Baltimore, Maryland. April 1943:
I thought this might be appropriate today, but now (thank goodness) it can be....ironic or something? It's lovely, anyway:
From 1960, celebrating the end of the Belgian Congo and the birth of (what's now) the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Performed by Joseph Kabasele, aka Le Grand Kallé.
As a prominent Congolese cultural figure, Le Grand Kallé and his band, African Jazz, were chosen to accompany the Congolese delegation to Brussels, Belgium for the Congolese Round Table Conference on Congolese independence in early 1960.
The song was written on the 20 January 1960 and first played at the Hotel Plaza in Brussels on 27 January 1960.
It was sung by Vicky Longomba and Nico Kasanda played the guitar. For the first performance of the song at the conference, Le Grand Kallé brought together four musicians from his own band, L'African Jazz (Kasanda, Roger Izeidi, Pierre Yatula and Déchaud Mwamba) along with two members of the rival band, OK Jazz (Longomba and Armando Brazzos).
The song's lyrics called for unity in the post-independence Congo between the different factions and prominent figures of the nationalist movement in the Congo.
A group of seven Iranian men and women who created and starred in their own version of a video for Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ have each been given suspended sentences of prison time and 91 lashes.
he fun-loving friends were arrested in May after posting their homemade music video ‘Happy in Tehran’ to YouTube.
They were forced to publicly confess and apologise on national television before being released on bail, with police chief Hossein Sajedinia warning others that the video was “a vulgar clip” which “hurt public chastity”.
Their lawyer Farshid Rofugaran told English-language Iranian news outlet IranWire that six of the group were yesterday given six months in prison and 91 lashes, while a seventh – the Director of the video – was also given 91 lashes but one year in jail. The sentences are suspended for three years.
“A suspended sentence becomes null and void after a certain period of time,” he said.
“When it’s a suspended sentence, the verdict is not carried out, but if during this period a similar offense is committed, then the accused is subject to legal punishment and the suspended sentence will then be carried out as well.”
In Iran there's only one way to deal with that:
A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014.
Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi’s wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.
“The way he was arrested was illegal. It is not clear how the agents were able to enter their home at that time in the morning. All the doors were locked and family members were asleep. Agents entered his home and bedroom. He and his wife were arrested and some of their photographs and personal belongings were taken after their home was searched,” said the source.
“Soheil had eight Facebook pages under different names, and he was charged with insulting the Imams and the Prophet because of the contents of those pages. He has accepted his charges, but throughout the trial, he stated that he wrote the material without thinking and in poor psychological condition,” the source told the Campaign.
The source noted that the Tehran Penal Court issued its ruling without regard for Article 264 of the Islamic Penal Code. “Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states that if a person insults the Prophet of Islam, his punishment is death. But in Article 264, it explicitly says that if a suspect merely claims in court that he said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes. I would like to emphasize that if only the suspect claims this, he will not be eligible for death, and there is no need to even prove his claim,” added the source.
“Unfortunately, despite this Article and the explanations provided, the judges issued the death sentence. They didn’t even take any notice of Soheil’s statements in court in which he repeated several times that he wrote the posts under poor [psychological] conditions, and that he is remorseful. Three of the judges ruled for the death sentence, and two ruled for imprisonment,” said the source.
Here's former Jordanian MP Sheik Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Zant, on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) earlier this month:
We have to understand the true nature of the Jews, because the entire world is deceived and tormented by them. The Holy Koran has revealed their true nature, as expressed by our masters, the prophets. […]
One could go on forever about the deceptiveness of the Jews. They are liars. They allow cannibalism, and the eating of human flesh. Check their Talmud and religious sources. On their religious holidays, if they cannot find a Muslim to slaughter, and use drops of his blood to knead the matzos they eat, they slaughter a Christian in order to take drops of his blood, and mix it into the matzos that they eat on that holiday.
Quite a charmer, this guy. Here he is, again on Hamas TV, in 2012:
The responsibility for the complete liberation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus – and I emphasize this on purpose… It is a duty incumbent upon us and upon the Christian world in the West.
They do not realize this, because alcohol, syphilis, gonorrhea, and AIDS have made them forget all these values, I’m sad to say. And let’s not forget usury…
Former Jordanian MP? Apparently so. A Google search brings up this extract from a 1999 book, which refers to him as a "prominent Jordanian parliamentarian" from the Muslim Brotherhood. Not a fringe figure, then...
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, top, and asteroid Lutetia:
From a gallery at In Focus on the European Space Agency's Rosetta and her 10-year journey.
The Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko photograph was taken from a distance of 177 miles on August 3, 2014. The comet measures approximately 2.5 miles along its longest axis.
