The official name for Israel's latest assault on Gaza is "Operation Protective Edge." A better name would be "Operation Déjà Vu." As it has on several prior occasions, Israel is using weapons provided by U.S. taxpayers to bombard the captive and impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, where the death toll now exceeds 500. As usual, the U.S. government is siding with Israel, even though most American leaders understand Israel instigated the latest round of violence, is not acting with restraint, and that its actions make Washington look callous and hypocritical in the eyes of most of the world.
This Orwellian situation is eloquent testimony to the continued political clout of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the other hardline elements of the Israel lobby. There is no other plausible explanation for the supine behavior of the U.S. Congress--including some of its most "progressive" members--or the shallow hypocrisy of the Obama administration, especially those officials known for their purported commitment to human rights.
The immediate cause of this latest one-sided bloodletting was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hikers in the occupied West Bank, followed shortly thereafter by the kidnapping and fatal burning of a Palestinian teenager by several Israelis. According to J.J. Goldberg's reporting in the Jewish newspaper Forward, the Netanyahu government blamed Hamas for the kidnappings without evidence and pretended the kidnapped Israelis were still alive for several weeks, even though there was evidence indicating the victims were already dead. It perpetrated this deception in order to whip up anti-Arab sentiment and make it easier to justify punitive operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
And why did Netanyahu decide to go on another rampage in Gaza? As Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group points out, the real motive is neither vengeance nor a desire to protect Israel from Hamas' rocket fire, which has been virtually non-existent over the past two years and is largely ineffectual anyway. Netanyahu's real purpose was to undermine the recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah for a unity government. Given Netanyahu's personal commitment to keeping the West Bank and creating a "greater Israel," the last thing he wants is a unified Palestinian leadership that might press him to get serious about a two-state solution. Ergo, he sought to isolate and severely damage Hamas and drive a new wedge between the two Palestinian factions.
Behind all these maneuvers looms Israel's occupation of Palestine, now in its fifth decade. Not content with having ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 and 1967 and not satisfied with owning eighty-two percent of Mandatory Palestine, every Israeli government since 1967 has built or expanded settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem while providing generous subsidies to the 600,000-plus Jews who have moved there in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Two weeks ago, Netanyahu confirmed what many have long suspected: he is dead set against a two-state solution and will never--repeat never--allow it to happen while he is in office. Given that Netanyahu is probably the most moderate member of his own Cabinet and that Israel's political system is marching steadily rightward, the two-state solution is a gone goose.
Worst of all, the deaths of hundreds more Palestinians and a small number of Israelis will change almost nothing. Hamas is not going to disband. When this latest round of fighting ends, the 4.4 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza will still be Israel's de facto prisoners and still be denied basic human rights. But they are not going to leave, mainly because Palestine is their homeland, but also because they have nowhere to go, especially given the turmoil in other parts of the Middle East.
The photograph above was taken on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, only a few seconds (if not fractions of seconds) before the four Palestinian kids were killed by an Israeli navy shell directed at them. For many of us, this murderous event culminates as the paradigm of the Israeli army’s war crimes in the on-going siege on Gaza. These four children are part of the 111 who got killed by the Israeli army these last two weeks according to today’s OCHA report. The assassination of children, whether deliberate or not, appears as absolutely unacceptable and touches us all deeply. I certainly do not want to argue the opposite. Yet, I would like to make us think about the fact that this massacre is far from being the first one in history against Palestinian children and the fact that they seem to repeat in all impunity would tend to tell us that we are arguing against it using a wrong way.
Let’s consider a hypothetic scenario: if we were offered the choice of saving every children of Gaza in exchange of the perpetuation of the siege, wouldn’t we all accept it? Here lies the fundamental problem of looking for innocence, it drives us to ask the questions that legitimize that against what they think they are fighting. Let’s consider this hypothetical choice again: what lies behind it is a transfer of responsibility. If you refuse it, you will become responsible for the death of children. This is what happened following the four kids’ murder described above: both Israel and the United States, regretted that children had to die but imputed the blame to Hamas for not having signed the (unilaterally designed) ceasefire the day before. “Hamas could have saved Gaza’s children but refused to do so” is the explicit rhetoric that comes out from the affirmation of this choice. Much of the Western press saw it this way and perpetuated the narrative of symmetry that has allowed the occupation to exist until now. The choice is however crooked in its very essence: the responsibility cannot be legitimately transferred. Despite its rhetoric, Israel does have the choice of whether or not continuing the bombing and raid on Gaza; the idea that it would have not such a choice, and therefore such a responsibility — invited by the title of the NY Times about the four murdered kids for example — brings us back to the absurd Kubrickian narratives of Doctor Strangelove and his “doomsday device.”
