Band plays YMCA at Sochi Olympic skating

This video from the Winter Olympics in Canada says about itself:

Dutch speed skating band Kleintje Pils during the Men’s 500m in Vancouver 2010.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Musical protest by Kleintje Pils

Saturday, February 15, 2014 15:21

The Dutch brass band Kleintje Pils ["Small Beer"] has played the song YMCA in Sochi during a break while the ice was cleaned during the 1,500 meter speed skating. This was intended as a protest against the anti-LGBTQ law in Russia.

“We too know the terrible images of anti-gay hatred in Russia and other countries,” said the Oompah band. “We cannot be silent about that.” The song, a 1970s hit by the Village People, is associated with the gay movement.

Kleintje Pils has had contact with Victor Willis, the composer of YMCA. “He wrote it to connect people with each other and that is also what Kleintje Pils stands for,” says the band.

A Dutch radio interview with the band about this is here.

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Northern hawk-owl and two Olympic medals in Zwolle, the Netherlands

This is a video about the northern hawk-owl in Zwolle, the Netherlands, on 28 January 2014.

The northern hawk-owl, present in Zwolle since November 2013, is still there. Today, it sat on the viaduct near the railway.

Talking about Zwolle city: today, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, two twin brothers from Zwolle won medals. Michel Mulder became Olympic champion in 500 meter speed skating. His brother Ronald Mulder won the bronze medal. Jan Smeekens, also from the Netherlands, was in second place, just one hundredth of a second behind Michel Mulder.

This is a video about Michel Mulder from December last year, when he skated a 500 meter world record for lowland speed skating tracks.

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YMCA played at Sochi Olympics

This video is called Village People – YMCA OFFICIAL Music Video 1978.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Russians themselves play YMCA

Saturday, February 8, 2014 15:46

It was the idea of ​​[Dutch gay comedian] Paul de Leeuw: let the party band “Small beer” [Kleintje Pils] play ‘gay song’ YMCA during the speed skating in Sochi as a protest against the anti-LGBTQ law in Russia. It is not known whether the Russians knew about that call and whether they agreed with such a playful protest, but the fact is that the song sounded from the loudspeakers this afternoon in Sochi.

During a break in the while machines cleaned the ice of the Adler Arena, people could hear The Village People which is seen worldwide as a ‘gay’ song.

Kleintje Pils will be going to Sochi next week.

Women’s fight to join the Olympics, sport by sport: here.

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Sochi Olympics, homophobia and snow

Democracy Now! in the USA says about this video today:

“Celebration Capitalism & the Olympics”: Global Protests Mark Opening of Sochi Games

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent more than $50 billion on the Winter Games in Sochi, making this the most expensive Olympics in history. In the lead-up to the games, Russia has faced worldwide criticism and calls for boycotts, especially after it passed a law in June banning the spread of so-called “gay propaganda” to children. With the games just two days away, we host a roundtable with four guests: Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and author of “Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down”; Samantha Retrosi, a luge athlete who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics; historian and former U.S. Olympic soccer player, Jules Boykoff, who is author of “Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games“; and Helen Lenskyj, author of several books on the Olympics, including “Gender Politics and the Olympic Industry” and the forthcoming book, “Sexual Diversity and the Sochi 2014 Olympics: No More Rainbows.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

DAVE ZIRIN: Second, I had a flashback this morning to getting a call from Amy in 2010, when she was detained at the Canadian border, going across for a different event, and the Vancouver Olympics were happening. Do you remember that?


DAVE ZIRIN: And they said to Amy, they said, “Are you here to talk about the Olympics?” And Amy said, “I am now.” And it’s just to point out that these issues we’re talking about are at every Olympics, and there’s no doubt that they’re getting amplified in Russia, partially because of the conflicts between the United States and Russia, but it’s also true that what’s happening in Russia is particularly bad, even by Olympic standards.

And that leads, really, to your question. I mean, the U.S. delegation involves three openly LGBT athletes—Billie Jean King, Caitlin Cahow, Brian Boitano—and then gold medalist Bonnie Blair. Now, what’s so interesting about this is that this is the first time since 2000 that nobody from the president or the vice president’s family has been part of the delegation. This is very clearly a thumb in the eye to Vladimir Putin by President Barack Obama. And I’m sure there a lot of people in the LGBT community and amongst allies who are happy that this is happening. It’s a strong stance for LGBT rights.

