Anti-Iraq war protests, new film

This video from Britain is called We Are Many: the day the world said no to Iraq war.

By Marienna Pope-Weidemann:

‘If only they listened’ — world’s largest anti-war protest captured in doco

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We Are Many
Directed by Amir Amirani
June 2014

February 15, 2003. We know it was the biggest protest in world history. We know that millions of people who’d never before felt like they could make their voices heard by taking action, marched in the streets of 800 cities to say “Not In Our Name”; that they dared hope for peace, but were committed by their governments to a bloody and illegal war.

As it became apparent that public opposition to the Iraq War just wasn’t enough, the hollow nature of our political democracy unveiled itself for the nation.

The one solution was escalation. If all those people had kept coming back, if mass civil disobedience and strike action had followed, who knows what might have become possible.

But instead of an explosion in political consciousness, as the body count kept rising and the lies kept coming, defeatism settled like snow over many, for whom the movement born in the shadow of 9/11, died in March 2003.

Amir Amirani’s We Are Many tells the other story — of those who believed, as Damon Albarn puts it, that “if you keep coming back, you will make the change”.

February 2003 anti-Iraq war demonstration in McMurdo, Antarctica

From the scientists fired for protesting in Antarctica and the guys who painted “NO WAR” on the Sydney Opera House, to the eruption of the Egyptian revolution and what was almost our war on Syria, this film — a ground-breaking documentary with the feel of an epic saga — joins the dots beautifully.

Through a patchwork of interviews with campaigners from Britain, the US, Europe and Egypt, it gives voice to the enduring hope and outrage that still today finds no expression in establishment politics.

Punctuated with breathtaking shots of some of the most momentous mass demonstrations of the past decade, these interweaving narratives never shrink from reflecting the anguish and despair of 2003, which makes for an honest and deeply moving film.

But they build on each other like an orchestral performance guaranteed to blast the cobwebs off anyone’s political will. Amirani’s uncompromising honesty is matched only by his unbridled appreciation for what he describes as that “mass, heroic act”.

Made real by 30 million people in 57 countries — numbers sufficient to inspire even without the artistic cinematography — we hear how this unprecedented outburst of public opposition “followed the sun” that day: starting in the South Pacific, then in north Asia, then south, onwards through India, Russia, down into Africa, across Europe and then, finally, America.

For Amirani the beauty of that historic moment remains untouched by the destruction that followed.

We Are Many speaks with particular power, I think, to my own generation, many of whom were radicalised in part by the Iraq War.

I was 12 when I watched February 15 march on TV. It felt for a moment like anything was possible and was the first time, really, that I felt conscious of a great mass of likeminded people in society who were actively trying to change the world.

After that, mine was the first generation to grow up as an audience to televised warfare. We understood war in a new way because we saw its the harrowing consequences played out on our screens; and while the outrage was immediate, so too was the disaffection — I could never understand why my grandmother kept writing her eloquent anti-war letters to No. 10 when it seemed so self-evident that they would never listen.

But while the government may not have been listening, there were plenty of others who were and while the world wasn’t watching, they never stopped mobilising. February 15 played a catalysing role for the Egyptian movement, to name one example.

In the film, Egyptian activists chart their course from 2003 right to the 2011 uprising in Tahrir Square. More than anything, and certainly when viewed in the context of all that’s happened since, We Are Many is a testament to their daily refusal to give up and go home.

Those who know the story well will see much that is missing from the subsequent struggles of the anti-war movement, but that is to be expected from a film of this length.

These unavoidable editorial decisions were taken with intelligence, and give the latter part of the film the space to highlight what happened here in Britain: the sustaining of Stop the War Coalition throughout those years, right into the build up to war against Syria.

The film creates a powerful sense of what it had taken to promote a counter-narrative about British foreign policy throughout the years of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombings elsewhere and a “war on terror” at home.

Despite the rhetoric of politicians and the corporate media, and despite historic disaffection with politics generally, it brought the true cost and futility of these wars into the light of day.

As the footage shows, the strength of public opposition and the memory of being “duped” over Iraq surfaced time and again during the parliamentary debate on Syria. But as we all know, politicians have short memories of their crimes unless there is a relentless collective effort outside the halls of power not to let them forget.

