Let Calais refugee children rejoin their families in Britain


This video says about itself:

Child refugees stranded in French city of Calais

1 January 2016

Hundreds of children are believed to be stranded at a refugee camp in Calais, in northern France.

The British rights group Citizens UK says little is being done to help them.

The group says it believes EU rules are being broken.

Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from Calais, where he met some of the stranded youngsters.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Calais kids hope court lets them join families in Britain

Monday 18th january 2016

FOUR children living in the Calais refugee camp hope to be reunited with their relatives in Britain after a court hearing in London today.

Campaigners supporting the children’s asylum case expect the result to set a legal precedent for children and young people trying to enter Britain.

The trial comes as nearly £6,000 raised to buy Jeremy Corbyn his “dream bike” looked set to instead go into the coffers of charities working with refugees in Calais.

Citizens UK spokesman George Gabriel said the group hoped the hearing of the four refugee children would “be positive.

“That’s the only way to bring order to chaos, stop people risking their lives and put the traffickers out of business.”

One Syrian boy is hoping to join his brother Ahmed, whose name has been changed, in London.

“He is traumatised by his experiences of the war,” said Ahmed.

“I think this partly explains the risky things he has been doing to try and join me here in the UK.

“He says he has seen death with his own eyes and isn’t worried about taking risks anymore.

“My wife and I will be his family, his mother and father, brother and sister. I will make sure he goes to school and is safe.”

According to Calais Migrant Solidarity, at least five people died in the last the last three months attempting to cross the border — two of them teenagers.

Tom Jordan started a crowdfunding bid to raise £475 for a bicycle — and to “annoy the right-wing press” — after newspapers lambasted Mr Corbyn for desiring a mid-priced commuter bike.

But after the Labour leader said he’d prefer the money went to charity, Mr Jordan suggested the cash should go to Calais Action, saying: “I am aware that our Jezza has already displayed support” for the charity.

He said he’d contacted Mr Corbyn’s office to enquire if he had a preference.

Mr Jordan added: “I was recently in Calais and Dunkirk with Calais Action, and the situation particularly in Dunkirk is pretty grim.

“Also, giving aid to refugees abroad is a perfect way to stick it to the right-wing press again, because we all know how compassionately they have treated this humanitarian crisis.”

Female refugees sexually abused


This September 2015 video from France is called Meet the brave women of “the Jungle“, Calais’s refugee camp, facing perils on a daily basis.

From Amnesty International:

18 January 2016

Governments and aid agencies are failing to provide even basic protections to women refugees traveling from Syria and Iraq. New research conducted by Amnesty International shows that women and girl refugees face violence, assault, exploitation and sexual harassment at every stage of their journey, including on European soil.

The organization interviewed 40 refugee women and girls in Germany and Norway last month who travelled from Turkey to Greece and then across the Balkans. All the women described feeling threatened and unsafe during the journey. Many reported that in almost all of the countries they passed through they experienced physical abuse and financial exploitation, being groped or pressured to have sex by smugglers, security staff or other refugees.

“After living through the horrors of the war in Iraq and Syria these women have risked everything to find safety for themselves and their children. But from the moment they begin this journey they are again exposed to violence and exploitation, with little support or protection,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response director. …

A dozen of the women interviewed said that they had been touched, stroked or leered at in European transit camps. One 22-year-old Iraqi woman told Amnesty International that when she was in Germany a uniformed security guard offered to give her some clothes in exchange for “spending time alone” with him. …

Violence by police and conditions in the transit camps

Women and girls reported filthy conditions in a number of transit camps, where food was limited and pregnant women in particular found little or no support. Women also reported that toilet facilities were often squalid and women felt unsafe as some sanitary facilities were not segregated by sex. For example, in at least two instances women were watched by men at the facility when they accessed the bathrooms. Some women also experienced direct violence from other refugees, as well as by police, particularly when tensions rose in cramped conditions and security forces intervened.

Rania, a 19-year-old pregnant woman from Syria, told Amnesty International about her experience in Hungary:

“The police then moved us to another place, which was even worse. It was full of cages and there wasn’t any air coming in. We were locked up. We stayed there for two days. We received two meals a day. The toilets were worse than in the other camps, I feel like they mean to keep the toilets like that to make us suffer.

“On our second day there, the police hit a Syrian woman from Aleppo because she begged the police to let her go… Her sister tried to defend her, she spoke English, was told that if she doesn’t shut up they will hit her like her sister. A similar situation happened to an Iranian woman the next day because she asked for extra food for her kids.”

Maryam, a 16-year-old from Syria:

(In Greece) “People started screaming and shouting, so the police attacked us and was hitting everyone with sticks. They hit me on my arm with a stick. They even hit younger kids. They hit everyone even on the head. I got dizzy and I fell, people were stepping on me. I was crying and was separated from my mother. They called my name and I was with my mother. I showed them my arm and a police officer saw my arm and laughed, I asked for a doctor, they asked me and my mother to leave.”