But I think people should also be very wary of it, for two reasons. First of all, we have a lot of problems in this country with regards to LGBT rights. I mean, for example, there are 29 states in this country you can still fire someone on the basis of their sexuality, and in eight states in this country there are what are called “no promo homo” laws, which are very similar to the Russian laws, where you cannot propagate homosexuality or anything of the sort. So, that’s the first thing. So it’s like we have to clean our own house.

The second thing, which is really important, is the only question that matters is: Will LGBT athletes in Russia be better or worse off after the cameras have gone home? And by sending over the delegation, one of the things that does is that it allows the IOC—and, by the way, they’re already doing this—and Putin to present the LGBT movement in Russia as a tool of the United States, and it actually opens them up for further repression.

AMY GOODMAN: Legendary tennis star Billie Jean King recently appeared on CBS This Morning and talked about going to Russia as a member of the official U.S. delegation, about the origins of Olympic Rule number 50, which bars athletes from engaging in any type of political demonstration at the games.

BILLIE JEAN KING: It probably came from the fact when John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their arms about civil rights, human rights, back in ’68, I think the rule [inaudible] was written after that, Rule 50.

VINITA NAIR: Because it bans all political demonstration.

BILLIE JEAN KING: It bans—they’re not supposed to protest or demonstrate. And if they do, they can have their medals stripped, and they can be sent home. But I also think people—some of the athletes will probably have their say.

The full transcript is here.

Winter Olympics 2014: Norway’s Health Minister to take his husband to Paralympics: here.

A People’s History of LGBTI Olympians: here.

The President of the Sochi Olympic Committee has just confirmed that the two wild orcas captured by White Sphere will not be displayed during the Sochi Olympics: here.

Everything you wanted to know about that hideously anti-gay law passed in Arizona last night: here.

Former Bush strategist equates Arizona’s anti-gay Christians to Islamic terrorists: here.

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Dutch brass band may play ‘YMCA’ at Winter Olympics

This video, recorded during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy, says about itself:

Dutch party band named “Small beer” [Kleintje Pils] is performing in Turin during the Olympic Games. In this case with the 10000m speed skating, a traditional Dutch part of the Winter Olympics. As you can see, the atmosphere is fantastic.

From Associated Press:

Dutch brass band may play ‘YMCA’ at Sochi oval


Jan. 21, 2014 12:22 PM EST

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch brass band that always performs at Olympic speed skating ovals is considering playing a popular gay song — “Y.M.C.A.” — at the Sochi Winter Olympics to show its support for gay rights.

This is called Village People – YMCA OFFICIAL Music Video 1978.

It remains to be seen how Russian and Olympic authorities would react should the Kleintje Pils band play a song widely considered to be a gay anthem. A ban on information about “nontraditional sexual relations” signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin has provoked widespread international outrage from critics who believe it discriminates against gays.

Band leader Ruud Bakker told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Kleintje Pils could mix the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” in its sing-along repertoire as “a signal.” But he added that the band didn’t want to antagonize organizers or turn its performances into a “political game.”

“We will see if we can get one or two songs into the selection, knowing that in the Netherlands it will be seen as a signal we are thinking of them (gays),” Bakker said.

The band, which keeps speed skating crowds rocking during ice resurfacing breaks at Olympic competitions, is best known for its stirring rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Queen’s “We are the Champions.” Usually they get the thousands of fans of all nationalities to dance along as they walk around the big oval with the permission of organizers. Mixing in a political message would be a new move.

The band performed “Y.M.C.A.” at the 2002 Salt Lake City games but has not played it since then. It has also practiced some Russian songs for the Sochi Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23.

This is a music video of the Russian song Kalinka. Dutch brass bands have played this song before at speed skating events.

Indirect moves by athletes to show support for gays have already caused controversy in Russia. At last August’s world athletics championships in Moscow, Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro sported rainbow colors on her nails. In the final, however, Green Tregaro went with red nails after track officials said her earlier gesture might violate the meet’s code of conduct.