On the night of its screening at the Soho Hotel in London, several audience members who have withdrawn from activism since 2003 spoke afterwards of how their memory of February 15 had been completely coloured by watching this film.

They felt a decade of despondency being dispelled. That is the greatest testament to the film, a reflection of its purpose and an illustration of why hosting screenings should be an organisational priority for local activist groups.

Today, with Iraq in flames, Gaza under attack and growing instability throughout Africa and the Middle East, we need this movement to keep growing into something stronger, for which no demonstration is ever the end-game and every defeat is a renewed call for action.

Telling this story is essential to making that case because power will never confess that its arm has been bent by the people; if we as a movement don’t preserve and celebrate our history, they will happily erase it.

What I was left with after the screening was an overwhelming sense of pride, conviction and a renewed respect for everyone I know who helped build the biggest protest in world history, sustained that movement for a decade and ultimately made a decisive contribution to world history by giving people the awareness and the confidence they needed to give a resounding “no” over Syria.

This cost British Prime Minister David Cameron a parliamentary vote for war for the first time in 200 years.

For Amirani, We Are Many is an attempt to “give something back” to the anti-war movement and it really is a remarkable gift.

It reunites all those who participated in the making of that day and connects all their contributions to, as the late Tony Benn famously put it on the day, “starting something really big”.

The film is a powerful reminder that it was bigger than many of them realised. I have no doubt that next time we come together, we’ll see faces in the crowd not seen for eleven years because of it.

[Reprinted from the British Stop the War Coalition. We Are Many is also working to re-build this global network by creating an online community and digital archive where you can connect, share your February 15 story and help raise money for the project.]

Actress Lauren Bacall, human rights and peace

This video is a scene from the film To Have and Have Not; with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Lauren Bacall stuck by her principles

Saturday 16th August 2014

PETER FROST remembers one of Hollywood’s greatest stars who also spent a lifetime fighting for progressive causes

LAUREN BACALL, one of the last remaining icons of Hollywood’s golden age, has died at her home in Manhattan. She was 89.

Bacall became known for acting opposite her husband, Humphrey Bogart, in several 1940s classics including The Big Sleep, Key Largo and Dark Passage.

She will best be remembered for two things. Teaching Bogart to whistle. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” It might have been her first film but was without doubt among the most memorable lines of all time.

She will also be remembered as one of those golden Hollywood female stars who despite, or perhaps because of, all the glitz and the glamour were such effective voices in campaigning for so many liberal, progressive and left-wing causes in US politics.

The list is a long one, from Marilyn Monroe to Jane Fonda, and today from Susan Sarandon to Daryl Hannah.

Lauren Bacall was one of the earliest stars to put her career on the line by nailing her political colours to the mast.

She campaigned for democrat Harry S Truman for president — she even posed sat on the top of a piano while Truman played.

In October 1947, Bacall persuaded her husband of two years Humphrey Bogart to join her in Washington to protest at the investigations of Hollywood and the entire US film industry by the red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Bogart was 45, Bacall just 20.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Huac Protests (stock footage / archival footage)

Hollywood actors in Washington, DC in support of the Hollywood Ten. Actors cross street. Still photos protesting arrest of Hollywood Ten. Signs in support of Dalton Trumbo. Bogie and Bacall rally in support (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall).

The Peter Frost article continues:

In her first autobiography, By Myself, Bacall tells us that protest would be her “first grown-up exposure to a cause,” and it would start a lifetime of political campaigning.

Bogart himself felt strongly about HUAC’s McCarthite witch-hunts, but it was Bacall’s passion that persuaded him to go with her to Washington.

She was thrilled to be standing up for what she believed in. The protest didn’t stop the disgraceful blacklisting, first of the Hollywood Ten and then of hundreds of talented writers, musicians, actors and other film makers.

Bacall and Bogart helped form a Committee for the First Amendment. It called itself a non-political group of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, campaigning only for “honesty, fairness and the accepted rights of an American Citizen.”

The Committee made a short film called Hollywood Fights Back and the deep female voiceover spells it out: “This is Lauren Bacall. Have you seen Crossfire yet? … The American people have awarded it four stars. The Un-American Committee gave the man who made it a subpoena.”

