Rene -- Film on `Radical Islam' Tied to Pro-Israel Groups
Film on `Radical Islam' Tied to Pro-Israel Groups
Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 by Inter Press Service
by Khody Akhavi
WASHINGTON - A controversial documentary on the threat of radical
Islam, promoted by the two most-watched U.S. cable news networks, was
marketed and supported in part by self-described `pro-Israel' groups,
according to an IPS investigation.
Abbreviated versions and segments of `Obsession: Radical Islam's War
Against the West' ran on FOX News and CNN, but neither station
disclosed the film' s connection to HonestReporting, a watchdog group
that monitors the media for allegedly negative portrayals of Israel.
HonestReporting marketed `Obsession' but denies it produced or funded
`We initially gave some guidance to the `Obsession' staff,' wrote
Pesach Bensen, editor of Mediabackspin.com, the organization's weblog,
in an email response to IPS. `We're thrilled to see it succeed beyond
our wildest expectations.'
When `Obsession' was released last year, news pundits and anchors on
FOX and CNN praised the independent film for its candid look at
Islamic militancy. FOX incorporated footage from the film into a
one-hour special, which aired seven times in November 2006. CNN's
right-wing pundit Glen Beck called it `one of the most important films
of our time'. Sean Hannity of FOX News described it as `shocking
While such enthusiasm from right-wing talk show personalities comes as
no surprise, mainstream cable news programs also appeared to accept,
without question, the premise of the film, which explicitly compares
the threat posed by radical Islam to that of Nazi Germany in the
Consider, for example, CNN news anchor Kyra Phillips's exhortations
during an adulatory interview in December 2006 with Raphael Shore, the
film's producer: `I encourage everybody to see this movieÃ you
definitely get an incredible education from watching this filmÃ
The movie left many of us speechlessÃ We appreciate what you've
HonestReporting was founded in 2000 by British university students who
objected to what they considered anti-Israel coverage by European
media in response to the second Palestinian intifada.
There is no mention of HonestReporting's connection to `Obsession' on
the film's website, _www.obsessionthemovie.com_
(http://www.obsessionthemovie.com) . In an online `Ask the Filmmakers'
segment on the FOX News website, Shore stated that he could not
identify the film's funders for fear of retaliation by the `radicals'
the filmmakers exposed.
Brian Gaffney, executive producer of the FOX News Documentary Unit,
declined to comment on whether HonestReporting's connection was
disclosed to the audience, or whether FOX was aware of the
organization's ideological perspective. `There is no mistaking that
this was a film with a clear point of view,' Gaffney wrote in an email
to IPS. `Its forceful case against Radical Islam spoke for itself.
Counterpunch -- Another Civil War in Lebanon?
Another Civil War in Lebanon?
Will Hezbollah Hand Israel Its 6th Defeat?
By FRANKLIN LAMB
March 23, 2007
A recent poll in Lebanon suggests deep pessimism about the chances of
avoiding another civil war. Plenty of 'wise owls' here think civil war
is just a matter of time.
No less an oracle than Tarek, the doorman at the Alexandria Hotel in
Ashhifyeh, where the Israeli Military Command had it's HQ during its
1982 invasion says Civil war is certain. So does the sous-chef at Chez
Paul's where Sharon, Bashir Gemayel and Eli Hobeika used to meet and
discuss 'business'. And many in Lebanon's Parliament agree.
For months now large wooden crates have been arriving in various
locals in East Beirut and the mountains and hurriedly carried into
buildings and various party Headquarters, in violation of the 1989
Taif Accords which required local militias to disarm. (Rafik Hariri
exempted Hezbollah from Taif arguing that Hezbollah was not a militia
but the Lebanese resistance force since it only used its weapons
What's in those boxes? Are they weapons? If so, who paid for them?
Hard to blame Iran and Syria this time since the recipients are their
sworn enemies and are itching to fight them both, or more precisely,
have Israel or the US act on their behalf.
What about all that promised Bush administration cash and weaponry to
shore up the Siniora regime? More than 200 million worth? It there a
glitch with the shipping agent and is some of it is going to local
addresses other than the "new robust Lebanese army"?
To know for sure, one would want to walk around the Gemezzeh
neighborhood in east Beirut around 2 in the morning near the rebuilt
Phalange Party HQ.where Baschir Gemeyal was blown up on September 14,
1982 and nose around a bit..
And what's that frenetic activity behind the Walid Jumblatt's estate
at El Moukhtara in the Chouf.? It has increased since his long meeting
with GW Bush a couple of weeks ago.
