Paul Robeson in Wales

Paul Robeson’s interactions with Wales were shaped by the violence of mining life: the everyday hardship of long hours and low wages, but also the sudden spectacular catastrophes that decimated communities. In 1934, he’d been performing in Caernarfon when news arrived of a disaster in the Gresford colliery. The mine there had caught fire, creating an inferno so intense that most of the 266 men who died underground, in darkness and smoke, were never brought to the surface for burial. At once, Robeson offered his fees for the Caernarfon concert to the fund established for the orphans and children of the dead – an important donation materially, but far more meaningful as a moral and political gesture.

“There was just something that drew Welsh people and Paul Robeson together. I think it was like a love affair, in a way.” And that seemed entirely right.” [ . . . ] Read More – The Guardian

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Martin McGuinness, an I.R.A. Leader Turned Peacemaker, Dies at 66 

Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander and Sinn Fein political leader who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government, died on Tuesday in Derry. He was 66.

Sinn Fein said on its website that Mr. McGuinness died after a short illness. When he [ . . . ] Read Full Story in NYTimes

Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez scene from Brassed Off

One of Johnny Foreigner”s favorite British films of the ’90s was Mark Herman’s Brassed Off – 1996 British-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Mark Herman and starring Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor. These’s so much to love about the movie, including the brass band music, but especially the performance by one of the greatest British actors of all time – Pete Postlethwaite as the bandleader/miner “Danny.” If you’ve never seen this movie, grab it from Netflix or Amazon.

The film is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit. The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the plot is based on Grimethorpe’s own struggles against pit closures. It is generally very positively received for its role in promoting brass bands and their music. Parts of the film make reference to the huge increase in suicides that resulted from the end of the coal industry in Britain, and the struggle to retain hope in the circumstances. [Wikipedia]

Meryl Streep rips the ‘bully’ in Trump

Streep delivers an emotional speech while La La Land breaks records

La La Land continued its seemingly unstoppable Oscars charge by winning a record-breaking seven awards at the ceremony in Los Angeles Sunday. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone both took home awards for acting and Damien Chazelle won best director for the film. Moonlight took home best picture drama. One of the night’s biggest moments, though, saw Meryl Streep deliver a searing and emotional speech, in which she criticized Donald Trump for imitating a disabled reporter and called on the press to hold power to account. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence invites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose,” she said. Trump responded on Twitter, calling Streep a “Hillary flunky” and “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood”, before denying he mocked the reporter.

 

Read Full Story: Meryl Streep rips the ‘bully’ in Trump | The daily briefing | US news | The Guardian

Anthony Bourdain on Sichuan Peppers, Sex, Eating Dogs, and Political Correctness

 

Are you concerned about with Trump?
What I am not concerned about with Trump? Wherever one lives in the world right now I wouldn’t feel too comfortable about the rise of authoritarianism. I think it’s a global trend, and one that should be of concern to everyone.Bisley: You’re a liberal. What should liberals be critiquing their own side for?Bourdain: There’s just so much. I hate the term political correctness, the way in which speech that is found to be unpleasant or offensive is often banned from universities. Which is exactly where speech that is potentially hurtful and offensive should be heard. [ . . . ]

Full Story: Anthony Bourdain on Sichuan Peppers, Sex, Eating Dogs, and Political Correctness – Reason.com

‘Mad Alex’: Donald Trump letters abuse Scottish ex-first minister

Messages sent before his White House campaign show US president-elect harassing Alex Salmond over windfarms

Donald Trump harangued the former first minister of Scotland as “Mad Alex” and accused him of being on a “march to oblivion” in a series of increasingly angry and eccentric letters about windfarms he claimed were blighting his Scottish golf courses.

The correspondence with Alex Salmond, revealed by the Huffington Post after a freedom of information request, demonstrated that Trump’s tone swung wildly between coaxing and threatening as he grew increasingly frustrated with his former ally’s refusal to change his policy on renewable energy.

Trump warned Salmond that his dream of Scottish independence would be “gone with the wind” if he continued to support windfarm developments, accusing the then leader of the Scottish National party of being “hellbent” on damaging Scotland’s coastline.

In 16 published letters, only one of which Salmond replied to, Trump went on to insist that his own motives were to “save Scotland” and “honour my mother” [ . . . . ]

Source: ‘Mad Alex’: Donald Trump letters abuse Scottish ex-first minister | US news | The Guardian

The image that won’t go away

A photo taken in 1985 has resurfaced this week. Kelly Grovier looks at the power of a figure pushed to breaking point.

Some images never go out of date. They remain endlessly urgent. Where most viral photos enjoy a fleeting flash of fame, flaring up like a rash across social media, there is a cache of imperishable images that have lingered longer and strike a deeper chord. They stay forever part of the mind’s permanent collection of archetypal signs.

Predating by decades the instant-reaction platforms of Facebook and Twitter, an edgy image captured on the streets of Växjö, Sweden in April 1985 during a demonstration by the Neo-Nazi Nordic Reich Party succeeded (without today’s propulsive power of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’) to imprint itself on the cultural consciousness. Snapped at the instant when a Polish-Swedish passerby, whose mother had reportedly been sent to a Nazi concentration camp, could no longer contain her irritation at having to share civic space with fascists, the black-and-white photo of Danuta Danielsson clocking a Neo-Nazi with Continue reading