There’s no such thing as “Just Singing”

A Taiwanese, ethnic minority, children’s choir is disinvited to China after they sang the Taiwanese anthem at (Taiwan’s) President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration in May. The Puzangalan Choir was to travel to China in an endeavor to garner funds and visibility for a trip to an international singing competition in Hungary this fall. President Ing-wen has pledged a little over $15,000 USD when she heard about the cancellation.

Taiwan and China have a varying opinions on the sovereignty of the small island 110 miles off the coast of mainland China. However, that short distance is misleading, as Taiwanese government, freedoms, and art are leagues away from the People’s Party strict mandates in mainland China. Asian drama fans will note that television from mainland China is often overregulated to the point where the plot and characterization suffers, while Taiwanese dramas are rather enjoyable.

This political maneuvering is another example of a long string of contentious relations between Taiwan and China. It’s truly unfortunate, if not appalling, a children’s choir was the target.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-36547305

Source: AFP

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Floridian Government Officials Says “Thank you” to Broadway

The annual musical award ceremony, The Tony’s, were held last night in New York City. In reaction to the mass shooting that (early) morning in Orlando, leaving at least fifty dead and another fifty injured, host James Corden (tv show star and the Baker from this year’s Disney release of “Into the Woods,”) dedicated the night to the honor of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Many other actors, singers, and public figures showed their solidarity with the Orlando and LGBTQ community by donning silver ribbons and rainbow flag pins. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda offered heartfelt words on the red carpet: “If art is what fights tragedy, if art is what fights the void, if art helps us makes sense of violence and random acts of cowardice and killing, then tonight is important.” The Company of Hamilton performed “The Battle of Yorktown” without the customary musket props out of respect to those killed by the AR-15.

The Mayors of Orlando and Orange county reached out in a video to thank the Broadway community for “standing with us in our time of great need.”

Is France “allergic” to Multiculturalism?

From WikiCommons: " 'Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag,' February 25, 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). Lamartine said that the red flag represented revolutionary violence, and 'has to be put down immediately after the fighting.' "

From WikiCommons: ” ‘Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag,’ February 25, 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). Lamartine said that the red flag represented revolutionary violence, and ‘has to be put down immediately after the fighting.’ “

A new op-ed posted on the French news-site “Le Monde” today offered a cutting criticism of France’s ideas of nationality tied to ethnic background. The article delves into the twenty year history of the idea of “communautarisme,” a concept foreign to USians, which has become a pejoratif term for the subjugation of a majority to the aspects of a minority culture. (Think: the extra costs it takes for a school cafeteria to accommodate vegetarian or Halal food.) The article traces the modern negativity towards multiculturalism through the burning issue of women wearing the veil in public (in public schools, offices, etc.) and the debate it ensued in the 1990s and to recent dialogue and reactionary language to the attacks in Brussels and Paris. 

While this “allergy” to “communautarism” has modern ramifications, the article’s author Anne Chemin points out that the idea of a monocultural France can be traced back to the French Revolution from 1789-1799.

Indeed, many fundamentals and symbols of French national identity are tied to monoculturalism. In the USA, we have jus soli–citizenship determined by the land upon which one is born. (Remember the debate of Obama’s birth certificate and place of birth?)  In France, the system is jus sanguinis–citizenship is determined by the nationality of one’s parents (and often grandparents). Furthermore, the red of the French flag is symbolic of blood-relations. Likewise, the last part of the French motto refers to “brotherhood.” The idea of purity of blood is further cemented to primary French national identity in the repeated chorus of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem: “To arms, citizens!…Let [their] impure blood soak our fields.” (Aux armes, citoyens!…Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons.) Continue reading

Star Trek Beyond Trailer #2 Locked on Baby Boomers + Millennials

The third movie in the latest Star Trek film franchise launched a new trailer yesterday. Star Trek Beyond won’t premier until late July this year, but it is already hooking in the Baby Boomer and Millennial target audiences.

 

All Phasers locked on Baby Boomers

In an interesting shift from the previous two movies, this trailer hints that the movie will focus on the relationship between Bones and Kirk, rather than the Sprik dynamic that climaxed in Into Darkness’s role-flip of the iconic Wrath of Khan character development scenes. The entire first minute of the two minute, twenty-four second trailer is devoted to two older characters advising the young Kirk. The opening dialogue between Bones and Kirk delves into the young captain’s struggle to live up to his father’s legacy. Kirk self-deprecatingly claims “I joined [Starfleet] on a dare” and Bones corrects him, “you joined to see if you could live up to [your father].” Bones continues to advise Kirk, and the next voice added to the dialogue is that of an older woman ( 64 year old, new-to-the-franchise Shohreh Aghdashloo,) who also counsels Kirk on the dangers of space.

Later in the trailer, Dr. McCoy appears again to impart wisdom to a junior. This time, Spock claims, “Fear of death is illogical,” and once again, Bones counters the younger’s position: “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” Continue reading

“The Kiss” Viral Image Offers Commentary beyond the Shock Value

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

A piece of street art from Vilnius, Lithuania has been hitting the internet hard this week. The image depicts expected Republican nominee for the US Presidency, Donald Trump, in an unblinking embrace with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  From the perspective of an artist from the former Soviet bloc, this depiction reflects a cautionary wariness of the future should  Trump be elected. Internationally, its viral popularity illustrates a new dimension to the transnational dialogues on homophobia, xenophobia, and “conservative politics.”

Read more about this image:
BBC Culture Article: “a closer look at the mural reveals a level of subtle political commentary that cuts against the superficial sensation” http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160518-what-does-the-trumpputin-kiss-really-mean

Poignant Article Bridges Past and Present of Japanese-American Relations

ForeignPolicy.com today published a beautifully written inspection and reflection on the US’s role in shaping Japan in the 20th century. In “Hiroshima, My Father, and the Lie of U.S. Innocence,” freelance writer Jerry Delaney details his journey through memory and research of the post-WWII Tokyo trials: as a boy, Delaney lived with his father who served as a judge in the historical trials that were woefully incomplete, inadequate, and politically motivated. As a man, Delaney searched through first-hand accounts of the war crimes committed by both the US and Japan in the early 20th century to answer his daughter’s questions of familial involvement in this dark chapter of history.

This article gives new insights to those already knowledgeable of that era while being presented in plain yet artistically structured narrative for those unfamiliar with these histories.

A must-read for understanding today’s Japan.

Update: Terrorism in Europe

Less than a week after James Taylor’s Facebook cry for European solidarity against terrorism, we see another terrorist attack on European soil. This time it takes place in Brussels. This time we have social media mobilisation, hashtags, as well as visible shows of support from Downing Street to the Elysee Palace.

I, personally, have received information that the Turkish government has cracked down on its citizens’ reporting of terrorist attacks and that many people there are organizing and spreading information of how to post Facebook and other social media reports from foreign IPs. I’ve not seen reports of such nature in the Associated Press. If you see something, feel free to forward it to me.

 

Link: “Downing Street Raises Belgium flag and we tweet for Brussels, but where was this sympathy after Ankara? Our indifference is fuelling organisations like ISIS” http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/downing-street-raises-the-belgian-flag-and-we-tweet-for-brussels-but-where-was-this-sympathy-after-a6946271.html