by Yunier Javier Sifonte Díaz
June 17, 2017
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The Handmaid’s Tale is perhaps one of the most disturbing TV series of recent times. Provocative in extreme, incisive in its questionings and with a crudity without limits, this production investigates in sensitive areas of the human species and speaks without fear about oppression and the loss of freedom. Fear, corporal punishment and rape, which has become a ritual, coexist with an extraordinary screenplay and attract the applause of the specialized critics, but also the attention of those who wonder where reality ends and fiction begins.
Based on the novel of the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, the series looks to the near future where environmental pollution has left most women in the United States sterile. Faced with the situation, a radical group seizes power, assassinates the President, annuls the Constitution and implements the Republic of Gilead. In the new society, profoundly fundamentalist and puritanical, most modern values disappear, women lose all their rights and those who can still breed offspring only matter as an object destined to give children to the wealthiest families.
From here, females can only aspire to few roles: a few are the infertile wives of the nation’s leaders, but the rest fulfill functions as maids destined for the repopulation of the country, domestic employees or prisoners sentenced to die while cleaning the areas damaged by the radiation. However, none has the right to read, think or express her views, because, even with the ancestry of ladies or sexual slaves make up that lower group causing the misfortunes of the nation. Among them lives the servant Offred, whose name hardly represents another sign of submission. If she belongs to Commander Fred then she should be named like him.
This is one of the great successes of the series: the narrative from all possible spaces, with a deep symbolism and a precise structuring of dialogues. From the immutable red dress of the maidservants – joyful to fecundity, but also to blood and pain – through their pre-established attitudes, gestures and conversations, to the cap to restrict their vision of a world they no longer know, everything works to annul their individuality and turn them into standardized subjects.
With different levels of reading and interpretation, for some, The Handmaid’s Tale means a defense of feminism, while for others it represents a good way to reflect on systems of government such as that implemented by the Islamic State or against the rise of neo-fascist or extreme right-wing tendencies in some countries of the planet. At the thematic level, the series does not address current issues such as women’s reification, harassment of homosexuals, ablation [female genital mutilation] or ethical discussions about abortion.
Supported by a millimeter of perfection and an extraordinary passion for detail, director Reed Morano uses whatever element she believes necessary to retrace the path of this deeply misogynistic and inhuman society, to show the harshness of the moment and the anguish of some female characters almost always on the brink of the abyss. Both the careful photography of bluish or ochre tones, as well as the commitment to intimacy in scenes, the punctual use of the soundtrack and the optimal use of some very first shots of Offred’s face -performed masterfully by Elisabeth Moss-, contribute to closing spaces and placing the spectator right in the centre of this asphyxiating drama.
To this end, this maid has two voices, one submissive and fearful and the other known only to the spectator: rebellious, sarcastic, always pungent in the face of the regime’s exaggerations. Narrated by the protagonist from recurrent flashbacks and internal dialogues, the decomposition of society and its silent conversion in the Republic of Gilead appears on screen. “Now I’m awake and I see the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they massacred Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed the terrorists and annulled the Constitution, we did not wake up either. They said it would be temporary, but nothing changes at all,” recalls Offred to explain how the country arrived in the current state of affairs.
However, these reflections articulate a discourse more anchored to reality and raise questions that are essential for the debate of these times. Does conquering certain universal values such as freedom, democracy and human dignity mean giving up fighting for them? What subsists beneath xenophobia, intolerance, extreme individualism and attempts to construct apolitical or banal subjects?
“Blessed are the meek,” they constantly remind the maids in the centers in charge of training them for their new function, as if eliminating any kind of active posture and making conformism a virtue were an essential objective to achieve domination. And in fact, it is, because the oppression that exists here is not only physical, but also psychological, intellectual and cultural, the only way to dismember a society as a whole.
With seven of the ten chapters of the first season already released and the guarantee of at least one second, The Handmaid’s Tale transcends its exceptional technical skills and its fine adaptation of a classic Canadian literature, but also because it uninhibitedly discusses universal themes such as ideology, morality, humanism, politics and totalitarian and extremist systems. Even without claiming to be a prophetic or apocalyptic work, it has the merit of evading complacent positions and touching sharp areas of a model who likes to see itself as perfect. Responding to the provocations of this series with intelligence and analysis, confronting it without complexes and willing to its art, but also to the debate and questioning, would be good ways to live this story only as fiction.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Not every sector of the U.S. society, nor all U.S. citizens, is frustrated at President Barack Obama’s performance so far or his failure to keep his promises of change.
Small wonder, taking into account that the election of the young and charismatic senator raised hopes on both ends of the U.S. society’s spectrum over something he could not possibly accomplish.
