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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is England is a better place without Blair?

by Sarah Meyer
Index Research

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England is a nicer place to be right now. We don’t have the relentless siege of Blair’s lies anymore. What a relief. Blair's hubris still shines from afar as he bleats about terrorism and gives instructions about US-NATO, while earning himself £millions from speeches no one should pay to hear. Blair's shadow still hangs over us: Trident; longer pretrial detention; ID cards; 6 million surveillance cameras; shameful ‘rendition’; access to phone records by government agencies; nuclear power; and the pointless ‘robocop’ British soldiers in Basra, whose feelings are echoed by american soldiers, some of whom avoid patrol .

And Brown? Henry Porter of the Observer has him, and Jack-be-nimble-Straw, sussed. Brown should sack this Blair cabinet minister and replace with someone who doesn't feel like part of the Gestapo Gang. Why is secret funding for GM crop projects tolerated? Why the dangerous backdown on climate change? Why is Brown allowing the US to upgrade the air base at the British island protectorate of Diego Garia for their Iran attack plans? Why is this very same island allowed to be used for secret prisons? Visiting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is getting the Red Carpet treatment. What will Gordon Brown discuss with him? More arms agreements with discredited BAE? Torture evidence? Containing the Bush bombs in Iran? Why is Brown sending 850 more troops to Iraq despite an earlier pledge? And why is he sending Scottish troops to a "lost" Afghanistan which "cannot be won" ?

The Scottish National Party’s Alex Salmond better represents the hopes of Brits than does Brown. But. Does Scotland need a new Bioterrorism Bill?

Steve Bell, Guardian 10.10.07.

So we in England hold our breaths, hoping Brown can extricate himself from Blair- Bush policies which increased the likelihood of terrorism in Great Britain. Omens and fuzzy messages don't bode well. "Regain trust?" Not yet, Mr. Brown. Can Brown show leadership? And if Brown accepts and acts upon the policies enshrined in Bush's Terrorism Prevention (sic) Act , we are in deep shit. Maybe England won't be a better place after all. Meanwhile, it is a good idea to follow Nick Rosen’s advice: Ten Ways to Thwart Big Brother.


Jennifer van Bergen recently said in an email: “So many good new films coming out. As the dictatorship rises, so does the tide of films and articles (finally) expressing outrage. Where were they 2, 3, 4, 5 years ago?” Indeed, I am reminded of the wonderful films and literature coming out of Hungary and Czechoslovakia before the fall of The Wall. We can thus thank George Bush and Co. for the present ‘surge’ of artistic creativity which deny him et al their power. London, at the moment, is the recipient of our world's unrest and subseqeunt creativity.

The London Borough Market SE1 is terrific: good market produce, good restaurants, good multi-racial atmosphere. Lots of young and happy people. They actually talk with each other rather than on cell phones. It’s the best place to buy olive oil . A 5 minute walk from London Bridge tube; or to go and sit on the wall in the sun by the Thames.


Baselitz, Model for a Scupture
Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited

One is greeted by a powerful limewood and tempura sculpture which is a shocking memory blast of Hitler at The Royal Academy, where Georg Baselitz is having a magnificent exhibition. Born in East Berlin in 1938, and later moving to West Berlin, he carried within the trauma of World War II. He has developed a stupendous collection of paintings and sculptures representing the predicament and chaos of our world today. As such, I believe he is THE artist of our age. Unfortunately, there are no google images of the paintings I would wish to show readers: The Wood on its Head – a poignant reminder of another one of my favourite mystical paintings of The Forest by Cezanne; The Shepherd; The Great Friends; Homage to Vrubel; Oberon; Three Stripes … more … The exhibition is on until 9 December - try and see it?

The two upside down Baselitz eagles particularly reveal the present imperial predicament. Many of Baselitz’s paintings are ‘upside down.’ Well, indeed, we do live in an upside down world. The Bush government perverts the U.S. constitution and ignores any laws that are not convenient for corporations and their power-mad ‘resource’ wars. Other countries, eg. Iraq, should likewise ignore US puppet laws.

The Destruction of the Father

Tate Gallery: Louise Bourgeois.
To 20 January. Read review by Siri Hustvedt here.


Not far away from The Royal Academy - walkable - is the Odeon Leicester Square, where the London Film Festival is giving us stupendous films. What gives one a happy feeling is that the audience is interested in the films rather than in celebrities. Those interested in celebrities stand out side alongside the red carpet in the rain, waiting. I try not to, but do anyway, pass judgment on the media who have created these star-crazed consumers.

