August 29, 2009
RY Europe Correspondent
Left, four Roma families who share the same house in Hamilton
In the summer of 2009, immigration minister Jason Kenney imposed visa requirements on the citizens of the Czech Republic who normally enjoy visa free travel like the rest of the European Member State citizens to Canada. The minister pointed to the dramatic increase in refugee claimants from the Czech Republic as the cause of the new requirements. Jason Kenney argued the majority of these Czech refugee claims must be false as the Czech Republic is "in compliance with the European human rights law".
Unfortunately these refugee claims are not false, and at the heart of Europe the brutality of fascist violence is being relived by the Roma community.
The recent 2009 European elections produced worrying victories for the extreme right with fascist parties winning seats across Europe with anti-immigrant and anti-minority rhetoric. These fascist parties are a threat to all Europeans as history has made so clear, but one group in particular is being targeted with a violence not experienced since the holocaust. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia the Roma minority are being attacked with assassinations, assault, intimidation, arson, and organized pogroms, by fascist gangs. In towns such as Litvínov in the Czech Republic these gangs have organized regular marches through Roma occupied residential areas, armed with knives, heavy sticks, and Molotov cocktails with the expressed goal of "cleansing" the neighborhood.
One specific case showcasing the viciousness of the fascist gangs was the firebombing of a Roma home just after a large fascist rally in a nearby town, the crime left two parents injured and their 2 year old daughter with burns covering 80% of her body.
In these states the more mainstream parties are also actively supporting the segregation and ghettoization of Roma communities. In the Czech Republic the some local governments stream healthy Roma children into classes designed for mentally handicapped students. During the European elections one Czech party promised a "final solution" to the Roma question in their campaign advertisements.
A member of the Czech Senate Human Rights Committee, Liana Janáčková, explaining her opinion on housing for Roma stated, "I have to deal with the Gypsies. Unfortunately, I am a racist. I do not agree with the integration of Gypsies, that they should be able to live throughout the district. Unfortunately, we selected Bedriška [quarter], so that is where they will be - with a high fence, an electric one for all I care."
With tacit support of the mainstream conservative parties, it is not startling that state protection of Roma is nearly non-existent in these "democratic" EU member states. Under these circumstances it is no surprise that escape remains the only option left.
The recent visa changes are not in the spirit of Canada's refugee system, punishing and ignoring the victims rather than exposing the racism, injustice and fascist violence in the Czech Republic which is at the root of the Roma exodus. Jason Kenney has effectively dismissed the real life threatening danger of the Roma, saying "it's an insult to the important concept of refugee protection to allow it be systematically violated by people who are overwhelmingly economic immigrants".
The refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Roma claims and impose visa restrictions is racist at its core. A progressive and open refugee program is needed in Canada takes claimants from all countries, and does not ignore the Roma of the European Union or the war resisters of the United States simply because these are NATO allies. The rise of fascist groups in Europe and their campaign of violence against the Roma should be actively opposed by all progressives, and the victims assisted by a just refugee program that secures the escape that is unfortunately required in the 21st century.
95 SHAW ST
TORONTO CANADA M6J 2W3
August 27, 2009
Piers Handling, Cameron Bailey, Noah Cowan
Toronto International Film Festival
2 Carlton St., 13th floor
Toronto Canada M5B 1J3
Dear Piers, Cameron, Noah:
I've come to a very difficult decision -- I'm withdrawing my film Covered
from TIFF, in protest against your inaugural City-to-City Spotlight on Tel
In the Canadian Jewish News, Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin described
how this Spotlight is the culmination of his year-long Brand Israel
campaign, which includes bus/radio/TV ads, the ROM's notorious Dead Sea
Scrolls exhibit, and "a major Israeli presence at next year's Toronto
International Film Festival, with numerous Israeli, Hollywood and Canadian
entertainment luminaries on hand." Gissen said Toronto was chosen as a
test-city for Brand Israel by Israel's Foreign Ministry, and thanked
Astral, MIJO and Canwest for donating the million-dollar budget. (Astral is
of course a long-time TIFF sponsor, and Canwest owners' Asper Foundation
donated $500,000 to TIFF). "We've got a real product to sell to
Canadians... The lessons learned from Toronto will inform the worldwide
launch of Brand Israel in the coming years, Gissin said."