Ms Green Tegaro was very lucky that Avery Brundage from the USA was not sports boss any more. Brundage would surely have punished her, not only for ‘gay’ rainbow fingernails, but for ‘communist’ red fingernails as well …

Reminding me a bit about when Turkish far Right nationalists complained that a Turkish workers’ organisation met in a building with red bricks, so was supposedly “communist” … err … what is the colour of the Turkish flag again? Reminding me again of the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s John Birch Paranoid Blues):

This music video is called John Birch Paranoid Blues (Live at Town Hall 1963).

Avery Brundage did not mind nazi salutes during the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics. But he did mind Black Power salutes, by athletes protesting against discrimination, very much, and had those athletes punished.

As this blog wrote earlier:

In 1936, the Olympic games were in Berlin, in Hitler‘s nazi Germany.

Sports officials like Avery Brundage in the USA were very much against athletes or spectators protesting against anti-Semitism, concentration camps, or other atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich. Such protests, they said, would be “political”. And Olympics, and sports in general, should be “non-political”. Meanwhile, there were nazi swastikas everywhere at Olympic venues. Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl made the official Olympic movie. Not only German athletes and sports bureaucrats, also many foreign athletes and sports bureaucrats did nazi salutes. All that was not political in the mindset of Avery Brundage and his ilk.

In 1968, Olympics again. In Mexico City.

This blog noted:

On October 16, 1968, the medals ceremony at the Mexico Olympics was converted into a symbolic demonstration of the struggle against oppression.

US black sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos, respectively first and third in the men’s 200 metres, defiantly raised clenched fist salutes as the American national anthem played.

Their stand in support of civil rights and against racism reverberated internationally.

The photograph of their protest has become one of the most recognised images in the world, after that of the first moon landing.

The unexpected silver medalist, 26-year-old Australian Peter Norman, wore a button of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights”—a civil rights protest movement set up by black athlete Harry Edwards before the Games—in support of his two fellow athletes.

These three athletes were punished harshly for daring to be ‘political’. While Avery Brundage, of 1936 Hitler Olympics infamy, was still Olympics big boss. Not political at all [sarcasm off].

Meanwhile, Olympics and other major sports events, like football World Cups, have become very entangled with corporate sponsors.

I hope to see many people like Tommy Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman in Sochi.

Eight U.S. states have policies similar to Russia’s ban on gay ‘propaganda’: here.

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Bahraini international footballer gets ten years jail in show trial

This video says about itself:

Bahrain Backlash: Doctors on trial for helping protesters

Amid ongoing unrest in Bahrain, the regime’s cracking down on non-violent protesters, as well as people who’ve been helping them. A group of doctors are on trial, after treating wounded anti-government demonstrators last year. RT’s Paula Slier has the latest.

Correspondent with Global Research Finian Cunningham was in Bahrain and witnessed some of the doctors treating the wounded during the crackdown. He thinks the Bahraini regime is persecuting the medics to keep them from telling the truth.

From Associated Press:

Bahrain sentences soccer player to 10 years prison

January 7

MANAMA, Bahrain — The defense lawyer of a player for Bahrain’s national soccer team says his client has been sentenced along with eight others to 10 years in prison on charges of burning a police station.

Lawyer Mohamed el-Motawa says the nine were also found guilty of participating in an illegal gathering and possessing firebombs.

El-Motawa says 20-year-old Hakeem el-Oraybi was playing in a televised match when the November 2012 incident took place in which dozens of Shiite protesters attacked a police station in the capital, Manama. El-Oraybi was detained for four months after the attack.

Bahraini Shiites are demanding greater rights from the Gulf Arab nation’s Sunni rulers.

El-Oraybi is currently in neighboring Qatar with the Bahraini team for a match. His lawyer said Tuesday el-Oraybi will likely be arrested upon return.

Washington, D.C. – Following today’s news that the Bahraini government is suspending the National Dialogue reconciliation talks, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement: “The suspension of the National Dialogue in Bahrain should serve a starting point for real negotiations with the opposition movement. The National Dialogue, which excluded key imprisoned opposition leaders, was unable to provide solutions to Bahrain’s human rights crisis. It is time for real political talks involving these activists who are currently in prison”: here.

