Rembrandt, other painting exhibitions in Dutch Leiden


This 14 June 2019 Dutch video with English subtitles says about itself:

An eye for detail

[Art historian] Wieteke van Zeil gives tips to see more during your visit to Museum De Lakenhal.

From the site of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Museum De Lakenhal presents: Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

20 June 2019 – 3 October 2019

The galleries of Museum De Lakenhal exhibit leading works from the Golden Age of Leiden’s masters such as Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Jan van Goyen, Jan Steen and the Leiden Fijnschilders (literally ‘fine painters’). This exhibition tells the story of Leiden and the flourishing artists who made it the birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age.

Leiden as birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age

Early 17th century Leiden was the workplace of diverse painters, each of which would prove to be of crucial significance to Dutch Golden Age art. The young Rembrandt and Jan Lievens worked closely together in their formative years as artists and during the time they spent in Leiden, they laid the foundations for an oeuvre that would be of global significance. From the outset, they presented themselves through their paintings and etchings as experimental and inquisitive artists. At the same time, Jan van Goyen and the maritime artist Jan Porcellis were developing as pioneers of Dutch landscape painting. Leiden also gained prominence through painters such as Jan Davidsz de Heem and David Bailly who focused on vanitas still lifes, which dealt with the concept of transience. The masterpieces of these great artists can be admired at the exhibition.

Rembrandt & Leiden’s Fijnschilders

Gerrit Dou was Rembrandt’s most important student. After leaving his mentor for Amsterdam in 1632, he concentrated on extremely finely detailed cabinet paintings. He was inspired by Rembrandt and developed into the founder of the Leidse Fijnschilders movement of artists, who, unlike Rembrandt and Vermeer, managed to acquire international renown during their lifetime. No collection of royal standing was complete without works by Fijnschilders such as Frans van Mieris, Pieter van Slingelandt or Godfried Schalcken. The collection of Fijnschilders at Museum De Lakenhal has recently grown into one of the most important of its kind.

Earliest known works of Rembrandt in the spotlight

The earliest known works of Rembrandt, including A Peddler Selling Spectacles (ca. 1624) and History Painting (1626) are at the heart of the exhibition. A Peddler Selling Spectacles is part of a series portraying the five senses which Rembrandt painted when he was about seventeen. Although Rembrandt is clearly experimenting with technique and perspective, this painting is a sign of the attention to the chiaroscuro and virtuosity of brushstrokes that we would see in Rembrandt’s later works for which he would become famous. History Painting (1626) is an early example of how Rembrandt portrays himself in a painting. In collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, the History Painting has been restored in the Amsterdam museum’s studio, bringing Rembrandt’s colour palette back to its original glory.

Late Golden Age

Leiden paintings of the late Golden Age are characterised by their expressive realism in conjunction with their classical dignity. The most significant representatives of the incipient movement are the Leiden-based painter Jan Steen and the sculptor Pieter Xavery. Their work, which is full of playful humour and folksy caricature, still enjoys huge popularity among a wide public. Like Rembrandt, Jan Steen had the habit of including self-portraits in his paintings. Presumably inspired by Rembrandt. The exhibition shows of Jan Steen’s works in which he incorporates his self-portrait: a self-portrait of the painter with his wife entitled Couple Reading the Bible (ca. 1650) and The robbed violonist (ca. 1670-72). Jan Steen was never shied away from portraying himself as a salt-of-the-earth caricature, as shown here as a violin player who is being robbed.

Year Of Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

In 2019 the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn’s death will be honoured with numerous events which will be held in The Hague, Leiden, Leeuwarden, Amsterdam and other places. Experience the Netherlands in the era of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age through the special exhibitions being held at venues such as Museum De Lakenhal, the Fries Museum, The Mauritshuis, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) and the Rijksmuseum.

Galapagos wildlife paradise becoming Trump military base?


This 2017 video says about itself:

From weird pink iguanas and painted insects; to mysterious new species; here are the STRANGEST Creatures of the Galapagos Islands!

Galapagos Penguin

Native to the islands, this is the only penguin known to exist north of the equator in the wild. It’s one of the world’s smallest species of penguin at about 19 inches long and weighing some 5.5 pounds. And due to its low population it’s also considered one of the rarest penguin species. Including other factors, the birds have many predators, including introduced species like dogs and rats. When they’re in the water, sharks and sea lions target the penguins.