This past year has also seen: the devastating Gaza massacre of eight months
ago, resulting in over 1000 civilian deaths; the election of a Prime
Minister accused of war crimes; the aggressive extension of illegal Israeli
settlements on Palestinian lands; the accelerated destruction of
Palestinian homes and orchards; the viral growth of the totalitarian security
wall, and the further enshrining of the check-point system. Such state policies
have led diverse figures such as John Berger, Jimmy Carter, and Bishop Desmond
Tutu to characterize this 'brand' as apartheid.
Your TIFF program book may describe Tel Aviv as a "vibrant young city... of
beaches, cafes and cultural ferment... that celebrates its diversity," but
it's also been called "a kind of alter-Gaza, the smiling face of Israeli
apartheid" (Naomi Klein) and "the only city in the west without Arab
residents" (Tel Aviv filmmaker Udi Aloni).
To my mind, this isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to
demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and
otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic
boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO's in 2005,
and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is
seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law.
By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides -- and in the
process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the
occupation to cross a type of picket line.
Let's be clear: my protest isn't against the films or filmmakers you've
chosen. I've seen brilliant works of Israeli and Palestinian cinema at past
TIFFs, and will again in coming years. My protest is against the Spotlight
itself, and the smug business-as-usual aura it promotes of a "vibrant
metropolis [and] dynamic young city... commemorating its centennial",
seemingly untroubled by other anniversaries, such as the 42nd anniversary
of the occupation. Isn't such an uncritical celebration of Tel Aviv right
now akin to celebrating Montgomery buses in 1963, California grapes in
1969, Chilean wines in 1973, Nestles infant formula in 1984, or South
African fruit in 1991?
You're probably groaning right now -- "inflammatory rhetoric!" -- but I
mention these boycott campaigns because they were specific and strategic to
their historic moments, and certainly complex. Like these others, the
Israel boycott has been the subject of much debate, with many of us
struggling with difficult questions of censorship, constructive engagement
and free speech. In our meeting, for instance, you said you supported
economic boycotts like South Africa's, but not cultural boycotts. Three
points: South Africa was also a cultural boycott (asking singers not to
play Sun City); culture is one of Canada's (and Israel's) largest economic
sectors (this spotlight is funded by a Canadian Ministry of Industry
tourism grant, after all); and the Israel rebrand campaign explicitly
targets culture as a priority sector.
Many will still say a boycott prevents much needed dialogue between
possible allies. That's why, like Chile, like Nestles, the strategic and
specific nature of each case needs to be considered. For instance, I'm
helping organize a screening in September for the Toronto Palestinian Film
Festival, co-sponsored by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and the Inside
Out Festival. It's a doc that profiles Ezra Nawi, the queer Israeli
activist jailed for blocking army bulldozers from destroying Palestinian
homes. Technically, the film probably qualifies as meeting the technical
criteria of boycott -- not because it was directed by an Israeli filmmaker,
but because it received Israeli state funding. Yet all concerned have
decided that this film should be seen by Toronto audiences, especially Jews
and Palestinians -- a strategic, specific choice, and one that has
triggered many productive discussions.
I'm sorry I can't feel the same way about your Tel Aviv spotlight. Despite
this past month of emails and meetings, many questions remain for me about
its origins, its funding, its programming, its sponsors. You say it was
initiated in November 2008... but then why would Gissen seem to be claiming
it as part of his campaign four months earlier? You've told me that TIFF
isn't officially a part of Brand Israel -- okay -- but why haven't you
clarified this publicly? Why are only Jewish Israeli filmmakers included?
