Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

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Ancient underwater forest discovery in Gulf of Mexico


This video from the USA is called Alabama‘s Underwater Forest.

From the Houston Chronicle in the USA:

Divers collecting funds to film ancient, hidden forest discovered in Gulf

By Carol Christian

April 17, 2014 | Updated: April 18, 2014 1:12am

A team of scuba divers is trying to raise $15,000 to make a documentary about a hidden, ancient underwater forest in the Gulf of Mexico.

To enlist the public’s help, they turned to Kickstarter.com, a popular platform for crowd-source fundraising.

By early Thursday afternoon, just one week into the campaign, they had raised more than $10,000. Under Kickstarter rules, they must meet their goal by their own deadline — in this case May 1 — or they get nothing.

The forest is a half-mile-square area of 50,000-year-old cypress stumps perfectly preserved under the ocean floor off the coast of Alabama. When the wood is cut, it has a “cypressy” smell, and sap oozes out of it, Raines said.

“That’s 50,000-year-old sap coming out of these trees,” said team member Ben Raines, a former reporter for the Mobile Press Reporter who is now executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation in Fairhope, Ala.

Rewards offered by the team to Kickstarter donors range from access to high resolution photos, for a $10 contribution, to a chance to dive at the site, for a $2,000 pledge.

“We got our first taker today,” Raines said Thursday of the $2,000 donation.

Money raised beyond the goal will allow the team to do more filming and prepare special graphics, Raines said.

Others behind the documentary proposal are Chas Broughton, owner of Underwater Works in Fairhope, Ala., and Eric Lowe, the photographer for above-water shots. Raines is the underwater photographer.

The forest’s existence has generated intense interest around the world since its discovery was announced a couple years ago, Raines said.

Its exact location, about 15 miles off the coast, has been kept secret to prevent harmful disruption to the site, including commercial salvaging of the stumps, he said.

The Weeks Bay Foundation is working on a federal designation as a marine sanctuary for the ancient forest that divers have described as a “magical fairy land,” Raines said.

Those who have seen it now believe the forest was uncovered in September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit Alabama after pounding the Caribbean, Raines said.

“Ivan had 90-foot waves associated with it, the largest waves ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “We think they scoured the bottom. Waves have as much power underwater as above the water.”

Now that the cypress stumps have been exposed to oxygen, they are starting to decay but fortunately, Raines said, cypress wood decays slowly.

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85,000 historic films on YouTube


This video from the British Pathé archives says about itself:

Clothing of the Future. Wonderful film showing what the fashion designers of America predict women will be wearing in the year 2000 AD. These predictions were made in 1939 so some 61 years before the Millennium. Not sure they got it right really!

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

British Pathé uploads 85,000 historic films to YouTube

Thousands of hours of historical footage showing major events, celebrities and simple day-to-day life from 1896 until 1976 has been uploaded to YouTube

By Matthew Sparkes

1:26PM BST 17 April 2014

British Pathé, the newsreel maker which documented all walks of life on video during the 20th Century, has uploaded its entire collection of moving images to YouTube.

The archive of 3,500 hours of footage was digitised in 2002 thanks in part to a grant from the National Lottery, and is now freely accessible to anyone around the world for free.

The unique collection of video covers major events, famous faces, travel, sport and culture and is a wealth of information on the First and Second World Wars in particular.

Scrolling through the archives reveals everything from the tragic: Emily Davison throwing herself under the King’s horse,

Here, the Daily Telegraph journalist ignores new historical research, saying that suffragette Ms Davison did not intend to commit suicide

the Hindenburg disaster and the Hiroshima bombing, to the downright unusual, such as Southampton University’s 1962 attempt to launch a flying bicycle.

Founded in Paris in 1896, Pathé launched in Britain 14 years later. It single-handedly invented the modern television news format but ceased recording in 1970. After that it was sold several times, at one point to EMI, but launched as an independent archive in 2009. Two years later it opened a YouTube channel and has today announced the final step in digitising and uploading its entire collection to Google’s video sharing platform.

Alastair White, general manager of British Pathé, said: “Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them. This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.

“Whether you’re looking for coverage of the Royal Family, the Titanic, the destruction of the Hindenburg, or quirky stories about British pastimes, it’ll be there on our channel. You can lose yourself for hours.”