To the elites holding the real power, Barack Obama was a necessary risk to save capitalism and U.S. dominance at home and abroad, as they had realized even before George W. Bush’s first mandate ended that Obama looked as promising as Franklin D. Roosevelt once was to a newly-formed imperialism following the Great Depression.
We must bear in mind that despite widespread hopes worldwide and many experts’ predictions, the conservative right has seen more victories than setbacks under Obama in matters of war policy while still treating him as an adversary. They have managed to considerably neutralize an antiwar movement whose members remain hopeful nonetheless, albeit not without certain reservations, that Obama will keep the promises he made during the presidential race, however long it may take him to.
The number of rallies and protest campaigns has decreased, never mind that Iraq remains an occupied country, the death toll in Afghanistan keeps rising and the war, far from decreasing, is now threatening Pakistan. Likewise, the torture center in Guantanamo is still operating under an assortment of pretexts, and the practices of “preemptive detention” and relocation of suspects in other countries are anything but over while every effort is made to hinder any investigation launched into cases of crimes against humanitarian law.
The number of military bases around the world “to fight drug trafficking” is growing rather than decreasing, and troops are withdrawn only when they can be replaced with “security contractors” –mercenaries– in the interests of privatizing all wars of occupation.
A sort of impasse in favor of the new U.S. president is also noticeable in Africa and the Caribbean, as many leaders and citizens from those regions feel committed to their support of Obama’s campaign, by virtue of a very conveniently manipulated racial identity which has made it possible for the superpower to revive its ties with them, regardless of the Third World’s repeated demands that the president be as good as his word.
At domestic level, the wealthy have profited more from Obama’s achievements than the middle class and the poor: his huge bailouts for the benefit of banks and insurance companies have put Wall Street’s mind at rest; the acquisition of the car industry with the Government’s backing to protect Corporate America from the labor union has been praised by the owners of that sector; and the $800 billion value pack for big business, as well as the mortgage loans to appease discontent among the workers, have definitely paid off.
Obama’s trips to other nations in order to restore old alliances and friendly links destroyed by the 8-year-long Bush administration are to the big companies’ liking, since they mean more investment and a bigger share of those alternative markets.
His promises to make reforms in the health system look fine to the right-wingers as long as they’re nothing more than a few cosmetic changes properly screened by the powerful giants of the pharmaceutical, biotechnological and health insurance companies.
For all the obvious steps Obama has taken to save capitalism and U.S. hegemony, the conservative elements who really call the shots offstage stick by their strategy of keeping the president always on the defensive by allowing, if not promoting, that he is branded as communist and criticized for his slightest criticism of racism.
When he came to the rescue of the banks, many likened him to Lenin and Stalin and warned him they would accuse him of trying to come up with a Union of Socialist American Republics. The governor of Texas threatened to set up a secessionist movement to fight against the U.S. president’s “socialist” economic plan.
Obama puts himself across as a leader committed to the promises that earned him a vote of confidence by most U.S. citizens and the Third World’s hopes of a change of direction in the superpower’s peace efforts, but one whose initiative invariably gives in to the pressures of a conservative right intent on keeping him more worried about defending himself than about making any progress.
By José Luis Estrada Betancourt
May 26, 2009 – 00:45:44 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Even Hollywood shoots with caution given the undeniable problems to get loans, the fear of recession and the little confidence in Wall Street.
Such a highly topical matter as the world economic and financial crisis, whose effects we feel in life’s every sphere, has not gone unnoticed by the seekers of ideas for possible plots that might become box-office hits. In fact, the sexagenarian Michael Douglas will once again be directed by the renowned Oliver Stone to deliver a sequel to Wall Street (1987), where he made an Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a powerful, roguish tycoon who became filthily rich as a stock market speculator.
Wall Street 2 unfolds against the ideal backdrop of today’s disturbing crisis, which will provide the context to throw light on the same world of greed and corruption behind the upcoming The international, starring Clive Owen (as Louis Salinger) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman).
Based on screenwriter Eric Warren Singer’s script, the film follows an Interpol agent and an assistant district attorney determined to disclose the shady deals of a very powerful bank turned expert on illegal activities to fund terrorism and war.
Director Tom Tykwer speaks:”If the story seems to be ripped from the headlines, it’s because the headlines have shown that the banks control all aspects of our lives. The mess we’re in now started when the banks took advantage of people and encouraged them to live beyond their means ‘.
A similar concern has led the controversial and always unerring director of Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko to revisit a subject he had already brought to the fore in 1989 with Roger and Me, when he dug for the reasons why General Motors closed several auto plants in Michigan. A decade later, Michael Moore strikes again, but unlike his fellow filmmakers, with a documentary film, his favorite genre.