Redacted (USA).
A terrifying testimony on human nature, war and the power of the media. Language reduced mostly to swearwords, thus representing the harsher violence in Iraq. I found this to be a strong, gritty and true representation of the rape and murders in Samara, Iraq. Very powerful! See it! PS. Danny Schechter of Media Channel writes: DIRECTOR BRIAN DEPALMA ON HIS FILM "REDACTED" (LA TIMES)
Paradoxically, though there are more outlets for them, images from Iraq have not dominated the public consciousness in the way images from Vietnam did. That, De Palma says, was the prime inspiration for "Redacted." "Where are the pictures? Why can't we see them?" he asks. "If we're going to invade, occupy, bomb, destroy, I would like to see what we're doing."

"Redacted" ends with a montage of photos of real Iraqi victims of the war, and when it is mentioned to De Palma that one young Web critic expressed outrage that she was made to see something like that, he answers, "I think it has to do with the fact that nobody's seen any images from the war. I mean, if you go on the Net you can find them. But if you don't look for them, you don't know they exist."

DURING Vietnam, De Palma says, when the American people "saw them in Life and Look magazine and saw them on the CBS news, they said, 'Oh, my God.' You know, now there are no pictures of fallen American soldiers. And it's such an obvious way of sanitizing what you're doing." Just how contentious those photos are is suggested by "Redacted" itself being redacted. Against De Palma's wishes, the photos of the dead and wounded Iraqis at the end of the film are presented with their eyes blacked out. At his film festival news conference, De Palma claimed it was done because Mark Cuban, president of HDNet, which financed the film, was disturbed by them.

Lions for Lambs (USA),
I fail to understand why some film critics call this film “controversial.” Controversial for whom? The only people for whom this film might be ‘controversial’ live in the neo-con world, and that includes the
majority of MSM. Meryl Streep, cucumber cool, did not show enough passion or anger about the way MSM news is presented these days. However, my giggles at some Tom Cruise ‘senatorial’ statements drove the (American?) woman next to me to sit two seats further down the row. It was definitely a Hollywood film – good, but not good enough.

“By the deep sea and the music in its roar; I love not man less, but Nature more. Byron.

Into the Wild(USA).
Sean Penn in a tour de force. Read the review. DON’T MISS THIS FILM.

Rescue Dawn (USA).

Werner Herzog/s cowboy and indian film taking place in Viet Nam. National Film Theatre man said: “Its about people.” Well, it’s not; it’s about white people and them , The suffocating jungle is the biggest star, as in Herzog's great film, Fitzcarraldo. President Bush would like this new film. Most reviewers lapped it up. They would, wouldn't they? Here's a story from friend Danny Schechter on his 28 October News Dissector : "I was more touched by the representative of 1968 who said he wished he could have been as proud of his generation's war, the one in Vietnam, but he wasn't. There was silence, and then a trickle of applause. He stood there, six foot six, black and proud, with tears welling in his eyes as he apologized for dropping a ball in a Public School Athletic League (PSAL) city-wide championship game. "Forgive me," he asked, "but it has been bugging me all these years." The shame of it was still with him twenty-five years later. He received an ovation with the older vets who went up on stage to embrace him. Then they all hugged and squeezed each other, including a little old Italian men in an ill-fitting suits and this giant jock groomed on the streets of Harlem."

Far North (FRANCE-UK)
Far North (trailer) is a stunning film of mythic proportions. Based on a story by Sara Maitland . Barry Lopez writes in Arctic Dreams : "the indigenous rhythm, or rhythms, of arctic life is important to discern for more than merely academic reasons. To understand why a region is different, to show an initial deference towards its mysteries, is to guard against a kind of provincialism that vitiates the imagination, that stifles the capacity to envision what is different. Another reason to wonder which rhythms are innate, and what they might be, is related as well to the survival of the capacity of imagine beyond the familiar. Director Asif Kapadia has excelled in bridging the beauty of the Arctic with the harmony of the film story. A MUST SEE.

Battle for Haditha (UK)
I have written extensively about the infamous Haditha murders. Nick Broomfield used eye witness accounts for his documentary-style film. in which some ex-marines reenact this horrible story. Elliot Ruiz (22) , who excellently plays a lead part, for example, is a decorated war hero. He shows his scars (a car ran a checkpoint) from the war in the film. Filmed in Jordan. More sensitive to feelings on both sides than Redacted. Worth seeing. President Bush would not like this one. See Guardian review here .


The Booker Prize is an annual ritual in England. This year's winner was a surprise, and, for many, a disappointment. There were some quality writers on the Booker list. My favourite was The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.

One of Britains 'national treasures', Doris Lessing, won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Rightly so. Nor must we forget Harold Pinter's great 2005 Nobel speech, Art, Truth and Politics


Demonstrations in London

December 1 2007:
World Against War Conference

8 December 2007
International demonstrations on Climate Change.

Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK

The url to London is a better place without Blair is
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