Sunday, September 14, 2014

Angels Flight


Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
-- Christina Rossetti, Remember

“There’s a new art in the world and this doctor’s starting a collection.” – Velda

That Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955) is a great American film, one of the greatest ever made, only a rash or foolish person will deny. While its greatness seems now to be generally recognized (contemporary critics of the 1950s all trashed it), the core of the greatness appears not to be. It is normally taken up by the Quentin Tarantino / Martin Scorsese types who embrace it as little more than director Aldrich, in this only his third big studio picture, sneering around with private eye / tough guy / sexy girl genre works of the post-WWII period: a meta P.I. movie. It is far beyond that. Kiss Me Deadly seeks to capture and does, via early-50s Los Angeles and the private eye and science fiction genres, a moment caught between a dying Deco / FDR culture -- a culture which intensified the individual while strengthening the community beyond -- and the cold technical Modernist world to come.

The movie is based on one of the better jobs done by the most popular hack writer of his time, Mickey Spillane. Erstwhile Mike Hammer picks up a hitchhiking girl on the highway, a lovely girl wearing nothing but a trench coat. After passing through police checkpoints, they are immediately hijacked, the girl killed, Hammer left for dead. It seems the girl (Berga Torn in the book, Christina Bailey in the movie) knows something very important and everyone wants to know what it is: the "Great What's It?" in the movie's words. Practically everyone (and in Robert Aldrich's original movie ending, everyone) winds up dead. The differences between the Spillane world and Aldrich's are enormous. In the movie, New York City becomes Los Angeles. Four-million dollars in heroin becomes a box of atomic energy. The Mafia becomes the Dulles Bros. national security state. Most important, Spillane's thematic vacuum becomes a work about one era dying and something sinister and incomprehensible struggling to be born.

Robert Aldrich is the anti-Carl Dreyer, in this work. Rather than stripping down all decor until one finds a purified essence, Aldrich floods the film with an excess of mid-50s urban Modernist detritus -- architectures, automobiles, ladies clothes; the interior designs of apartments, hospitals, business hallways -- making all of it seem radioactive, in what may be the first movie to be usefully called a film blanc. (Aldrich's 1955 follow-up The Big Knife would also qualify.) While at the same time -- in a vertigo of decoration -- placing us firmly in a destoyed and desiccating Los Angeles: Kaiser Hospital, born in the 30s, seemingly refurbished by Mark Rothko; sweet Nick's dumpy garage where he works on Mike's white '51 Jaguar, then his '50 MG convertible, and dies working on Hammer's '54 black Corvette; a zinc-white Calabasas gas staion: a haunted mansion on what was once called Hill Place: Bunker Hill, all of it, especially Angels Flight and the flophouse once home to Christina and her roommate Lily Carver; the Hillcrest Hotel; Club Pigalle; the Hollywood Athletic Club; Hotel Jalisco. All gone. Classical 20th-century Los Angeles, the L.A. of Raymond Chandler and Lew Archer, being destroyed as Kiss Me Deadly was being made, or soon after. In Aldrich's world, Mike Hammer seeks meaning and clarity, similar to Philip Marlowe in Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" from the same time, in a vanishing L.A. of the foreign, the frightened, the lost, the individual (while the authority figures all trying to hold it together -- and all authority here, "criminal" or "the law," are the same -- are interchangeable).