The figure of innocence is therefore useful in a strategy of perpetuation of the occupation. Let’s try to examine this concept through its two meanings. The first one intervenes in the judiciary realm. In this context, one is said to be innocent as long as (s)he has not been proven guilty through a proper judicial procedure. According to this definition, all of the 448 killed and 3,008 wounded in the Gaza strip during these last two weeks can be said to be innocent: children, civilians and people suspected to be involved in launching rockets towards Israeli towns alike. Within this definition of innocence and in the absence of any judiciary procedure, all in Gaza are innocent to the same degree.
Considering the second definition of innocence is also useful. This second understanding of innocence is profoundly linked to the idea of childhood. We say of a child that (s)he is innocent in the sense that (s)he can have an uncorrupted mode of existence in the world. This is what make us so angry when we see these horrifying photographs of murdered children in the streets or beaches of Gaza. The passage from childhood to teenage or adulthood is characterized by the loss of this innocence. By definition, the ‘corruption’ of the child can only come from causes that are external to her/him. In this sense, nobody in Gaza can be said to still be innocent: the hospitals where children of Gaza are born depend on the will of the Israeli army for their construction, electricity, supplies and general functioning (i.e. whether it is being bombed like they currently are). This dependence renders any innocence impossible since being born during a bombing, a power outage, and/or an overpopulated hospital can only have consequences on the newborn baby. Similarly, the milk drunk by this same baby has either been imported from Israel according to unilateral conditions, or smuggled from Egypt, in both cases influenced by the military blockade. Examples are plethora. The ‘corruption’ by external causes is therefore at work from the very beginning of the people of Gaza’s life to their very end (end that can be determined militarily as we are powerlessly seeing right now). Because the loss of this innocence can only occur through external causes, the perpetuators of these causes — in this case, the Israeli government and army — are to be judged responsible for these ‘stolen childhoods.’
As counter-intuitive as it might seems, we should therefore refrain from distinguishing figures of innocence in our struggle against the militarized agency (that includes the bombings and sieges) of Palestine. Distinguishing equals excluding: if some figures like children are said to be innocent, the corollary consists in affirming that others might not be (or might be less) innocent. Once we have established the language that allows us to say that all Palestinians in Gaza are judiciary innocent (until being proven guilty by a legitimate court), and that none of them are innocent (as children should have the right to be) because of this militarized agency, we can see the Israeli action for what it is: state-organized terrorism motivated by ethnic criteria. This strategy is based on the knowledge that Zionism in its violent exclusivity has everything to loose from the cessation of antagonism in Palestine, between Palestinians themselves (cf: the recent re-union of Hamas with the Palestinian authority), but also between the Israeli and Palestinian populations as well.
Israeli deaths matter much more than Palestinian deaths. This has long been a distinguishing feature of Western news media reporting on the Middle East. The recent blanket coverage afforded to the brutal killing of three Israeli teenagers highlights this immutable fact.
Channel 4's Alex Thomson offered a rare glimmer of dissent:
'Curious to watch UK media living down to the Palestinian claim that 1 Israeli life is worth 1000 Palestinian lives.'
Major broadcasters, such as BBC News, devoted headlines and extended reports to the deaths, and included heart-rending interviews with grieving relatives in Israel. The Guardian ran live coverage of the funerals for more than nine hours. But when has this ever happened for Palestinian victims of Israeli terror?
A reader challenged the Guardian journalist leading the live coverage:
'@Haroon_Siddique Did I somehow miss @guardian's live-tweeting of Palestinian victims' funerals & eulogies?'
Several nudges elicited the standard display of hand-washing:
'I'm not an editor so don't take decisions on future coverage.'
