USA, killer Ku Klux Klan policeman exposed


This 12 August 2012 video from the USA says about itself:

KKK Cop Exposed

A Michigan cop who killed a black man in 2009, is being investigated for ties to the KKK. Cenk Uygur, Booke Thomas, and Francis Maxwell, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“A Michigan cop has been placed on administrative leave so city officials can investigate why he decorated his home with Confederate flags and a framed membership application for the Ku Klux Klan.

The cop was last in the news a decade ago for shooting and killing a black man, for which he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson was alerted to Officer Charles Anderson’s disturbing memorabilia after an African-American man toured the white officer’s home, which is for sale, according to the statewide news site MLive. Rob Mathis wrote on Facebook that the five-bedroom home was littered with Confederate memorabilia. The KKK application was hanging in one of the bedrooms.”

Read more here.

American protest against Saudi-Trump war on Yemen


This February 2018 video says about itself:

Yemen: Protesting children call for end to conflict outside UN’s Sanaa HQ

Yemeni children held a protest vigil outside the United Nations building in Sanaa, Tuesday, to demand a halt to the war and a return to regular food and aid supplies into the country. One of the young protesters said: “we come to demand that the United Nations stop the [Saudi-led coalition] siege of Yemen so that we can go back to our schools.” He added: “Saudi Arabia says it sends us flour and wheat, but it sends us missiles, [and] bombs Yemen, houses, mosques, and everything else.”

By Tim Rivers in the USA:

Dearborn, Michigan residents protest on four-year anniversary of US-backed Saudi war on Yemen

1 April 2019

On Saturday a demonstration of about 100 people heard speakers denounce US support for the Saudi-led genocidal war against Yemen in front of the Henry Ford Memorial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb that is home to the largest Arab-American community in the United States.

Students from Dearborn High School and Wayne State University joined autoworkers from nearby Ford factories and other residents of the community to denounce the blood-drenched Saudi regime and its continuing onslaught against the defenseless population of Yemen.

Anaya and Abbas

“I am here because every rational human being is against war, against killing innocent human beings, especially those who are defenseless and poor”, said Anaya. “These are the poorest people in the world. For what reason?

For the criminal Saudi regime it is all about power and money. I oppose the war in Yemen. I know it is economically motivated. The Saudi regime exchanges oil for weapons, and those weapons are used against my people in Yemen.”

The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with 14 million of the country’s 29 million people facing starvation, the direct result of a punishing naval blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and the US.

According to the charity Save the Children, an estimated 85,000 children have starved to death during the four years of war. Nearly 100 civilians were either killed or wounded every week in Yemen last year, with children accounting for one-fifth of all casualties, the UN reports.

A section of the Dearborn protest

Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) received a warm reception from the demonstrators who gathered under umbrellas in a drizzling rain. IYSSE members distributed copies of the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter and a leaflet promoting the upcoming meetings at Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor entitled “The threat of fascism and how to fight it”, featuring Christoph Vandreier, a prominent leader of the fight against fascism in Germany and deputy national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Germany).

“I am of Yemeni descent”, Nuha told the WSWS. “I was born here, but when I was visiting family in Yemen, every night we would hear Saudi aircraft. We would hear the bombing in distant cities.

“Something really terrible happened while I was there. A funeral was bombed, and hundreds of people were killed.

Nuha

“You don’t see these headlines in America because they are funding Saudi Arabia. It is good to see that there is a campaign against it.”

Our reporters explained the SEP’s international fight for the freedom of journalist Julian Assange, trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, imprisoned in solitary confinement for refusing to testify against Assange, and the parallel campaign against internet censorship.

“When you say censorship, it reminds me of the Palestinians,” she said. “If you speak out on the war by Israel against the Palestinians, you would be called fascist. That is a type of censorship. It just shuts down people.

“I would not think of London, England as being involved in censorship. I would think of America, yes, but not England… Thank you for this.”

A report by the US-based University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and the Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana documented more than 19,000 bombing raids that have been carried out in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. Since the start of the war, the UK alone has sold at least £5.7 billion worth of arms to the Saudi coalition.