Why are there no voices from the refugee camps and Gaza (or Toronto for
that matter), where Tel Aviv's displaced Palestinians now live? Why only
big budget Israeli state-funded features -- why not a program of
shorts/docs/indie works by underground Israeli and Palestinian artists? Why
is TIFF accepting and/or encouraging the support of the Israeli government
and consulate, a direct flaunting of the boycott, with filmmaker plane
tickets, receptions, parties and evidently the Mayor of Tel Aviv opening
the spotlight? Why does this feel like a propaganda campaign?
This decision was very tough. For thirty years, TIFF has been my film
school and my community, an annual immersion in the best of world cinema.
You've helped rewrite the canon through your pioneering support of new
voices and difficult ideas, of avant-garde visions and global stories.
You've opened many doors and many minds, and made me think critically and
politically about cinema, about how film can speak out and make a
difference. In particular, you've been extraordinarily supportive of my own
work, often presenting the hometown premieres of my films to your legendary
audiences. You are three of the smartest, sharpest, skillful and most
thoughtful festival heads anywhere -- this isn't hyperbole, with all of you
I speak from two decades worth of friendship and deep respect -- which
makes this all the more inexplicable and troubling.
What eventually determined my decision to pull out was the subject of
Covered itself. It's a doc about the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, which
was cancelled due to brutal anti-gay violence. The film focuses on the
bravery of the organizers and their supporters, and equally, on the
ostriches, on those who remained silent, who refused to speak out: most
notoriously, the Sarajevo International Film Festival and the Canadian
Ambassador in Sarajevo. To stand in judgment of these ostriches before a
TIFF audience, but then say nothing about this Tel Aviv spotlight --
finally, I realized that that was a brand I couldn't stomach.
For the duration of TIFF, I've posted Covered at:www.vimeo.com/greyzone
August 28, 2009
Some of its videos are posted below:
Other media sources have talked about the giant corporation.
Penn and Teller in a TV episode. This clip shows the right wing divide and conquer attack on workers' images as belonging to the lower class.
Wal Mart instructional video shown to employees, anti-union propaganda. Presents unions as taking money from one's pay check to spend on politicians. Like Wal-Mart doesn't do that already with the Republican party.
Teaser for the movie Wal-Mart: the high cost of low price.
August 27, 2009
Art for the masses?
how about art BY the masses.
Never mind mass produced art by publishing houses and studios. In these projects the grassroots are encouraged to produce works for themselves.
image at left: radical graphics.org
POOR MUSIC SERIES
Ever seen those crappy mixed tapes in the bin at a Goodwill or Sally Ann shop? Sick of top 40 music? Well there could be gems in the pile if you are into listening to other peoples discussions and musical tastes from ages ago.
Some of those tapes could be planted there as fakes. Fakes? Yes, fakes. It's all part of a guerrilla art project started in San Diego by Pea Hicks. And if you are bored as Pea must have been you too can make a tape as per his instructions on this website.
A quote from the site sums up the project: "...creating his own slightly bizarre tapes, recording them onto cruddy old tapes, writing fake descriptions and dates on them, and dispersing them back into the thrift stores. Hopefully, people would be intrigued enough by what was scrawled on the tapes to buy them for a quarter and find out what was on them..."
- Girl In A Picture In My Wallet That I Don’t Know Very Well
- You Suck Like An Abalone
- Killer Typewriter From The Planet Mongo
- In Shadows Lurk Dead Guys
Another project that Hicks did previously is in a similar vain involving an early digital voice recorder toy.
This web page shows the results of compiling random recordings from such toys left on the shelves of the toy departments of various K-Marts and other stores. Nothing fancy here, just the recordings of a mass produced toy in a store. Just goes to show that art is everywhere and everything not just what media moguls say what is art for our consumption.
THE CHICAGO TAPES PROJECT
As the introduction goes:
"The Chicago Tapes Project is a public art/experimental sound project in which citizens exchange mix tapes, found sounds and original recordings via publicly hidden street side stations. Any and all are encouraged to participate."
This project is a similar to the Poor Man's music above, but is more liberal in that the subject matter is more open to be whatever the tape creator chooses. And instead of music bins at the local thrift shop, this project uses open spots marked by a specified stencil:
"The tapes can be planted anywhere discreet yet public - inside newspaper boxes, planters, and tree trunks, under mailboxes, park benches and stoops, between the cracks in the walls and the pavement."
