All posts filed under: Arts and Entertainment

BOOK REVIEW: Injustice – The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five

Vacy Vlazna Survive prison I must, for when I come out I would hold no grudges, or hate, or resentment. My belief system tells me that whatever comes upon me is a matter already decreed by Allah. He knows better.” Shukri Abu-Baker, HLF5 Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five is about a grave and cruel injustice wielded by both the the USA and Israel, and paradoxically the book’s foundations are friendship, human dignity, and trust bound together by the integrity of the author, Miko Peled. Peled’s credentials, as an Israeli dissident, as uncle of Smadar (13), a victim of a Palestinian suicide bomber and as son of an Israeli General gives compelling credibility to the findings of his comprehensive investigation. INJUSTICE A decade of innocence caged. It is now 10 years since a Machiavellian travesty of US justice sentenced, between 15 – 65 years, the innocent Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulrahman Odeh, who were senior staff of The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) …

In Defense of ‘Conspiracy Theories’

Max Parry To remain innocent may also be to remain ignorant.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing This November 22nd marked fifty-five years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Perhaps no other major incident in U.S. history has generated more uncertainty and skepticism towards its official account than his Dallas killing in 1963. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that a clear majority of Americans still doubt the Warren Commission’s determination that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone as the accused sniper, with many suspecting that others in government and organized crime were involved in a secret plot to kill the president. Although its etymological origins can be traced back further, as a cultural phenomenon the notion of belief in so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ is widely attributed to a surge in distrust of government and media institutions that followed JFK’s murder. Perhaps its only rival would be September 11th, which surveys have similarly indicated a trend of doubt towards the 9/11 Commission Report’s version of events leading up to the attacks in 2001. In other words, most people …

Revolution with Lee Camp

Eddison Flame As the saying goes, wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.” John Wight If it’s true. If revolutions do take place when the people work it out for themselves, then we must be headed for a revolution. Because people are working things out for themselves. It seems like every day I find someone new who is shining bright light into the darkness, and I can’t help but feel we are reaching a critical mass. People are becoming bolder, and they are speaking the truth with ever greater clarity. This week I’m very excited to have found Lee Camp’s wonderful new Super Patriotic Very Uncle Sam Comedy Special. It is a shining example of just what I’m talking about. It is a clear minded and boldly spoken social critique, and it is stand up at its finest. It reminds me of something from George Carlin or Bill Hicks. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a great …

Peterloo and the Realist tradition

Philip Roddis Worthy, sumptuously shot, convincingly acted and not without moments of insight – but a tad leaden. That’s my take on Mike Leigh’s new film, released November 2. I’ll give a more nuanced view in a moment but first a timeline, reverse chronology, in which Peterloo – the event, not the movie – can be framed: Orgreave 1984…Bloody Sunday 1972…Amritsar 1919…Peterloo 1819. It’s hardly a competition but the toll of fifteen sliced to death by mounted and sabre flailing yeomanry, many of them drunk, charging into the crowds at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on August 16, 1819, is dwarfed by that of 379 mown down at Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh, April 13, 1919. As are the fourteen shot dead by the Parachute Regiment in Derry’s Bogside on January 30, 1972 – while at Orgreave in June 1984, police in riot gear and supported by dogs killed no one at all when they attacked[1] striking miners, their livelihoods on the line. So why lump together events separated not only by centuries and continents, but by …

9/11 Unmasked: A Remarkable Review

David Ray Griffin The book 9/11 Unmasked, which I wrote together with Elizabeth Woodworth, has received several excellent reviews. But the most remarkable of these was written by Philip Roddis, who in 2016 had written with vitriol (his term) about the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” He wrote: “9/11 Truthism is not only seriously crackers but reactionary too.” What is remarkable about Roddis’ 2018 review is the extent to which he reversed his previous position. Introduction Roddis’ reversal began after seeing responses to his 2016 piece. Most of the responses simply confirmed Roddis’ long-held “contempt” for 9/11 truthers. He had felt this contempt – he recently realized – because he had been “exposed only to lazy, simplistic and epistemologically naive truthers.” Put otherwise, Roddis admitted that his “exposure to truthism had come from armchair conspiracists too idle or brain fogged to put together a decent argument.” Given his long-held certainty that the truthers could not be taken seriously, he had felt no need to “engage with evidential flaws in the official account.” So …

The Fakest Fake News: The U.S. Government’s 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

Edward Curtin A Review of 9/11Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth If you want to fathom today’s world, absolutely nothing is more important than to understand the truth about the attacks of September 11, 2001. This is the definitive book on the subject. For seventeen years we have been subjected to an onslaught of U.S. government and corporate media propaganda about 9/11 that has been used to support the “war on terror” that has resulted in millions of deaths around the world.  It has been used as a pretext to attack nations throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. It has led to a great increase in Islamophobia since Muslims were accused of being responsible for the attacks. It has led to a crackdown on civil liberties in the United States, the exponential growth of a vast and costly national security apparatus, the spreading of fear and anxiety on a great scale, and a state of permanent war that is pushing the world toward a nuclear confrontation. …

Seventeen Years on: what really happened on 9/11?