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Bahrain dictatorship arrests athletes again

This video says about itself:

28 Dec 2013

Human Rights Watch: Bahrain children beaten & tortured for taking part in protests.

From the Albany Tribune in the USA:

Bahrain Detains Soccer Teams And Scores Of Players And Athletes – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

January 3, 2014

Bahrain has detained a soccer team as well as scores of other players and athletes since security forces squashed a popular uprising almost three years ago, according to human rights activists, journalists and officials.

In one of the latest rounds of detentions, authorities last month arrested three soccer and two handball players of Al Ittifaq Maqaba, a sports club in Diraz, a hot spot of continued protest against the government, the sources said. They said the athletes – soccer players Bahr Mohammed Jawad, Hassan Abdullah Marhoum, Qassem Habib Abdullah and handball players Ahmed Abdel Jalil and Ibrahim Juma’a – were lifted from their beds in a 3 AM raid on December 5. They said the athletes were among ten people taken away by security forces on suspicion of having participated in an illegal gathering.

A sixth athlete, Ahmed Fallah, a goalkeeper for Al Budaiya FC in the coastal town of Budaiya, which like its neighbor Diraz, remains a hot bed of anti-government sentiment, was detained around the same time as the others but has since been released.

The detained athletes joined an estimated 50 sports people being held in prison since the 2011 uprising during which 150 athletes and sports officials, including three national soccer team players, were arrested or fired from their jobs. Most of the 150 were quickly released and reinstated. Two national team players, who were at the time publicly denounced on television as spies and traitors, arrested and, according to them, tortured, now play for local clubs but were barred from rejoining the national squad.

Human rights activists and journalists charge that athletes are being targeted by Bahrain’s minority Sunni Muslim government because of their Shiite backgrounds and their participation in protests demanding equal rights for the Gulf Island’s majority Shiite population. Peaceful protests in 2011 at times turned violent as a result of the government’s brutal crackdown and its portrayal of the uprising as sectarian rather than political.

“One look at the list of detained athletes reveals the sectarian nature of this revenge. They all belong to the majority Shiite community that is demanding democracy,” said Faisal Hayyat, a sports journalist and activist.

It is unclear if the detained athletes had participated in ongoing protests, had relatives who had taken part, or whether their arrests were arbitrary. Amnesty International noted in a report last month that Bahrain’s juvenile law had been amended to hold responsible the parents of anyone under the age of 15 who takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in. Under the amended law, parents initially would receive a written warning from the interior ministry. If a second offence is recorded within six months of the warning, a child’s father could face jail, a fine or both.

Mr. Hayyat said most soccer players refrained from political activity because they were financially dependent on the sport.

The crackdown three years ago pushed protests out of the capital Manama into local neighborhoods whose perimeters are today frequently patrolled by machine-gun mounted, armored police vehicles. Graffiti on walls reflect the public mood. Slogans include: ‘Down with King Hamad’, ‘Martyrdom is our habit’, ‘Our goal is toppling the regime’, ‘Death to the Saudis’ and ‘We bow only in front of God’. A local resident said: “This will never end. It’s gone too far. Reform is the only way out.”

An independent fact-finding commission made up of international rights lawyers that was endorsed by the Bahrain government concluded in November 2011 that those detained during the uprising had suffered systematic abuse. The commission said however that abuse was not policy, but that five people had been tortured to death and other detainees had suffered electric shocks and beatings with rubber hoses and wires.

Amnesty International in its report asserted that children in Bahrain were being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured. It said that scores of children arrested on suspicion of participating in anti-government protests – including some as young as 13 – had been blindfolded, beaten and tortured. Others, the group said, were threatened with rape in order to extract forced confessions. Amnesty said that at least 110 youngsters aged 16 to 18 were being held at the Dry Dock Prison, an adult penitentiary on Al Muharraq Island, pending investigation or trial.

Mr. Hayyat’s picture was flashed on the screen of the television broadcast during which national soccer star Alaa Hubail and other athletes, including his brother Mohammed, were denounced. Mr. Hayyat was arrested three days later, imprisoned for 84 days, and according to his own testimony, tortured.