Among the resources listed on the links page is Loopers-Delight, for those interested in making music for the project or just for the hell of it.
ANOTHER CHICAGO PROJECT that is listed as a related project but has vanished is "open-loop", a mapping project of all the security cameras in Chicago.
If you like books but hate having bookshelves or boxes full of books you've read before and needlessly collecting dust, bookcrossing is for you. Especially if the local used bookshop won't take your copy because it's too worn, or only offer 3 copper pennies for it.
Bookcrossing involves labeling a book as belonging to the project and cataloged and then given away free in a manner of leaving it in a public place. Such books often have a history to them that can be looked up online as to where they have been, similar to tracking banded waterfowl, or a 5 dollar bill.
YELLOW ARROW PROJECT
Started in New York in 2004 and wrapped up in 2008, but not before going global, the yellow arrow project is very much an auto-guided tour and scavenger hunt all rolled into one. One finds a yellow arrow and on it a code one uses to text a phone number via a cell phone. And voila! you receive a message about the place 's history or whatever the arrow placer found interesting about the place. It's somewhat of an technologically advanced form of the hobo sign much like warchalking is.
Several yellow arrow projects have been made, such as one encouraging participants to smell, hear and use other senses at marked spots of a city. A project tells where long defunct shops, clubs, meeting halls etc. have been. Another good places to skateboard and perform bike tricks. In Washington D.C. home of the D.C. hardcore music scene and the Dischord record label and it's roster of bands, a project highlights the history of punk in the area.
I imagine that along with historic information and details about a place (eg.such and such a restaurant makes a good burger or a poem related to the spot) , labour history could be put on these yellow arrows, or a red arrow project could be started.
August 26, 2009
Commentary by a Canadian trans-activist.
I was very happy to read on the news of the Young Communist League of South Africa and the World Federation of Democratic Youth’s campaign denouncing the International Association of Athletes Federations for its racist, chauvinist and patriarchal attacks against South African gold metalist, Caster Semenya.
When I heard the news on the radio for the first time, it piqued my interest. It sounds like Caster didn't exactly fit into one of two neatly ascribed gender roles in white capitalist society. This isn't the first time that a gender non-conforming athlete has been accused of 'tricking' authorities.
There could be so many reasons she looks the way she does. If she was taking testosterone it would have been easily detected. The main point here is that this isn't an issue of her biological sex - that is easy to tell and any steroid test would give away the testosterone. The worry is the way she presents - i.e., short-hair, muscular, athletic, natural eyebrows.
The accusation is totally reflective of a white definition of gender roles. African women have historically resisted a lot of the "damsel in distress" expectations of femininity. No one said "Caster is a boy because I saw her penis" or "Caster is a boy because she has testosterone in her". Because they know she doesn't.
Instead I hear "She is too muscular to be a girl" or other comments on her physical appearance. That's a clear attack on her gender expression and it's also sexist.
And now as more gender non-conforming athletes enter the playing field, the hurdles faced by these athletes are becoming more visible. In fact, it was not until 2004 that the ban was lifted against transgendered people from competing in the Olympics!
RY magazine stands with Caster against this attack!
Sign a petition in support of Caster
August 25, 2009
24th of August, 2009, Vilnius, Lithuania
Appeal to the progressive world community
On the signs of revanshisme and facsisme in Lithuania
On 9th of June, 2009 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania gave his initial approval, and at the autumn session which starts in September it plans the final approval of the amendments to the Penal Code of Lithuania which will criminalise public approval, negation, belittling or justification of „genocide committed by communism and facsisme“. The draft amendments, if approved, will also criminalise the public “blackmail” of so-called „members of Lithuania‘s freedom fights movement – volunteer fighters, who in the years 1944 – 1953 were fighting with weapons against soviet occupation“. The amendments to the article 154 of the Penal Code, submitted by members of the party „Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian democrats“ Paulius Saudargas and Petras Luomanas, foresee a fine, or a limitation of person’s freedom, or arrest, or jailing for up to 3 years.