See also here.

Veteran helps four-year-old refugee girl, doesn’t get five years jail


This video by British veteran Rob Lawrie, recorded in Calais, France, says about itself:

Calais “The Truth”

10 October 2015

My photos, their story.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Judges lenient on aid worker who wanted to help refugee

Friday 15th January 2016

BRITISH aid worker Rob Lawrie who attempted to smuggle an Afghan child out of the Calais refugee camp was granted clemency by a French judge yesterday.

The former soldier avoided jail for up to five years after attempting to reunite four-year-old Bahar Ahmadi with her relatives in Britain.

He was given a suspended fine of €1,000 (£750) for “endangering” the life of the child.

Outside a Boulogne court Mr Lawrie said: “Compassion has been in the dock here.

“I’m going to raise the profile (of refugees) even more because we cannot simply leave these children.

“We need to get these children now and into our education system because these guys are going to be doctors and lawyers and teachers if we get them now and educate them correctly.

“Or we can leave them in the Jungle to rot and die of cold.”

Following the news of Mr Lawrie’s trial, friend and fellow Calais volunteer Janie Mac told the Star: “Everybody here in the camp has been waiting for such good news.

“Any one of us would do the same thing, he only did what was right.

“A lot of people have been waiting for an outcome of this kind because a lot of children are on site with no parents.

“A lot of people have been waiting for the result of this case so we know how we can proceed.

“A lot more people will be willing to take the risk because we all have children here, we all want them homed.”

The Jungle is currently facing a part-demolition by French authorities with aid workers warning of imminent rebellion by the thousands of migrants living inside the Calais camp.

French composer Pierre Boulez (1925–2016)


This classical music video says about itself:

6 January 2016

Pierre Boulez in Memoriam (29.03.1925-05.01.2016)

Nachtmusik II from Symphony No 7 by Gustav Mahler

Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam

By Alex Lantier:

Conductor and avant-garde composer Pierre Boulez (1925–2016)

7 January 2016

On Tuesday, French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez died at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, at age 90, after several years of illness. The Philharmonie of Paris, which he founded, issued a statement from his family declaring, “For all those who met him and had the chance to enjoy his creative energy, his artistic integrity, his availability and his generosity, his presence will remain alive and intense.”

Boulez was for decades a leading figure in European classical music. As a conductor who worked and recorded extensively with leading orchestras and opera companies, he elicited powerful, precise, unpretentious and always tasteful performances, though they sometimes had a touch of coldness. He had a reputation for being approachable by students and young artists he met, to whom he often gave generously of his time.

As a composer and founder of musical institutions, particularly for avant-garde music, he worked with rigor and was ruthless in polemics with musical rivals and French officials who got in his way. A man who was both analytical and strong-willed but not burdened by excess modesty, Boulez acted based on carefully weighed and calculated judgments, of whose correctness he was absolutely convinced. He had a firmly developed conception of the historical development of music, of which his own compositions, Boulez firmly believed, were the necessary and unavoidable end result.

Boulez taught himself to play the piano as a child in a bourgeois family in the small city of Montbrison. He studied advanced mathematics in 1940 in St Etienne and then Lyon. In 1943, he traveled to occupied Paris to study at the National Conservatory, failing the entrance exam in piano but being admitted to study harmony under composer Olivier Messiaen.

In 1945, he broke with Messiaen, whom Boulez later offended by calling his 1948 Turangalila Symphonie “brothel music,” to study with René Leibowitz, who introduced him to the “twelve-tone” style of composition of Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern. This style, designed to destroy traditional tonality in music, made a deep impression on Boulez, who characteristically embraced it and then denounced it, drafting a 1952 article in The Score that scandalized American academia by declaring that Schoenberg was “dead.”

In Paris, Boulez worked various jobs to pay the bills, as a math tutor, musician at the Folies Bergères nightclub, and finally director of stage music for the newly-founded theatrical company of renowned actor Jean-Louis Barrault.

Boulez, Barrault recalled in 1995, “arrived to us aged 20. We liked him immediately. On edge and charming like a young cat, he could not hide a wild temperament that was very amusing… But behind this anarchist savagery, we felt in Boulez the extreme delicacy of an unusual temperament, an extraordinary sensibility, even a hidden sentimentality.”

Starting in the 1950s, Boulez organized an avant-garde music series that Barrault backed at the Théâtre Marigny. Boulez both composed Le Marteau sans maître, an avant-garde piece based on works of the famous Resistance poet René Char, and began conducting, initially substituting for German conductors Hermann Scherchen and Hans Rosbaud.

