Friday, July 29, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Murakami Haruki on Fukushima

Japanese author Murakami Haruki put the Fukushima nuclear disaster into perspective on June 9th in a brilliant speech in Barcelona in acceptance of the International Catalunya Prize.

He linked the nuclear disaster in Fukushima with the holocaust caused by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. The people of Japan are beginning to see the fallout of 1945 and the fallout of 2011 as one.

Japan's government, virtually synonymous in the old days with the Liberal Democratic Party (which held nearly unbroken power for more than half a century until 2009), had forged ahead with the nuclearisation of the power industry in the decades of growth after the war without any national debate on the multifarious issues of safety related to it. This railroading through of lax laws and permissive regulations indicated that the sleepers had been laid; and all that was then needed was to lay the tracks toward nuclear weaponry, and Japan would have come of age.

Now that the Fukushima disaster has demonstrated the dangers of 'peaceful uses' of the atom, the bomb and the power plant, with their inherent threats to human life, are linked in the mind of the people. 'We Japanese should have continued to shout 'no' to the atom,' Murakami said with vehemence in Barcelona. 'That is my personal opinion. We should have combined all our technological expertise, massed all our wisdom and know-how, and invested all our social capital to develop effective energy sources to replace nuclear power, pursuing that effort at the national level.'

As of 2011, Japan's seized-up government seems perpetually ensconced in a sarcophagus dropped over their heads by a profit-at-any-cost industry, an uncreative and captive bureaucracy and an apathetic, meek citizenry fed on a broadly apathetic and meek media diet. For decades these conspired to create a nuclear industry that is essentially unsafe in a country whose land is constantly sliding, shaking or flooding.

I am honored that people of Catalonia have appreciated my works, and bestowed this outstanding award. The place where I live is far from here and the language that I speak is different. For those reasons, the culture is also quite different. And yet, at the very same time, we are all citizens of the world, shouldering similar burdens, and embracing similar joys and sorrows. And that is why so many novels written by Japanese writers have been translated into Catalan and are read by the people. It delights me that I can share with all of you this common narrative. The writer’s work is the dreaming of dreams. But we have even more important work: to share those dreams with everyone. If one does not possess that sense of sharing, one cannot be a novelist.

I know that the people of Catalonia have overcome tremendous hardships in their history. Although you suffered terrible trials at times, you have carried on with tremendous vitality and preserved your rich culture. There is much that we can share between us.

If all of you in Catalonia, and all of us in Japan, could become "unrealistic dreamers," if we could come together to create a "spiritual community" that unfolds beyond the limits of borders and cultures, what a wonderful thing that would be. I believe that would be the starting point for the rebirth of all of us who have passed through assorted terrible disasters and terrors of unmitigated sadness over recent years. We should not be afraid to dream dreams. We should not allow the dogs of misfortune named "efficiency" and "convenience" to overtake us. We must be "unrealistic dreamers" who step forward with a strong stride. A person must die one day and disappear from this earth. But humanity will remain. That humanity will continue on without end. We must first believe in the power of humanity.

Let me say in closing that I intend to donate the funds from this prize to help the victims of the earthquake and of the nuclear power plant accident. My deep thanks to the people of Catalonia and everyone at Generalitat de Cataluña for giving me such an opportunity. Finally, I would also like to express my deep condolences for the victims of the recent Lorca earthquake. 

Hiroshima Day Sydney 2011 - 6 August

trees in window

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Never Buy the Sun

A Song by Billy Bragg©Billy Bragg 2011

Never Buy the Sun, was written in the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal. It also refers to the Sun's sales in Liverpool, which never recovered after its coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster

Bragg, who is appearing at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Trade Union Festival in Dorset on Sunday 17th July, said "Over the past few years, any expression of social solidarity has been scorned – from the new activism of the climate camps and UK Uncut to the more traditional campaigns of the unions – but by sticking to their guns, the people of Liverpool have been vindicated in their principled stand against News International."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day

Paris 1789: Liberty - Fraternity - Equality
popular demands   ––   by popular revolt 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facundo Cabral: 1937 – 2011

Argentine singer-songwriter who was one of the most eloquent voices of protest against military dictatorships in Latin America from the 1970s onward, died on Saturday, shot to death while on tour in Guatemala. He was 74 and lived in Buenos Aires.

The death of Mr. Cabral, who in 1996 was designated a “worldwide messenger of peace” by the United Nations, caused consternation throughout the Spanish-speaking world. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela sent a message via Twitter: “Oh what pain! They have killed the great troubadour of the Pampas.” René Pérez, leader of the Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13, wrote, “Latin America is in mourning,” and other leading pop-music figures, among them Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Ricardo Montaner, also sent messages lamenting his loss.

Rigoberta Menchú, the Guatemalan Indian leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, seemed to contradict this view when she said Saturday, “I can’t help but think he was assassinated for his ideals.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011