British racist ‘Tommy Robinson”s John Lennon musical parody


This 7 August 2018 music video from Britain is a parody of the John Lennon song Imagine.

It says about itself:

Yaxley Lennon [Yaxley-Lennon is the real name of British neofascist ‘Tommy Robinson‘] – Imagine (NSFW)

Tommy Robinson’s John Lennon tribute act.

LYRICS:

Imagine there’s no Muslims
It’s easy if you try
No halal butchers
Just bacon and pork pies

Imagine all the rape trials
Live-streamed on Facebook
And YouTube

Imagine there’s no paedos
It isn’t hard to do
Just get rid of all the Muslims
That would solve that issue

If I knew sex offenders
I’d say so on Facebook
And YouTube

You may say that I’m a nobhead
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day they’ll all fuck off
And the world will be as one

JOHN McDONNELL’S clarion call for a new wave of nationwide opposition to racism and the rising tide of far-right violence is timely: here.

Indonesian Muslim girls play heavy metal rock


This video says about itself:

Heavy Metal Hijabis

25 July 2018

The town of Garut in Western Java, Indonesia is a quiet place—that is, until Voice of Baceprot takes the stage. While most people in the town live tranquil, pastoral lives, teenagers Firdda, Widia and Euis thrash out and rock hard. The band has shot to fame for playing heavy metal in the religiously conservative country. After gaining popularity, VoB began to face criticism for performing while wearing hijabs. Still, they continue to shred—an inspiration for everyone with a little bit of music and a little bit of hardcore rebellion in their souls.

NATO’s Libyan child soldier, Ariana Grande concert terrorist


This ABC News video says about itself:

22 May 2017

At an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in England, at least 19 are dead, 50 injured following an explosion.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Manchester bomb attacker was rescued from Libya by British

The man who committed a suicide attack last year in the Manchester Arena was rescued by the British Navy four years ago from the civil war in Libya. The Daily Mail and The Independent report that the suicide bomber Salman Abedi was one of 100 residents of the United Kingdom who were evacuated by the warship Enterprise.

The Enterprise brought the group to Malta; they flew to England from there. Abedi, who has Libyan parents, was in Libya with his younger brother on holiday in August 2014. That was when heavy fighting broke out. British diplomats arranged the evacuation of residents of the United Kingdom.

Here, the NOS report forgets that not only did the British armed forces, in a broader sense: the British government, bring Salman Albedi out of the 2014 bloody fighting in Libya to Britain. Three years earlier, in 2011, the British ‘intelligence’ service, in a broader sense: the British government, had spirited Abedi away from Britain to Libya, to serve as child soldier cannon fodder in NATO’s Libya war. That hellish war completely fucked up child soldier Abedi’s mind and paved the way for him perpetrating the horrible Ariana Grande concert bloodbath.

The attack in Manchester at the end of the concert of Ariana Grande cost the lives of 22 people. Among the dead were seven children, the youngest one was 8.

The British security services were already monitoring Salman Abedi, but the investigation had been halted a month before his evacuation. That decision was later reviewed and approved.

The Daily Mail quotes a government official in London who says that the bloodbath by Abedi must be seen as an ultimate apostle Judas-like betrayal in the light of his rescue from Libya.

Yes, Mr government official: there is a word for this: ‘blowback‘. Blowback from British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s war on Libya. Like the blowback from British Blairite Prime Minister Tony Blair’s war on Iraq, which caused the rise of ISIS terrorism.

Abedi’s brother Hashem is held in Libya by a militia. The British request for extradition has been rejected.

British police and intelligence forces were revealed last week to be using children as spies. The filthy practice affects an unknown number of young people and has been ongoing for an unknown time period. Some child spies are reported to be under 16 years of age. The exposure only came to public attention because of concerns raised by the House of Lords committee charged with scrutinising secondary legislation: here.

London Grenfell disaster anniversary and music


This 10 June 2018 music video from London, England is called Yousra & Johara – Fire in Grenfell (Read all about it III /Grenfell Voices version).

