s economy, on 23 January 2014, “Libya: Facing Economic Collapse in 2014.”

Libya has become Europe’s big problem. Millions of Libyans are fleeing the chaos there. Some of them are fleeing across the Mediterranean and ending up in refugee camps in southern Italy; and some are escaping to elsewhere in Europe.

And Syria is now yet another nation that’s being destroyed in order to conquer Russia. Even the reliably propagandistic New York Times is acknowledging, in its ‘news’ reporting, that, “both the Turks and the Syrian insurgents see defeating President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as their first priority.” So: U.S. bombers will be enforcing a no-fly-zone over parts of Syria in order to bring down Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad and replace his secular government by an Islamic government — and the ‘anti-ISIS’ thing is just for show; it’s PR, propaganda. The public cares far more about defeating ISIS than about defeating Russia; but that’s not the way America’s aristocracy views things. Their objective is extending America’s empire — extending their own empire.

Similarly, Obama overthrew the neutralist government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine in February 2014, but that was under the fake cover of ‘democracy’ demonstrations, instead of under the fake cover of ‘opposing Islamic terrorism’ or whatever other phrases that the U.S. Government uses to fool suckers about America’s installation of, and support to, a rabidly anti-Russia, racist-fascist, or nazi, government next door to Russia, in Ukraine. Just as Libya had been at peace before the U.S. invaded and destroyed it, and just as Syria had been at peace before the U.S and Turkey invaded and destroyed it, Ukraine too was at peace before the U.S. perpetrated its coup there and installed nazis and an ethnic cleansing campaign there, and destroyed Ukraine too.

Like with Libya before the overthrow of Gaddafi there, or Syria before the current effort to overthrow Assad there, or the more recent successful overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, it’s all aimed to defeat Russia.

The fact that all of Europe is sharing in the devastation that Obama and other American conservatives — imperialists, even — impose, is of little if any concern to the powers-that-be in Washington DC, but, if it matters at all to them, then perhaps it’s another appealing aspect of this broader operation: By weakening European nations, and not only nations in the Middle East, Obama’s war against Russia is yet further establishing America to be “the last man standing,” at the end of the chaos and destruction that America causes.

Consequently, for example, in terms of U.S. international strategy, the fact that the economic sanctions against Russia are enormously harming the economies of European nations is good, not bad.

There are two ways to win, at any game: One is by improving one’s own performance. The other is by weakening the performances by all of one’s competitors. The United States is now relying almost entirely upon the latter type of strategy.

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.

US Congressional Black Caucus Endorses Israeli Apartheid and Current War Crimes in Gaza

By Bruce A. Dixon
Global Research, August 04, 2014
Black Agenda Report 30 July 2014

Region: Middle East & North Africa, USA
Theme: Crimes against Humanity
In-depth Report: PALESTINE

jeffries_endorses_apartheidOnly 2 of over 40 Congressional Black Caucus members voted against legitimizing the 2009 Israeli massacre of 1400 mostly civilians in Gaza, with seven CBC members abstaining. Last week, with the Gaza death toll climbing toward 1,000 not a single CBC member could be bothered to lift a voice against Israel’s genocidal assault of the moment or its ongoing apartheid state in general. Black America should hang our collective heads in shame.

Back in the 1970s, when the Congressional Black Caucus began calling itself “the conscience of the Congress,” that was almost literally true. CBC members could be relied upon not just to reliably vote for raising wages and expenditures on housing, health care and education, but to keep the issues of full employment and opposition to unjust war near the front of their public agendas.

By the late 1980s, a gaggle of former CBC staffers had moved through the revolving doors of elite affirmative action to become corporate lobbyists, with the same ethics and table manners as their white colleagues, but with black faces. Thanks in large part to their efforts, by 2000 a tsunami of corporate cash began filling up the coffers of incumbent CBC members, their black replacements, or in the cases of Alabama’s Earl Hilliard and Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney, their black opponents.

Only a single member of the CBC, Rep. Barabra Lee opposed President Bush’s blank check for invading anywhere he pleased in Septermber of 2001, and by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, four CBC members, some of them swimming in donations from military contractors, raced down to the White House to have their pictures taken with Bush as the bombs were about to explode over Baghdad.

By the 109th Congress of 2005-2006 the CBC’s political compass had been decisively reset. 2005 was the year of Katrina. For decades there had been predictions that whenever “the big one” hit New Orleans, a city where a majority of residents didn’t even own cars, thousands or tens of thousands would perish. I lived in Chicago and read those predictions in the papers there several times during the 80s and 90s. Katrina ultimately proved to be the excuse for authorities to permanently expel more than a hundred thousand African Americans, mostly renters but also entire neighborhoods of black homeowners and black owned local businesses as well. As the highest ranking black politicians in the nation, the Congressional Black Caucus could have demanded and held federal hearings on every aspect of the Katrina disaster and its aftermath, ensuring a real public debate on how the region would be rebuilt and for whom.

