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Saturday Art: Edward Snowden’s New Gig in Russia?

10:27 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Ed Snowden? - trumpeter closeup

This news item from The Voice of Russia late this week may be misleading:

Former CIA contractor Edward Snowden is planning to take a job in Russia in the near future, lawyer and head of a Public Chamber commission Anatoly Kucherena said on Thursday.

He did not specify the field Snowden had chosen to enter. “No comments, but as soon as he makes a decision, we will say it at once,” Kucherena promised.

Watching a recent performance of the excellent St. Peterburg-based Mariinsky Orchestra Friday, I was sort of blown away, looking at the trumpet section.  It seemed as if the soloist was a look-alike of Edward Snowden:

Edward Snowden's new gig?

Actually, the player who looks more than a little like Snowden, is chief soloist for the Mariinsky Orchestra, Sergei Kryuchkov, one of the finer orchestral trumpeters alive today.

Last week, Kryuchkov and his fellow players in the Mariinsky gave a set of New York concerts in Carnegie Hall.  The ensemble, and particularly its music director and conductor, Valery Gergiev, were greeted with protests from LBGTQ activists:

New York, NY (October 10, 2013) — Tonight, four members of the LGBT rights group Queer Nation disrupted the performance of the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by world-renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, demanding that Gergiev oppose the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians and that Russia end its war on LGBT Russians.

Queer Nation members chanted, “Gergiev, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays!” before the Carnegie Hall performance began. The protesters, who were met mostly with applause but also with some boos, were led away by security guards. There were no arrests.

Gergiev, the artistic and general director at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, is a longtime Putin friend and supporter. Gergiev has been honored by the Russian government and by the Russian Orthodox Church, both of which championed Russia’s anti-gay laws. Gergiev campaigned for Putin in 2012. The Mariinsky Theatre has received hundreds of millions of rubles from the Russian government.

“Valery Gergiev should not be able to perform without being called out for his vocal support of Russia’s anti-gay president,” said John Weir, one of the protesters. “Gergiev’s silence about Putin’s anti-gay laws is killing lesbian and gay Russians. We’re here to break that silence.”
Earlier in the evening, Queer Nation protested in front of Carnegie Hall. Demonstrators, including several Russian gay men and women, carried a 60-foot rainbow flag that read “Support Russian Gays” and held placards. Protestors also handed out informational flyers to arriving audience members and passersby.

On October 4, Queer Nation wrote to Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, asking that Carnegie Hall condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians. He declined, adding that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.”

I’m in strong disagreement with the notion that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.”  Cultural institutions such as the Mariinsky Orchestra, by receiving State funding, are reflections, however indirect, of State policy.  The Israel Philharmonic, which is State supported, has been disrupted occasionally by audience members protesting inhumane treatment of Palestinians: Read the rest of this entry →

My Gatwick Detention Under the UK’s Section 7 of TA 2000

3:40 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

London police outside the event that got me questioned

On Guy Fawkes Day, 2005, I was politely approached by three un-uniformed members of the British secret service. One asked me if he could ask questions regarding my two-week-plus stay in London.

My wife and I had checked in, checked our baggage, and were headed on a restaurant hunt in the area close to our gate. We had arrived early, to make sure our public transportation links from Newington Green to Gatwick had cushion.

The young officer was affable, and I accepted his invitation to leave my wife and join them in the empty area of seats we had been getting close to when the encounter began.

I had been in London for rehearsals and performance of a somewhat controversial musical composition we had premiered on November 1st, 2005, at the Hackney Empire. The officers knew about the news articles and BBC coverage of the concert. They appeared to know where I had been staying – at the house of a member of our sponsoring group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians. They appeared to know that the cultural attache from the U.S. Embassy had been at the concert and had spoken with me afterward for a long time. They appeared to know I had had two beers with Parliamentarian Clare Short.

They didn’t appear to know what my new friends and I had discussed.

Had the lead man — he didn’t give me a card — been pushy or impolite, I might have felt uncomfortable in this confrontation with authorities from a political system without our Bill of Rights. He seemed to sympathize with the viewpoint my music had been driven by, which got me to think he and his small squad had been sent on their merry mission by someone with an agenda he deemed unimportant or silly. On the other hand, he was a suave pro. On the other other hand, I had run a large correctional facility once, and always am wary for a charismatic con.

One guy took the lead. His partner wrote copiously in a notebook. The third guy kept trying to look around as discreetly as you can do that. He wasn’t very good.