Into a normally muscular and artless genre (especially artless under the insanely butch hand of Spillane), here we are given the feminine and creative: poetry, opera, painting, ballet, sculpture, music both classical and jazz, writings. (Christina's stunning apartment inside the Bunker Hill dive is museum-like in her artworks and books and music. Quite a girl.) And the movies. Aldrich and director of photography Ernest Lazlo, from the glowing titles which move backward, as Mike's rocket-ship car (and Nat King Cole) moves him and Christina back into the past and toward the future simultaneously, a vertigo of time, an astonishing start to a movie (meaninglessly ripped-off by hack George Lucas to begin his Star Wars) -- from this opening every shot is strange, mysterious, beautiful, and unique. Throughout Aldrich intensifies Hammer's confusion and estrangement by intensifying the palette of his own form: extreme cuts and angles, dissolves and freezes and fades and his deep use of sound: the music and the soft protected sounds of homes and apartments, traffic noises always beyond the windows, Hammer's sorrowful wall answering-machine, echoing stone hallways and stairs, concrete sidewalks, the sounds of science and technology, the hollow under-furnished echoing of "Lily Carver's" terrible place. And Frank DeVol's overall score: Caruso, Chopin, Schubert, Johannes Brahms, his own. It is only extreme camera movement which Aldrich foregoes, as his main figure Hammer is frozen between Scylla and Charybdis.

Mike's journey -- movingly played in as beautiful a manner as it is brutal by Ralph Meeker -- is a despairing and failed one, however much he struts and smirks, however much he seems to have a magical power to get himself out of jams and to knock people out or to kill them. There's a greater magic against him, a State of anti-Grace, an occasion of sin. Mike's great love is for cars (and possibly for his sexy operative Velda) and yet most of the people he contacts die via car -- Christina Bailey, Nick the mechanic, boxer Lee Kawolsky, Nicholas Raymondo, the real Lily Carver. Those he touches who don't die by car, die anyway, including Velda and himself in Aldrich's original end-of-the-world ending. Mike Hammer stays tough and super confident, until he doesn't, until by the end he becomes a stunted wounded zombie -- dead too, in a way. Dead to all he knows.

Of all great movies, Kiss Me Deadly is perhaps the one that captures its moment in time the most deeply, beautifully, and mysteriously -- and most shocking: the most concretely. Until at the finish, when the Point Dume beach house explodes and the world ends, we are left with a giant, flaming, American Medusa unearthing her hideous face, freezing us -- as she had Mike throughout -- with an oracle of things to come.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Forgotten

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

To the U.S. War on the World!
Since  9/11, the United States government -- supported by a majority of the U.S. population -- has murdered:

1,000,000 Iraqis

200,000 Afghans

150,000 Syrians

80,000 Pakistanis

60,000 Libyans

10,000 Iranians

8,000 Yemenis

5,000 Somalis

Conservative figures all. And not counting those murdered by U.S. proxies (Israel, Ukraine, Georgia, Mexico, Columbia, Chechnya, the Phillippines, Indonesia). Also not counting "stateless" persons, foreign and domestic -- no doubt in the 10,000s -- who were just in the way or didn't pay the vig on time . . . or who died of broken hearts.

Current score: USA:          1,513,000
                        Evil Doers:        2,753

All right!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peace Prize

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lost and Found


Sometimes you get lucky. Three years before Citizen Kane (1941), 22-year-old Orson Welles directed a stage adaptation of William Gillete's 1894 comedy called Too Much Johnson. The production was to be an interchange between the live action in the theater and a projected movie. In a pre-Broadway test done in Stony Creek, Connecticut, mechanical problems prevented Welles's movie from being shown. The audience hated the show anyway. Broadway was canceled. And the movie was lost.

Until recently. Joseph McBride with the details.

Let us pray we can someday get as lucky with the missing 45 minutes of The Magnificent Ambersons.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Z?

Shane O'Sullivan has been our most honest and therefore most important documentary filmmaker dealing with the American Assassinations of the 1960s. His Killing Oswald (2013) was the finest (the only?) work of the 50th Anniversary year which did not swallow wholly the official Warren Commission line.

Since the 1960s, the 8mm Elm Street home movie taken by clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder has been held up as our best proof that more than one gunman was firing at Kennedy in Dealey Plaza, due to the destruction of the Single Bullet Theory caused by the Z-film's timing; and the explosive movement of JFK's head and body ("Back, and to the left") caused by the fatal headshot(s). But is the Zapruder film we have all seen, the real Zapruder film? A man named Dino Brugioni was a top imagery analyst for CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center (he was the man who brought President Kennedy U-2 images proving Soviet nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba in October '62) and on the night of November 22nd, 1963, Brugioni was handed for interpretation an original negative of the Zapruder home movie. What he says he saw that night was very different from what we now see.

