Archive for October, 2012

Occupy were right says senior Bank of England banker

October 31, 2012

Anyone who thinks the occupation outside St Paul’s had no impact should think again. Occupy were morally and intellectually right says Andrew Haldane, a member of the Bank of England financial policy committee.

Capitalism is Crisis

Capitalism is Crisis

Andrew Haldane, a member of the Bank’s financial policy committee, said the Occupy movement was correct in its attack on the international financial system.

The Occupy movement sprang up last year and staged significant demonstrations in both the City of London and New York, protesting about the unequal distribution of wealth and the influence of the financial services industry. Members of the movement occupied the grounds of St Paul’s and remained camped there for more than three months until police evicted them in February last year.

“Occupy has been successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason; they are right,” Mr Haldane said last night. Mr Haldane, the Bank’s executive director for financial stability, was speaking to Occupy Economics, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, at an event in central London.
In a speech entitled Socially Useful Banking, he said the protesters had helped bring about a “reformation” in financial services and the way they are regulated.

Partly because of the protests, he suggested, both bank executives and policymakers were persuaded that banks must behave in a more moral way, and take greater account of inequality in wider society.

“Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and policymakers have listened and are acting,” he said. “In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.”

The protesters had been right about bankers’ behaviour and the consequences of extremely high salaries and bonuses in the financial sector and other industries, he said.

“I do not just mean right in a moral sense,” he added.

“It is the analytical, every bit as much as the moral, ground that Occupy has taken. For the hard-headed facts suggest that, at the heart of the global financial crisis, were — and are — problems of deep and rising inequality.”

Mr Haldane concluded by telling the activists that they had helped bring about nothing less than a new financial order.

“If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation,” he said.

“You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate.”

In the text of his speech distributed by the Bank last night, Mr Haldane made no reference to the techniques employed by the Occupy protesters.

The occupation of St Paul’s last year was controversial, and led to claims that the protesters were despoiling the cathedral’s grounds.

The protest ended after the Corporation of London won a legal order allowing the activists to be evicted.

Earlier this month, members of the group marked the first anniversary of the St Paul’s protest by entering the cathedral during a service and chaining themselves to the pulpit.

First published in The Telegraph.

Advertisements

Drone attacks

October 31, 2012
drone atatcks

drone atatcks

One of the problems with drones is that they are easy to use. Another is that they are proving to be counterproductive.

These are in essence one and the same argument. Easy to use, compared with say sending in the SAS who may take casualties.

Easy to use in that we seem to have no comeback. The same of could could be said of firing rockets, except as the Palestinians find, lob a few rockets over into Israel and all hell breaks out.

Soldiers in Afghanistan are seen as legitimate targets, as we see from what seems to be a daily toll of killings.

When we use drones, one of the problems is that we are not taking out the right people, this leads to more terrorists not less. The drones are launched from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, which is then seen as a legitimate target.

On the Moral Maze this evening, a dire programme at the best of times, Melanie Phillips tried to claim only one or two civilian casualties (just one example of the garbage she came out with). Maybe she would like to explain why Imran Khan led a demonstration against drones, why he was questioned by US Immigration Official as he tried to enter the US from Canada?

One of the questions that hangs over the is of drones, is the lack of democratic accountability. We see the civilian deaths in Pakistan, but what we are not seeing is any discussion on their use.

Another is that of legitimacy. Their use may be illegal under International Law.

Anyone who wonders what it is like to be on the receiving end, talk to those who were in London when the Germans used V-bombs

Unlike a missile, drones are relatively low technology, easy to build, easy to acquire, easy to use. Soon everyone will have them, then we will find out what it is like to be on the receiving end.

Since June 2008, UK forces have carried out around 300 airstrikes in Afghanistan using armed unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly known as drones), controlled from thousands of miles away. Although there is some public information about US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, there is almost no public information about drone strikes carried out by the UK in Afghanistan.

There are serious ethical, moral and legal questions about the growing use of armed drones which need to be properly debated. However, it is impossible to have such a debate while information is being kept secret. At the very least, it seems that public discussion is being controlled.

Drones have enabled a huge increase in targeted killing is also causing deep disquiet amongst legal experts and scholars.

