Oscar Wilde’s twice stolen ring found again

This video says about itself:

Friday, November 15, 2019

A golden ring once given as a present by the famed Irish writer Oscar Wilde has been recovered by a Dutch “art detective” nearly 20 years after it was stolen from Britain’s Oxford University. The friendship ring, a joint gift from Wilde to a fellow student in 1876, was taken during a burglary in 2002 at Magdalen College, where the legendary dandy studied.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Dutch art detective Arthur Brand has found the lost ring of the famous writer Oscar Wilde. The Irish author donated his ring in 1876 to the University of Oxford, where he studied. The ring was stolen in 2002 and had since been considered lost.

But thanks to Arthur Brand, the ring has surfaced again and will soon return to Oxford. “I have to admit that I did wear it for a while with pride,” says Brand. The art detective is a big fan of the writer. When he searched for something about Wilde seven years ago, he came across the story of the stolen ring. That is how a long search began.

The ring was stolen in 2002 by a university cleaner. He was looking for evidence that his wife, who also worked at the university, was having an affair. He did not find that proof, but he did find the ring and he took it. The man was sentenced, but the ring remained lost: he claimed he had it melted down.

“I didn’t believe that. Most thieves say something like that, so they don’t have to betray to whom they’ve sold something,” says Brand. The art detective was convinced that the ring still had to be somewhere. “I have quite a few contacts in England so I started asking around, but unfortunately nothing came out.”

Senior citizen robbery in 2015

In 2015, a group of mostly elderly men broke into a locker business in the London jewellery district of Hatton Garden. They stole jewellery for 20 million euros. The theft is seen as the biggest robbery in British history. “Soon after, rumors arose in the criminal underworld that things had been found that had been stolen before. Eg, it was said that there was a Victorian ring with a Russian text,” says Brand.

Brand actually already knew that it had to be Oscar Wilde’s ring, because the description almost corresponded exactly with what the ring looked like. “Only there is no Russian on Wilde’s ring, but a Greek text. The criminals couldn’t tell apart Russian and Greek and they didn’t know it was the famous writer’s ring. The ring was therefore stolen twice.”

Through various intermediaries, the art detective finally managed to find the person who owned the ring. “By now, almost all of London was looking for the ring, because Oscar Wilde is so famous that even criminals knew who he was.”

The person who had it was shocked when he heard that it was Oscar Wilde’s ring. “He or she, because I don’t know who it was, would probably have bought that ring as an ordinary Victorian ring. For perhaps a few hundred pounds. If they had known at that time that it was Wilde’s ring, that price would have been sky high.”

It still had to be checked whether the ring was ‘real’. Then Brand finally got hold of the ring. He couldn’t resist wearing the ring for a while. “I certainly put it on my finger a couple of times. I don’t normally wear jewellery and it is not my style at all. Wilde was, of course, the prototype of a dandy so that ring is a bit over the top. But I think he would really like it if he knew that a big fan had worn his ring.”

The ring is now in a safe place in England and on Wednesday, December 4 he will be presented with a ceremony at the University of Oxford, the rightful owner. “I miss it a bit. You got a kind of bond with it”, says Brand.

It is not the first time that Arthur Brand has been able to find a great art treasure.

Earlier, Mr Brand discovered that the theft of 17th-century paintings and silverware from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands, had been done by the secret police of Ukraine, jointly with the neofascist Svoboda party.

Donald Trump supports convicted war criminals

This 20 May 2019 CNN TV video from the USA says about itself:

Retired Lt. General slams idea of pardoning soldiers accused of war crimes

In response to the New York Times reporting that President Donald Trump was considering military pardons for several US military members accused or convicted of war crimes, Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says any such pardon would be immoral.

By Evan Blake in the USA:

Seeking to cultivate fascistic base, Trump pardons two war criminals and promotes a third

16 November 2019

In an effort to cultivate his fascistic base in the military-intelligence apparatus, on Friday US President Donald Trump issued full pardons to two soldiers and restored the rank of a third, each of whom has been accused or convicted of war crimes. The orders appear to have been made despite opposition from within the Pentagon leadership out of concern the negative image of the US military that this action would promote domestically and abroad.

Those pardoned were former Army lieutenant Clint Lorance, who in 2013 was convicted of second-degree murder by a court-martial and has been in prison since then on a 19-year sentence, and Army Special Forces officer Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, who was charged with premeditated murder in 2018 after publicly admitting to killing an unarmed alleged Taliban member, and had been awaiting trial.

Trump also reversed the demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who in July was acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense and demoted. Gallagher’s acquittal came as a result of his intimate ties to the Trump administration.

The pardoning of two war criminals and promotion of another, which follows Trump’s full pardoning of US Army first lieutenant Michael Behenna last May, is unprecedented in American history. It marks a significant escalation of Trump’s campaign to build a fascist movement in the United States, based on sections of the military, the Border Patrol, and the other police state agencies.

Trump personally called the three war criminals to inform them that they were either pardoned or promoted. In response, each soldier issued public statements thanking him, further boosting his popularity among the most far-right sections of the American population.