Hospitals, airports, ports, bridges and roads have all been repeatedly attacked. So, too, have farms, schools, oil and gas facilities, factories and private businesses. Yemen’s civilian, economic and medical infrastructures have been pushed to the brink of collapse. The worst cholera outbreak on record, with more than 1 million infections and 2,500 deaths, has been raging since 2016.

Thousands of people are starving to death and dying from preventable diseases, while an average of eight civilians die from bombs and bullets every day, based on data collected by the Yemen Data Project.

Under Obama the US military provided midair refueling of Saudi warplanes so that they could continue nonstop bombing of schools, hospitals, vital infrastructure and residential neighborhoods, while offering intelligence, targeting information and US naval support for a deadly blockade of the impoverished country.

In a report from September 2016, Reuters revealed that the Obama administration offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, other military equipment and training—a figure which exceeded all previous U.S. administrations in the 71-year history of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

The multiple arms on offer included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships. Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces. The Control Arms Coalition, a group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls, said at the time that Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade treaty, which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.

For example, on March 15, 2016, the coalition bombed a crowded market in northwestern Yemen, killing at least 97 civilians, including 25 children. Human Rights Watch determined that the attack was conducted with a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which consists of an MK-84 2000-pound bomb and a JDAM satellite guidance kit, both of which the US supplied. The US and the UK have also sold cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, which release scores of submunitions that can detonate much later and kill civilians.

Karim

“I am shocked that this can be a reality,” said Karim, a junior at Dearborn High School. “Oppression, atrocities and no one is doing anything about it. We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Why are we supporting the people who are causing this to happen?

“We are humans. We are supposed to be brothers and sisters. We are supposed to support each other. We are not supposed to let oppression happen.”

WSWS reporters discussed the class struggle, the need for revolutionary leadership in the working class and the upcoming meetings on the fight against fascism at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. He welcomed the invitation.

“Anything that will truly help people and doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Yes, I will support that. What power does the government have without the people? If we stand together, nobody will have a greater power than us. If that is the means of uniting people against war, then we have got to do that.”

When a member of the SEP was invited to address the rally, he explained that both Democrats and Republicans had voted for the Pentagon’s massive budget and supported US wars in the Middle East. Both parties of American capitalism support the Saudi regime in its conduct of the genocide against the people of Yemen.

Ziyed (left) with two friends

While Donald Trump is the most hated president in American history, and the vast majority of the American people are deeply hostile to the wars being conducted by his government, he explained that it was critical to understand that to bring an end to the war, it was necessary to mobilize the working class independently of both parties of big business in struggle against capitalism, which is the source of war.

The protesters who spoke to the WSWS were horrified and often confused by the atrocities that are taking place in Yemen.

“I can’t believe how this could be happening,” said Ziyad, a student at Wayne State University. “I want to fight against this war.”

Jafri worked at General Motors 44 years. He was … eager to find a way to mobilize workers more broadly against war. … “The working class does not want war. What person would?”

Bald eagle saved from Michigan, USA ice


This 6 February 2019 video from Michigan in the USA says about itself:

Iced Eagle Rescue on Lake Michigan

Some know that in my ‘spare time’, I volunteer at the raptor rehabilitation center in EmpireWings of Wonder (WoW) …

By fortune or misfortune, an eagle that somehow had the inconvenience of coming into contact with Lake Michigan during the recent polar vortex was in trouble.

Finders had been watching 4 eagles eating something out on the edge of the ice. Three of the eagles eventually flew away but the fourth remained, and it was immediately apparent that something was wrong. So, they (the finders) contacted Wings of Wonder where I was holding down the fort while the director, Rebecca Lessard was making her own Polar Vortex sidestep by visiting her grand baby in Dallas, TX!

I called volunteer Chris Johnson to see if he had some time open for a possible adventure and he bit! The accompanying video is a spotty story of the rescue and rehabilitation as I was there to rescue/assist and not to photo’graph, but I couldn’t resist getting some clips when the timing was right and my help was not needed.

