Charlie Brooker’s Ode to the Sun

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun have carried out many a witch hunt, but never hunted witches. Here Brooker explains his inspiration for the poem.

And here is The Three Belles rendition:

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An immeasurable loss

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Christopher Lydon of the excellent Radio Open Source pays tribute to Anythony Shadid.

The death of the reporter Anthony Shadid in Syria — apparently of an acute asthma attack — is a tragic blow to our hope of grasping the Arab turmoil, also to the flickering idea of straight journalism. Three dimensions of our loss come immediately to mind. First, Anthony Shadid (with Nir Rosen on my honor roll) was the rarest instance of a mainstream reporter who gave some of his heart to people on the ground suffering through war in Iraq and chaos in North Africa. Second, in Iraq where he’d won two Pulitzers, he framed his work in the understanding that what American force was about was not liberating Iraq, much less democratizing it, but about destroying a country. Third, he had the temerity to speak with us about one further tragedy: that the honored brand of journalism he practiced had shockingly little impact on American consciousness…

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Silence as Bahraini children are stabbed and gassed

February 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

by Tighe Barry

As part of an observer delegation in Bahrain with the peace group Code Pink, I visited the village of Bani Jamrah with local Bahraini human rights activists.

In one of the many horrific cases we heard, a 17-year-old boy Hasan, his friend and his 8-year-old brother left their home to go to the grocery store. As they were entering the store they noticed some other youngsters running. Fearing the police would be following them, they decided to wait in the store. The 8 year old hid behind a refrigerator. The police entered the store with face masks on. They grabbed the older boys, pulling them out of the store and into the street.

Once outside the shop the police began to beat them with their sticks and hit them on the head, shouting obscenities and accusations. The police were accusing them of having been involved with throwing Molotov cocktails, asking over and over “Where are the Molotov cocktails?”

The four policemen, all masked and wearing regulation police uniforms, took turns beating the boys while one was instructed to keep watch to make sure no one was video taping. They seemed to be very concerned that there be no witnesses. Quickly, they forced the boys into the waiting police car. Inside the police vehicle was another youth about 18 who appeared to be “Muhabharat,” or plain-clothes police thugs associated with many dictatorships in the Middle East.

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From Liberation to Assassination

February 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army Colonel, Boston University professor, author of Washington Rules, and editor most recently of The Short American Century, talks about the changing face of the so-called global war on terror. Also check his scorecard for the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism.

Wislawa Szymborska, R.I.P

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

The great Polish poet and Nobel laureate is no more. Katha Pollit of The Nation pays tribute

In the way that you can be surprised when someone dies, no matter how rationally foreseeable the death is, I was startled to open my New York Times on February 2 and find an obituary for Wislawa Szymborska, the great Polish poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1996. Only 88, I wanted to say. Much too young.

Szymborska’s poems are mostly short, and her output was not voluminous—only around 400 published poems. And yet, she is one of the few contemporary poets you can call beloved and not have it be a condescension or an insult. In The New York Review of Books Charles Simic called her poems “poetry’s equivalent of expository writing,” which captures their accessibility, their logical clarity and their interest in facts (especially odd ones), stories, things and people, but doesn’t convey their charm or vitality. Expository writing is, after all, a required class for college freshmen—the opposite of fun, dazzle, originality, pathos. For me, Szymborska’s signature quality is the way she puts tragedy and comedy, the unique and the banal, the big and the little, the remembering and the forgetting, right next to each other and shows us that this is what life is:

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick
themselves up, after all.

Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.

—from “The End and the Beginning”

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Washington’s war in Yemen Backfires

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Jeremy Scahill discusses his new front page story for The Nation.

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Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

David Frost speaks to Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence and Paul Krugman on the private debt crisis.

Many Scots now want to leave the UK, but will it be enough to win a referendum on independence in 2014? Sir David Frost speaks to the man who has led the movement for independence, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond.

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