Cultural Dissent


Ibtihaj Muhammad.

An American Muslim fencer, who is the country’s first Olympian to wear a hijab, says she does not feel safe in the US due to the country’s increased anti-Muslim rhetoric, The Independent said on August 5.


Author Ian Angus at the launch of 'Facing the Anthropocene'. Sydney, May 13.

Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism & the Crisis of the Earth System
By Ian Angus
Monthly Review Press
New York, 2016

We are living in a time of unparalleled ecological breakdowns and the crisis is much worse than most people realise. There are other books that tell this harrowing story, but Ian Angus's Facing the Anthropocene is different.


Brazil has been hit by anti-government protests in the lead-up to the Rio Games.

When the 2016 Olympic Games began on August 5, it was the culmination of a harrowing, exhausting decade-long battle between the people of Brazil and the demands of those utterly unaccountable, scandal-plagued sports bodies, FIFA and the IOC.


Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil plays Gaza-based Shejaiya in the 2015 Palestine Cup. Ahly al-Khalil won the title, which it successfully defended on August 2 after Israel caved in to let players travel for the match.

Stingray Sisters
Three-part film series
Directed By Katrina Channells
Released on August 9
Watch at www.stingraysisters.com

Stingray Sisters is a deeply moving three-part documentary highlighting the story of three Aboriginal sisters, Noni, Alice and Grace Eather, and their return to Maningrida in the Northern Territory, from schooling in Brisbane.


Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash.

Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash headed to the Rio 2016 Olympics despite the Israeli occupation making the West Bank-based athlete’s training extremely difficult.

Behind Enemy Lines
Provocalz Ft Ancestress
Released August 7, 2016
Free download
https://provocalz.bandcamp.com/track/behind-enemy-lines

On Monday July 25, Australia's ABC Four Corners program broadcast footage of Aboriginal children being abused in detention, bringing to international attention a story that had been largely ignored for years.

"Behind Enemy Lines" is the measured, heartfelt response from Aboriginal rapper Provocalz and Ancestress, a strong Dawson River Murri mother, singer, rapper, writer, poet, actor and visual artist.

Green Left TV's Zebedee Parkes has had his short film My Friend in Detention has been officially selected to be screened at the Washington DC-based Global Impact Film Fest later this month.


Hebron play Gaza Strip in the 2015 Palestine Cup final at al-Yarmouk Stadium, Gaza City.

Israel prevented at least nine footballers players from crossing from the West Bank into Gaza to join their team for the opening match of the Palestine Cup on July 26.


Gaza. July 2014.

A new short film, Gaza in Context, on the situation in Palestine takes aim at the corporate news media’s coverage of Israel’s July-August 2014 assault on Gaza.

Israel killed 2251 Palestinians during the attacks, including 551 children. About 75,000 people remain displaced two years later.


FBI raid in Miami gathering evidence on FIFA. May, 2015.

The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal at FIFA
Andrew Jennings
Arrow Books, 2016
305 pages

The unravelling of the empire of Sepp Blatter, the multi-millionaire president of world football, began in 2014.

Palestinians are using the viral smartphone game Pokemon Go, that has taken the world by storm, to highlight their political grievances, News.com.au reported on July 19.

While seemingly innocuous at first, the game has been subject to a number of conspiracy theories, including in China and also among Egyptian security forces, which claims its links to the CIA threatens Egypt's national security.

Ghostbusters
Written by Kate Dippold & Paul Feig
Directed by Paul Feig
Staring Melissa McCarthy; Kristen Wiig; Kate McKinnon; and Leslie Jones
In cinemas now

Internet troll Zane Alchin will be sentenced in Sydney next week after pleading guilty to “using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend”, to wit 55 vile comments on a Facebook post.


Image via Jewish Voices for Peace.

Major literary figures are among more than 150 writers urging Israel to release Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who has been under house arrest since January for a poem she wrote.

Ten-time Grammy Award winner, US musician Pharrell Williams has cancelled his July 21 performance in Tel Aviv amid conflicting explanations.

Over the past year, the “Happy” pop star has faced sustained pressure from the Palestine solidarity movement. Last year, amid rumours that he would be scheduling a Tel Aviv performance, campaigners urged him not to go.

In an open letter, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said that by performing in Tel Aviv, Williams would show himself “indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian children”.

With Serena Williams' record-tying Grand Slam victory July 9, her claim to the best athlete of her generation — male or female — seems irrefutable.

But with the celebrity tennis player's Compton-to-Wimbledon narrative, and emergence as an outspoken and defiant champion of the African American community in the US, is the superstar athlete the most iconic since the late Muhammad Ali?

Professional athletes provide a flicker of hope during these agonising days by speaking out against police violence.

“Shut up and play” clearly doesn't fly when black bodies are falling at the hands of those whose job is to serve and protect. In fact, it's almost surprising now when football and basketball players — the two sports most dependent on black labour — do not speak out.

Tomas Young's War
Mark Wilkerson
Haymarket Books, 2006
225 pages, US$17.95

Tomas Young never even fired his weapon. He was gravely wounded on his fifth day in Iraq in 2004. What followed was a story of unimaginable grit, courage, love, inspiration — and tragedy.

American singer Alicia Keyes has produced a short feature that reimagines the current refugee crisis as if it were taking place in California.

The refugee crisis in the wake of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa has triggered many militant xenophobic responses. But for those on the other side of the world, it can seem a distant reality.

Thus, Keys’ musical short film “Let Me In” aims to put US audiences in the shoes of these refugees.


