Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Weekend...

Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2012 9:01 AM
Subject: This Weekend...

May 31, 2012

Dear Friend,

Happy Summer! CODEPINK is ready to burst onto the summer scene with some great events and actions, and we want you involved!

Medea Benjamin will be in town on her booktour for "Drones:Killing by Remote Control".

Come to one of our events to see Medea and learn more about the travesty of drones. You can join Medea & Jodie for an intimate afternoon tea on June 16th.

We're also hosting a community gathering, along with a bunch of our friends, later that evening, where Medea will be interviewed by TruthDig's Bob Scheer.

Also, join Jodie this Saturday, June 2nd, for the GLA-UN Women's Peace Walk at 2pm at Wilshire Blvd. & Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. This is answering Julia Ward Howe's call for women to gather on June 2nd annually to raise their voices against war.

Let Jodie know if you will be joining her.

Bring your pink and join us at these events! We'd love to see you!

Jodie, Medea, Holly, Patricia and Magda


Order your copy

of Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control by Medea Benjamin

from this list

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Seamu Milne: America's murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror

America's murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror
Obama's escalation of a war that's already caused thousands of deaths will only destabilise his own allies and bolster al-Qaida,
More than a decade after George W Bush launched it, the "war on terror" was supposed to be winding down. US military occupation of Iraq has ended and Nato is looking for a way out of Afghanistan, even as the carnage continues. But another war – the undeclared drone war that has already killed thousands – is now being relentlessly escalated.

From Pakistan to Somalia, CIA-controlled pilotless aircraft rain down Hellfire missiles on an ever-expanding hit list of terrorist suspects – they have already killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians in the process.

At least 15 drone strikes have been launched in Yemen this month, as many as in the whole of the past decade, killing dozens; while in Pakistan, a string of US attacks has been launched against supposed "militant" targets in the past week, incinerating up to 35 people and hitting a mosque and a bakery.

The US's decision to step up the drone war again in Pakistan, opposed by both government and parliament in Islamabad as illegal and a violation of sovereignty, reflects its fury at the jailing of a CIA agent involved in the Bin Laden hunt and Pakistan's refusal to reopen supply routes for Nato forces in Afghanistan. Those routes were closed in protest at the US killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, for which Washington still refuses to apologise.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner in London, describes the latest US escalation as "punitive". But then Predators and Reapers are Barack Obama's weapons of choice and coercion, deployed only on the territory of troublesome US allies, such as Pakistan and Yemen – and the drone war is Obama's war.

In his first two years in office, the US president more than tripled the number of attacks in Pakistan alone. For their US champions, drones have the advantage of involving no American casualties, while targeting the "bad guys" Bush lost sight of in his enthusiasm to subjugate Iraq. Enthusiasts boast of their surgical accuracy and exhaustive surveillance, operated by all-seeing technicians from thousands of miles away in Nevada.

But that's a computer-game fantasy of clinical war. Since 2004, between 2,464 and 3,145 people are reported to have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan, of whom up to 828 were civilians (535 under Obama) and 175 children. Some Pakistani estimates put the civilian death toll much higher – plausibly, given the tendency to claim as "militants" victims later demonstrated to be nothing of the sort.

The US president insisted recently that the civilian death toll was not a "huge number". Not on the scale of Iraq, perhaps, where hundreds of thousands were killed; or Afghanistan, where tens of thousands have died. But they gruesomely include dozens killed in follow-up attacks after they had gone to help victims of earlier strikes – as well as teenagers like Tariq Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy decapitated in a strike last November after he had travelled to Islamabad to protest against drones.

These killings are, in reality, summary executions and widely regarded as potential war crimes by international lawyers – including the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston. The CIA's now retired counsel, John Rizzo, who authorised drone attacks, himself talked about having been involved in "murder".

A decade ago, the US criticised Israel for such "extrajudicial killings" but now claims self-defence in the war against al-Qaida. These are attacks, however, routinely carried out on the basis of false intelligence, in countries such as Pakistan where no war has been declared and without the consent of the elected government.

