African American singer Jessye Norman, RIP


This 1 October 2019 video says about itself:

In Memoriam: Jessye Norman. Morgen (Score Animation)

Jessye Norman
Gerhard Bosse, violin
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Kurt Masur, cond.

From Wikipedia:

Jessye Mae Norman (September 15, 1945 – September 30, 2019) was an American opera singer and recitalist. A dramatic soprano, Norman was associated in with roles such as Wagner’s Sieglinde, Ariadne by Richard Strauss, Gluck’s Alceste and Beethoven‘s Leonore, and Cassandre. Norman was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1999, and became a Spingarn Medalist in 2013. Apart from receiving several honorary doctorates and other awards, she also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and was a member of the British Royal Academy of Music. …

In 2015, Norman suffered a spinal cord injury. She died at Mount Sinai–St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan on September 30, 2019, aged 74, from multiple organ failure and septic shock, secondary to complications from the injury.

Indigenous peoples’ music and biology


This 2016 video says about itself:

One of the best experiences in Bolivia is an Amazon jungle tour in Madidi National Park. There are not many places on earth where you’ll find such a large number and diversity of animals and plants.

With eco-tourism you support the local communities and your visit only has a limited impact on the rainforest. Which is why we stayed at the Madidi Jungle Ecolodge, a fantastic experience.

From the University of Helsinki in Finland:

Music is essential for the transmission of ethnobiological knowledge

September 26, 2019

Summary: Songs are a storehouse for ethnobiological knowledge and a means to construct, maintain and mobilize peoples’ relations with their local environments.

Music has been a long-standing focus of scientific inquiry. For instance, since the 1850s, the evolutionary function of music has been a subject of keen debate. More recently, ground-breaking work from multiple scientific disciplines is unveiling the universal power of music. It is central in supporting expressions of emotion that transcend cultural divides and it has the ability to foster communication with non-human life forms.

Scientific research shows that ethnobiological knowledge is transmitted through song, and how music has the power to express and enforce the intricate relationships among humans, other beings, and their ecosystems.

“For many Indigenous communities, the land and the songs associated with it are intimately connected. Music can trace Indigenous Peoples’ experiences and relationships to the lands in which they have historically lived,” says Dr. Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Dr. Fernández-Llamazares has been co-editing a special issue in the Journal of Ethnobiology that celebrates the place of song in maintaining, sharing and enhancing ethnobiological knowledge. “This special issue is a heartfelt compilation of nine articles from different corners of the world and features rich accounts of Indigenous Peoples’ time-honoured music-making traditions, ranging from women’s totemic songs relating to wild seeds in Central Australia, improvisational singing traditions in north-eastern Siberia or the use of turtle shell rattles in the United States.”

Besides writing the Introduction to the special issue, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares has also co-authored one of the papers, which looks at hunting songs from the Tsimane’ hunter-gatherers of Bolivian Amazonia. “Since 2012 I have been working among the Tsimane’ people in the depths of the Amazon rainforest and I have always been fascinated by the breadth and depth of their ancient songs. During these years, I have been able to compile much information on the social and ecological contexts in which songs are performed and transmitted,” he explains. “Our research shows that music is a timeless prism for looking at human-wildlife relations in all their complexities and magnificence.”

The special issue shows that music is an essential constituent of the diversity of life on Earth, which is genuinely enshrined in the concept of biocultural diversity. The idea of biocultural diversity emerges from the observation that biological and cultural diversity are deeply intertwined, possibly co-evolved and threatened by the same driving forces. “Just as the biosphere is being degraded, so too is the ethnosphere, most probably at a far greater rate,” adds Fernández-Llamazares.

The papers compiled highlight that many traditional music-making systems are being eroded primarily due to changes associated with globalization. “While traditional music is certainly under risk of attrition in many corners of the world, the extent to which traditional songs continue to be honoured and celebrated attests to their incredible resilience. We hope that we can help to support revitalization efforts for simultaneously safeguarding musical heritage, ethnobiological knowledge and biocultural diversity at large,” he reflects.

Corporate media silence on Roger Waters, Assange


This 21 November 2018 AFP news agency video says about itself:

In Ecuador, rock icon Waters defends Julian Assange

Rock icon Roger Waters, a founding member of the British band Pink Floyd, expresses support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whom he says “needs to be protected“.

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Media blacks out Roger Waters’ performance in defence of Assange

5 September 2019

On Monday evening, Roger Waters and John Pilger staged a powerful event in defence of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the British Home Office in central London.