They were all in their late 20s or early 30s. They didn’t ask for my phone, laptop or camera, let alone passwords. The lead cop shook my hand when I offered it at the end of the 42-minute interview.

When they walked away and I found my wife nearby, she asked, “What was that all about – as if I can’t guess?”

“They were nice. They knew about everything that has been published about the concert, and some of what we’ve been doing here, but seemed to be reluctantly doing something someone else made them do.”

“I thought we might miss our plane,” she mused.

I laughed, and told Ms. ET, “It was cool to be questioned by them here on Guy Fawkes Day. Too bad we have to leave before tonight’s fireworks.”

Obama to Join Pussy Riot on Moscow Stage in Snub to Putin

11:09 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

If only.

Pussy Riot Painting

Obama joins Pussy Riot … never

However, the Obama administration is in a dilemma over what to do about the scheduled September Moscow meeting between the leaders of the United States and Russia:

The White House is deliberately leaving it vague as to whether President Barack Obama will attend talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin if the saga involving former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is unresolved.

Putin has invited Obama for face-to-face talks in Moscow ahead of a St. Petersburg summit in September with leaders of the G20 nations, and the White House announced on June 17 that Obama would both attend the summit and go to the Russian capital.

But that announcement was before Snowden fled to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 to avoid facing U.S. espionage charges for revealing details about secret U.S. surveillance programs involving phone and Internet data.

Snowden, stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, has since applied for temporary asylum in Russia, putting Moscow further on the spot. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Putin would not be the one making the decision.

Pressed on Wednesday on whether Obama will still go on the Moscow part of the trip, White House spokesman Jay Carney was vague.

“I have no further announcements on our travel to Russia. The president intends to go to Russia in September,” he said.

An Obama decision not to go to attend talks with Putin would register his displeasure with the Russian leader’s refusal thus far to expel Snowden back to the United States.

Although I’m among those who regard Edward Snowden as a whistleblower, there is irony in him relying on the same Vladimir who showed such a heavy hand in 2012′s conviction of two Pussy Riot members to severe prison terms, including “hard labor.”

While the two members of the punk rock collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, remain in hard labor penile penal colonies until March, 2014, the collective has just posted a new video. Highly critical of questionable ties between the Putin administration and some of Russia’s oil oligarchs, the video and its song have made the news:

The song itself has been posted and re-posted several places.  Here is the entire video, with its song, Like a Red Prison:

Here is link to a photo essay-diary posted by Pussy Riot, about the new song.

Here are the lyrics:

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

The country has hardly mastered
Mechanized labor.
More and more often when I’m working hard —
I am rude — don’t know if it’s appropriate.

Local activists flow down the pipeline,
Filling it with life and calling for destruction!
Federal Penitentiary Service, Interior Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry, and Rosnano,
LUKoil, TNK, Rosneft, and Gazprom,

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

Get registration,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Oil on the tables,
Sechin with crocodiles,
Like in a red prison.

Bathe the worker in the Norwegian fjord,
Cut off your penis like the Depardieu character,
You have a president like IranвАЩs ayatollah,
And your church is like it is in the U.A.E.

So, let everything be like it is in Qatar,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Pumping till its dry,
A physics university teaches theology,
Epaulettes and oil wells,
Navalny in jail,
Hugo Chavez lives,
Like in a red prison.

Evil fucking sexist, leave the hole alone!

Homophobic vermin, out from history!

Don’t fuck with her pussycat,
She spends oil on something else.
In the Mordovian days’ quiet,
She makes salads and sometimes eats them.

Art like this begs several questions, like:

1).  Do they need a better lead singer?

2).  Will they address the Snowden affair next?

3).  When will such a prominent American punk group or collective tackle nasty oil politics so ardently?

4).  How long will it be before American indy bands, or even some mainstream groups begin writing about Snowden, or – more importantly – what the post-Snowden information cascades are revealing about our totally disappeared privacy and 4th Amendment?

Read the rest of this entry →

Breaking: Venezuela’s President Offers Edward Snowden Political Asylum

4:28 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Street Graffiti of Snowden

Will Edward Snowden be able to take refuge in Venezuela?

RT News and other – mostly Latin American – sources are reporting that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has offered Edward Snowden political asylum in his country.  Reuters now has a story up in English:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

Snowden is believed to be holed up in the transit area of a Moscow international airport.

Now, how will they get him to Caracas safely?

