Saturday, November 28, 2009

Repeating Yourself Gets Boring, SO ! STOP IT ! STOP IT ! STOP IT !

I am truly so tired of feeling the need to appeal for reason in the struggle to uphold democracy, justice, and freedom against the attacks - military, guerilla, and ideological - of terrorists and the attacks - misguided, dangerous, and unconscionable - of the so-called defenders.

Afghans Detail a Secret Prison Still Operating on a U.S. Base -
By ALISSA J. RUBIN, Published: November 28, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.
The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, that order did not apply to this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.
“Holding people in what appears to be incommunicado detention runs against the grain of the administration’s commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and respect for the dignity of Afghans,” said Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights researcher with the Open Society Institute.
Mr. Horowitz said he understood that “the necessities of war requires the U.S. to detain people, but there are limits to how to detain.”
Human rights researchers worry that the jail remains in the shadows and largely inaccessible both to the Red Cross and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has responsibility for ensuring humane treatment of detainees under the Afghan Constitution. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, said the site fell into a legal limbo and was not clearly governed by the Geneva Conventions.

So close it down! In a system of justice worthy of defending, the accused are brought to trial and punished only after they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So, Mr. Obama, do NOT try to keep some smelly corner of the playpen in operation! Maturity and deliberacy are the only sure means for thought to overcome militancy, fundamentalism, and radical religionism!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What a Great Weekend !

It's delightful to play host to a grown-up niece, and we especially enjoyed having her and her Moroccan-Barcelonian friend Amine here this weekend. Amine's presence even earned Koko's approval, as he proved to be without any aggressive tendencies towards Jenn, instead playing entertainer and onlooker.
It was a pleasure to get to know Amine, whom we both liked very much and found to be a very friendly, open-minded, humorous, and sensible young man who obviously cares a great deal for Jenn. And she glows with happiness. They both do. When speaking of plans for the future, they are both reasonable and determined, both knowing that things will take time and ready to invest that time, hoping for the best while realizing nothing can be taken for granted.
We can only wish them BOTH success in achieving the common future they are striving for. It was a great pleasure having them here, and we look forward to many more opportunities to spend time with them.
(And parents on the other side of an ocean or a sea should know that they can be perfectly calm, serene, and happy, just lean back and relax, enjoy the fact that their kids are mature and responsible. It's all going to be just fine.)

Here a link to the photo album from the weekend, and following that a short weird video from the public karaokee at the amphitheatre in Mauerpark on Sunday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Support Antonio Tabucchi Against Berlusque Puppets!

Les démocraties vivantes ont besoin d'individus libres. D'individus courageux, indisciplinés, créatifs. Qui osent, qui provoquent, qui dérangent. Il en est ainsi des écrivains dont la liberté de plume est indissociable de l'idée même de démocratie.
De Voltaire et Hugo à Camus et Sartre, en passant par Zola et Mauriac, la France et ses libertés savent ce qu'elles doivent au libre exercice de leur droit de regard et de leur devoir d'alerte face à l'opacité, aux mensonges et aux impostures des pouvoirs. Et
l'Europe démocratique, depuis qu'elle se construit, n'a eu de cesse de conforter cette liberté des écrivains contre tous les abus de pouvoir et les raisons d'Etat.
Or voici qu'en Italie cette liberté est mise en péril par l'attaque démesurée dont fait l'objet Antonio Tabucchi. Le président du Sénat italien, Renato Schifani, lui demande en justice la somme exorbitante de 1,3 million d'euros en raison d'un article paru dans L'Unita, lequel journal n'est cependant pas poursuivi. Le crime d'Antonio Tabucchi est d'avoir interpellé M. Schifani, personnage central du pouvoir berlusconien, sur son passé, ses relations d'affaires et ses fréquentations douteuses - toutes questions sur lesquelles il rechigne à s'expliquer. Interroger l'itinéraire, la carrière et la biographie d'un haut responsable public fait pourtant partie du nécessaire questionnement et des légitimes curiosités de la vie démocratique.
Intimider une conscience
Par le choix particulier de sa cible - un écrivain qui n'a pas renoncé à exercer sa liberté - et par la somme réclamée - un montant astronomique pour une affaire de presse -, l'objectif recherché est d'intimider une conscience critique et, à travers elle, de faire taire le plus grand nombre. Des récentes poursuites contre la presse d'opposition à ce procès fait à un écrivain européen, nous ne pouvons rester indifférents et passifs devant l'offensive du pouvoir italien contre la liberté de jugement, de critique et d'interpellation.
C'est pourquoi nous témoignons de notre solidarité avec Antonio Tabucchi et vous appelons à nous rejoindre, en signant massivement cet appel.