Lawyers representing victims' families are now preparing legal action against the British government – which carries out its own drone attacks in Afghanistan – for taking part in war crimes by passing GCHQ intelligence to the CIA for its "targeted killings". Parallel cases are also being brought against the Pakistani government and the drone manufacturer General Electric – whose slogan is "we bring good things to life".

Of course, drone attacks are only one method by which the US and its allies deliver death and destruction in Afghanistan and the wider Middle East, from night raids and air attacks to killing sprees on the ground. The day after last Friday's Houla massacre in Syria, eight members of one family were killed at home by a Nato air attack in eastern Afghanistan – one of many such atrocities barely registered in the western media.

But while support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low in all Nato states, the drone war is popular in the US. That's hardly surprising, as it offers no danger to American forces – the ultimate asymmetric warfare – while supposedly "taking out" terrorists. But these hi-tech death squads are creating a dangerous global precedent, which will do nothing for US security.

A decade ago, critics warned that the "war on terror" would spread terrorism rather than stamp it out. That is exactly what happened. Obama has now renamed the campaign "overseas contingency operations" and is switching the emphasis from boots on the ground to robots.

But, as the destabilisation of Pakistan and growth of al-Qaida in Yemen shows, the impact remains the same. The drone war is a predatory war on the Muslim world, which is feeding hatred of the US – and fuelling terror, not fighting it.

Twitter: @SeumasMilne

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is Alexis Tsirpas a danger for Europe?


Is Alexis Tsirpas a danger for Europe?

Der Freitag Berlin: 25 May 2012
Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras in Athens, May 24, 2012.

Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras in Athens, May 24, 2012.


The leader of Greece's leftist alliance SYRIZA is the new bright hope of Greek politics. Steering a course between pragmatism and the rhetoric of class warfare, he has unsettled Berlin, and not just those who back Angela Merkel's austerity policies.

Alexis Tsirpas's visit to Berlin this Tuesday, fresh from Paris, can be seen as a show of his new self-confidence. Invited by the Left Party, he is out to recruit followers for his ideas in the country that has been by far the most unswerving on the austerity policy.

The CDU hastily signalled in advance that there was no need to meet the rising star of the left. The SPD wavered. It was enough to get Tsipras the attention he wants. As he approaches the Reichstag cameras he flashes a broad smile, one that seems a little too big for everyday life but one that comes across very engagingly on the screen.

Tsipras utters polite thanks for the reception. He speaks of solidarity among the German and Greek peoples and urges them not to allow themselves to get played off against each other. "We are fighting this fight for the German workers too."

If he wins office, the first thing he will do is stop the debt payments and declare the laboriously negotiated austerity package null and void: that's Tsipras' promise to the Greek voters. He will also, he has declared, write off much of the Greek debt entirely and nationalise the banks. For his critics, he's a left-wing populist. For the proponents of austerity, that makes Alexis Tsipras the "most dangerous man in Europe".

The right place at the right time

In Greece, though, where a large part of the population has been pushed to the limits of their endurance by the crisis, he is hailed as a hero. Tsipras is good-looking, and the voters love his youthful charm and the straightforward declarations. He is what the Greeks call a "Pallikari", a brave boy who bends his knee to no authority.

Born in 1974 in Athens, Tsirpas was already attracting notice at the age of 17 by organising student protests. Not only was he professionally massaging the media, he was also negotiating hard-headedly with the Minister of Education.

In a photograph from his student days Tsipras sits on a hill, shoulder-length hair blowing forward over his face, and laughs into the camera with the unshakeable optimism of a young man who is firmly convinced that the world is just waiting to be saved by him.

With the help of the political pull of his father, Alekos Alavanos, his political career moved ahead fast. In 2006 he was elected to Athen's City Council, where he made a name as a politician for the people. Following his election as Syriza party leader in 2008, he moved up into parliament in 2009.

Tsipras' rise is explained in no small part by the fact that he happened to be in the right place at the right time. Last year, when the Greeks had not yet been so demoralised by austerity, Tsipras' radical demands still alarmed many voters. But that's not the only thing that has changed. The political climate in Europe as a whole has shifted – and it's become particularly visible in François Hollande's victory in France.

