After twenty minutes, the concert ended in chaos.
This is another video about that concert.
This is a music video of a song from Thailand.
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:
According to the verdict, the unnamed musician insulted the royal family nine times in two years. …
This video says about itself:
Barenboim conducts his “Orchestra for Gaza”
3 May 2011
For the last 12 years Daniel Barenboim has used his musical reputation to push for peace between Israel and its neighbours.
This 68 year-old Argentine-born Jew, yet holder of a Palestinian passport had previously taken his music to the West Bank, but now he has broken fresh ground, crossing from Egypt into Gaza to play with his “Orchestra for Gaza”, 25 handpicked musicians from the top ensembles in Europe.
From the peace movement in Israel:
First 3 Friday actions; after that Saturday night Tel Aviv demo
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: דב קולר
The Galilee Jewish-Arab Peace Vigil goes on!
Friday August 1, 2014 – at 1.00 pm , western entrance to Karmiel
Daily, innocent people get killed by the scores, sometimes by hundreds, in the ongoing terrible war between Israel and Palestine.
In recent days, Jews and Arabs joined together to protest – men and women, urban, rural, and kibbutzniks – residents of the Galilee from Karmiel, Ba’aneh, Pelech, Beit Jan, Misgav, Deir al Asad, and other locations
United, we of civil society call upon the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to:
Implement an immediate ceasefire – and conduct a genuine dialogue in order to achieve a comprehensive political agreement between the two peoples.
We struggle to put an end to the bloodshed, in this terrible time of bombing and shelling, when the innocent are daily killed – women and children, young and old.
For more information: Dov Koller +972-(0)54-3921272
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Vitali Markov
Update on The Peace Bus – Jerusalem to the Gaza Border
The following update, as of Thursday afternoon August 1, supersedes and replaces earlier version sent out yesterday
Friday, August 1, 9am, the Peace Bus will leave the parking lot of Gan Ha’Pa’amon (Liberty Bell Park) in Jerusalem, for the third consecutive week carrying medicines and clothes, as well as flowers, intended for the people of Gaza. Also postcards written by Israelis and addressed to Gazans, trying to bridge the terrible abyss.
The intended schedule includes:
- 10.00am – Visiting wounded Gazans at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem
– 12.00 (Noon) – Meeting with Bereaved Families maintaining a non-stop vigil at the Cinemateque Sqaure, Tel Aviv
– 2.00 pm – Visiting wounded soldiers in a Tel Aviv area hospital, with a message of peace (note: implementation of this part depends of approval by the authorities)
– 4.30 – Arriving at Sderot on the Gaza border, meeting with “The Other Voice“, an organization of Gaza border residents seeking peace and reconciliation with their Palestinian neighbors
– At the end of that meeting, symbolically laying flowers as near to Erez Checkpoint on the Gaza border as the bus could get. Supplies collected for Gaza will be delivered via the West Bank-based “Caritas” charity
Note: Intended stop in Be’er Sheba was cancelled
Please come on board to make the message of the Peace Bus stronger and to meet people living on the border of the conflict region. Presenting a message of peace in the conflict zone is of vital importance, as is maintaining touch between Israel’s center and periphery – to stay together.
We are ready to come on the 3rd Journey and deliver medicines to the people in Gaza (we start collecting the medicine and the money to buy medicines in order to provided both direct and symbolic support from Israelis to the Gazans during the humanitarian catastrophe). Let’s take a one day break, collect energy and start Sunday with some ideas and actions. First things first – we need to contribute ourselves and find foundations supporting our project …
We just got back from the town of Sderot on the Gaza border, where on our 2nd bus journey we visited families who support peaceful solution of the conflict and were inspired by conversations. We’ve been also on a our condolences visit to a Bedouin camp next to Dimona, where a part of a rocket fired by Hamas (after the rocket was intercepted, but some shrapnel fell down) killed a Bedouin man and wounded his children. It was a good journey and more will follow. I apologize, folks, that the web-radio broadcasting came short this time, some technical stuff we’ll have to learn how to solve.
Our vision is to create the reality where Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and dignity. We are not offering political solutions nor do all of us have a common political view. We do not have ready recipes. But what we a certain of is that we cannot continue hating, fighting, killing each other. In 66 years of war we could not achieve any permanent solution – we believe that it’s time to try a different path.
