Film

Christmas Comes Early With Sneak Peek At Doctor Who’s Twice Upon A Time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 7:42am in

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Film, TV, BBC, Doctor Who

BBC has released a sneak peek at the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special: Twice Upon A Time. The episode will be the last for both 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat, as both will be moving on after the episode. It will also feature Capaldi’s regeneration into Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor, plus David Bradley portraying the 1st Doctor, a rumored appearance by Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, and who knows what other fun and festive surprises!

Tune on Christmas, and check out the 2 minute sneak peek below:

Two Doctors stranded in a forbidding snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. And a British army captain seemingly destined to die in the First World War, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor’s story. This is the magical last chapter in the Twelfth Doctor’s epic adventure. He must face his past to decide his future. And the Doctor will realise the resilience of humanity, discovering hope in his darkest frozen moment. It’s the end of an era. But the Doctor’s journey is only just beginning.

The post Christmas Comes Early With Sneak Peek At Doctor Who’s Twice Upon A Time appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Democratic Socialist on Thatcher, Cobyn and the Double Standards of the Right Wing Press

I’ve reblogged a number of videos from Democratic Socialist, an Aussie Leftie, who knows his stuff about capitalism’s connection to Fascism, the Nazi privatisation programme and support for businessmen as the eugenic elite, and Thatcher’s hideous support for general Pinochet in Chile.

This is another of his videos.

In it, he takes apart the double standards of the British right-wing media, and in particular the Daily Telegraph in its smears of the British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and its absolute refusal to condemn its idol, Margaret Thatcher, for her friendship with General Pinochet. Pinochet was, as I’ve mentioned frequently before, the brutal dictator of Chile, who overthrew the democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende. The Tories smear Corbyn as a supporter of the Iran, Hamas and Hizbollah, and an anti-Semite. He is in fact none of these things. But Thatcher certainly was friends with Pinochet, who was a terrorist, torturer and anti-Semite.

The Torygraph smeared Corbyn as supporting the Iranian theocracy In fact, he did nothing of the sort. The article the Torygraph refers to appears on the page of the Mossadegh Project, an Iranian group that supports and celebrates the work of Iran’s last democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadeq, who was tolerant and secular. Mossadeq was overthrown by a British-American coup in 1953 because he dared to nationalise the Iranian oil company, then consisting of the British owned Anglo-Persian Oil, which later became BP. His fall resulted in the gradual assumption of absolute power by the Shah, who instituted a reign of terror that eventually culminated in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when he was overthrown by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

This section of the video includes a clip of an American expert describing how he was corrected by the Iranians, when he told a group of them that their country was incapable of democratically electing a leader. ‘It was,’ they replied, ‘before the Americans came’.

Oh yes, and there’s another reason why Corbyn’s support for Mossadeq certainly does not mean he supports the current Iranian theocracy. Mossadeq was a Baha’i, which is post-Islamic syncretistic religion, that the Shi’a regime in Iran despises as a vile heresy. I’ve been told by Iranian Muslim friends, who are profoundly disgusted by the fact that expatriate Iranian Baha’is cannot go to their homeland without signing a document stating that they have renounced their faith. The regime has killed 60,000+ Baha’is in pogroms, and subjected many to the same kind of tortures that Pinochet oversaw in Chile. I doubt very much that Corbyn’s support for the former Iranian president endears him to the Iranian regime.

As for supporting Hamas and Hizbollah, and therefore terrorism, Corbyn actually didn’t say anything like that. He condemned terrorism, but said that he had to negotiate with them.

Democratic Socialist contrasts this with Thatcher and Pinochet. The head of Pinochet’s secret police, Michael Townley, was responsible for the assassination of Orlando Latelier, who served as foreign minister in Allende’s government. Latelier had fled the country and noted the construction of the prison camps in which 100,000 people were incarcerated. He was killed by a car bomb in Washington D.C.

Corbyn is accused of anti-Semitism simply through guilt by association with these groups. But Pinochet was also a brutal murderer of Chile’s Jews. There’s a memorial in Chile now to the Jewish victims of Pinochet’s regime. Pinochet also gave sanctuary to the Nazis, who fled to Chile to escape justice. One of these was Walter Rauff, an utterly despicable person, responsible for inventing the gas cars. This was the method by which Jews and the disabled were murdered by the SS before the establishment of the great death camps. They were vans, specially adapted so that the exhaust was fed back into the truck’s rear compartment, in which the victim was placed. The van was driven around until the poor soul was gassed by the carbon monoxide. Not surprisingly, Emile Zubroff, one of Germany’s great Nazi hunters, was particularly angered by Pinochet giving this man sanctuary.