However, perhaps the greatest concern relates to what is seen as one of the key capabilities of drones – their ability to loiter over an area for hours or even days. Evidence is beginning to emerge that the persistent presence of drone sitting over remote villages and towns, simply looking for ‘targets of opportunity’, leads to an increase in civilian casualties.

Despite growing public concern, the UK is to double the number of armed Reaper drones in operation by 2013 and is also pressing ahead with plans to develop new armed drones over the next decade, all without public debate or parliamentary scrutiny.

There are serious questions about the use of drones:

  • Does the geographic and psychological distance between the operator and target make attacks more likely?
  • Does using unmanned systems mean attacks will happen more often?
  • Does the supposed accuracy of drone sensors and cameras mean that commanders are more willing to undertake ‘riskier’ strikes (in terms of possible civilian casualties) than they would previously have undertaken?

All of these questions, and many more, need to be debated openly and honestly, requiring careful analysis and judgement based on evidence. Unfortunately, that evidence is being kept under wraps. While it may be necessary to keep some information secret, we do not believe it is appropriate or legitimate to refuse to disclose any and all information about the circumstances in which Reapers have been used over the past four years. There is, at the very least, a sense that public discussion is being stifled.

With the use of armed drones set to increase, we need a serious, public – and fully informed – debate on all these issues.

A petition has been drawn up to David Cameron asking for an open debate on the use of drones.

More information on drones and their use can be obtained from the Drone Campaign Network.

What is incredible is that the video feed is not encrypted. The targets on the ground can see what the drone can see.

In the last decade, nearly 3,000 people have been killed by drones.

Mergers and acquisitions in the book trade

October 31, 2012
Penguin Books Random House

Penguin Books Random House

Random House and Penguin are planning a £2.4 billion merger. Described by so-called media analyst Theresa Wise on a BBC business programme as a a pretty good deal. Anything but, it is a bad for writers, bad for readers and must be stopped.

The merger would create a publishing conglomerate that would control 40% of the book trade in the US. In the UK the group would control 25% of the book market. Worldwide 25% of the English language market.

Murdoch has tried to buy Penguin, to merge with HarperCollins.

In Brazil, Amazon are looking to buy the e-book business of book chain Saraiva which is trying to sell its online business.

It is not good news when huge global corporations control the book business and turn books into a commodity.

We have seen this with the music business, music reduced to a commodity.

Now we are seeing it in publishing, the search for the latest me-too blockbuster. We saw it with me-too Da Vinci Codes, we saw it with every Scandinavian writer described as the next Stieg Larsson. Now we are seeing it with clones of 50 Shades of Crap.

Publishers are destroying our independent bookshops. In a space of five years we have lost a quarter of our independent bookshops.

Waterstone’s is able to offer substantial discounts on best-sellers, because they in turn get substantial discounts from the publishers, discounts which are not available to small independent bookshops.

Last winter, Jamie Oliver had out a new cook book, cover price £30. It was in supermarket chain Sainsbury’s at £9-99, half price in Waterstone’s. His latest cook book 15 Minute Meals, cover price £26, WH Smith £7-99 if you make other purchases.

J K Rowling has a new novel, £20 cover price, half price in supermarket chain Morrisons, £9 from Amazon.

Amazon dominates the e-book business. The books have a propriety format, you do not own them, you rent them. At any time, Amazon without rhyme nor reason can wipe all the books off your Kindle, block your account, and give you no explanation.

There is a need for an open source format for e-books that all devices and platforms can read. Publishers and authors can then supply direct.

There is a need for a site like bandcamp for musicians where authors can upload their works, readers can then read on-line, share or download.

The Random House Merger must be stopped. There is a need for an investigation, not only into this merger, but also the predatory pricing and other dodgy practices.

Israel is an apartheid state (no poll required)

October 31, 2012

A new Ha’aretz poll indicates a majority of Jewish Israelis favour apartheid – but that’s nothing new.

Israel arpatheid state

Israel arpatheid state

A poll of Jewish Israelis published last week in Ha’aretz newspaper created headlines round the world with its findings of support among the public for discriminatory policies. Some greeted the survey’s results as vindication of claims made by critics of the Jewish state; others pointed to what they said were flaws in the methodology and how the statistics were being presented.

