Saturday, 17 August 2013

Documentary: The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer (2012)

A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.


PS. One of the most powerful documentaries I have seen. If context is needed about the role of paramilitary groups in establishing modern colonialism, this can be found in The War on Democracy and The New rulers of the world by John Pilger.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Article: The Stonewall Riots (1969) - A Turning Point in the Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Liberation

Original Article written by Lionel Wright for The Socialist Alternative - July 1999

Something unremarkable happened on June 28, 1969 in New York's Greenwich Village, an event which had occurred a thousand times before across the U.S. over the decades. The police raided a gay bar.

At first, everything unfolded according to a time-honored ritual. Seven plain-clothes detectives and a uniformed officer entered and announced their presence. The bar staff stopped serving the watered-down, overpriced drinks, while their Mafia bosses swiftly removed the cigar boxes which functioned as tills. The officers demanded identification papers from the customers and then escorted them outside, throwing some into a waiting paddy-wagon and pushing others off the sidewalk.

But at a certain point, the "usual suspects" departed from the script and decided to fight back. A debate still rages over which incident sparked the riot. Was it a 'butch' lesbian dressed in man's clothes who resisted arrest, or a male drag queen who stopped in the doorway between the officers and posed defiantly, rallying the crowd?

Riot veteran and gay rights activist Craig Rodwell says: "A number of incidents were happening simultaneously. There was no one thing that happened or one person, there was just... a flash of group, of mass anger."

The crowd of ejected customers started to throw coins at the officers, in mockery of the notorious system of payoffs - earlier dubbed "gayola" - in which police chiefs leeched huge sums from establishments used by gay people and used "public morals" raids to regulate their racket. Soon, coins were followed by bottles, rocks, and other items. Cheers rang out as the prisoners in the van were liberated. Detective Inspector Pine later recalled, "I had been in combat situations, but there was never any time that I felt more scared than then."

Pine ordered his subordinates to retreat into the empty bar, which they proceeded to trash as well as savagely beating a heterosexual folk singer who had the misfortune to pass the doorway at that moment. At the end of the evening, a teenager had lost two fingers from having his hand slammed in a car door. Others received hospital treatment following assaults with police billy clubs.

People in the crowd started shouting "Gay Power!" And as word spread through Greenwich Village and across the city, hundreds of gay men and lesbians, black, white, Hispanic, and predominantly working class, converged on the Christopher Street area around the

Article: A villain’s guide to football - Welcome to the beautiful game

Original Article written for The Economist - Saturday 13, July 2013

Football clubs can easily be used as stealing machines. Here is an instruction manual. The stories are real, but most details are concealed.

A NEW football season approaches, and with it new players, overpriced replica kits and unsavoury club owners. If you are one of them, most observers will wrongly assume that you are laundering only your reputation, and that you are willing to lose millions on a philanthropic sporting folly to do so. That is too kind. Your new asset will not just help you wash your dirty money. It will make more of it too.

It is a good time to enter the football racket. Banks are less generous and sentimental about loans. Tax officials are less lenient, too, as Rangers, a big Glasgow club, discovered: it was forced into liquidation by tax arrears, afterwards being reconstituted under new ownership. But hard times mean clubs are desperate and going cheap. Set up a holding company (or a nest of them) in a discreet jurisdiction, as many owners do, and you have a money-laundering and embezzlement machine at your disposal. The authorities are unlikely to bother you (see article).

Start with ticket revenues. Exaggerating the attendance at matches lets you run some of the dirty takings from your previous career through the turnstiles, turning them into legitimate income (this particular ruse works best if you buy a middling club, where games are not routinely sold out). Conversely, if you need some petty cash you can siphon off the gate receipts—a tactic that some of Brazil’s football kingpins, the cartolas (“top hats”), are rumoured to have employed in the past.