If these amendments come into force, the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, which is currently dominated by Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian democrats, will: a) equally treat communism and facsisme which are incomparable; b) forbid to raise doubts about the reputation and investigate the biographies of members of so-called “Lithuania‘s freedom fights movement”, although a big part of them were nazi collaborators and took part in mass killings of civil population of Lithuania during the WW II thus committing crime against humanity; many of them, having no choice as the war was coming to its end, were trained by the retreating nazi army and special services for the diversion ant terrorist fights, which they perpetrated also during the post-war years, mainly against the civilians.
Bearing all this in mind, the mentioned amendments should be regarded as signs of revanshisme and facsisme, as a direct assault against freedom of opinion and human rights, to which there should be a categorical negative reaction. One cannot allow the coming into force of the amendments. The political party „Frontas“ and Socialist party of Lithuania appeal to all progressive organisations in the world, to all Parliaments and Governments, to human rights organisations, in particular to those that chase and help bringing to justice hiding war criminals and those that committed crimes against humanity, with the request to react to the intentions of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania to approve the mentioned amendments to the Penal Code, by using all possible legal pressure and influence so that the regrettable and shameful amendments do not come into force. We suggest and immediate creation of International Commission for investigation of biographies of „members of Lithuania‘s freedom fights movement”, investigating on a case by case basis and without bias, using information available in different countries. Only by going this way shall we stop the resurrection of facsisme and revanchisme.
Presidium of the political party „Frontas“ Board of Socialist party of Lithuania
Contacts: + 370 698 772 42; + 370 686 902 93; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloggers across North America are picking up the banner for free speech by doing their bit to spread the word about Walmart’s outrageous request for a court injunction against www.walmartworkerscanada.ca, the long-standing and award winning labour rights website created for Walmart “associates” and maintained by UFCW Canada.
In the past five years, blogs (which are basically web pages that serve as personal journals) have become a main source of information for an increasing number of internet users, and, as a result, are becoming more and more influential. Blogs are maintained by a wide variety of people, and in some cases have loyal readerships in the tens of thousands.
The idea of a corporation meddling with a non-corporate website is something that does not sit well with the growing number of people who blog and take freedom of speech and their digital rights very seriously.
Unfortunately for Walmart, bloggers generally have vast email networks and often serve the World Wide Web as opinion leaders.
With their help, the
www.walmartworkerscanada.ca/freespeech campaign is making a big splash in Web 2.0. The campaign’s SAVE the CIRCLE Facebook group has rapidly grown to several hundred members, andwww.youtube.com/SAVEtheCIRCLE has been viewed by nearly 3,000 people around the world. Bloggers have also used their influence to help send hundreds of protest letters to Walmart’s head offices in Mississauga, Ontario, and Bentonville, Arkansas.
“A very large and growing number of people representing a wide variety of concerns are really starting to realize the importance of this issue,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley.
“This injunction request by Walmart isn’t just about www.walmartworkerscanada.ca; it’s about a massive multinational corporation using its vast wealth to try to undermine a social justice organization’s ability to effectively communicate. This is a fight that we all have an interest in fighting – and winning.”
The Quebec Superior Court is expected to hear Walmart’s argument for an injunction against
www.walmartworkerscanada.ca sometime in the fall.
In the meantime, UFCW Canada activists are encouraged to participate in the campaign for free speech by inviting friends to visit www.walmartworkerscanada.ca/freespeech, where they can send a protest letter to Walmart, learn the facts, watch and listen to different media clips, and link to the SAVE the CIRCLE group on Facebook.
August 24, 2009
On the day of today, the European Union is calling upon all European people to celebrate the so called “Europe- wide Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism”, following the anti-communist and anti- democratic
resolutions approved by the European Parliament.
This measure is, once again, a step towards the criminalization of the communist ideal and an attempt to make equivalent the fascist ideology to the ideology of peace, freedom and democracy, the communist ideology.