Pleads for understanding

In an interview he gave before leaving for Berlin, Tsipras stated that Merkel has become "extremely isolated" by her austerity policies in Europe. In the New York Times he advised her to follow the example of the "expansionist approach" of America. It's part of a broad international media campaign that is helping Tsipras prepare for possible re-negotiations.

After his brief appearance in the German Left Party's parliamentary group, the agenda skips briskly forward. Party leader Klaus Ernst and parliamentary leader Gysi want to introduce their guest to the capital's press; the desire of the faltering German left to scoop up a little of his glamour is palpable. Posed against the blue wall at the National Press conference, Ernst and Gysi position Tsipras between them. It looks a little like a group of football club managers announcing the signing of a new superstar. "I am not a hero," Tsipras begins humbly. "My party is not the hero either. The hero is the Greek people."

The impact of the austerity package has been a disaster, and a catastrophe in Europe must be averted. "We're asking for the solidarity of the peoples of France and Germany," he says. For him, it's not about asking for more money, but arguing for a different distribution.

What would become of the reforms in Greece, then, if he were to win office? He wants to make the tax system fairer and generate higher revenues.

Tsipras pleads for understanding; referring to the Germans as "big brothers", he invites them to visit Greece on their summer vacations – but on the core issues he stands his ground: no paying back the Greek debt under the current conditions. After nearly an hour the question period ends, and Tsipras hurries with Gysi to the limousine waiting at the door. Time is short: Sigmar Gabriel (SPD party leader) has just declared his readiness to meet.

Translated from the German by Anton Baer

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Steve Early: Torie Osborn's Insurgent Run, Doc Watson

 I hope you read today's obit on Page1 in the LA Times (EXtra)  for my friend Doc Watson, the greatest  
of country guitarists, the inspiration for so many who learned from him, famous and otherwise,and just as
important, the most powerful, human conveyer of his culture and people in the Appalachian mountains,
and far beyond. Warts and all.   I've added the above URL for the article.
last spoke with him two years ago in Santa Cruz We interviewed him for a film on the Ash Groveand he  
played a comcert.  After the show, we spoke backstage for quite a time.  When we saod goodby, I saod this  
 might be the last time we spoke.  He answered 'What's the matter Ed, are you sick?"
We burst out laughing, as usual.  I might write a rememberence, and will send it to you. He was such an
important part of the world, his people, the Ash Grove, and me, personally, culturaly and policially. -Ed 
Rumble in the Jungle

Torie Osborn's Insurgent Run

by  Steve Early

In 2008, thousands of Obama campaign volunteers got fired up about electoral politics in a way they hadn't been before. Four years later, some are now running for office themselves. But few have made a bigger splash in local Democratic circles than 61-year-old Torie Osborn, a nationally-known advocate for gay and lesbian rights and other progressive causes. Her insurgent campaign for a California Assembly seat has roiled the waters of Los Angeles-area liberalism and bucked the legislative leadership in Sacramento, which is circling the wagons around her main opponent.

If Santa Monica-based Osborn beats Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the newly-created 50th Assembly district—either on June 5 or in a November general election run-off—her victory over the party establishment will be a Left Coast monument to what might have been possible, in more places, if Obama's campaign organization (or the Democratic Party) had been serious about grassroots movement building. "There could have been 100, or even 1,000 Torie Osborns, who came out of the network of energized people trying to change American politics in 2008," says California political consultant Paul Kumar, an admirer of Osborn's "extraordinary campaign organization" which has hosted more than 80 house parties.

Given Osborn's strong resume as a community organizer, non-profit group leader, and influential advisor to several Los Angeles mayors, it's a surprise to some that her first bid for public office wasn't welcomed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez and other Democratic legislators. After all, the current crop of salons in Sacramento is not
highly regarded by the public and could use a little new blood.

As ex-state legislator Tom Hayden noted in The Nation this month," voter approval of the Democratic-controlled legislature slinks along between nine and twenty percent…Despite majorities in both houses and control of all statewide offices, the Democratic Party seems chronically unable to deliver the minimum that voters want from their government: results. College tuitions keep rising, and college doors keep closing. School funding keeps declining. Wetlands and redwoods keep disappearing. Billions spent on mass transit do not reduce congestion and air pollution. To a disillusioned majority, all the Sacramento fights appear to be about slowing the rate of California's decline."