On the Peace Bus we promote the principles of tolerance, understanding and non-violence. People of all religions, colors, nations, genders come together in the loving attitude to see what the media is trying to hide away from us – a true face of the so called “enemy”. In the eyes of an Israeli and Palestinian child you will discover innocence and remember yourself once being a child, free from prejudices and hate. In this moment we mourn for all those who perished during this unnecessary and tragic conflict: not just in the current one, but for all the innocents who lost their lives in the war of hatred.
We want to see the perspectives of both sides: suffering of Palestinians and Israelis alike. We are all human beings who happened to be raised as enemies. And this is a real tragedy. We can not live in peace as long as other side is suffering. Therefore, the PEACE IS OUR COMMON GOAL!
Vitali Markov +972-(0)58-6566767
———- Forwarded message ———-
Support Imprisoned Conscientious Objectors – Military Prison 6, Atlit, Friday Aug. 6
Uriel Ferera had refused to join an army of occupation and is going in and out of the military prison system. This week, in the midst of terrible war in Gaza, he is joined behind bars by refuser Udi Segal.
On Friday Aug. 1, the Yesh Gvul refuser support group will hold a protest outside Military prison 6 at Atlit (between Tel Aviv and Haifa) where the two are held. At 12.30 activists will climb the mountain overlooking the prison, from where they will be visible (and with favorable wind conditions, audible) from the prison courtyard.
Jerusalem: Binyaney Ha’uma, 10.00 am
Tel Aviv: Corner of Arlozorov and Namir, 11.00 am
Contact: Yishai Menuchin +972-(0)054-3355373
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: maayan dak
Saturday, 2nd of August. 20:00, Habima Theater Square, Tel Aviv
We call for an immediate cease fire, putting an end to the war and bloodshed, while simultaneously seeking a political solution
Stop the attack on Gaza!
War does not lead to security, it merely claims more and more causalities.
Say yes to a political solution that will make possible a secure life for both people.
*** There will be assigned stewards. Please fallow their instructions as for the location of the protest, the conduct during the protest and the dispersal***
We ask that all participants will avoid any violent conduct.
We invite other organizations to add their name to the call for the protest.
‘No more deaths': Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war: here.
Gaza conflict: US says Israeli attack on UN school was ‘totally unacceptable’. White House’s strongest and most explicit condemnation of Israel comes as Palestinian leaders prepare for talks on short ceasefire: here.
White House: Little doubt UN school in Gaza was hit by Israeli artillery: here.
Gaza ‘faces precipice’ as death toll passes 1,400: here.
A public letter by Hilla Dayan and PW Zuidhof, an Israeli-Dutch couple visiting Tel Aviv with their children. The full letter was published on the Jewish Voice for Peace website on July 31. It details the atmosphere of intimidation, hatred and hysteria inside Israel during its military offensive on Gaza.
In an article titled, “Arrest Gideon Levy and Haneen Zoabi,” Matti Golan, a columnist for the Israeli business daily Globes, has called for the establishment of camps modeled after the internment camps the United States established in World War II: here.
Shimon Peres has broken ranks with the prevalent mood in Israel, saying it is time to “find a way to stop” the 22-day war in Gaza. Mr Peres’s comments, made hours before the security cabinet convened to decide whether to further escalate the war or try to move towards a diplomatic exit, were immediately denounced as defeatist by legislators in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party: here.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers condemn destruction of Gaza: here.
Gaza crisis: UN, US announce ceasefire to begin Friday morning: here.
The 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip collapsed yesterday morning within hours of coming into force: here.
INTERNET giant Google found itself with explaining to do yesterday after allowing a game entitled Bomb Gaza to be uploaded onto its software store. The game — in which players fire airstrikes at Palestinians from Israeli planes — was taken down after hundreds of complaints came through: here.
Britain: The Tory Party started showing its cracks yesterday when Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi stormed out of office over David Cameron’s “morally indefensible” position on Palestine: here. And here.
This music video is called Edwin Starr: War (Lyrics).
By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:
Thursday 31st July 2014
August is traditionally a time of concentrated conflict and when wars have started.
One hundred years ago this week the first world war broke out as a result of a series of dangerous interlocking military alliances, a massive arms race between Britain and Germany, and a competition between European powers for trade and colonial influence all across the globe.