Waters delivered a moving rendition of Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here”, dedicated to Assange, while Pilger issued a scathing denunciation of the British government’s attempts to facilitate his extradition to the US, where the WikiLeaks founder faces life imprisonment for exposing war crimes.

In his first public appearance, Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, outlined the brutal conditions in which his sibling is imprisoned in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison and made an appeal for his freedom.

The event was attended by around 1,000 workers, students and defenders of democratic rights. It was an objectively significant and newsworthy event, bringing together Waters, a famous musician, and Pilger, an acclaimed investigative journalist, in defence of the most prominent political prisoner in the world today.

However, if one judged solely on the basis of coverage in the major corporate publications in Britain, continental Europe, the US and Australia, the event simply did not take place. In an extraordinary act of political censorship, none of the major news outlets even carried a brief report on the rally.

A search of Google News indicates that the number of publications that have covered the event can be counted on two hands. They primarily include the World Socialist Web Site and other alternative and anti-war websites.

The non-corporate British daily The Morning Star of 4 September 2019 has this report: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performs outside Home Office. Also, this report in the non-corporate British daily News Line of 5 September 2019.

The censorship is most stark in Britain, where Assange is imprisoned. The Guardian and the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Times have not said a word about the protest, which was within walking distance of their plush London offices. In Europe, France’s Le Monde and Germany’s Der Spiegel, both trumpeted for their supposedly “liberal” editorial inclination, have not said a word.

In the US, the New York Times, the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Wall Street Journal and the [Amazon billionaire boss Jeff Bezos owned] Washington Post have published nothing. …

In Australia, the blackout of the Waters/Pilger protest has extended from “liberal” outlets, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, to the Murdoch-owned Australian, Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun. The lack of any reportage in that country is all the more glaring, given that Assange is the most well-known Australian imprisoned abroad and that his plight is the direct outcome of the refusal by successive Labor and Coalition governments to meet their responsibility to defend a persecuted citizen.

There is no innocent explanation for the almost universal media blackout.

The Guardian, for instance, has published four articles this year extensively referencing Waters’ stance on a host of political issues, including his defence of children trapped in Syria; his opposition to the Israeli regime’s persecution of the Palestinians; and condemnations of the right-wing shift in the political life of South America.

In October last year, the publication featured an on-the-spot report of a Waters’ concert in Brazil, which occurred amid the singer’s condemnations of the country’s reactionary government. Apparently, the Guardian was able to dispatch a reporter to Rio de Janeiro to cover a performance by the former Pink Floyd singer, but not to central London, within a stones’ throw of its headquarters.

The blackout of the London protest goes hand-in-hand with the silence in the corporate press on recent statements by Pilger and Gabriel Shipton that the conditions in which Assange is being detained in Britain amount to torture, and warning that his health is deteriorating.

It is also paralleled by the silence on the plight of Chelsea Manning, who is being detained for refusing to give false evidence against Assange before a secret US grand jury.

The media has also said next to nothing about the fact that Manning has now been joined in the holding pen for Trump’s kangaroo court by Jeremy Hammond, an online activist who released documents exposing government and corporate spying to WikiLeaks. Hammond, like Manning, is being pressured to commit perjury so the US government has a pseudo-legal pretext to condemn Assange to prison for the rest of his life.

For years, the New York Times, the Guardian and virtually every other media outlet has slandered and maligned Assange. No ink has been spared to present the WikiLeaks founder as a dubious, and even criminal individual.

Until April, all of these publications presented WikiLeaks’ warnings that Assange faced extradition to the US as a “conspiracy theory”. They instead promoted the Swedish investigation into manufactured sexual allegations against Assange, obscuring the fact that he has never been charged in that country and a “preliminary investigation” has been dropped twice.

The establishment media has also repeatedly accused Assange of being a “Russian agent” because WikiLeaks published in 2016 newsworthy leaked emails which exposed corruption in the Democratic Party and the militarist, pro-big business policies of its presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In August, a US federal court threw out a civil case brought by the Democratic National Committee, rejecting “with prejudice” the false assertion that Assange conspired with Putin and Trump against Clinton and upholding WikiLeaks’ right to publish under the First Amendment. The response of the American press has been to simply not report the ruling.