Philip Roddis Introduction On Friday, August 31, I had an email from OffGuardian editor Catte: How do you feel about reviewing a new 9/11 book for the anniversary? I know you’re a sceptic but that is why I’d value your input … Two years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, OffGuardian ran my review of Dylan Avery’s Loose Change. Except it wasn’t a review but a pouring of vitriol on the film’s central assertion that the events of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. Reception below the line was hostile. But among the cat-calls were voices I could not ignore: voices of reason from dudes who’d done their homework and whose tones were sober; friendly even. I promised to re-assess the truther case and return either to concede and apologise or reaffirm my views with better arguments. I gave no date but strongly and at the time sincerely implied it would be a few months tops. Not two years. Why the delay? I’m not afraid of saying, I was wrong. I’ve had practise …

9/11 Unmasked by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth: A Review

Piers Robinson Although not a topic for polite conversation, nor a widely recognized ‘acceptable’ issue for mainstream academics and journalists, the issue of 9/11 and the multiple questions that persist with respect to this transformative event continue to bubble under the surface. 9/11 ushered in the global ‘war on terror’, shaping the geo-political agenda of Western governments for almost two decades now and having a deleterious impact on civil liberties across Western liberal democratic states. Torture has been used as part of official policy and there is bulk data collection and surveillance of entire populations. In recent years, further information has come into the public domain, via the UK Chilcot report regarding the formative stages of the post 9/11 ‘war on terror’: Within days of 9/11 having occurred a British embassy cable reported that ‘the “regime-change hawks” in Washington are arguing that a coalition put together for one purpose (against international terrorism) could be used to clear up other problems in the region’; Chilcot also published a Bush-Blair communication from the aftermath of 9/11 which …

Book Review – “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”

David William Pear How can I write a review of Andre Vltchek’s new book Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism? I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. Andre himself says that: There is nothing to add to the writing of maverick revolutionary philosophers. Hands off their work! Let them speak! Editions without prefaces and introductions, please; no footnotes! The greatest works of philosophy were written with heart, blood and passion! No interpretation is needed. If allowed to read them, even a child can understand.” He is speaking about the works of other great revolutionary writers, not himself. I think Andre is a great revolutionary writer, too. But, who am I to speak for Andre or greatness? Read his great works for yourself, and you will understand them without my introduction. You will find that Andre has the guts to put himself out there, let it all hang out, and expose his vulnerabilities as well as his wisdom… But I am damned if I don’t write a book review for Andre’s book, because I …

Anthony Bourdain’s State Department Smorgasbord

by Lorenzo, June 10, 2018 Anthony Bourdain’s suicide in June 2018 will cement his reputation as a progressive celebrity with a unique acumen for explaining the world to his fans. CNN’s obituary says that the most common sentiment in response to his death is “I feel like I’ve lost a friend.” You’d have to go back to the death of Steve Jobs to find a celebrity who provoked this kind of personal investment on the part of his fans. Bourdain’s reputation was built for this, because the chef could be relied on to impart a very specific view of the world, and more importantly, to not look like he was doing it. This was the most consequential part of his work—why he was hired by CNN—and it’s the part that will get discussed the least as the adulation pours in. The following was written a few months ago but it is offered today with minor changes. As of March 2018 Patrick Radden Keefe, a journalist who typically covers El Chapo and ISIS, can add to …

Speaking the Unspeakable: The Assassination and Martyrdom of Thomas Merton

A Quasi-Review by Edward Curtin of The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton by Hugh Turley & David Martin Killing a man who says ‘No!’ is a risky business,” the priest replied, “because even a corpse can go on whispering ‘No! No! No! with a persistence and obstinacy that only certain corpses are capable of. And how can you silence a corpse?” Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine Fifty years have elapsed since Thomas Merton died under mysterious circumstances in a cottage at a Red Cross Conference Center outside Bangkok, Thailand where he was attending an international inter-faith monastic conference. The truth behind his death has been concealed until now through the lies and deceptions of a cast of characters, religious, secular, and U.S. governmental, whose actions chill one to the bone. But he has finally found his voice through Hugh Turley and David Martin, who tell the suppressed truth of Merton’s last minutes on earth on December 10, 1968. This is an extraordinary book in so many ways. First, because the authors prove beyond a shadow of …