Four years later with 13 million dead and the empires of Russia, Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman in tatters, Britain and France desperately in debt, the real victors of the war were US bank financiers and arms manufacturers.
The first world war was also a major contributory factor to the Russian revolution and the birth of the Soviet Union.
What we should also remember is that at the outbreak of war in 1914 the whole population did not go waltzing down the street to the nearest army recruiting office.
Many instead took to the streets to protest at the waste, the potential loss of life and to proclaim that workers in Britain and France had no enemies in the working-class movement of Germany and Austria. Unfortunately these voices were a minority, drowned out by the drum of chauvinism.
Later that evening there will be a gathering of the No Glory group, also commemorating the outbreak of war and, notably, those who opposed it and the conscientious objectors who were subsequently imprisoned for their principles.
We live in an age of instant communication and relentless media attention of one conflict after another. In real time, we can see schools in Gaza being bombed and the mutilated bodies of children taken into overcrowded hospitals for whatever limited treatment can be offered, particularly in the absence of electricity and other vital medical infrastructure.
The media in 1914 were kept at arm’s length from the war, and the true horrors of the trenches and the incredible loss of life on all sides was deliberately minimised by a jingoistic press.
War is now the power of the high technology, electronically managed weaponry of the richest countries against the poorly armed and, in some cases, virtually defenceless people of the poorer countries in the world.
In 1914 it was industrial-scale warfare against soldiers using the infantry tactics of the 1850s who were mown down by machine guns while entangled in barbed wire.
The conflicts that are eating up lives and creating the bitterness that will be the conflict of tomorrow in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya and Palestine and Afghanistan are well documented, and nobody in the world can be unaware of the horrors that are going on.
There is no one specific cause for any war but there are the general lessons of history where colonialism and short-term political deals drew lines on maps. There are also the unrelenting thirst of the industrial economies of the world for raw materials and minerals.
After the first world war, the lessons were learnt bout the horror of chemical weapons and they were indeed outlawed in 1925. More recently, world agreements have outlawed landmines and to some extent the export of weaponry to areas of conflict. They have not however dealt with nuclear weapons beyond the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Last week at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay made a very interesting and well researched speech on Palestine in which she asserted that the deliberate targeting of civilian populations, attacks on schools, hospitals and places of worship, needed to be investigated as war crimes. She is right.
Next Tuesday is the anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and at midday there will be an act of solidarity and remembrance of the victims of nuclear war in Tavistock Square in London.
Nine months ahead of the general election it’s important to remind MPs and potential candidates that to spend £100bn on nuclear weapons when we desperately need investment in good-quality jobs in engineering and services is outrageous. Britain has even refused to attend the conferences on the humanitarian effects of nuclear war — is this to ensure ministers remain oblivious to the true realities of the effects of these weapons? The cancers of nuclear fallout are still killing people in Hiroshima.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
MoD and Foreign Office sued by Pakistani citizen in Iraq torture case
Tuesday 29 July 2014 09.56 BST
Yunus Rahmatullah was captured by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US troops soon afterwards. The incident was initially kept secret from ministers and only disclosed to MPs five years later, in 2009. Rahmatullah, now 31, was released by the US without charge in May.
He is believed to have been first held at Camp Nama, a secret detention facility at Baghdad airport that British troops helped to run. He was later transferred to Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail before being rendered to the Bagram “black prison” in Afghanistan.
The court of appeal ruled in 2011 that Rahmatullah was unlawfully detained and ordered a writ of habeas corpus – the ancient British legal right to be charged or released from arbitrary detention – to be issued.
However, lawyers acting for the government later successfully argued in the supreme court that British ministers had no power “to direct the US” to release Rahmatullah from Bagram.
He describes in detail his torture and abuse in a 60-page document drawn up by his lawyers and seen by the Guardian. He says when he was captured by British special forces in Iraq in early 2004 he was beaten unconscious. Soldiers cut his clothes with a pair of scissors until, he says, he was “completely naked”.
His lawyers’ statement of claim describes how a soldier poured water on to Rahmatullah’s face after placing a cloth over his mouth and nose causing “a sensation of drowning”.
