There have been few films as truthful about the state of MerryEngland as Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. Here is a world bought by bankers, sold by politicians, all with public money. A world where everything has its price, and liberty is defined by our Right to Shop. A world best described in the film by the wonderful creation, Borgia Ginz:
“You wanna know my story babe. It’s easy. This is the generation that grew up and forgot to lead their lives. They were so busy watching my endless movie. It’s power babe, power. I don’t create it, I own it. I sucked and sucked and I sucked. The media became their only reality and I owned their world of flickering shadows. BBC. TUC. ITV. ABC. ATV. MGM. KGB. C of E. You name it, I bought them all and rearranged the alphabet. Without me, they don’t exist.”
After its release in 1978, Jubilee was denounced by some of the people who should have supported it, but were horrified by its nihilism. Jarman explained his motivation to the Guardian‘s Nicholas de Jongh:
“We have now seen all established authority, all political systems, fail to provide any solution - they no longer ring true.”
As true today, as it was then.
Here is Jordan as Amyl Nitrite, giving it laldy with her rendition of “Rule Britannia”.
Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media.
Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.
And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them.
So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.
...private, high-level, inter-governmental talks, in an attempt to work out a global strategy for Internet regulation.
Like the script to some dystopian film, It will be only a matter of time before Western Governments decide to regulate and control the internet on grounds of National Security, Public Safety, or Law and Order.
Let’s start with the painting, for that was the sign something ominous was about to begin.
In East Germany during the Cold War, you didn’t join the Stasi, the Stasi asked you to join them. This is what 19-year-old Hagen Koch discovered when the Stasi approached him and said, “We need you to help secure our country’s peace.”
Koch arrived in Berlin on April 5th 1960, to a city without a wall, without barbed wire, without division. He had been chosen for a specific job and was soon promoted to Head of Cartography.
It was a warm day in August 1960, when Stasi Private Hagen Koch arrived at Checkpoint Charlie and started painting a white line. No one took much notice, which was understandable, only in the following days would the enormity of Koch’s actions become apparent. For unknown to Berliners and the West, Koch was marking the ground for the building of the Berlin Wall.
Years later, Koch said the Wall was not against the West but “against the population of East Germany.”
It was also the first sign that East Germany’s so-called “Workers’ and Peasants’ Socialist Heaven” had failed, and marked the start of the slow and difficult demise of Soviet bloc Communism.
Further, the creation of the Berlin Wall led to a standoff between Russia and America that nearly caused World War Three.
How the Berlin Wall nearly led to War and how holidays brought it down, after the jump…
The demise of the News of the World, the paper at the center of the UK’s ‘phone hacking scandal, has less to do with guilt, remorse or even people power, and everything to do Rupert Murdoch’s desire for power - no matter the cost.
Tonight Murdoch’s son, James announced the end of the 168-year-old tabloid, claiming it had been “sullied by behaviour that was wrong” and that “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad”.
He went on to say:
“Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.
“The News Of The World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.”
James Murdoch also echoed his father in giving his full support to the former NOTW editor, Rebekah Brooks, saying:
“She has a good standard of ethics and her leadership is the right thing for the company.”
Brooks was editor at the time when it is alleged a private detective, employed by the paper, hacked into the voice mail messages of the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.
Brooks stated earlier this week that it was
“inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
In light of this week’s revelations, what is truly inconceivable is the fact Brooks has not either
b) been sacked.
If she did not know that a private detective had been employed to hack ‘phones, then she failed in her role as editor, and should be sacked.
If she did know about it, then she should resign.
Whichever way you look at it, Brooks has to go.
Instead the Murdochs have pulled together and sacrificed a best-selling tabloid to defend Ms. Brooks.
The question is: Why?
Tonight, it was also announced that another former editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in 2007 over the NOTW ‘phone-hacking, will be arrested by the police tomorrow.
Why protect Brooks and not Coulson?
What is disturbing about the whole NOTW ‘phone hacking scandal is the glimpse it gives of Rupert Murdoch’s power.
Since the days of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, politicians have courted Murdoch as an ally to win power.
Tony Blair met with him regularly and was a guest at a major News International party in Australia prior to Labour’s victorious election in 1997. Gordon Brown went on pilgrimage once a year to Sun Valley, to court Murdoch. Now David Cameron continues this tradition of fore-lock tugging.