And then there’s the butcher’s extensive use of terror. Here’s another trigger warning: some viewers may find this very hard to watch. This part of the video has footage of an Englishwoman describing how she was raped and tortured with electric shocks by the regime. She does not go into details, but she simply states what the shocks and rapes consisted of. As well as how one woman was caged until she went made. This section starts at c. 350 mark. And it shows how vile and subhuman Pinochet and his torturers were.

This lady was abducted and tortured because Pinochet’s thugs believed she had treated the deputy leader of the anti-Pinochet resistance, and knew where the leader was. The woman was kidnapped, despite the fact that she was living with missionaries at the time. Before they took her, they shot the maid dead. I’m emphasising this because the Christian right in America and Britain has deluded itself and others that somehow Pinochet and other Fascists like him were great defenders of Christianity against Communism.

Rubbish. Fascists all over Latin America killed, raped and tortured committed Christians, including clergy, who worked for the poor against exploitation by the elites. This included Roman Catholic nuns, and Archbishop Romero. Romero was killed in the 1980s. He was not a supporter of Liberation Theology, the mixture of Roman Catholic doctrine and Marxism that had gained ground in Latin America. However, he moved left politically on his appointment, when he saw how oppressed and impoverished the mass of the people in his new archdiocese were. Before the Fascists killed him, they sprayed on the wall of his cathedral ‘Be a patriot. Kill a priest’.

I’m afraid I can’t remember off the top of my head in which country this was – Nicaragua, Guatemala or El Salvador. What I do remember is that he was murdered by the type of people Ronald Reagan hailed as ‘the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’, as he called the Contras in Nicaragua. And nearly all of these thugs have been trained by the American intelligence establishment on one of the military bases then called the ‘School of the Americas’.

This is followed by one looks like a BBC report, which shows Thatcher, already looking frail, congratulating Pinochet on having peacefully stepped down. This is true, but ignores the fact that the thug didn’t want to. He was forced out of power by a referendum he wanted to ignore, but his generals chose to enforce. Put simply, he was pushed.

Democratic Socialist then asks what the press would do if Corbyn really was like Thatcher, who was friends with a Fascist dictator, who ruled by terror, rape and torture.

He concludes by stating that he likes Corbyn, but doesn’t see him as being able to withstand the assaults on him by the British press.

Democratic Socialist put this up two years ago in 2015. And I am very glad to say that since then, Corbyn has gone on from strength to strength, not just despite, but because of the hostility of the British press and media.

And the moral character of the hacks in the British right-wing press is appalling. I remember reading a story in Private Eye back in the 1990s about the reaction of some of the journos in the British right-wing press, who were sent down to one of the South American countries to cover its transition from Fascism to democracy. I think it was El Salvador. On their visit, they met members of the El Salvadoran opposition before meeting General Noriega. Later talking about the meeting with the opposition leaders, one of the hacks said to the other that if he were the dictator, he’d shoot them.

Just let that sink in. This hack said that he was in favour of a Fascist dictator, responsible for appalling crimes against humanity, killing the very people, who wanted to lead their country to a new, democratic, better life. Now I dare say it was probably meant as a joke, but it’s a sick one. Especially as the Times and other establishment newspapers a few years after Pinochet seized power in Chile were demanding a coup in 1975 to oust the minority Labour government. The Times didn’t, it is fair to say, want a right-wing government. They wanted a ‘Government Of All the Talents’, containing right-wing Labour as well as Tories to govern after a military uprising. If you want some of the details, see Francis Wheen’s book Strange Days: Paranoia in the 70s. ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone also revealed in his book, Livingstone’s Labour, how MI5 also had plans to round up British leftists in a coup and imprison them in camps in the Hebrides or somewhere else remote.

This is the political background behind Alan Moore’s and David Lloyd’s graphic novel and film, V For Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt, and Stephen Fry. I don’t like the movie because of its pronounced anti-Christian bias. But it does depict a chillingly plausible view of what a future fascist Britain would look like, based on what really happened in Nazi Germany. With the exception that the victims of biological experimentation in the Nazi camps never developed superpowers, and single-handedly inspired the masses to revolt and topple Hitler.