As usual, Moore decided to make inquiries into the root cause of the economic chaos lashing against our planet. To that end, he used his webpage to urge a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know», and adding: «Be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history”.
To the author of Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine (2003) it is plain that “the wealthy, at some point, decided they didn’t have enough wealth. They wanted more… a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That’s what I seek to discover in this movie”, he explains.
As we wait for the famous filmmaker to delve into this issue, the economic and financial crisis keeps lashing at the entertainment industry, and of course, cinema is not an exception.
A most noticeable effect of this crisis, at least to those who are all gung-ho on whatever celebrity walks down the red carpet, is the lack of glamour in the world’s greatest movie festivals, an extravaganza the average mortal won’t give two hoots about but certainly a sign of how drastic the limitations have got to be, even in Cannes, one of the industry’s two biggest markets. Credit lines have decreased so much worldwide that smaller industries are no longer able to attract a sizeable audience –as it happens to Cuba and most independent film companies– to these contests, also affected by a reduction in the number of sales contract signed for the movies, TV, DVD and their by-products. Since the to-ing and fro-ing of 35-mm film has become so expensive, from now on it will be harder for filmmakers and actors to attend the premieres of their motion pictures, and more DVD releases are likely to hit the stalls.
Things have reached the point that corporate Hollywood, with plenty of stakes in various companies, have turned more conservative and are even having second thoughts about paying the hair-raising salaries their stars pocket –like the 20 million dollars Jim Carrey made for The Cable Guy, in the end a real turnoff– or keeping the affluent lifestyle they demand while on set, say, private jets close at hand.
Now the studios are “walking a tightrope”, what with the undeniable difficulties to get credits, the fear of recession, and the little confidence they have in Wall Street, which explains why more than a few finished movies ended up on ice until the thunderclouds get away –including eagerly awaited titles like the latest Harry Potter installment– often because of a budget too low to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for marketing and advertising campaigns alone.
The DVD divisions seem to be the only ones expected to “gain” something from this mess, because people choose to watch films at home rather than pay for a theater ticket –as an average, 3.50 dollars in Mexico, and over 4.50 in Brazil and Chile. Facts: audience ratings fell 10% in Asia, 14% in the United States, and 1% in the European Union (figures for the end of 2008 have it that more than 9 million people stopped going to the movies compared with the previous year, which meant the closure of 39 theaters).
Nonetheless, filmmakers such as the Argentinean Luis Puenzo (The Official Story, Old Gringo) believe the economic crisis “may blaze a trail that the less powerful countries can use to disseminate their motion pictures more. Despite the hard times worldwide cinema is going through, shaking the system a little bit always leaves gaps through which we can slip, used as we are to dealing with lower costs of production than the big Hollywood companies. My generation was born in mid-crisis and is trained to make films regardless of the financial ups and downs”.
Life has proved Puenzo right up to a point, but the crux of the matter remains that the «peripheral» industries can truly make movies, taking into account that the studios have been compelled to make budget cuts and put off some productions for next year, as they have less money for distribution.
For instance, that’s the case of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which was forced to postpone the shooting of feature films that were almost ready to begin after two years of a steady pace that gave us movies like Los dioses rotos, El cuerno de la abundancia, Omertá, Ciudad en rojo and La anunciación.
Some documentary and full-length films are almost ready to hit the big screen, namely Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia; El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez’s movie about our Apostle José Martí; Juan Carlos Cremata’s El premio flaco; and Daniel Díaz’s Lisanka. Yet, we’ll have to slow down.
For the time being, the moviegoers’ greatest hope is that only those films supported by good scripts will get the go-ahead and the budget they need, at least while the crisis still goes on.
Translation by Walter Lippmann.
Harlem Suarez, Cuban-born citizen, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of attempting to blow up a bomb on a Florida beach and providing material support to the Islamic State group, the US Public Prosecutor’s Office reported today.
Judge José Martínez Suárez stated today that Suárez, 25, must spend the rest of his life in prison, as requested by the prosecution, who had considered Monday that this would be a “totally fair and reasonable” punishment for his crimes.
Suarez was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and to an additional 20 years in prison for trying to provide support to a terrorist group, the prosecutor said.
The prosecution presented the recordings of the defendant’s conversations with the FBI undercover officers, in which they spoke of the explosive device.
Suarez, found guilty last January in a Florida Keys court, said during the trial that he had no real intention of blowing up a bomb, that he felt scared and intimidated by the police and that his interest was only to know, out of curiosity, the way in which the EI operates.
From the outset, defense lawyers tried to evade terrorism charges by arguing that their client has mental problems.