It is a criminal offense to pay the British Police for information.
When questioned at a Select Committee hearing in March 2003, Brooks admitted to paying police for information.
“We have paid the police for information in the past.”
When asked if she would do so in the future, she replied:
Rebekah Brooks admits paying the police for information - a criminal offense - in March 2003
If it was known back in 2003 that Brooks and the News of the World had committed a criminal offense then why wasn’t she prosecuted?
Are Britain’s politicians too frightened, too cowed, by Murdoch and his tabloid press? And if they are, why? What imaginary power does he hold over them?
And what power does Rebekah Brooks hold over Rupert Murdoch?
The question is: Who benefits by Murdoch sacrificing the News of the World? Does it make easier for Murdoch to now own BSkyB? Does it mean News International won’t have to pay out large sums to victims of ‘phone-hacking if there is no longer a News of the World?
What David Cameron must do now is initiate a judge led enquiry in to the News of the World, Brooks, Coulson and Murdoch, as the police, in light of their involvement, cannot be trusted to investigate this thoroughly.
Cameron also has to stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB.
Both are a small step towards severing Murdoch’s influence over parliament.
To stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB sign the petition here.
In 2002, 13-year-old Milly Dowler disappeared. In the hours that followed, her family left desperate messages on Milly’s cell phone begging her to get in touch. There was no response, and the family’s messages soon filled Milly’s voice mail.
Then something strange happened - the messages were deleted. This gave the family hope that Milly was still alive.
But the truth was: Milly hadn’t deleted the messages. She was dead, murdered by Levi Bellfield.
It now turns out that it was a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, employed by Rupert Murdoch’s paper the News of the World, who had allegedly hacked into the ‘phone and deleted the messages. As the Guardian reported on Monday:
Scotland Yard is now investigating evidence that the paper hacked directly into the voicemail of the missing girl’s own phone. As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening and recording their every private word.
News International’s Chief Executive, Rebekah Brooks was the paper’s editor at the time. In an email to staff Brooks claimed she was “appalled and shocked” by the allegations, and thought it “inconceivable that [she] knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
Of course, this is what Brooks has to say, until there is evidence to the contrary.
Even if that evidence is forthcoming, it is unlikely that Brooks would have sanctioned such actions on her own, which opens up the whole of Rupert Murdoch’s News International for very serious and critical examination.
“...pursue this in the most vigorous way that they can in order to get to the truth of what happened.
“I think that is the absolute priority as a police investigation.”
Which may bring interesting results, as another former editor of the News of the World tainted with phone-hacking allegations is Andy Coulson, who was appointed by Cameron as his Director of Communications - a position Coulson eventually quit because coverage of the phone-hacking affair.
1. Boycott the paper. Treat it just as the people of Merseyside did when The Sun ran its infamous Hillsborough story in 1989 following the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters.
2. Pressure advertisers and media buyers not to buy space in the News of the World and to withdraw ads they’ve already booked.
3. Back the call for an independent public inquiry into the whole hacking affair. It will be officially launched tomorrow at a meeting in the Lords.
4. Demand to know who has been, and is, paying the legal expenses of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed for intercepting voicemail messages on behalf of the News of the World.
5. Ask the PCC if it has inquired of News Int whether it, or any of its associated companies, has been responsible for paying the legal fees of a convicted man? If it has not, why not? And is it therefore time that it did so?
Crucially, the ‘phone hacking allegations come just as Murdoch has succeeded in gaining regulatory permission for a 100% takeover bid for the British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK’s largest pay-TV broadcaster, with over 10 million subscribers.
avaaz.org are currently organizing a campaign to stop Murdoch’s media take-over:
We have just three days to flood the government’s public consultation with requests to stop the deal.
We’ve done it before—in the last consultation Hunt said our avalanche of 40,000 messages delayed the deal as his officials had to read each email carefully, fearing a legal challenge. But the government is pushing the deal through despite the hacking scandal of murdered Milly Dowler—the latest grim episode that shows how Murdoch’s media tramples standards and ignores ethics.