The right-wing press just loved Thatcher. They still do, but did not condemn Thatcher for her friendship with Pinochet. They were candid about the nature of his regime, or at least, some where. And some of the hacks, who supported Thatcher maintain that they would have loved to have killed Pinochet. Julie Burchill, a long-time staple of the Mail, went on about what would happen to the Chilean Fascist if she and him were in a locked room with her having a gun. Well, I’m very sceptical about that. Not least because in another of her articles, La Burchill vilified the idealistic young men and women, who went to Spain to fight for the Republicans against Franco during the Civil War as the equivalent of the bloodthirsty tourists, who go to watch a bullfight. So she was quite prepared to support the Spanish Fascists against the anti-Fascists, who risked and lost life and limb against him.

Burchill hates the left, and probably thinks that the Republicans were all Communists and Anarchists, but they also included POUM, which was roughly the equivalent of the British Labour party at the time, and liberals. They were a coalition of forces, united against the threat of Fascism. As the ‘Red’ Duchess of Atholl pointed out at the time.

Now it seems to me that if Britain had suffered a military coup in 1975 against the Labour administration, it would have not differed much from the Fascist regimes in Latin America. We would still have mass incarceration, the suspension of traditional British constitutional freedoms and rape and torture.

And I have no doubt that the Tory press, which lauds Thatcher and vilifies Corbyn, would have been 100 per cent behind it all.

Pirates and Traders

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/11/2017 - 7:44am in


The traffic in Lagos is famously bad. The local driving culture dictates tailgating, honking, flashing of brights, left turns into oncoming traffic, passing on the right, and shouting (but no cursing or lewd gestures—not in such a religious country). It isn’t rare to see a car casually reversing down an on-ramp, a motorcycle scattering pedestrians on a sidewalk, or a truck inching over a highway median to make an improbable u-turn.

Reasons for Hope: The Cultural Shift on Rape and Sexual Abuse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/11/2017 - 1:40am in

The election of Trump depressed a lot of people–in many cases literally causing depression. One of the worst parts of Trump’s success was that he was a known sex-abuser, with many accusers and who was caught on tape talking about grabbing pussies.

It was clear what he was, and it wasn’t enough to stop him being elected.

Now, Presidents make decisions that affect billions of people, and if George W. never sexually abused anyone himself, who cares? His war led to a pile of rapes that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. The same is true of Clinton and Obama in Libya.

Still, Trump’s a sexual abuser and it didn’t matter.

So it’s nice to see that in Hollywood, at least, the culture has shifted. Weinstein appears to have been as big an abuser as one can imagine: straight up rape accusations, and they’re quite believable.

This was an open secret, as with Kevin Spacey’s predilection for young men and teenagers.

It didn’t matter in the past, and now it does. All the money and power these men have (especially Weinstein) isn’t enough to keep the lid on.

It needs to be said clearly that sex is one of the reasons that men pursue money and power. And having sex with people who don’t want it is clearly a buzz for many people.

Guys like Weinstein pursued power as much so they could abuse and rape as they did for the money.

Rape, in particular, ranks up with torture in the ranks of evil actions: It causes depression and PTSD like almost no other experience. People are truly traumatized by it for the rest of their life.

But sexual pressure to commit sexual acts to get a job or “otherwise you’ll never work in this industry again” is also pernicious. Not only is this sickeningly unjust, it impoverishes everyone, by making it so that capable people don’t get the chance to do the work they are best able to do.

Whenever we choose people for positions of influence and power based on anything but the candidate’s ability to do the job (a criteria which should consider character and what they intend to do as well as technical ability) all of us lose. The more important those positions are, the more of a tragedy it becomes for everyone when they are filled by people who do not deserve them–and positions in film and television are important, because they tell stories which lay down behavioral tracks for billions of people,

“Deserve” is a tricky word, we tend to to use it as if it means, “If you manage to get it, you deserve it.” But good societies know that it means “the person who will do the job best,” not “the person who can get the job by out-competing.”

There’s some overlap between the two, of course, top jobs often require assertiveness, but nowhere near the level at which we pretend it is.