He was shackled and hooded, and lapsed in and out of consciousness as he was beaten and thrown against a wall. He was suspended upside down and “repeatedly dunked into a tank of water”, says the court document.
At one point, he was taken to a room “where he was horrified to see six or seven naked detainees piled on top of each other”, according to the court statement. He was thrown on top of the detainees and kept in the room for more than two days.
Despite an agreement signed by Britain and the US that specifically referred to the rights of prisoners of war and detained civilians enshrined in the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law, Rahmatullah was handed over to US forces who secretly took him to Afghanistan. His entire body, including his eyes and mouth, were “taped tightly with duct tape”, the court document says. He was locked in a solitary cell with rats and cockroaches. With other Bagram detainees, he was exposed to daylight in 2006, for the first time in two and half years.
After going on hunger strike, he was subjected to force-feeding on six separate occasions. Apart from limited communication with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, he had no contact with the outside world, including his family, until 2010.
British officials, their “servants and agents”, were “recklessly indifferent to the illegality of their actions”, Rahmatullah’s lawyers have told the high court.
Kat Craig, legal director at the human rights group Reprieve, who has recently visited Rahmatullah, said he had been “through 10 years of frankly unimaginable horror”.
She added: “Now that he has finally been able to speak freely to his lawyers, there is no longer any doubt that the British government bears responsibility for his torture and illegal rendition to Bagram.”
Craig continued: “Yunus was robbed of 10 years in the prime of his life; a time when he wanted to find a career, choose a partner and build a family.
“The government must now come clean about the full extent of British involvement in this disgraceful episode in our history – only then will Yunus be able to move on and try to rebuild his life.”
Reprieve legal directors says there is ‘no doubt’ of British responsibility for torture and rendition of Yunus Rahmatullah: here.
This video from the USA is called Houston Grand Opera’s “The Passenger“.
By Fred Mazelis in the USA:
The Passenger depicts the Holocaust and its aftermath in opera form
25 July 2014
Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 1968 opera The Passenger recently had its New York premiere as part of the annual Lincoln Center Festival. The performances showed that this challenging work, dealing with the Holocaust and its aftermath, deserves a permanent place in the operatic repertoire.
Weinberg, born in Warsaw in 1919, narrowly escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland, arriving in the Soviet Union before his 20th birthday. His parents and younger sister were sent to the Lodz Ghetto and later perished in a concentration camp. Weinberg, who lived the remaining 56 years of his life in the USSR, was a prolific composer of symphonies, string quartets, operas and film music. Among his film scores was that for the award-winning The Cranes Are Flying.
(Interestingly, one of Weinberg’s cousins, following the Russian Revolution, was the secretary of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Baku Soviet commune and was executed by counterrevolutionary forces in September 1918 along with the other 26 Baku commissars.)
In eight scenes over two acts, The Passenger tells the story of a prosperous German couple in the early 1960s, Liese and Walter, who have embarked on an ocean voyage to Brazil, where the husband, a West German diplomat, is to take up a new post.
In the midst of what should be a time of satisfaction and happy anticipation, however, Liese observes a mysterious passenger onboard, and becomes convinced that this is in fact Marta, who as a young Polish woman was an inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Liese was an Auschwitz guard, something she has tried to leave behind and suppress psychologically, and has never even spoken about to her husband.
The opera, with a libretto by Alexander Medvedev and music by Weinberg, then compellingly develops the theme of the Holocaust and its aftermath. The action takes place on two levels, both in its staging and in its time frame. The upper level is the ship itself, including Liese and Walter’s private cabin. Stairs lead to a lower level, the concentration camp barracks and the railroad tracks leading to the camp. The scenes alternate, forcefully depicting the memories that increasingly haunt Liese as the story progresses.
We are soon introduced to Marta as a young concentration camp inmate. Her fellow prisoners include Tadeusz, Marta’s beloved, whom she finds after a separation of two years. Liese is the only character that appears on both levels of the opera, with the events of nearly 20 years earlier clearly seared into her memory. In her role as a camp guard, she threatens and taunts the prisoners, and in particular tries to take advantage of Marta and Tadeusz’s relationship for her own purposes.