An extensive list of news stories and video reports appeared on the BBC website describing how Israel is 'united in grief', alongside stories titled, 'Netanyahu: "Wide and deep chasm" between Israel and enemies', 'Thousands gather for Israeli teenagers' funerals', 'Grief and anger after Israel teenager deaths', and 'On road where teens vanished'.
These all strongly, and rightly, expressed the broadcaster's empathy with the fact that something terrible had happened. But when has the BBC ever expressed this level of concern for the deaths of Palestinian teenagers? The question matters because consistent empathic bias has the effect of humanising Israelis for the public and dehumanising Palestinians. This is an extremely lethal form of media propaganda with real consequences for human suffering.
A Guardian editorial noted that the killings 'had shocked [Israel] to the core'. Western leaders had also expressed solidarity - an outpouring of concern that contrasted with the reaction to Palestinian deaths, which 'so often pass with barely a murmur'. But that was all the Guardian editors had to say.
The missing, ugly reality is that over the last 13 years, on average, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, 1,523 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel's occupation forces. Over the same time period, 129 Israeli children have been killed. Thus, the ratio of Palestinian children to Israeli children killed is more than ten to one. You would be forgiven for not having the slightest inkling of this from Western media coverage. Even in the past few days, in reporting the massive Israeli operation to find the teenagers, only the briefest of nods has been given to the 'five Palestinians, including a number of minors, [who were] killed' in the process.
Inspection of the cover reveals that all the pieces are, in fact, composed, four by Delbecq, four by Blaser, and three by Hemingway. Marc Chenard’s illuminating notes state that ten of the eleven selections were communicated via traditional notation on score paper. The CD cover is my only nit concerning the project, for Nuscope has gone away from their signature look that features original art, and instead used a prosaic photograph of water.
Those who have heard Delbecq’s releases on Songlines such as Circles and Calligrams and The Sixth Jump, know that he has a very unique style that utilizes some prepared piano techniques for a percussive effect, particularly in the lower register. I think that he sometimes overuses this approach, but here again the word “balance” comes into play, as he syncs up with Hemingway to establish percussion-based phrases that sound inspired by African rhythms. Elsewhere, he contributes sparkling single-note runs and even a little synthesized bass, very sparingly and tastefully, to bolster the group sound.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Vallejo Nocturno 2014 - siege
What does Israel expect to achieve by attacking Gaza with a large land force, following ten days of attacking from the air and suffering Palestinian counter-attacks by far less effective small rockets? After every Israeli war and invasion that kills hundreds of Palestinians and destroys key elements of the civilian infrastructure, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other resistance groups regroup, replenish their military supplies, increase their technical capabilities and prepare for the next round of fighting with Israel. This reflects accurately the Israeli policy in Gaza of “mowing the lawn,” meaning Israel has to attack Gaza regularly to maintain the status quo, like a homeowner mowing the lawn every few weeks.
It suggests that Israel’s policy of using its military might to achieve permanent calm on its southern border is a failure. This is because Israelis and Palestinians are waging war in three dimensions, not only in military terms, and Israel’s short-term triumph in all three domains now seems to be tilting towards Palestinian advantages.
The three simultaneous battlefields in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the military battlefield, international legitimacy, and the durability and depth of their respective national identities. Israel has been successful in the past 65 years in the first two realms — in militarily establishing, defending and expanding its state, and securing widespread international political support. In both those realms, however, Israel’s advantages are fraying at the edges.
Hizbollah and Hamas have shown how determined resistance groups anchored in strong nationalist support can slowly close the gap in the military technology advantage that Israel has long enjoyed. This will not liberate all of Palestine or existentially threaten Israel, but it does seem to have achieved a deterrent balance of power that freezes the status quo on the ground. When Israel has to repeat its attacks on Gaza every few years without achieving permanent calm — as it used to do similarly in Lebanon against Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups — it means that its former military superiority has been transformed into a “lawn mowing” strategy in which neither the lawn nor the mower ever fully triumphs.