Marine Iguanas

Charles Darwin was not impressed with their looks and called them ‘imps of darkness’. They’re better known as marine iguanas that are found only on the Galapagos Islands … and are the only sea-going lizard currently known. Some of their marine adaptations include the ability to dive for more than 60 feet, and stay submerged for an hour. Marine iguanas normally subsist on seaweed. But when food gets low, experts say they can somehow shorten their own bones to make them smaller, and more energy efficient. Their dark coloration serves a couple of purposes. While it allows them to blend in with their environment, it also helps them quickly absorb heat after swimming in the cold waters.

Blue-Footed Booby

It’s pretty easy to guess where this marine bird gets its name. While those feet look strange, they do serve a vital purpose when it comes to perpetuating the species. Males will strut around females, lifting their feet up and down in an unusual mating ritual. The guys with the brightest feet indicate greater fertility, and will usually win the ladies. Because the color fades with age, females mate with the younger males. The blue coloration is a result of a pigment the birds absorb from their diet of fresh fish. Unlike some of the critters on the list, these birds are not found only in the Galapagos … but experts say that about half of their global population breeds there.

Galapagos Pink Land Iguanas

There’s only one place in the world … and only one location in the Galapagos where you can see these uniquely colored lizards. In fact, the pinkish hue almost makes you wonder if this isn’t yet another one of those digitally created beasts … either that, or the reptile seems to have had its dark skin scraped off, leaving it pink and raw. But that is their natural coloration. If you want to see one in the pink flesh, they’re found in the Volcan Wolf region of the Galapagos, on Isabela Island. While this iguana is a species unto itself, experts say only around 100 of them known to exist.

And before getting to the number one critter, here’s an honorable mention. We found an interesting story about the Great Frigatebird which nests in the Galapagos. It’s not unlike the Magnificent Frigatebird which we mentioned earlier. In this species, the males also have a red sac at the throat which is inflated to attract a mate. We’re including it because this particular animal was involved with an unusual experiment to see if birds could actually sleep while flying. And while that has been suspected for some time, scientists now have proof of the phenomenon. The brainwaves of Great Frigatebirds were monitored for 10 days. Researchers found that the birds could in fact be half asleep, but kept one eye open (literally) to watch out for potential threats. The stats revealed that the bird subjects would sleep for just over 40 minutes while they flew on autopilot. But when on land, they will sleep for up to 12 hours a day. Experts say it’s an example of ‘unihemispheric sleep’ — where one half of the brain shuts down while the other half remains alert.

Galapagos Tortoises

The world’s largest species of tortoise can weigh more than 900 pounds. That enormous size has helped make them so iconic, that the Galapagos Islands were actually named after these reptiles (not the other way around). They’re among the longest-lived vertebrates, with life spans documented up to around 170 years. Their population underwent a great decline from when they were first found in the 16th century. At that time their population numbered around 250,000 individuals. By the 1970s, only 3,000 existed. Today, there’s around 25,000, but the species is classified as vulnerable. Besides the Galapagos, giant tortoises only exist on the archipelago of Aldabra in the Indian Ocean.

When Lenin Moreno ran in the 2017 presidential election in Ecuador, he promised to continue the left-wing policies of his left-wing predecessor Rafael Correa. Correa, eg, had strengthened conservation policies for the Galapagos islands. However, once elected, Moreno became a stooge of the Donald Trump administration in the USA. Moreno annulled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Ecuadorean citizenship and asylum in the London embassy of Ecuador to pave the way for persecution of Assange by Trump in the USA.

Now, it looks like Moreno is handing over the Galapagos islands to the Trump regime.

This 13 June 2019 video says about itself:

U.S. surveillance planes will operate from the Galapagos as the United States are funding an extension of the San Cristobal Island airport in the Ecuadorean archipelago.

Pompeo admits Venezuelans don’t support regime change


This 11 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Mike Pompeo Insinuates the US is Willing to Meddle in UK Elections

From daily News Line in Britain:

Pompeo admits US-organised uprising in Venezuela has ‘no popular support’

14th June 2019

US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo had a secret meeting last month … in which he spilled the beans on the manoeuvrings of US imperialism to effect regime change in Venezuela and he outlined the determination of the Trump administration to block any possibility of a Corbyn-led Labour government in the UK.