The work explores the issue of the aftermath of the Holocaust, for both victims and perpetrators. The Passenger is set in the early 1960s, in the midst of the postwar economic boom in Germany, and also in the shadow of the Eichmann trial in Israel, which brought the issue of the Holocaust and its architects before a new generation of Germans as well as to a global audience. A generation of young people in Germany, as elsewhere, were radicalized by the war in Vietnam in particular as the 1960s unfolded and attempted to come to terms as well with their own traumatic national history. This was the period that saw the publication of some of the best-known novels of German writers such as Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll, as well as the first films of Rainer Maria Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff and others.
The historical issues are deliberately not spelled out in The Passenger. The story is presented without even settling the issue of whether the mysterious woman is in fact Marta, or perhaps only the vivid reflection of Liese’s guilty conscience.
The opera also does not portray Liese as a kind of stand-in for Germany as a whole, a symbol of collective guilt. It does, however, show the impossibility of ignoring the past. It raises the inevitable issues of the causes of the descent into barbarism. The portrayal of both the younger and middle-aged Liese suggests the self-satisfied layer of the middle class that finds itself, under definite social and political conditions, capable of the most monstrous crimes.
The opera is based on a novel by a Polish concentration camp survivor, Zofia Posmysz. Posmysz, alive and well at the age of 90, has been involved in the belated production of the opera, and appeared at the New York premiere.
Arrested as a young girl because of an association with an anti-Nazi group, Posmysz spent three years as a prisoner. Some years later, as a journalist on assignment in Paris, she thought she saw someone who had been a guard at Auschwitz. This episode led first to a radio play, which was later turned into a novel, in which the relationship is reversed, with a conscience-stricken former guard believing she has glimpsed a former inmate.
The novel became enormously popular in Poland. This was a time of political ferment following the working class protests in Poznan in 1956. The book was turned into a film— Passenger (1963)—by the talented young Polish director Andrzej Munk (Man on the Tracks, 1956), completed by colleagues after Munk’s untimely death in an auto accident in 1961. Somewhat later, Weinberg’s close friend and colleague Dmitri Shostakovich urged him to consider a project based on the novel.
Weinberg’s music is impressive, as we have had occasion to note in the past. It reflects his lifelong association with Shostakovich, whom he first met in 1943, when he was only 23 years old and Shostakovich himself was 13 years older. Highly dissonant at times, the score remains tonal and emotionally involving. The composer is especially effective in combining and alternating several styles while still adhering to a distinctive musical language.
The influence of Shostakovich is clear, but the music is not derivative. Weinberg depicts the growing apprehension and panic of Liese, the concern of her husband for his career prospects, and above all the suffering and heroism of the prisoners. The music is at times anguished, jazz-influenced in its depiction of some of the shipboard activities, and briefly but strongly lyrical in the reunion of Marta and Tadeusz.
If there is one major weakness, it is in the vocal writing itself. In an opera, this is of course an issue that can’t be overlooked. There were times, especially in the opera’s first act, when an emphasis on orchestral writing, and an imbalance between the orchestra and performers, tended to detract from the dramatic action. The second act was more affecting, especially the exchanges between Marta, Tadeusz and Liese.
Both Marta and Tadeusz resist Liese’s attempts to enlist their cooperation, even though it will mean their deaths. A high point of this act, and the climax of the entire opera, comes when Tadeusz, a violinist, is commanded to play the camp commandant’s favorite waltz, and instead defiantly performs the famous Bach Chaconne from the Second Partita for Violin, before being led off to his death.
Weinberg’s orchestration is masterful. Strings and winds are joined by powerful writing for the brass section, and above all, a percussion section that includes almost every imaginable instrument, including timpani, triangle, tambourine, whip, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, bells and glockenspiel.
The Houston Grand Opera production was also striking. Director David Pountney was responsible for the English translation of the libretto. The opera, originally presented in Austria in 2010, was staged in Houston last winter, and it is the Houston production, including the orchestra under Patrick Summers, that was brought to New York for three performances. The opera was first presented in Moscow in concert version in 2006, nearly 40 years after it was written.
The New York performances took place in the historic Park Avenue Armory, in a building dating to 1880 and for decades the headquarters of the 7th New York Militia Regiment, which had fought in the Civil War. The huge vaulted space of the Drill Hall, at the center of this building, is a music venue unlike any other in New York. The size of the space made some amplification of the voices necessary, a rare occurrence in the opera world. In this case it was carried off in so understated and effective a fashion that some listeners would not even have been aware of it. Although the opera was sung in English, the use of supertitles was also effective, as was the unusual placement of the orchestra, to the side of the two-tiered set.