Laure Adler, journaliste et écrivain ; Théo Angelopoulos, cinéaste ; Homero Aridjis, écrivain, ambassadeur du Mexique auprès de l'Unesco ; Michel Braudeau, écrivain et éditeur ; Andrea Camilleri, écrivain ; Patrick Chamoiseau, écrivain ; Alain Corneau, cinéaste ; Constantin Costa-Gavras, cinéaste ; Antoine Gallimard, PDG des Editions Gallimard ; Edouard Glissant, écrivain ; Tony Judt, historien et écrivain ; Jean-Marie Laclavetine, éditeur et écrivain ; Claude Lanzmann, cinéaste et écrivain ; Antonio Lobo Antunes, écrivain ; Claudio Magris, écrivain ; Antonio Munoz Molina, écrivain ; Marie NDiaye, écrivain, Prix Goncourt 2009 ; Orhan Pamuk, écrivain, Prix Nobel de littérature ; Daniel Pennac, écrivain ; Philip Roth, écrivain ; Boualem Sansal, écrivain ; Fernando Savater, écrivain et philosophe ; Jorge Semprun, écrivain ; Mario Soares, homme politique ; Philippe Sollers, écrivain ; Serge Toubiana, directeur de la Cinémathèque française ; Nadine Trintignant, comédienne ; François Vitrani, directeur de la Maison de l'Amérique latine.

La liste complète des signataires figure dans la rubrique "A lire aussi".

Justice Requires a Fair Trial

The decision to try terrorists in a court of law is not only correct, but long overdue. Again and again here I have appealed for precisely this step, since it is not possible to defend the American & Western civilization principles of democracy and justice against Islamist terrorists if we ourselves destroy those very principles to protect the system (which then no longer exists anyway) against them. Such denials of justice are precisely the aim of such fundamentalists determined to dismantle democracy and judicial proceedings in favor of sharia decisions based on concepts outdated for a thousand years. We must wake up and uphold our system of justice everywhere and always - "one nation, with justice and liberty for all."

Holder Defends Decision to Use Civilian Court for 9/11 Trial -

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday defended his decision to prosecute five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in Manhattan, declaring that while he believes “we are at war,” that the venue was the best place to pursue the case against them.
“We need not cower in the face of this enemy,” Mr. Holder said, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is ready, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready.”
Other Democratic senators largely praised Mr. Holder’s decision to use civilian court for some trials. Senator
Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said it “shows the world that this country stands firmly behind its legal system and the Constitution.”
In his testimony, Mr. Holder said that no one knew whether Mr. Mohammed still wanted to plead guilty, in a commission or otherwise.
“The determination I make on where I think we can best try these cases is not dependent on the whims or the desires of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,” Mr. Holder said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Barcelona-Berlin Connection

Yes, this weekend is a reunion and introduction as our wonderful judicious niece flies in with her friend of a bit more than a year now after the first extended period they've been able to spend together. Her father was there and has already done the examination procedure; we simply get to play the part of the good uncles we are and show the happy couple around our town here in Berlin.
So lets hope for some sun in Berlin in November, though we don't need Barcelonian temperatures.
Any requests from the Greenville mom?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Museum of Itself

