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EXCLUSIVE: Gilad Atzmon on politics in music, Roger Waters, Palestine and humanitarianism

Jazz musician, author and philosopher Gilad Atzmon spoke with The Duran about Roger Waters verses the Israel lobby, the place of politics in music, freedom versus dogma and Palestinian freedom in the 21st century.

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Recently, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has been in the news, not for his North America musical tour but for his politics. As an outspoken supporter of Palestine, he has come up against the Israel lobby in many western countries.

Recently, various pro-Israel activists have financed the making of a film against Waters called Wish You Weren’t Here, a mockery of the Pink Floyd album and song Wish You Were Here.

Even among politically minded musicians, few talk about the Israel/Palestine issue. I recently spoke with acclaimed jazz musician, philosopher, social commentator and pro-Palestine thinker Gilad Atzmon about his reaction to the latest attempt to smear Roger Waters over his advocacy of Palestinian justice.

AG: As someone who started life as a musician, I have a special affection for music and I would personally never judge my emotive experience at listening to a piece of music based on the politics of the composers and/or performers. At the same time, I am deeply political and am consequently always attentive when musicians decide to get political.

It is nothing new. From Beethoven’s 9th symphony, to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture and Strauss’s 4 Last Songs, musicians have always been immersed in world events. People look to the revolutionary attributes of jazz heroes like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Roland Kirk and Miles Davis to the folk, pop and rock music of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Pink Floyd as a source of meaning that ties the political into the emotional and dare I say the spiritual also.

What do you think the connection is and ought to be between music and politics?

 GA: To start with, although historically musicians and artist have been highly involved in politics, I am not so sure that this is the case anymore.  The culture industry has evolved into a subservient operation. First it reduced beauty into a commodity and  then utilized it as a propaganda tool. Our (music) festivals are funded by banks and politically oriented cultural institutes.

There is no doubt, for instance,  that Jazz, the voice of the oppressed, has lost touch with its original poignant revolutionary impetus. It has been mostly reduced into emotionless scholarly noise verging on academic masturbation.

While politicians operate within a giving symbolic order, artists question conventions and re-invent symbolism. At present, the domineering aspect of the industry reduces the artist into a propagator of accepted conventions utilizing acceptable symbolism. I rebel against all of it. I prefer to dig and to seek the truth, I don’t claim to know the truth but I love excavating.

 AG: When it comes to the issue of Palestinian freedom and dignity, three people who can justifiably be called music legends stand out as  artists who have used both their music and their voices to speak out, there is yourself, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine). Are these artists different than others who talk about political issues, people who tend to flirt with the establishment for example like Bono?

GA:  First, thank you for considering me a ‘legend.’ Supporting Palestine is no doubt a noble cause. Moreover, since the music industry is largely an extended Jewish syndicate, opposition to the Jewish State is a self-inflicted death sentence. As you would expect, not many reasonable people choose to sentence themselves to death.

Robert Wyatt has been supporting Palestine  because he is the most authentic mench around. Waters performed in Israel a few years ago, he witnessed the oppression, he was moved by it. He joined the solidarity movement. My case is a bit different. I was born in Israel. It took me many years to grasp that Israel was Palestine and I was living on someone else’s land. When I understood this, I immigrated to London where I found that Diaspora Jews who operate politically as Jews (Zionist as well as ‘anti’) are far more obnoxious and even dangerous than Israel is. The Lobby (AIPAC, LFI, CFI, CRIFF) dominates USA, UK and French foreign affairs. It pushes us into wars. Unfortunately,  a similar Jewish lobby dominates the Palestinian solidarity movement and has managed to reduce the Palestinian call for a ‘Right of Return’ into an internal Jewish debate about the ‘Right to BDS’ (Boycott, Divest & Sanction Israeli goods).  I started to ask myself questions relating to Jewish power and the Jewish past. I realised that Palestinians are just the Goyim du jour. If we want to help Palestine, we have to understand that by now we are all Palestinians.

Bono, is an interesting case. I would love to believe that he is a genuine and empathetic human being. But too often his activity somehow coincides with neocon interests, colonial imperialism and mammonism in general. Whether Bono is informed enough or not is beyond me. I have never looked into his case in a scholarly manner.

 AG: Have you ever personally feared that your musical career could be harmed because of your philosophical, sociological and political statements even though you’re an ardent advocate of peace and human dignity for all?

GA: Assaults against my artistic activity occur daily. Promoters and presenters of my work are subject to a constant barrage of pressure and even threats. Very rarely they succeed in having a gig of mine cancelled.