The singers were uniformly excellent, particularly soprano Melody Moore as Marta. Tadeusz was sung by Morgan Smith, Katya by Kelly Kaduce, Liese by mezzo soprano Michelle Breedt and Walter by tenor Joseph Kaiser.
Mieczyslaw Weinberg is one of the “lost composers” of the twentieth century. Strictly speaking, he is not of the generation that came of age musically between the imperialist world wars, or whose career was interrupted by the rise of fascism during those decades, including some promising composers who perished in the Holocaust. Although Weinberg was younger and had a full musical career, the environment in which he worked was shaped by the tragedies of this era.
In connection with the belated appearance of The Passenger, little has been said about why it languished in obscurity for decades. Shostakovich was enormously taken by the work, but for reasons that were not spelled out, it was not staged, although many other works of Weinberg were regularly performed in the Soviet Union.
The Stalinist regime, which still used a heavy hand in cultural matters in this period, may have decided that an opera that focused on concentration camps and dealt with Polish victims did not mesh with its own continuous efforts to build up nationalist feelings. The authorities decreed that emphasis had always to be placed on the Russian and Soviet toll in the war, which of course was massive, to the exclusion of others. It was for this reason that Shostakovich encountered such official opposition to his 13th Symphony, subtitled “Babi Yar,” dedicated to the Jewish victims of Nazi extermination at this site in Kiev.
Weinberg’s life was shaped in no small part by horrific Nazi barbarism on the one hand, and the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution on the other. While he and many others found refuge in the Soviet Union, they also confronted the regime of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy, which used anti-Semitism for its own purposes.
This video from the USA says about itself:
L.A. Gently Weeps As George Harrison Tree Is Felled By Beetles
22 July 2014
A local official said on Tuesday that a tree planted in memorial to late Beatles guitarist George Harrison following his death in Los Angeles in 2001 has been killed by bark beetles amid California’s epic drought. The pine tree, which was dedicated with a plaque to Harrison at the head of a hiking trail in the city’s Griffith Park, was among a number of trees that have succumbed to the beetles this year. City Councilman, Tom LaBonge said he expects to see a new tree planted in remembrance of Harrison in the fall.
From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:
George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles; replanting due
By Randy Lewis
July 21, 2014
In the truth is stranger than fiction department, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, told Pop & Hiss over the weekend that the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation.
Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles.
Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.
The sapling went in, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life.
This satiric music video says about itself:
The Price of Oil
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Tony Blair sees his millions as modest – only in the world of the super rich
The Blairs seem to crave money because it is there. As the gap between the wealthy few and the rest widens, their fortune is hard to justify
Tuesday 22 July 2014 12.12 BST
How rich is Tony Blair? What are the needs of an ex-prime minister with grown-up children, a working wife, £25m in property and bodyguards costing the state £1m a year? Blair protested yesterday that he is not worth £100m, “not half of that, a third of that, a quarter of that, a fifth of that, and I could go on.” That gets us down to below £20m. In addition, he pleaded that, “I spend two-thirds of my time on unpaid work,” such as bringing peace to the Middle East. How dare anyone suggest he was motivated by money?
Since leaving office Blair’s financial manoeuvres have become the butt of satire, not least in Robert Harris’s novel The Ghost. It is not clear if his mysterious “foundations” exist to sanitise the dodgy consultancies, or the dodgy consultancies to support the foundations. Nothing seems quite above board in a miasma of Windrush and Firerush nameplates, out of sight, mind and national boundary. One minute Blair is “advising” in Kazakhstan, another in Colombia, Azerbaijan or Dubai. He seems to have an aversion to democracies.
Blair clearly regards £20m as modest. On the day when the boss of Tesco is ousted for failure and could walk away with close to £10m plus £11m in pension, ordinary people must wonder at the world these people inhabit. As Robert Maxwell once said when asked about his riches, making the first million is easy because you can spend it. When there is nothing left to buy you have to just want money.