This was revealed in a clandestine tape of his speech leaked to the Washington Post. On Venezuela, Pompeo admitted that the official US narrative, that it is supporting a popular pro-democracy movement against the elected president Nicolas Maduro is a complete fiction.

He admitted that there is no popular movement to oust Maduro, saying that there was no movement ‘worth talking about’. In fact, Pompeo was scathing about the so-called opposition and its leader, the self-declared ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, admitting that Guaido does not have any popular support amongst the Venezuelan people.

Pompeo went even further when he lamented that the handful of bourgeois ‘oppositionists’ cobbled together by the US are nothing more than a rabble fighting one another over who will grab the spoils if regime change is achieved.

He said: ‘Our conundrum, which is to keep the opposition united, has proven devilishly difficult. The moment Maduro leaves, everybody’s going to raise their hands and say, “Take me, I’m the next president of Venezuela.” It would be forty-plus people who believe they’re the rightful heir to Maduro.’

The complete failure of US imperialism to orchestrate the overthrow of Maduro was exemplified in the humiliating debacle of a military coup attempt on 30 April led by Guaido which fizzled out before it even began.

Pompeo also candidly admitted that US efforts to conjure up an opposition had been going on long before Maduro was overwhelmingly re-elected as president last May. He said: ‘We were trying to support various religious … institutions to get the opposition to come together … since the day I became CIA director. This was something that was at the centre of what President Trump was trying to do.’

Pompeo made it clear in his speech that the Venezuelan people are not alone in being the subject of attempts at regime change. The Trump administration is also determined to prevent the election of a Corbyn-led Labour government and intends to try and stop Corbyn from ever becoming prime minister.

Pompeo was recorded saying: ‘It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.’

His remarks surfaced after Trump’s three-day visit to London where he contemptuously … saying Corbyn was ‘somewhat of a negative force’ while going out of his way to endorse Boris Johnson as his pick for next UK Prime Minister.

Trump, as Pompeo confirms, will mobilise the US resources, being Labour right-wingers, to dump Corbyn before any election – this is the meaning of Pompeo’s pledge of a ‘push back’ against the Labour leader. …

Trump’s rampaging around the world attempting regime changes while waging trade wars with China and the EU is a product of the acute weakness of US capitalism.

In the face of a rapidly developing banking crisis, a crash in industrial production and a US working class taking mass action against low wages and poverty, Trump is forced to fight it out with his capitalist rivals to either destroy them or turn them into servile client states of US capitalism through regime change.

Pompeo’s speech has established that the enemy of the Venezuelan people is the same enemy of the British working class. The only way forward is for British workers to carry out their own regime change by organising a general strike to bring down the Tory government and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.

Giant trilobite discovery in Australia


This 13 June 2019 video says about itself:

Fossils of giant new species of sea creature found on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island

The fossils of a giant new species of sea creature have been found on Kangaroo Island, with experts saying it was likely the “terror” of other creatures on the seafloor.

Researchers said the discovery of a group of sea creatures called trilobites added insights to knowledge of the Cambrian explosion, the greatest diversification event in the history of life on Earth.

The fossils, called Redlichia rex, were the largest Cambrian trilobite to be discovered in Australia. Trilobites, which had hard, calcified, armour-like skeletons over their bodies, were related to modern crustaceans and insects. They were one of the most successful fossil animal groups, surviving for about 270 million years.

The new species was discovered at Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island, where more than 100 other species were discovered, including some with soft parts intact.

From the University of Adelaide in Australia:

New ‘king’ of fossils discovered in Australia

T. rex‘ of trilobites had formidable legs with spines for crushing, shredding

June 13, 2019

Fossils of a giant new species from the long-extinct group of sea creatures called trilobites have been found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

The finding is adding important insights to our knowledge of the Cambrian ‘explosion’, the greatest diversification event in the history of life on Earth, when almost all animal groups suddenly appeared over half-a-billion years ago.

Trilobites, which had hard, calcified, armour-like skeletons over their bodies, are related to modern crustaceans and insects. They are one of the most successful fossil animal groups, surviving for about 270 million years (521 to 252 million years ago). Because of their abundance in the fossil record, they are considered a model group for understanding this evolutionary period.

“We decided to name this new species of trilobite Redlichia rex (similar to Tyrannosaurus rex) because of its giant size, as well as its formidable legs with spines used for crushing and shredding food — which may have been other trilobites,” says James Holmes, PhD student with the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the research.