Suarez was arrested in mid-2015 by the FBI after being monitored by this entity since April of that year, when they detected that he had made comments of support to the Islamic State on his Facebook account.
According to the complaint, the Cuban met with an undercover FBI informant on multiple occasions with the intention of carrying out an attack in the country on behalf of the IS after publishing a series of violent messages in favor of the terrorist group on Facebook, under the name “Almlak Benítez”
(With information from EFE)
Revised by Walter Lippmann.
There were hundreds of thousands of people who marched on March 25, 2006 in Los Angeles. / Archive PHOTO: ARCHIVO / JEFF GRACE / IMPREMEDIA
24 MARCH 2017
In 2006 the immigrant community throughout the nation went out massively against the H.R. 4437, the law which was to criminalize all undocumented. Now we live another moment of urgency that requires a similar demonstration of repudiation. The date is 1st. May 1st to denounce and resist against a cruel immigration policy.
Today the situation is much worse than that of 11 years ago.
Before the mobilization was preventive. The purpose was to warn of a threat that appeared to justify the persecution of the undocumented.
Now that threat has become a reality. H.R. 4437 failed, but its designs are being implemented by President Donald Trump more than a decade later.
The president’s campaign rhetoric that relied on anti-immigrant resentment came true with his executive orders. The criteria were extended so that a person could be deported and a freedom of action was given to the agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
The result is a policy that has terrified the Latino community due to its arbitrariness, its methods and its impact on the family.
In cities and states of our country, it is seen that the fear of ICE ‘s aggressive actions, for example, is reducing the attendance of Latinos at church,. And the drop in the number of reported crimes, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse – for fear of deportation – worries Los Angeles police.
There are arrests they make in the courts, in the vicinity of schools and even the Dreamers. These are outrageous as the accounts of separated families and detainees who are not on the list.
This May 1st is the time to protest against this persecution in a coordinated and effective manner, unlike the disorderly “Day without Immigrants” on 16 February.
International Labor Day represented the migrant worker for a long time in the United States. Now the march has ample support from the labor sector which feels the impact of the Trump administration.
We join this protest. To march without fear, not to buy and to support the immigrants that day even if it is with a sign of support in the window of an automobile.
This is the time to resist with all the legal weapons at our disposal. Let’s use them!
By Manuel E. Yepe
Esclusive for Mexican daily POR ESTO!
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
At the onset of the 2016 presidential elections, the elites of the Democratic and Republican parties did not think the issue would be anything but business as usual. The next president of the nation would inevitably have the surname of one of the families who had ruled before: Bush or Clinton; and life in the superpower would continue to be neoliberal capitalist, without changes, as in the last three decades.
But it did not work out that way. It has been consistently shown that, despite the fact that all other elements of power remained the same, the population of the country did not want more of the same. They wanted something new and different in the nation that presumes itself to be a model of democracy for the planet.
Since the previous stage of the process, it became clear that “the oven was not ready for baking” when, within each of the traditional parties, differences were highlighted by unexpected dissent. That made it clear that the phenomenon was not a matter of cosmetic adjustments but of deep surgery. According to the US political qualification patterns, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were identified respectively as “the right of the Right” and “the left of the Left”. They had the support of the Republican and Democrat majorities.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign fell victim to the Democratic party machinery. Insensitive to the expressed tendency, it insisted on the figure of Hillary Clinton who later lost in a fight where she represented the discontented past. The alternative was the billionaire, populist and demagogue Donald Trump. He lacked the determined support of the Republican establishment. Togher with many of the main figures of that machine against him, he was elected despite his proven status as racist, sexist, abusive and systematic target of media mockery.
Although in appearance the bipartisan system of Democrats and Republicans survives, Trump’s victory represents a disaster for the system. The direct and populist style of the now President-elect, appealing to the lowest instincts of certain sectors of society –very different from the usual tone of US politicians– gave him a touch of authenticity in the eyes of the most disaffected sector of the right-wing electorate.
The Republican candidate was able to identify the presence of what can be called a “grassroots rebellion” and the growing gap between the political, economic, intellectual and media elites, on the one side, and the foundation of the conservative electorate, on the other. His rhetoric against Washington and Wall Street captivated the less-educated white voters and sectors impoverished by the effects of economic globalization, which benefited the corporations.
Trump went as far as to say that he was not competing against Hillary but against the dishonest media. This confrontation with media power antagonized the journalistic sector but rallied the support of voters exhausted by corporate media outrages.
Better than anyone else, Trump saw the widening gap between the political, economic, intellectual and media elites, and the base of the conservative electorate.