Bacall and Bogart’s actions led to a media campaign accusing them of being communists — they weren’t. A frightened Bogart even wrote a press article entitled I’m No Communist. Bacall was made of sterner stuff.

She told the Washington Daily News: “When I left the HUAC building I couldn’t help but feel that every American who cares anything at all about preserving American ideals should witness part of this investigation. It starts with Hollywood, but I’m sorry to say I don’t think it will end with us.”

Her experience in that early political campaign began a life for her as an outspoken champion of so many causes.

Perhaps her proudest moment was her enthusiastic support of the Nuclear Freeze Movement in the 1980’s. She spoke at meetings and rallies all over the country helping to make this a key chapter in the history of US anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons movements.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) talks with actress Lauren Bacall prior to delivering a speech to a Nuclear Freeze rally at Northeastern University on Oct. 5, 1982, in Boston. (Photo: AP Photo)

Over her long life and career she used her name and fame to help and support many Democratic Party leaders including Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and much more recently Hillary Clinton.

Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in The Bronx. Her Jewish background brought its share of anti-semitism and in life she learned to hate all kind of racism and intolerance.

Much later she would discover that Shimon Peres who became the prime minister of Israel was a family relative. Although she did visit him in Tel Aviv on one occasion there is no evidence that she offered him any political support.

After graduating from high school, she entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and worked as a model, landing on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

That is where the wife of director Howard Hawks first saw her and suggested her husband give her a screen test. Hawks changed her name from Betty to Lauren. The last name Bacall was the maiden name of her mother.

In 1944 Hawks cast Bacall in the role of Marie “Slim” Browning in the film To Have And Have Not based on a story by Ernest Hemingway. The choice for the male star was between Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. Lauren rather fancied Grant.

Bogart, of course, got the part and by the spring of 1945 they were married. Bacall had two children with Bogart. He died from oesophageal cancer in 1957.

A year later, she became engaged to Frank Sinatra, but he broke off the match. “He behaved like a complete shit,” Bacall said later.

She coined the term “The Rat Pack” to describe Bogart, Sinatra and their friends.

From 1961 to 1969, she was married to actor Jason Robards, with whom she had another son, Sam.

When it seemed Hollywood had tired of Lauren Bacall she moved from the silver screen to the live theatre and continued to win both awards and public acclaim.

There was a brief but successful return to making movies and more recently her career continued with TV and animated voiceovers. The honours and awards kept coming as her career wound down.

So let’s sum up and leave the last word to the star herself. In 2005 Bacall told TV’s Larry King that she was “anti-Republican and a liberal. The L-word. Being a liberal is the best thing on Earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”

New Brazilian frog discovery, name honours escaped slaves

This video is the film Quilombo, on the history of slavery in Brazil, and slaves’ resistance to it.

From Wildlife Extra:

New species of frog named after slaves

A tiny new species of narrow-mouthed frog from the Microhylidae family has been discovered in the Atlantic Forest of the Espírito Santo State, southeastern Brazil.

Measuring just 14mm, the new species has been name[d] Chiasmocleis quilombola after the quilombos communities typical of the Espírito Santo State in Brazil, where the frogs were collected.

Quilombola communities are descended from slaves who dared to escape during colonial Portuguese rule in Brazil between 1530 and 1815 and find a refuge in the depths of the Atlantic Forest.

Even today in the north of Espírito Santo State quilombola communities still remain and maintain alive their traditions, such as quilombola food and craftwork.

Chiasmocleis quilombola occupy coastal areas north of Espírito Santo State, a region that is under strong human pressure, therefore the species may face imminent threat of habitat loss.

The discovery was made by scientists from two US universities, the University of Richmond in Virginia and The George Washington University in Washington DC.

See also here.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

Dutch film on Wadden Sea on the Internet

This video is the Dutch documentary film De platte jungle (The flat jungle), by director Johan van de Keuken, from 1974. This year, it was uploaded to YouTube.

The subject of the movie is the Wadden Sea intertidal zone wetland region and its people and wildlife.

