Media (337)


Babies as Hostages

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

This week Trump faced the next major crisis of his presidency after hurricane Maria, and it will stay with us for the foreseeable future.  In April Jeff Sessions announced a new ‘zero tolerance’ policy for people illegally crossing the southern border, which implied that adults would be prosecuted and separated from their children.  A large number of recent arrivals on the border, however, are asylum seekers who are trying to escape from environments in which gang violence, rape and murder are common.  For them there is a specific process: they are supposed to report at a ‘port of entry,’ where their request for asylum is filed, after which they can remain united with their children while it is being processed.  The problem with this system is that there are only a few ports of entry and that they are severely underfunded – whether deliberately or not – and consequently understaffed, with as a result that every day large numbers of asylum seekers are turned away, essentially being told ‘come back some other time.’  Since almost none of them have the means to hang out in Mexico waiting for the port of entry to open, they have no choice but to cross the border illegally.

And that’s where the problem started.  Since the implementation of the policy upwards of  2,300 children, among them babies and toddlers, have been taken away from their imprisoned parents and placed in ‘centers,’ sometimes not more than a tent camp, managed by the Department of Health and Human Services.  The hardship imposed on children and parents is immeasurable, and psychiatrists warn that the traumatic effects of these separations could last a lifetime.  To make matters worse a number of children has been ‘lost’ and possibly ended up in the hands of human traffickers, while there is no process to reunite the families after the parents have been convicted and deported.  This modern fascist mess, with Trump’s full support created by his adviser Stephen Miller and Sessions, and executed by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, was finally too much for part of Trump’s hardcore followers, the only constituency he cares about, so that his approval rating even among Republican voters started sinking and the president was rudely awakened from his pipe dream that this would be a good issue for the upcoming midterm elections.

From the beginning it was obvious that the policy had two objectives: deterring asylum seekers from crossing the border and blackmailing the Democrats in Congress into approving funding for ‘the wall.’  About these objectives the public was treated to an assortment of often contradictory lies by Sessions, Nielsen, John Kelly and Trump himself, who also pretended that there was nothing he could do about the policy because it was ‘the law.’   However, on Wednesday he finally caved in and signed an executive order to rescind it.

At a rally that same night Trump’s racism, fertilized by the defeat he had suffered, was on full display when he talked about criminal immigrants ‘infesting’ the US and called the journey asylum seekers – who risk being robbed, raped and murdered – have to make to the border ‘a walk in the park.’  To get at least something out of it Trump praised the ever-silent Ivanka and the at best two-faced Melania for their role in changing the policy, and even sent the latter to the border to play the good cop of the family.

So far Trump’s executive order has primarily created confusion.  Upon being arrested and jailed in the US people get a receipt for their cellphone and wallet, but on the southern border parents were not given a receipt for their children, only a phone number that nobody answers.  Some families may never be reunited, and ‘crazy mothers’ may be wailing on the border for years to come.

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The Art of Making Friends

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

This week Trump lost one friend and he found another.  After he left the G7 meeting the president decided that the US would not sign the closing statement because the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had repeated at a press conference what he had said all along, that his country would respond to American tariffs with tariffs of its own.  Trump called Trudeau ‘weak, meek and very dishonest,’ while of his economic advisors Larry Kudlow called Trudeau ‘a backstabber’ and Peter Navarro said that there was ‘a special place in hell’ for Trudeau.  Subsequently Kudlow had a heart attack and Navarro had to apologize, but the damage to the western alliance was done, fulfilling Putin’s wildest dreams.  Trump would have wanted Putin to attend the meeting and restore the G7 to G8, so that in informal conversations he could have asked ‘Vlad, would you get out of Crimea, please, and get out of Ukraine?’ Convinced that that would have worked the president turned his attention to his next project, a meeting with Kim Jong-un.  He was as usual minimally prepared, but convinced that he could wing it.  ‘My touch, my feel’ has always served me well, he told the press.