By Paul Bond in England:

The anniversary of Grenfell Tower: Some musical reappraisals

27 July 2018

The first anniversary of the June 14, 2017, fire at Grenfell Tower that killed 72 people inspired reflection on the events of that night and the callous response of the ruling elite.

More than 13 months later, not one person responsible has been charged or even arrested. The ongoing official inquiry has repeatedly tried to shift the onus of responsibility onto those who tried to tackle the blaze.

Local musicians who responded at the time, and have been following events since, have also had to make their own appraisals.

A clip from the video of Ghost of Grenfell 2 with survivors and residents holding up placards naming corporations and authorities involved in the disaster

Local grime and drill artists responded powerfully. This urban dance music intersected with political realities: their tracks gave a voice to capitalism’s victims, but they also began drawing lessons, naming the perpetrators and identifying class forces.

Some of those artists have also responded to the anniversary, revealing much about what has happened in the meanwhile.

The rawness has not diminished. One of the most emotional anniversary releases, Fire in Grenfell, was written three days after the fire by 13-year-old Yousra Cherbika and Johara Menacer as a tribute to their friends, Firdaws Hashim and Nur Huda El-Wahabi, who died. It was written to Emeli Sande and Professor Green’s Read All About It, which Firdaws had sung in a school talent show.

Sande and Green allowed use of their track, reflecting broader artistic sympathy. London-born singer Adele has been supportive locally and publicly.

Yousra’s family, who lived at the foot of Grenfell Tower, were temporarily relocated after the fire into hotel accommodation. A year later, they are still there, along with the many other Grenfell families still in temporary accommodation.

Like the other songs written immediately after the fire, Fire in Grenfell is a demand to hear the voices of the victims. “I heard them scream and I heard them shout/I watched Grenfell Tower burn down/So put it in all of the papers/Even though we’re in pain.” While media attention focused on the singers’ age and the fire’s impact on children, Yousra and Johara were also aware of bigger political issues: “I wish that you were still here/Why did you have to die?/Why did they care about money/Before my best friend’s life?” They were unsparing in their insistence that “They killed innocent people they’re the ones to take the blame.”

Yousra and Johara have said releasing the track helped “because our voices were heard”, but there is a wide recognition that this is not enough in itself.

Singer-songwriter Carl Leroy, from Enfield, and local resident Liliana Martins wrote Grenfell (We Won’t Fall) as a fundraiser.

This 10 June 2018 music video is called Grenfell (We won’t fall) Official Video – Grenfell Tower 1st Anniversary Charity song by Carl Leroy

Its smooth tone perhaps reflects the hope they drew from their experiences with local community relief efforts—after the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) and government did nothing to assist in the immediate aftermath—but there is undisguised anger at its heart:

“Was their destiny
Life lost to austerity
Anger rages are we free
When greed overshadows responsibility
Whispers they send shivers
Who took the heat? It wasn’t me.
System’s bad decisions
Cover blown
All can see.”

In an interview, Leroy asked “One year on…who’s gone to prison?” Martins wondered, “What justice is going to be there?”, saying the song asked whether we are free to find out the truth. The refusal of the ruling elite to pursue the real guilty parties contrasts starkly with their campaigns against anyone trying to establish the truth about the events.

The community, they say, must be able to “stand tall”: they have been ignored, but the cover is blown of those who did not listen. This is not unimportant but is something of a rear-guard action given official heel-dragging over the last year.

The two strongest anniversary recordings are from artists whose tracks were, in my opinion, the outstanding contributions last year. Both have reflected on what has not happened since their earlier recordings.

Like last year, the angriest response is from grime artist El Nino Cartel, collaborating this time with Atlas X on Manslaughter, Gentrification.

This 10 June 2018 music video is called TLAS X – ‘Manslaughter, Gentrification’ Ft. El Nino Cartel #GRENFELL

El Nino Cartel told the World Socialist Web Site about his previous track, Grenfell Tower’s Burning, “It’s about what’s going on in the world. The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer.”

If anything, that fury has intensified. Atlas X dedicates the track to Yasin El-Wahabi, who died on the 21st floor, before the mounting tension erupts, tellingly, with the words “Still waiting. …” Atlas has forgotten nothing here: “Still waiting/Manslaughter gentrification/Ten mil[lion] for the regeneration/No sprinklers there for the renovation.”