And those fine new military style boots and swagger one sees among
some of Saad Hariri's March 14 movement young men. Armani or US Army
or Israeli issue?
Civil war may well be coming to Lebanon and there is currently plenty
of sectarian tension and hatred in Lebanon . Some surfaced in late
January when three Hezbollah supporters were killed. When the
beautiful widow and young children of 29 year old Adnan Shamas, who
was ambushed as he walked home following a visit to the opposition
created 'tent city' in downtown Beirut, appeared at his funeral there
were calls of "blood for blood."
Sabra-Shatilla massacre participant Samir Geagea, now the leader of
the Lebanese Forces Militia and recently feted in Washington DC, beats
his chest and taunts Hezbollah's Secretary-General with threats like
"Don't you dare think Hassan Nassrallah that Beirut is Haifa
(referring to the July War) or else Lebanon is headed for the worst."
Some in the opposition dismiss the Siniora government as nothing more
than 'an organized crime syndicate that wants to turn Lebanon into
another Iraq,' as Talal Arslan, an anti-government Druze leader
(breaking ranks with Jumblatt) recently roared. Many accuse the
government of functioning as agents of Israel and the Bush
administration and demand early elections and a greater share of
government posts for the growing anti-government coalition.
Other observers are concluding that Israel and the Bush administration
must foment a civil war in order not to 'lose' Lebanon and be driven
from the region.
Pro-Israel "tink tanks" (Robert Fisk's label) argue that having
created a disaster for both the US and Israel in Iraq and Afghanistan,
and having failed miserably to destroy, much less seriously
damage. Hezbollah during the July War, both Olmert and Bush
desperately need a Lebanese civil war
Robert Fisk: The crushing fear that stalks America
Robert Fisk: The crushing fear that stalks America
The country is not at war. It is the US military that is engaged in an
Published: 24 March 2007
There's a helluva difference between Cairo University and the campus
of Valdosta in the Deep South of the United States. I visited both
this week and I feel like I've been travelling on a gloomy spaceship -
or maybe a time machine - with just two distant constellations to
guide my journey. One is clearly named Iraq; the other is Fear. They
have a lot in common.
The politics department at Cairo's vast campus is run by Dr Mona
El-Baradei - yes, she is indeed the sister of the head of the
International Atomic Energy Agency - and her students, most of them
young women, almost all scarved, duly wrote out their questions at the
end of the turgid Fisk lecture on the failings of journalism in the
Middle East. "Why did you invade Iraq?" was one. I didn't like the
"you" bit, but the answer was "oil". "What do you think of the
Egyptian government?" At this, I looked at my watch. I reckon, I told
the students, that I just had time to reach Cairo airport for my
flight before Hosni Mubarak's intelligence lads heard of my reply.
Much nervous laughter. Well, I said, new constitutional amendments to
enshrine emergency legislation into common law and the arrest of
Muslim Brotherhood supporters was not a path to democracy. And I ran
through the US State Department's list of Egyptian arbitrary
detentions, routine torture and unfair trials. I didn't see how the
local constabulary could do much about condemnation from Mubarak's
American friends. But it was purely a symbolic moment. These cheerful,
intelligent students wanted to see if they would hear the truth or get
palmed off with another bromide about Egypt's steady march to
democracy, its stability - versus the disaster of Iraq - and its
supposedly roaring success. No one doubts that Mubarak's boys keep a
close eye on his country's students.
Rene -- Question of the Day from Ranciere
Jacques Rancière Statement Contemporary art and the paradoxes of political art In front of the "consensual" attempt to empty the stage of political conflict, it is claimed that Art plays a new political role, by intervening in the public space or bringing back the forgotten reality of the world in the rooms of its own exhibitions. On the one hand, this tension between the inside and the outside sets up in a new light the dialectics inherent in the politics of art, poised between its self suppression in the framing of a new world and the incorporation of the political promise in the separateness of its own forms. On the other hand, it is debatable whether the contemporary forms of this outward/inward ovement can escape the frame of the consensual description of the common world, which puts worries about "exclusion" or the "loss of the social bond" in the place of political concerns. How can the public intervention of art get out of the "ethical" confusion in which politics and art tend to vanish together?
Rene -- The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency
The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency
by Mahmood Mamdani
March 10 2007
London Review of Books
The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate
of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly
similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the
official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The
victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather
than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is
named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency
and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the
difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference
does it make?
The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to
Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason
than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel
directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is
a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics.