Sexual abuse, casting couches, and rape all damage people terribly and, in so doing, do harm far beyond the damage to those individuals directly involved (though that is enough alone to condemn them).

We can expect this cultural change to redound for the good. Having more, less damaged people given a chance to contribute benefits most of us.

It doesn’t benefit all, of course. There is only so much room, and if you’re someone who isn’t sure if they’d make it in a space, well, more competitors may not be a good thing.

But we don’t need to make this into an entirely zero-sum game. One of the interesting things about female-centric films is that they do very well, AND they bring people to the theater who don’t necessarily go to films made for young males (this shouldn’t be a surprise, but apparently is.)

In a positive sum game, more people win. The only people who don’t are those who wanted power so they could rape and abuse, and those are the people we want to lose.

So, lots of bad stuff in the world, but the culture continues to shift, and some of those shifts are good.

This is one.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

 

Oscars 2018 To Feature New ‘Dead To Us’ Segment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/11/2017 - 10:54pm in

REPORTS are emerging from Hollywood that the 2018 edition of the Academy Awards ceremony will feature a section dedicated to the actors, producers, directors and industry chiefs whose careers were ended by allegations of historical sex abuse in 2017. Taking place right after the ‘In Memoriam’ segment dedicated to dead members of the film industry,... Read more »

The Young Turks on the Sexual Abuse of Boys in Hollywood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/11/2017 - 5:21am in

In this short piece from The Young Turks, hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian report and comment on a story in the Guardian about the rampant abuse of male actors in the film industry. Kasparian states that while there has been much said and written about the abuse of female actors, less has been said about the male victims of this predatory behaviour. She states that there is a great stigma among me about coming forward with their experiences, and wishes to pay her tributes to their courage as well.

After Aaron Rapp talked about how he was subjected to Kevin Spacey’s unwanted advances, other actors have also told about their experiences. One of these was the London-based actor and director, Alex Winter, who states that the subject is very taboo, but he does not know any boys in any pocket of the entertainment industry, who do not suffer some form of predatory behaviour.

Another gay actor, Wilson Cruz, who plays Rapp’s love interest in the new Star Trek series, has also spoken recently about his experience of sexual harassment at the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network awards event, stating that he has been approached by older ‘gentlemen’, and he was left wondering what he should have done about it, although he did not take them up. Uygur and Kasparian state that this is natural, as before the internet the gatekeepers in the industry were very powerful, and repulsing their advances could all too easily damage your career.

They make the point that while sexual abuse is occasionally carried out by women, it’s mostly done by men, including gay men. People’s sexual morals when it comes to exploiting those less powerful than themselves don’t improve or get worse depending on their sexuality, as the number of straight male sexual abusers like Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby show.

White Dragon: Amazon Lands Mystery Crime Series With John Simm

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/11/2017 - 12:47am in

Amazon Prime continues to expand its international programming line-up, securing the rights to ITV’s eight-part conspiracy theory thriller White Dragon from Two Brothers Pictures. Written by newcomers Mark Denton and Jonny Stockwood and directed by Paul Andrew Williams (Broadchurch), the series stars John Simm (Doctor Who, Mad Dogs) and Emilia Fox (Merlin) and will premiere on ITV before airing exclusively in the U.S. on Amazon Prime.

white dragon amazon john simm

White Dragon introduces us to sheltered London professor Jonah Mulray (Simm), who travels to Hong Kong to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the death of his wife. Mulray’s journey will take him from the city streets of Hong Kong to the mountain roads of Tai Po, searching for the truth behind her mysterious car accident to get to the core of what’s really happening.

White Dragon follows Professor Jonah Mulray, played by Life On Mars star John Simm, who learns his wife has died while working in Hong Kong.

Travelling to the Chinese city to identify the body is just the first obstacle in what Jonah soon discovers is a very complex criminal case.

Assisted by British consulate Sally, played by Emilia Fox, Jonah tries to get to the bottom of what happened to his wife – as the Chinese detectives seem to be holding something back.

amazon

Anthony Wong (The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon), Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill) and Dervla Kirwan (Doctor Who) are set to join Simm and Fox on the series. Shot in both Hong Kong and London, the series is being produced by Matthew Bird (The Musketeers).