Read the rest of this entry →

From the Shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 to the Aerial Interdiction of President Evo Morales – 25 Years

11:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

image – crew of USS Vincennes monitoring radar – c. 1988

As Bolivian President Evo Morales sits marooned in a Vienna airport on the dawn of July 3rd, 2013, having possibly avoided aerial interception over the Atlantic Ocean by U.S. fighters or missiles, it might be fitting to think about the fate of Iran Ar Flight 655, 25 years ago today (emphases added):

Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On 3 July 1988, at the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the aircraft serving the flight, an Airbus A300B2-203, was shot down by U.S. missiles fired by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz.

The aircraft, which had been flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, was destroyed. All 290 onboard, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished. Ranking seventh among the deadliest disasters in aviation history, the incident retains the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world. The Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.

According to the United States Government, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter (a plane made in the United States and operated at that time by only two forces worldwide, the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force). The Iranian government maintains that Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft.

The event generated a great deal of controversy and criticism of the United States.

Twenty five years later, we have another event that is quickly generating criticism of the USA – the forcing down of the aircraft flying the president of Bolivia back to his home state, after attending a conference of natural gas exporters last week, in Moscow (NOTE - if you are on a US military base overseas, you will not be able to link to the article quoted next.  To attempt to do so may lead to an investigation of you, so just read the excerpt, OK):

Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said Snowden was not on the plane. The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said: “We don’t know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.”

In a midnight press conference, Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia said Italy and Spain were also denying the plane permission to fly through their airspace. He described Morales as being “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.

“The ambassador for Spain in Austria has just informed us that there is no authorisation to fly over Spanish territory and that at 9am Wednesday they would be in contact with us again,” defence minister Ruben Saavedra said.
The Spanish government had made “revision of the presidential plane” a condition of granting it passage, he said.

Choquehuanca earlier told reporters Portugal and France had abruptly cancelled air permits. “They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr Snowden was on the plane.”

Choquehuanca said in a statement that after France and Portugal cancelled authorisation for the flight, Spain’s government allowed the plane to be refuelled in its territory. From there the plane flew on to Vienna. He said the decision by France and Portugal “put at risk the life of the president”.

Watching this story break and develop on twitter Tuesday evening, I was struck by how quickly Latin American leaders reacted.  Needless to say, we’re still waiting on one of them to support the weird event, universally accepted to have been prompted by American actions, but which have yet to be (midnight 2-3 July PDT) acknowledged by the U.S. government.

Thinking back to the shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655, I remember being appalled.

Just over two years later, we convinced Saddam Hussein that if he invaded Kuwait, we would only consider it a dispute outside our realm of serious interest.  So he invaded.

Since then, we’ve been killing scores of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, from the Philippines to Libya.  The resulting blowback has killed or injured Americans.  Our response has not made us tangibly safer.  It has directed a few trillion tax dollars into the pockets of people who aren’t making us less vulnerable.  They’re supposed to make us feel like we’re safer, though, so they can keep conning us.  Hence the importance of keeping Snowden’s independence throttled, short of capturing or killing him.

The Ticonderoga-class cruiser that shot down Iranian flight 655 was known by its crew as “Roboship.”   The movie, RoboCop, had come out the year before the shootdown.

Defenders of Obama’s illegal policies, which have been brought into the spotlight by Wikileaks, whistleblowers, independent fact finders and journalists, and that rare instance when MSM journalists actually uncover something through investigating, have less to stand on every day.  They’re beginning to resemble robots.

Worldwide reactions to Snowden’s disclosures are starting to snowball.  This face will not slow it at all.  In this case, the U.S.A. appears quite ludicrous, let alone irresponsibly arrogant.

It’s almost as if we don’t care who we piss off over this.

And – hey!  It isn’t that Obama’s denizens don’t want to off Evo Morales.  They just don’t want their bloodstains or DNA on the murder weapons.

Glenn Greenwald Addresses the Socialism 2013 Conference Friday: “Courage is Contagious”

9:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

While Greenwald was giving the speech, it was being live streamed.  I was hosting an early evening party, and was only able to break away as the party broke up, to try to catch the live stream. The node was swamped, and I couldn’t get anything.

But somebody made a Youtube quite rapidly after the speech’s conclusion.  Adam Horowitz at Mondoweiss posted a link to the new video 45 minutes ago.  After watching half of Greenwald’s talk, I decided to re-post the Youtube here, even though someone – most likely Kevin G – will be posting it early Saturday morning.