But House Democrats were focused narrowly on winning the 2006 election, and in their political calculus, having Democrats identified as the party of black people was not a winning strategy. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi forbade the Congressional Black Caucus from demanding or holding hearings. Only Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney defied her, and was forced to partner with House Republicans for the hearings to take place at all. The only CBC member Pelosi allowed to take part in the Katrina hearings was the lazy and corrupt “Dollar Bill” Jefferson who nominally represented black New Orleans. The rest of the supposedly powerful and influential CBC, from its deans Conyers and Rangel on down stayed away.

If they were still the conscience of the Congress the CBC would have called together some of the nation’s black civil engineers, architects, urban planners and others to articulate a vision of a rebuilt Gulf Coast for the people who lived there before. Instead the vision of the Heritage Foundation prevailed. A hundred thousand black New Orleans residents were deported to the four corners of the continental US, their public school system privatized, their rental apartments razed, their health care systems shut down, and the water, electric and gas grids not reactivated for the entire sections of town where they once lived. Thanks to the hands-off attitude of the CBC, President Bush was even able to exclude all journalists from the teams which recovered bodies or the places where remains were assembled, so there is no independent verification of the government’s suspiciously small count of fatalities.

That was when Democrats were still the minority in Congress. We’re always told how important it is for Democrats to gain or maintain control of the House. They got that in the 2006 elections, and Democrats have had the White House since the 2008 election as well, though they handed the House back at the end of 2010. Has all that extra power made them bolder in the pursuit of justice? Sadly, no.

Israel’s vicious apartheid regime celebrated Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration with the massacre of 1400 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, and the destruction of a great part of the enclave’s infrastructure, down to chicken farms and water systems. The new Congress called it righteous self-defense, with 390 yeas, 5 nays and 22 “present”. The CBC was 2 of those nays, Gwen Moore (WI) and Maxine Waters (CA), and 7 of the “presents”, Edwards (MD), Ellison (MN), Johnson (GA), Lee (TX), Payne (NJ), Kilpatrick (MI), and Watson (CA).

This month, as the civilian death toll in the latest Israeli criminal orgy of collective punishment mounted toward 1,000, the US House passed a nearly identical resolution, calling this massacre legitimate “self-defense” as well. This time the House vote, including that of the Congressional Black Caucus wasunanimous. Not a single member of the CBC, despite their much heralded brand of standing for civil rights and against apartheid here and around the world, bothered to publicly question the racist ethnocracy that is the Israeli state. After signing the blank check with the rest of their colleagues, CBC members Conyers (MI), Lee (CA), Johnson (GA) and Ellison (MN) tried to cover their shame with a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging a cease-fire, something which Kerry claims to have been doing anyway.

All CBC members absolutely know that Israel is an apartheid society, with one set of laws applying to Jews, a second to Israeli Arabs and a third to Palestinians. Congressional Black Caucus members know that Israel requires different colored license plates for non-Jews so their vehicles can be profiled at a distance, and Jewish-only roads between settlements carved from the villages of Palestinians and watched voer by military garrisons. They know that Israel refuses to recognize mixed marriages, or even marriages between Palestinians in Gaza and those on the West Bank. Black members of Congress know what an ethnocracy is, and even though they claim to have opposed it in South Africa and here at home, they choose to endorse it in Israel, out of greed and subservience.

As we wrote in BAR back in 2012…

“Whatever its root cause, the current support of the black political class for Israel’s maintenance of a colonial settler state constitutes a massive, hypocritical hole in their collective souls. Most of the world backed our own struggle against Jim Crow, and we congratulated ourselves for contributing to the downfall of the old regime in South Africa. And now, when our turn comes round again, when the United States is the only government capable of restraining the vicious Israeli onslaught, just by the threat of its disapproval, its non-renewal of loan guarantees or weapons giveways or military contracts —- we are silent.

“For African Americans, our hypocrisy goes deeper and further than our leaders. It filters all the way down to ordinary people whose attachment to their First Black President is so uncritical that they decouple their FBP from any responsibility for his policies. Many Obama supporters say they oppose Israeli aggression and wring their hands wishing the president they voted for and hustled others into voting for would do something different. In the eyes of the rest of the world, as Margaret Kimberley points out, they are as guilty of abetting Israeli atrocities as the rabid partisans of AIPAC…”

What would one of our glittering and supposedly powerful members of the Congressional Black Caucus tell a child in Gaza today? What would they tell a parent whose children have been maimed or murdered, with weaponry probably designed and/or manufactured in the US?