The wonderfully restored, retained Neues Museum was our midday treat to ourselves today as we used our new annual tickets to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin there first. Destroyed in WWII and left to decay until the late 1980's, it's restoration was completed only a few weeks ago, preserving all that could be of the original substance and pitilessly showing the bare masonry where ornamentation was gone, bordering onto necessary replacment structural elements bare of any decoration. The effect, in this home of Egyptian, Roman, Greek statuary and other artifacts, of prehistoric archaeological finds, of Scythian and Merovingian pottery and adornment, of Charlemagne coins, is to make history open to history. We will return there and to the other museums of Berlin's wonderful museum island very often in the next year!

Fiddling While the World Suffocates ...

Time is by far too short to fiddle around, as Nero famously did when Rome burned. Then, a conflagration horrid for the inhabitants was at least limited to a geographically bounded area. Today, the impending destruction unabated climate change will unleash on the entire globe is worse than horrid, it is utterly inhumane as, bringing the end of humanity and indicating the prior end of humans behaving as custodians of existence, it will bring along with it the end of the world we humans share with all existence.
There has been enough talking, maneuvering, pork-barreling, me-ism, shirking of responsibility, finger-pointing! ALL world leaders must commit their countries, ALL countries, to reduction of harmful emissions and TRUE efforts to alter the course we are racing along to the edge of the cliff.
Copenhagen should NOT be concluded with another postponement. Or are you ready to "postpone" your life?
Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst
Das Rettende auch.
ACT NOW: This is only ONE of the dramatic problems which demand our immediate attention TODAY!

Copenhagen summit: Change we can't yet believe in Comment is free The Guardian:

"This is a task that only governments can undertake and it is not as if they have not already had enough time to do it. The meeting that created the Kyoto protocol has convened in 10 other countries and cities since. The immensity of the task ahead is probably more apparent to world leaders than it was a decade ago. But time is running out. To prevent the global average temperature from increasing by more than 2C, there will need to be a global cut in emissions within the next five years or so. Some say the point of no return has already been reached. Does yesterday's decision represent change we can believe in? Not for now, and it remains to be seen if it will come next year."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughtful Security Rather Than Thoughtless Increases

It is indeed time to consider how to reduce the number of troops from all other countries present in Afghanistan, in particular American troops, the largest contingent, rather than even considering an increase in troop levels! Very little has been accomplished, other than to prop up a glorified mayor of Kabul claiming to be president while reaping the benefits of corruption and fixing elections to the extent that his opponent gave up rather than facing a rigged run-off. What is needed in Afghanistan is pacification of the country and rebuilding of its infrastructure, schools, opportunity, and a law-and-enforcement agency of Afghans for Afghans. There is NO evidence that increasing troop levels there will benefit anyone: not the Afghans, not security of other countries, and certainly not the brave soldiers stationed there. Since a sudden total and immediate withdrawal would provoke chaos, a plan must be devised for a gradual but steady organized withdrawal of troops and implementation of normal security measures in that country. And what is happening in Pakistan is also only exacerbated by military activities in Afghanistan.
Rethink the strategy! Indeed, begin truly to think about it at all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recalling a Celebration...

Here's the best video I could find of the falling of the dominos to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Wall yesterday evening. It contains some historical shots up front, from 20 years ago, and a cute promo used to get people to paint the dominos by first showing blank ones moving around in Berlin. Then in the last 2 minutes comes the longest sequence of falling stones, from Potsdamer Platz to the Brandenburg Gate. The final sequence, not shown here, was when all the heads of state, ministers, premiers etc. assembled gather in the curve the Wall made around the Gate and shoved the stones down from the center out to both sides, revealing an open vista to the Gate and marking the beginning of fireworks.

