German government persecutes comedian on behalf of Turkish dictator


This video from the USA says about itself:

Germany Might Arrest Satirist For Offending Idiot Turkish President

14 April 2016

AMERICANS WONDERING WHAT life might be like in the near future — after a President Donald Trump acts on his promise to “open up our libels laws,” so that politicians with easily bruised egos can sue reporters or commentators for hurting their feelings — should pay attention to what is happening this week in Germany.

A German TV video which used to be on the Internet used to say about itself:

2 April 2016

Jan Böhmermann: “Schmähkritik” – A poem about Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The German text of the poem is here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Justice department is persecuting German comedian for insulting Erdogan

Today, 18:02

Judith van de Hulsbeek

The German judiciary is investigating a video of comedian and presenter Jan Böhmermann. In the movie Böhmermann reads a libelous poem in which he seeks out the boundaries of what he is allowed and is not allowed to say about the Turkish President Erdogan.

He says among other things that Erdogan beats girls and that the president has a small penis.

The presidential election debates in the Republican party of the USA are hardly about other subjects than insinuations about the sizes of the candidates’ penises. Yet, the United States Justice Department is not prosecuting Donald Trump, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, as far as I know.

The Public Prosecution Service is now investigating whether [Jan Böhmermann] is guilty of “insulting representatives of foreign states”. This may be punished with three years in prison.

Böhmermann made the video for the satirical program ZDF NEO Magazine Royal. The film was immediately already controversial. A day after the broadcast ZDF decided to remove it from the website because it would supposedly exceed “the limits of satire and irony.” …

Tension

Böhmermann made the video in response to the fuss over another satirical contribution of the Extra3 program. Erdogan tried to ban the distribution of this video, which caused worldwide criticism of him.

To prevent further diplomatic tension, Chancellor Merkel called on Sunday Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu. The two agreed that the film of Böhmermann is intentionally insulting.

Now a judicial investigation has been initiated.

Angela Merkel and Erdogan, EPA photo

Angela Merkel’s fawning over Erdogan will put the Turkish president, not Jan Böhmermann, in the dock. A German law which prevents citizens insulting a foreign head of state could come into conflict with European human rights legislation, which values freedom of political expression: here.

Argentinian poem on Falklands/Malvinas war


This music video by British anarchist punk rock band Crass says about itself:

Crass – Sheep Farming In The Falklands

28 jun. 2007

Some images and footage from the Falklands War… just as stupid and needless as the current Iraq war… Politicians take note… 1 2 3 4 We Don’t Want Your Fuckin’ War.

The lyrics of this song are here.

Poem by Argentinian Leo Boix, living in England:

Archipelago

Saturday 2nd April 2016

I was seven

when the teacher

unfurled the map

for us all to see:

“The Malvinas are Argentine.”

And I so little,

imagined those islets,

as savage beasts

as swimming dogs

facing that immensity,

of all the oceanic

blue.

So small

the lost islands,

a war

we watched as a family

on a 22 inch

Hitachi

television,

in full colour

illuminating the dining room

and the armchairs made of cane.

Little lead soldiers

in a frozen landscape,

bombs fell,

ships sunk,

we played

a battle

inanimate

of the opposing sides,

under the shadow of the flowerless

rubber trees.

“The Malvinas are Argentine,”and nearby

the neighbours

put together

a rag doll

of the Iron Lady,

filled with paper and dry straw,

with old high-heel shoes

and buttons sawn to the head.

She had a stitched

bag, and was tied to a stick

to keep her

so imposing.

But still

the fire

ended up consuming

rapidly

the effigy

Thatcher.

And we the children danced

in a circle singing

while the soldiers fell

on the road to Port Stanley,

flashes in the sky,

wounded,

the battle

Goose Green,

the general announcing: “We are winning.”

But the dead kept coming

upon us

as if unearthing shame.

And when the deceit

ended,

the screen announced

Argies go home.”

Nobody won,

we all lost,

and they did not come back from the South Atlantic.

It’s hard to believe,

I was seven

and still remember

that freezing April,

the box of chocolates

that we sent

to the islands,

so that the cold

wouldn’t end up

freezing

the apathy

of bewilderment.

Ancient Greek poetess Sappho, new book


This video says about itself:

Sappho: Love and Life on Lesbos (2015) | Maya Vision International

Papyrology expert Margaret Mountford goes in search of the truth behind the legend of Sappho – the most controversial writer of the ancient world and the first authentic woman’s voice in western history. The mysterious discovery of a lost papyrus containing the words to songs unheard for seventeen hundred years sends Margaret on a journey to explore the truth about Sappho.