However, this is crucial. In Europe there are broad hate speech prohibitions. Despite the endless attempts to silence me, not once have I been questioned by a law enforcement body anywhere around the world about anything I said or wrote.

AG: Imagine you are the child in a secular Jewish/Zionist home. You like listening to Pink Floyd’s records as almost all young people have done since the 1960s. Your parents then tell you not to listen anymore because of Roger Waters’ views on Palestine. What might you feel? Would listening to Roger’s music become an act of youthful rebellion decades after The Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall were recorded?

GA: If Zionism was a promise to make Jews people like all other people, then stopping your children from listening to Pink Floyd guarantees that they won’t be people like other people.

AG: In addition to speaking out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, Roger Waters encourages all musicians to boycott Israel. What are your views on this and if you were invited to Israel to perform your music would you go? If you went would you feel that you would be at risk of violence due to your philosophy and statements?

GA: Yesterday in Prague I met two Israeli musicians who used to work with me in the 1980s. We ended up talking about Roger Waters. They weren’t politically oriented people however, they suggested that Waters is on shaky moral ground because Waters mounts pressure on artists to join BDS and boycott Israel. Let me shock you, I am also troubled by that. The fact that Palestinian solidarity activists can’t differentiate between a tomato and a poet or between an avocado and an historian troubles me.  I am an avid advocate of freedom of speech and expression. I want beauty and ideas to travel freely.

Every discourse is a set of boundaries.  I was invited last year to participate in the 30th Red Sea Festival. My personal boundary is that I will not visit the Jewish State or any other state that is set to serve the interest of one race. I vowed not to visit Israel unless it is a state of its citizens and by that I mean that it is Palestine from River to the Sea.

AG: Roger Waters often pens open letters to fellow artists. Here is your opportunity to do the same. What would you write to Roger?

GA:  Dear Roger:

As a hero of humanity and freedom who made the prospect of a bright future into a song, I urge you to distinguish between Athens and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city of revelation and commandments, it provides us with a set of laws that define right and wrong. Athens, on the other hand, is the symbol of philosophy, beauty, science and reason.  Activists belong to Jerusalem, philosophers are from Athens. You cannot fight Jerusalem while being a Jerusalemite. Athens is where you belong. Let’s enable people to think for themselves and learn to make ethical judgements. Let us choose Athens rather than setting a different tyranny of correctness.

AG: Roger Waters is now 73. His musical statement has been very much ingrained on the world and that won’t be taken away. If there was a young man of 17 with the musical talents of for example yourself or Roger and the political views of either yourself or Roger, would you advise them to hold their tongue for the sake of their career assuming you were asked with sincerity and respect?

GA: I guess that I pay a price for being outspoken, but I am very happy. I am a free agent. As I said above, I am not an activist, I don’t advise people what to do or what to say, I endeavor to help people form their own thoughts as they move along. The same rule applies to me, my thoughts are shaped and reshaped constantly. For me this is what Being in Time is all about.

AG: Gilad, you recently played on Pink Floyd’s ‘final’ record, The Endless River featuring the line-up of David Gilmour, Nick Mason with archived recordings from the late Richard Wright. If you are able to do so, can you disclose if your politics were discussed during the recording sessions given that the elephant in the room would have been the fact that your politics are most similar to the ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters who was not on that particular album?

GA: We didn’t touch upon politics, we were there for music. What fascinated me was that I initially experimented with my tenor sax. It wasn’t easy, I am not the ideal Pink Floyd saxophonist. Then I went into the control room and told David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera that in my mind, I  heard something completely different—a Turkish clarinet. I played one take, there was silence. David said that it was beautiful but totally foreign to Pink Floyd’s sound.  I agreed, he was correct. But I told him that this was what I heard. I didn’t think that my clarinet would make it into the Album, but it did. The explanation is simple: through art, beauty reveals  itself as an authenticity.

 AG: Do you think condemnation of artists like yourself, Roger Waters, Robert Wyatt and others from the Israel lobby has any negative effect on how your music is perceived and enjoyed? On the contrary does it have a positive effect or is it immaterial to most music lovers?

 GA: If anything, the attacks provide humanity with a glimpse into the vindictiveness that is unfortunately embedded in Jewish Identity politics, both Zionist and anti. My response; the more they attack, the faster and louder I play. Still, there is something I fail to understand. If the lobby is upset by my criticism of Jewish Identity politics, all they have to do is make sure that the saxophone is constantly shoved into my mouth. They should insure that I play 24/7, they should book my gigs rather than try to cancel them.

Gilad Atzmon’s book Being In Time: A Post Political Manifesto is available now

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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