September 2011 Archives - BrothersJudd Blog
SINCE the first triumphs of the Western Desert art movement, which had its origins in remote Papunya 40 years ago this month, a shining dream has haunted the Australian indigenous art market: the dream of international acceptance and global cultural prestige. He had never been indicted for a crime here, much less convicted of one, much less sentenced to death. We are told that he was a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and there is some evidence that his preachings influenced Al Qaeda terrorists, including a few of the 9/11 attackers and the shoe bomber. Abdullah pulled up a picture on his computer of one of Homs's first martyrs, a 19-year-old named Amjad Zantah, who was killed during the government's attempts to crush the earliest protests in the city. Those first, mysterious boards with their elusive symbols painted by the desert men; the grand topographic panels of the mid-1980s; the wild, jagged colour fields poured out in the far western sand-dune communities in recent years: how is it they charm Australian audiences so easily and dominate private collections and state galleries in this country, yet fail to win such concerted admiration in the wider world? I'd been covering the uprising since its beginning, but the question that still eluded me was how the Syrian youth -- the shabab -- keep fighting in the face of such withering violence. Aboriginal art promoters and enthusiasts, Australian and foreign, have tried repeatedly in the past two decades to overcome the indifference of the fickle, shifting contemporary culture establishment and stage breakthrough shows that would put the indigenous tradition on the map: regularly, a landmark exhibition is held, word spreads, then ebbs away, and all the optimism dies. How can laptops and cellphones and bags of nails and pipes that shoot onions be any match for one of the Arab world's most fearsome police states? But does that give the President the right to summarily execute a U. President Obama asserts that right, not just to bump off Al-Awlaki but also other U. Iyad, a young father who named his newborn daughter after Dara'a, showed off a bandaged right knee that was grazed by a bullet.
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Did FDR have the right to murder Ezra Pound during World War II for vocally supporting the fascists? In a separate report, the bureau said that the nation's black population also grew, spurred by a 76 percent jump in the number of people who said they were biracial or multiracial.[T]he decline in the price of oil, if it holds, represents perhaps the best news for the U. economy this year, outside of the end of the period of large job layoffs by U. Protests after Friday prayers have become ritual, and in response to them the military and security forces have assaulted many of Syria's largest cities -- Latakia, Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zour and, of course, Dara'a -- the violence so pronounced that the United States and European countries have demanded President Bashar al-Assad end his 11-year reign. America's majority-white population kept growing in 2010, thanks to a burgeoning number of "Hispanic whites," the Census Bureau said Thursday. More than 2,200 Syrians have been killed and thousands more arrested in the relentless government crackdown. The teens were reportedly beaten, and some of them had their fingernails pulled out. The revolt spread quickly from Dara'a throughout the country and has become the most violent in the Arab uprising, rivaled only by Libya, but Libya was a civil war.
The Syrian uprising began in mid-March in the hardscrabble town of Dara'a, about 160 miles from here, after 15 teenagers were arrested for writing antigovernment graffiti on school walls. GDP by $100 billion per year and every 1 cent decline in gasoline increases U. consumer disposable income by $600 million per year. And how can an eclectic array of leftists, liberals, conservatives, nationalists, Islamists (themselves diverse) and the disgruntled and downtrodden prove unified enough to bring it down?
"Tunisia won, Egypt won, and we're going to win ourselves," Abdullah said when I asked him about the odds they were up against. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy." Abdullah and the others understood the story's meaning. "There's no going back." His words reminded me of an anecdote from Islamic history known by all these youths, schooled as they were in a country that celebrates a glorified Arab past as state propaganda. "We know the Syrian revolution is here," Iyad said, pointing to his sinewy biceps. In the eighth century, the Muslim general Tariq bin Ziyad led his troops to Gibraltar, then burned his own army's ships after the soldiers disembarked. "It's up to us." [...] Over 40 years of dictatorship, the Assads cauterized any expression of dissent, enforcing silence, and most prominent dissidents have spent years in places like Tadmur, a notorious regime dungeon. One of them, Riad Turk, a veteran communist imprisoned for nearly two decades, once told me he endured his isolation only by accepting that his life outside had come to an end. He spent day after day fashioning landscapes on a cement floor with pieces of discolored rice that he had removed from his meals and let dry.
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At the end of the day, he swept the scene away and began a new one in the morning. Yet after the security forces withdrew in June, Hama's citizens began to tentatively speak for themselves. The educated elite -- doctors, engineers, lawyers -- communicated with a 60-year-old cleric, Mustafa Abdel-Rahman, who heads a prominent mosque. "What controls Hama now is the shabab," Obada said. "We had to," Obada said as his friends fired up the water pipes.
Sheik Mustafa, in turn, negotiated with the governor, who answers to Assad. "We've forgotten our disagreements until we get rid of this regime." They imposed their own 10 p.m. They figured out ways to deliver bread to the checkpoints they manned on their own, in daytime and nighttime shifts. His friends made You Tube videos that became, by Syria's standards, Internet sensations. "The smell was killing us." It was 1 a.m., and Obada's cellphone rang again. It was a remarkable development, perhaps the first time in decades in Syria that the exercise of power was a dialogue. Another protest had convened in Assi Square, prompted by the simple fact that it could happen. Moises, the photographer, and I returned to Homs the next day, arriving at Iyad's father's house, where Abdullah and his friends were sleeping after their "hot" night. The other day, Obada told me, youths had organized five demonstrations in a single day. We had planned to leave from there for the border, then head back to Lebanon.
But soon after we arrived, Iyad told us that villagers along the border had been killed the night before in what looked like sectarian vendettas. No Sunni dared go through an Alawite village, and vice-versa.
Since the smuggling routes that would take us back to Lebanon snaked through those villages, we were stuck, at least for a while. We sat for hours, talking and drinking tea, and it soon became clear that the other youths treated Abdullah, the computer engineer, with deference. Like the others, Abdullah seemed courageous, but he didn't share their youthful bravado.
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His religious faith was formidable, the kind that doesn't compromise before authority or custom or age. "For the old people, the terror is still there, in a way we can't imagine anymore," he said. "Even the children were nursed at their mother's breast with fear." Others listened respectfully, including an older relative of Iyad's who told me he had a doctorate. "The Syrian revolution is an orphan," Abdullah went on. "It has no father and no mother." It had only them, he suggested. Abdullah estimated that 100 people in Homs were directing the protests, which had now become better organized. The youth would sometimes wear armbands designating a task: breaking up fights among one another, cleaning up the streets after they were finished and delivering food to demonstrators.
There was even a health committee to treat the wounded. No one dared to go to hospitals anymore, Abdullah explained, fearful that security forces would arrest them or do worse.