Trump is not a conventional right-winger. He defines himself as “a conservative with common sense”. He does not oppose the political model, but the politicians who have been running it. His speech is emotional and spontaneous; it appeals to people´s instincts, not to their brains or reason. He speaks for that part of the American people where discouragement and discontent have taken root. He addressed people tired of traditional politics and promised to bring honesty to the system and renew names and attitudes.
The media have given a lot of publicity to his most extreme statements and proposals, such as that he would prohibit Muslims from entering the country, expel the 11 million Latin American undocumented immigrants, and build a three thousand kilometer (1864 miles) border wall –whose $20 billion cost would be borne by the government of Mexico– to prevent the entry of Latin American immigrants.
Criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Trump stated that the marriage of a man and a woman is “the basis of a free society”. He supported so-called “religious freedom¨ laws promoted in several states to deny services to LGBT persons. He said that climate change is a concept “created by and for the Chinese, to make the US manufacturing sector lose competitiveness “.
In truth, it could be said that Trump did not win; instead that it was Hillary Clinton and the Democrats who lost.
November 14, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusivo para el diario POR ESTO! de Mérida, México.
En el preámbulo de las elecciones presidenciales 2016, las élites de los partidos demócrata y republicano no pensaban que el asunto sería algo más que el negocio acostumbrado. El próximo presidente de la nación exhibiría, inevitablemente, el apellido de una de las familias que han gobernado antes, Bush o Clinton, y la vida en la superpotencia de América seguiría siendo capitalista neoliberal, sin grandes cambios, como en las últimas tres décadas.
Pero no resultó así. Quedó fehacientemente demostrado que pese a que todos los demás factores del poder se mantenían iguales, la población del país no quiere más de lo mismo. La gente quería algo nuevo y diferente en la nación que presume de ser modelo de democracia para el planeta.
Ya en la etapa previa del proceso se puso de manifiesto que “el horno no estaba para galleticas” cuando en cada uno de los partidos tradicionales se destacaron disidencias inesperadas que hicieron evidente que el fenómeno no era cosa de ajustes cosméticos sino de cirugía profunda. Donald Trump y Bernie Sanders, identificados respectivamente como “la derecha de la derecha” y “la izquierda de la izquierda”, según los patrones de calificación política
estadounidenses, acapararon el apoyo de las mayorías republicanas y demócratas.
La campaña de Bernie Sanders cayó víctima de la maquinaria del partido demócrata que, insensible a la tendencia manifiesta insistió en la figura de Hillary Clinton que más tarde cayó en una pelea en la que ella representaba precisamente el sufrido pasado. La alternativa era el multimillonario, populista y demagogo Donald Trump quien, sin un resuelto apoyo del establishment republicano y con buena parte de las principales figuras de esa formación política en su contra, y resultó electo pese a su demostrada condición de racista, sexista, abusador y blanco sistemático de burlas en los medios.
Aunque en apariencias sobrevive el sistema bipartidista de demócratas y republicanos, la victoria de Trump ha constituido para éste una verdadera hecatombe. El estilo directo y populachero del ahora Presidente electo, apelando a los bajos instintos de ciertos sectores de la sociedad, muy distinto del tono habitual de los políticos estadounidenses, le ha dado un carácter de autenticidad a los ojos del sector más decepcionado del electorado de derecha.
El candidato republicano supo identificar la presencia de lo que puede llamarse una “rebelión de las bases” y la ruptura cada vez mayor entre las élites políticas, económicas, intelectuales y mediáticas, de una parte, y la base del electorado conservador, de la otra. Su discurso contra Washington y Wall Street cautivó a los electores blancos menos cultos y a los sectores empobrecidos por los efectos de la
globalización económica, beneficiosa para las corporaciones. Trump llegó a decir que él no estaba compitiendo contra Hillary sino contra los deshonestos medios de prensa. Este enfrentamiento al poder mediático le enajenó simpatías en el sector periodístico pero de atrajo apoyo de votantes exhaustos de los desmanes de los medios corporativos de comunicación.
Mejor que nadie, Trump percibió la fractura cada vez más amplia entre las élites políticas, económicas, intelectuales y mediáticas, respecto a la base del electorado conservador.
Trump no es un ultraderechista convencional. Él mismo se define como un “conservador con sentido común”. No censura el modelo político en sí, sino a los políticos que lo han estado orientando. Su discurso es emocional y espontáneo. Apela a los instintos, no al cerebro, ni a la razón. Habla para esa parte del pueblo estadounidense en la que ha cundido el desánimo y el descontento. Se dirige a la gente cansada de la política tradicional y promete traer honestidad al sistema y renovar nombres y actitudes.