Atlas connects deaths in police custody with the eradication of London’s working-class districts by gentrification. He repeatedly opposes “Our truth against the cowards’ words.”

This recognition of class differences is vital, but its implications have barely begun to be explored. Atlas (who also made the documentary Five Days of Grenfell) says, “We need leaders here not artists”: this is a resistance to the arrival of middle class artists with gentrification, but inadvertently does a disservice to those local working class youth who are attempting to explore artistic questions—among them Atlas X and El Nino Cartel themselves.

El Nino Cartel’s contribution is more subdued than Grenfell Tower’s Burning, but he is just as direct in attributing the destruction to financial interests (“So many victims now, just for a couple of pounds”). He remains clear on the class distinctions (“I don’t care about none of them, they don’t care about none of us”), but is evidently still dealing with the horror of what he saw: “I swear my heart is scarred.”

The video ends with silence for the victims, and for “those who continue to be failed by the safety net” funded by their taxes. This struggle to get to grips with the situation should be encouraged.

Last year, El Nino discussed the impact of the fire on him as an artist, forcing a level of consciousness on him. It is to his credit that he remains aware of this, even if he is struggling to work out what to say. Between the Grenfell tracks, he also produced Secrets and Conspiracies. Described by El Nino as “conscious rap,” it moves from a sample of Martin Luther King to considering the gulf between the elite and the working class internationally. As he says, “There’s all the money in world, there’s still poverty”, with the track hinging on a call for working class unity against an elite operating solely in its own interests:

“All my black people around the world/All my white people around the world/Need to come together and show the elite.” El Nino returns again to the gulf between those who suffered at Grenfell and those trying to cover up their role in the social murder:

“Grenfell people lost their homes and families/I’m wondering what the government’s doing about that/I bet they’re round there trying to clean up their tracks/But there’s so many people out there with no flats.”

Lowkey’s anniversary track, Ghosts of Grenfell 2, featuring Kaia, updating last year’s track, offers the most articulately thoughtful appraisal of a situation that went from “Black snow on a summer’s night” to “Cold shoulders on a summer’s day,” when “Invisible violence becomes visible.”

This music video is called LOWKEY ft. KAIA – GHOSTS OF GRENFELL 2 (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO).

Lowkey also begins by observing that after a year there have been no arrests: “Been waiting 12 months for answers and we can’t have ’em.” Although confident in the community, he fears “a whitewash is the endgame.” The song is moving in dealing with a political anger even while managing the complex trauma of having lived through the fire, of going from a national sympathy to some hard questions about responsibility.

Lowkey describes the blaze as a “the most tragic of vindications” of the Grenfell Action Group’s repeated warnings and demands an end to “big business fiddling regulations.” There has been a “corporate hijack of regulations” and their erosion to the point where buildings are “combustible and still legal.” Across the country, people are “sleeping in death traps.”

Lowkey speaking after this month's Silent March in London in honour of those who died in Grenfell Tower

Lowkey is definitely calling for continued agitation. Last summer, media mogul Simon Cowell organised a charity cover of Bridge over Troubled Water. We noted at the time that it was “an attempt to soothe and calm.” Lowkey says sardonically, “No disrespect intended, Troubled Water wasn’t our anthem”, and praises grime artist Stormzy, who made the best contribution to Cowell’s single and who has repeatedly attacked the government publicly over Grenfell.

Lowkey is clear that the fire was political (“Neo-liberalism kills people”). He resolutely points the finger, highlighting the relationship between Mark Allen (of Saint-Gobain, the company that owns cladding manufacturer Celotex) and Sajid Javid, now Tory home secretary and formerly the minister responsible for dismantling building regulations.

The video ends with powerful shots of survivors and local residents holding banners demanding answers from the companies responsible for manufacturing and overseeing the fitting of the tower’s flammable cladding (Rydon, Celotex, Arconic), from RBKC and their Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation—responsible for authorising the cladding—and the now-privatised Building Research Establishment, whose tests reported the cladding safe to use.