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Okinawa musicians against United States military base


This video is called Lucy Nagamine: Okinawa‘s folk music heritage.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Okinawa‘s musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases

With Barack Obama visiting Japan in April, resentment at plans for the US Futenma military base is finding a musical voice

Justin McCurry in Okinawa

Thursday 17 April 2014 15.50 BST

If an island of 1.4m people can be summed up in a sound, it is that of the sanshin. Where there are people on Okinawa, a Japanese island almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, the distinctive tones of the three-stringed instrument are never far away.

Music is deeply rooted in Okinawa’s tragic place in Japan‘s history and the conduit for its modern grievances against the glut of US military bases on the island. As Barack Obama prepares to visit Tokyo to meet Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later in April, the anti-war message of sanshin players such as Shoukichi Kina and Misako Oshiro is back in vogue as the subtropical island confronts its biggest political challenge since it reverted from US to Japanese rule in the 1970s.

In his mid-60s, Kina cuts a controversial figure as spiritual leader of Okinawa’s activist musicians. Since the release of their first single Haisai Ojisan (Hey, Man!) in the 1970s, Kina and his band Champloose have done more than any other artists to secure Okinawan music against competition from mass-market Japanese J-pop and the more innocent musical motifs of the mainland folk genres minyo and enka.

“Our job as musicians should be to celebrate the good and do something about fixing the bad,” said Kina, who some have called Okinawa’s answer to Bob Marley. “That’s why I hate the military bases here, but I love Americans.”

Though it accounts for less than 1% of Japan’s total area, Okinawa is now home to about 75% of US bases in Japan and half its 50,000 troops. Military facilities take up a fifth of the island. Obama and Abe are expected to discuss the controversial relocation of Futenma, a sprawling US marine base, from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to an unspoiled location on the island’s northeast coast, as the allies attempt to lessen the island’s military burden. The move is opposed by most islanders, including the residents of Nago, whose city lies near the proposed site for the new base.

The spirit of resistance pioneered by Kina is to be found in the more eclectic music of Tatsumi Chibana, a quietly spoken 33-year-old university graduate and perhaps the most visible of Okinawa’s new generation of rebel artists, fusing traditional sounds with rock, reggae and hip-hop.

After a US military helicopter from the Futenma US marine base crashed into Okinawa International University in 2004, Chibana was moved to write his best-known song, Tami no Domino (People’s Domino), a collaboration between his band Duty Free Shopp and local rapper Kakumakushaka.

The incendiary lyrics reflect the feeling of many residents towards the ever-present threat to safety posed by the island’s 27,000 US troops and their hardware: “Surrounded by weapons in the land of disorder; what the hell can you tell me about peace in a place like this?”

Most of Chibana’s music eschews the sanshin and other traditional instruments, but his background looms large, he said. “I’m always aware of my Okinawan identity when I make music. OK, so I wasn’t brought up listening to folk songs, but the spirit of that old music is in mine. It doesn’t matter whether I play reggae, hip-hop or rock, it’s still Okinawan music.” …

Like Kina, Chibana occasionally sings in the Okinawan language Uchinaguchi – an artistic choice that renders his lyrics unintelligible to many Japanese, but which exemplifies the island’s historical and emotional sense of detachment from the mainland.

In the 16th century, where the sanshin’s origins lie, Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdom, which, while politically independent, had tributary relations with Ming dynasty China. Forced annexation by Japan came in the late 1800s, followed in the 1940s by the carnage of the Pacific war.

Less than a century after it was forcibly made part of Japan, Okinawa was the scene of one of the second world war’s bloodiest battles. An estimated 240,000 Japanese and Americans died, including more than a quarter of Okinawa’s civilian population, after US forces invaded in June 1945. Japanese troops distributed grenades to civilians, urging them to commit suicide or risk being raped and murdered by American soldiers.

“There are lots of songs about how terribly the Okinawans were treated in the war,” said John Potter, the author of the only English-language book on Okinawan music and a prolific blogger on the subject.

Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972 – almost three decades after the war – fuelled the local sense of “otherness” from the mainland.

Not all Okinawan musicians draw inspiration from the island’s bloody past, Potter said. “Many songs come back to what a fantastic place Okinawa is. Lots of artists sing about their culture and being island people, and their pride in being different.”

Poverty – Okinawa is Japan’s poorest prefecture – and the looming clouds of conflict sent many people in search of new lives overseas, creating a diaspora whose youngest members are making their presence felt on the island’s contemporary music scene.

Lucy Nagamine, a Peruvian-born singer whose grandparents left Okinawa shortly before the war, learned classical Ryukyu music from her grandmother and picked up her deceased grandfather’s sanshin at the age of 10.