Americans worry about what their government should do in Iraq. Should
it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast, there is
nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history and without
politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as
'Arabs' confront victims clearly identifiable as 'Africans'.
A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the
New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the
intervening forces to be placed under 'a chain of command allowing
necessary and timely military action without approval from distant
political or civilian personnel'. That intervention in Darfur should
not be subject to 'political or civilian' considerations and that the
intervening forces should have the right to shoot – to kill – without
permission from distant places: these are said to be 'humanitarian'
demands. In the same vein, a New Republic editorial on Darfur has
called for 'force as a first-resort response'. What makes the situation
even more puzzling is that some of those who are calling for an end
to intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur;
as the slogan goes, 'Out of Iraq and into Darfur.'
What would happen if we thought of Darfur as we do of Iraq, as a
place with a history and politics – a messy politics of insurgency
and counter-insurgency? Why should an intervention in Darfur not turn
out to be a trigger that escalates rather than reduces the level of
violence as intervention in Iraq has done? Why might it not create
the actual possibility of genocide, not just rhetorically but in
reality? Morally, there is no doubt about the horrific nature of
the violence against civilians in Darfur. The ambiguity lies in the
politics of the violence, whose sources include both a state-connected
counter-insurgency and an organised insurgency, very much like the
violence in Iraq.
The insurgency and counter-insurgency in Darfur began in 2003. Both
were driven by an intermeshing of domestic tensions in the context
of a peace-averse international environment defined by the War on
Terror. On the one hand, there was a struggle for power within the
political class in Sudan, with more marginal interests in the west
(following those in the south and in the east) calling for reform at
the centre. On the other, there was a community-level split inside
Darfur, between nomads and settled farmers, who had earlier forged
a way of sharing the use of semi-arid land in the dry season. With
the drought that set in towards the late 1970s, co-operation turned
into an intense struggle over diminishing resources.
As the insurgency took root among the prospering peasant tribes of
Darfur, the government trained and armed the poorer nomads and formed
a militia – the Janjawiid – that became the vanguard of the unfolding
counter-insurgency. The worst violence came from the Janjawiid, but
the insurgent movements were also accused of gross violations. Anyone
wanting to end the spiralling violence would have to bring about
power-sharing at the state level and resource-sharing at the community
level, land being the key resource.
Since its onset, two official verdicts have been delivered on the
violence, the first from the US, the second from the UN. The American
verdict was unambiguous: Darfur was the site of an ongoing genocide.
The chain of events leading to Washington's proclamation began with
'a genocide alert' from the Management Committee of the Washington
Holocaust Memorial Museum; according to the Jerusalem Post, the alert
was 'the first ever of its kind, issued by the US Holocaust Museum'.
The House of Representatives followed unanimously on 24 June 2004.
The last to join the chorus was Colin Powell.
The UN Commission on Darfur was created in the aftermath of the
American verdict and in response to American pressure. It was more
ambiguous. In September 2004, the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo,
then the chair of the African Union, visited UN headquarters in New
York. Darfur had been the focal point of discussion in the African
Union. All concerned were alert to the extreme political sensitivity
of the issue. At a press conference at the UN on 23 September Obasanjo
was asked to pronounce on the violence in Darfur: was it genocide or
not? His response was very clear:
Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we
will have to have a definite decision and plan and programme of a
government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be
talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is not that.
What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the
government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion.
That's what we know. That does not amount to genocide from our own
reckoning. It amounts to of course conflict. It amounts to violence.
By October, the Security Council had established a five-person
commission of inquiry on Darfur and asked it to report within three
months on 'violations of international humanitarian law and human
rights law in Darfur by all parties', and specifically to determine
'whether or not acts of genocide have occurred'. Among the members
of the commission was the chief prosecutor of South Africa's TRC,
Dumisa Ntsebeza. In its report, submitted on 25 January 2005, the
commission concluded that 'the Government of the Sudan has not pursued
a policy of genocide . . . directly or through the militias under its
control.' But the commission did find that the government's violence
was 'deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians'.
Indeed, 'even where rebels may have been present in villages, the
impact of attacks on civilians shows that the use of military force was
manifestly disproportionate to any threat posed by the rebels.' These
acts, the commission concluded, 'were conducted on a widespread and
systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity'
(my emphasis). Yet, the commission insisted, they did not amount to
acts of genocide: 'The crucial element of genocidal intent appears to
be missing . . . it would seem that those who planned and organised
attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from
their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.'