Furthermore, it is a complete hypocrisy for a structure as European Union to
raise the “flag of democracy”, when itself is imposing for the third time now an European Constitution that has already been rejected two times by the peoples; a structure as European Union that supports the role of NATO and aims to strengthen bounds with this international killing and destroying machine that over the last 60 years has supported all fascist regimes of Europe; a structure as European Union that has everyday stronger economical and political bounds with the Zionist state of Israel, that slaughters and humiliates the Palestinian people in their own land; a structure as European Union, that lets that in its inside there is a youth, democratic, peace loving organization be banned just because of their communist ideology (namely, the Communist Youth Union of Czech Republic).
To the Members of the European Parliament who approved this resolution and to all those who decide to join this dark celebration we remind that it was the Western European countries and USA (the so called “democratic countries”), who took no hesitation to bring back to power the high ranking officers of the former fascist armies.
Moreover, it is important to remind that two thirds of all battle fronts that
allowed the world to defeat Hitler’s army were on Eastern Europe and, most of them, conducted by the Soviet Union.
Such processes of comparing Fascist regimes to the socialist oriented societies, namely Soviet Union, are manoeuvres of deceiving and distraction from the agonizing imperialist powers.
Today, as in the past, imperialism is creating means, strategies and subjective conditions to persecute communist, progressive and anti-imperialist forces, particularly in the moment lived now, when the international financial crisis has brought up even more clearly the unsolvable contradictions of imperialism as an upper stage of the capitalist system. Imperialism knows that its survival, or the delay of its end, depends on confusing the youth and people of the world, preventing them to realize that only by struggling and rallying under the anti-imperialist organizations they can hope for a truly and long lasting peaceful and fair future.
WFDY draws the attention to the ongoing crimes and massacres against mankind that deserve not only analysis but concrete action from all possible democratic means, such as the massacre of the Palestinian and Saharan
people, the constant persecutions to all democrats in Colombia, Burma, Swaziland, Philippines and others as well as the completely outraging situation of coup d’état in Honduras.
WFDY calls upon all its member and friend organizations to denounce the anti-communist attack being launched and to continue their struggle for democracy and freedom, alongside with all elements that a constitute a truly democratic state, as universal access to education, employment, health, food, culture and sports, which is very far from being the reality inside the European Union member states and many others in the world.
Budapest, August 23, 2009
The CC/HQ of WFDY
As the economic crisis continues to endanger jobs and force down wages British Columbians are faced with another attack. On July 23th, 2009 the right-wing B.C. Liberal government announced its intention to implement a Harmonized Sales Tax by July 1st, 2010. Despite explicit promises not to introduce such a tax during the last provincial election in May, the Liberal government persists in forcing working class British Columbians to pay for the failing capitalist economy.
The Harmonized Sales Tax combines two taxes, the Provincial Sales Tax and the federal Goods and Services Tax, into one federally administered sales tax. When this takes place, almost everything which PST does not apply to will see a 7% increase in cost. Among these are some of the most important parts a working class family's budget such as: residential fuels (electricity, natural gas) and heating, food products, non-prescription medication, work-related safety equipment, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and household maintenance such as renovations and painting. Even grieving families will now pay 7% more at a funeral home.
The Harmonized Tax system puts a massive weight on working people in British Columbia. Northern B.C.ers who are seeing forestry jobs lost and already pay far more for many essential products will now see home heating costs increase dramatically. Commuters in urban areas will see bicycles and bicycle repairs jump in price, which continues the B.C. Liberal policy of profits before people and the environment.
Youth will be affected drastically by the new system. Movies and theatre tickets, repairs for home appliances, and other costs often born by young people will increase substantially. Even school supplies will see a 7% increase in cost when students already pay a criminal tuition fee to attend college or university. While the Liberals refuse to raise minimum wage or legislate a living wage system they continue to increase taxes on those who fall below the poverty line.
To add insult to injury the B.C. Liberal government will receive a 1.6 billion dollar payout from the federal Conservative government to implement this system. As working people try to balance meager budgets the provincial sellout continues. If it was not clear before, British Columbians now know exactly how much they sell for in the capitalist market.
-Interim BC Provincial Committee, August 2009
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