Cultural Dissent

Ms Saffaa is a Saudi artist currently studying in Australia. As part of her practice, she creates murals championing the freedom of women in Saudi Arabia — in particular drawing attention to the prohibitive “guardian­ship” laws.

Under these laws, women must be accompanied by a male “guardian” to do many every day activities — laws the Saudi regime slightly relaxed last month in a sign of pressure from campaigners.

Via Twitter, Saffaa’s work was taken up by a grassroots movement in Saudi Arabia and is now synonymous with the struggle to end these laws.

It is rare to see such a powerful film as Brendan Shoebridge’s The Bentley Effect, which focuses on the successful struggle by Northern Rivers communities to save their land and water from the coal seam gas juggernaut at Bentley, near Lismore, in New South Wales.

The power of community is often talked about, but this film shows how it actually happened, in a powerful tale of political awakening among several generations.

Carol Lloyd, a gay icon and trailblazer for female rockers, died on February 13 after a lengthy battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Lloyd is best remembered for her lead vocals with the funk band Railroad Gin, whose hits include the seminal 1974 classic “A Matter of Time”, which hit number 1 on the charts.

It is rare to see such a powerful film as Brendan Shoebridge’s The Bentley Effect, which focuses on the successful struggle by Northern Rivers communities to save their land and water from the coal seam gas juggernaut at Bentley, near Lismore, NSW.

The power of community is often talked about, but this film shows how it actually happened, in a powerful tale of political awakening among several generations.

Argentine hockey player Jessica Millaman, who had been prevented from playing field hockey by her provincial federation governing the sport, told EFE in an interview that she was happy about the recent decision by the Argentine Field Hockey Confederation (CAH) to allow transgender women to participate in women’s tourneys.

Hit and Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan & the Meaning of Honour
By Nicky Hager & Jon Stephenson
Potton & Burton, 2017 
159 pages

In this well-written and powerful book, Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson present a barrage of evidence that “New Zealanders and their United States allies were involved in war crimes” in Afghanistan in 2010.

Denial
Directed by Mick Jackson
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson & Timothy Spall
In Cinemas now

In 1996 the vile “historian” David Irving sued US historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel. She had labelled Irving anti-Semitic because of his persistent claims that the Nazi Holocaust had not occurred.

Irving sued Lipstadt in London because under Britain’s libel laws, the burden of proof would be on her. In other words, Lipstadt would have to prove the Holocaust actually did occur.

Any book on the modern urban heritage movement would at least make mention of Jack Mundey and the 1960s Green Bans, but for Sydney-based architect James Colman, Mundey’s figure continues to loom large over his city.

Fans of Glasgow’s Celtic football club showed their support for more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, with large banners and Palestinian flags at Celtic’s May 6 football (soccer) match against fellow Scottish side St Johnstone FC.

Members of Celtic’s “ultras” fan group, the Green Brigade, along with Celtic Fans for Palestine, lifted a huge Palestinian flag, as well as large banners with the slogans “Freedom and Dignity” and “Hungering for Justice”.

FIFA, the governing body of world football (soccer), has capitulated once more to intense pressure from the Israeli government. It has removed from the agenda of its upcoming congress the issue of teams from Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land playing in Israel’s national league.

Italian soccer authorities were branded as “gutless” amid calls for strikes from the league’s Black players after a Ghanaian player was banned for protesting racist crowd abuse.

During a May 1 match between Cagliari and Pescara in Italy’s top league, the Serie A, Pescara’s Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari was given a yellow card for dissent after he protested opposition fans’ racist taunting.

Muntari was seen complaining to the referee to stop the game after coping with abuse throughout the game. He shouted at the fans that “this is my colour”.

Calls are mounting on FIFA to require Israel’s national league to exclude teams from West Bank settlements or face suspension from the governing body of world football (soccer).

But there are warning signs FIFA may be succumbing to intense pressure to once again give Israel a pass to continue violating Palestinian rights with impunity.

In a petition to English rock band Radiohead, Jewish voices for Peace ask the rockers to respect the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting Israel, and cancel a Tel Aviv gig scheduled for July.

Launched by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, the BDS campaign aims to isolate Israel in protest against its apartheid policies towards Palestinians.

No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson
By Jeff Sparrow
Scribe Publications, 2017
Paperback, 292 pp

Melbourne writer Jeff Sparrow’s new book, No Way But This is a thoughtful, sensitive and respectful examination of the life and work of Paul Robeson, the great African-American baritone, Shakespearian actor, and left-wing political activist.

Loving
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Joel Edgerton & Ruth Negga
In cinemas

Loving is based on the true story of Richard and Muriel Loving, a white man and Black woman who married in 1958. Living in segregated, Jim Crow-era Virginia they were arrested and convicted of miscegenation — the crime of Black people and white people marrying or having sex.

As a result, for 25 years they were judicially exiled from the state. Years of court battles culminated in a unanimous 1967 Supreme Court decision in their favour.

Get Out
Written & directed by Jordan Peele
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams & Lil Rel Howery
In cinemas now

Why don’t more horror movies deal with racism?

Race, of course, always lurks underneath the surface, especially from a white protagonist’s perspective. In many horror films, the monster is some unconscious manifestation of racial anxiety or white guilt, like the prosperous, Reagan-voting family in 1982’s Poltergeist, haunted by the vengeful spirits of Native victims of genocide.

Sustainable Agriculture vs Corporate Greed: Small farmers, food security & big business
By Alan Broughton & Elena Garcia
Resistance Books
104pp, pb
$15.00

The Football Federation of Australia (FFA), which governs football (soccer) in Australia, has contributed just $10,000 to Indigenous football this year — slashing its annual funding in half from last year, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on March 31.