At the same time, the commission assigned secondary responsibility to
rebel forces – namely, members of the Sudan Liberation Army and the
Justice and Equality Movement – which it held 'responsible for serious
violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which may
amount to war crimes' (my emphasis). If the government stood accused
of 'crimes against humanity', rebel movements were accused of 'war
crimes'. Finally, the commission identified individual perpetrators and
presented the UN secretary-general with a sealed list that included
'officials of the government of Sudan, members of militia forces,
members of rebel groups and certain foreign army officers acting in
their personal capacity'. The list named 51 individuals.
Rene -- THE LEGACY OF IRAQ IS THAT THE WORLD STANDS BY WHILE DARFUR BURNS
THE LEGACY OF IRAQ IS THAT THE WORLD STANDS BY WHILE DARFUR BURNS
Wednesday March 14, 2007
An unprecedented plea from 14 UN humanitarian bodies on behalf of
the people of western Sudan has been roundly ignored
I once spoke to a journalist who had covered the war in Bosnia in the
early 1990s. He said that he and his colleagues kept heading into
harm's way, because they believed that once the world knew of the
horrors they had witnessed, the world would be stirred to act. They
filed their reports and waited. Soon enough, they understood. The
world knew what was going on - and yet it did nothing. For some of
those reporters, this experience broke their faith in the power of
journalism. For others, it broke their faith in their fellow human
I suspect the aid workers and United Nations staff who signed
a collective statement on the plight of Darfur in January are
going through a similar heartbreak right now. Fourteen different UN
humanitarian bodies, including the World Food Programme and the World
Health Organisation, issued an unprecedented cry of despair. They
explained that their workers had "effectively been holding the line
for the survival and protection of millions, [but] that line cannot
be held much longer". Under attack themselves, these UN workers could
no longer reach the people they sought to protect and feed. "In the
last six months alone," they wrote, "more than 250,000 people have
been displaced by fighting, many of them fleeing for the second or
third time. Villages have been burnt, looted and arbitrarily bombed
and crops and livestock destroyed. Sexual violence against women is
occurring at alarming rates. This situation is unacceptable."
I'm sure that when they drafted that message, they believed the world
would stir and come to their rescue. Surely it could not ignore such
a stark, desperate plea from those whose only motive is to save lives?
Well, now they know. The message came and went, reported here and
there, posted on the odd website and comprehensively ignored. The
humanitarians of Darfur have learned the lesson of the old Bosnia
press corps: that the world might know, and know in great detail -
but still the world does nothing, or waits until it's too late.
First blame lies of course with the government of Sudan, which UN
human rights investigators this week accused of "gross and systematic"
abuses, orchestrating and participating in a campaign of violence
that has seen, at a conservative estimate, 200,000 people killed and
2 million displaced. Officially, this has been done in the course
of a civil war against rebels in Darfur, who are guilty of their
own atrocities. But the UN human rights council was quite clear:
the "principal pattern" was of violence committed by the Sudanese
government and its allies in the Arab Janjaweed militias.
Why can it not be stopped? The answer reveals much about the state
of our world, the limitations of power and the extent to which the
liberal interventionist vision articulated by Tony Blair during the
Kosovo war in 1999 - of a world in which states could no longer murder
their own people with impunity - lies in shreds.
It's not as if the international community has done nothing. In
August last year the UN passed resolution 1706, agreeing to upgrade
the small African Union force of 7,000 troops that was attempting to
police Darfur - a territory nearly the size of France - with a UN
deployment of 22,500. Such "heavy support", in both personnel and
hardware, would have made a vital difference, standing between the
Khartoum-backed predators and their Darfuri prey.
Rene -- Interview with Chris Marker
A rare interview with one of cinema's most secretive filmmakers. By Samuel Douhaire and Annick Rivoire By Samuel Douhaire and Annick Rivoire
Originally published in Libération, March 5, 2003. With thanks to Antoine de Baecque.
"What interests me is history, and politics only interests me to the degree that it is the mark history makes on the present." The French release of Sans soleil and La Jetée on DVD is an event, as is every furtive apparition in the news by Chris Marker, one of the great cineastes of our time as well as one of the most private.
Marker, 81, has always preferred to allow his filmed images, rather than his image as a filmmaker, to speak for him. Less than a dozen photographs of Marker exist, and his interviews are even more rare. The director agreed to an interview with Libération via an email do-it-yourself kit: four topics, with ten questions each. He did not respond to every question, but these 12 pages, at times "frankly Dostoevskian," more than satisfied us.