Was she indeed the first lesbian, a priestess, prostitute, a stern schoolmistress or an aristocratic lady of leisure as readers over the centuries have variously alleged? We ask how each generation’s view of the archetypal liberated woman of letters tells us as much about us and our fears and concerns as it does about her.

By Lucasta Miller in Britain today:

Searching for Sappho by Philip Freeman, book review: A valiant attempt to uncover the identity of the poet

Freeman uses Sappho’s poetry as a way in to exploring her culture, especially the experience of its women

“Burning Sappho” as Byron called her, remains an enigma. The first – or rather the earliest known – female poet, she came from the Greek island of Lesbos and was active during the late 7th and early 6th-century B.C. One century younger than Homer (whoever he was), she created a voice very different from his epic sweep. Achingly intimate in their first-person love confessions, her lyrics beg the question “who was she”?

In Searching for Sappho, Philip Freeman, an American academic, admits that it is impossible to write the real Sappho’s biography. Even the reconstruction of her oeuvre is trammelled by the fact that it exists in fragments mostly deriving from quotations in the works of much later Classical literary critics. Some of his most intriguing stories relate to the discovery by modern-age archaeologists of scraps of papyrus containing new examples of her work.

Apart from the texts themselves, everything we know about her is a myth. She was said in a Byzantine encyclopaedia to have been married to a wealthy merchant named Cercylas. But this turns out, more likely, to have been a dirty joke, as the name in Greek signifies “Mr Penis from Man Island”. Ovid disseminated the legend that she committed suicide out of lovesickness for a mysterious ferryman, Phaon, who had rejected her advances. Yet Sappho’s extant work includes recently discovered lines that suggest that she outlived the intensity of youth to reach old age (or what passed for old age in an era of low life expectancy).

Sappho is, of course, associated with above all with erotic passion. From her we get the words Sapphic and Lesbian. Her intense portrayal of same-sex eroticism is like nothing else in literature, especially her extended metaphors for physical arousal (Freeman points out that in the phrase usually translated “I am greener than grass”, the word “green” in fact means wet and dewy). And yet she clearly also had a husband as her poetry refers to her beloved daughter Cleis. Sexuality was more fluid in the days of the ancient Greeks. We learn here that their verb “to lesbianize” refers not to woman-on-woman activity but to blow-jobs.

Some have suggested that Sappho’s first-person lyricism was a sophisticated theatrical projection. Freeman asserts on the contrary that her work must have been based on authentic personal experience, although he can offer nothing more than his gut feel to support this argument. What he can do more objectively is to use her poetry as a way in to exploring her culture, especially the experience of its women. Sappho must have belonged to an economically privileged strata, given her education and that she alludes to a sea-faring merchant brother in poem. But in all walks of life, Greek women’s existence was founded on the family and marriage. Her work bears testimony to the wedding rituals of the era and also pays tribute to the intense emotions mothers felt for their children in a time and place when childbirth was as dangerous as the battlefield.

This short book provides an admirably clear and compact introduction to Sappho, while offering as a bonus a complete new translation of her frustratingly incomplete known oeuvre (one fragment reads simply “and I to you … of a white goat”, leaving the mind to boggle). It will whet your appetite, but leave you in a state of unsatisfied desire.

Guyanese poet Jan Carew, new book


This video series is called JAN CAREW – Black Seminoles, and The Columbian Era.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Walking the streets of eternity with a Guyanese great

Wednesday 24th February 2016

The poems of Jan Carew which have just been published are testimony to a passionate engagement with the struggle for human liberation which transcends his life and times, says ANDY CROFT

IN THE early 1960s, the new university in Georgetown, Guyana, asked the Guyanese writer Jan Carew (1920-2012), then living in London, to help them stock their library.

With a cheque for £16,000 to spend but with no idea where to start, Carew contacted comrades in the Communist Party who helped him select the books and ship them out to Guyana.

It’s a tantalising story, told almost as an aside in Carew’s posthumously published Episodes From My Life (Peepal Tree, £19.99).

Following his earlier memoir Potaro Dreams, it’s an account of Carew’s wanderings from Guyana to Europe and in Africa and the US.