Rosetta passed Lutetia in 2010.
The North Koreans seem to be somewhat rattled about the devastating UN Human Rights report that came out earlier this year. Or at least, with the loomimg prospect of a meeting at the UN which John Kerry is expected to attend (!), they feel it necessary to mount some kind of counter attack. So they've issued their very own Human Rights report, and, after extensive research, are able to reveal to the world that, contrary to the UN findings, the North Korean people are in fact blessed with the " world's most advantageous human rights system".
From the official KCNA:
Wild rumors and fictions about the DPRK are afloat in the international community due to the hostile forces' despicable human rights racket to slander and hurt the DPRK.
Under this situation the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies released a report on human rights performance in the country to help the public properly know about the efforts exerted by the DPRK to protect and promote human rights and about the actual human rights performance and lay bare the false and reactionary nature of the reckless anti-DPRK "human rights" racket kicked up by the hostile forces and thus wipe out the prejudice and misunderstanding.
The five-chapter all-inclusive report was worked out with the cooperation among several domestic institutions and NGO organizations, academic institutions and human rights experts in various fields....
The release of the study report on the human rights situation in the country is an indication of its will to creditably fulfill its responsibility in the field of human rights and a positive measure to promote international cooperation.
The report will help clearly understand how false and unrealistic the rumors about the DPRK floated by hostile forces on the basis of fabrications.
The major source of misinformation about human rights performance in the DPRK are "testimonies" notably made by anti-DPRK fanatics who defected from the north. Those who cook up groundless stories about human rights to get a petty amount of money are without exception criminals who fled to the south for fear of facing a legal punishment after committing indelible crimes in their hometowns and immoral guys who are disqualified to talk about human rights.
Their inhuman nature will be disclosed sooner or later.
Whoever echoes what was uttered by the riff-raffs even after reading the report released by the Association must be imbeciles lacking the ability to judge the reality or tricksters seeking to attain sinister purposes even by making far-fetched assertions.
The U.S. and other Western countries should not pull up the DPRK over its human rights but face up to the situation as it is and repent of their own poor human rights records.
The DPRK will continue to exert its utmost efforts to foil the anti-DPRK human rights campaign of the hostile forces and meet all their challenges, step up the peaceful economic construction, steadily improve the people's living standard and thus provide the people with better conditions for enjoying their rights.
The report will help set right the wrong views by widely introducing the DPRK's human rights policies and situation and contribute to promoting genuine cooperation in the field of human rights.
So now we know.
The 2014 Asian Games, hosted by Incheon, South Korea, kick off this week. Much of the pre-Games news has focused on the will-they-won't-they saga of the North Korean cheering squad. At the moment it seems they won't be appearing, but given the North's penchant for drama and petulance, we may not have heard the last on that particular story. At the Daily NK there's a round-up of the North's previous track record:
North Korea first competed in the 7th Asian Games held in Tehran in 1974. Since then, it has taken part in the 1978 Bangkok Games, 1982 New Delhi, 1990 Beijing, 1998 Bangkok, 2002 Busan, 2006 Doha, and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. During these times, it has presented the world with a number of unexpected, or rather controversial moves.
During its first participation in the Games in 1974, North Korea’s weightlifting champion, Kim Jong Il, who snatched three medals, later tested positive in a doping test. He was stripped from his rights to compete and lost all medals. These became the first medals to be stripped from an athlete at the Asian Games due to doping.
Pyongyang strongly denied the results and refused to concede. In the end, North Korea fell behind South Korea in overall performance and finished fifth.
In the next 1978 Bangkok Asian Games, it was a North Korean assistant umpire, not an athlete, who made headlines. During a basketball game between Japan and Malaysia, the North’s assistant umpire, Lah Bok Man, refused to take his post, saying he would not work with South Korea’s Lee Jae Deok, appointed as umpire for the match. The problem was only resolved after a Thai assistant umpire replaced Lah.
North Korea also made news when its football team assaulted an umpire during the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games, after its team lost in the semi-finals to Kuwait, three to two. Its cheering squad also broke loose into the field, creating mayhem. As a result, the national team was slapped with a heavy penalty from The Asian Football Confederation--a two-year ban from participating in international games.
The country has also used the Games as a political tool. In 1986, when South Korea first hosted the Asian Games, Pyongyang announced it would boycott the Games. Other countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, South Yemen, Syria, and Cambodia also followed suit. During the 1994 Hiroshima Games, North Korea pulled out, saying it was because Tokyo had demanded athletes from the communist country to receive visas.