Cinema, photo-novels, CD-roms, video installations - is there any medium you haven't tried?
Why have you agreed to the release of some of your films on DVD, and how did you make the choice?
Twenty years separate La Jetée from Sans soleil. And another 20 years separate Sans soleil from the present. Under the circumstances, if I were to speak in the name of the person who made these movies it would no longer be an interview but a séance. In fact, I don't think I either chose or accepted: somebody talked about it, and it got done. That there was a certain relationship between these two films was something I was aware of but didn't think I needed to explain - until I found a small anonymous note published in a program in Tokyo that said, "Soon the voyage will be at an end. It's only then that we will know if the juxtaposition of images makes any sense. We will understand that we have prayed with film, as one must on a pilgrimage, each time we have been in the presence of death: in the cat cemetery, standing in front of the dead giraffe, with the kamikazes at the moment of take-off, in front of the guerillas killed in the war for independence. In La Jetée, the foolhardy experiment to look into the future ends in death. By treating the same subject 20 years later, Marker has overcome death by prayer." When you read that, written by someone you don't know, who knows nothing of how the films came to be, you feel a certain emotion. "Something" has happened.
When Immemory, your CD-rom, was released in 1999, you said that you had found the ideal medium. What do you think of DVD?
With the CD-rom, it's not so much the technology that's important as the architecture, the tree-like branching, the play. We'll make DVD-roms. The DVD technology is obviously superb, but it isn't always cinema. Godard nailed it once and for all: at the cinema, you raise your eyes to the screen; in front of the television, you lower them. Then there is the role of the shutter. Out of the two hours you spend in a movie theater, you spend one of them in the dark. It's this nocturnal portion that stays with us, that fixes our memory of a film in a different way than the same film seen on television or on a monitor. But having said that, let's be honest. I've just watched the ballet from An American in Paris on the screen of my iBook, and I very nearly rediscovered the lightness that we felt in London in 1952, when I was there with [Alain] Resnais and [Ghislain] Cloquet during the filming of Statues Also Die, when we started every day by seeing the 10 a.m. show of An American in Paris at a theater in Leicester Square. I thought I'd lost that lightness forever when I saw it on cassette.
Does the democratization of the means of filmmaking (DV, digital editing, distribution via the Internet) seduce the socially engaged filmmaker that you are?
French philosopher Baudrillard dies at 77
Jean Baudrillard, 77, Critic and Theorist of Hyperreality, Dies
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: March 7, 2007
The French critic and provocateur Jean Baudrillard, whose theories about consumer culture and the manufactured nature of reality were intensely discussed both in rarefied philosophical circles and in blockbuster movies like “The Matrix,” died yesterday in Paris. He was 77.
Eric Feferberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Jean Baudrillard in 2001.
Michel Delorme, director of Galilee, Mr. Baudrillard’s publisher, announced his death, which he said followed a long illness.
Mr. Baudrillard, the first in his family to attend a university, became a member of a small caste of celebrated and influential French intellectuals who achieved international fame despite the density and difficulty of their work.
The author of more than 50 books and an accomplished photographer, Mr. Baudrillard ranged across different subjects, from race and gender to literature and art to 9/11. His comments often sparked controversy, as when he said in 1991 that the gulf war “did not take place” — arguing that it was more of a media event than a war.
Mr. Baudrillard was once considered a postmodern guru, but his analyses of modern life were too original and idiosyncratic to fit any partisan or theoretical category. “He was one of a kind,” François Busnel, the editor in chief of the monthly literary magazine Lire, said yesterday. “He did not choose sides, he was very independent.”
With a round face and big, thick glasses, Mr. Baudrillard was known for his witty aphorisms and black humor. He described the sensory flood of the modern media culture as “the ecstasy of communication.”
Rene -- NEW IRAQI OIL LAW SEEN AS COVER FOR PRIVATIZATION
"was just a matter of time" -rg
NEW IRAQI OIL LAW SEEN AS COVER FOR PRIVATIZATION
by Emad Mekay
the Inter Press Service
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
WASHINGTON - The U.S.-backed Iraqi cabinet approved a new oil law
Monday that is set to give foreign companies the long-term contracts
and safe legal framework they have been waiting for, but which
has rattled labor unions and international campaigners who say oil
production should remain in the hands of Iraqis.
Independent analysts and labor groups have also criticized the process
of drafting the law and warned that that the bill is so skewed in
favor of foreign firms that it could end up heightening political
tensions in the Arab nation and spreading instability.
