Commentary on the Olympic Torch Protests

Human Rights Watch Asia Advocacy Director Sophie Richardson on The Newshour.

Human Rights Watch Media Director Minky Worden on Democracy Now!

The Olympic Torch Relay dates back to the Nazi Olympics in 1936.

Minky Worden:

There is a wonderful new academic book called Nazi Games, which gives a concise history of this. The torch relay itself is essentially a PR invention of the Nazi era, and the point of it was to run the torch through parts of Europe that Nazi Germany hoped to take over, including the Sudetenland. So I think if the corporate sponsors of the torch relay really knew the history of this, I can’t imagine that they would want to be associated with it. And the sponsors are Coca Cola, Lenovo, and Samsung…There certainly will be a price to pay in terms of corporate reputation if the torch relay inside China turns into a major human rights debacle.

Minky’s upcoming book: China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges.

My view: The Olympics are essentially about political propaganda and making money. The role of activists and people who are simply engaged and concerned with the issues, both in China and people standing in solidarity with the people living in/under the PRC, is to exploit the inherent weaknesses and flaws of authoritarian propaganda (and it’s private sector corollaries, corporate branding and marketing) and to communicate an alternative message of respect for rule of law, human rights, and basic universal freedoms. We need to brand-jack and culture jam the marketing/propaganda of the Olympics to refocus attention on real issues of human rights and freedoms.

Avaaz: Burma campaign update

This is an email I received today from Avaaz.org. They are on a staff retreat right now in the South of Spain, but it seems like they are keeping busy with this Burma campaign and trying to get ads placed in newspapers. I can’t wait to see what the ads look like. Hopefully, they will make a splash.

Dear friends,

Our emergency petition to stop the crackdown on peaceful protesters in Burma is exploding, with nearly 500,000 signers from every nation of the world. But the situation in Burma remains desperate, with reports of hundreds of monks being massacred and tortured. Burma’s rulers have also killed and expelled international journalists, cutting off global media coverage of their cruelty.

China is still the key – the country with the most power to halt the Burmese generals’ reign of terror. We’re delivering our message this week with a massive ad campaign in major newspapers, beginning Thursday with a full page ad in the Financial Times worldwide, and in the South China Morning Post. The strength of the ad comes from the number of petition signers listed – can we reach our goal of 1 million signatures this week? The link to sign the petition and view the ad is below, forward this email to all your friends and family!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/u.php

China continues to provide key economic and military support to Burma’s dictatorship, but it has been openly critical of the crackdown. Now we need the government to match words with actions. Our ad paints a powerful moment of choice for China in its relationship with the world – will it be a responsible and respected member of the global community, or will it be associated with tyranny and oppression?

People power, on the streets of Burma, and around the world, can triumph over tyranny. Our strength is in our numbers, spread the word!

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Ben, Graziela, Pascal, Galit and the whole Avaaz team.

For the best local reporting on the situation in Burma, try these links:

http://www.irrawaddy.org

http://www.mizzima.com

New Gear: Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

I received my new Zoom H2 Handy Recorder in the mail today. I can’t wait to try it out. I will definitely be bringing it on my trip to San Francisco this weekend (October 6-8), and look forward to using it to make LEESEAN.net and Hepnova.com demos, field recordings and podcasts in the future.

Hepnova New York Photos

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Sophia and LS got together for some more Hepnova album recording sessions in New York this week. Check out the pictures on Flickr.

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Photos from our Arizona recording session earlier this month can be found here.