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Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

Spike Lee gives voice to black American soldiers

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:50 am

By Silvia Aloisi

ROME (Reuters) – Hollywood has mostly ignored the role played by black American soldiers during World War Two, but director Spike Lee is about to set the record straight.

His next film will tell the story of a group of soldiers with the racially segregated, all-black 92nd Buffalo Division which fought against Nazi occupation in Italy in 1944-45.

The film, based on James McBride’s novel “Miracle at St. Anna”, will be shot in Tuscany, where the American soldiers found themselves trapped in the mountains behind enemy lines, living with locals who had never seen a black person before.

“Very few Hollywood films deal with black soldiers,” Lee said in an interview in Rome, where he stopped to present his next work before going on location scouting in Tuscany.

“For the most part, if you look at the history of Hollywood cinema they haven’t dealt with anybody other than white Americans.

“If you think Hollywood and World War Two, you think John Wayne — the great white male that saved the world. It’s a myth,” he told Reuters.

Even “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima”, Clint Eastwood’s twin films about the bloody 1945 battle of Iwo Jima, failed to recognize the role of black soldiers, Lee said.

“Many black veterans who fought in Iwo Jima were hurt that there was no representation of them in both of those films.”

Racial issues are a favorite theme for Lee, the director of “Malcom X”, “Do The Right Thing”, and an acclaimed 2006 documentary on how Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

For him, the contribution made by black troops to America’s war effort against the Nazis was all the more remarkable given that back home they were still suffering racial discrimination.

PARADOX

“We always had this paradox of African-American soldiers, negroes and black people who feel they must defend their country, they must fight for democracy and yet at the same time they are considered second-class citizens,” Lee said.

“So many soldiers who fought in whatever war you want to name, when the war was over they were still going back to being second-class citizens, not someone who has full rights.”

Lee said he had always wanted to make a film about World War Two and had been looking for an opportunity to shoot in Italy. He said the film would have a “great international cast” of U.S., Italian and German actors, but did not elaborate.

“My belief is that World War Two is the last war that America was right about. Anything after that, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq — they were wrong … wrong,” he said.

McBride’s book, based on a true story, focuses on four Buffalo soldiers, and the friendship between one of them and a six-year-old Italian orphan.

The village mentioned in the book’s title, Sant’Anna di Stazzema, was the site of an infamous massacre on August 12, 1944 when Nazi troops rounded up and killed 560 civilians.

Nearly a quarter of the 15,000 Buffalo soldiers, many of whom had little education and could not read or write, were killed during the campaign in Italy.

Two of them were only awarded Medals of Honour 50 years later, said William Perry, an 82-year-old veteran of the division who was 19 when he fought in Tuscany and met Lee for the film.

“I felt better and had more freedom in Italy than back in the U.S.,” Perry said. “But I am no hero. The heroes are those who are buried in the American cemetery in Florence.”

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

Pacific artworks on display for first time

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:49 am

Posted Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:29pm AEST

A new permanent display of art from the Pacific region opens today at the National Gallery of Australia, with most of the works appearing publicly for the first time.

Gallery director Ron Radford says the collection is drawn from countries such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

“We’re very much giving priority to Australian art, to South East Asian art and Indian art, and our own Pacific art,” he said.

“These are our strengths.”

“These complement what’s not being emphasised in the state galleries.”

The gallery’s curator of Pacific art, Crispin Howarth, says his hardest job was choosing 40 items from several thousand in the vaults.

“That was the delicious thing,” he said.

“I had the choice of so many beautiful objects which were just lying dormant, just waiting to speak.

“Some objects do communicate, have a beautiful visual force and vibrancy, so it was a very tough choice.

“I did spend quite a while enjoying looking at so many works.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2…

Iraq accident death soldier named

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:49 am

Rifleman Edward Vakabua was “quiet, shy and pleasant”
A British soldier who died in an accident in Iraq on Friday has been named as Rifleman Edward Vakabua, 23, of 4th Battalion The Rifles.