The deeper dilemma for Israel is that lawn mowing as a long-term strategy is not feasible (let alone morally defensible) because of the deterioration of Israel’s former advantageous position in the two other realms of this conflict. In the realm of international legitimacy, Israel’s repeated savage assaults on Palestinians — whether through occasional military attacks or more routine mass imprisonment, colonization, assassinations, sieges, water theft, and other collective punishments — have generated growing international condemnation of its excessive colonization policies, while maintaining strong support for Israel’s security within its pre-1967 borders. Explicit sanctions against Israeli colonization policies by the European Union and many others add fuel to the fire that threatens to make Israel another South Africa in terms of global boycotts of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories.
The third realm of this conflict — national identity — is the most complex and intangible, but probably has the most impact in the long run. It refers simply to the depth of feeling among both people about their identities as Israelis and Palestinians, and their will to continue battling for their rights and their security. The fundamental problem for Israel that it has never grasped is that the intensity of the individual and collective Palestinian will to resist permanent exile or oblivion, and to keep fighting for national reconstitution and justice, is exactly as strong as the will among Jews who fought Western Christian anti-Semitism for centuries and finally created their Zionist state in Palestine.
The 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1947-48 clashes that saw the birth of the state of Israel have now become 4.5 million Palestinians in exile or under Israeli occupation, with another nearly four million elsewhere. Every single one of them has one primary aim in life, which is to work in their own way to find their way back to a life of normalcy, dignity and national sovereignty, and to end the permanent vulnerability that is inherent in their refugeehood.
The current situation renews the questions regarding the utility of the laws of war, the legalization of political discourse, and inversion of moral discourse. The loss of proper context is aided by the basic dichotomy in the international law between justifications for launching a war and conduct during war. The former is more readily open to the political (after all people disagree on the propriety of war, e.g. whether it is in self-defence or not). The latter is more contained and can be confined with a prima facie professional language. But repetition in the historical evolution of the laws of war is subversive. Writing in 1874, H. Edwards, author of “The Germans in France” enumerated what he called “the three great principles of invaders’ law” (pp. 285 – 286):
1. For every offence punish someone; the guilty, if possible, but someone.
2. Better a hundred innocent should suffer than one guilty man escape.
3. When in doubt shoot the prisoner.5
Edwards is not being critical in this account, he seeks a description. Yet, he recognizes that these principles “proceed naturally from the fact that the invader has to deal with a population unanimously opposed to him…” The fact that there are general principles that produce a general law emanating from a basic condition of violence and opposition is another manifestation of the repetitive nature of the structure.
But repetition can also be a sign of failure, on the one hand, and of despair, on the other hand. From today’s perspective, Edwards’ 19th century account does not show a lot of progress despite the evolution of the laws of war post-WWI and WWII. The laws of war are supposed to be an answer to the Athenian invaders’ retort to the weak Melians in the Peloponnesian war around 400 BC (a la Thucydides): “rights are in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Accordingly, repetition is merely the sign for the oppressed to surrender to fate. Either you accept your suffering or you unleash more suffering. It is your choice.
Although the occupied did not choose to be invaded and occupied — and cannot control how they will live under the occupation regime — they are asked to choose between slow death and immediate death, between the “normality” of oppression and the “exceptionality” of spectacular suffering, between proportional suffering and disproportionate suffering. Colonial law has always been concerned with proportional violence and the prevention of unnecessary suffering (as in India and Egypt under British colonial law). The Israeli Supreme Court is very fond of the proportionality doctrine. But that is the order of things in normal times. In exceptional times, in moments of violent encounter, moments of resistance, the recent “wars” are unleashing disproportionate suffering.
There are such things as small terrorist groups that do a lot of harm and lack any significant social or political support. It may well be that such groups can be defeated by counter-terrorism operations.
Other so-called terrorist groups are more organic, growing out of the profound suffering and grievances of a whole population. Such groups may deploy terror (attacks by non-state actors on non-combatants), but they aren’t actually just terrorist groups. They are insurgencies. Only about 20% of insurgencies end by the decisive military defeat of the insurgents on the part of the government. Most are ended through a negotiated settlement.
In spring of 2004, some Blackwater mercenaries were hotrodding it through the Sunni Arab city of Falluja just west of Baghdad. They were attacked by an angry crowd, killed, and their bodies desecrated. Three of the four were Americans.