It is a remarkable — and remarkably unexpected — thing to write, but female athletes are now leading both the United States’ labour movement and the women’s movement for pay equity.

British comedian Eddie Izzard was told he was not welcome at a marathon in the occupied West Bank after refusing to respect the cultural boycott of Israel.

The cultural boycott is part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign initiated by more than 170 Palestinian groups in 2005 in protest against Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians

Caught In The Revolution: Petrograd 1917
Helen Rappaport
Windmill Books, 2017
430 pages

In 1916-17, millions of starving Russian workers queued for hours for scarce bread, perished on the eastern front or were left unemployed in a country where the living conditions were as atrocious as the record winter cold.

Silence is a film of ideas, examining the meaning of mercy and compassion, and the personal cost of betrayal. It is also visually stunning. The cinematography has been nominated for an Academy Award and rightfully so.

It poses fascinating theological questions, their historical bases and the comparison between their Christian and Buddhist understandings. With so much going for it, why does Silence fail?

Self-described “extreme folk” Scottish band Mouse Eat Mouse are one of the more obscure acts around, which makes it all the more satisfying to hear any new works.

Last year’s Toxic Tails is an album of beauty, anger and passion, traits often missing in today’s sanitised music industry.

I decided, therefore, to get in touch with CD Shade, the bald-headed, smooth-singing wordsmith who is the backbone of the act.

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The ongoing genocide of Rohingya people in western Myanmar (also known as Burma) remains almost ignored by world media. Displaced from their homes, attacked by the military, interned in refugee camps and driven across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya have become known as one of the world's most persecuted people.

Last year, photographer Ali MC visited Rohingya refugee and internally displaced peoples’ camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh. His aim was to photograph Rohingya people, document their living conditions and better understand the events that forced them into this situation

A Turkish court has handed down a two-year, nine-month and 22-day jail sentence to a Kurdish artist because of her painting of a Kurdish village being razed by Turkish security forces.

Zehra Dogan, an ethnic Kurd from Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey, was given the sentence by the Second High Criminal Court of Mardin province after having been arrested last July. The painting in question shows the destroyed cityscape of Nusaybin, with Turkish flags draped across blown-out buildings.

Hundreds of Brazilian artists demonstrated on March 27 outside the Municipal Theatre in Sao Paulo on World Theatre Day to protest against the freezing of funds allocated for culture.

The cultural protest is one of the biggest of its kind in the country in decades, as artists, students, workers and other social movements rail against the austerity agenda under the neoliberal government of unelected President Michel Temer.

There have been countless predictions that the election of Donald Trump as US president would bring a renaissance of political music - and it finally seems to be happening. Here are 10 of the best from this month (plus a few extra - count them).

On an August evening in Glasgow last year, supporters of Celtic Football Club waved dozens of Palestinian flags during a Champions League playoff match against Israeli team Hapoel Be’er Sheva, garnering global attention.

Lenin on the Train
Catherine Merridale
Allen Lane, 2016, 354 pages

The German “sealed train” that gave Vladimir I Lenin safe passage from exile in Switzerland through wartime Germany to Russia in April 1917, in the aftermath of the overthrow of Russia’s monarchy that had exiled the Russian revolutionary leader, was historically pivotal.

The situation for Palestinian and Arab football (soccer) players in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has, for some time, been dire.

On one side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, within the formal borders of Israel, segregated youth teams, racist abuse, and heckling — including charming chants such as “Death to the Arabs” — are frequent. On the other, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, checkpoint detention, jailings, and the bombing of stadiums have become regular features of what is supposed to be the people’s game.

Given the powerful role that football plays as a point of community cohesion in the West Bank and Gaza, this everyday violence feels like a full-frontal attack on civil society, normalcy and hope.

Chilean hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux has penned a forceful call to re-empower the concept of feminism. In it, she calls for “another feminism” that is at the same time anti-patriarchal, anti-capitalist and anti-fascist.

A look at three important new books on the growing global environmental crisis and two that mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

The scene is one as old as the long history of the Middle East. A child mixes straw and dung to light a fire, some of the straw on his knee. His face is obscured by a beanie so that this child ­– not an infant but still young – could be any child.

Behind the child is a wall. Such structures are common throughout the Middle East, but it seems symbolic. The dribbles of concrete from its construction make the wall, in rural Homs, seem to weep, for this child and for Syria.

“I’d like to call bullshit.” So declared Melissa Barbieri, a former captain of Australian women’s football (soccer) team the Matildas, on the symbolic support for women’s rights offered by sporting clubs and bodies on International Women’s Day.

The Brazilian football team El Cruzeiro wore T-shirts highlighting the many issues that women in the South American country still face on a daily basis. Meanwhile, a similar initiative was announced by the Costa Rican football league. On March 8, players did not celebrate goals scored as part of a campaign meant to express solidarity with women victims of violence.

“I just don’t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background,” said My-King Johnson, the first openly gay recruit in major conference American college football (grid iron) on his sexuality.

Professional football players are the latest sector to hold strikes in Argentina amid a struggling economy and harsh austerity measures imposed by right-wing President Mauricio Macri. 

Fans from Western Sydney Wanderers A-League football team distributed hundreds of rainbow flags to those attending the club’s March 5 match against Adelaide United. The move came after two weeks of controversy sparked by a banner raised by some Wanderers fans during their team’s 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Sydney FC, which was widely condemned in the media and among many fans for being homophobic.

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