“That Bahraini crowd that loved you, who carried you and chanted your name, 30-40,000 fans at the stadium calling your name, did you forget them in this moment?” the show’s host asked Alaa during the broadcast over the telephone.

“No, I didn’t forget them,” Alaa responded limply.

“Yes you did,” the host shot back.

In a telephone call to the broadcast Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, head of Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sport as well as its Olympic Committee and fourth son of King Hamad, congratulated the show for its denunciation of the players. “Well done, guys. Today, we at the Organization of Sports and Youth have nothing to do with politics and are concerned with sports and brotherly competition… People have involved themselves in matters and have lost the love of their fans… Anyone who called for the fall of the regime, may a wall fall on his head. Whether he is an athlete, socialite or politician — whatever he is — he will be held accountable. Today is judgment day. . . Bahrain is an island and there is nowhere to escape,” Sheikh Nasser said.

A day after the broadcast, masked state security police men arrived at the national soccer team’s training ground. Alaa and Mohammed were taken to what Alaa described to ESPN as an unknown place. “They put me in the room for beatings. One of the people who hit me said: ‘I’m going to break your legs.’ They knew who we were. There was a special room for the torture.”

His words were echoed in ESPN interviews by table tennis champion Anwar al-Makki and Mr. Hayyat. “They would bring an electric cable, blindfold the person and put them on the floor,” Mr. Makki said. “I was blindfolded. I couldn’t see what was happening. He put a cable in my hand and said: ‘Now I’ll turn the electricity on,’” Mr. Hayyat added.

Among those detained since is the whole squad of the Al-Ekar Youth Center in the village of Al-Ekar. … Opposition groups said the arrests had been arbitrary.

Other detained athletes, according to the journalists and activists, include Al Ahli and national soccer youth team players Ahmed Hassan Abdul Wahab, Younis Hader and Jaffar Al Asfoor; national youth handball team player Ali Almolani; beach volleyball midfielder Ridha Abdul Hussain; and Bahrain gymnastics champion Hussein Abdul Ghani.

The journalists and activists said that Mr. Abdul Wahab was sentenced to five years in prison for attacking a security patrol in Nuwaidrat. Mr. Hader was arrested a year ago when he sought to renew his passport while Mr. Al Asfoor was picked up while swimming. Mr. Abdul Ghani was sent to jail for burning a police car and Mr. Almolani was sentenced to three years by a national security court for his role in anti-government protests in a university. Mr. Abdul Hussain was imprisoned for four years on charges of burning tires and organizing illegal protests. Al Ittihad handball players Murtadha Salah Darwish, and Baqir AlShabani were jailed for three years and Jassim Ramadan to eight years for participation in protests in Bahrain’s financial district.

Bahrain Jiu-jitsu champion Mohammed Mirza was sentenced to several years in prison on charges of having participated in the kidnapping of a policemen. Journalists and human rights activists asserted that Mr. Mirza had signed his confession after being tortured. Race driver Hamad al-Fahd was arrested during the uprising and sentenced by a military court to life in prison.

Two dozen fans of Al Nejmeh SC were arrested earlier this year when they responded to pro-government chanting during a match with a popular Shiite phrase: “Praise God, his messenger Prophet Mohammed and the prophet’s descendants.”

Soccer officials and critics of the government say Bahraini soccer and other sports suffer from a lack of planning as a result of politicization. “There are no sports since the uprising. Matches serve as PR to show that Bahrain is back to normal,” Mr. Hayyat said. “We have lost qualified managers. As a result, soccer suffers,” added a soccer official.

Arms and Athletes in Bahrain: Al Khalifa’s Deadly Game: here.

In early December, Bahrain prison officials in Jaw Prison broke a hunger strike by negotiating with prisoners for the provision of basic essentials to weather the winter season. Days after the hunger strike ended, however, they reneged on their promises and refused to provide prisoners with proper clothing and access to medical treatment. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) condemns the treatment of the prisoners in Jaw Prison and calls on the Government of Bahrain to honor its commitments and adequately provide for the prisoners in its care: here.

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