Newsweek reported at the time that George W. Bush took the attack as an affront to the US and said “heads must roll.” He set in motion a siege and invasion of Falluja. But in April 2004 the US lost control of southern Iraq because of the Mahdi Army uprising, and Bush was trying to transition to a civilian Iraq government instead of the failed American viceroy, Paul “Jerry” Bremer. Several members of the Iraqi governing council that was advising Bremer on the transition threatened to resign if Falluja were invaded. So Bush backed off.
But after Bush won reelection against John Kerry, he immediately returned to the plan to invade Falluja. The administration charged that Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, was based in Falluja and that large numbers of the car bombings in Baghdad were planned and carried out from there. In November of 2004, the US surrounded and then invaded Falluja. The US military destroyed the city, leaving many buildings in rubble. The population either ran away to refugee camps or stayed to risk death. The death toll will never be known.
All the Sunni Arabs in Iraq were furious about the US invasion and razing of Falluja. They announced that they would not participate in the January, 2005, elections. And that began the alienation of the Sunni Arabs from the new Iraqi government, which came to be dominated by fundamentalist Shiites and separatist Kurds.
After Falluja was invaded and partially destroyed, the car bombings went on just as before. It was not in fact indispensable to the resistance to US occupation. Indeed, Zarqawi was killed in late spring of 2006, a year and a half later, and that made no difference to the rate of violence, either.
The US misunderstood the Sunni resistance as narrow, as consisting of a few small terrorist groups. Washington thought it knew where they were based (Falluja) and was convinced that invading that city would allow them to inflict substantial attrition on the military and organizational capacity of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. US security analysts wrote me at the time saying that killing leaders was crucial, because leadership skills are rare and leaders are hard to replace.
In January of 2014, early this year, Falluja fell to the successor of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. The Sunni Arab population of the city had been done out by a all those years of American occupation and then the high-handed Shiite dominance of PM Nouri al-Maliki. So the 2004 invasion of Falluja not only did not root out “terrorism,” it paved the way very possibly for Iraq to lose Falluja and other major Iraq Sunni Arab population centers.
Likewise, the Israeli military profoundly misunderstands Hamas. It is ridiculous to dismiss it as a terrorist organization. it is broadly based and has an important political wing.
For this reason, the Israel ground invasion of northern Gaza will be no more successful than the US invasion of Falluja. The Israelis cannot actually destroy Hamas or its capabilities as long as significant numbers of Palestinians in Gaza support it. That support is political, having to do with the organization’s role in at least trying to stand up to Israeli oppression, occupation and blockade.
Just as the enemies of the US ultimately prevailed in Falluja, so the enemies of Israel will prevail in Gaza.
Oppression and occupation produce resistance. Until the oppression and the occupation are addressed, the mere inflicting of attrition on the military capabilities of the resistance will not snuff it out. Other leaders will take the place of those killed.
If Israel really wanted peace or relief from Hamas rockets, its leaders would pursue peace negotiations in good faith with Hamas (which has on more than one occasion reliably honored truces). Otherwise, invading Gaza will have all the same effects, good and bad (but mostly bad) that the US invasion of Falluja had on Iraq.
Hush Point is a new quartet featuring trumpeter John McNeil, saxophonist Jeremy Udden, bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. Their self-titled debut album came out last month on Sunnyside. (Buy it from Amazon.)
Hush Point (the album) is an extremely refreshing listen, within the context of contemporary New York jazz. It’s quite subdued music, on the surface; Sperrazza plays with brushes throughout, Kobrinsky’s bass sound is thick and soothing, reminiscent of Milt Hinton, and the tempos are medium to ballad. But McNeil and Udden are doing some pretty adventurous stuff on top of that steady rhythm bed.
The album begins with “Iranic,” a slightly Middle Eastern melody that quickly gives way to a lengthy, but mellow, solo from Udden; when McNeil re-enters at the two-minute mark, Kobrinsky and Sperrazza begin a series of mini-solos, in between short melodic phrases from both horns. Structurally and in its general mood, the piece is reminiscent of Ornette Coleman‘s “Focus on Sanity,” albeit even more subtle and gentle. “Peachful” starts off with a bluesy, almost New Orleans melody (though not nearly as corny as most New Orleans jazz) but gradually, patiently builds to some almost avant-garde interactions between the horns, before bringing it all back down to earth in a smooth resolution that feels perfectly timed and arranged. “Fathers and Sons” has the feel of Ornette in ballad mode, Udden wandering around melodically like he’s just singing a song to himself as he walks through an empty house, and when McNeil rejoins him, they play harmoniously in a way that recalls pieces like “Peace” or “Some Other” (from the too-little-heard To Whom Who Keeps a Record).