A Movement History

Osborn got her won start in politics as a college student in New England. She was a late-Sixties' campaigner against the Vietnam War, an activist in the women's movement, and an early leader of the socialist New American Movement. In the mid-1970s, she became a founding staff member of In These Times, the left-wing monthly in Chicago. In the 1980s and 90s, she played leadership roles in the National Organization for Women, a pioneering Los Angeles clinic for HIV/AIDS sufferers, and the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force that mobilized hundreds of thousands of civil rights marchers in Washington in 1993.

In Los Angeles, she directed the Liberty Hill Foundation and served as a United Way official; in both positions, she helped channel millions of dollars from well-heeled Hollywooders into minority neighborhood projects dealing with gang violence, low-income housing, and environmental hazards. Her latest political work has been training young organizers, promoting voter registration, and helping California Calls build a community-labor coalition capable of ending "loopholes for giant corporate property owners and the requirement of a two-thirds supermajority vote by legislators to increase taxes."

Like many Democratic Party activists, San Francisco lawyer and Beyond Chron blogger Paul Hogarth had hopes that last year's redistricting would give California Democrats "an historic opportunity to pick up seats in November— and win a two-thirds majority that would make Republicans irrelevant." Instead, according to Hogarth, "Speaker Pérez has diverted resources from competitive 'swing districts' and is instead meddling in Democratic primary fights in deep-blue seats" so he can "consolidate control at the expense of everything else." The likelihood of the Democrats gaining the necessary two additional seats in both houses of the legislature has decreased, as a result.

any re-match with the Republican she beat last time (leaving that job this year to a weaker and now under-funded Democrat).

Safe Seat Shopping in Beverly Hills

The Butler vs. Osborn contest is a fine example of both meddling and resource diversion, on behalf of a loyal Perez follower. First elected to the assembly in 2010, Butler is an ex-fundraiser for associations of trial lawyers and environmentalists. She won office by defeating a Tea Party Republican in the South Bay communities of Torrance, Redondo Beach, Marina Del Rey and El Segundo. However, redistricting left her with an electorate composed of additional conservative voters (even though the Democrats still have a slight numerical edge among those registered overall). She decided to duck out on a rematch with the GOP candidate she beat last time–leaving that job to a weaker, less well-known, and now under-funded Democrat. With full backing from Perez (and 35 other Democratic legislators), Butler abandoned her constituents (and her longtime home in Marina del Ray). From her new address in Beverly Hills, she announced a campaign for "re-election" in the re-jiggered 50th district that includes just 1.7 percent of the voters she now represents."

Despite Osborn's previously announced candidacy and active support from a dozen local Democratic clubs, Pérez began twisting arms to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars for Butler from statewide labor and environmental PACs. Using appointed delegates, he engineered state party convention backing for Butler in February. Since last year, Pérez and other legislators have personally donated more to their carpet-bagging colleague (about $88,000) than to any other Democratic candidate for the assembly. Among the commercial interests flocking to Butler's banner is the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, a landlords' group that opposes rent control in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and other communities that still have it.

Meanwhile, back in the South Bay, the campaign of Butler's would-be Democratic successor, Torrance School Board member Al Muratsuchi, has been largely ignored by Butler donors in the state legislature. Legislative staffers from Sacramento, who could be aiding Muratsuchi against two GOP primary foes, will instead be working the phones, at Pérez's direction, as GOTV "volunteers" for Butler. Says Osborn supporter and LA City Council staffer Mike Bonin: "Butler is running to represent Sacramento in the 50th district, while Torie is running to represent this district in Sacramento." Bonin contrasts Osborn's enthusiastic young West LA supporters with the Butler draftees from elsewhere that he calls "voluntoids."

Claiming the Crown of Incumbency

Under California's new "jungle primary" system, Democrats, Republicans, and independents run against each other in the same preliminary field; the top two finishers go on to a general election re-match in November. In a safe liberal district like the new 50th, that means that the competing Democratic campaigns of Osborn and Butler (or of a third possible top-tier finisher, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom) will continue to consume financial resources that could have been used to unseat Republicans elsewhere. The several million dollars raised, in total, by Osborn, Butler, or groups supporting them will morph into even greater spending during the five-months of general election campaigning within the same electorate of 300,000 that begins after June 5. (Osborn's money at least comes from 2,200 individual contributors, many of whom gave under $100.)