Our nation is the armorer, financier and protector of Israel’s savage ethnocracy. We are all compromised, we are all implicated in its crimes. It’s time to call our black political class, and each other to account. In the coming week, Black Agenda Report will reach out to our friends and colleagues and try to find some new ways to do exactly that.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached via this site’s contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Articles by: Bruce A. Dixon

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. The Center of Research on Globalization grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: publications@globalresearch.ca

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Copyright © Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, 2014

« Tragédie mondiale » du vol MH17 : Ukraine, objectif centré

L’art de la guerre

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capture-ecran-400x246Une « tragédie mondiale » : c’est ainsi qu’Obama a qualifié la destruction de l’avion malais en Ukraine dans son entretien téléphonique avec Poutine. Au cours duquel il a accusé la Russie d’armer les rebelles ukrainiens en leur fournissant aussi des missiles antiaériens. En d’autres termes, il a accusé Moscou d’être, directement ou indirectement, responsable de la mort tragique de 298 personnes provenant de nombreux pays du monde. Version accréditée par une série de « preuves » que les services secrets étasuniens ont diffusé via Kiev aux médias mondiaux quelques heures seulement après que l’avion soit tombé : parmi elles, la communication téléphonique dans laquelle un commandant rebelle rapporte à un colonel des renseignements militaires russes que les forces séparatistes ont abattu l’avion, jointe à une vidéo qui montre, dans la zone contrôlée par les rebelles, une batterie russe Sa-11 à laquelle manque un missile, celui qui aurait abattu l’avion. Ensuite, le secrétaire d’État Kerry a déclaré à CNN avoir les preuves que Moscou non seulement a fourni aux séparatistes des missiles Sa-11 mais les a entraînés à les utiliser. En ce point la commission d’enquête internationale apparaît superflue. Les « preuves » présentées par Washington auraient en fait déjà démontré que l’appareil civil a été abattu, non par erreur mais volontairement (les vols civils sont identifiés par un code spécial), avec une batterie de missiles russe par des Ukrainiens russes, de fait sous commandement russe, qui ont immédiatement après téléphoné aux renseignements militaires russes pour confirmer la réalisation de la destruction, en sachant pourtant que toutes les communications téléphoniques sont interceptées. Résultat : Moscou mis au banc des accusés par la « communauté internationale » (lire États-Unis et leurs alliés) ; les Ukrainiens russes stigmatisés comme terroristes; l’attention des médias focalisée sur la tragédie de l’avion, faisant passer au second plan la tragédie du massacre israélien des Palestiniens à Gaza. Une technique éprouvée, utilisée plusieurs fois par Washington, pour fabriquer le casus belli. Rappelons seulement l’incident du golfe du Tonkin (l’attaque par des vedettes lance-torpilles nord-vietnamiennes du contre-torpilleur étasunien Maddox, ensuite révélée fausse), qui en 1964 permit au président Johnson d’avoir carte blanche du Congrès pour étendre la guerre au Nord Vietnam. Ou les preuves sur les armes de destruction de masse irakiennes, présentées par le secrétaire d’État Powell au Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU (ensuite révélées fausses par admission de Powell lui-même), qui en 2003 permirent au président Bush d’avoir carte blanche du Congrès pour attaquer et occuper l’Irak. Peu importe si, en 2024 ou plus tard, émergera quelque document déclassifié disant que l’avion malais fut volontairement abattu en 2014 par une des batteries Sa-11 de fabrication russe, déployée quelques jours auparavant par les forces armées de Kiev au bord du territoire contrôlé par les rebelles, une zone de guerre étrangement non interdite aux vols civils. Et que l’entière opération avait été organisée par les services secrets des États-Unis. L’important est le résultat d’aujourd’hui : l’accusation à la Russie d’être responsable de la destruction voulue de l’avion malais (acte qui, pour Moscou, serait suicidaire) permet au président Obama d’avoir carte blanche du Congrès pour étendre la nouvelle guerre froide contre la Russie.

Le congrès a en effet adopté, le 17 juillet, l’ « Acte de prévention de l’agression russe», qui garantit à Ukraine, Géorgie et Moldavie, le statut d’«alliés majeurs non-OTAN des États-Unis», autorisant le président à fournir à ces pays et à d’autres pays de l’Est, directement ou par l’intermédiaire de l’OTAN, le maximum d’aide militaire et économique en fonction anti-russe.

 

Edition de mardi 22 juillet 2014 de il manifesto

http://ilmanifesto.info/ucraina-obiettivo-centrato/

Traduit de l’italien par Marie-Ange Patrizio

 

Voir aussi :

Vol MH17, les 10 questions de Moscou à Kiev

« Le vice-ministre Anatoly Antonov a formulé, à l’adresse de Kiev, 10 questions « simples » sur lesquelles les medias atlantistes gardent le plus profond silence » :

http://www.voltairenet.org/article184808.html

 

An Interview with Roger Waters: The Artist and His Activism for Justice Around the World, Including in Palestine.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

On Music, the Political Role of Artists and His Activism for Justice Around the World, Including in Palestine.

Q. When did you make the decision to make the Wall tour (that ended in Paris in September 2013) so political ? And why did you dedicate the final concert to Jean-Charles De Menezes ?