There is, however, no need for such a poll in order to reach the conclusion that Israel is guilty of apartheid: The facts speak for themselves.

Firstly, a clarification about terminology. To talk about Israeli apartheid is not to suggest a precise equivalence with the policies of the historic regime in South Africa. Rather, apartheid is a crime under international law independent of any comparison (see here, here, here, and here). As former UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard put it in the foreword to my first book: “It is Israel’s own version of a system that has been universally condemned.”

It is impossible to understand this “system” without remembering that its foundations were laid by the ethnic cleansing that took place in the Nakba. With the establishment of Israel in 1948, up to 90 per cent of the Palestinians who would have been inside the new state were expelled, their properties confiscated, and their return prevented. As these refugees were denied citizenship and their right to return ignored, Israel passed legislation to open up the new borders to Jews everywhere.

Thus the only reason why Israel, a so-called “liberal democracy”, has a Jewish majority at all is because of the forced – and ongoing – physical exclusion of Palestinians from their homes. From 1948 to 1953, 95 per cent of new Jewish communities were established on expelled Palestinians’ property. The amount of land belonging to Palestinian refugees expropriated by Israel’s “Absentee Property Law” amounts to around 20 per cent of the country’s total pre-1967 territory.

Rearranging demographics

Today, around one in four Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are “present absentees”, their homes and land confiscated. By the mid-1970s, the average Arab community inside Israel had lost around 65 to 75 per cent of its land. Since 1948, over 700 Jewish communities have been established inside Israel’s pre-67 borders – but only seven for Palestinian citizens (and those in order to concentrate the Bedouin population in the Negev).

Over the decades, the Israeli state has sought to “Judaise” areas of the country deemed to have “too high” a number of Palestinian citizens compared to Jews, particularly the Negev and Galilee regions. One strategy in the Galilee was to establish mitzpim (Hebrew: “look out”) communities whose goal, according to a Jewish Agency planner, was to “keep Arab villages from attaining territorial continuity and attract a ‘strong’ population to the Galilee’.”

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens live in dozens of “unrecognised villages”, mainly in the Negev (though “non recognition” is not restricted to the south). They suffer from home demolitions and a lack of basic infrastructure. A serious new threat is the Prawer Plan, with planned mass evictions threatening up to 70,000 with forced relocation and the destruction of their villages.

This planned ethnic cleansing is driven by the sort of anxiety Shimon Peres expressed to US officials in 2005, when he worried that Israel had “lost” land in the Negev “to the Bedouin” and would need to take steps to “relieve” the “demographic threat”. A senior official in the Jewish Agency in 2003 explained a new Judaisation initiative on the grounds that “the birthrate of the Bedouins and Arabs in the Galilee is much faster than the Jewish” and thus “we are quickly losing our majority there”.

Another element in this regime of ethnic privilege is admissions committees, which operate in around 70 per cent of Israeli towns and permit (or deny) residency on the basis of social “suitability”. By “rejecting applications” from Palestinian citizens, the committees “have notoriously been used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities” (Human Rights Watch).

Their role is now legislated for in around 42 per cent of communities, and those supporting the law were not shy to express their motivations. MK Israel Hasson (from the “centrist” Kadima party) said the law’s purpose is to “preserve the ability to realise the Zionist dream in practice”, while MK David Rotem (from FM Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu), said Jews and Palestinians should be “separate but equal”, affirming that “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, not a state of all its citizens”.

Separate but separate

Israel’s institutionalised racism has serious consequences even for Palestinians’ choices about who to marry. In January, the High Court – a forum praised by “liberal” defenders of Israeli apartheid – upheld a law severely restricting Israeli citizens’ ability to live with spouses from the West Bank and Gaza. In the majority opinion, Justice Asher Grunis wrote that “human rights are not a prescription for national suicide” – referring to the “demographic” spectre that haunts apartheid regimes.