(Due to the bought-off chicanery of Dallas's Sixth Floor Museum, the Z-film was not allowed to be part of O'Sullivan's documentary.)

The heroic Douglas Horne guides us through a very sinister maze. 



An enhanced HD version of what Abraham Zapruder filmed that day. Or not. . .

Monday, September 1, 2014

Take Five


Happy 5th Birthday to the blog!

Swoon this.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Best TV Show of All-Time?


The show ran on the CBS television network from September 1957 through April 1963 for an astounding 225 episodes. (A radio show starring a different cast also played for four of those years.) Almost 40 episodes per season, at 26-minutes per, with many locations. (Current half-hour TV series: 20 to 22 episodes a year at 22-minutes each.)

And it is the best western series of all time. Of course, there are problems. Boone insisted on the often silly intros with him in 1870s San Francisco gentry garb, almost always coming on to a girl / rejecting a girl / or sighing with a "what can I do?" expression. (Thankfully these ficelles are not part of every episode.) And that's about it. Out of the 225, maybe 10 are stinkers. But the rest. . . .

No other series is more dominated by a single personality and consciousness than is Have Gun Will Travel by Richard Boone's. His greatness as both actor and director -- and his deeply humanist sensibility -- makes HGWT a model of popular and populist art. Sometimes that sensibility goes awry, wasted on chum. At its best (actually, at its average as well), it was a constant search for what was the right thing to do. Paladin himself is a western superman: brilliant, handsome, rich; a boxer, a gunman, a stud. Yet the character is almost completely devoid of narcissism. Or if it is there at times, it becomes the subject of the piece. In the candy-colored yet morally black-and-white world of the 1950s, this is an astonishingly complex show, in terms of meaning and character.

There are many glories beyond him. Along with his artistic domination, Boone's heart is generous as both actor and director. Some of the best HGWT episodes are directed by Andrew McLaglen, Lamont Johnson, and Ida Lupino -- and he completely gives them their lead. Very literate (sometimes too literate) scripts by the great Herb Meadows and Sam Wolfe (and Gene Rodenberry). An endless succession of special acting turns, by both leads and supporting players: George Kennedy many times, Charles Bronson (amazingly good) many times, Kam Tang as Hey Boy,  Ben Johnson and Ken Curtis fresh off the Ford lot, Charles Aidman, Strother Martin, Ed Nelson, Harry Carey Jr., Shirley O'Hara, Denver Pyle, Jacqueline Scott, June Vincent, on and on. Also, the very lovely Lisa Lu as Hey Boy's replacement, Hey Girl. (Lu's also in several episodes as characters other than Hey Girl, where she also burns a hole in the screen.) Such a slender beauty it's no wonder Henry Miller started stalking her after seeing HGWT.

It is a beautiful show to look at, with a stark sheen. (Many cinematographers are credited, with Stuart Thompson grabbing most titles.) Much of the music is by Bernard Herrmann or based on Herrmann cues. Plus the immortal Johnny Western theme song.

If one comes to knows the series well, what's most remarkable is the continual changes in tone. Alternately leisurely, calm and quiet (and at times very funny); titles tight and tense as a Tohlakai drum; plots so dense they are opaque; stories where nothing much happens at all. We come back, though, to the show's awesome star. No actor has ever surpassed his engagement and commitment to a weekly role. His humor, strength, and charisma get more unique and impressive with each passing year.

One of the many good ones, from Season 2 (April 25, 1959): "The Man Who Lost"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Not?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Not Anyone


One of the glorious moments of 50s cinema, with the wonderful Hadda Brooks at piano.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Go

Three ways.

Sinatra.



Lee Morgan.