But to overemphasize the small touches that recall Ornette Coleman‘s work (or John Zorn‘s Masada quartet, in the case of “Finely Done”) is to mischaracterize the true nature of Hush Point (band, and album). What’s most exciting about this album is the way these four players blend avant/free approaches to melody and interplay with techniques that go back to jazz’s earliest days—there’s an almost Dixieland feel to “B. Remembered,” and “Cat Magnet” is a strutting, finger-snapping blues, something that feels shockingly rare in a time when many young, critically hailed jazz musicians seem wholly allergic to the blues, or to any melody that doesn’t shove exactly how long they spent practicing at college in your face. Half the time, the members of Hush Point don’t even seem like they’re playing for a listener; with its gentle, unobtrusive drums, throbbingly human bass, and whispering, breathy horn lines, the album can make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a private conversation.
The sphere will be encircled at the equator by a platform 3 280 feet, or more than half a mile, long. An exterior spiral running around the northern hemisphere will form a track nearly two miles long, leading from the equator to the North Pole. At night the sphere will be illuminated by the lines of light which will form the outlines of the continents and islands, thus casting over the city torrents of refulgent brilliancy. The great pyramids of Egypt, the Sphinx, and the Colossus could lie in the hollow interior like jewels in their case. So much for the exterior aspect.
An interior track runs around the southern hemisphere from the South Pole to the Equator, where it joins the exterior spiral. The total length of the spiral is nearly four miles, over which the sightseer can travel on a tramway.
In the base and under the majestic central rotunda will be placed a gigantic statue of the great discoverer surrounded by the navigators and missionaries who rendered his discovery fruitful. In the semicircle around this Olympus of heroes, inclosing the amphitheater, will be allegorical statues representing all the Spanish nations.
In the remaining spaces of the compartments in the base a large Columbus library will be distributed ; auditorium for the cultivation of the natural sciences, museums of zoology, mineralogy, and botany of America, rooms for the Spanish Geographical Society, a great naval museum in the interior central compartment, a meteorological observatory in the hull of the caravel. All this is independent of the promenades, cafes, and restaurants for the public.
In the interior the celestial sphere can be exactly reproduced. It can also be used for magnificent panoramas, because the spherical form is the best for obtaining illusions of perspective. There will be a place for public entertainments.
I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say that Rodrigo Amado is without a doubt one of the most exciting and innovative tenor saxophonists on the avant jazz scene in Europe today. It is so, to my mind. He's been racking up a discography of gem-after-gem (many covered here) and stands out as someone who has a clear direction and the facility and sound to make it all so.
He has a couple of new ones out that I'll cover on this page over the next several weeks. The first up is a foursome gathering named the Wire Quartet (Clean Feed 297).
It's a scorcher of a studio date, with Amado and his colleagues in full-forward mode. Joining Rodrigo are Manuel Mota on electric guitar, Hernani Faustino on double bass, and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. If you follow the Portuguese scene you will recognize some or all of these names. They are players at or near the very top of their craft/art and they work together to give a dramatically free jazz dynamic throughout.
Everybody sounds great but it's Rodrigo that masters through the three segments, a master phraser-inventor with a rich tenor tone and poise. He sounds like a new "classic", though that may be a contradiction in terms. But no, the new can be the classic of now. It has to be because otherwise we are saying there is nothing being made of classic status today. And that just is not true.
So this is Rodrigo Amado right now--with three of the best on the Portuguese scene, all coming through with music that is meant to be a part of where we are. Right now. It is! Check this one out or miss out....
A mess we keep on making by supporting the wrong people at the worng times-see this article from January in The Guardian.
From Common Dreams:
If you're reading this, you probably follow the news. So you've probably heard of the latest iteration of the "crisis at the border": tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied by an adult, crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, where they surrender to the Border Patrol in hope of being allowed to remain here permanently. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detention and hearing system has been overwhelmed by the surge of children and, in some cases, their parents. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to approve new funding to speed up processing and deportations of these illegal immigrants.