Rifleman Vakabua, a Fijian national from Suva serving in Mortar Platoon attached to 7 Platoon, B Company, died at the Basra Palace base.

The Ministry of Defence has not given any details of the accident, but said an investigation had begun.

The MoD said “Vaka” was a “quiet, shy and pleasant character”.

Based in Bulford, Wiltshire, he was described as a team player who completed tasks without complaint or problems.

Captain Will Peltor, Rifleman Vakabua’s Platoon Commander, said: “Vaka’s death yesterday has hurt us all deeply: a friend, a cherished brother Rifleman, a proud son of Fiji – and one of whom Fiji can be deeply proud – has been lost serving our country on active service.”

‘Courage and selflessness’

The platoon soldiers paid tribute to him in a ceremony, during which his fellow Fijians sang.

Capt Peltor added: “It raised the hairs on the backs of our necks and was a fitting and wonderful tribute to a fallen friend whose faith, courage, selflessness and simple decency defined him and inspired all who knew him.”

Rifleman Vakabua’s mother and sisters live in Fiji and his brother is also serving in Iraq, with the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: “I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Rifleman Vakabua. His family are very much in my thoughts and prayers as they come to terms with their loss.”

Fijian soldiers

A soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, who was killed in an improvised bomb attack on Saturday, is expected to be named later.

The latest deaths mean the total number of UK troops killed in operations in Iraq has risen to 158.

Of those who died, 122 are classed as having been killed in combat.

There are approximately 2,000 soldiers serving in the British Army from Fiji, a country where almost half of the population is reported to live below the poverty line.

Art and War

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:48 am

Professor Thierry Dufrêne, University of Paris X-Nanterre.
Assoc. Prof. Nigel Lendon, School of Art, Australian National University

How can works of art convey an artist’s experience and interpretation of the politics of war and social conflict? Art has characteristically produced representations of the ‘demonic other’, enemies, prisoners, foreigners, as well as reflections of the consequences of conflict on ordinary citizens. Conflict (whether actual or threatened) produces a ‘culture of war’ in which official art has both an internal agenda (to strengthen one’s own national image) and an external one (to threaten and to represent the enemy negatively). Oppositional art, pacifist art, or utopian art is excluded from such nationalistic discourses.

For most people the primary experience of war is mediated, and such ‘media wars’ are often markedly different from the ‘real’ wars. To what extent are such aspects of modern warfare (re) produced as works of art? In what contexts do such works of art circulate, and to what extent does this art impact on the social and political circumstances, which affirm or oppose the conditions which produce war? Images of war and conflict have always proved politically and morally contentious, but since 9/11, the way in which these images are articulated, mediated and consumed has been the subject of ever-greater scrutiny. Periodically, “urban warfare” erupts on the streets of even the most sedate metropolis as internal social conflicts are fought out, producing their own oppositional modes of visual discourse.

Besides art history, a wide range of disciplines such as history, cultural studies, historiography, political studies, religious studies, sociology, economics, diplomacy, anthropology and museum studies may be invoked to illuminate such issues. The assembled papers will provide comprehensive and challenging insights into the aesthetic, political, and cultural use of an inclusive concept of art, including photography, film, television and new media, exploring issues of patriotism, propaganda, manipulation, subversion, opposition, resistance, appropriation and survival.

http://www.cihamelbourne2008.com.au/

Tourism program benefits for Kadavu

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:47 am

Update: 12.13pm TOURISM operators and resource owners on the island of Kadavu are set to benefit from the Ministry of Tourisms Accreditation Programme following a Communication and Awareness and Capacity Building Workshop on the island.

The accreditation program is aimed at stimulating tourism service providers to introduce improvements to their operations particularly in their service standards.

It is also aimed at greater environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability by providing incentives and technical assistance to do so.

Paulini Tokaduadua of the Tourism Ministry said the program differentiates and distinguishes tourism products and services that meet environmental, socio-cultural and economic standards beyond the level required by the legislation in force.