After the president met with the Korean dictator, leader of the most repressive and cruel regime in the world, he said that it had been an honor to meet Kim, called him ‘very talented and funny’ and praised Kim’s ‘great personality.’  When asked about the terror Kim Jong-un exercises and the hardship he imposes on the North Koreans Trump called Kim ‘tough,’ but declared that he ‘loves his people.’  The president also called Kim a great negotiator, and there he may have had a point because it soon became clear that Kim had taken Trump to the Korean cleaners.  The joint statement only mentioned Kim’s intention to denuclearize the peninsula, without a time table or a verification process, while Trump, after already having given Kim equal footing on the world stage, announced that major US-South Korean military exercises, the ‘war games,’ would be halted, a longtime North Korean demand, even taking over North Korea’s rhetoric by calling them ‘provocative.’  Back home the president reiterated his deep and unabashed appreciation for the fact that Kim is a ‘leader for life, whose people sit up in attention when he speaks.’  If only we could have that here, you could almost hear him think, and then he even said it.

The long awaited report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department confirmed that there had been no grounds for prosecuting Hillary Clinton for the use of a private email server, but faulted James Comey for having violated protocol by talking twice publicly about the Clinton investigation, probably costing her the election.  Because of anti-Trump text messages between two FBI employees that verifiably did not affect the FBI’s behavior Rudy Giuliani demanded that the Mueller probe immediately be stopped and Mueller investigated.

Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders got themselves into hot water by invoking the Bible to defend the administration’s inhumane policy to separate asylum seeking parents from their children at the  border.  True to form Trump lied that these separations are mandated by law and caused by Democrats who don’t want to close legal loopholes.  Even Franklin Graham, Billy’s son and by no means a progressive, has called the policy un-Christian.

On the legal front the Trump Foundation, the president and his three oldest children were indicted for flagrant violations of New York State Law.  Paul Manafort was put in jail for witness tampering and Michael Cohen could soon be indicted, which scares the crap out of Trump.  On the bright side, Ivanka took $4 million profit out of Trump’s DC hotel.

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Een minuut minder voor een sportflits

Vanavond tusen negen en tien uur wordt op Radio 1 een programma herhaald, waarover ik vijf jaar geleden een stukje schreef. Het was De klank van Ulixes, gemaakt door mijn oud VPRO-collega Guido Spring. Het programma gaat over Bloomsday (16 juni 1904), de dag die James Joyce beschrijft in zijn alom geprezen Ulysses. 
      Er is 1 minuut uit het oorspronkelijke programma gehaald. Er moest namelijk ruimte blijven voor sportflitsen.
Tja. Zo gaat dat tegenwoordig. De godganse zondag is er sport op de radio (Langs de Lijn van 14.00 tot 19.00 uur; en 's avonds nog eens een uur van tien tot elf). Maar uitgerekend in de tijd dat er één van de nog zeer weinige documentaires wordt uitgezonden, moet er toch nog ruimte gemaakt worden voor een minuut extra sport.

Vijf jaar geleden werd het programma uitgezonden op Bloomsday, 16 juni dus.
      Maar dit jaar valt dat op zaterdag en dan is er -u raadt het al- sport op de radio. 

U kunt ook HIER naar het programma luisteren.  
      Hoort u het zonder gesneuvelde minuut.

Het stukje van vijf jaar geleden:

De klank van Ulixes

Vandaag is het Bloomsday. U weet natuurlijk wat dat is, maar uw buurman of buurvrouw misschien niet. Bloomsday komt uit Ulysses, de meer dan beroemde roman van de Ierse schijver James Joyce.
      Het beschrijft één dag uit het leven van Leopold Bloom, een joodse advertentieacquisiteur in Dublin.
Die dag was 16 juni 1904.

Complex meesterwerk

Ulysses is een nogal complex boek. Niet geheel onomstreden, maar door critici geprezen als een meesterwerk door zijn diverse stijlen, taalrijkdom en fantasie, zijn taalklanken en -wendingen, humor en zijn voor die tijd alle taboes doorbrekende seksscènes.

      Vrij algemeen wordt de roman beschouwd als HET werk van de wereldliteratuur in de twintigste eeuw. Op Bloomsday 1982 - het honderdste geboortejaar van Joyce- werd het integraal voorgelezen voor de Ierse radio. Drieëndertig acteurs deden daar dertig uur over. Dit bijzondere experiment stond later model voor de VPRO-Radio, toen Gerard Reve zijn Avonden voorlas.

      Je moet er even inkomen. Misschien helpt het om eerst de film te zien. Staat HIER (1954 met Kirk Douglas, Silvana Mangano en Anthony Quinn) integraal op Internet).
Dan leer je de karakters een beetje kennen. Niet alleen Leopold Bloom, die een soort reïncarnatie wordt van Odysseus, maar ook zijn vrouw Molly, die aan het eind van het boek een opzienbarende erotische monoloog afsteekt. En dan is daar ook nog de student Stephen Dedalus, die zo graag een kunstenaar zou willen zijn.