Among those backing Osborn are members of Communications Workers of America Local 9003, headed by T Santora. He reports that CWA's Southern California Council broke with the California and Los Angeles labor federations to endorse the "more home-grown" candidate—after interviewing both and taking into account Butler's pro-labor voting record. "Betsy's a nice lady," Santora says. "But her claiming the crown as the incumbent didn't work with our members—it just rubbed people the wrong way. If Betsy wasn't in the legislature, nobody would know who she was. And, since she's been there, she's never reached out to us."

In contrast, past legislators from the area had strong local ties to labor, tenants, consumers, environmentalists, and healthcare reformers. Santa Monica and its environs was the political base for Hayden's post-New Left reincarnation as a California assemblyman and, later, senator. When he was term-limited out of office, Hayden passed the torch to public interest lawyer Sheila Kuehl, who became California's most effective legislative campaigner for single-payer health care. Both Hayden and Kuehl (Osborn's former partner) encouraged Osborn's run this year. According to Kuehl, "Torie absolutely fits this district. She's been a leader of one of the most successful civil rights movements of our time. Then she made the transition from LBGT campaigning to working on issues related to poverty, homelessness, and income inequality well ahead of Occupy."

Nevertheless, as Hayden noted in The Nation, "Perez's powers are many and little known to the apathetic public, which is why Butler may have a chance. These powers include demanding big money from contributors who need his favor, influencing members of his caucus to support his candidate preferences and pressuring progressive groups like labor and environmentalists whose crucial legislative proposals often depend on his nod."

According to Hayden, who spent eighteen years in the legislature, when "scores of legislative staff, willingly or not, hit the phones after-hours, pound on voters' doors and flood a local district with fliers proclaiming that the Speaker's candidates are the 'Democratic choice' (or the 'environmental choice,' or the 'firefighters choice,' or 'lesbian choice,' etc)…. the majority of Democratic voters are deeply influenced by these endorsements."

Let's hope that, in the June 5 primary (and in November as well), 50th Assembly district voters will be more discerning about the choices before them. Because next January, they can be represented by someone who's already part of a cozy (if dysfunctional) incumbent protection club in Sacramento. Or they can send a Democratic Party crasher to the state capital who will be a voice, not an echo, in the halls of government.

STEVE EARLY is a former national staff member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) who has been active in labor causes since 1972. He is the author of The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor (Haymarket Books, 2010).

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fiesta Jarocha!, Movie Review, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


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Fiesta Jarocha: Conjunto Jardin's 15th Anniversary Celebration! ¡Quinceañera!


Saturday, June 2nd, 2012  8 pm -- Sabado 2 de Junio

Ford Amphitheatre

2580 Cahuenga Blvd E, Hollywood, CA 90068

 Box Office: 323-461-3673



Dear friends: Saturday, June 2nd is coming right up! Buy your tickets by this Saturday, May 26 to save! (ticket prices go up after that)


Queridos amigos, ya se acerca el Sábado, 2 de Junio! Compren sus boletos antes de este Sábado 26 de Mayo para ahorrar! (se suben los precios después)


Check out this video the Ford Theatre made to help us promote the show -- 

Miren este video que el Teatro Ford nos hizo para ayudarnos a promover el show:


Conjunto Jardin

Conjunto Jardin


Please forward this email to your friends to get the word out. Let's make it a real party! Por favor, pasen este mensaje a todos sus amigos para ayudarnos a promover el evento. Así sera una verdera fiesta!