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller praised the decision for “articulat[ing] the rationale of separation between the peoples and the need to maintain a Jewish majority and the [Jewish] character of the state”, linking this to the formulation “two states for two peoples”. Ironically, this slogan of Zionist “moderates” (yes, it’s all relative) echoes the rhetoric of Apartheid South Africa’s politicians, who warned that “either we must follow the course of equality, which must eventually mean national suicide for the white race, or we must take the course of separation”.

The room for dissent is limited. In 2007, Israel’s internal security agency the Shin Bet stated it would “thwart the activity of any group or individual seeking to harm the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel, even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”. In 2008, the agency’s then-chief told US officials that many of the “Arab-Israeli population” are taking their rights “too far”. Israeli law provides for the banning of electoral candidates who deny “the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people”, and proposed bills can be rejected on the grounds that they undermine “Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people”.

While the Ha’aretz survey shocked some, it should not come as a surprise: Such views often emerge in similar polls. Examples in recent years include over half of Jewish Israelis saying marriage to an Arab is “equal to national treason”, 78 per cent of Jewish Israelis opposing Arabs joining the government, 62 per cent of Jewish Israelis encouraging the emigration of Palestinian citizens, and 36 per cent of Jewish Israelis being in favour of revoking the voting rights of non-Jews.

Such results are entirely expected when you look at the discourse propagated by Israel’s leaders. PM Netanyahu, as finance minister in 2003, described Palestinian citizens as a “demographic problem”, while in 2009, the current Housing Minister declared it a “national duty” to “prevent the spread” of Palestinian citizens. In 2010, the chair of the Knesset’s “Lobby for Housing Solutions for Young Couples” stated that “it is a national interest to encourage Jews to move to” places where “the Arab population is on the rise”. When Ehud Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem, he considered it “a matter of concern when the non-Jewish population rises a lot faster than the Jewish population”.

The same racist logic is behind the kinds of warnings issued by PM Netanyahu that “illegal infiltrators” – non-Jewish African refugees and migrants – could threaten the country’s existence “as a Jewish and democratic state”. In other countries, this is the language of the fringe far-Right; In Israel, to discuss the “threat” posted by Palestinian citizens and other non-Jews is routine.

Race-based policies

And what of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, under military rule for 45 years? In Jerusalem, constantly touted by Israel’s leaders as the country’s “eternal” capital, Palestinian residents in the illegally annexed East face planning restrictions, home demolitions, discrimination in municipal services, and the community-shattering Apartheid Wall. Speaking to BBC’s Hardtalk in July 2011, Mayor Barkat openly confirmed that he seeks to maintain a Jewish majority in the city – imagine if the mayors of London, New York or Paris stated that Jewish residents must not rise above a certain proportion.

There are over 300,000 Israeli citizens living in West Bank settlements (plus 200,000 in East Jerusalem), a network of colonies among a Palestinian population without citizenship. Palestinians’ freedom of movement is controlled by a bureaucratic “permit” system, enforced by some 500 checkpoints and obstacles. The vast majority of the Apartheid Wall, 700km in length and 70 per cent completed or under construction, lies inside the occupied West Bank. The illegality of this de facto annexation was confirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in their 2004 advisory opinion.

In 60 per cent of the West Bank (“Area C”), Palestinians must apply for building permits from Israeli occupation forces; yet according to a 2008 UN report, 94 per cent of applications are denied. Building illegally means demolition. In 2011, Israel demolished 620 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, part of what the EU has called a “forced transfer of the native population”. Meanwhile, cranes and diggers are put to work in thriving, illegal, Israeli settlements.

Israel also exploits the West Bank’s natural resources, such as its “discriminatory” control of water access and usage: Palestinians, over 80 per cent of the population in the West Bank, are restricted to 20 per cent of the water from the main underground aquifer. Human Rights Watch have called Israel’s regime in the West Bank a “two-tier system” where Palestinians face “systematic discrimination” (the same terminology they have used to describe policies inside the pre-67 borders as well).

The Gaza Strip, home to some 1.7 million Palestinians a majority of whom are refugees, is blockaded by the Israeli military behind perimeter fences and “buffer zones” (including at sea). Restrictions on movement began in the early 1990s, with an intensified siege being implemented in 2006-’07. Until today, Israel blocks almost all exports from the territory, and pursues what it calls a “separation” policy for the purpose of cutting off Gaza from the West Bank.