      Ik heb het boek gelezen in de vertaling van Pael Claes en Mon Nys, die in 1994 verscheen. Maar als u het boek niet gelezen heeft of zou willen herlezen, kunt u ook de geprezen nieuwste vertaling aanschaffen. Daarvoor tekenen Erik Bindervoet en Robbert-Jan Henkes.
      Die vertaling verscheen vorig jaar, maar binnenkort is er ook een pocket-editie.

Mijn oud VPRO-collega Guido Spring maakte samen met deze vertalers een radiodocumentaire, die vanavond tussen negen en tien uur wordt uitgezonden op Radio 1. Guido en de vertalers volgden in Dublin de sporen van Bloom en James Joyce en zochten vooral naar de geluiden van toen onder de titel: De klank van Ulixes.

      De documentaire (NTR-KRO-VPRO) kon gemaakt worden dankzij steun van het Nederlands Letterenfonds. Bijdrages zijn er ook van zanger Lucky Fonz en actrice Margijn Bosch. De presentatie op Radio 1 is van Vincent Bijlo.

Op DEZE SITE meer over de wekelijkse radiodocumentaire. 

James Joyce Tower


Medewerkers aan de documentaire op de James Joyce Tower even buiten Dublin aan het strand van Sandycove. De plek waar de roman begint.

V.l.n.r.: Robbert-Jan Henkes, Guido Spring, curator Robert Nicholson van de J.J.Tower en Erik Bindervoet.

Een beetje sfeer

Om een beetje in de sfeer te komen één citaat: (Begrijpt u waarschijnlijk ook waarom het moeilijk is om dit boek te vertalen)

‘Omdat hij een goedaardige aanhoudende pijn in de voetzolen voelde, strekte hij zijn voet naar één zijde uit en bekeek de kreuken, uitpuilingen en uitsteeksels die gedurende het herhaaldelijk in diverse uiteenlopende richtingen lopen waren veroorzaakt door druk van de voet, boog daarop voorover, ontstrikte de veterknopen, maakte de veters vrij en los, trok elk van zijn twee schoenen voor de tweede maal uit, deed de gedeeltelijk bevochtigde rechtersok uit, die aan de voorzijde opnieuw door de nagel van zijn grote teen was doorboord, tilde zijn rechtervoet op en trok nadat hij een paarsrode elastieken sokophouder had losgehaakt, zijn rechtersok uit, plaatste zijn onbedekte rechtervoet op de rand van de zitting van zijn stoel, pulkte aan het uitspringend deel van de grote-teennagel en scheurde het er zachtjes af, bracht het afgescheurde deel bij zijn neusgaten en snoof de reuk van het levende vlees op, waarna hij bevredigd het afgescheurde stuk nagel wegwierp’.




Killing Comey

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

During one of their sparse conversations Donald Trump must have said to Rudy Giuliani: “go out there and say the craziest things you can think of, so that I look and sound less insane.”  Hizzoner barely needed encouragement and immediately jumped at a memo Trump’s previous lawyers sent to Robert Mueller in January, in which they argued that the president cannot obstruct justice because he has executive oversight over the Justice Department.  While they were at it they also stated that he cannot be indicted, that he can pardon himself, and that any subpoena of the president will be challenged.  Doubling down on this absolutist concept of presidential power Giuliani declared that Trump could shoot James Comey without being indicted, and added that Mueller and thirteen Democrats are trying to frame the president.  Even Paul Ryan contradicted Hizzoner’s blatant nonsense, but his goals are clear: discredit Mueller now to obstruct a possible impeachment in the future, and paint the Special Counsel’s investigation as a purely partisan enterprise, further conditioning Trump’s base for an environment where facts don’t matter.

In two respects the memo didn’t help Trump.  His lawyers admitted that he dictated the misleading statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, exposing earlier lies by Don Jr., Sarah Sanders and Trump himself, and they didn’t even once mention that the president is not guilty.  Bad news for Trump came from the case of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has been accused of witness tampering and may have his bail revoked, increasing the chance that he’ll flip.  Possibly even more threatening is the anti-defamation suit of Summer Zervos, where Trump can be deposed and questioned under oath about his extra-marital affairs.  Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, made text messages between Michael Cohen and Stormy’s previous lawyer, Keith Davidson, public, showing that the two were in cahoots managing an on-again off-again appearance of Stormy on Sean Hannity’s show just before the election, where she would have denied her relationship with Trump.   It appears that the president  weighted in on this as well, and his legal problems are taking such a toll that he cannot stop fuming about Jeff Sessions, whose name he no longer allows to be mentioned.