Los medios han dado mucha difusión a sus declaraciones y propuestas más extremas, como la de que prohibiría la entrada al país de musulmanes y expulsaría a los 11 millones de inmigrantes ilegales latinos y construiría un muro fronterizo de más de tres mil kilómetros para impedir la entrada de inmigrantes latinoamericanos cuyo costo de unos veinte mil millones de dólares correría a cargo del gobierno de México.
Trump ha declarado que el matrimonio de un hombre y una mujer es “la base de una sociedad libre” al criticar la decisión del Tribunal Supremo que considera un derecho constitucional el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo; ha apoyado las “leyes de libertad religiosa” impulsadas en varios Estados para denegar servicios a las personas LGTB; ha dicho que el cambio climático es un concepto “creado por y para los chinos, para hacer que el sector manufacturero estadounidense pierda competitividad”.
En verdad, podría decirse que Trump no ganó sino que quienes perdieron fueron Hillary Clinton y los demócratas.
Noviembre 14 de 2016.
Revised by Walter Lippmann.
The Swedish Academy, in charge of making the announcement, said it recognized the 75 year-old rock star for “having created new poetic expressions within the great tradition of American song.”
Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told Dylan that “for 54 years he has been inventing himself.”
Blonde on Blonde, his seventh studio album is “an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming, to gather sayings, his brilliant way of thinking,” said Danius.
Dylan, whose real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, was born in 1941 and began his musical career in 1959, playing in cafes in Minnesota, USA
But his best known songs are from the 1960s such as Blowin ‘in the Wind and The Times They are A-Changin, some of which became anthems of the civil rights movement turned and against the Vietnam War.
Since June 7, 1988, Dylan has linked one tour with another, so he named his activity in the last three decades as the Never Ending Tour (The tour endless).
Before being honored by the Academy, Dylan already had industry recognition.
“His work remains totally devoid of conventionality, moral sleight or pop pabulum,” wrote Bill Wyman, the former bassist for the Rolling Stones for the American newspaper The New York Times in 2013.
“His lyricism is exquisite. It is demonstrated that its themes are timeless. Few poets have been more influential” he said.
“I’m not the first to suggest it, but it’s time to take the idea seriously. The Nobel Literature Prize is not awarded posthumously and Mr. Dylan is already in his seventies. Alfred Nobel decreed that the prize should go to a writer with “highlights work in an ideal direction”, he continued.
The Nobel Prize for Literature, together with the winners of the other disciplines, will be presented on December 10.
La Academia Sueca, la encargada de hacer el anuncio, dijo que reconoció a la estrella del rock de 75 años por “haber creado nuevas expresiones poéticas dentro de la gran tradición de la canción estadounidense”.
Sara Danius, secretaria permanente de la Academia Sueca, dijo de Dylan que “durante 54 años ha estado inventándose a sí mismo”.
De Blonde on Blonde, su séptimo disco de estudio, es “un extraordinario ejemplo de su brillante manera de rimar, de juntar refranes, de su brillante forma de pensar”, aseguró Danius.
Dylan, cuyo verdadero nombre es Robert Allen Zimmerman, nació en 1941 y comenzó su carrera musical en 1959, tocando en cafeterías de Minnesota, EE.UU.
Pero sus canciones más conocidas son de la década de 1960, como Blowin’ in the Wind y The Times They are A-Changin, algunas de las cuales se volvieron himnos del movimiento por los derechos civiles y contra la guerra de Vietnam.
Desde el 7 de junio de 1988, Dylan ha enlazado una gira con otra, por lo que él mismo bautizó su actividad de las últimas tres décadas como el Never Ending Tour (La gira sin fin).
Reconocimiento de la industria
Antes de ser distinguido por la Academia, Dylan ya contaba con el reconocimiento de la industria.
“Su trabajo se mantiene totalmente carente de convencionalidad, prestidigitación moral o pábulo pop”, escribía Bill Wyman, el exbajista de los Rolling Stones para el diario estadounidense The New York Times en 2013.
“Su lirismo es exquisito. Está demostrado que sus temas son eternos. Pocos poetas habrán sido más influyentes”, explicaba.
“No soy el primero en sugerirlo, pero es hora de tomar la idea en serio. El Premio Nobel de Literatura no se otorga de forma póstuma y el señor Dylan ya está en sus setentas. Alfred Nobel decretó que el premio debía ir a un escritor con “el trabajo más destacado en una dirección ideal”, proseguía.
El Nobel de Literatura, al igual que los ganadores de las otras disciplinas, será entregado el 10 de diciembre.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The main utility of presidential elections in the US is simply that it’s a weapon of mass distraction –creating a fiction that presidents actually rule and that voters actually determine the country’s destiny.