White Dragon was one of the first dramas secured under Harry and Jack Williams’ Two Brothers banner after it was acquired by UK super-indie All3Media earlier this year. The Williams are credited for writing both seasons of BBC/Starz’ The Missing, which was also produced by New Pictures. Other projects that moved forward under Two Brothers include ITV/Sundance’s Liar, Cinemax/BBC One’s Rellik and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag.

“[White Dragon is a] taut and tantalizing thriller with a compelling narrative which keeps you gripped from the outset.” – Polly Hill, Head of Drama, ITV

The post White Dragon: Amazon Lands Mystery Crime Series With John Simm appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Book Review: The Environmental Documentary: Cinema Activism in the 21st Century by John A. Duval

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/11/2017 - 10:41pm in

In The Environmental Documentary: Cinema Activism in the 21st Century, John A. Duval offers a comprehensive survey of recent environmental documentary films, covering such topics as climate change, peak oil, food and water politics and animal extinction. This is an accessible introduction to the genre, with a passionate commitment to the environment that makes it a work of activism in itself, writes Reina-Marie Loader

The Environmental Documentary: Cinema Activism in the 21st Century. John A. Duval. Bloomsbury Academic. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

John Duval’s book, The Environmental Documentary: Cinema Activism in the 21st Century, presents the reader with a comprehensive catalogue of environmental films ranging from well-known documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth (2006) to lesser known activist films such as Garbage Warrior (2007). The selection of films included in the book’s 320 pages is impressive, making it a valuable resource for any researcher or film enthusiast seeking an introduction to the environmental documentary genre. As such, the author succeeds in fulfilling his intentions, which are clearly set out in the introduction – namely, to survey ‘many of the outstanding examples of recent environmental documentary films’ and to prompt readers to ‘take the next step and actually watch some of these informative and important films’ (2).

The book is structured according to the overarching issues dominating environmental debates. These include topics such as climate change, peak oil, pollution and waste, food and water as well as animal extinction. The first chapter presents a basic introduction to documentary as a genre. Although remaining on the surface of documentary debates, some of the major concepts are highlighted. John Grierson’s famous definition of documentary as the ‘creative treatment of fact’ is, for example, briefly highlighted in relation to the genre’s ‘privileged relationship to reality’ (7-9).

This is followed by a summary of the decision-making processes of the documentary filmmaker. Although this section of the book at times reads as very basic material, it offers learners useful information as to what it takes to produce a documentary film. This is followed by a discussion of what it actually means when we talk about the environment. Here, Duval traces the historical development of environmental concerns. In this way the author illustrates that, contrary to popular belief, environmental awareness has always been part of the US social and political landscape. The environmental concerns of Thomas Malthus are mentioned, while the effects of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the two World Wars as well as the increased reliance of the United States on fossil fuels and corporate interests all draw a clear historical outline of the issues within which environmental documentary has found its activist niche.

Image Credit: Still from documentary Histories del Chapapote, Stéphane M. Grueso, 2003 (Stéphane M. Grueso CC BY SA 2.0)

Following on from this, the second chapter presents the reader with the development of so-called ‘ecocritical perspectives’, which seek to situate environmental films as a central tool for the environmentally conscious activist. ‘Ecocinema’ as a concept is appropriately highlighted at this point, thereby underscoring the multifaceted nature of the environmental filmmaker as researcher, film practitioner and environmental activist. In this regard, Duval aptly invokes the words of Paula Willoquet-Maricondi that ecocinema:

overtly strives to inspire personal and political action on the part of viewers, stimulating our thinking so as to bring about concrete changes in the choices we make, daily and in the long run, as individuals and as societies, locally and globally (26).

This chapter offers the reader a more detailed overview regarding the genre’s relationship to scholarship – a dimension that becomes less apparent in subsequent chapters.

The third chapter focuses on the development of environmental documentary within the historical framework set out in Chapter One. Duval briefly traces the development of the genre prior to the turn of the century. Films such as The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936), The Living Desert (1953) and Animal Farm (1981) receive special mention as canonical texts paving the way for the development of a recognised documentary genre.

The following chapters are all structured according to the various environmental concerns prevalent in the twenty-first century. Before discussing the specific films grouped within the scope of each chapter, Duval briefly introduces each relevant issue by contextualising it in the contemporary political climate. In this regard, his discussion on climate change is particularly engaging and strongly reflects the author’s activist spirit. Here, one of the most influential environmental films of our time, An Inconvenient Truth, receives specific attention, with the discussion of Al Gore’s documentary notably spanning seventeen pages (on average, the discussions of other films range from two to six pages).