Before settling in her ancestral homeland several years ago, Lucy often sang for Okinawan immigrants in Peru who were desperate to preserve the emotional ties with home. “Now I’m here in Okinawa, away from the country of my birth, I know how my grandparents and other immigrants felt,” she said in between songs at her regular venue, a restaurant in Naha.

“In those days immigrants had nothing to do except sing and play the sanshin. It was a central part of their existence, and why music and the Okinawan lifestyle are closely intertwined, even today.”

Less polemic are Nenes, a group of four whose lineup has gone through several reincarnations since they were formed by the legendary artist and producer Sadao China in 1990. Nenes perform classic Okinawan songs for groups of tourists from the mainland.

One rare departure from their otherwise “safe” repertoire is their stirring version of Keisuke Kuwata’s Heiwa no Kyuka, which simmers with resentment over Okinawa’s bloody wartime sacrifice. “Who decided this country was at peace,” the song asks, “Even before the people’s tears have dried?”

“Now that we’re confronting the base issue again, this is a good time to sing about peace,” said 24-year-old Mayuko Higa. “It’s important that the people who come to see us perform know why it’s an important subject here.”

Nenes’ tourist-friendly melodies can seem a world away from Kina’s ceaseless quest for social and political change, an artist who implores the world’s armies to swap their weapons for musical instruments. His decade-old feud with NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, proves that Japan’s mainstream media and firebrand politics can be uncomfortable bedfellows.

“They demanded that I drop any references to peace from my performance,” Kina said, his arms in motion again as he recalls his incredulity. “I refused, of course, and they haven’t invited me back since. The message for Okinawan musicians has always been that if you want to get on in this industry, then keep your mouth shut. But I’ll say what I like.”

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Play about World War I on English stage


This video from Britain says about itself:

An August Bank Holiday Lark Trailer

24 February 2014

Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with the world premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s moving new play An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Set in the idyllic summer of 1914 rural Lancashire, everyone in the community is excited about Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers … but it will.

By Susan Darlington in England:

Theatre: An August Bank Holiday Lark

Thursday 17th April 2014

A new play movingly evokes the loss of community and tradition in WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON

An August Bank Holiday Lark

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

4 Stars

It’s unlikely that Michael Gove will approve of An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of WWI, Northern Broadside’s latest play certainly doesn’t celebrate it as a “just war.”

Rather, Deborah McAndrew’s gentle tale depicts the kind of village life creaking under the weight of holidays to Blackpool and votes for women even before the arrival of Kitchener‘s recruitment drive.

In the Pennine mill village where the play is set in 1914, the greatest worry is finding eight Morris men for the annual rush-cart festival and securing trim for the squire’s hat after an incident involving the neighbour’s chickens.

The war seems a distant threat yet it is an opportunity for top clog dancer Frank (Darren Kuppan) to prove his worthiness to wed the squire’s daughter Mary (Emily Butterfield) and a chance for young men to make a stand for “ideas.”

The poignancy of this vanishing community is beautifully captured during one of the key scenes when a rush-cart – a towering wagon piled with cut reeds and flowers – is constructed before the audience.

Accompanied by Conrad Nelson’s joyous music and exhilarating clog-dancing choreography, the festive spirit is such that when the cart is paraded around the stage with hapless jockey Herbert (Mark Thomas) waving from the top, the audience waves back.

Fast-forward a year and the community has been torn apart, with the lives of young millworkers lost in the Dardanelles and the women left behind contemplating a life without a sweetheart.

This shift in mood is powerfully signalled by Barrie Rutter as the squire. Having spent the first act being a parody of his larger than life persona, now he is a broken man symbolising the loss of life, community and tradition.

This sombre note contrasts sharply with the bantering humour earlier and, while the plot may occasionally be spread thinner than dripping, the play is superbly evocative and poignantly acted throughout.

Highly recommended.

Tours until June 14, details: www.northern-broadsides.co.uk.

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Bahraini photographer gets ten years jail for photography


This video says about itself:

France 24: Bahrain Juveniles Under Crossfire & Toxic Gas

23 April 2013

Program produced by France 24 Arabic Channel about what minors in Bahrain suffer from, it shows how security forces storm schools and arrest students. It also highlights the story of a 5-years-old boy who had been shot with a shotgun which struck his eye. Ahmed Al-Nahham’s eye was removed, his testimony about what happeded to him.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

15 April, 2014

Bahrain: 10 Years in Prison for Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan after an Unfair Trial

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the Bahraini authorities’ continued practice of arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against journalists, photographers, and human rights activists. On Wednesday, 26 March 2014, the Third High Court issued a 10-year prison sentence against photographer Ahmed Humaidan [1] in a trial that lacked due process.