Steven Spielberg attacked by Facebook users for ‘killing dinosaur’

Steven Spielberg with 'dead' Triceratops

These Facebook users should reserve their criticism for people like the king of Spain or the United States Trump dynasty, who really kill animals which are still alive today, contrary to dinosaurs

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Steven Spielberg mercilessly trolled by Facebook users who think he killed a dinosaur

This is not a joke – Facebook users riot over an image of the director on the set of Jurassic Park

Ella Alexander

Friday 11 July 2014

Steven Spielberg has been trolled by numerous Facebook users after a photo was shared of the director with a mechanical Triceratops on the set of 1993 film Jurassic Park.

The image was posted on the Facebook page of Jay Branscomb as a joke, alongside the caption:

“Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”

Incredibly, a fair few members of the public didn’t grasp that the picture was taken from the Jurassic Park set, believing that Spielberg had actually poached a dinosaur; dinosaurs, a breed of animals that became extinct 66 million years ago.

The image has been shared over 33,000 times attracting thousands of comments, initially from misinformed users (apparently unaware that dinosaurs are no longer) and also those lamenting their stupidity.

Tyrell Patrick branded Spielberg “a worthless son of a b****!”, while Scoomp Pi called it a “sad, disgusting scene”.

Becky Daigle said: “One day we realise that we are killing all animals on this planet and we need them to survive. But, when we realise it will be too late.”

“I did not know that Steven Spielberg is a dinosaur hunter,” said Andrea O’Donnell Koran. “I am not only outraged, but disgusted!!”

“This is no sport!!” cried Omega McCracken, as Sondre Jorstad questioned: “Why did he kill such a rare animal?”

It is hoped that some were sarcastic, but some were so detailed it’s difficult to believe they weren’t sincere.

“He’s a disgusting inhumane p***k,” said Penelope Rayzor Buchand. “I’d love to see these hunters be stopped. I think zoos are the best way to keep these innocent animals safe… assholes like this piece of s**t are going into these beautiful animals’ homes… and killing them. It’s no different to someone coming into your home and murdering you… I’m not watching any of your movies again ANIMAL KILLER.”

Branscomb shared the picture in the wake of Facebook’s decision to delete the photos of Texan cheerleader Kendall Jones, which showed her standing next to animals that she had killed, including a leopard and a lion.

See also here.

A high school freshman in South Carolina wrote a story for a class assignment about his neighbor’s pet dinosaur. Problem is, he also wrote that he killed that dinosaur using a gun, and teachers were so alarmed they called the cops, at which point the boy was arrested and suspended from school for three days: here.

Vatican recognizes exorcists officially

This video is ‘The Exorcist‘, trailer of the 1973 movie.

Well, that was Hollywood fiction.

Now, to 2014 reality.

From in Ireland:

Exorcist group wins Vatican backing

02/07/2014 – 17:42:20

Exorcists now have a legal weapon at their disposal after the Vatican formally recognised a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who liberate the faithful from demons.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has approved the statutes of the International Association of Exorcists and recognised the group under canon law, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported.

More than his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man purportedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was a prayer of liberation from Satan.

The head of the association, the Rev. Francesco Bamonte, said the Vatican approval was cause for joy.

“Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer,” he told the paper.

If new Pope Francis I really wants to fight sexual abuse, bank fraud, and other Vatican scandals, then this not the right way. In an atmosphere where ‘magical’ superstition is promoted, fighting the abuses becomes more difficult.

United States conservationist John Muir, new video animation

This video from the USA says about itself:

24 May 2014

My first year film at CalArts in the Experimental Animation program – A short stop motion film exploring the writings and adventures of naturalist, author, and father of the National Parks, John Muir.

For more about John Muir: here.

Film by Ian Timothy

Voice of John Muir: Brad Wills

Music: Marianna Filippi

Puppet Costume: Lucia Tello

By Maren Hunsberger in the USA:

Green Life: Claymation Sensation: Artist Animates John Muir

Ian Timothy’s John Muir creation is only eight and half inches tall, with a posable wire skeleton, liquid latex skin, adorable tiny hand-sewn clothes, and a thick Scottish brogue. In Timothy’s latest gorgeous stop-motion video, the mini Muir recites some of his famous reflections on the beauty of nature while walking through forests made from old water bottles and papier mâché. This film comes on the heels of his Beaver Creek series, raising awareness about beavers as a keystone species, and Raptor Blues, which centers around the dangerous effects of rodent poison on raptors.