It also provides a guideline for sustainable procedures which protect ecological diversity.

18,000 FIJIANS APPLY FOR 500 KUWAIT JOBS

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 9:46 am

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 24) – After waiting three years for employment in Kuwait, 500 Fijians have been promised contracts by a recruiting agency seeking to salvage its reputation.

Suva-based Meridian Services Agency spokesman Jeremaia Talemaitoga said they have finally spotted contracts for some of the thousands of applications they received since the company opened its doors in early 2004.

“Most of the people we will be sending are drivers. There are also plumbers, carpenters, security guards, administration workers,” said Talemaitoga.

The company is also looking to recruit teachers and nurses, unlike the last intake that comprised mainly of manual and clerical workers.

The company copped much flak then for failing to deliver on its promise despite charging a fee from each of its “close to 18 000 applicants”.

Many of the job seekers had made sacrifices in pursuit of greener pastures for their children, families and villages.

Also, the mysterious disappearance of chief Meridian recruiter Timoci Lolohea in the Middle East even drew the attention of local police and the Government then.

However, this time, Talemaitoga says “we are not taking or accepting any money because we will be working on the $150 that was paid in advance three years ago by people waiting to be employed in Kuwait.”

“At the moment we are working on our old data of people who have applied from 2004-2005. We will be utilizing these people first.

“More will be leaving in months to come and I urge those who have applied to be patient.”

He said the first 500 people would be leaving soon after their contracts, visa and plane tickets are secured.

“Those who have come back from Kuwait and need to re-apply will have to pay $200,” he said.

“We are not taking money from people anymore and I can assure our critics that the purpose of this is to help our people.”

He adds that he and the company executives have forgiven those who have constantly criticized the organization.

Talemaitoga said out of close to 18 000 people who had initially applied for jobs in Kuwait, the company has already sent 475.

He said company head, Lolohea, is still in Kuwait, “making arrangements” for the job seekers.

Fijilive
Copyright © 2007 Fijilive. All Rights Reserved.

Fijian guard dies in Iraq

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2007 at 7:50 am

Monday, June 25, 2007

A FAMILY is mourning the death of their father after he was killed on Saturday in a road side bomb explosion in Baghdad.

Arthur Small, who is in his 40s, is the latest Fiji national to die in Iraq.

He was killed while driving a convoy of American soldiers in Iraq, his wife Rosalini said from San Francisco yesterday.

Her five children live in Bau where a condolence gathering is being held in anticipation of the arrival of his body on Wednesday, said Mr Small’s eldest son, Semi.

He said they were still coming to terms with the death of their father and were awaiting answers from the company that recruited him.

He said his father had been gone three years while his mother had lived in America for the past five years.

I don’t believe it. I want to hear it from them (the recruiting company). They should be here tonight. My father has done so much for us, Semi said as he broke down and refused to comment further.

An emotional Ms Small said her husband had joined the company he was driving for a week ago after unresolved differences with the previous company he worked for. She said her husband worked for a company based outside England before he switched to join an American security firm.

Our last conversation was last Wednesday when he called to ask if he could join me here on his leave next year. He had called the children and I believe that was his last conversation with them too. He asked them about birthdays and stuff, she said.

She said she was informed of his death by her son on Saturday afternoon.

She then called her husband’s mobile phone and an American officer answered. He confirmed that her husband died from the roadside bomb explosion.

She said she was torn between wanting to be with her children and had yet to discuss it with her mother who she lived with in America as papers that concerned her citizenship were also at stake.

My children are alone in Fiji and I’m missing them so much. I wish I was there to be with them, Ms Small said.

Fiji soldier and former Iraq correspondent of the Fiji Times, Tevita Vonolagi said he was related to the family and believed another two Fijians died at the same incident.

This newspaper was unable to ascertain Mr Vonologi’s concerns when this edition went to press.

No contact could be established with Mr Small’s employer.

To date, 14 Fijians are believed to have died while serving as security guards in Iraq.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?…