An extraordinary book about an extraordinary life, it’s moving, funny and vividly written and full of fascinating pen portraits of people like Malcolm X, Andrew Salkey, Jomo Kenyatta, Claudia Jones, Paul Robeson and Cheddi Jagan.

Born in a village in Guyana, Carew was educated in the US, then at Charles University in Prague and the Sorbonne in Paris. A prolific author of fiction, history, essays, children’s books, plays and poetry, his books include Black Midas and The Wild Coast, Rape of Paradise, Ghosts in our Blood, The Guyanese Wanderer and Grenada: The Hour Will Strike Again. In the 1950s, he was a regular broadcaster on the BBC’s Caribbean Voices series and in the 1960s edited The Magnet, London’s first Black newspaper.

He acted with Laurence Olivier and with Wole Soyinka, visited Moscow as a guest of the Union of Soviet Writers and was active in the campaign to free Paul Robeson. Sammy Davis Jr appeared in one of his television plays. Carew reported from inside Cuba for the Observer during the Cuban missile crisis, was working in Ghana at the time of the 1966 coup and lived in revolutionary Grenada.

He was the personal adviser to several heads of government, including Cheddi Jagan, Kwame Nkrumah and Michael Manley. Later he pioneered the teaching of Black studies in US higher education.

When the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchov visited Harlem to meet Fidel Castro, Carew was there: “I remember a BBC team trying in vain to find someone in the huge crowd who would make an anti-Cuban statement. “One nameless brother in the crowd had been asked in front of the cameras, ‘Did you know that Fidel Castro nationalised one hundred million dollars of American property?’ “‘That don’t bother me none,’ the nameless man replied. ‘I don’t own no property… If them Cuban Cats took a hundred million from The Man, that don’t bother me none. The Man done ripped-off ten thousand times more than that from my folks…’”

In 1950 in Georgetown, Carew published his only book of poems, Streets of Eternity. But he was a prolific poet. Return to Streets of Eternity (Smokestack, £9.50), edited by Chris Searle and Carew’s widow Joy Gleason Carew, brings together for the first time poems written during a lifetime of passionate engagement in anti-colonial, civil rights, black power and liberation movements.

It’s a wonderful book, the record of half a century of revolutionary struggle in the “third world” seen through the eyes of a writer who shared the triumphs and the defeats of his time in Cuba, Guyana, Angola, Ghana, Sharpeville, Soweto and Grenada: “They say that Soufriere’s sleeping now/And Bishop’s lying in a nameless grave/But can volcanic fires die?/You can betray the revolution/for a moment/But you can never extinguish its fire.”

The book includes many previously unpublished tributes to 20th-century revolutionary leaders like Agostinho Neto, Patrice Lumumba, Che Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Maurice Bishop and Claudia Jones and to radical writers like Martin Carter, Walter Rodney, Dennis Brutus, Andrew Salkey, Alejo Carpentier and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The book’s editors have reproduced some of Carew’s news reports from Cuba (What the Cuban Revolution Means to Me), Ghana (Coup in Ghana: Season of Violent Change, and from the West Indian Gazette (What is a West Indian?) But, above all, it’s a book about Africa and the African diaspora, about exile and home and about liberation and imperialism:

“Wanted Dead or alive for a murder and a multitude of crimes A creature, armed, desperate, dangerous a creature wearing a humanoid disguise Usually carries a calling card touting freedom, democracy, free enterprise… Two thousand million are dying in twilight vales of starvation Where its surrogates Princes, Prelates, Pimp-Presidents, Buccaneers of profit are looting labour and life. Wanted Dead or alive for Murder, Ethnocide, Mayhem, Racism and the rape of continents, islands skies and seas Imperialism a creature armed, desperate, dangerous.”

African American author Maya Angelou, new film


This video from the USA says about itself:

Pt. 1: “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise“: Film on Writer & Activist Chronicles Extraordinary Life

16 February 2016

In a Black History Month special, we remember the life and legacy of the legendary poet, playwright and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. For the first time, a documentary has chronicled her remarkable life. She was raped as a child and refused to speak for five years. She went on to become an accomplished singer and actress, then worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

After King’s assassination, with encouragement by the author James Baldwin, Angelou penned “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” her first of seven autobiographies. In 1993 she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She was the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. We air highlights of Angelou’s work and speak to the co-producers and directors of the film, “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules, as well as Angelou’s grandson, Colin Johnson.

These two videos are the sequels.