On Friday, May 20, Cuban artist Geandy Pavon projected Ai Wei Wei’s face onto the blank street-side facade of the Chinese Consulate in New York.
Under Obama’s command, the raid on bin Laden—on par, as a feat of heroic military derring-do, with Israel’s 1976 raid on Entebbe airfield in Uganda—projected a cool and fearless capability. The perfect secrecy of the operation was part of its inspiring style—the total control, even the pitch-perfect relentlessness of Obama’s speech announcing the kill. Publishing trophy photographs is antithetical to that; it’s what our enemies do.
The main argument for releasing a photograph of the punctured scalp of our enemy is that it will provide proof that bin Laden really is dead. In other words, seeing is believing. But does anyone really believe that any more? Believing is believing. People who want, or need, to believe that bin Laden wasn’t shot dead will have no difficulty believing that a picture of his cadaver is a fake, a simple propaganda trick. The release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate didn’t put an end to birtherism, so why would the release of bin Laden’s autopsy video put an end to deatherism? And why does the White House care to appease the holders of such delusions?
How do I square this with my usual unsparing policy of airing all and every image of war? Because this is a named individual and a victim of the war he waged, and we do not display these things like scalps on a wall. Seeing his face does not bring home to us anything we don’t already know. It offers no insight into the horrors of war and violates some core Geneva notions of the dignity of captives and corpses.
This is a special case, it seems to me, for restraint as the flipside of a just war. We don’t torture and we respect the human dignity of even our worst enemies. This is partly what we fought for – to reverse the barbarism of al Qaeda, not reflect it. We failed for years. We are now beginning to succeed. The right way.
The sides seem to be aligning.
An interview with Russian art anarchist group Voina (“War” in English), to whom Banksy has donated all profits from his current print sale. Two of their members (Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev) have been detained for more than a month in prison on false charges.
Don’t Panic: Could you outline the ideas behind a few of your conceptions?
Leonid Nikolayev: The main thing for the artists is to be honest and not to make compromises. In Russia they put people to torture and execution – the prisons are again full of dissenters. Xenophobia and homophobia reigns. A new slave society is build. Cops beat and kill people. And here we are – holding the action Palace revolution, turning the police cars over. That was our artistic reform of the Ministry of Home Affairs
Oleg Vorotnikov: Or, for example, on the Moscow City Day, as a protest, the Voina group came to the city’s biggest supermarket Auchan, where in the department of Light organized an execution by hanging of 3 illegal Central Asian migrant workers, 1 Jew and 1 homosexual. The lynching came as a present to the corrupted Moscow Mayor Luzhkov who pursued a policy of misanthropy and violation of human rights. We made this action as a commemoration of 5 Russian revolutionists, who were hanged in 1826. That’s why the action is called “Decembrists commemoration”. We wanted to make the Russians remember the libertarian ideals of the country’s first revolutionists.
Time Warner is trying to come to grips with the Internet and is thinking of new strategies to monetize its content. Content creators, like Time Warner, have yet to realize that is only going to become more difficult to get people to pay for content. There is a sense that what is happening to the music industry cannot happen to the film and television industries. Once the public gets more comfortable with “cord cutting“ and movie files become more compressed, wide spread file sharing will commence. Any why shouldn’t it? People are tired of years and years of being gouged ($12 movies, seriously?) and it is pay back time. The Internet is a medium whose message escapes many.
Some food for thought, courtesy of the Economist. Michigan’s economy is as large as Taiwan’s. New York’s as large as Australia’s, and so forth. Predictions that the U.S. economy is about to be overtaken and is on a rapid decline might be overblown as the rest of the world’s nations have a long way to go to catch up. Furthermore, inflation in the developing world might be on the verge of forestalling its rise.
By some estimates China has already overtaken the US in terms of GDP.
BBC News considers the implications of Africa’s largest country redrawing its colonial borders:
“Southern Sudan would not be the first new post-independence country to be recognised in Africa. Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in 1993. But the Eritreans could argue that they had been an independent state under the Italians and that Emperor Haile Selassie had violated a United Nations resolution when the territory was annexed as just another Ethiopian province in 1962.
So, it is said, Eritrea does not break the African injunction on new states. But a string of territories might argue that they have a case for secession.
These include Somaliland, which was independent from Somalia for just three days in the 1960s. There are movements fighting for greater autonomy in the Casamance region of Senegal, the Cabinda region of Angola or parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, such as Katanga.
And one should not forget the Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi’s call for Nigeria to be divided. There is also deep concern in Khartoum that the independence of the south could lead to a disintegration of the country, with some in Darfur also demanding independence.
We may never know what caused the apparently schizophrenic Jared Lee Loughner to attack Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, but the rhetoric of the right has been inflammatory and irresponsible. Sinister talk of “revolution”, conspiracy theories, revanchism and nativism, and a political campaign rife with gun rhetoric by mainstream Republican politicians and commentators has coincided with a swift upswing in rightwing violence and a resurgent “Patriot” movement since the election of America’s first black president.
Meanwhile, Americans across the country flock to buy a shiny new glock. This incident probably won’t lead to the change of any gun laws, but it has already raised the profile of the weapon of choice for rappers and mass murderers.
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