In truth, presidents and their minions in Congress and the Supreme Court may govern, but they certainly don’t rule. Elections serve to transfer power from one set of elites to another set of elites, cloaking the spectacle in democratic legitimacy, as the ruling class watch from their corporate suites, pleased with the quadrennial national consensus-building bread & circus event.
This is how Gerald Sussman, a sociologist and Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, defines the US electoral system in his essay “American Elections: Weapons of Mass Distraction”.
If Bernie Sanders had managed to capture the largest number of delegates, the nomination, and the election, it simply would have left a democratic socialist in the White House with all the levers of power intact to discipline him back to what Noam Chomsky has called “the spectrum of thinkable thought.”
“Indeed –wrote Sussman– if the ruling class were a bit wiser, they would have backed Bernie instead of Hillary for the nomination and the presidency just to crush the hopes of the left. The real value of the Sanders campaign was to incite courage in young people to confront the establishment. A Clinton victory in November might bring thousands of protesters into the streets, but a Trump victory would probably bring millions.”
The designation, in recent conventions, of two of the presidential candidates most despised by the activists and supporters of their own parties –Democratic and Republican respectively– has placed millions of voters between the proverbial rock and a hard place before the presidential election on November 8th.
They are equally forced to choose between Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D), the lesser of two evils.
Driven by the fallacy that democracy consists of choosing between the two options offered by the two-party system (duopoly) there must be many in the United States today who believe that the small number of options offered is to be blamed for this situation, and think a multiplicity of parties would be the solution.
But soon enough they learn of the existence of many countries where there are multiple parties (dozens and even hundreds), and the situation is the same: power always remains in the hands of rich, who govern for the benefit of the rich.
Historically in the US, whenever an upstart candidate has emerged, having somehow managed to infiltrate the system to the point of seriously jeopardizing the duopolistic control of power (as happened with Jesse Jackson in 1988, Ross Perot in 1992, Ralph Nader and Howard Dean in 2004 and to some extent Bernie Sanders in 2016), they have been confronted by the money, the means and the Machiavellian methods of pressure which, in the end, prove insurmountable, although for some time they serve as a distraction for their followers.
As journalist Barbara G. Ellis has noted on the Truthout website, Bernie Sanders became a monumental threat to the Democratic nomination with demonstrations of tens of thousands of potential voters across the country. Volunteers, mostly young people, vastly outnumbered those of Clinton.
Simultaneously, Trump, with his rallies and wins in the primaries, seemed to be in the same situation with respect to the Republican machinery.
Just as anguish and despair become increasingly pressing for the destitute masses in the world and foreshadow an inevitable popular uprising at a global scale, within the US, the contradiction between the 1% that dominates everything and the 99% who can no longer be fooled by the myths and tricks of representative democracy controlled by the rich becomes more acute.
The experience gathered from the ongoing electoral process in the US clearly shows that small cosmetic changes are not enough to make the current system work. Neither new parties or structural changes in the existing ones, nor unstable coalitions will be able to save the system. The problem lies in the unjust nature of the capitalist system itself that, by its current imperialist nature, hinders the democratic development of the nation and oppresses its citizens.
August 16, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
The surprising successes of Bernie Sanders on the left flank and Donald Trump on the right flank –in part, believed to owe something to the new positions of the “white working class” in the US– have sparked new interest within the political outlook of the nation.
So writes Zoltan Zigedy, a prominent American Marxist political commentator in his “ZZ” column.
The Wall Street Journal calls them the “forgotten Americans.” Others see them as racist and xenophobic. In 2008, then-aspiring-President Obama characterized them way: “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration.” Whether they are forgotten, dismissed, or demonized, the “white working class” has been discovered this election season.
Even a decade ago, it was widely believed that there was no working class in the US –only a vast middle class and the poor. Fostered by social scientists, mainstream politicians, and trade union functionaries, the fiction prevailed that, apart from the very rich, everyone was either middle class or poor.
Of course, this illusion began to shatter in the wake of the 2008 crash and the ensuing economic stagnation. Likewise, the rebellion against corporate, cookie-cutter candidates in the 2016 primary contests exposed a class division that fit poorly in the harmonious picture of one big class with insignificant extremes at either end.
Whatever else the 2016 electoral campaigns have revealed, they certainly have shattered the illusion that the US is largely a classless society. But US elites and their opinion-making toadies struggle to find the “white working class,” says Zigedy.
Just as the mass media has fostered caricatures of African-Americans, the media and cultural/entertainment corporations craft an unflattering image of white, working class citizens. Whereas Black people are saddled with images of violence, idleness, promiscuity, and criminality, white workers are portrayed as bigoted, socially, culturally and intellectually backward, superstitious, and conservative.