Duval’s approach is intended to give an outline regarding the key themes in each film as well as its critical reception by audiences and reviewers; it is not intended to engage with existing scholarship or filmic debates dominating discussions of the canon nor offer detailed sequence analysis of key moments with regard to mise-en-scène or decision-making processes. The value of the book is rather that of a chronicle illustrating the development of the genre within popular reception, with each discussion concluding with an overview of critical responses to the films on popular websites, in journals and in newspapers.

Particularly interesting is the tenth and final chapter entitled ‘Direct Activism and Community’. Given the subtitle of the book, some readers would expect this chapter to be included earlier so as to centralise the filmmaker’s role as activist in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, it highlights in a thought-provoking fashion how the production of environmental films can, despite claims to the contrary, make a concrete difference to the environmental causes they support. This is significant since, as Duval rightly notes, the impact of environmental film is often dismissed by its detractors as a genre based on fear-mongering that fails to offer possible solutions to the problems uncovered. The films discussed in this section include the original work of filmmaker-activists such as Oliver Hodge, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Ryan Mlynarczyk and Emily James.

At times, Duval would have done well to pay more attention to academic conventions: for example, by not making a habit of using titles – on several occasions, Duval refers to ‘Mr DiCaprio’ or ‘Mr Gore’ when discussing their contributions to their respective films. This distracts from the author’s otherwise consistent writing style. Using Wikipedia as a resource also does not adhere to the standards of what are usually regarded as legitimate academic resources quotable in a monograph of this nature. Finally, both the introduction and conclusion of the book are extremely short, which does not entirely do justice to the extensive range of research Duval clearly demonstrates through the rest of the book.

On the whole, however, Duval makes a complex and thoroughly controversial genre accessible in a way that would prompt young scholars and students to seriously consider the destructive impact of consumption and neoliberal ideologies on the environment. Teachers may also find Duval’s overview helpful in selecting films for classes dealing with environmental issues. Significantly, the author’s highly commendable passion for the environment clearly shines through. As such, the book itself functions as a piece of activism, raising awareness not only of our responsibility towards our environment, but also putting a spotlight on a genre that has not received as much attention as it should within the discipline of film studies.

Reina-Marie Loader completed her PhD in 2011 on the representation of trauma memory on screen at the University of Reading. She subsequently also lectured at the University of Exeter as well as the University of Vienna, while producing an environmental documentary about rhino poaching. The film went on to win a number of awards, including a Humanitarian award for Outstanding Achievement from IndieFest. HORN was also nominated for a Rhino Conservation award for its contribution to raising awareness about rhino poaching.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Betsy DeVos Removes Guidance Documents for Disabled Students

More from a growing pile of already abundant evidence that Betsy DeVos should not be in charge of education in America. Actually, I wouldn’t trust her to run a pre-school or kindergarten. In this piece from The Young Turks, Jeff Waldorf reports and comments on the move by DeVos to rescind the 72 official documents, which explain to students and their parents, what the rights of disabled people are when they go to Uni. American universities are granted money by the federal government to support the needs of disabled students. DeVos hasn’t revoked these. She’s just making sure that disabled students, their carers and relatives, don’t know what they are.

One of these documents translates the official jargon of the legislation into ordinary plain English, so that regular peeps don’t need a lawyer to interpret it for them. Now it’s gone, things are going to be made difficult so that people will need a lawyer, which only the wealthy will be able to afford.

Waldorf states that not only is this move contradictory, as she hasn’t repealed the legislation itself, but it’s the first step to depriving disable people of the state support they need. He aptly describes it as ‘weaponising ignorance’.

DeVos is coming for the very weakest members of American society. That includes transgender people. She got rid of a whole load of federal directives demanding that the transgendered should be allowed to use the toilet facilities of the sex they identified with, on the grounds that this should be left to state and local government.

And she’s done the same with official legislation detailing how universities should deal with sexual assault on campus. That too, should be left to state and local authorities to decide, as well as the unis themselves.

Waldorf parodies the old Pastor Niemoller poem, ‘First they came for…’, with ‘First they came for the transgender, then the sexual assault victims, then the disabled’. He concludes that DeVos and her government are terrible people.

