Daily Archives: July 4, 2011

Hemingway ‘driven to suicide by the FBI’

Ernest Hemingway: The FBI had compiled a 127-page file on the Nobel Prize-winning author Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Telegraph | Jul 3, 2011

By Jon Swaine, New York

AE Hotchner said he believed the FBI’s monitoring of the Nobel Prize-winning author, over suspicions of his links to Cuba, “substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide” 50 years ago.

Hotchner wrote in The New York Times that he had “regretfully misjudged” his friend’s fears of federal investigators, which were dismissed as paranoid delusions for years after his death.

In 1983 the FBI released a 127-page file it had kept on Hemingway since the 1940s, confirming he was watched by agents working for J. Edgar Hoover, who took a personal interest in his case.

Hotchner described being met off a train by Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho, in November 1960, for a pheasant shoot with their friend Duke MacMullen.

Hemingway, struggling to complete his last work, complained “the feds” had “tailed us all the way” and that agents were poring over his accounts in a local bank that they passed on their journey.

“It’s the worst hell,” Hemingway said. “The goddamnedest hell. They’ve bugged everything. That’s why we’re using Duke’s car. Mine’s bugged. Everything’s bugged. Can’t use the phone. Mail intercepted.”

Later that month he was committed for psychiatric care at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he received electric shock treatment. He attempted suicide several times before being released.

A few days after returning home to Ketchum, he shot himself in the head with his favourite shotgun aged 61.

“In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the FBI, which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the FBI file,” wrote Hotchner, the author of ‘Papa Hemingway’.

“I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide,” he said.

90 years of China’s Communist Party: from secret society to ‘harmonious society’

Participants sing in front of a screen showing China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong during a revolutionary song concert in celebration of the Communist Party’s 90th anniversary, in Chongqing municipality July 1, 2011. Jason Lee/Reuters

China’s Communist Party has transformed from the secretive, illegal revolutionary force that it was 90 years ago to a political party at the helm of a rapidly changing China.

csmonitor.com | Jul 2, 2011

By Peter Ford

Beijing – Three days before she was to be admitted as a full member of the Chinese Communist Party in early June, graduate economics student Li Yingzi was blunt about her reasons for wanting to join the ruling party.

“It’s a good idea so as to ensure a better future for myself,” she explained. “It will be easier if I want to become a civil servant … because membership in the party will show my loyalty.”

That is an attitude that Yang Jisheng, a veteran party member, finds deeply disappointing. When he joined the party in 1964, he recalls, “I wanted to devote myself to social justice. The party stood for justice and equality and for ordinary people suffering hardship.”

But as the Communist party celebrated its 90 year anniversary on July 1, it is a very different animal indeed from the secretive, illegal group that 13 Chinese revolutionaries including Mao Zedong founded in Shanghai in 1921 at their first national congress.

“The party has the same name as before, but the old party was destroyed,” says Sidney Rittenberg, an American who joined Mao’s forces in 1946 and remained a party member for 33 years. “It used to be a moral presence representing a vision of the future and a set of ethics for today. You don’t have either of those anymore.”

It was only three years ago that Xi Jinping, tipped to be the party’s next General Secretary and thus the president of the nation, acknowledged formally that the Communist party was no longer a revolutionary force.

But for decades it had abandoned Communist ideology, and today preaches “a harmonious society” instead of traditional class struggle, while claiming to represent all Chinese people, not just the proletariat.

The party’s primary goal today, say critics inside and outside the membership, is to maintain its own monopoly power over the status quo at all costs.

The party has made “undeniable achievements” for its country in economic terms, Mr. Rittenberg points out. “But the leaders’ core view is ‘après nous, le deluge’ [after us, the deluge”] and you must not challenge the Communist party’s absolute right to rule.”

On reflection, Ms. Li, who underwent an arduous two year apprenticeship before being allowed to join the party, couches her ambitions in more idealistic terms than mere careerism. She says being a party member will “make it easier for me to become a major force in Chinese society, and contribute to society.”
Headlong rush for economic development

But while China’s nominally Communist leaders declare their goal of a harmonious society, their headlong rush for economic development has led to the polar opposite of the dream that motivated the first party members – Karl Marx’s vision of a society founded on the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

China today displays one of the most unequal wealth distribution patterns in the world. Its Gini coefficient, which measures relative wealth in a society, stands at 0.47 – well above the level generally thought liable to provoke social conflict.

The problem of corruption

More worryingly for those who look to the party to preserve social stability through honest leadership, party membership has become the single most important route to personal wealth in today’s China, where corruption has become endemic.