After he cancelled a White House visit by the Philadelphia Eagles because only two players and eight officials would have shown up, Trump arranged an impromptu event with patriotic sing-a-longs and the Marine Corps band.  He exhibited his respect for the national anthem by clearly not knowing its words, and his knowledge of history by saying that Canada, which didn’t exist at the time, burned the White House in 1814.  A spokesperson for the State Department, fresh from Fox News, did him one better by using D-Day as a historic example of excellent US-German relations.

It’s obvious that Trump loves the power of pardon because it comes without checks and balances, which he would like to be the case with all aspects of presidential power.  Traditionally remorse and rehabilitation have been conditions of a pardon, but of the people Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby and Dinesh D’Souza have never shown any remorse.  Apparently the president is considering dozens more pardons to normalize the process for when it’s Don Jr.’s turn

On his way to the G7 meeting, which is now often referred to as G6+1 because of Trump’s hostile attitude towards America’s allies, the president surprised friend and foe by strongly suggesting that Russia should be re-admitted to the group, as if the invasion of Crimea never took place.  Seventy percent of registered voters now believe that Russia did interfere in the US elections, and Putin is definitely getting his money’s worth.

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Pardons Galore

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

While Trump is receiving what looks like a love letter from his new best friend, Kim Jong-un, and simultaneously antagonizes both his old European friends and China with import tariffs, the problems he is facing at home are multiplying.  In the Mueller probe the focus is now apparently on Trump’s many attempts, some public and very aggressive, to have Jeff Sessions un-recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, which may very well constitute obstruction of justice, because the US President tried to make the Attorney General violate Department of Justice policies.  When Trump fired James Comey, his other attempt to obstruct justice, he had a fallback option in the way Comey went public with the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but with Sessions he has none, which makes it almost inevitable that there was ‘corrupt intent,’ something prosecutors are looking for.  This is why Rudy Giuliani is worried about Trump being interviewed by Mueller.  According to Trump’s lead ‘lawyer’ collusion is based on facts and is not the problem ‘because there was none,’ but obstruction of justice is a matter of interpretation of the context of his client’s decisions and that totally freaks Hizzoner out.

Trump finally understands that the reason why he fired Comey can hurt him badly, so this week he lied that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with Russia.  Unfortunately for him he had already told the American public in an interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, and demonstrating perfect teamwork this very same week Giuliani said in an interview that Comey had been fired because he would not tell Trump that he’s not a target in the Russia investigation.  To make things worse a memo from former Deputy FBI Director McCabe surfaced that shows that Trump had asked Rod Rosenstein to reference Russia in his recommendation to fire Comey, something the Deputy AG refused to do.  In Southern Manhattan things got even dicier for Trump when it was revealed that Michael Cohen not only taped conversations with Stormy Daniels’s former lawyer but almost certainly also with Trump.  The only remedy for obstruction of justice is impeachment, but the ‘Trump tapes’ can lead to criminal indictments, to be executed as soon as the president leaves the White House.  We may end up with a future felon in the Oval Office who only tries to hang on to stay out of jail.

Anticipating convictions of associates and possibly family members Trump practiced some more with issuing pardons, exercising the only presidential power without checks and balances.  After pardoning Joe Arpaio and Scooter Libby he now pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, a summa cum laude graduate of the Jozef Goebbels School of Propaganda, who has pled guilty to a campaign finance violation.  Other pardons Trump is considering are for Martha Stewart and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

More significant than the choice of the individuals Trump is still planning to pardon, both of whom have appeared on his show ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,’ are the crimes all recipients of his pardons, current and future, have been convicted for: perjury, lying to the FBI, wire fraud and bribery, pretty much the spectrum of current and future indictments of members of Trump’s inner circle.

Staying with the celebrity theme Trump received Kim Kardashian in the White House.  She came to ask for a pardon for a great-grandmother who has been incarcerated more than 20 years for a non-violent crime,  but the White House press office made her a special adviser on prison reform.  Some job titles are earned very easily in this administration.

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