In March, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) described Israel’s violations of the right to equality in unprecedented terms. Noting “segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities” and a lack of “equal access to land and property” inside Israel’s pre-67 borders, CERD found a regime of “de facto segregation” in the West Bank severe enough to prompt a reminder of the “prohibition” of “apartheid”.

Across the whole of historic Palestine – Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip – the State of Israel rules over around 12 million people whose rights and privileges are determined on a discriminatory basis. Millions more are excluded from the country all together (because they are Palestinian). It is a regime intended to maintain the domination of one group at the expense of another. It is apartheid.

— Ben White

Originally published by Al-Jazeera and republished by Stop the War Coalition.

MIT Gangnam Style (MIT 강남스타일)

October 31, 2012

MIT flash mob with guest appearance from Noam Chomsky.

Top Story in Daily Music News (Wednesday 31 October 2012).

The Sun In September – Matthew Halsall

October 30, 2012

The Sun In September from the album Fletcher Moss Park by Matthew Halsall.

Westgate

October 30, 2012
Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Westgate is an appalling eyesore of a development literally on the edge of Aldershot town centre, totally out of character with a Victorian town.

At least that is how it looks from the outside, looking from the town centre. Within not a lot better.

Outside two blocks of stone causing an obstruction. Edge on, barely visibly, the stone similar colour and blending in with the paving stones. A hazard for anyone with poor eyesight.

Entry to Westgate is up a flight of steps (there is also a slope for wheelchairs and cyclists). This leads into a stark, windswept plaza. Freezing cold in the winter, very hot in the summer. The design is very reminiscent of old Soviet Bloc architecture.

Lampposts have at their base a raised block about a brick in height. An ideal trip hazard for anyone not looking where they are going or of poor eyesight.

None are yet open, when complete, the plaza will be lined either side with tacky fast food chain restaurants.

Through the plaza, to the left a broad flight of steps leading down into the plaza and a travelator that leads down to an underground car park.

The car park is free, time limited to three hours. If only three hours in Aldershot, then the place to park to avoid expensive car parks.

Wandering around the plaza, more people than would see in the centre of Aldershot.

Then Morrisons.

I am no great fan of Morrisons, I would usually place near the bottom with Asda and Tesco.

Walking in, I was struck by the size, the sheer number of people, and that it was open and airy.

There was more people in Morrisons than you would see in Aldershot town centre in a month, maybe in a year.

Wandering around I was struck that this was not a typical Morrisons. It seemed to be aimed to compete with Waitrose, but with Tesco or Asda prices. Lots of fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, raw meat, cooked meat, a bakery. The meat section was making sausages on the premises, the bakery preparing tarts using fresh fruits. Though on closer inspection the cheeses were not of the quality of Waitrose and you do not slice cooked meats then leave to dry out.

Morrisons has its only little café. A dumb system, queue at one till to order, then queue at another till to pay. This is the norm for Morrisons. Cakes are on open display for everyone to cough and sneeze over. Scampi, peas and chips, not very good, but then on the other hand par for the course for Aldershot where nowhere decent to eat.

I had a chat with a lady who was there as an advisor to Morrisons. She said, yes, this was a different Morrisons, they had opened a couple like it in Scotland. She called it a Store of the Future.

Leaving Morrisons, I wandered into the town. No signposts pointing into the town centre, only a few pendants flapping in the wind on lampposts.

Upper Union Street leads into Union Street. The pavement flows across the road. I realised I was walking into the road. Very dangerous.

The Morrisons is going to kill the centre of Aldershot dead. It is probably going to have a big impact on local supermarkets too, as far better. It will also impact on the fruit and vegetable stalls on the Thursday market, one of the few reasons to visit Aldershot. The fishmonger on the market is unlikely to survive.

Maybe there will be some trickle down into the town, though I saw no evidence of this. What was the centre of town now becomes the bottom end of town. Maybe the top end of Union Street, which is usually dead, will see a few more people.