I Call the White House Regarding the Edward Snowden “We the People” Petition

10:32 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

On June 9th, someone started a petition at the White House niche, We the People, requesting the President address Edward Snowden’s legal status:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Pardon Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.

When I signed this morning, there were about 108,000 signatures.  Supposedly, once a petition gets over 100,000 signatures, it receives front-rank attention.  Here’s the video the White House posted at YouTube, explaining the process.  Note that a specific number of signatures for the “signature threshold” isn’t mentioned in the video:

Soon after I signed, Justin Raimondo urged twitter followers to call the White House, and politely ask about the petition’s status, now that it had gone over the 100,000 signature threshold.

I called.  After jumping through some hoops, I got a real person.  I wanted to know:

1). Does some specific action happen when a petition reaches 100,000 signatures?

2).  Are there specific people assigned to the “We the People” site to deal with petitions deemed to have met the “threshold” when they get there?

3).  If so, is there a way you can connect me with one of them over the telephone?

The courteous young man responded to my likewise courteous questions with vague answers, ending up with “I’ve got a lot of calls coming in, and I don’t have time to refer you to somebody who can answer your questions specifically, but if you call back ………”

I’ve given the White House 20 minutes.  I’ll call back now.  The petition is up to 112,379 signatures.

My call went through the hoops.  Another nice young man eventually answered.  When I started explaining why I was calling, the line went dead.  Must be some glitch in their switchboard, eh?  I’ll try again.  112,408.

Sort of the same thing.  I got through.  This not-so-young male listened, said “OK,” and the line went dead.  Must be some other glitch, huh?

One more try – 112,419.

On my fourth call, I finally was given a different phone number – the White House switchboard – 202-456-1414.

This time (fifth call), a polite, very professionally polished young woman answered.  She stated that all petitions that reach the 100,000 mark are dealt with the same way.  There is no established time frame in which that might happen, though.  She stated that although specific people at “We the People” handle this task, they are never available to take calls from, uh we, the people.  She did note that she has received a lot of calls on this petition.

We wished each other a nice day.

112,560.

As Edward Snowden Wings to Moscow (and Beyond?) American Hubris, Criminality and Arrogance Are Challenged on Several Fronts – Updated

1:28 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Update – 3:20 am fdl time:

Pepe Escobar on RT TV this morning:

On Saturday, an arrogant White House, perturbed that Hong Kong seemed to be taking its time in responding to an extradition request for Edward Snowden, was quoted by CBS News:

If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law.

Before the government of Hong Kong had time to reply in writing to the American extradition request, the statement, believed to have been made by White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, was the butt of several tweets by national security writer and blogger, Marcy Wheeler:

The Administration that won’t prosecute James Clapper for lying to Congress is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.

followed by:

The Admin that has not prosecuted a single major bankster is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.

and:

The Admin that didn’t prosecute any torturers is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.

and finally:

The Admin that did not prosecute anyone for illegally wiretapping Americans is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.

The Hong Kong government refused to be intimidated (emphasis added):

HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden
***************************************************
The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden’s departure.

Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05

By refusing the demand from the Obama administration, Hong Kong gave Snowden a window to exit the appendage of the PRC. He’s headed to Moscow, but that may not be the end destination:

His departure was revealed on the website of the the Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, which said that Russia was not thought to be his intended final destination.

It is thought that the eventual destination could end up being Iceland or Ecuador.

He is understood to have left on the Russian airline Aeroflot flight SU213.

The paper said it left Hong Kong around 11am local time (4am UK time) and was due to arrive in Moscow around 5.15pm local time (1pm UK time). It is believed to be currently in the air.

That is fairly soon, from the time of my writing.

Meanwhile, the questions being raised globally about our own commitment to the rule of law are playing out in many arenas every day.  My favorite one this past week was the speech given on the floor of the lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil Éireann, by member Clare Daly, an unabashed Irish progressive.  Ms Daly is objecting to the slavish, lavish coverage Irish and Northern Irish media and institutions gave to Obama (and the Obamas) during his attendance at the G8 Conference:

Whether it is the government of Hong Kong, a back-bencher in the Dáil Éireann, an Ecuadorean government resentful of past travesties we have inflicted upon their sovereignty, a Russian government upset about brazen American espionage, or an entire world community disturbed about implications of what Snowden and others have recently revealed about how fully we break treaties and conventions with them by the way we surveil and target their citizens, corporations, leaders and institutions, we may be about to witness a tsunami rise up against our empire.