Murdoch already controls more of our media than is legal in many countries – and is notorious for using his power to skew our politics. The official consultation ends this Friday—let’s tell the government we don’t want his media empire to control our largest commercial broadcaster. Send a message now—using your own words to make it stand out—calling on Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron to refuse Murdoch’s BSkyB deal until there’s a full Competition Commission review and a full public inquiry into phone hacking.
Burma’s pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed US Congress through a video link today, seeking to help force Burma’s military junta to abide by a UN Human Rights Council Resolution passed in March. The resolution deals with the issues of political prisoners, freedom of association and information, independence of the judiciary, and the right of the UN Human Rights Rapporteur to visit the country.
“I’‘ve never made a statement before a committee of the United States Congress, so I’‘m not quite sure how to go about it. I would simply like to use this occasion to request that you do whatever you can to help us implement the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution, because that will open up the real road to democracy for all of us.”
Suu Kyi’s video message was played during a Congressional Committee hearing into present conditions in Burma, after the “sham elections”, which were held last November. These elections were boycotted by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, as international journalists and observers were forbidden to enter Burma during the vote.
Suu Kyi, who was held under house-arrest for most of the past 2 decades, made her statement by videotape, a she is reluctant to leave the Burma for fear she would not be allowed to return. In her message to the committee, Suu Kyi asked for help to make Burma an open society:
“The requests, the urgings, the demands of this resolution are very much in line with what we in Burma think is needed to start Burma along the genuine process of democratization.”
Note: the sound quality on this clip isn’t that good, but we think it still important enough to share.
A senior orthopaedic surgeon upstaged the British PM David Cameron, his Deputy, Nick Clegg and Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, during their PR visit to Guy’s Hospital in London, earlier this week.
The doctor’s anger was caused by the camera crews and press photographers who had failed to follow hospital procedure by rolling up their sleeves during the visit.
The prime minister was quick to agree with the surgeon and told the crew he thought they should “disappear”. The hospital visit came on the day that changes to plans for the NHS were announced.
Cameron and Clegg look like two schoolboys caught up to no good behind the teacher’s back.
Greece is in economic meltdown, and the Greek government is on the brink of collapse after a series of pitched battles between police and demonstrators took place on the streets of Athens yesterday. The demonstrators were protesting against the government’s austerity measures, which were imposed to guarantee further bailout from the EU.
As a member of the Eurozone - that collection of countries who all share the euro currency - it is essential for zone’s success that the Greek government does not default on the repayment of its loans. However, one of causes to Greece’s near bankruptcy is its membership of the Eurozone. Without the euro, Greece was moderately successful. With the euro, it is bankrupt. The Eurozone is run for the benefit of its banks, not the people - as the citizens of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain will tell you.
Membership of the Eurozone has very high fiscal standards - realistically you must be as successful a country as Germany to have any chance of maintaining a position with the Eurozone, which is unfeasible.
In an attempt to maintain some semblance of power, Greek Socialist Prime Minister, George Papandreou announced on national television yesterday, he would form a new government today, and ask for a vote of confidence, after negotiations to form a coalition with the Conservatives failed.
I wonder why it’s generally the rich and famous who like to tell the public, ‘Money does not bring happiness’? It’s so condescending. Do the poor wander around informing whoever will listen, ‘Poverty does not make you happy’? Hardly. I was thinking about this as I finished reading Stephen Fry’s latest volume of highly readable autobiography, where the great man informs us:
I know that money, power, prestige and fame do not bring happiness. If history teaches us anything it teaches us that. You know it. Everybody agrees this to be a manifest truth so self-evident as to need no repetition. What is strange to me is that, despite the fact that the world knows this, it does not want to know it and it chooses almost always to behave as of it were not true. It does not suit the world to hear that people who are leading a high life an enviable life, a privileged life are as miserable most days as anybody else, despite the fact that it must be obvious they would be - given that we are all agreed that money and fame do not bring happiness. Instead the world would prefer to enjoy the idea, against what it knows to be true, that wealth and fame do in fact insulate and protect against misery and it would rather we shut up if we are planning to indicate otherwise.
It’s a clever piece of writing, and rather troubling. If money hasn’t made Mr Fry happy, perhaps that’s because he wasn’t happy before he had it? As someone who has spent a considerable part of his adult life in poverty, dirt and a miserable ease, I can assure the universally loved writer, actor, broadcaster and tweeter that money can and does bring happiness, for it allows independence. Moreover, if money’s not important, then why is so much of our politics based on the redistribution of wealth?