RW.: The first show was October 14th 2010. We started working on content of show with Sean Evans in 2009. I had already decided to make it much broader politically than it had been in 1979/80. It could not be just about this whinny little guy who didn’t like his teachers. It had to be more universal. That’s why ‘fallen loved ones’ came into it (the shows are showing pictures of people that died during wars) trying to universalise the sense of grief and loss that we all feel towards family members killed in conflict. Whatever the wars or the circumstances, they (in the non western world), feel has much lost as we do. Wars become an important symbol because of that separation between ‘us and them,’ which is fundamental to all conflicts. Regarding Jean-Charles, we used to do Brick II with three solos at the end and I decided that three solos was too much, it was boring me. So sitting in a hotel room, one night, I was thinking about what I could do instead of that. Somebody had recently sent me a photograph of Jean-Charles De Menezes to go on the wall. So he was in my mind and I thought that I should sing his story. I wrote that song, taught it to the band, and that’s what we did.

Q: A lot of artist would say that mixing arts and politics is wrong. That their goal is only to entertain. What would you say to those people?

RW: Well it’s funny you should say that because I just finished yesterday the text of a new piece which will be a new album of mine. It’s about a grandfather in Northern Ireland going on a quest with his grandchild to find the answer to the question: “Why are they killing the children?”, because the child is really worried about it. Right at the very end of it, I decided to add something more. In the song, the child tells his grandpa: “Is that it?” and the grandpa replies “No, we cannot leave on that note, give me another note”. A new song starts and the grandpa makes a speech. He says: “We live on a tiny dot in a middle of a lot of fucking nothing. Now, if you’re not interested in any of this, if you’re one of those “Roger I love Pink Floyd but I hate your fucking politics”, if you believe artists should be mute, emasculated, nodding dogs dangling aimlessly over the dashboard of life, you might be well advised to fuck off to the bar now, because, time keeps slipping away.” That’s my answer to your question.

Q: When will album be out?

RW: I’ve got no idea. I’m working away furiously on lots of old projects. I’m going to give a first listen to this to Sean Evans. He’s coming to my house tomorrow to listen to it. I’ve made a demo which is one hour and six minutes long. It’s pretty heavy I confess, but there is also some humor in it, I hope, but it’s extremely radical and it poses very important questions. Look, if I’m the only one doing it, I am entirely content. I mean, I’m not, I wish there were more people writing about politics and our real situation. Even from what could be considered extreme points of view. It’s very important that Goya did what he did, same for Picasso and Guernica and all those anti-war novels that came out during and after the Vietnam war.

Q: You’re talking about yourself being one of the only one, in your position, taking radical political positions. When it comes to Palestine, you are very open about your support for a cultural boycott of Israel. People opposing this tactic say that culture should not be boycotted. What would you answer to that?

RW: I would say that I understand their opinion. Everybody should have one. But I can’t agree with them, I think that they are entirely wrong. The situation in Israel/ Palestine, with the occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime is un acceptable. So for an artist to go and play in a country that occupies other people’s land and oppresses them the way Israel does, is plain wrong. They should say no. I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time. Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered. It’s the duty of every thinking human being to ask: “What can I do?”. Anybody who looks at the situation will see that if you choose not to take up arms to fight your oppressor, the non violent route, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S) movement, which started in Palestine with 100% support from Palestinian civil society in 2004-2005, a movement that has now been joined by many people around the world, the global civil society, is a legitimate form of resistance to this brutal and oppressive regime. I have nearly finished Max Blumenthal’s book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in greater Israel”. It’s a chilling read. It’s extremely well written in my view. He is a very good journalist and takes great pains to make sure that what he writes is correct. He also gives a voice to the other side. The voice, for instance, of the right wing rabbinate, which is so bizarre and hard to hear that you can hardly believe that it’s real. They believe some very weird stuff you know, they believe that everybody that is not a Jew is only on earth to serve them and they believe that the Indigenous people of the region that they kicked off the land in 1948 and have continued to kick off the land ever since are sub-human. The parallels with what went on in the 30’s in Germany are so crushingly obvious that it doesn’t surprise me that the movement that both you and I are involved in is growing every day. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was trying to shed light on this when we met, I only took part in two sessions, you took part in many more. It is an extremely obvious and fundamental problem of human rights which every thinking human being should apply himself to.

Q: The scary thing is that the extreme Rabbinate you were talking about with the extreme right wing views about the Palestinians and the non-Jews are having a more and more prominent place in terms of the Israeli society, regime and power structure and that is very scary.

I wanted to follow up on the Cultural Boycott and about the fact that you are one of the only ones who take such a stand. You could, as many others do, I guess enjoy the benefits of your success and lead a quiet, at least politically, non-controversial life. Why do you do it but more importantly why do you think not more people are doing it? Why a lot of artists who often take position against wars, why don’t they touch Palestine?