This is positive, but Lowkey also notes the relentless pressure of being treated like idiots by officialdom and the “slow creep of bureaucratic violence.” People despair and break down, and the political mountain “seems insurmountable.”

Lowkey perhaps provides the clearest insight into the challenges being faced. “They say that after every storm there is a dawn” may be more aspiration than programme as yet, but it does raise the question of how to achieve it.

The conditions that led to the Grenfell fire are known, that knowledge has not vanished, and the official response—from the police investigation to the government inquiry—is to prevent at all costs these issues being addressed. The anger remains palpable. The question remains of how to bring that anger to bear so as to change those conditions. That is a question of political programme.

Trump bombing Iran, Beach Boys parody music


This 26 July 2018 music video from Britain is a parody of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann.

As it says, Donald Trump is not original in this Beach Boys parody. Fellow Republican party presidential candidate and fellow warmonger John McCain preceded him in that eleven years ago.

This April 2007 video is about McCain singing Bomb bomb Iran.

The Trump parody video says about itself:

The Peach Boys – Bomb Iran

Donald Trump’s Beach Boys tribute band present a terrifyingly earnest cover of John McCain’s doo-wop classic.

LYRICS:

Bomb bomb bomb Bomb bomb Iran
Oh, bomb Iran
Or they’ll expand
Oh, bomb Iran
They got me really bigly tweeting
Let’s get them retreating
Bomb Iran

Posted a tweet
It was pretty sweet
Wrote all in caps
so they’d really feel the heat
Bomb Iran
They’ve got nukes planned
Let’s get reimposing sanctions
Stymie their expansion
Bomb Iran
Worst deal ever

Just days after President Donald Trump publicly threatened Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered,” his National Security Adviser John Bolton held a top-level meeting to discuss US plans to confront Iran: here.

Trump menaces the world over Iran sanctions: here.

Rapper Valtònyc, extradited to Spain for rapping?


This March 2018 Spanish rap music video by Valtònyc is a song critical of the Spanish monarchy.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Pursuit of rapper Valtònyc reveals widespread censorship in Spain

26 July 2018

A Belgian court provisionally released rapper Josep Miquel Beltrán (stage name Valtònyc) pending its decision on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Spain. The rapper fled Spain in May to avoid a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted of glorifying terrorism, insulting the monarchy, and issuing threats in songs posted on YouTube and other internet platforms.

Valtònyc’s offending lyrics … [were] referring to corrupt politicians and the monarchy.

Valtònyc has defended his songs saying, “Calling me a terrorist is nonsense … My songs don’t hurt anyone, I haven’t killed anyone. I rap about things that happen, but I’m not a participant.” He invoked freedom of expression in his defense, describing the very nature of rap lyrics as “extreme, provocative, allegorical and symbolic.”

Valtònyc is widely supported among Spanish youth. In April, a group of Spanish rap artists recorded a video in support of free speech and the rapper, and opposed to the royal Bourbon dynasty under the title “Los Borbones son unos Ladrones” (The Bourbons are Thieves).

This April 2018 Spanish music video is called Los Borbones son unos Ladrones VIDEO (feat. Frank T, Sara Hebe, Elphomega, Rapsusklei…).

The unrelenting pursuit of Valtònyc is further evidence of the growing assault on free speech and democratic rights in Spain and throughout Europe.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most high-profile victim of the EAW. He was first arrested in London in December 2010 under its anti-democratic provisions to answer trumped up “questions” of sexual misconduct in Sweden.

Assange is no longer any sort of suspect in Sweden. However, the Trump administration wants Britain to extradite him to the USA for revealing war crimes which they call ‘espionage’.

In 2017, an EAW was issued by Spain against ousted Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont. It has subsequently been dropped.

Dropped because Germany did want to extradite Puigdemont, but not for ‘rebellion’ which is not a crime in Germany.

Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain has stated, “Sending rappers to jail for song lyrics and outlawing political satire demonstrates how narrow the boundaries of acceptable online speech have become in Spain.”

“People should not face criminal prosecution simply for saying, tweeting or singing something that might be distasteful or shocking. Spain’s broad and vaguely-worded law is resulting in the silencing of free speech and the crushing of artistic expression.”