FILM REVIEW: Loveless [нелюбовь] (2017)

Catherine Brown looks at the 2017 Russian film and questions the claims made in western media that it represents an indictment of Russian society. On the contrary, she suggests, the film is a celebration of the sense of collective responsibility & compassion versus narrow self-asorption & materialism Dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev (1964-), Arte France Cinéma, Why Not Productions, released 13.5.2017, 128 minutes. To start with the first thing we see on screen: Нелюбовь. Russian film director Andrei Zvyagintsev explains: The English translation of the title does not fully convey the weight and meaning of the Russian title which is literally non-love, the opposite of love, not devoid of love which is what loveless implies. It’s not hate, it’s not indifference, it’s hard to say and the reason I brought this up is because the Russian title sounds even more pessimistic. So нелюбовь is a noun not an adjective, and the film is about that thing: the non-love which mutually connects Boris and Zhenya – a contemporary, bourgeois, Muscovite divorcing couple – and which connects both to …

BOOK REVIEW: Russia against the rest: the post-cold war crisis of world order

Frank Lee reviews Russia against the rest: the post-cold war crisis of world order by Richard Sakwa Cambridge University Press Chatham House London October 2017 This publication by the British academic, Richard Sakwa, follows on from his earlier work Frontline Ukraine first published in 2015. The present book identifies a continuity and unfolding of events which started with the end of the Cold War 1989-91, but which eventually broke down completely in 2014 with the onset of the Ukrainian imbroglio; the situation then settled into a new Cold War stand-off which has lasted to the present time. Sakwa has painstakingly detailed the whole sorry episode, identifying and dissecting the submerged trends which in time vitiated the early euphoria which had been triggered by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Initially the apparent transformation and ending of the geopolitical deadlock between the two super-powers gave rise to hopes of a new world order; there was a mood of cheery optimism widespread amid talk of a new epoch of peace and prosperity. Sadly, however, this elation underwent …

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: cosy seasonal tale or passionate condemnation of unfettered capitalism?

Today we think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cosy piece of traditional seasonal fare, replete with steaming puds and roasted goose and comfortably easy lessons about not being stingy at Crimbo. But when Dickens wrote his novella in 1843 he was delivering a far more serious – and possibly freshly relevant – warning about the moral bankruptcy of a society that destroys human lives in pursuit of profit

A New Code of Practice

by W Stephen Gilbert The Hays Code transformed the face of Hollywood in the 1930s, introducing rampant, some may say absurd, censorship and restricting the creativity of writers and directors. Here we take a closer look at what it meant, and what it can teach us about our own time From 1930 for almost forty years, film production and distribution in the United States was entirely governed by the Motion Picture Production Code. A set of dogmatic guidelines as to depicted behaviour, the explicitness of imagery and the tenor of the moral lessons to be deduced from a story’s outcome, this semi-literate document was known to all as the Hays Code, after its overseer Will Hays. Where a man like Hays would be coming from can be spotted a mile off. He was a Republican cabinet minister and a deacon in the Presbyterian church; to write his code, he commissioned a Catholic priest. The restrictions placed on screenwriters and movie directors inevitably look both piffling and dispiriting today. Thus: “…the use of liquor in American …

On Propaganda and Bias: An open-letter to the Royal Academy

Mr Christopher LeBrun, President Mr Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive Mr Tim Marlow, Director of Artistic Programmes Royal Academy of Arts, London 28 March 2017 Dear Sirs, I am writing to you to express my disappointment at the curatorial handling of the exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 currently on display at the RA. Whilst I am not an art historian or an expert in Russian art of the period, it is well known (and apparent just looking at the pieces on display at the RA) that the years covered by the exhibition represent a decisive and hugely fruitful moment in the development of Russian and European Modernism in which artists who came from a figurative tradition coexisted with avant-garde currents like the Russian Futurists or, later, the Constructivists, along with visionary figures like Kasimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitzky and others (whom you reference in the exhibition), besides, of course, developments in photography, theatre, dance, music and cinema. For this reason, I was incredibly excited to visit the RA exhibition, anticipating a serious, …