I must confess that we watched it all from the comfort of our own living room, as ZDF produced and broadcast the whole thing from all sides, it lasted some 2 and a half hours, and it was raining cats and dogs the whole time. We saw more, indeed, that way, and, as many Berliners are reported to have done, left the live space with poor views to the tens of thousands of tourists in town. We were there on Sunday, and we go through that Gate several times a month, every time well aware how impossible that would have been twenty years ago. It is a sensation you must experience for yourself: FREEDOM

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wall 20 Years After...

Tomorrow's the actual anniversary of the fall of the Wall, as the first crossed the checkpoint at Bornholmer Straße after masses had gathered there demanding immediate implementation of the freedom to travel whose immediate effectiveness Schabowski had erroneously declared at a press conference of the "ZK" earlier that evening. Slowly but surely, all the cross points were breached that evening, all beginning around 10:30 pm.

Tomorrow domino stones will be tipped over between Potsdamer Platz and the Reichstag to commemorate the fall. These were painted, designed by people from all around the world to symbolize what the disappearance of this inhuman barrier means.

And today we walked together, Detlef and I, the Easterner and the American, who were here 20 years ago as well, but on opposite sides of that barrier, we strolled together along that wall of colorful dominos, taking pictures, united, as this country is now, too.

And here, a link to the events to take place on the anniversary tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Music, Dance, Opera for a Friday Evening !

Having managed to luck into the only pair of remaining tickets for the short run of five performances by showing up at the box office at opening time yesterday, I am pleased to announce that Detlef and I will have the privilege this evening of attending this:


Konzept & Regie - Nicola Hümpel; Bühnenbild - Oliver Proske; Komposition, musikalische Bearbeitung, Konzept - Andreas Schett, Markus Kraler; Sopran - Theresa Dlouhy; Countertenor - Terry Wey; Bariton - Clemens Koelbl; Performer: Filippo Andreatta, Adrian Gillott, Yui Kawaguchi, Sylvie Merck, Patric Schott, Alberto Spagone; Violine, Viola - Nikolai Tunkowitsch; Violine, Viola - Lydia Westcombe-Evans; Violoncello - Gabriel Hopfmüller; Kontrabass, Akkordeon - Markus Kraler; Harfe, Stimme - Angelika Rainer, Katharina Hofbauer; Hackbrett, Gitarre, Stimme - Bettina Rainer; Sopran-, Altsaxophon, Bassklarinette - Romed Hopfgartner; Trompete, Kornett, Stimme - Markus Rainer; Trompete, Kornett, Stimme - Andreas Schett; Ventilposaune, Stimme - Martin Senfter; Tuba - Andreas Fuetsch; Dramaturgie - Marcel Schwald; Licht - Arnaud Poumarat; Kostüm - Frauke Ritter; Kostümassistenz - Laura Berghäuser; Ton - Mattef Kuhlmey; Technische Leitung - Oliver Proske, Andreas Harder; Bühnenassistenz - Daniel Heymann, Jörg Scherrmann; Regiehospitanz - Margareth Kaserer; Produktionsleitung - Ilja Fontaine; Produktionsassistenz - Marie Henrion



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ninth Pre-Caesarian Month

Yup, that's NOVEMBER.
Random current-reading quotes:
"The polite swallow of Jack almost made Gately heave."
"... whom she had long regarded as something of a ham."
"De toute manière, avec de tels hérauts, la lutte contre l'infâme octogénaire de Rome risque bien de connaître une fin heureuse."
"Wir scheinen aber davon weiter denn je entfernt zu sein ..."

Next week marks 20 years of passing through the Wall, beyond the Wall, hanging pieces of it in a picture postcard of it wrapped in cellophane on the wall. Where was it, ask all those who stand on the no-man's land between its two faces, unable to conceive of it having been a swath of emptiness through this town, rather than a mere demarcation line. Life is now there where death was.

And an alternative Händelian cultural offering playing this week that we may well attend:

ANÆSTHESIA - Nico and the Navigators & Franui from Nico and the Navigators on Vimeo.