“Spain is emblematic of a disturbing trend which has seen states across Europe unduly restricting expression on the pretext of national security and stripping away rights under the guise of defending them.”

Following Valtònyc’s sentencing and before it was installed in government in June, the Socialist Party (PSOE) together with the … Podemos [party] both used it to attack the Popular Party (PP). PSOE Secretary General Pedro Sanchez, now Prime Minister, called for “freedom in artistic expression” and tweeted, “Bad taste cannot be punished with jail … That a rapper enters prison is a very bad symptom on the state of our democracy.”

Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias declared that a clear “regression in regards to civil liberties” was taking place adding, “It seems that criminal law is applied to persecute dissidents while the corrupt ones are let off scot-free.”

However, since coming to power with the help of Podemos, the PSOE has remained completely silent. So too has the Attorney General’s office, which was used by the previous PP government to intervene in all manner of right-wing political operations, most recently in the Catalan independence campaign firing off criminal complaints to the courts within hours of actions by the separatists.

Instead, both Podemos and the PSOE have directed their attention to “reform” of the Citizens Security Law, also known as the Gag Law, which was used against Valtònyc. The law, passed by the PP in 2015 under the all-encompassing pretext of “fighting against terrorism”, limits freedom of speech, prohibits mass gatherings and imposes fines for protesting and making comments on social media.

Since it was passed three years ago, there have been a huge number of prosecutions. Some 48,000 fines have been imposed solely on the basis of article 37.4—“disrespect and lack of due consideration to the State Security Forces”.

Where once Podemos called for the Gag Law to be abolished, it now pleads with the PSOE to “remove the most negative aspects.” Podemos could have conditioned its support for the new minority PSOE government on the repeal of the Gag Law, but instead declared the PSOE would be installed with their help with “no preconditions.”

Valtònyc was also found guilty of defaming the monarchy under articles 490 and 491 of the Penal Code dealing with “Crimes against the Crown”, which includes the whole Royal Family, past and present and can result in sentences of up to two years. Some 29 people have been charged between 2007 and 2016.

It was the PSOE which re-inserted the articles into the Penal code in 1995 and it has resisted all attempts to amend or remove them. Last March, it opposed attempts by the Catalan separatist party ERC to revoke them in the Spanish parliament, declaring they “go far beyond the freedom of expression and enter the field of institutional respect.”

The PSOE also supported the “praising of terrorism” law, which was introduced into the Penal Code by the PP government in 2000 and strengthened in 2015. It was passed under the pretext of fighting the terrorism of the Basque petty-bourgeois armed group ETA [Euskadi Ta Askatasuna—Basque Homeland and Freedom]. However, whilst there were 33 sentences between 2004 and 2011 under this law, after ETA announced it was ceasing its armed struggle in 2011 the number of sentences has multiplied by four. From 2011 to 2017, there have been 121 cases.

The most notorious case under “praising of terrorism” was against two puppeteers for a performance in Madrid denouncing the Gag Law. César Strawberry, lead singer of the group Def Con Dos, was sentenced to a year in prison last year for tweeting jokes about ETA and giving the king “a cake-bomb” for his birthday.

Cassandra Vera, a 22-year old student, also received a one-year suspended jail sentence last year for “humiliating” the victims of terrorism by making jokes on Twitter about the killing of [Admiral] Luis Carrero Blanco, the right-hand man of Spanish dictator and mass murderer Francisco Franco. Referring to his assassination over 40 years ago by an ETA bomb, which blew his car 20 metres into the air, Vera joked, “Not only did ETA have a policy about official cars, they also had a space programme.” The sentence resulted in the loss of her university scholarship and disqualified her from employment in the public sector for seven years.

Since the start of the year, other censorship and attacks on free speech include:

In numerous articles, the WSWS has warned that the Spanish ruling class has been organising the forces of the state to be used, not in “a war against terror”, but for domestic repression under conditions of growing inequality.

We have explained how the Gag Law heralded a new stage in the development of sweeping police-state powers aimed at prevent mass opposition organised through social networks outside of the control of the main parties.