The first segment I was wading amongst ice chunks, trying to keep my footing, an eye on the eagle/Chris and get some video … sorry for the ‘bobblyness’. The eagle was sitting on the edge of an ice shelf about 100 feet from shore. I donned insulated chest waders, a PFD and slowly plodded out into the water amongst the large floating ice blocks to corral the eagle with hopes that he would move towards shore where Chris was waiting with blanket and thick handling gloves.

We were able to keep him on the shoreline ice and convinced him to go ashore so we could gather him (and his 8?” ball of tail ice) to take back to WoW to assist in the defrosting process. It worked and the only close casualty was the newfound leak in my waders … at crotch level (of course) … luckily Chris was right where he needed to be and had the presence of mind to intercept the guy who seemingly was looking for an assist at the same time we were offering one!

Getting the eagle back to WoW, we set him up over night in a crate near a heat vent hoping the freezerlings would let loose, but alas, the big one did not … so, the next morning, Jim Manley joined the crew to help with the next step of ‘forced defrostation’ … warm tap water directly applied to the ice ball.

They were able to remove the ice beast and it was apparent he was pretty happy to have his discharge chute operating again as he was making up for lost time … with cleared out piping he gently accepted his first free meal very gently from forceps. Sunday morning the eagle was moved to the outside 100 foot flight pen where he finished his full recovery. He is flying perfectly, preening and certainly enjoying his daily free meals of rabbit, rat and fish dinners. Wings of Wonder is inviting the public to his release on Sunday, Feb 10th, 2019 at 4pm, from the Suttons Bay High School parking lot, 500 South Elm Street, Suttons Bay.

The release was a grand success! you can see it here:

Auschwitz camp music reconstructed


This 20 November 2018 video from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the USA says about itself:

Giving Voice to a Foxtrot from Auschwitz-Birkenau

While conducting research at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum last summer, music theory professor Patricia Hall became interested in a manuscript arranged and performed by prisoners in the Auschwitz I men’s orchestra. Heartbreakingly titled “The Most Beautiful Time of Life”, it’s a foxtrot that was likely performed as dance music for the Auschwitz garrison. It has now been recorded by SMTD’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and will be performed in a free concert on Friday, November 30 at 8 pm, in the Moore Building on North Campus.

This 30 November 2018 video from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the USA says about itself:

Die Schönste Zeit des Lebens (world premiere): U-M Contemporary Directions Ensemble

Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide on stage in the USA


This music video says about itself:

This BBC telecast represents the world premiere of the 1988 Scottish Opera version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, directed by Jonathan Miller and John Wells. Bernstein attends and John Mauceri conducts this most complete version of the score ever seen on the stage. Directed for the cameras by Humphrey Burton.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide at the University of Michigan

23 November 2018

The University of Michigan’s University Opera Theatre in Ann Arbor staged Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta, Candide, in mid-November. This energetic and engaging production brought to life a remarkable musical work, composed and first presented in the 1950s.

Bernstein based his operetta on the famed 1759 novella by Voltaire, the French writer, historian and philosopher. The original Candide was an enormously influential Enlightenment work that satirized established religion, government and philosophy. It follows a naïve youth through a series of calamities, natural and man-made, that shakes the complacent, fatalistic optimism in which he has been instructed and, by implication, casts doubt on any divine plan for humanity. The satire, which was an immediate best-seller, was put on the list of prohibited books by the Catholic Church in 1762 and banned in various locales.
Voltaire's Candide

Bernstein hardly made a secret of the fact that one of the impulses for his operetta was provided by the McCarthyite witch hunts in the 1950s. The work was created in 1953 as a result of discussions between the composer and playwright Lillian Hellman. Both had been affected by the Red Scare. Bernstein was forced to sign a humiliating affidavit attesting to his anti-communism. Hellman, a onetime member and continuing supporter of the Communist Party, was blacklisted in the film industry, and her partner, author Dashiell Hammett, another party supporter, went to jail for refusing to provide the names of those who had contributed to a bail fund for Communist Party leaders prosecuted under the reactionary Smith Act.