This music video is called Pierre Boulez – Le Marteau sans maître (1955).

Though politically unaffiliated, Boulez in 1960 signed the Manifesto of the 121 opposing France’s war against Algerian independence and denouncing “the colonial system.” He was in Germany when the manifesto was published, and for a time he was barred from returning to France. However, he increasingly won world acclaim, with invitations to conduct the BBC Symphony, the Bayreuth Opera Festival, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

He had conflicts with French authorities in the 1960s, and once called the Paris Opera a “ghetto full of shit and dust.” After Culture Minister André Malraux passed over his suggestions for a reform of the French musical system, he exiled himself to Germany, and in 1967 gave an interview in Der Spiegel in which he called for “blowing up opera houses.” Based on this statement, he would be briefly detained on terrorism charges by Swiss police 34 years later, after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Boulez directed the New York Philharmonic from 1971 to 1977, provoking some hostility by programming a great deal of difficult avant-garde music, but also giving popular performances of music by Mozart and Ravel.

He subsequently returned to France, where he launched avant-garde groups including the Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) and the Institut de recherche et de coordination acoustique-musique (IRCAM), which had been founded with the support of French President Georges Pompidou. In 1981, he wrote Repons, which is often cited as his masterwork.

Throughout the latter decades of his life, Boulez continued to conduct major orchestras, compose, and found new music festivals and venues, including the Cité de la Musique in Paris in 1995 and the Lucerne Festival Academy for orchestral players in 2004. He met with and gave master classes for many conducting and composing students.

Boulez also leaves behind a vast collection of recordings, focused to a large extent on late 19th and 20th century composers including Debussy, Mahler, Bartók, the twelve-tone school, Stravinsky, and Messiaen, as well as performances of the operas of Richard Wagner and of his own works.

Boulez’s other main legacy was his relentless search for a new musical vocabulary to replace both traditional tonality and the twelve-tone system invented by Schoenberg.

This author confesses to considerable skepticism regarding some of Boulez’s compositions and also the aesthetic conceptions underlying them. There is strong reason to doubt that the conceptions of art and musical composition that underlay Boulez’s innovations—such as those he developed while writing in French structuralist circles such as the Tel Quel group—will stand the test of time. The theoretical-philosophical underpinnings of his aesthetic judgments are especially questionable.

“Music is an art that has no ‘meaning,’” Boulez declared in a 1961 lecture titled Aesthetics and the Fetishists, “hence the primary importance of structures that are, properly speaking, linguistic, given the impossibility of musical vocabulary assuming a simply communicative function.”

Paradoxically, Boulez’s best work shows the profound meaning and emotional and communicative power of music, be it vocal or instrumental, with words or no.

Ultimately, however, whether one agrees with Boulez’s conceptions and his preoccupation with forms and linguistic systems, his research and his striving for a new musical language was an honest and integral part of the musical life of his era. In his research, there was nothing of the charlatanry and posing that characterizes much of public life today.

The author also recommends:

Lulu: A new production of a challenging 20th century opera
[4 January 2016]

Refugees’ bad conditions in Dunkirk, France


This video says about itself:

25 November 2015

War refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, winter is approaching!

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

France: Conditions deteriorating for refugees at Dunkirk camp

Tuesday 5th January 2016

THE RED CROSS warned yesterday that conditions at a refugee camp outside Dunkirk are deteriorating due to wet winter weather.

The warning came after volunteers from the French and British Red Cross Societies distributed 1,300 emergency supply parcels to the Grande-Synthe site.

Home to between 2,600 and 3,000 people, the camp is the biggest outside the Calais “Jungle” and has grown significantly in recent weeks.

Most refugees there are Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, including many families with children. There is little access to toilets, showers or clean water.

A report on the organisation’s website yesterday said that the recent spate of wet weather had made conditions there unhygienic and dangerous.

“People are surviving on very little,” said Red Cross head of UK planning response Simon Lewis. “There’s no electricity, heating or waste management.”

“The lack of toilets and showers mean people are living in appalling and inhumane conditions.”

Refugee crisis: Police block aid to French camp ‘far worse’ than Calais Jungle. By-law prompts desperate appeals for help amid detoriating conditions at Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk: here.

Banksy’s Steve Jobs mural in Calais refugee camp


Banksy's Steve Jobs mural in Calais

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Banksy depicts Steve Jobs in the ‘jungle’ in Calais

Today, 10:25

British street artist Banksy has made a mural about Steve Jobs in the refugee camp in Calais. The deceased founder of Apple, himself the son of a Syrian immigrant, is pictured with a bag on his back and an old Macintosh computer in his right hand.

With this mural Banksy wants to make a statement. “We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant“, the BBC quoted from his statement. “Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”

In the ‘jungle’ in the French port city live thousands of refugees who want to cross over to Britain.