In 2002, during the administration of South Korea’s President Kim Dae Jung, known for his policy of engagement with Pyongyang, North Korea took a proactive stance in competing in the Asian Games held in the southern port city of Busan. Pyongyang sent a delegation of 316 [including 184 athletes] to compete in 18 events and a cheering squad of 280. This marked the first time the North took part in an international event hosted in the South since the two countries were divided.
A number of puzzling incidents arose with North Korea’s participation in the Busan Games. For example, the South’s Shooting Federation provided the North’s athletes with some 50,000 rounds of practice ammunition. The team was later caught at customs trying to depart the country with some 40,000 unused rounds. Seoul was also asked to fill up the tanks of North Korea’s ferry, Mangyongbong, on which its delegation arrived. Pyongyang claimed it did not have enough fuel to sail back to Wonsan, Gangwon Province, in the North.
Due to the North’s track record at the Asian Games, there is concern that Pyongyang may pull another ‘stunt’ in Incheon....
Watch this space.
Michael Totten, on keeping clear-eyed about military intervention against ISIS:
Let’s not kid ourselves. ISIS — or ISIL as the President calls it — is cancerous. And it is not a benign tumor. It is metastasizing and will not stop growing stronger and deadlier until it is dealt with aggressively and, at the absolute minimum, contained.
Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, would quite possibly have fallen a couple of weeks ago if the U.S. hadn’t halted an ISIS advance with a series of air strikes.
As we wade back in, it behooves those of us who support military action to be honest about two big things.
First: There will be no clear end. We fought these guys before, when they called themselves Al Qaeda in Iraq. They ruled much of the same territory they currently hold until U.S. forces, in alliance with the Sunni tribes, ran the bastards out on greased rails.
They disappeared into the shadows and stayed there for years, not daring to pop up their psychotic heads until Assad lost ground next door to a ragtag rebellion. We could defeat them all over again this year, and they’ll spring back in 2015 or 2016, perhaps in the same place and perhaps somewhere else.
Just because this is going to be a very long fight doesn’t mean it’s an unnecessary one.
Yes, it’s true, ISIS or no ISIS, there’s virtually no chance the U.S. has the power to turn Iraq or Syria into Belgium. But so what? We don’t have to. All we have to do is back a third faction that can weaken ISIS and Assad so they don’t become even bigger menaces than they already are.
Supporters of deeper U.S. engagement must also acknowledge that American efforts could easily fail. The “moderates” may prove to be an impotent force, especially since Washington sat on the sidelines for so long while ISIS grew into a behemoth. It’s also possible that the “moderates” will prove to be insufficiently moderate and give us no shortage of headaches and regrets down the road.
But you wage a proxy war with the proxies you have, and the fact that it might not work out is no reason to play golf while the problem festers.
This is obvious now, if not to everyone, then at least to the President and leaders of both political parties. When the downsides of interventionism pile up, as they did after Iraq and Afghanistan proved so disappointing, we swing toward isolationism.
And when the downsides of isolationism become harder to ignore, which is happening now that ISIS is blitzkrieging its way across the region, we swing back again. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Don’t get too bent out of shape if this bothers you. The cycle will begin anew and we’ll reverse course yet again. Because Syria and Iraq aren’t the only unfixable countries. The entire Middle East has been a disaster for thousands of years and, even if the U.S. does everything right, there’s no chance whatsoever that it will change any time soon.
"An environmental activist confronts a riot policeman securing a construction site in the Sivens forest, as clearing started in preparation of the Sivens dam construction, near Gaillac, in the Tarn region of France...."
I'm not sure why the eco-warrior here thought that the wearing of a red lid over his nose somehow increased the power and dignity of his protest, but no doubt he had his reasons.
Here's Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, speaking on Egyptian TV. This is no fringe figure: Al-Tayyeb is the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar University, and "considered to be one of the most moderate Sunni clerics in Egypt". He holds a Ph. D in Islamic philosophy from the Paris-Sorbonne University. Oh yes.
All the [fundamentalist terrorist groups] are the new products of imperialism, in the service of global Zionism in its new version, and its plot to destroy the [Middle] East and tear region apart. Our evidence for this is the Western American hesitancy and foot-dragging in confronting these terrorist organizations, as compared with the Western onslaught on the Iraqi state in 2003, for example, and the disbanding of the Iraqi army in record time and under fabricated reasons and false pretexts, as well as the providing of justifications that lead one to believe that the people there [the West] interpret security, peace, and human rights to be nothing other than their own peace and security, and human rights exclusively for the whites. [...]
Europe and America have decided to heed the Saudi-Egyptian warning, although the Western move issued from the womb of personal motives and necessities, and not, sadly, from the womb of human principles and universal values.