In other words, the media silence on Monday’s rally is part a broader, conscious political agenda. For coming on nine years, the establishment media has actively sought to assist the US, British and Australian governments and state apparatus retaliate for the exposure of their crimes by doing everything possible to undermine support for Assange and WikiLeaks. …

Monday’s event, and the responses to it, confirm that the movement in defence of Assange, Manning and democratic rights must continue to develop independently of, and in opposition to, the entire political and media establishment.

World-famous fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood visited Julian Assange in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison yesterday. She gave impassioned comments afterwards condemning the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder and calling for his freedom: here.

Actress Pamela Anderson says imprisoned journalist Julian Assange is “depending on all of us to save him,” declaring, he “cannot die in prison!” In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site this week, Anderson explained that Assange, who she has known for years, “created WikiLeaks so that people could find a way to be informed,” and to “end these awful wars and bring us all closer together.” Anderson said that the US government’s attempt to prosecute Assange is a fundamental attack on democratic rights: here.

UK “justice” system tortures Julian Assange, treats fascist Tommy Robinson with kid gloves: here.

A defense and security firm based in Spain that was hired to protect the Ecuadorian embassy in London provided secret audio and video recordings of Julian Assange to US intelligence: here.

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site last week, John Shipton, the father of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, spoke of his fear that his son “may die” as a result of the conditions under which he is being imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in London: here.

Yesterday marked six months since WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange was expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy and arrested by the British police. The sight of a persecuted journalist being manhandled by five burly police in the capital of a supposedly democratic country shocked millions of people around the world: here.

For nearly five decades, the iconic rock musician Roger Waters has made it clear that he has something to say about big social and political questions. Going back to the 1970s, when he was the bassist and primary creative force of the rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has consistently voiced from the recording studio, concert stage and interview chair his opposition to imperialist war, state repression, inequality and bigotry: here.

Over the past week, several prominent public figures, including federal members of parliament, have called on the Australian government to fulfil its obligations to defend WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange, including by taking steps to prevent his extradition from Britain to the US. The statements come in the lead-up to British extradition hearings in February, that will decide whether Assange is dispatched to the US. He faces a maximum sentence of 175 years in an American prison for exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues: here.

Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London yesterday—only his third public appearance since UK police seized him from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11 and imprisoned him in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison. Assange, whose exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan garnered worldwide attention and multiple journalism awards in Australia, the United States, Europe and Latin America, arrived at court in a Serco prison van: here.

Roger Waters, John Pilger, pro-WikiLeaks whistleblower Assange


This video from England says about itself:

Roger Waters Performs “Wish You Were Here” live at London rally in defense of Julian Assange

Roger Waters speaks and performs at rally called on 02/09/2019. Sign up today to help build a global defense committee to stop WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, and to secure both his and whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s freedom.

From the World Socialist Web Site, in London, England:

Roger Waters and John Pilger make powerful defence of Julian Assange in London

By our reporters

3 September 2019

Up to 1,000 people gathered last night in central London to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a musical tribute to imprisoned WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Performing outside the UK Home Office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison where Assange is being held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sang Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here.” He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Fairweather Low.

Supporters filled the forecourt and pavement on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying banners and placards demanding Assange’s freedom and the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Spontaneous chants rang out, “Free, Free Julian Assange!” and “There’s only one decision: No extradition!”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”

Pilger said he had spoken with Assange over the weekend: “When I asked Julian what he would like me to say today, he was adamant. ‘Say it’s not just me. It’s much wider. It’s all of us. It’s all journalists and publishers who do their job who are in danger’.”

The meaning of Assange’s extradition could not be clearer, Pilger said, “no matter who you are or where you are, if you expose the crimes of governments you will be hunted down, kidnapped and sent to the US as a spy.”

This 2 September 2019 video is called Journalist John Pilger’s remarks at rally in defense of Julian Assange.

Pilger concluded: “Seventeen out of the 18 charges that Julian faces in America refer to the routine work of an investigative journalist, which is protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution…. The whole thing is a sham. The US prosecutors know it’s a sham, the British government know it’s a sham, the Australian government know it’s a sham.

“That’s why Julian is locked up for 21 hours a day in a maximum-security prison and treated worse than a murderer. He is to be made an example of. What happens to Julian Assange and to Chelsea Manning is meant to intimidate us, to frighten us into silence.

“By defending Julian Assange, we defend our most sacred rights. Speak up now or wake up one morning to the silence of a new kind of tyranny. The choice is ours.”

Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton was warmly received as he spoke from the stage. He recounted his visit to Belmarsh Prison last month. “I hugged him, and he told me that this place he was in, was hell.”