The preservation of trilobite ‘soft parts’ such as the antennae and legs is extremely rare. The new species was discovered at the Emu Bay Shale on Kangaroo Island, a world-renowned deposit famous for this type of preservation. The findings have been published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology by a team of scientists from the University of Adelaide, South Australian Museum and the University of New England.

The new species is about 500 million years old, and is the largest Cambrian trilobite discovered in Australia. It grew to around 30 cm in length, which is almost twice the size of other Australian trilobites of similar age.

“Interestingly, trilobite specimens from the Emu Bay Shale — including Redlichia rex — exhibit injuries that were caused by shell-crushing predators,” says senior study author Associate Professor Diego García-Bellido, from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum.

“There are also large specimens of fossilised poo (or coprolites) containing trilobite fragments in this fossil deposit. The large size of injured Redlichia rex specimens and the associated coprolites suggests that either much bigger predators were targeting Redlichia rex, such as Anomalocaris — an even larger shrimp-like creature — or that the new species had cannibalistic tendencies.”

One of the major drivers of the Cambrian explosion was likely an evolutionary “arms race” between predators and prey, with each developing more effective measures of defence (such as the evolution of shells) and attack.

“The overall size and crushing legs of Redlichia rex are a likely consequence of the arms race that occurred at this time” says James Holmes. “This giant trilobite was likely the terror of smaller creatures on the Cambrian seafloor.”

Specimens of Redlichia rex and other Emu Bay Shale fossils are currently on display in the South Australian Museum.

London Grenfell fire disaster, Conservatives learned nothing


Firefighters form a guard of honour at the first anniversary march for the London Grenfell Tower fire

From daily News Line in Britain:

‘Sleepwalking towards another catastrophe’ – FBU statement marking 2 years since Grenfell fire

14th June 2019

‘WE RISK sleepwalking into another catastrophic loss of life. We demand urgent action from the government to ensure that the events of Grenfell Tower can never happen again’, Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) general secretary, said in a special statement released today to mark the second anniversary of the horrific fire.

Wrack warned that because of savage Tory cuts to the fire service, if a similar fire broke out, they would not have the resources to deal with it.

Wrack said: ‘The second anniversary of Grenfell must be a moment of both heartfelt reflection and determined action.

‘We have seen 72 lives tragically lost, in a wholly preventable blaze, all while desperately firefighters risked their own lives to save others in a fire nobody had planned for.

Firefighters and emergency fire control staff never want to see a fire like that again, and are calling on the government to take immediate action.

‘In the time since the fire, the government’s facile approach has utterly failed all those involved that night and the thousands of people who are at risk across the country.

‘After two years, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has delivered no answers and we are no closer to tackling any of the underlying causes of the tragedy.

Countless homes are still wrapped in flammable materials, while warnings from tenants about risks to their safety go ignored.

‘Fire and rescue services are, in the face of continued cuts, unable to prepare for a similar incident, with no national structures or coordination from government.’

Meanwhile, tower blocks across England have been lit up in a series of guerrilla projections highlighting a national fire safety crisis that appears to be getting worse rather than better.

As night fell on Wednesday, buildings in London, Greater Manchester and Newcastle were illuminated with messages up to 12 storeys high warning that two years after the fire that killed 72 people, they are still not fitted with sprinklers, have defective fire doors or are wrapped in dangerous cladding.

Luxury apartments, NV Buildings in Salford were illuminated with a message that read: ‘2 years after Grenfell and this building is still covered in dangerous cladding. #DemandChange.’

In London at Frinstead House on the Silchester estate, which neighbours Grenfell, the projection highlighted its lack of sprinklers.

Frinstead is just a stone’s throw from Whitstable House. The tower block was subject to a bin fire only a few weeks ago, and as smoke rose through the bin shaft and started to fill the landings all the way up to the 16th floor, no fire alarm or smoke alarm sounded.

This evening thousands are expected to join the silent walk through the streets of North Kensington, and on Saturday there is a march through central London to Parliament demanding justice for Grenfell.

THE Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called today for urgent action on a range of fire and building safety issues to prevent another Grenfell: here.

The Grenfell Tower fire of June 14, 2017 is an event seared into the consciousness of working people across London and around the world. 72 men, women and children perished in their homes. As part of its “regeneration” plans, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council and its tenant management organisation (KCTMO) encased Grenfell in cheap, flammable cladding causing a small kitchen fire to engulf the building in minutes: here.