RW: Well, where I live, in the USA, I think, A: they are frightened and B: I think the propaganda machine that starts in Israeli schools and that continues through all the Netanyahu’s bluster is poured all over the United States, not just Fox but also CNN and in fact in all the mainstream media. It’s like a huge bucket of crap that they are pouring into the mouth of a gullible public in my view, when they say “we are afraid of Iran, it is going to get nuclear weapons…”. It’s a diversionary tactic. The lie that they have told for the last 20 years is “Oh, we want to make peace”, you know and they talk about Clinton and Arafat and Barak being in Camp David and that they came very close to agreeing, and the story that they sold was “Oh Arafat fucked it all up”. Well, no, he did not. This is not the story. The fact of the matter is no Israeli government has been serious about creating a Palestinian state since 1948. They’ve always had the Ben Gurion agenda of kicking all the Arabs out of the country and becoming greater Israel. They tell a lie as part of their propaganda machinery whilst doing the other thing but they have been doing it so obviously in the last 10 years . For instance, even after when Obama went to Cairo and made that speech about Arabs and the Israelis, everybody was like “Oh, this is a step in a new direction at least”. But as soon as he visited Israel, they said. “Oh by the way, we are building another 1200 settlements”. Exactly the same when Kerry went last year saying, “Oh I am going to try to get the sides together and talk peace”. Netanhayu said “Fuck you. We are going to build another 1500 settlements and we a going to build them in E1, this is our plan.” This is so transparent that you’d have to have an IQ above room temperature not to understand what is going on. It is just dopey.

You know I read some piece the other day where it said “apparently only the Secretary State of the United States, believes that these current peace talks are real, no one else in the world does”.

It is a very complicated situation which is why you and I and all the other people in the world who care about their brothers and sisters and not just about the people of our own faith, our own colour, our own race or our own whatever, have to stand in solidarity shoulder to shoulder. This has been a very hard sell particularly where I live in the United States of America. The Jewish lobby is extraordinary powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say. I promise you, naming no names, I’ve spoken to people who are terrified that if they stand shoulder to shoulder with me they are going to get fucked. They have said to me “aren’t you worried for your life?” and I go “No, I’m not”. A few years ago, I was touring and 9/11 happened in the middle of the tour and 2 or 3 people in my band who happened to be United States citizens wouldn’t come on the next leg of the tour. I said “ why not? Don’t you like the music anymore?” and they replied “no, we love the music but we are Americans and it’s too dangerous for us to travel abroad, they are trying to kill us” and I thought “Wow!”.

Q: Yes, the brainwashing works!

RW: Obviously it does, that is why I am happy to be doing this interview with you because it is super important that we make as much noise as possible. I’m so glad that this right wing newspaper in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth, printed my interview with Alon Hadar. At least they printed it. Although they changed the context and made it sound different that what is actually was but at least they printed something. You know, I would expect to be completely suppressed and ignored.

You know that Shuki Weiss( preeminent Israeli promotor) was offering me a hundred thousand people at hundred dollars a ticket a few months ago to come and play in Tel Aviv! “Hang on, that’s 10 million dollars”, how could they offer it to me?! And I thought Shuki are you fucking deaf or just dumb?! I am part of the BDS movement, I’m not going anywhere in Israel, for any money, all I would be doing would be legitimizing the policies of the government.

I have a confession to make to you. I did actually write to Cindy Lauper a couple of weeks ago. I did not make the letter public but I wrote her a letter because I know her a bit, she worked with me on the Wall in Berlin which is why I found it super difficult to understand that she is doing a gig in Tel Aviv on January the 4th. apparently, quite extraordinary, reprehensible in my view, but I don’t know her personal story and people have to make up their own mind about these things. One can’t get to personal about it.

Q: For sure but you can help them, I guess by what you are doing, by writing to them. You can open their eyes because that’s what they need I think.

RW: Yes but if their eyes were going to be opened they would need to either visit the Holy land, visit the West Bank or Gaza or even visit Israel or any single checkpoint anywhere and see what it’s like. All they would need to do is visiting or, read, read a book! Check out the history. Read Max Blumenthal’s book. Then say “Oh I know what I am going to do, I am going to play a gig in Tel Aviv”. That would be a good plan! (sarcastic tone).

Violations on artistic freedom of expression in 2013 – By Arts Freedom

violations-graph2013_590

Freemuse monitored and documented violations on artistic freedom of expression on artsfreedom.org in 2013. The compilation presents a glimpse of repression of artistic freedom worldwide in 2013 and includes cases from 48 countries across the fields of dance, film, music, theatre, visual arts and literature (journalists not included) as they were documented on artsfreedom.org

The statistics present an overview of the situation for artists worldwide who were:

– Killed
– Imprisoned
– Detained
– Prosecuted
– Abducted
– Attacked
– Threatened/persecuted
– Censored

A total number of 199 cases of attacks on artists and violations of their rights have been registered. The cases include 19 artists being killed, 27 newly imprisoned, 9 imprisoned in previous years but still serving time, 8 abducted, 3 attacked, 13 threatened or persecuted, 28 prosecuted, 19 detained, as well as 73 cases of censorship.

» Artsfreedom Newsletter no. 2: Reflections over the statistics
http://www.artsfreedom.org/?p=6992

The statistics are based on reports published on artsfreedom.org in 2013 and include incidents taking place during 2013. They are not a complete survey and do not give full picture of the situation globally; they only represent the tip of the iceberg. Many artistic freedom violations are never made publicly known – whether they include the thousands of artists – not least musicians – who experience daily threats from fundamentalists in Northern Mali, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan or are victimised by the internal conflicts of Syria or Sudan.