I passed a Nepalese café with a girl outside handing out leaflets. I cannot see anyone going in it. It looked dirty, the door was wide open, meaning it would have been freezing cold inside.

For anyone coming in on the No 1 bus from Camberley, Frimley or Farnborough, access is easy. Get off at Princess Hall and walk up the steps. It needs a bus stop outside Princess Hall for the return journey.

A couple alighted off the bus with me, and asked where to go. I showed them. They also asked where was the town centre.

From Westgate it is not obvious where the town centre is.

It is unbelievable the local council has not erected signposts directing people from Westgate into the town centre. How many months have they had?

From Upper Union Street crossing the road into Union Street, there needs to be a pedestrian crossing, a zebra crossing, not so much to help people across the road (though that is always useful), but to actually alert people that they are crossing the road.

The fast food chains when they open will drain money out of the local economy. Morrisons may bring people in from further afield. There may be some trickle down of people from the development into the town centre but so far the local council has done nothing to encourage this. The only money flowing into the local economy will be from the minimum wage staff, and unless they were previously unemployed, will only have relocated from other jobs. A supermarket of this size destroys a thousand jobs in the local economy.

Aldershot is a deprived area, the town centre a slum of fast food restaurants, gambling joints, charity shops and large bars. A place most people avoid. The last thing it needs is yet more money drained out of the local economy.

The impression given is that the local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor as it is known locally, is deliberately trying to destroy Aldershot. Somewhat perversely they are promoting this developmental on the front page of their website. Even more perverse that they were co-promoters of the development.

What local council wishes to destroy its own town centre?

Other actions indicate a desire to destroy Aldershot

The Arcade, what was the centre, but must now be seen as the bottom end of the town centre, is a plastic replica of a Victorian arcade that once stood on the same site. All the small retailers kicked out to make way for a large bar (Wetherspoon) and a large retail store (Poundland). An unwanted redevelopment that was not good for the town, and yet the planners fell over backwards to push it through on behalf of the developers. For once the councillors on the planning committee showed a bit of backbone and threw the application out.

If the tacky fast food chains kill off KFC and McDonald’s, then some good has come of Westgate.

What though of Aldershot?

The only way the town centre will survive is with specialist shops, something to bring people into the town, and yet these are the very businesses the local council has for years been doing its best to kill off.

The couple I walked though the plaza with, I asked them would they come from Camberley to any of the fast food chains. They said no, why would they come from Camberley for something that was in Camberley. They added all towns looked the same, with the same shops.

Aldershot has a town centre manager. But that is a non-job.

A town survives because of its hard working small retailers.

Aldershot needs a Master Plan, people with vision to draw it up, but that will not come from the council as they are without vision.

Aldershot bid for Mary Portas cash. They failed. But it would only have been frittered away. And the money available was less than a major retail chain would spend on a store refit.

Westgate also has a Travelodge and a Cinema. Begs the question why would anyone wish to stay in Aldershot. The cinema opened last week, just in time for the release of the new James Bond film Skyfall.

All Westgate does is relocate the centre of retail gravity away from the town centre and towards Westgate, whilst at the same time draining money out of the local economy.

Westgate is the local council delivering the final death blow to Aldershot as a viable town centre.

Fletcher Moss Park

October 30, 2012
Fletcher Moss Park - Matthew Halsall

Fletcher Moss Park – Matthew Halsall

Fletcher Moss Park by Matthew Halsall is a wonderful album to listen to late at night and into the early hours of the morning.

Thanks to Andrew Dubber for an excellent recommendation.

Top Story in GoIndie (Tuesday 30 October 2012).

The Martin Beck Killings: Roseanna

October 29, 2012

Roseanna is the first in the Martin Beck series, written over a period of ten years 1965-1975 by the husband and wife writing team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

A body is found in a canal. No clues. Eventually a breakthrough, she is found to be an American tourist, a librarian on holiday in Sweden.

Detective Inspector Martin Beck is a detective in the newly formed National Homicide Squad based in Stockholm. He is helped by his colleague Detective Sergeant Lennart Kollberg.

The series give a very good picture of Sweden in the mid-1960s, can be seen as the forerunner of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larssen.

In an ambitious project, BBC Radio 4 are dramatizing the entire Martin Beck series.