One would never know from the “hood” movies, talk radio hysteria, and the crime-obsessed news anchors, that most African-Americans are a significant part of the working class, maintain stable households, and work diligently for a better life. Similarly, most white workers are neither gun fanatics nor Bible-thumpers. Most white workers do not attack gays, abuse their spouses and children, torch mosques or lynch Black people.
According to Zigedy, the common perception dished out by the mass media is that white workers constitute the electoral base for Donald Trump, when the truth is that the median household income for his primary voters shows that Trump’s followers are more typical of the white petty-bourgeoisie than the white working class.
Certainly media elites, pundits, and politicians do not want to talk about the latent rebelliousness of the white working class. There is a large majority of white workers who believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. This is an opinion that should not surprise anyone since the median household income in the US has declined by 7% since 2000.
The current crisis of political credibility shows that they, like most of the rest of the population, have yet to find a way out.
Social scientists have begun to acknowledge the toll that corporate pillage has taken on the working class, very dramatically of late in the case of the white working class.
Death rates, especially from alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide have risen sharply among white workers. The institutions that formerly traded a measure of privilege to white workers for their compliance and docility have now abandoned them.
According to Zigedy, the Democratic Party, for example, is so thoroughly corrupted by corporate money that when a benefit or privilege is wiped out linked to interracial prejudice, false friends and bombastic demagogues, enemies of the working class, take the opportunity and use it to mask the identity of the common enemy and thus weaken the unity in the ranks of U.S. workers.
August 13, 2016.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Today increasingly-substantial financial resources are being invested in the creation of new technologies of war and weapons of mass destruction, though there isn’t the least defensive justification for it in the conditions of the post-Cold War world.
Europe, which benefited so much from the conquest and colonization of America, Africa and Asia, has been responsible for dragging the world into two global wars. The so-called old continent should have made a supreme effort to avoid catastrophes like those in the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, as well as the criminal extermination actions which for many years have been perpetrated by the Zionist forces against the martyred Palestinian people, to mention only the bloodiest.
Only 19 years elapsed between the first and second world wars. World War II ended 71 years ago. However, since then there have been conflicts and wars that have employed several times more explosives and chemical weapons than both world wars together.
The policy of allocating more massive budgets for war and lowering taxes for the more powerful contributors means less money for social expenditures. This does not affect the entire US population equally. Neo-liberal practices, together with globalization, ensure that the rich continue to increase their wealth while the poor continue to grow in number and become increasingly poorer.
In the United States, federal programs for education, community development, grants to agencies for environmental protection, financing for development, low-cost alternative energy, disease control, drug abuse treatment, health and occupational security management, as well as public safety are reduced or eliminated; this list includes only the most recently and hardest hit areas.
The United States presents the paradox of being the richest country in the world
and at the same time it has one of the highest indices of poverty among developed countries. The US currently has, proportionally, the largest number of poor people without health insurance, yet with insecurity and food deficiency among the rich countries.
These sad social realities for the people of the United States, caused by imperialist wars in terms of soldier casualties and injuries, cannot compare, however, with the enormous damage that these disproportionate wars have meant for the attacked peoples.
The farcical excuses presented by the United States, first, to justify the occupation and, then, to save face in view of the evidence of a lost war, have been grotesque.
This happens when Washington cannot find a way out of the attacked countries without obtaining substantial economic benefits for the transnational monopolies that were the real reason for the aggression in the first place.
The noble aspiration of mankind to make the twenty-first century the first in history without wars died early. Against the accumulation of hardships, atrocities, cruelties and sacrifices that characterize the reality of war, the struggle of humanity for peace becomes a vital necessity.
Humanity today has sufficient culture and experience to reject the notion that peace must be imposed by war. Peace can and must be a conscious objective of human intelligence and solidarity.
It has been said many times that the people of the United States are the only ones who can carry out the titanic feat of bringing down the most powerful and bloodthirsty empire ever known to humanity. Today, humanity anxiously waiting to see that people react to give it the solidarity it deserves!
These days, people around the world have been able to follow, sometimes with disgust, the process of elections that every four years takes place in the United States.
On this occasion, however, new and striking manifestations of the profound crisis that engulfs the political system of the only superpower of this era have become apparent.
The campaign of the Republican candidate Donald Trump has allowed everyone to see, in all its crudeness, the terrible fascist danger that looms over humanity. By contrast, the Democratic Party candidate, Bernard Sanders, had encouraging messages that had never before been heard from within the highest echelons of imperialist politics.
July 28, 2016.