Hellman adapted Voltaire’s work with lyricist John La Touche and Bernstein. LaTouche was later replaced by poet Richard Wilbur. In 1956, the year that Bernstein was simultaneously composing West Side Story, Candide was ready for performances in Boston, where Dorothy Parker contributed lyrics to “The Venice Gavotte” in Act 2. …

Candide’s complicated performance history involves numerous revisions in the 30 years since its premiere in 1956. Versions appeared in 1973, 1982 and 1989, and further posthumous revisions in 1993 and 1999—Bernstein died in 1990. UM presented the 1989 Scottish Opera Edition of the Opera-House Version.

Voltaire (Gillian Eaton) narrates the story set in idyllic Westphalia (a region in northwestern Germany), where the scholar Dr. Pangloss (Benton DeGroot) tutors his four students—Candide (Daniel McGrew), Cunegonde (Lucia Helgren), Maximilian (Fernando Grimaldo) and Paquette (Eileen Vanessa Rodriquez)—in “optimism”, where “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

Cunegonde, the beautiful daughter of a Baron, and Candide, a bastard cousin, fall in love. The Baron is not pleased and expels Candide, who eventually joins the Bulgar Army, currently engaged in “liberating” Westphalia. The Bulgars supposedly kill Cunegonde, after ravishing her, along with the rest of her family. Candide is left to wander through Europe. More disasters befall him.

Candide at the University of Michigan

Candide at the University of Michigan

He happens to be in Lisbon when the famous … earthquake kills 30,000 people. Candide and Pangloss are blamed for the disaster and the latter is publicly hanged as a heretic in the Inquisition. Candide later finds himself in Paris and discovers that Cunegonde is not dead after all, simply earning her living as a courtesan. They eventually set off for the New World, South America, and further unhappy adventures.

Over the course of their wanderings throughout Europe and South America, Candide and Cunegonde are subjected to every sort of painful adversity: wars, shipwrecks, earthquakes, rapes, beatings and swindles. Their life lessons knock the stuffing out of Pangloss’s “optimism”.

Bernstein’s Candide itself wanders through an array of musical styles: jazz, Broadway, Igor Stravinsky, neo-Baroque, operetta, tango, Gustav Mahler, and, in some versions, a Schoenbergian twelve-tone row.

Many of the lyrics are striking, such as when Pangloss sings: “Though war may seem a bloody curse, it is a blessing in reverse. When cannon roar, both rich and poor by danger are united.”

Pangloss is also responsible for such gems as these: “Since every part of the body is made for the best of all possible reasons, it follows that every part of the State—which is merely a body in macrocosm—is made of the best of all possible reasons.”

Narrator Voltaire derides the Catholic Church for torturing and killing its victims in an “Auto-da-Fé” (act of faith, or the burning of heretics and apostates), while a chorus sings:

What a day, what a day,
For an Auto da Fé!…
It’s a lovely day for drinking
And for watching people die!
What a perfect day to be a money lender!
Or a tradesman, or a merchant or a vendor!
At a good exciting lynching
It’s a bonnie day for business,
Better raise the prices high!
For an Inquisition day this is a wonder!

“One final word in praise of the universal laws of Science,” says Pangloss. “God in his wisdom made it possible to invent the rope and what is the rope for but to create a noose?”

The University of Michigan production was a serious effort, remarkably well organized and executed. Conductor Kenneth Kiesler and director Matthew Ozawa are prominent artists. Kiesler has conducted orchestras and opera companies on five continents, while Ozawa has directed opera throughout the US and elsewhere.

The student singers and musicians delivered taut, elegant and committed performances. The entire ensemble was top-notch, with the four leads—Helgren as Cunegonde, McGrew as Candide, Grimaldo as Maximilian and Rodriquez as Paquette—vivacious and entertaining. The energetic Samantha Rose Williams as the Old Lady also deserves special mention.

The sets were imaginatively minimalistic and inventive, as cast and crew used numerous blackboards, ranging from the gigantic to the hand-held, to create backdrops and props.

As noted above, Bernstein always pointed to the anti-communist purges of the 1940s and 1950s as one of the impulses for his operetta. According to the official Leonard Bernstein website, the operetta’s creators saw a “parallel between the Inquisition’s church-sponsored purges and the ‘Washington Witch Trials’, fueled by anti-Communist hysteria and waged by the House Un-American Activities Committee.”