This 2 September 2019 video is called Julian Assange’s brother speaks at London rally.

Shipton continued: “Afterwards, my daughter wanted to know why her uncle was locked up. ‘Has he done something bad, dad?’, she asked. I struggled to explain in a way a five-year-old could understand. As Julian’s brother, and on behalf of his children, other brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, mother and father, I call on the UK home secretary to block extradition to the USA.”

Waters took to the stage just after 6.30 p.m. He told the sea of supporters: “To see all you people here today is deeply, deeply moving. How do we put ourselves in the position of a Julian Assange in solitary confinement? Or with that kid in Syria, or Palestine or a Rohingya being blown to bits by these people in this building here [pointing to the Home Office]?”

Waters introduced “Wish You Were Here”, the title track from Pink Floyd’s 1975 chart-topping album, explaining the meaning of the song’s lyrics, “would you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?” He replied, “Well, no, I wouldn’t. This is my walk-on part in this war, and I would much prefer to be here with all of you, who are also making a walk-on part in a war than accepting a lead role in a cage.”

The audience standing in the road that was closed to traffic opposite the Home Office as its size grew

As Waters sang, the audience joined in, the lyrics taken up as a statement of political solidarity with Julian Assange.

Concluding the event, Waters thanked the audience and called out, “Julian Assange we are with you! Free Julian Assange!”, with the crowd responding “Free Julian Assange! Free Julian Assange!”

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson spoke to the WSWS after the event: “I was heartened by how many people showed up. When you’re trying to take part in the campaign to free Julian it’s so important to meet the people who actually do support him. My feeling is that despite the hostility of the mainstream media, the support is growing. We have a fight ahead of us and Julian knows that, but for him to get this message is so important. It gives me hope and optimism.”

Hrafnsson saw Assange 10 days ago and spoke over the phone with him for the first time the night before: “It took all this time to clear my number with the prison authorities. He’s not in a good place and he’s definitely not in a place where he should be—and this has to change.”

He added: “We can’t rely on the mainstream media, we can’t rely on politicians, we certainly can’t rely on the judiciary here. People really have to understand how important this is.”

John Pilger

John Pilger told the WSWS shortly before the rally that the concert was Waters’ idea: “Roger emailed me and said he’d like to play ‘Wish You Were Here’ for Julian outside Belmarsh prison. But we had a look and it’s just not possible. The closest you can get is the motorway, so we decided the next best thing was the Home Office.”

Pilger warned that Assange’s condition was a matter of grave concern. “I worry a great deal about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh,” he said. “The regime there is imposing a kind of isolation on him that is deeply psychologically wounding. He’s in a small cell in the hospital ward. They seem not to know what to do with him. Of course, what they should be doing is letting him out. He certainly should not be in a maximum-security prison.”

Emmy Butlin from the Julian Assange Defence Committee (JADC) also spoke with the WSWS.

“John Pilger and Roger Waters stirred our emotions tonight with their amazing words and song of solidarity with Julian Assange,” Butlin said. “They spoke of empathy, of peace, against war and its profiteers whose interests WikiLeaks has challenged. We are very grateful for the wonderful turnout, a testament of the support we always find in the streets of Britain and we continue our solidarity work on Saturday the 28th of September at 2:00 p.m. outside Belmarsh Prison.

“As the JADC, we are very grateful for the work the SEP is doing globally for the Free Assange campaign and for the constant participation and assistance they offer to our events. The WSWS offers accurate reporting in the Assange case and helps spread the solidarity campaign internationally far and wide. A very big thank you.”

A section of the audience at the event

Underscoring the point made by Kristinn Hrafnsson about the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event on their evening news broadcasts. Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

The non-corporate British daily The Morning Star today has this report: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performs outside Home Office. So has the non-corporate daily News Line of 5 September 2019.

Via social media and publications such as the WSWS, however, reports and video of Waters’ performance, Pilger’s speech and the statements of Gabriel Shipton are circulating widely and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the coming days.

Supporters of Julian Assange demanding that he is released from Belmarsh Prison and that he is not extradited to the USA

From daily News Line in Britain, 26 August 2019:

‘THERE is only one decision: No extradition! – free Julian Assange’ chanted a demonstration of over 50 supporters of the jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange outside Stratford station on Saturday.

Clara Campo, from the Julian Assange Defence Committee who organised the ‘Stand for Assange’ demonstration, told News Line: ‘We are taking the campaign into the public domain and that is why we are here in Stratford and not in central London where there are crowds of tourists.