Neither does the statistics necessarily include all cases presented by PEN international Writers in Prison committee which has produced an extensive case list and statistics concerning violations committed against writers as well as journalists.

arts-stats2013-alph_spreadsheet_500-242x300

The following principles of statistical registration have been used:

If an artist is threatened and attacked while abducted the case is only listed as “abducted” in the statistics. If an artist is detained, prosecuted and then consequently imprisoned for the same incident the violation is only listed as “imprisoned”. E.g. when the Danish poet Yahya Hassan received death threats for his poems collection and later was physically attacked the series of events is only listed as one incident under the “attacked” category.

“Attacked” refers to an artist being physically attacked.

Imprisoned artists are divided in two categories. Artists who were sent to prison in 2013 are listed in the category “newly imprisoned”. Artists who were imprisoned before 2013, but who remained in prison during 2013 are registered in the statistic category “still imprisoned“.

The “censored” category contains various kinds of incidents such as concerts being stopped and fans arrested, films, books and music being censored and banned and works of arts being removed from exhibitions.

Iran: Signals of growing musical freedom of expression – By Freemuse

csm_iran_openness

With women singing on stage and a playlist of Western pop songs sung in English during performances of ‘The Last Days of March’ in Tehran, Iranian musicians are breaking new ground, reported Scott Peterson for Christian Science Monitor.

Musicians and actors say that Iran’s culture space has opened up noticeably under the centrist President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last year. The article by Scott Peterson highlights a number of new developments in the country. For example:

“Exhibit A is a groundbreaking show that just finished a 20-gig run in Tehran’s renowned Vahdat Hall. Redefining what is acceptable on stage, women sang solos; Western songs filled the playlist, from John Lennon to Frank Sinatra; and most lyrics were in English.

Audiences who crammed into the plush multi-story theater gasped at the spectacle, some singing quietly along as the lead female vocalist – wearing a maroon head scarf that fell to her waist – belted out Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”

“From the third night, ticket sales shot up. People were very surprised… we could have doubled the run,” says Behrooz Saffarian, the musical director.”

Iran begins to rock out
In 2008, Iran banned all pop music. But a recent female solo performance signals growing freedom in a country where heavy metal musicians have been told to stay seated on stage. Article by Scott Peterson

Photo above: Courtesy of Ehsan Neghabat

Interview + New York Gives a Cold Welcome to Pussy Riot delegation.

Masha and Nadya ex Pussy Riots or not

Masha and Nadya ex Pussy Riots or not

New York gives a chilly welcome to Pussy Riot

The charity drive for Amnesty International concert at Barclays Center was a big disappointment.  Very few people attended. The event lasted FIVE HOURS, and was poorly organized.  As soon as Madonna took the stage to introduce the Russian duo,  several guests  left the concert area to float around somewhere at the venue.

Tolokonnikova soon began to read a list of academic quotes.  Her face covered with thick, heavy makeup, her mouth with several layers of lipstick, together with their solid-white robe (Tolokonnikova) and solid-black robe (Alekhina) bearing an insignia with a cross that reminded those of the Ku Klux Klan.   Alekhina limited herself to nodding in agreement to Tolokonnikova’s quotes.

The duo flew into Berlin Monday after visiting New York to promote their “new prison rights foundation”, where they played a gig with Madonna.  Appearing at a short  press conference in Berlin, with Tolokonnikova, a self-proclaimed leftist, wearing a jacket with gold epaulettes, a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. In several European armies epaulettes are also worn by all ranks of elite or ceremonial units when on parade.

The two women announced they had received “several offers” for film projects, but won’t reveal more until a deal is confirmed.  The duo couldn’t contain their happiness for the supposedly offers for a Hollywood movie. Tolonnikova  stated that the movie would be something like “Star Wars.”

The pair also announced they had no plans to run for president themselves, but said they might seek elected office in Moscow, where they live. The two also said they would consider working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, released a few days before these women were after serving most of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud.

The only thing Pussy Riot is exposing is themselves advertising a delusional agenda that “sideshow” Western musicians and actors glom onto.  Any person, like the Pussy Riot member, who, at being 8 months pregnant, performs a multiple partner full intercourse orgy in public in front if children needs to see a psychiatrist immediately before she rejoins society. Performance art?  Performance artists? Is this a joke?

Prof Mark Levine at UC Irvine, hit the nail on the head in his essay about Pussy Riot.  “There are hundreds of artists who perform under threat to their freedom and lives, who also deserve our solidarity.” Levine correctly points out “Western artists can and should support their Russian comrades. But the support received by Pussy Riot is sadly an aberration.” Prof Levine states that “As a rule, European and US artists have been strangely – and inexcusably – silent when it comes to recognising the plights suffered by their fellow musicians and performers around the world, where freedom of expression receives little protection, censorship is prevalent and artists routinely face the threat of prosecution and jail from their governments, and more dangerously, threats to their physical safety and even lives by conservative social forces.

Several U.S. and European artists have come forward in support of Pussy Riot but many others have remained silent when it comes to supporting fellow artists under threat. If you go to the website of  the independent, international organisation Freemuse you’ll find a long list of artists under threat in more than 100 countries.