Jesse Williams used his award acceptance speech to denounce institutional racism and police brutality.

Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams has been attacked for speaking out against racism with an online petition that garnered a paltry 1600 signatures in two days, demanding television network ABC fire the actor.

By contrast a counter-petition in support of the star had received 11,000 signatures by July 4.


England lose to Iceland and “Brexit” from Euro2016, June 27.

What a time to be in London. My family's long-planned vacation has given us a ringside seat for the greatest humiliations suffered by Britain since boxer Frank Bruno tried to take down a young Mike Tyson.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
Jane Mayer
Doubleday, 2016
449 pages

Like “dark matter” — the vast amount of invisible mass that holds the cosmos together — “dark money” is the astronomical quantity of hidden corporate money that holds the conservative US political universe together.

Diet of Austerity: Class, Food & Climate Change
By Elaine Graham-Leigh
Zero Books, 2015

Like the author of this interesting book on food and climate change, I have been struck by the way that the question of diet, and in particular meat eating, has become central to debates on tackling climate change.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
Presented by Sonny Liew.
Pantheon Books, New York.
322 pages, 2015.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is the account of the life of a Singaporean comic book artist who started drawing at the age of 16.

From that point, his work depicts his life story in parallel to that of the history of Singapore. In reality, Chan Hock Chye is a fictional creation of Malaysian born comic artist Sonny Liew who has worked on comics such as the New York Times bestseller The Shadow Hero.

In this never-ending election campaign, with uninspiring candidates bashing refugees and the most exciting point of note is an ad that indicates the Liberals think tradies where gold watches, there seems little to smile about. So the satirical show Australia Votes 2016, which premiered at the Harold Park Hotel in Glebe, Sydney on June 24, provides some badly needed relief.

Past sick sadistic tyrants made each victim dig their grave,
Mowed them down without mercy, in wave after wave.
But now heat is the trigger set for the many by the few
Will you be ready when the climate comes for you?

In Karachi they'll be ready when the tide of death rolls in
When the poor and frail fall prey to the oil barons' sin.

The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas about Living Ethically
By Peter Singer
Yale University Press, 2015
272 pages

Living up to his moral philosophical tradition of utilitarianism, with its “greatest good” principle, Australian philosopher Peter Singer's latest instalment is The Most Good You Can Do.

The book — endorsed by software monopolists and corporate philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates — is based on Singer's “Castle Lecture” at Yale University in 2013.

Zero K
By Don DeLillo
Simon & Schuster, 2016

Don DeLillo is known as one of America’s great authors, standing out for his effortless wisdom. So, now at 81, it is of no surprise that DeLillo tackles death and immortality in his recent novel Zero K.

Having foreshadowed the horror of 9/11 (Underworld), the Great Financial Crisis and Occupy Movement (Cosmopolis) and the anthrax scare (White Noise), Zero K is his literary prophecy of the commodification of the last dignity: death.

Everyone has a story about Muhammad Ali. For me it was as a young Black high school student in Detroit. I had already seen the wrongs of imperialism and its wars — and of course the racism Blacks faced in Detroit.

Ali as a Black man and Muslim was a powerful symbol of courage. His willingness to give up his boxing career in the 1960s to stand with the Vietnamese against the US government waging war on them reflected the stirrings of militant Black pride growing in Detroit.


US Women's soccer team after winning last year's World Cup.

The United States women's soccer team does not have the right to strike for better conditions and wages this year, a US district court judge ruled on June 3, Reuters reported that day.

The reverberations. Not the rumbles, the reverberations. The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people's minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier, George Foreman, or there will be retrospectives about his epic “rumbles” against racism and war.

But it's the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live. It's the reverberations that are our best defense against real-time efforts to pull out his political teeth and turn him into a harmless icon suitable for mass consumption.

It was with great sadness I heard of the death of David Page, one of the greatest entertainers Australia has produced in recent times. He was a famous child singer at the age of 14, an actor, musician, composer, dancer, playwright and story teller.

He was also a proud Nunukul and Munaldjali man from south-east Queensland. He was not afraid to admit his homosexuality. He was also the brother of Stephen and Russell Page of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, where he had enjoyed a long and rich artistic career.

I just returned to the United States from Rio de Janeiro, where I was researching a story on the Olympics in August for The Nation.

People spoke to me about the displacement and police violence that are accompanying the games. Yet one of the hottest points of discussion emerged from outside the country: a call to move, or at least postpone, the Olympics to prevent the global expansion of the Zika virus, currently exploding in Rio.

Rafael “Rafucko” Puetter is a Rio-based artist and activist who put together an “Olympic anti-souvenir shop” to highlight the injustices that arrive with the summer games.

I was sitting in the waiting room when you flashed across the screen
A heatwave smothered India and you were on the scene.
As you tried to cross the street, your shoe stuck to the road
So you ran on scorched bare feet, as the black tar slowly flowed.
Where there once were straight white lines, a crazy pattern morphed and swirled,
As if a giant with a paintbrush splashed out and dwarfed the world.
You long for cooling rain, but the monsoon will be late.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

You’re a woman of Maharashtra; farm life is what you know.

“When one farmer kills themselves you can call it suicide. But when a quarter of a million farmers kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide. These farmers are being killed by design.”

So opens Cotton For My Shroud, a documentary about embattled Indian farmers and the assault on traditional rural agricultural life waged by Monsanto and the political class in its pockets.

The overthrow of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in an institutional coup by right-wing forces has been justified by allegations of corruption — even though issue Dilma is being impeached on is use of a relatively normal government spending mechanism.

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