‘Julian Assange has been in prison since 11th April and in October he will have served half of his year-long sentence.

‘Any other person in prison would be placed on remand but we are sceptical this will be the case with Julian as the courts seem to apply different rules for Mr Assange.

‘He is currently in Belmarsh prison and suffering terribly, he is in isolation and is physically very ill.

‘We are very concerned as one of his legal team, Gareth Pierce, wrote to the prison authorities on June 2nd and to date has not had any reply.’

Anna Price came to the protest with her young son and said: ‘This is the most important political issue of our time.

‘It is about the relationship with Britain to the US and making decisions on what is right.

‘The public need to have transparency about what those in power are doing.

‘Julian Assange has not committed any crime, but has merely revealed the crimes of those in power.

‘And for that he is being punished in a harsh and degrading manner.

‘Anyone who speaks out should be very concerned and they should stand up now and fight to stop his extradition to the US.’

Also on the protest, Katrina Jaye said: ‘This issue affects all of us, if Julian Assange is silenced for telling the truth, they will not stop there.

‘They will continue with their war crimes.

‘The TUC must become involved and fight for his release instead of trying to prop up this shaky government.’

On the demonstration, Belgica Guaña, from the Ecuador community in London, criticised the role of Ecuadorian President Moreno for allowing the police to enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11th.

Assange had been granted asylum in the embassy where he had stayed since 2012.

Belgica said: ‘We are here because people need to know the truth about Julian Assange and we are demanding his immediate release.’

Joe Brack said: ‘I will be going to lobby the TUC on September 9th because they should be 100 per cent behind Julian, and they represent millions of workers.

‘’We are seeing the greatest constitutional crisis in over 50 years.

‘We need a socialist Brexit as the only way forward.

‘All the issues we are facing here of austerity, privatisation and de-industrialisation are happening throughout Europe.

‘Just look at how Portugal, Spain, France and especially Greece are suffering under the EU bankers.’

‘I feel the freedom of the press is essential’ said Miriam Ojeda.

‘The media have manipulated events that happened during the Iraq war and afterwards.

‘Journalists such as Assange who have published documents of public interest should not be condemned and sent to prison.

‘I am afraid if Julian is extradited to the US he may be killed.’

Another protester, Hadia Hudoudia said: ‘Julian Assange has been proved right about so many things.

‘The destabilisation of the Middle East, about the war on Syria…

Those in prison should be Blair and his supporters who went to war over the lies about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.’

Zoe, from west London, said: ‘Julian Assange has not done any harm to anyone, in fact, he has done a great service to humanity by exposing the crimes of the US government and their military.

‘He should be rewarded not facing extradition to the US or Sweden.

‘He should be freed immediately, especially as his health has deteriorated after being confined in the Ecuadorian embassy for years and now in Belmarsh prison.’

Jeff Conibear from Croydon, said: ‘I have come here to spread the word because there has been silence in the main media since Julian Assange was pulled out of the Ecuadorian embassy.

‘I was concerned to hear from John Pilger who said that Assange might be in danger of his life and he is still in the prison hospital.

‘I will be going to lobby the TUC to demand the unions speak out for a great journalist, Julian Assange, and it is shocking that they have been silent so far.’

Travelling from Germany to take part in the ‘Stand 4 Assange’ protest, Isabell Pforr from Leipzig told News Line: ‘I have taken part in protests in Germany against the fascists but there are not many actions in support of Julian Assange.

‘I have travelled here to support the Assange campaign for his release as his imprisonment is such an important issue that affects us all.’

‘I will be attending another protest on September 7th at Australia House and a lobby of the TUC on September 9th before I return.’

New York resident Anna Kard also made it her business to be at the protest on her holiday in the UK.

She said: ‘I have arranged my holiday around attending this protest, I needed to be here for this event.

‘It’s good to see such a good crowd here, we must step up the fight for the release of Julian Assange.’

Maria Modesto from Wandsworth said: ‘This protest is a contribution towards the release of Julian assange from prison.

‘I am concerned about his treatment and fear he may not survive and it is important to step up the campaign for his release.’

After the protest, Emmy Butlin from the Julian Assange Defence Campaign told News Line: ‘Today’s action here in Stratford was a great success with a lot of people showing great interest in the situation regarding Julian Assange’s seizure from the embassy and his current imprisonment and supported our demand for his immediate release.’