Even if you've followed this story closely, you probably haven't heard the depressing backstory — the reason so many Central Americans are sending their children on a dangerous thousand-mile journey up the spine of Mexico, where they ride atop freight trains, endure shakedowns by corrupt police and face rapists, bandits and other predators. (For a sense of what it's like, check out the excellent 2004 film "Maria Full of Grace.")
NPR and other mainstream news outlets are parroting the White House, which blames unscrupulous "coyotes" (human smugglers) for "lying to parents, telling them that if they put their kids in the hands of traffickers and get to the United States that they will be able to stay." True: the coyotes are saying that in order to gin up business. Also true: U.S. law has changed, and many of these kids have a strong legal case for asylum. Unfortunately, U.S. officials are ignoring the law.
The sad truth is that this "crisis at the border" is yet another example of "blowback."
Blowback is an unintended negative consequence of U.S. political, military and/or economic intervention overseas — when something we did in the past comes back to bite us in the ass. 9/11 is the classic example; arming and funding radical Islamists in the Middle East and South Asia who were less grateful for our help than angry at the U.S.' simultaneous backing for oppressive governments (The House of Saud, Saddam, Assad, etc.) in the region.
More recent cases include U.S. support for Islamist insurgents in Libya and Syria, which destabilized both countries and led to the murders of U.S. consular officials in Benghazi, and the rise of ISIS, the guerilla army that imperils the U.S.-backed Maliki regime in Baghdad, respectively.
Confusing the issue for casual American news consumers is that the current border crisis doesn't involve the usual Mexicans traveling north in search of work. Instead, we're talking about people from Central American nations devastated by a century of American colonialism and imperialism, much of that intervention surprisingly recent. Central American refugees are merely transiting through Mexico.
"The unaccompanied children crossing the border into the United States are leaving behind mainly three Central American countries, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The first two are among the world's most violent and all three have deep poverty, according to a Pew Research report based on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information," reports NBC News. "El Salvador ranked second in terms of homicides in Latin America in 2011, and it is still high on the list. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are among the poorest nations in Latin America. Thirty percent of Hondurans, 17 percent of Salvadorans and 26 percent of Guatemalans live on less than $2 a day."
The fact that Honduras is the biggest source of the exodus jumped out at me. That's because, in 2009, the United States government — under President Obama — tacitly supported a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras. "Washington has a very close relationship with the Honduran military, which goes back decades," The Guardian noted at the time. "During the 1980s, the US used bases in Honduras to train and arm the Contras, Nicaraguan paramilitaries who became known for their atrocities in their war against the Sandinista government in neighbouring Nicaragua."
Honduras wasn't paradise under President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, however, the country has entered a downward death spiral of drug-related bloodshed and political revenge killings that crashed the economy, brought an end to law, order and civil society, and now has some analysts calling it a "failed state" along the lines of Somalia and Afghanistan during the 1990s.
"Zelaya's overthrow created a vacuum in security in which military and police were now focused more on political protest, and also led to a freeze in international aid that markedly worsened socio-economic conditions," Mark Ungar, professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, told The International Business Times. "The 2009 coup, asserts [Tulane] professor Aaron Schneider, gave the Honduran military more political and economic leverage, at the same time as the state and political elites lost their legitimacy, resources and the capacity to govern large parts of the country."
See article on Honduras in The Guardian
From The Boston Globe:
We’ve all heard the advice “Just be yourself.” Whether it’s in preparation for a job interview, a first date, or any kind of “performance.” And yet, the advice itself is often part of the problem. Like the command “Relax!”
The 54-year-old Japanese pianist and composer Satoko Fujii has heard this advice several times in her life, but her trip to being “herself” was hard won. At this point, no one would deny her individuality. As a pianist and composer with more than 60 albums to her credit, she has forged a unique amalgam of influences — jazz, classical, Japanese folk. A solo piece might start with a discordant clash of harp-like plucked piano strings that gives way to a series of sweetly meditative chords and then an elaborate improvised melody. With the collective quartet Kaze, Fujii arranges free-jazz explosions of trumpet and drums that can clear for a Morton Feldman-like reverie of meditative chords. Likewise with her celebrated big band recordings, which mix free-jazz ferocity with detailed ensemble writing. Fujii’s coloristic range at the piano, her note choices and marksmanship, distinguish her as a singular virtuoso — player and composer at once.