Of course, it’s not just money, Mr Fry is writing about, but fame, and his depression, and all that entails, which he recently discussed, along with his thoughts on suicide, in the talk-show In Confidence:
‘It is exhausting knowing that most of the time the phone rings, most of the time there’s an email, most of the time there’s a letter, someone wants something of you. They want to touch the hem of the fame, not the hem of the person.
‘You resort to not travelling on the Tube or walking round the street any more and going in a big car with a driver.
‘And people think, “Oh, he thinks he’s so grand, doesn’t he?” Well, no. I’d rather walk, but sometimes I just can’t.
‘I feel I would love to close down for a number of years in some way and just be in the country making pork pies and chutneys and never have to poke my head out of the parapet.’
In 1989, I had the pleasure of meeting Fry, when I was a researcher working on Open to Question, a “yoof” interview series where groups of inquizzitive teenagers grilled various invited guests: from politicians (Gary Hart, Tony Benn), through performers (Billy Connolly, Jim Kerr) to Royalty (Princess Anne). Fry’s show was recorded on the same day we filmed an episode with Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), in which the seventies pop star discussed the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and his Islamic beliefs. In one corner of the green room was Fry with cigarettes and red wine, in the other Yusuf Islam with an entourage of veiled assistants.
Fry was affable, eminently likable, terribly polite and deflected the most intimate and probing questions. When asked if he had always wanted fame, Fry avoided a direct answer by explaining his definitions of fame. There was “real fame like Charlie Chaplin”; and another kind, like original James Bond (on radio) and British TV host, Bob Holness. Fry said when he was younger he wanted to be famous like Holness, and managed to slip this in without the interviewer, (future Channel 4 newsreader) Krishnan Guru-Murthy picking up on his youthful ambition.
In The Fry Chronicles, he explained this ambition more openly:
A part of me - I have to confess this, moronic, puerile and cheap as it may sound - really did ache to be a star. I wanted to be famous, admired, stared at, known, applauded and liked.
Now of course he’s bigger than Holness and as universally loved as Chaplin, which in light of his recent comments about hem-touching fans, does, sadly, seem to confirm what Saint Teresa of Avila once wrote:
“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones”
It’s thirty years since the loveliness that is Stephen Fry first came to prominence alongside Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer in the Cambridge Footlights’ comedy revue “The Cellar Tapes”. It’s the last really great Footlights show, as those following it may have highlighted some great individual talent (Sue Perkins, Robert Webb, David Mitchell, and Richard Ayoade) but never achieved the legendary status of “Beyond the Fringe”, “A Clump of Plinths” (aka “Cambridge Circus”) or “The Cellar Tapes”. Understandable, you may say, considering the unique and exquisite talents felicitously brought together for our entertainment.
The success of “The Cellar Tapes” led Fry and Laurie to be asked by the BBC to come up with a pilot for a possible series:
We conceived a series that was to be called The Crystal Cube, a mock serious magazine programme that for each edition would investigate some phenomenon or other: every week we would ‘go through the crystal cube’. Hugh, Emma, Paul Shearer and I were to be regulars and we would call upon a cast of semi-regular guests to play other parts.
This is that pilot, in all its VHS glory, and as someone comments on the youtube page was there a more brilliant threesome as Fry, Laurie and Thompson? Answers on a postcard, care of the usual address.
Zimbabwean artist, Owen Maseko is facing more than twenty years in jail for depicting the Gukurahundi massacres in which 20,000 people were killed.
In March last year, police shut down Maseko’s exhibition at the National Gallery, in Bulawayo, less than 24-hours after it opened. Called “Sibathontisele” (“Let’s Drip On Them”), an allusion to blood, and a method torture used during the Gukurahundi military offensive against Ndebele civilians in the 1980s.
The Gukurahundi is a Shona word for “the spring rains that sweep away dry season chaff”, and was President Robert Mugabe’s response to the bitter rivalry after independence in 1980 between his Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu). Mugabe is a Shona, whereas Nkomo was from the Kalanga, a tribe associated with the Ndebele from Matabeleland, whose capital is Bulawayo. Mugabe destroyed Nkomo’s power by attacking the people of Matabeleland. When Nkomo eventually retired from politics and the two parties merged into the Zanu-Patriotic Front.