This is truly disgusting. It’s another attempt by the Republicans to restrict access to higher education, so that only the rich can afford it. And the able-bodied. I thought I’d post it here, as I know that many of the readers of the blog are either disabled, or the carers and relatives of people with disabilities. The people this government despise.

Waldorf is absolutely right about ‘weaponised ignorance’. Since John Major’s day there has been a culture of silence with the DSS/ Benefits Agency/ DWP. People are not being told their rights by DWP staff, and it’s been part of a campaign to make sure that benefits are not taken up. The government can then claim that millions of pounds in benefits are going unclaimed, and so appear generous when announcing this fact, while at the same time planning to cut the amount of benefit. That’s how it’s worked out for several decades. And the delays in the benefits system now and the sanctions system has created a murderous system of ‘checkbook euthanasia’ in which the government is apparently trying to make sure that people die of starvation before they get anything from the state.

As for transgender people, they’ve been vilified as potential sexual predators and a danger to women and children based on a single incident, if that. Some commenters have made the point that Trump and the Republicans are turning on them, because they lost the argument about gay rights and marriage.

They’ve also shown how hypocritical their attitude to sexual violence is by repealing the legislation regulating the way universities should handle real sexual assault. So they’re only worried about rape and sexual assault if it involves the transgender. If it’s carried out by cis-gendered people, then apparently they’re completely indifferent to it.

Despite the recent revelations of the sexual assault and exploitation of women – and men – in the movie business by predatory moguls like Harvey Weinstein.

This is being done in America. But the Republicans over here absolutely love every nasty trick the party of Ronald Reagan has ever played, and it will come over here. No doubt loudly supported by the Heil and the Torygraph.

Kevin Logan’s Satirical Email to the ‘Heil’ Spoofing Brexit University Witch-Hunt

Yesterday, Mike put up several articles reporting and commenting on the antics of Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory whip, who took it upon himself to write to university lecturers teaching international relations, asking for their names and details of their courses. He was specifically concerned about what they were teaching about Brexit.

This rightly aroused very strong fears about the government trying to interfere in academic freedom. One university vice-chancellor, Dr. David Green, told Heaton-Harris that he could have the information he wanted, if he stumped up the £9,000 to study the course that all the other students have to pay. He was also quoted on RT as making the point that this was the beginning of the road to Orwell’s thought police and political censorship.

Exactly the same point was made by Dr. Marina Prentoulis, a lecturer in media and international politics at the University of East Anglia. Dr. Prentoulis also pointed out that it shows how weak the Tory position on Brexit is, if they have to go around trying to intimidate university lecturers. She also explained that she felt that, whatever her own views about Brexit were, and she said that she had campaigned against it, she trusted her students to make up their own minds.

Absolutely. University and should be an environment where young people are encouraged to be open-minded, to look at and evaluate for themselves the arguments and evidence pro et contra different views. And this, I would argue, is exactly what Heaton-Harris fears. He’s not upset at students being indoctrinated. In fact, he’s pantingly all for it. It’s just that he wants it done by right-wing Tory lecturers, who share BoJo’s attitude about ‘pinko’ papers being full of depressing predictions about how it will fail. Or Michael Gove, and his bug-eyed rant a few years ago about schoolchildren being taught the Blackadder view about the First World War in history.

As I said in my previous post about this, all totalitarian societies, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, persecute and carefully control education because of the threat it poses to their attempts to indoctrinate the young people of their states. It includes the control of school and university curricula, the expulsion of dissident lecturers, including Jews in Nazi Germany, their imprisonment and murder. Both Hitler and Stalin butchered tens, if not hundreds of thousands of teachers and university lecturers when they invaded Poland, in order to deprive its people of their intellectual freedom and independence.

All over the country lecturers and professors have been massively unimpressed. Afshin Rattansi in his interview with Prentoulis said that he understood that most of Heaton-Harris’ letters were thrown in the bin.

Others fought back by sending Heaton-Harris their satirical reply. Yesterday, Mike published a piece about how Peter Coles, an astrophysicist at Cardiff Uni, had responded to Heaton-Harris’ missive with a letter detailing how his course on cosmology and the Early Universe, (EU), also included Brexit, culminating in the line “Unanswered Questions: Limitations of the Standard Model and why the fuck are we doing Brexit?” </em

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/26/astrophysics-professors-response-to-universities-brexit-letter-is-sharp-and-hilarious/

The Daily Heil has taken up Heaton-Harris’ cause, and asked students to send in their stories about anti-Brexit propaganda being taught by university lecturers. And so other academics and members of the general public have also joined in, and today Mike has put up a selection from them.