To share the bill we've also invited to Los Angeles two of the most respected elders and masters of the son jarocho genre: jaw-dropping harpist Alberto de la Rosa from Xalapa, Veracruz, and "the Cachao of Mexico," bassist/arranger Don Fallo Figueroa and his group of young phenoms, Son Candela, from Tlacotalpan, Veracruz. We will be joined by guests including guitarist Ciro Hurtado  (Huayucaltia), original Conjunto Jardín cajonero Marcel Adjibi from Benin, West Africa, percussionist Tiki Pasillas (Marc Anthony), the elegantly costumed dancers of Tierra Blanca Dance Company, and MC Rafael Figueroa, son jarocho scholar, radio host and poet from Xalapa, Veracruz. Art director Reyes Rodriguez of Tropico de Nopal Gallery/Space will oversee the visual design of the show.




This is a show not to be missed! Get your tickets here:



Para compartir el escenario hemos invitado a Los Angeles dos de los maestros mas conocidos y respetados de la tradición de son jarocho: arpista extraordinario Alberto de la Rosa de Xalapa, Veracruz, y "el Cachao de Mexico," bajista/compositor Don Fallo Figueroa y su grupo de jovenes fenomenales, Son Candela, de Tlacotalpan, Veracruz. Tambien tendrémos como invitados especiales a guitarrista Ciro Hurtado (Huayucaltia), cajonero original de Conjunto Jardin, Marcel Adjibi de Benin, percusionista Tiki Pasillas (Marc Anthony), bailadores elegantes de Tierra Blanca Dance Company, maestro de ceremonia Rafael Figueroa Hernandez, locutor de radio y decimista de Xalapa, Veracruz. Director de Arte, Reyes Rodriguez de la galería Tropico de Nopal estará a cargo del diseño visual del show.


Este será un evento para no perder! Compre sus boletos aquí:

Thanks for your support! Gracias por su apoyo! -- Conjunto Jardín


* * *

From: David McReynolds []
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2012 12:10 AM
 Movie Review, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Let me quote from the first lines of the Wikipedia summary: "A group of seven British retirees have outsourced their retirement, attracted by the less expensive and seemingly exotic India". The retirees are a cast of
Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel (who starred in Slumdog Millionaire), Celia Imbrie, Ronald Pickup,
Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton. (Incidentally, apropos of nothing - how often have
you done what I just did, write a piece, start to proof it before sending, and find you hit the wrong key
and have deleted it all and must start again?).

I went because I would go to any film that had Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy. I went
despite the fact the film opened to mixed reviews. The New York Daily News sniffed at "John Madden's
disappointingly shallow comedy . . ." and gave it a mere two stars.

The Daily News missed the point. Here are a group of characters well past their sell-by date, being
told by Sonny (Dev Patel), the enthusiastic part owner of the hotel, that "if everything is not alright, it
is because it isn't the end. In the end, everything will be alright". The British travelers find the Best Exotic
Marigold Hotel is not quite what it had seemed on the internet. Not all the rooms have doors. Some
have insects. One room has birds. The telephones do not work. Sonny, in his enthusiasm, assures everyone
that all will be well, phones will ring, doors will be found.

The travelers are not well off - Evelyn (Judi Dench) has had to sell her home in England to pay off the
debts of her late husband and has to hunt for work in India. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is a retired housekeeper
with deeply racist views who has come to India for an inexpensive hip replacement. Jean (Penelope Wilton)
and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are a retired couple who lost their life savings investing in their daughter's internet
start-up. One of the more interesting characters is Graham (Tom Wilkinson), a retired high court judge who had grown up in India as a child, but returned to Britain. He is now trying to find a man with whom he
had an intense relationship in his youth. He is not sure if the man is even alive or, if he finds him, if he
will be welcomed - the relationship had caused a scandal in the distant past.

I identified with Graham, since I had been in love with a High School friend - before I even knew what
love was. We were close but at the point I told him I was homosexual the relationship ended and I've
wondered - it is more than sixty years now - what happened with his life. He became a lawyer. I assume
married and had children and grand children. I still think back to him as a hero. When, in 1949
I returned by bus from New York to Los Angeles, taking the deep Southern route (having heard Bayard
Rustin speak of his chain gang experience), I had tried sitting in the colored section and when, in
Louisiana, I was ordered by the bus driver to move to the white section, I was sure my High School
friend would have handled it more courage than I.