Gallagher took to Instagram to praise Trump, writing, “I truly believe that we are blessed as a Nation to have a Commander-in-Chief that stands up for our warfighters, and cares about how they and their families are treated.”

The White House press release on the president’s decision quotes Trump as saying, “when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.” Similarly, Pete Hegseth, one of the hosts of Fox News show “Fox & Friends” who is closest to Trump, summarized the president’s approach to the issue: “The benefit of the doubt should go to the guys pulling the trigger.”

The timing of the pardons is highly significant, coming on the second day of public, televised hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, in which the Democrats are pushing for the impeachment of Trump on the basis of differences over US foreign policy. Backed into a corner and facing hostile testimony from officials still within his own administration, Trump felt the need to take a provocative action to stoke up his reactionary base.

Trump’s pardoning of war criminals underscores the complete criminality of his administration, which for the past three years has waged an unending assault on immigrants, carried out war crimes abroad, and unleashed a social counterrevolution on the entire working class through tax cuts for the rich and devastating cuts to social programs. At the same time, Trump has whipped up racist and xenophobic sentiment and run roughshod over the Constitution, as part of an effort to cultivate an authoritarian movement in the US.

Despite all this, the Democrats have circumscribed their impeachment proceedings entirely within the reactionary framework of their differences over foreign policy in relation to Ukraine and Russia. In large part, this is because the Democrats are themselves guilty of overseeing similar right-wing, anti-democratic measures under the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who both oversaw numerous war crimes abroad and deported millions of immigrants from the US.

The atrocities committed by each of the three soldiers that Trump has pardoned or promoted speak to the brutal character of American imperialism and the decades-long campaign to offset declining global economic hegemony through brute military force. Both political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, have overseen nearly three decades of unending war and social counterrevolution. These two parties of Wall Street are responsible for creating the conditions that caused each war crime to take place.

In July 2012, Lorance took over the command of a platoon in Afghanistan as a rookie Army lieutenant. Two days later, he ordered his troops to open fire on harmless, unarmed civilians, killing two men. Lorance attempted to cover up the war crime by calling in false reports over the radio, but the troops under his command immediately exposed his lies and he was later convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

In 2010, Mathew Golsteyn was a captain in the Army Special Forces during Operation Moshtarak, one of the bloodiest battles of the War in Afghanistan, which killed or injured at least 100 civilians in the city of Marja. After initially receiving a reprimand but no charges, in 2018 the Army was forced to reopen the case and charge him with premeditated murder after Golsteyn admitted to the killing in a 2016 interview on Fox News.

Perhaps the most well-known, in 2018 Edward Gallagher was charged by the Navy of nine offenses committed during the Battle for Mosul in Iraq in 2017, including shooting two civilians, posing for a picture with the dead body of a captive, and obstruction of justice. Gallagher was known for being a bloodthirsty killer, at one point claiming he killed three people per day for 80 days. After receiving significant backing from lawyers and media representatives connected to the Trump administration, as well as public statements of support from Trump himself, in July Gallagher was acquitted of all charges but convicted of willfully posing “for an unofficial picture with a human casualty.” His only punishment was a demotion in rank, which Trump reversed yesterday.

It is important to note that under the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, it was established that the pardoning of war crimes is itself a war crime.

Trump overrides Navy’s bid to evict war criminal from SEALS: here.

NAVY SECRETARY OUSTED IN SEAL CLASH WITH TRUMP Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanded Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s resignation after Spencer sought to negotiate with the White House over the case of a Navy SEAL found guilty of committing war crimes in 2017. Trump intervened in the case after it became a cause for right-wing commentators. [HuffPost]

The firing Sunday of US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over the scheduling of a routine administrative review in the case of Navy Seal Edward Gallagher, who was court-martialed for war crimes, has deepened tensions between the Trump White House and the Pentagon’s senior command: here.

Anguish and Anger From the Navy SEALs Who Turned In Edward Gallagher. Video interviews and group texts obtained by The [New York] Times show men describing their platoon leader in grim terms: here.

Birds, mushrooms and big wasp, Terschelling island

Hornet attacks ant, 23 September 2019

After 22 September 2019 on Terschelling island came 23 September. Early in the morning, not far from Doodemanskisten lake, this hornet attacked this ant.

A coal tit. A firecrest. Two great tits. And a female blackcap.

As we walked through the woodland, false death cap fungi.

Clustered brittlestem.

Blusher mushrooms.

Gymnopus dryophilus.

Melanoleuca brevipes, 23 September 2019

And these Melanoleuca brevipes fungi.

Common rustgill, 23 September 2019

And these common rustgill mushrooms.

A great spotted woodpecker. A robin sings.

Saffron milk cap, 23 September 2019

Saffron milk cap.

Some of many Jersey cow mushrooms we saw today.

A slug feeding on one of them.

Yellow stagshorn, 23 September 2019

These yellow stagshorn fungi.

Horse mushrom, 23 September 2019

Horse mushroom.

Common roll-rim.

Young shaggy ink caps.

Sticky bun fungus, 23 September 2019

Sticky bun present as well.