These have included Steve Peers, professor of law at the University of Essex, whose letter begins ‘Dear Witchfinder General’.

‘Aaron’ sent a message beginning

“I attend updog university, and we are being taught anti Brexit propaganda by our left wing professors. We are now made to gather in the study hall once a week and salute an EU flag whilst the professor slowly eats a croissant.”

Will Davies said that his lecturer in Communism and Masculinities stated he believes in free speech, but only if its in a language other than English.

Tom Goodwin sent an email about how outrageous it was that his lecturers could not give him a straight answer about Brussels and curved bananas, and how infuriating it was that they should fill his head with true facts.

And Tim Brudenell sent in a piece about how he was just saluting the National Anthem, when his history lecturer broke in and forced him to eat a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.

It isn’t just the Heil that is publishing demonstrably fake, sensational news. It’s also the Torygraph, which is just as frantically Eurosceptic and hysterical about the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn. Yesterday the weirdo Barclay brothers’ esteemed organ and the Heil ran the story that Lola Olufemi, Cambridge University’s Student Union’s women’s officer, had written a letter demanding that the university replace White authors with Black and Ethnic Minority writers to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum.

This was another bogus story. Olufemi had made no such demand. Yes, she wanted the curriculum ‘decolonised’, but certainly did not say that she wanted White authors replaced. It’s probably no coincidence that both papers have published piece after endless piece protesting against non-White immigration and the growth of communities of ‘unassimilable’ immigrants.

Mike’s article makes the wider point that these newspaper are effectively shooting down the mainstream press’ claim to be trustworthy and reliable, as opposed to all the fake news coming out of the alternative media outlets, like the Internet. He states that their reputation is now in such a sorry state, that people are starting to lampoon them, and includes a piece satirising the Daily Mail, which claims that Jeremy Corbyn met Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination of JFK. Which he didn’t, being only 14 at the time.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/27/right-wing-press-stories-have-backfired-so-often-people-are-creating-their-own-spoofs/

One of the funny spoof replies sent to the Mail I’ve seen is by Kevin Logan, a male feminist on YouTube, who posted this reply. Logan’s a male feminist and supporter of transgender rights, as well as being very anti-racist. His channel consists of a number of videos, such as his series ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’, in which he tackles the outrageous far-right, and the very genuine misogyny, homophobia and racism by members of the Alt-Right and their fellow travellers on YouTube. He’s very highly educated, but is quite a sweary bloke, so be warned: the video below contains ‘colourful metaphors’, as Spock describes foul language in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. (Gratuitous reference for Trekkers).

His spoof letter to the Heil reads

Hello there fellow patriots at the Daily Mail.

I am writing to you concerning the troublingly pro-cheese eating surrender monkey turn of events in the Gimpology Department of Wankchester University, where I am currently reading stuff and that.

I was in my compulsory ‘Communism and Being Gay Studies’ lecture on Thursday of last week and was astonished at the behaviour of my lecturer, professor Karl Stalin Trotsky-Marx, Ph.D.

Upon my raising concerns about his reMOANer sympathies, he made me stand at the front of the class and masturbate furiously while singing ‘les Marseillaise’, which is normally only something we are forced to do during our compulsory ‘White Genocide 101’ classes. Can you please send help, as I am afraid my support of Brexit may end up with me getting bummed by a German called Helmut.

Yours spiffingly, Herbert P. Wiff-Waff.

Yes, I realise swearing ain’t big or clever. But it is the reply the Heil deserves. Just as it deserves all the others.

As for Mr. Heaton-Harris, he claimed that he was writing the letters not to intimidate, but because he was writing a book on the issue. This just makes it worse, as it means that he was using his position in government for his own pecuniary gain. Which is fraud.

Now it seems that the Honourable Gentleman, and I use the words loosely, has mysteriously disappeared, just as he should and his wretched government should have done long ago. All correspondence addressed to him on this issue is now going to Tory Central Office.

And I hope it won’t be too long before these closet totalitarians follow him into obscurity.

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