I couldn’t agree more with prof Levine, “It’s easy to support a cool riot girl band in a country that is a traditional adversary of the “West” and where a primary concern seems to be women’s rights, but when it comes time to support a rapper jailed by a “friendly” Arab monarch, suddenly even the most extroverted singers seem to get stage fright.”

 The Interview

 In terms of how this relates to Putin and the government, Putin was and still is popular, but is losing that popularity, especially with the middle crowd that liked some of the stability that had come with him. Rather than standing up for secular principles in this kind of issue, he has aligned himself much more with the Church and with religious fundamentalism, even though he isn’t much of a believer himself. But I think it was politically advantageous, so that’s the backdrop. ~ Maxim Pozdorovkin

Two years after their original performance of “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and their much-publicized arrest and sentencing for hooliganism, the women of Pussy Riot are back in the international news cycle. In December, Putin and the Russian Duma granted amnesty for 1,300 prisoners, including for the still-imprisoned Maria Alyokhina (Masha) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya) of Pussy Riot, along with 28 recently arrested Greenpeace activists and Mikhail Khodorovsky, one of Putin’s political opponents.

Since receiving their pardon, Nadya and Masha have criticized the terms of their release, much of which is detailed in the VICE News documentary “Pussy Riot Goes Back to Jail.” They’ve also transitioned into activists for prison reform, bringing light to abuse and corruption in the Russian penal system [nothing new]. But it hasn’t all been progress since then. Last Thursday, the Pussy Riot collective issued an open letter to The Guardian emphasizing that Masha and Nadya, despite often being billed as “Pussy Riot” in the media, were no longer members of the group. They seemed particularly galled by the Amnesty Benefit Concert in New York, where an announcement claimed attendees would see the first “legal” performance of Pussy Riot.

Maxim Pozdorovkin is one of two filmmakers (along with Mike Lerner) behind Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, a feature-length documentary that details the arrest and indictment of three members of Pussy Riot. Pozdorovkin and Lerner include extensive footage of the the trial, where Alyokhina, Samutsevich and Tolokonnikova, were tried and convicted for hooliganism (although Samutsevich was released on appeal). But the film also provides context for the Pussy Riot protests, informing that the group is a performance art collective rather than simply a punk band, and detailing the cultural conflict between secularism and religious fundamentalism in Russia under Putin’s rule.

I had a chance to talk to Maxim from New York on Friday, the day after Masha and Nadya appeared on stage with Madonna at the Amnesty International Benefit Concert at the Barclay’s Center.

So when did you first become aware of Pussy Riot and end up filming this movie?
MP: I was actually doing pre-production on another film and I started attending the trial. The thing is, I had heard about them before and I was interested because I grew up playing punk rock and being into Russian avant-garde art and things like that in Moscow. Mike and I, we had been trying to make something with someone else and we weren’t sure where that was going so we sort of teamed up.

Did you know anybody involved with the band when you got involved?
Well, they’re not a band… I actually knew one of them, but without knowing it, because they’re anonymous. Later I found out through a mutual friend in common, but no, not before.

Yeah, I understand what you mean when you say they’re not a band. Pussy Riot is more of a collective that does performance, right?
They see themselves as performance artists, and ultimately the whole story is a lot more interesting if seen through the perspective of art. And that also points to the misconceptions about the story that exists in the West. In the West, the story they tell is that Pussy Riot is this punk band that sang a song against Putin and that’s why they’re in jail—which is absolute idoicy. If you look at what they did before, they sang “Putin pissed himself” in the Red Square and had nothing done to them. What happened in the Cathedral is this collision of two ideologies. One is this idea of performance art—using performance art to provoke public conversation—and then there are people who are resenting that on religious fundamentalist grounds and other reasons. It was really this perfect storm of different cultural layers. I just wanted to unpack that.

So in Russia, was there an understanding that this is an artistic protest, as opposed to just a punk band disrupting things?
In Russia, they were portrayed as vulgar hooligans more than anything else. They were called a punk group, but I think people understand it a little bit more because the other performance art groups and Moscow—conceptualist stuff from the 90s that they were influenced by—is a little bit more well-known. And some of the actions of Voina [a Russian performance art collective that Nadya was a member of prior to Pussy Riot] and with the performances of kissing a cop or the orgy [Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!] or any of those things, people knew that there was some sort of an overlap between the groups. As a result, they knew that these people were provocateurs and were trying to provoke society. So I guess they were a little bit more informed.

So do you think people offended by the blasphemous nature of lyrics like “God is shit,” were aware of the intellectual basis underlying the performance?
They’re really “brainy”. Pussy Riot are like these immediate, savvy, “post-modern” media artists. In part it’s very theoretical and when you think about them, they are kind of bohemian intellectuals. Of course, people didn’t understand that, they thought it was just someone being rude. But even if you explain it to them, I think that a lot of people think that what art is, is the song. So people dismiss it saying “Oh yeah, terrible song blah, blah, blah.” But the whole point is that the art is the video they made and the public response. They’re trying to find alternative ways to protest. It’s something that confuses the officials and forces them to overreact, and by overreacting you expose some of the repressive tendencies that are part of the system.