Sticky bun fungi, 23 September 2019

Sulphur tuft.

Penny bun, 23 September 2019

Penny bun.

Collybia confluens.

Smooth puffball, 23 September 2019

Smooth puffball.

Common puffball.

Lactarius glaucescens.

A jay calls.

Velvet roll-rim fungi on 23 September 2019

Velvet roll-rim.

Beefsteak polypore, 23 September 2019

And, as last fungus photo of that day, this beefsteak polypore.

When we are back at Doodemanskisten lake, two grey herons. A teal. A wigeon. A female migrant hawker dragonfly.

Stay tuned for more on Terschelling wildlife!

Cola-Cola violates workers’ rights worldwide

This 5 March 2019 video says about itself:

Mexican Coca-Cola workers along US border on strike over wages

In Mexico, as the country’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador begins to turn campaign promises into law, the regions where he’s implementing policy are finding that ideology and reality take time and effort to match. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from the U.S. border with Mexico.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Cola-Cola continues to violate the rights of workers throughout the world

16th November 2019

COCA-COLA continues to violate the fundamental rights of workers in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland and the US.

In Haiti, Coke’s bottler La Brasserie de la Couronne continues to systematically deny workers their right to form and be represented by a union, SYTBRACOUR.

Haiti is a dangerous place to live and to work. Companies should, at a minimum, be alert to this situation and exercise maximum due diligence. In July 2019, a Coca-Cola truck driver was shot dead in his vehicle while at work.

The Coca-Cola Company has made no meaningful independent investigation of this killing, choosing instead to rely on a version of events provided by their local bottler, which sought to shift the blame onto the driver.

Subsequent investigations into this case have exonerated the driver and exposed a callous disregard for the truth on the part of the Coca-Cola bottler and The Coca-Cola Company.

In Indonesia, Coca-Cola bottler Amatil pursues its long-running attack on the rights of independent, democratic trade unions.

In Ireland, The Coca-Cola Company closed two of its directly owned concentrate plants, both of which were strongly unionised, and shifted production to the remaining plant in Ballina, where it refuses to engage in collective bargaining with the SIPTU trade union.

Coke’s rejection of collective bargaining rights flies in the face of an Irish Labour Court recommendation that SIPTU should be able to ‘engage with the company to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment on behalf of its members’.

Coke management in Ballina refuses to accept this recommendation to recognise the union’s collective bargaining rights.

In the US, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England spent more than 330,000 US dollars hiring a union-busting consultancy firm to persuade workers at its Greenfield bottling plant not to join the RWDSU/UFCW.

According to The Coca-Cola Company’s human rights report 2016-2017: ‘At The Coca-Cola Company, we respect our employees’ right to join, form, or not join a labour union without fear of reprisal, intimidation, or harassment.’

Publicly available Bennett Law Firm documents describe how this works in practice: ‘We represented management at employee meetings with the objective of persuading subject group of employees at Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England in Greenfield, Massachusetts to remain union-free.’

The Coca-Cola Company will only act to remedy these multiple human rights violations when it feels that the brand name is threatened by public exposure of its record.

Purple finches at Canadian feeders

This video from Canada says about itself:

Purple Finches Paint Ontario Feeders With Raspberry Red And Earthy Brown – Nov. 14, 2019

Enjoy this flock of Purple Finches as they dine at the feeder tray on the Ontario FeederWatch cam. Male Purple Finches are delicate pink-red on the head and breast, mixing with brown on the back and cloudy white on the belly. Female Purple Finches have no red. They are coarsely streaked below, with strong facial markings including a whitish eyestripe and a dark line down the side of the throat.

Bolivian pro-Trump putschists commit bloodbath

This 15 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Exposing the fascist forces behind Bolivia’s US-backed coup – with Max Blumenthal

Max Blumenthal discusses the fascist and Christian extremist forces leading the military coup against Bolivia’s elected President Evo Morales, which had support from the US, [Bolsonaro‘s] Brazil, and Colombia.

Top Bolivian coup plotters trained by US military’s School of the Americas, served as attachés in FBI police programs: here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

In Bolivia, during violence between the police and supporters of deposed President Morales, at least five people were killed and dozens injured. That says the director of a hospital in the city of Sacaba. Also a journalist from AFP news agency says he has seen five dead bodies.

According to the hospital director, most of the dead and wounded had gunshot wounds. He speaks of the most serious violence in his 30-year career.

Witnesses say the police opened fire on supporters of Morales when they wanted to pass a military checkpoint near the city of Cochabamba. … Earlier in the day, thousands of supporters of the deposed president had protested peacefully in the neighbouring city Sacaba. …

Morales, who fled to Mexico, speaks of a massacre on Twitter.

The ousted president also warned that the United States was the “great conspirator” behind the coup d’etat that forced him to leave his country. The US is one of only a few countries to have recognised Ms Anez as Bolivia’s interim leader. Mr Morales claims that he officially remains the president since the country’s parliament has not yet accepted his resignation. He called for calm and dialogue in Bolivia and said: “I want to tell [my supporters] that we will have to recover democracy, but with a lot of patience and peaceful struggle”: here.