It wasn’t easy getting there. Fujii — who has degrees from both Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory and comes to the Lily Pad on Sept. 2 with her husband, the trumpeter Natsuki Tamura — studied for years as a classical pianist in the Tokyo suburb where she grew up. She remembers her first lesson with a jazz pianist. “He said, ‘Just improvise!’ Well, you know, I was there because I couldn’t do it!”
Fujii had first been bitten by the jazz bug when she was studying with the esteemed composer and pianist Koji Taku, who had quit a prestigious conservatory position in order to play jazz. Fujii, having grown up in a middle-class Japanese household, was stunned. “This was shocking to me.” And so she began to listen to jazz on the radio. Nothing grabbed her until she heard John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” “It was something I had never heard before. I couldn’t understand anything, but I could feel something. Behind this music was a big energy. That was the start for me.”
Fujii tried to teach herself to improvise, but got nowhere. “If I didn’t have music paper in front of me, I couldn’t play anything. I felt like a well-trained dog.”
She decided to quit piano altogether. She formed an experimental band with some friends — using only their voices, hands, and feet, they made a racket together, singing, shouting, beating on the floor. “I wanted to see where music came from. The music our ancestors made, when music was born.”
But she was also going to jazz clubs and discovered that she still loved piano. She took lessons, studied theory, and was soon playing every night in one of the many swing bands populating the Tokyo cabarets. Still, she wasn’t happy. “I thought, Maybe I don’t have the talent. Maybe I’m not gifted.” The best way to find out, she decided, was to commit herself completely. So she enrolled at Berklee.
She auditioned for an arranging class taught by the late Herb Pomeroy. “I don’t remember what I arranged, but it was something based on very basic theory. So I didn’t do anything wrong. But I failed. Herb said, ‘This doesn’t have your voice.’ ” The next semester she tried again, arranging Coltrane’s “Naima” to a funk beat. “I forgot about theory. I just used sounds that I liked,” using “violations” of standard theory. “And Herb really liked it!,” she said.
Several years passed, in which she married Tamura (whom she had met at Berklee) and the couple moved back to Japan. She played in clubs and wrote for music magazines. Still she was dissatisfied. Then she met the percussionist Taki Masuko, who had studied and taught at New England Conservatory, her next stop.
There, she took piano lessons with one of her heroes, Paul Bley. “Right now,” says Fujii, “I’m making music because I want to make music that no one has heard before. I would like to make something unique. Back then, I wasn’t so sure.” She wanted to play like McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea. “I knew it wasn’t right, but it sounded so good!” In the first lesson, Bley said, “Just play yourself. McCoy Tyner is already here.” Fujii felt liberated. “Everything was like that with him” she says of Bley’s pedagogical technique, which is famously part music-business tutorial and part talk therapy.
It's not often you see ridiculous literal translations go across the English media this way, but it does show how far the English-speaking world is from traditional Spanish expressions. We chuckled over this one at our household and wondered if journalist can do it at this level no wonder we continue to have so many problems in our world.Let's see how a Spanish journalist will translate when an English speaking person indicates that "he broke his back" getting something done!
Javier Mascherano has spoken of the pain he had to endure to help Argentina reach the World Cup final, revealing that he "tore his anus" while making the heroic match-saving tackle on Arjen Robben in the final minute of the semi-final victory over the Netherlands.
Describing the perfectly-timed tackle on the flying Dutchman, Mascherano said: "I thought I had slipped, I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I tore my anus on that move, the pain...it was terrible.
"I threw myself into it. I could have been sent off. It could have been a penalty but anyone could have done that, I had the luck to get there."
Argentina then went on to win the semi-final in Sao Paulo on penalties after the game ended 0-0 after extra-time.
Mascherano had earlier shaken off a nasty head injury to continue the game, and says that the all the pain was worth it, as playing in a World Cup final will be the pinnacle of his career.
"I cried at the end because I have spent a lot of time waiting for this moment," the 30-year-old said.