A reputed freelance photographer, Humaidan has won 163 awards internationally for his contributions to the field. After his arrest for alleged arson in December 2012, he stated that he suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of the torture he was reportedly subjected to by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) [2]. Humaidan was reportedly subjected to various methods of torture, including being forced to stand in a cold room for hours whilst handcuffed and blindfolded. Humaidan informed his family that while he was blindfolded and handcuffed at the CID, he was reportedly forced to carry an object that his interrogators told him was a live bomb. He was made to hold the object for several hours under duress and strict surveillance. Additionally, Humaidan stated that he was psychologically intimidated during questioning in order to extract a false confession. Interrogators reportedly threatened to bring charges against his siblings on fabricated crimes if he refused to confess.

Fadhel Al-Sawad, Humaidan’s lawyer, stated that no incriminating evidence was presented in court against Humaidan, except for the confessions that were reportedly extracted under torture and reports from anonymous sources from within the CID. Humaidan was subjected to an unjustified delay in his trial that continued for more than a year because key witnesses from the Ministry of Interior evaded and declined to attend the court proceedings for six months. There were numerous inconsistencies in witness testimony throughout the trial, particularly in regards to the location of the alleged crime [3]. Although Al-Sawad submitted substantial evidence in support of Humaidan’s innocence during the year-long trial, the court delivered the maximum sentence against Humaidan, whilst simultaneously acquitting two fugitive defendants that lacked defense and proof of innocence [4]. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights considers the decisions of this court to be arbitrary, and politically motivated.

The BCHR has documented attacks on photographers and journalists since the beginning of the pro-democracy movement in 2011. More than ten members of the media have been sentenced to prison [5]; some of them were reportedly subjected to torture. The blogger Zakariya Al-Ashairi [6] was documented in the BICI report as having been tortured to death. Others have faced extrajudicial killings, including photographer Ahmed Ismail Hasan [7]. During the three-month state of emergency in 2011, several photographers and members of the media were documented to have been summarily dismissed from their jobs and arrested during house raids; their families were reportedly intimidated, and some of their personal photography equipment was reportedly stolen. The government has failed to independently investigate these incidents, and has failed to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable. On the contrary, in a recent case, the police officer Sara Al-Moussa [8] was acquitted of all charges in which she reportedly tortured the journalist Nazeeha Saeed (see: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6260).

The authorities in Bahrain continue similar practices today. Many members of the media, including photographers such as Ahmed Fardan and Jaffar Madhoon, are subjected to enforced disappearance and reportedly tortured in order to extract false confessions [9]. Others, such as photographer Hussein Hubail and blogger Jassim Al-Noaimi, are reportedly subjected to torture, and then denied access to adequate medical attention [10]. The Bahraini authorities also target specific members of the press, such as journalist Mazen Mahdi and photographer Mohammed Al-Sheikh. On 26 February 2014, Mahdi was shot directly in the leg with a tear gas canister while filming a protest. The angle at which the shot was fired and the deliberate aiming of teargas directly at photojournalists confirms that the targeting was specific and intentional [11].

International human rights institutions and organizations have condemned the practice of targeting photographers and members of the media and subjecting them to enforced disappearance and torture. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the government’s practice of using arbitrary arrests as a means of intimidation to restrict the flow of information out of Bahrain [12].

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, United Nations and all close allies to the government of Bahrain to pressure Bahraini authorities to:

Immediately release Ahmed Humaidan and all other arbitrarily arrested members of the media and photographers;
Uphold Article 19 concerning the freedom of expression as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
End the systematic targeting of photographers, journalists, and bloggers, and allow all members of the media to carry on their work free from restrictions and harassment;
Commission an independent investigation into the allegations against those implicated in human rights violations and acts of torture against imprisoned photographers, journalists, and bloggers.

—-

[1] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4219/news/read/870181/1.html

[2] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5608

[3] http://manamavoice.com/news-news_read-19338-0.html

[4] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3803/news/read/735384/1.html

[5] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6771

[6] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5737

[7] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5143

[8] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3943/news/read/787380/1.html

[9] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6683

[10] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6609

[11] http://www.bahrainpa.org/?p=199

[12] http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-news-photographer-gets-10-years-in-26-03-2014,46046.html

[13] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3773/news/read/728056/1.html

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