In 1989, between the acts of a concert performance of the work in London, Bernstein remarked: “Why Candide? Whither and whence Candide?… The particular evil which impelled Lillian Hellman to choose Candide and present it to me as the basis for a musical stage work was what we now quaintly and, alas, faintly recall as McCarthyism—an ‘ism’ so akin to that Spanish inquisition we just revisited in the first act as to curdle the blood. This was a period in the early ‘50s of our own century, exactly 200 years after the Lisbon affair [massive earthquake], when everything that America stood for seemed to be on the verge of being ground under the heel of that Junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, and his inquisitorial henchmen. That was the time of the Hollywood Blacklist—television censorship, lost jobs, suicides, expatriation and the denial of passports to anyone even suspected of having once known a suspected Communist.

“I can vouch for this. I was denied a passport by my own government. By the way, so was Voltaire denied a passport by his.”

With Candide, Bernstein was attempting to create a popular American musical satire. Undoubtedly, one of his inspirations or models, in the general sense, was The Threepenny Opera (1928) by Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill. Bernstein had conducted a concert performance of the “play with music”—also a bitter satire and based on an 18th century work—in 1952 at a music festival before an audience of nearly 5,000 people. That performance, featuring Lotte Lenya (Weill’s wife), is considered the “warm-up” for The Threepenny Opera’s enormously successful run off-Broadway in 1954 and then from 1955-1961. Lenya once asserted, “I think surely Leonard Bernstein knows every note of Kurt Weill … and he is the one who took up after Weill’s death … I think [he] is the closest to Kurt Weill.”

However, Candide does not succeed in eviscerating the American social order as the earlier work had done to its German equivalent. The issue here is not the presence or absence of artistic genius, with which Bernstein was blessed in full measure, but primarily the different times and the consequences of the political defeats suffered by socialism and the working class in the middle of the century.

The lesson Bernstein seems to have drawn from the McCarthy period was a slightly cynical and discouraged one—to roll with the punches, so to speak. He didn’t submit the anti-communist affidavit out of pure careerism, as others did in relation to HUAC, but he certainly didn’t see or understand that it was necessary to resist. Or, more precisely, his outlook was one of encouraging a militant liberalism as the answer to reaction. And this is what led more or less directly to Candide’s “softness” or obliqueness.

Despite Bernstein’s intriguing and entertaining comments, it could hardly be said that the operetta, for example, fully takes on McCarthyism and political reaction in America. The less historically informed spectator today might be forgiven if he or she even failed to make that connection. Blind optimism in the face of the tragedies that actually occur to people—including the traumas of the 20th century—seems more its message. Candide is simply not that cutting, and its conclusion, as the UM production—in its weakest aspect—demonstrates, can be interpreted in a relatively conformist and complacent fashion.

In the program, director Ozawa states: “Making my UM directorial debut with Bernstein’s wildly exuberant operetta has been a treat … What better way to bring our communities together than on a show that celebrates diversity, humanity, and our ability to cultivate a collective ‘garden.’”

This is not an appropriate reading of the situation of Voltaire’s characters, or Bernstein’s to a large extent, who are beaten down and more resigned, in the end, than “exuberant” about their prospects for the future.

In the novella, in its concluding passage, Pangloss, addressing Candide, continues his dreadful sophistic apologetics for things as they are: “There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.”

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”

According to the Bernstein website, “Candide is perhaps destined never to find its perfect form and function; in the final analysis, however, that may prove philosophically appropriate.” The “highly checkered career of this work”, in Bernstein’s words, and its never really having found its “perfect form and function,” had a great deal to do with the political difficulties of the period and the composer’s own response to them.

Despite these weaknesses, the idea of adapting Voltaire was a good one, and UM’s production is a valuable effort marking the centenary of Bernstein’s birth.

The author also recommends:

The centenary of Leonard Bernstein—Part 1
[24 August 2018]

The centenary of Leonard Bernstein—Part 2
[25 August 2018]

André Previn, versatile composer, conductor and pianist, dies at 89: here.