Russian poet Yevtushenko dies


This video says about itself:

28 October 2011

Yevgeny Yevtushenko recites his poem “Babi Yar” with music from ShostakovichSymphony No. 13. Kurt Masur & The New York Philharmonic.

Today, Yevgeny Yevtushenko has died. He was 84 years old.

His best known poem, Babi Yar, is about the mass murder by nazis of Jews in Kyiv, capital of the then German nazi-occupied Ukrainian soviet republic.

Translation of Babi Yar:

BABI YAR

By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok *2*
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anne Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring *3*
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

**************************************************

NOTES
—–1 – Alfred Dreyfus was a French officer, unfairly dismissed from service in 1894 due to trumped-up charges prompted by anti- Semitism.

2 – Belostok: the site of the first and most violent pogroms, the Russian version of KristallNacht.

3 – “Internationale”: The [original] Soviet national anthem.

Yevtushenko, born in 1932 in the small town of Zima in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, became one of the leading Soviet poets of the “thaw period” under Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. Those years were bound up with official condemnation of the “cult of personality” around Joseph Stalin and the widespread hope within the Soviet people that the country could be renewed on a socialist basis: here.

Cuban trogons and ovenbird


Cuban parrot eating fruit, 10 March 2017

After 9 March 2017, on 10 March 2017, we were in the Camaguey region in Cuba. In a nature reserve we saw this Cuban parrot eating fruit.

Also: Cuban blackbird. Two red-legged thrushes.

A Cuban tody.

West Indian woodpecker, 10 March 2017

A West Indian woodpecker hanging upside down under a branch.

Cuban oriole, 10 March 2017

A Cuban oriole.

A loggerhead kingbird.

Cuban trogon, 10 March 2017

A bit further, a Cuban trogon

Cuban trogons, 10 March 2017

… two Cuban trogons!

After these endemic Cuban birds, several migrant species, on their way to North America, turned out to be present.

Ovenbird, 10 March 2017

One of them was the ovenbird.

Ovenbird, 10 March 2017

They were good at climbing rocky slopes.

Stay tuned, as there will be more Cuban birds on this blog!

Bertolt Brecht on nazi Germany


This video is called Poem From A German War Primer: Bertolt Brecht.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Instructive indignation

Saturday 1st April 2017

The biting satire in Bertolt Brecht’s German War Primer is a lesson from history we can’t ignore, writes Andy Croft

THE CRIMES of the Third Reich were so great, wrote Bertolt Brecht in 1945, that the nazis had even succeeded in giving war a bad name.

“I am told that the best people have begun saying/How, from a moral point of view, the Second World War/Fell below the standard of the First. The Wehrmacht/Allegedly deplores the methods by which the SS effected/The extermination of certain peoples…

“Even the bishops/Dissociate themselves from this way of waging war; in short the feeling/Prevails in every quarter that the Nazis did the Fatherland/A lamentably bad turn, and that war/While in itself natural and necessary, has, thanks to the/ Unduly uninhibited and positively inhuman/Way in which it was conducted on this occasion, been/Discredited for some time to come.”

This tragic, mocking irony sets the tone of Brecht’s extraordinary War Primer, translated and edited by John Willett, which is republished by Verso Books at the beginning of next month.

Brecht started the book in 1940 when he was living in exile in Finland. Sticking photos from newspapers and magazines into his journals, he soon found he was adding short satirical verses to the photographs.

Many of the images are propaganda photos from what Brecht called “the Bayreuth republic, featuring Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Noske. Like John Heartfield’s AIZ photomontages, the effect is to subvert the original meaning of the images by suggesting their real context. Beneath a propaganda photo of Hitler in a trance-like oratorical ecstasy, Brecht wrote: “Like one who dreams the road ahead is steep/I know the way Fate has prescribed for us/That narrow way towards a precipice./Just follow. I can find it in my sleep.”