I think a lot of people in the West didn’t realize the extent of the role of the Orthodox Church in the controversy. Can you tell me a bit about the conflict between religious fundamentalism and secularism in Russia?
On the “left”, Pussy Riot and a lot of their circle really represents this very radical activist sort of sect and it’s probably at odds with mild liberalism as it exists. At the same time, a lot of the religious fundamentalists on the Christian side saw these things as an affront. That segment of the population saw themselves as a political voice for the first time. It kind of activated them, and that’s what the Biker Priests you see in the film are. For the first time, these people who had been significantly oppressed during Soviet times see themselves as having a voice and it’s a voice that can be represented on a major platform in government.

In terms of how this relates to Putin and the government, Putin was and still is popular, but is losing that popularity, especially with the middle crowd that liked some of the stability that had come with him. Rather than standing up for secular principles in this kind of issue, he has aligned himself much more with the Church and with religious fundamentalism, even though he isn’t much of a believer himself. But I think it was politically advantageous, so that’s the backdrop.

Let’s talk about those Biker Priests, supporters of the Church who wear black shirts with skulls and crossbones and engage in demonstrations to support the Church. How did you get involved with them?
They were around the trials and they were easy to get. In a way they’re like a bizarro world Pussy Riot. They’re sort of performance artists in a way. One of the things I had to cut from the movie was a video of them performing a sacrificial burning of a Madonna poster and describing how the poster was resisting the flame, with a supporter narrating it. It was just so absurd and so surreal. Later, I was on NPR, and I got in trouble with some people for referring to them as the “bizarro world Pussy Riot,” so I called them the Dick Squad. Apparently, you can say “Pussy Riot” on NPR, but you can’t say “Dick Squad,” which is a really funny double standard when you think about it.

So, you can say “Pussy” but you can’t say “Dick”? Did they give you those guidelines?
No, I said it, and then I looked and the producers in the booth were like “No!” and I looked at Leonard [Lopate] and his face went ashen. I was like, geez, he was really annoyed by that. I don’t even think they bleeped it because I don’t think they got it in time. But obviously you can say “Dick,” like I think you can say Dick Armey, or if it’s a proper name…

One of the “Dick Squad” calls Tolokonnikova a “demon.” Did she ever see that?
Yeah. They’ve heard it all, they’ve seen it all. One of the things I was going to mention in response to your earlier question is that Russian Orthodoxy is a great deal more Pagan than Western Christianity.  One of the ways its more pagan is that the idea of tarnishing a holy place, or if you see why people carry icons, it’s this idea that objects can be holy and they can be tarnished. They can be tarnished by demons, and that’s why he was talking about demons. There’s a certain sect of the population that will speak of demons in this way. So it’s ludicrous, but it’s not quite as ludicrous as it sounds.

What did the group think about the extreme, high-level public response to their art, like the international reaction to the case and Madonna saying “Free Pussy Riot” at a concert in Moscow?
They were really happy for all the international attention because it brought so much attention on them and what they were doing, what their words were, and the messages they were espousing. So they’ve really been able to push these ideas of prison reform and prisoner rights both in jail and now out, as a result of the public support and media attention that they get anywhere.

On Friday, the Pussy Riot collective issued an open letter to The Guardian distancing themselves from Nadya and Masha, who are no longer a part of the collective, claiming that ticketed events like Thursday’s Amnesty Concert were antithetical to Pussy Riot’s existence as an anti-capitalist group. What do you think is causing the rift there? Is the collective not happy with the level of exposure that Masha and Nadya are getting?
I’d almost rather not answer this question… My feeling is that it’s actually Nadya and Masha figuring out how they can continue to work together and what that means. Originally, Pussy Riot was this idea of a project that was basically open-sourced. Everyone that wanted to do it could partake in it. But once it became so huge, a lot of the original members felt a claim to it, because there were all these imitators and people who were doing it for different reasons than the initial intention of the group and promoting their own agendas, so there was an urge to rein that in. Masha and Nadya came out of prison with a clear sense of what they wanted to do in terms of human rights work, and like the letter says, it wasn’t really clear how that fit in with their performance art background. What they’ll say is that since they’ve basically had their masks removed, they almost can’t be members of Pussy Riot. But, of course, when they’re billed anywhere in a news story or a TV show or anything else, they’re represented as Pussy Riot.

What do you think is the motive behind Putin’s decree that released Masha and Nadya?
What happened was the Twenty Year Anniversary amnesty bill was discussed for a long time, probably even before the Olympics. Of course, it was a PR move to a certain extent, but it was also that this was discussed for a long time, I think especially [former tycoon Mikhail] Khodorkovsky was a bigger gamble, but then it wasn’t clear whether amnesty would cover hooliganism, which is what both the Greenpeace people and Pussy Riot were charged with. So the decision to include them was an addition to appease Western criticism.