Owen Maseko’s exhibition graphically detailed the atrocities committed during the early years of Mugabe’s rule.
Maseko has been charged with “insulting the president”, which could lead to along prison sentence of up to twenty-four years. In an interview with Bulawayo 24 News, Maseko said he is “optimistic and says his paintings have given people a voice.”
“Those atrocities, you can’t talk openly about them in Zimbabwe, so my exhibition kind of made this issue come out and people began to talk about the exhibition,” he said.
“It’s difficult in Zimbabwe to separate what is politics and what isn’t politics because maybe people see Robert Mugabe in my paintings because it is what is on their minds and their faces and it is what is giving them quite a lot of stress at the moment.”
Bulawayo National Gallery curator Vote Thebe says he displayed the exhibition hoping it would help the healing process.
“Our whole aim was to start a debate on the massacres and let the people talk about what happened,” he said.
“And then that way, once you talk about the thing, you get healed as well.
“It wasn’t a way of pointing fingers but it was a way of making sure that people are aware that such things happened.”
Mugabe admits the massacres were an act of madness, he has never acknowledged responsibility.
A campaign to Free Owen Maseko is currently on Facebook, check here for details.
Forget the Rapture, Spain is where the action is, as tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the street for a sixth day. In Madrid, some 25,000 protesters occupied the Puerta del Sol Square, while others gathered in Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.
The protests, which started last Sunday, are against the the austerity measures implemented by the current government, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE), in May 2010. The government’s policies have been blamed for the steep rise in the country’s unemployment to 21.3%, and for the calamitous state of the economy.
The demonstrations come ahead of the May 22 Municipal and Regional Elections, when it is expected the ruling Socialist Party will take a “drubbing”. Political rallies are banned under Spanish law on the day before elections, in order to allow a “day of reflection”. Though a police crackdown was feared by some protesters, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the police were “not going to resolve one problem by creating another”.
The main issue with the protesters is a desire for change:
This is an historic moment. Thousands of people have been camping in Sol since last Sunday with no flags or affiliation to any party.
Young people, old people, families, it does not matter. Everything is organised. There are tents to place your suggestions to the movement.
There are tents with food, where people are giving to the campers, tents with political debates, even one for childcare. We are not just asking for jobs. We are asking for a change in the political system.
We have no option but to vote for the two biggest parties in Spain, who are more or less the same. They are unable to solve any problem, it is just a nest of corruption.We are tired. In short, we want a working democracy. We want a change..
The protests are not really anti-government, but rather anti-big political parties, both the one in power and the main ones in opposition.
It’s an anti-capitalism, anti-market ruled society, anti-banks, anti-political corruption, anti-failed democracy, anti-degraded democracy and pro-real democracy protest.
It’s a protest that wants a better, real future, not the future that the government or parties in opposition seem to be able to provide.
The manifestos and proposals are quite left-leaning ideologically, but not linked to any political party, because right now, most of us don’t feel represented by them.
Paula, Vigo, Spain:
The protests began against Spanish electoral law, as we want that to change.
Then other movements started joining in and many political parties tried to make the protests their own.
But this movement is affiliated to no political party whatsoever.
There are young people, old people, unemployed, civil servants, pensioners, immigrants, campaigners for local languages, freelancers, right-wingers and left-wingers all taking part.
It is a beautiful movement.
The protests have brought comparisons with the recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia. However, there is a major difference - Spain’s economy is tied into the Eurozone, which means if the country is bailed out, they will be “owned” by the EU. Where previously Spain could have devalued their currency, this is no longer possible as the Eurozone, which is made up of 17 member states including Spain, has one shared currency - the Euro. Deputy Prime Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcalba has said Spain won’t be another domino (like Greece, Ireland and Portugal) but a “dam protecting the eurozone.” It may all be just wishful thinking on the government’s behalf, but whatever happens next, tomorrow’s Municipal and Regional Elections will be the first small step towards change; and while demonstrations may be nothing new in Spain, it will be interesting to see where this one goes over the coming days.