An interesting narration by the husband and wife team, it is distant, as though witnessing from afar, very much the style Kafka uses when observing Joseph K in The Trial.

The next book in the series, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, Martin Beck carries out an unofficial investigation in Budapest, in search of a missing journalist.

Unusual for the BBC these dramatisations are being kept on-line for a year, not seven days. Though does beg the question why not keep indefinitely?

In parallel BBC Radio 4 has a series Foreign Bodies looking at European Detective Fiction, only they could not have chosen a worst presenter than the ghastly Mark Lawson if they had tried. True to form, this series is only being kept on-line for seven days.

Appeal for a Worldwide Reading for Pussy Riot on 12 December 2012

October 29, 2012

International Litertaure Festival Berlin

The International Literature Festival Berlin has launched a worldwide reading for Pussy Riot to take place on 12 December 2012.

In the past weeks the Russian judiciary has missed the chance to end the infamous prosecution of Pussy Riot. The sentence in the first instance as such, and the fact that there was a trial at all, is a disgrace! It is another example of how Putin’s system is trying to shut up a whole generation of artists and keep them from expressing themselves in art, culture and civil society.

The international literature festival berlin, writers and intellectuals from the whole world pay reverence to Nadeshda Tolokonnikova, Jekatarina Samuzewicz, and Maria Alechina, whose artistic initiative in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has shown that there is another Russia, a country that does not tolerate bans on freedom of opinion and the ways these manifest themselves in and are imposed by the church or the ruling classes. In view of the dictatorial traits of Putin’s regime, evidenced by Russia’s permanent veto in the UN Security Council in association with China, which shows the country’s particular understanding of democracy and humanity, we need to express our solidarity with the punk band and the civil society institutions, who are being criminalized by a new law. This is a European and an international necessity!

In August 2012 the ilb launched an appeal and invited artists and intellectuals, schools and universities, radio and TV stations, theatres and other cultural institutions to join us for a worldwide reading in solidarity with Pussy Riot and the democratic groups in Russia on 12th December 2012. It was the 12th of December when, in 1993, in a general referendum, the constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by the DUMA. It is not Pussy Riot who is undermining Russian democracy, but those who are trying to kill the achievements made by the soft revolution at the end of the last century.

We will read parts of the statements of Pussy Riot at court. The ilb will publish the texts in English, German, Russian, and other languages on its website http://www.literaturfestival.com from 15 November 2012.

All those who want to join us for the reading, please send your proposal for a performance until 30/11/2012 to:

worldwidereading@literaturfestival.com

So far this appeal is being supported by:

Hector Abad, Zsuzsa Bánk, Jeanne Benameur, Mirko Bonné, James Byrne, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Bora Cosic, Marie Darrieussecq, Dorothea Dieckmann, Arnd, Gretel & Beatrice Dossi, Reimer Eilers, Peter Faecke, Dieter M. Gräf, Gintaras Grajauskas, Lars Gustafsson, Alban Nikolai Herbst, Uwe Herms, Hendrik Jackson, Willi Jasper, Elfriede Jelinek, Lidija Klasic, Peter Kleiß, Mario Vargas Llosa, Ekke Maaß, Norman Manea, Alberto Manguel, Sonja Margolina, Amanda Michalopoulou, Bart Moeyaert, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Tim Parks, Elisabeth Plessen, Martin Pollack, Santiago Roncagliolo, Annika Scheffel, Robert Schindel, Jenny Schon, Raoul Schrott, Sjón, Rebecca Solnit, C.K. Stead, Antje Rávic Strubel, Hans Thill, Ted van Lieshout, Vladimir Vertlib, Herbert Wiesner, Oksana Zabuzhko and Jenni Zylka.

Призыв ко всемирным чтениям в поддержку «Pussy Riot» 12-го декабря 2012

Aufruf zu einer weltweiten Lesung für Pussy Riot am 12. Dezember 2012!

Please ensure this worldwide appeal is widely circulated.

Last week, the two members of Pussy Riot still in prison were sent to penal colonies, the modern-day Gulags, leading to fears for their safety.

Russian opposition leaders are being arrested.