Because Brecht kept adding to this scrap-book until the end of the second world war, it serves as a kind of running commentary on the conflict, generals and politicians, the dead and the wounded, soldiers and civilians and the terrible destruction of European cities.

A military photograph of a German firing squad in France in 1944 appears above the following text: “And so we put him up against the wall:/A mother’s son, a man like we had been/And shot him dead. And then to show you all/What came of him we photographed the scene.”

To the photograph of a Russian woman grieving for her son, one of 7,000 Soviet civilians shot by German forces in Kerch in 1942, Brecht added: “I say all pity, woman, is a fraud/ Unless that pity turns into red rage/ Which will not rest until this ancient thorn/is drawn at last from deep in mankind’s flesh.”

First published in book form in the GDR in 1955, some of these poems were set to music by Hans Eisler, while others later turned up as part of longer poems by Brecht. None are great, but there is a greatness to the whole project in the “savage indignation” with which Brecht tried to address the brutality of WWII.

War Primer is comparable to the work of Goya, Kathe Kollwitz, Vassily Grossman or Tony Harrison, whose A Cold Coming about a dead Iraqi soldier clearly echoes Brecht’s verse here about a dead Japanese soldier.

And, although the book ends with victory in 1945, it also looks beyond the defeat of fascism in Europe.

Beneath a press shot of Hitler raging on a platform towards the end of the war, Brecht wrote: “That’s how the world was going to be run!/The other nations mastered him, except/ (In case you think the battle has been won) –/The womb is fertile still from which that crept.”

Fittingly, the final photograph is of university students in the GDR. Brecht wrote beneath the photo: “Never forget that men like you got hurt/So you might sit there, not the other lot./ And now don’t hide your head, and don’t desert/But try to learn, and try to learn for what.”

War Primer, price £12.99, is published by Verso Books on May 2

Nature makes people happy, video


This video says about itself:

8 March 2017

A new study from BBC Earth and the University of California has revealed that watching nature documentaries can make you happier, so we’re on a mission to bring real happiness to as many people as possible by improving their connection to nature. You can find out more here.

Fukushima cancer child not in government files


This video from the USA says about itself:

“What became clear in the Diet Fukushima Investigation Committee”

HD, 16 min 25 sec, in English

Hisako SAKIYAMA, M.D.

Member of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Commission Risk Assessment of Low Dose Radiation in Japan
Former Senior Researcher in National Institute Radiological Science

Human Rights Now, Physicians for Social Responsibility, & Peace Boat US present:

“Experts call for immediate action to protect the right to health of women, children and others affected by the nuclear accident in Fukushima.”

March 13, Wednesday, 10:30AM to Noon, at the UN Church Center, NYC

WHAT: Since the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, individuals and communities in Japan continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity. There are serious concerns about consequent health effects for pregnant women, mothers, children and others in contaminated areas. Residents have a right to live in a safe and healthy environment, however, sufficient protective measures and support are not being provided. The right to access medical treatment and the medical data about one’s own body are being seriously denied.

A human rights expert from Japan, a medical doctor from Japan, and a medical doctor from the U.S. will speak about how the lives and health of local women, children and others in the Fukushima area are being affected after the disaster and what should be done to provide immediate relief. The actions called for in the December 15, 2012 Human Rights Now “Civil Society Statement” to immediately implement the recent recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health will be highlighted.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Fukushima cancer kid missing from official files

Saturday 1st April 2015

A CHILD who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is missing from government check-up data, medical workers warned yesterday.

The 3.11 Fund for Children With Thyroid Cancer, named after the date of the March 11 2011 disaster, said that the four-year-old is missing from a list of 184 cases of thyroid cancer in Fukushima.

Government officials claim that no-one younger than five got the cancer after the nuclear meltdown.

Dr Hisako Sakiyama, a fund representative, said that the missing record was alarming.

The boy, now 10, is receiving treatment at Fukushima Medical University, so she said it was inconceivable the university — which compiled the list — was unaware of the case.