I remember India from my one visit, in 1986, for a Triennial of the War Resisters International.
We landed in Mumbai (then still called Bombay) and took the train to a Gandhi Ashram, which impressed
me greatly. But while I was grateful to the Indian family in Mumbai which housed Myrtle Solomon and
me after the Triennial, I was horrified by the poverty, the beggars, the dust, and by the fact the
water was never safe to drink. In that sense I sympathized with the one member of the group who,
nearly mad from the dust and chaos, returned to England.

But for the others, one by one, they found in this strange land, so chaotic, crowded, noisy, filled with
life and color, something they had missed in England. Bill Nighy's character falls in love with the city,
setting out each day to explore the temples. Muriel (Maggie Smith) grudgingly comes to admit the
Indian doctors did a fine job and, despite her racist views, has something of a breakthrough encounter
with the untouchable cleaning woman at the hotel.

There is one "true" love story, when Sonny (Dev Patel) falls madly in love with the beautiful Sunaina who
works at the call centre (one of those places we reach when we call our computer or telephone company
for information). He defies his mother to announce they will be married. And it is the Maggie Smith
character who saves the hotel when she takes charge of the accounts, finds the hotel is not a losing
proposition but just needs a competent book keeper, a post which she suggests she should take on.

So in the end the telephones work, and the guests, who had been so tentative in their first encounters
with India, accept it as part of their lives. What is fascinating about the film is that we are not talking
about young people discovering a new adventure, but a group, all past sixty,some past seventy and
still counting, which finds that there are always new beginnings.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a delight. Even, I suspect, for those of you under fifty.

- 30 -

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Quebec: Student Strike Speads, Montreal Pots And Pans Video Of Protest Against Bill 78 Goes Viral

The Student protest attachment is priceless.  -Ed 
Montreal Pots And Pans Video Of Protest Against Bill 78 Goes Viral
The Huffington Post Canada :

A video of protesters banging pots and pans on Quebec streets is going viral on social networks.

Posted on Friday afternoon, the beautiful black and white film shows protesters of all ages taking to the streets to protest the emergency law Bill 78. The Vimeo video quickly began showing up all over Twitter and Facebook.

Bill 78 is being called a draconian attempt to quell massive student protests that have taken over Quebec streets for more than 100 days. The bill limits the ability to protest by requiring groups to get police approval for demonstrations and restricting where they can take place, among other provisions.

People took up the percussive protest Thursday night in several towns and cities including Sorel, Longueuil, Chambly, Repentigny, Trois-Rivieres and even in Abitibi -- several hundred kilometres away from the hot spot of Montreal.

They were still loudest in Montreal, where a chorus of metallic clanks rang out in neighbourhoods around the city, spilling into the main demonstrations and sounding like aluminum symphonies.

The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express civil disobedience. The noisy cacerolazo tradition actually predates the Pinochet regime in Chile, but has endured there and spread to other countries as a method of showing popular defiance.

Thursday's protest in Montreal was immediately declared illegal by police, who said it violated a municipal bylaw because they hadn't been informed of the route. They allowed it to continue as long as it remained peaceful.

Usually the nightly street demonstrations, which have gone on for a month, have a couple of vigorous drummers to speed them along their route. At the very least, someone clangs a cow bell.

But in the last few days, the pots and pans protest -- dubbed the casseroles by observers -- have acted like an alarm clock for the regular evening march, sounding at 8 p.m. on the nose in advance of the march's start.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

* * *

Quebec's 'truncheon law' rebounds as student strike spreads

A draconian law to quell demonstrations has only galvanised public support for young Quebecois protesting tuition fee hikes,
Student protest in Montreal, Quebec, 22 May 2012
Thousands of demonstrators march to mark the 100th day of a student strike against tuition hikes in Montreal, Quebec, 22 May 2012. Photograph: Olivier Jean/Reuters

At a tiny church tucked away in a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal's east end, Quebec's new outlaws gathered on Sunday for a day of deliberations. Aged mostly between 18 and 22, their membership in a progressive student union has made them a target of government scorn and scrutiny. And they have been branded a menace to society because of their weapons: ideas of social justice and equal opportunity in education, alongside the ability to persuade hundreds of thousands to join them in the streets.