For example, it specifies that up to two-thirds of Iraq's known
reserves would be developed by multinationals, under contracts lasting
for 15 to 20 years.
This policy would represent a u-turn for Iraq's oil industry, which
has been in the public sector for more than three decades, and would
break from normal practice in the Middle East.
According to local labor leaders, transferring ownership to the foreign
companies would give a further pretext to continue the U.S. occupation
on the grounds that those companies will need protection.
Union leaders have complained that they, along with other civil society
groups, were left out of the drafting process despite U.S. claims it
has created a functioning democracy in Iraq.
Under the production-sharing agreements provided for in the draft
law, companies will not come under the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts
in the event of a dispute, nor to the general auditor.
The ownership of the oil reserves under this draft law will remain
with the state in form, but not in substance, critics say.
On Feb. 8, the labor unions sent a letter in Arabic to Iraqi President
Jalal Talbani urging him to reconsider this kind of agreement.
"Production-sharing agreements are a relic of the 1960s," said the
letter, seen by IPS. "They will re-imprison the Iraqi economy and
impinge on Iraq's sovereignty since they only preserve the interests
of foreign companies. We warn against falling into this trap."
Ewa Jasiewicz, a researcher at PLATFORM, a British human rights and
environmental group that monitors the oil industry, told IPS in a phone
interview from London that, "First of all, it hasn't been put together
in any kind of democratic process... It's been put through a war and
an occupation which in itself is a grotesquely undemocratic process."
Anjalisa -- Voices of the rising tide
The Black Audio Film Collective's slick work chronicled and cross-examined Britain's new multicultural reality. Adrian Searle tracks them from 80s students to multimedia experts
Tuesday February 27, 2007
'Seductive stylishness' ... Who Needs a Heart (1991). Photograph: © BAFC Trust
The voice comes from another world, another age. "They don't know who they are or what they are," says the voice, sounding as if it wears a wing collar and is always red in the face. "And really, what you are asking me is how the hell one gives them a sense of belonging ... " This fragment from the ether, sampled from the BBC Panorama programme, belongs to the late Sir Ronald Bell QC, Conservative MP and senior member of the rightwing Monday Club. Bell, who died in 1982, wanted the race relations act repealed, immigration halted, the tide stemmed. His patrician tones are a mantra, weaving among other voices, echoed beats of dub reggae and samples of musique concrète
Signs of Empire is the earliest work in The Ghosts of Songs, a retrospective exhibition of the Black Audio Film Collective at Fact, in Liverpool, which will move to London and Bristol. On the screen, the dying and the dead fade in and out: here is a white woman smiling among the savages; there, a pile of bodies. The images keep slipping away. The voice always returns.
Signs of Empire is a movie by other means, a "narrative with stills", a tape/slide presentation using archival images and sound. There are optimistic invocations of a multiracial Commonwealth, family-album photos of colonial life, forbidden shots, collisions, burning buildings. Half an hour long, Signs of Empire (the title a neat twist on Roland Barthes' Empire of Signs) remains disturbing, almost a quarter of a century after it was made. There is something lulling and hypnotic in the rhythmic procession of images, while the soundtrack is a countersurge of accumulating dread.
Rene -- ROBERT FISK ON BIN LADEN AT 50
"War on Terror"
ROBERT FISK ON BIN LADEN AT 50
By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent
04 March 2007
The most wanted man on the planet was 36 when our veteran correspondent
met him for the first time in the desert
He was 36 when I first met him. Osama bin Laden's beard had no trace
of grey in 1993. He was a young man, building a new road for poor
villagers in Sudan, a trifle arrogant perhaps, very definitely wary of
the Western journalist - 10 years older than him - who had turned up
in the cold Sudanese desert one Sunday morning to talk to him about
his war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Was I going to ask him about "terror"? No, I wanted to know what it
was like to fight the Russians. A Soviet mortar shell had fallen beside
him, Bin Laden said. Nangahar province, maybe 1982. "I felt Seqina as
I waited for it to explode," he said. Seqina means an almost religious
calmness. The shell - and many must curse it for being a dud - did
not explode. Otherwise Osama bin Laden would have been dead at 25.
When I met him again in Afghanistan in 1996, he was 39, raging
against the corruption of the Saudi royal family, contemptuous of
the West. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bin Laden told
the House of Saud that his Arab legion could destroy the Iraqis;
no need to bring the Americans to the land of Islam's two holiest
places. The King turned him down. So the Americans were now also the
target of Osama's anger.