“Officials’ basic interest is in maintaining their power because if they lose it they lose their ability to make financial profit,” charges Mr. Yang, deputy editor of Yanhuang Chunqiu, a magazine published by reform-minded Communist party members.

Party leaders from President Hu Jintao on down publicly and regularly about the evils of corrupt officials, who have to be party members to be officials, using their positions to enrich themselves. There is no sign, however, that internal party investigations, public trials, and the occasional execution, have done much to control the problem.

“The machine is viewed as so corrupt…that they have no moral appeal to make whatsoever,” says Mr. Rittenberg.

Once, he recalls, “corruption just was not allowed because they understood that this was the moral basis of their leadership: As long as people saw their leaders were clean, they were willing to suffer. Today people with power are almost expected to use it to their own advantage.”

Ms. Li, as she steps into this world, would not go that far. But like many of her generation she finds official corruption particularly abhorrent, and she also fears the threat it poses to her party’s standing and future.

“I’m quite concerned that corruption may harm the party’s legitimacy,” she says. “Absolute power leads to absolute corruption and that leads to absolute failure.”

Li is confident that will not happen, and that “the party will warn itself and stimulate itself to avoid failure.”

Rittenberg is not so sanguine, but says that he hopes the party can overcome corruption “because one hopes to see a relatively easy transition rather than let things get so bad it leads to turmoil.”
Transformation bound?

What such a transition from one party rule might look like is anything but clear, and the Communist party is not publicly entertaining any such idea. Indeed, since jasmine revolutions broke out earlier this year in North Africa, the party has seemed more jealous than ever of its grip on power, and the government has launched a particularly harsh crackdown on all criticism and dissent to ensure that it does not face similar unrest.

Eventually, Yang predicts, it will be the force of public opinion and civil society that will oblige the party to change its ways, to allow more space for opponents, and to risk losing power. But he does not expect this to happen for decades, and nor does he want to see the party relinquish power too suddenly.

“The ruling party has been in power for decades,” he points out. “It has government experience. In a power vacuum the future would be very hard to predict. We have to carry out reform within the framework of one party rule, and move forward gradually to avoid great disorder.”

Whatever the Communist Party of China has been in the past, and whatever it may become in the future, says Rittenberg, one fact stands out. “At this point,” he says, “There is absolutely no alternative.”

Brown’s government ‘left the British working man screwed by cheap labour’, says Who frontman Roger Daltrey

Daily Mail | Jul 3, 2011

By Ben Todd

Entering the debate: Who frontman Roger Daltrey has used an interview to give his views on immigration, the NHS and the Coalition government

He was a Sixties rebel, renowned for voicing working class angst.

And now legendary Who frontman Roger Daltrey has waded into the debate on immigration.

Daltrey, now 67, has told how the influx of thousands of immigrant workers from the rest of Europe during Labour’s 13-year reign left the indigenous working-classes unemployed.

The star told how the last government left ‘the British working man screwed like he’d never been screwed before by cheap labour coming in from Europe.’

He went on: ‘We do need immigration, but surely it should be a level playing field where they can’t undercut every working–class bloke in England for their jobs.’

However the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government were not spared his ire either, with Daltrey adding: ‘The quality of our politicians is tragic.’

He continued: ‘I don’t care what people say about me. I tell it like it is, and, if I’m wrong, I’ll just say, ‘OK, I’m wrong.’ I’m not always the most diplomatic person. I know my faults, but I’m comfortable with me.’

Daltrey also had harsh words for the machinations of the NHS.

The star has long been involved in charity the Teenage Cancer Trust. As a result, he has experienced the workings of the NHS.

He said: ‘You suddenly see the enormity and complexity of it, and the truth that no one wants to accept that there’s nobody in charge.
‘Everyone knows it can’t carry on, but you can’t touch anything in the NHS because the nurses are in their trench, the doctors are in their trench, the unions are in their trench – it’s the First World War.’

Daltrey, who lives with wife Heather in a sprawling estate in East Sussex, is also furious at rural poverty.

The star- who has five children – said in a new interview: ‘I live 50 miles from London, and we’ve got some of the highest levels of teenage and childhood poverty in the country. It’s disgusting. Just because it’s a rural area, it gets forgotten.’

Daltrey was speaking as he publicised a new version of The Who’s famous rock opera Tommy.

The star – who starred as Tommy in the film version of the musical – will embark on an UK tour later this week.  He will then embark on a two-month US tour of the opera in September.

Tommy was originally written by the band in 1969 before being turned into a Ken Russell directed move in 1975. To date, the album has sold 20 million copies.