Blair has often opined that his apparent neediness derives from the fact that he and Cherie grew up with financial insecurity. That might explain the cheap dress, upgrade or freebie holiday, but the Blairs cannot realistically expect sympathy for a multimillion-pound comfort blanket. Their pension, not means-tested, is supplied by the taxpayer. Their children have houses of their own, unlike many young people. The Blairs seem to crave money like Maxwell, because it is there.
A cardinal fact of the recession and recovery is the ever widening gap between a tiny minority of very rich and the rest. As Thomas Piketty has argued, however rooted in economic history, this gulf has no justification in political equity or social stability. It is not sensible. In the west it looks increasingly like the kleptocracy so derided in the developing world. Time was when Blair’s boasts would have been regarded as inflammatory. Who knows that such times may not return?
This music video is called Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World.
By Richard Maunders in Britain:
Tuesday 22nd July 2014
RICHARD MAUNDERS reports on a unique international music project which promotes peaceful global change
MARRYING Rolling Stone Keith Richards with Aztec Indian percussionists, Mexican horns, an Australian didgeridoo, a Congolese bassist and an array of other talented international musicians may come across as a bit off the wall.
But in the case of the remarkable eight-track album Making The World A Better Place, the experiment is something of a triumph. Hundreds of musicians from 31 countries across six continents have been brought together by Playing For Change, a movement formed in California to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music.
This album is the third such collection recorded in a quest to enhance the cause. In 2005, co-founders Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke committed to the ideal that through music change can be made and that all races, cultures and societies should be able to live in peace and harmony together.
They created the concept of Songs Around The World by uniting together musicians from many different countries, races and cultures to perform together on the same number.
Although most are well known and the music is superb, the achievement of this album is the clever knitting together of so many talents — young and old, with different beliefs and backgrounds — to join in what is a festival of humanity and respect.
Their conviction — that we are all together, inhabiting one world, for peace and humanity — is a message few would disagree with, even though there may be differences as to how best to achieve such noble ideals.
The performances are brilliantly conceived, beautifully photographed and expertly recorded even though in some instances the “recording studio” sometimes includes the open air, city streets, backyards, bars and the countryside.
The result is an infectious set in this musical odyssey around the planet.
Household names such as Keith Richards, Los Lobos, bluesmen Keb Mo and Taj Mahal, Toots Hibbert — of the legendary Toots And The Maytals — and others rub shoulders with street musicians, African choirs and instrumentalists, Cuban guitarists and even a fabulous female Japanese honky-tonk pianist. It’s a cocktail of effervescent music that stirs the senses.
Two pieces of an outstanding collection stand out. There’s a spirited version of the anti-war anthem Down By The Riverside, led by Granpa Elliott, a New Orleans street musician for more than 60 years. He’s joined by Choeur la Grace, a Congolese choir singing the chorus in their own language, with the brilliant Preservation Hall Jazz Band adding a rousing finale.
This music video is called Playing For Change – Down by the Riverside/A Better Place.
The best, however, is saved for the last performance. More than 75 Cubans around the world from Havana and Santiago to Miami and Tokyo came together to sing Jose Marti’s patriotic verses on a passionate rendition of Guantanamera.
This music video is called Guantanamera | Playing For Change | Song Around The World.
US singer Jackson Browne was so impressed with Cuba that he writes in the sleeve notes: “Travelling with playing for change to Havana and Santiago de Cuba was one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of my life.”
If there is a criticism it has to be the lack of “revolutionary” edge. There is no Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger material here, for example, and maybe in future the Playing For Change Foundation might consider tackling poverty and hunger in its remit. Yet this is a vibrant and inspirational journey across the musical spectrum and one for all to enjoy.
The CD/DVD on Timeless Media is available at www.playingforchange.com, along with updates of Playing For Change’s British tour next month.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Knife-happy ex-teacher boots out BNP Griffin
Tuesday 22nd July 2014
The move, agreed at the party’s national executive at the weekend, follows disastrous results in recent European and local elections.
Mr Walker has a lifetime ban from teaching after he chased three boys in his car and slashed their bike tyres with a knife.
Hope Not Hate activist Matthew Collins told the Star that the move had been predicted by the campaign group as far back as May.
“We can expect some more bloodletting in the coming months.”
RICHARD REYNELL reports on changes at the top of one of Britain’s most odious fascist organisations following electoral defeats and internal bust-ups: here.