Under a draconian law passed by the Quebec government on Friday, their very meeting could be considered a criminal act. Law 78 – unprecedented in recent Canadian history – is the latest, most desperate manoeuvre of a provincial government that is afraid it has lost control over a conflict that began as a student strike against tuition hikes but has since spread into a protest movement with wide-ranging social and environmental demands.

Labelled a "truncheon law" by its critics, it imposes severe restrictions on the right to protest. Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

In other words, the government has decided to smash the student movement by force.

The government quickly launched a public relations offensive to defend itself. Full-page ads in local newspapers ran with the headline: "For the sake of democracy and citizenship." Quebec's minister of public security, Robert Dutil, prattled about the many countries that have passed similar laws:

"Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints – first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect the public."

Such language is designed to make violence sound benevolent and infamy honourable. But it did nothing to mask reality for those who have flooded the streets since the weekend and encountered police emboldened by the new legislation. Riot squads beat and tear-gassed people indiscriminately, targeted journalists, pepper-sprayed bystanders in restaurants, and mass-arrested hundreds, including more than 500 Wednesday night – bringing the tally from the last three months of protest to a record Canadian high of more than 2,500. The endless night-time drone of helicopters has become the serenade song of a police state.

In its contempt for students and citizens, the government has riled a population with strong, bitter memories of harsh measures against social unrest – whether the dark days of the iron-fisted Duplessis era, the martial law enforced by the Canadian army in 1970, or years of labour battles marred by the jailing of union leaders. These and other occasions have shown Québécois how the political elite has no qualms about trampling human rights to maintain a grip on power.

Which is why those with experience of struggle fresh and old have answered Premier Jean Charest with unanimity and collective power. There are now legal challenges in the works, broad appeals for civil disobedience, and a brilliant website created by the progressive CLASSE student union, on which thousands have posted photos of themselves opposing the law. (The website's title is "Somebody arrest me" but also puns on a phrase to shake a person out of a crazed mental spell.)

And Wednesday, on the 100th day of the student strike, Québécois from every walk of life offered a rejoinder to the claim that "marginals" were directing and dominating the protests: an estimated 300,000-400,000 people marched in the streets, another Canadian record, and in full violation of the new law. They brandished the iconic red squares that have now transformed into a symbol not just of accessible education but the defence of basic freedoms of assembly and protest. Late into the night, a spirit of jubilant defiance spread through the city. On balconies along entire streets, and on intersections occupied by young and old, the sound of banging pots and pans rang out, a practice used under Latin American regimes.

The clarity that has fired the students' protest has, until now, conspicuously eluded most of English-speaking Canada. This is because the image of the movement has been skewed and distorted by the establishment media. Sent into paroxysms of bafflement and contempt by the striking students, they have painted them as spoiled kids or crazed radicals out of touch with society, who should give up their supposed entitlements and accept the stark economic realities of the age.

All this is said with a straight face. But young people in Quebec, followed now by many others, have not been fooled. They know the global economic crisis of 2008 exposed as never before the abuses of corporate finance, and that those responsible were bailed out rather than held to account. They know that meetings of international leaders at the G20 end by dispatching ministers home to pay the bills on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable, with tuition hikes and a toxic combination of neoliberal economic policies. And with every baton blow and tear-gas blast, they perceive with ever greater lucidity that their government will turn ultimately to brute violence to impose such programs and frighten those who dissent.

To those who marched Wednesday, and the great numbers who cheered them on, the fault-lines of justice are evident. This is a government that has refused to sit down and negotiate with student leaders in good faith, but invites an organised crime boss to a fundraising breakfast; a government that has claimed free education is an idea not even worth dreaming about, when it would cost only 1% of Quebec's budget and could be paid for simply by reversing the regressive tax reforms, corporate give-aways, or capital tax phase-outs of the last decade; a government whose turn to authoritarian tactics has now triggered a sharp decline in support, and which has clumsily accelerated a social crisis that may now only begin to be resolved by meeting the students' demands.

As the debate went on at the CLASSE meeting in the church last Sunday, the students' foresight proved wise beyond their years. "History doesn't get made in a day," one argued into the microphone. Not in a day, no doubt, but in Quebec, over this spring and the summer, history is indeed being made.

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