Bill Evans.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Orchids

Beside the greatness of Rick Nelson, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is best remembered for its astonishing longevity (14 seasons, 435 episodes) and for the equally astonishing moribund irrelevance of its later years (1960 and beyond). However, at its best it was great. Under the total creative control of Ozzie Nelson (who it's said made Otto Preminger seem like a pussycat on set), it was the original "show about nothing." Ozzie never had a job, seemed to have no plans for the day, was considered a boob by everyone, and was surrounded by friends, relatives, and neighbors who also had pointless, jobless lives. (What a refreshing change from the CV-obsessed garbage of modern television.) Yet everyone was happy, warm, relaxed, and gentle -- without a hint of smarm or calculation.

One of the wackiest early episodes is called "The Orchid and the Violet," from April 1953. Oz is mistaken for a bum (as he should be) by a florist and his wife, hysterically played by the great Alan Mowbray and by Orson Welles's own Jeanette Nolan, reprising her role here as Lady Macbeth.

Crazy, man!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your 21st Century US Left

"To be ultra is to go beyond. It is to attack the sceptre in the name of the throne, and the mitre in the name of the altar; it is to maltreat the thing you support; it is to kick in the traces; it is to cavil at the stake for under-cooking heretics; it is to reproach the idol with a lack of idolatry; it is to insult by excess of respect; it is to find in the pope too little papistry, in the king too little royalty, and too much light in the night; it is to be dissatisfied with the albatross, with snow, with the swan, and the lily in the name of whiteness; it is to be the partisan of things to the point of becoming their enemy; it is to be so very pro, that you are con."             
-- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to the Future


The great American Henry Wallace predicts America's corporate fascist future ~ April 1944:
·  On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
  1. What is a fascist?
  2. How many fascists have we?
  3. How dangerous are they?
·  A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.

·  The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.

·  The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

·  If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

·  American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.

·  The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.

·  Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.

·  Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:

·  The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler's game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.

·  The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

·  Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

·  It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.

·  Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.

·  The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:
  1. Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique.
  2. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.
·  The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.

·  Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

·  It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Jeopardy '97

Oliver Stone:
I look back on Jeopardy as one of my highlights during a strange time in the '90s when I was having an enormous amount of fun. I was so bored at this point with the number of interviews, appearances, and junkets that I had to do. I don’t know how anyone can convey the torture of having to do fifty interviews in a day, repeating yourself about a film. These are the kinds of things that drive you insane, so I suppose in rebellion against that kind of mindset. I was on Jeopardy as a charity effort with Arianna Huffington and Wolf Blitzer, and I was trying to pick up this Korean girl in Washington D.C. who I was meeting for the first time, and these first time things can be very exciting, so she was in the audience and I had decided that morning to take ecstasy. I was on it on Jeopardy, and I was totally enjoying the show in a way that neither of my two co-contestants possibly could. In fact, Wolf was so uptight I was laughing even harder at his “projection” of intelligence. Arianna, a graduate in art history apparently forgot everything that day because she got zero points as I remember. I think I lost everything and won it back several times, and at the very end I whipped Wolf Blitzer with a question that I thought was ridiculously simple, but neither of these two could remember the painter of the “Last Supper.” I think a first grader could’ve figured that out, but I jumped on it and I won. The secret of Jeopardy is how fast your finger can get to the button. That millisecond makes a difference. Ecstasy gave me the power that day, but I couldn’t stay in the box however. Alex Trebeck kept telling me to get back into that box; he’s lucky I did. Anyway, I had a great night afterwards with that wonderful Korean girl who actually worked in a relief organization in Africa. All these Washington girls work in relief organizations… good hunting ground.
Including actual 1997 commercials!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Men and Not Men

  

Happy 88th Birthday to the greatest revolutionary of the 20th Century.

Comandante:
I think that a new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.

None of these circumstances have anything to do with the creation of the Roman Empire, around 2,400 years ago, or with the U.S. empire which, in this region only 200 years ago, was described by Simón Bolívar who exclaimed, “…the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” England was the first true colonial power to use its dominion over a large part of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, and many Caribbean islands, in the first half of the 20th century.

