British journalism and conspiracy theories


This Bob Dylan music video from the USA is called John Birch Paranoid Blues {Live at Town Hall 1963} – Elston Gunn. The lyrics of the song are here.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Chapman Pincher: was he the Sixth Man?

Tuesday 19th August 2014

PETER FROST has a chuckle as he remembers a Grub Street journalist who thought just about everybody was a Soviet spy

IT WAS in the pages of the Daily Express in the late 1950s that I first came across Chapman Pincher.

The Express bylined Pincher as the world’s greatest reporter — and he certainly agreed.

He wasn’t, of course. But he did seem to have some interesting stories and he seemed immune to some of the D-notices and other techniques that the Establishment used in those days to keep so many scandals out of the papers.

Reaching my teenage years in the 1950s and early ’60s I got my ideas about the world and politics and what would be my lifelong love affair with print journalism from all kinds of newspapers.

At home we had the News Chronicle until it stopped publication in 1960, and the left-wing Daily Herald until 1964 when it tragically transmogrified into the Sun.

In 1961 I discovered a scrappy little magazine called Private Eye and also developed a soft spot for the Daily Mirror and its Labour politics.

I would buy an occasional copy of the Daily Worker. It changed its name to the Morning Star in 1966 and by then I was reading it regularly.

But alas I must admit most of the news and analysis in my youth came from some good right-wing Fleet Street Tory rags.

I loved the pre-Murdoch News of the World — then the biggest circulation newspaper in the whole globe.

Salacious stories of defrocked vicars, poltergeists, gangsters and dodgy spiritualists and their ectoplasm. What more could a young teenage boy want?

However, Pincher, in the Express, always seemed to get some of the best, most interesting stories.

Scoops they used to call them, and in Pincher’s scoops there was usually someone, often rich, posh or powerful, accused of being a Soviet spy.

Some were amazing speculations. He believed half the Labour Party and all of the trade union movement were in the pay of the Kremlin. No-one escaped his accusations, including prime minister Harold Wilson.

Most of his stories took him into the murky world of spies and double agents — almost always the world of communism and the Soviet Union, although it is true he wrote about the US atomic bomb before any US newspaper.

I read with amused fascination and a little chuckle when Pincher published stories about the Cambridge Four — or was it Five? — Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, all undercover communists who had infiltrated and embarrassed post-war British intelligence so comprehensively.

Then came speculation into the so-called “Fifth Man.” Was it John Cairncross, James Klugman, Victor Rothschild, Guy Liddell or some other suspect?

Pincher came down heavy on former MI5 director general Roger Hollis and seemed to make this search and speculation a full-time occupation. It sometimes seemed to me Pincher was obviously the Sixth Man.

He did some good. As early as 1967, he revealed that British intelligence was reading the cables and telegrams of private citizens. That story is, of course, still unfolding today.

As well as newspaper articles he wrote more than 30 books. Best known is Their Trade is Treachery in 1981.

His sources for this book were the criminal Tory minister Jonathan Aitkin (Eton, Oxford, prison) and Spycatcher author Peter Wright, who himself betrayed and so upset his British intelligence masters.

In his book, Pincher argued that Hollis was a Soviet spy. It was typical Pincher stuff and not unexpectedly several investigations, even one by prime minister Margaret Thatcher, never actually proved Hollis guilty.

What isn’t well known is that Pincher started his own career as a spy. He worked on secret rocket weapons while serving in the British army.

He sold some of this top secret information to an old mate on the Daily Express defence desk. In return the Express offered him a job.

His politics were obviously Establishment and Tory and anti-Labour but that didn’t stop Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan writing in 1959: “Can nothing be done to suppress or get rid of Pincher?”

A more balanced view on Pincher came from ex-communist and famed historian EP Thompson, who in the New Statesman in 1978 described Pincher as “a kind of official urinal where high officials of MI5 and MI6 stand side by side patiently leaking their secrets.”

Pincher loved this judgement from someone he considered a wily old enemy. He said it was his greatest professional compliment.

Pincher, when he died aged 100 earlier this month, turned his own death into a newspaper story.

Announcing his death, his son Michael passed on a last and typical quote from his father — “Tell them no more scoops.”

I guess we should all be grateful for that.

Peter Frost blogs at frostysramblings.wordpress.com.

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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Marlene Dietrich sings Pete Seeger


Dedicated to recently deceased United States singer/songwriter Pete Seeger: this video is of one of his songs, performed by Marlene Dietrich.

The lyrics are:

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone,
Young girls picked them every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young girls gone,
gone to young men every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young men gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young men gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young men gone,
gone to soldier every one,
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Gone to flower every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone,
Young girls picked them every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

In a very real sense all in modern popular music are Pete Seeger‘s children, as the fanzine writer Jon Pankake once pointed out: here.

Pete Seeger: Troubadour of Truth and Justice.” By Amy Goodman: here.

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Singer Pete Seeger remembered


This video from the USA saays about itself:

We Shall Overcome“: Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs (1 of 3)

28 Jan 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement.

We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!, including one of his last television interviews recorded just four months ago.

Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had A Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He also talks about what has been described as his “defiant optimism.” “Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] ‘Seeds’ is all about,” Seeger said. “And this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.”

Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in the Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem “We Shall Overcome.” In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired a generation of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died last year just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie‘s “This Land is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

See all Democracy Now! interviews with Pete Seeger in our archive: here.

Transcript is here.

This is #3 in this Pete Seeger video series. I could not find #2 on YouTube.

American folksinger and songwriter Pete Seeger died on Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital, after a short illness, at the age of 94. In a career that lasted almost three quarters of a century, Seeger wrote, co-wrote or was identified with a number of the most popular folk or protest songs of the second half of the twentieth century, including “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season),” “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “Guantanamera” and “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”: here.

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