On this occasion I will not talk about the wars and crimes committed by the United States empire over more than 100 years, but will only state what it wanted to do to Cuba, what it has done to many other countries in the world, and only served to prove that “A just idea in the depth of a cave is stronger than an army.”

History is much more complicated than everything I have said, but that is the was it is, in broad strokes, as the inhabitants of Palestine know, and it is likewise logical that the modern communications media reflect the news which arrives daily, as has occurred with the shameful, criminal war in the Gaza Strip, a piece of land where the population lives in what remains of what was independent Palestine only 50 years ago.

The French agency AFP reported August 2, “The war between the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and Israel has caused the deaths of close to 1,800 Palestinians,… the destruction of thousands of homes, and ruined an economy which was already weakened,” although it does not indicate, of course, who initiated the terrible war.

Added later, “… As of Saturday at midday the Israeli offensive had killed 1,712 Palestinians and injured 8,900. The United Nations was able to verify the identities of 1,117 dead, in their majority civilians … UNICEF counted at least 296 dead minors.”

“The United Nations estimates …some 58,900 persons homeless in the Gaza Strip.”

“Ten of the 32 hospitals were closed and another 11 damaged.”

“This Palestinian enclave of 362 km² does not have the infrastructure needed for 1.8 million inhabitants, above all in terms of the provision of electricity and water.”

“According to the IMF, the rate of unemployment surpasses 40% in the Gaza Strip, territory subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2006. In 2000, unemployment was 20%, and in 2011, 30%. More than 70% of the population depends on humanitarian aid during normal periods, according to Gisha.

The Israeli government declared a humanitarian truce in Gaza at 07:00 GMT on Monday, nevertheless within a few hours, it broke the truce attacking a house, injuring 30 persons, in their majority women and children, and an eight-year-old girl died.

In the dawn hours of this same day, 10 Palestinians died as a result of Israeli attacks in all of Gaza and the number of Palestinians murdered has already increased to 2,000.

The killing has reached the point that, “French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius stated this Monday that Israel’s right to security does not justify the massacre of civilians taking place.”

The Nazi genocide of Jews outraged all the earth’s peoples. Why does this government believe that the world will be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetuated against the Palestinian people? Perhaps it is expected that the complicity of the U.S. empire in this shameful massacre will be ignored?

The human species is living in an unprecedented stage of history. A crash between military planes or warships which are closely watched, or other similar events could unleash a conflict with the use of sophisticated, modern weapons, which could become the last known adventure of Homo sapiens.

There are events which reflect the almost total inability of the United States to face the world’s current problems. It can be stated that there is no government in this country, no Senate, no Congress, CIA or Pentagon which will determine the final outcome. It is truly sad that this should happen when the dangers are so great, but the opportunities to move forward are great as well.

When the great patriotic war took place, Russian citizens defended their country like Spartans, underestimating them was the worse error made by the United States and Europe. Their closest allies, the Chinese, who like the Russians achieved their victory on the basis of the same principles, constitute today the earth’s most dynamic economic force. Countries want yuan and not dollars to acquire goods and technology, and increased trade.

New, indispensable forces have emerged. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – establishing links with Latin America and the majority of countries in the Caribbean and Africa struggling for development – constitute the forces which in our era are willing to collaborate with the rest of the world’s countries, without excluding the United States, Europe or Japan.

Blaming the Russian Federation for the in-flight destruction of the Malaysian airplane is a stunning oversimplification. Not Vladímir Putin, nor Serguéi Lavrov, Russia’s minister of Foreign Relations, or any other leader of this government would ever come up with such nonsense.

Twenty-six million Russians died in the defense of their homeland against the Nazis. Chinese combatants, men and women, inheritors of a millennial culture, are people of uncommon intelligence and an invincible spirit of struggle. Xi Jinping is one of the strongest and most capable revolutionary leaders I have met in my life.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

RN


40 years since he fled the White House, just ahead of the Sheriff, with his pockets full of silverware.

Oliver Stone, Senator George McGovern, and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. on the man who, in Hunter S. Thompson's words, "broke the heart of the American Dream."