Donald Trump’s spying on citizens, sculpture and ‘free speech’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump’s DOJ Demands Personal Info On 1.3M Visitors to ‘DisruptJ20Inauguration Protest Website

18 August 2017

The Justice Department is demanding web hosting provider DreamHost turn over 1.3 million IP addresses of people who visited the website DisruptJ20.org, which was used to organize the protests against President Trump’s inauguration.

The Justice Department is also seeking names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other information about the owners and subscribers of the website. More than 200 protesters were arrested during the Inauguration Day protests and are now facing decades in prison on trumped-up charges. We are joined by Nate Cardozo, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His group is assisting DreamHost in its opposition to the government’s search warrant.

The transcript of this video is here.

By Ophelia Benson:

Aug 17th, 2017

Speaking of beautiful statues that are causing Donald Trump to mourn and pine when they are moved from one spot to another, a couple of Facebook friends have been reminding us of some that were demolished altogether decades ago. They adorned what was then Bonwit Teller at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan.

Bonwit Teller sculpture

Beginning in the 1960s, a series of corporate takeovers changed the face of retailing. Bonwit’s was sold several times, and it lost the luster that Bergdorf, in particular, was able to retain. Although some ancillary stores survived until 2000, Bonwit Teller closed its store at Fifth and 56th in 1979.

That was good news for Donald Trump, who acquired the old Bonwit’s building and began demolition in 1980. He had promised the limestone reliefs of the dancing women to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which wanted them for its sculpture collection, although the offer was conditional on his being able to remove them. But suddenly workmen jackhammered them to bits.

This act was condemned by, among others, The New York Times, which said: “Evidently, New York needs to make salvation of this kind of landmark mandatory and stop expecting that its developers will be good citizens and good sports.”

The Trump organization replied that the two-ton panels were “without artistic merit”, that saving them would have delayed construction for months and cost $500,000.

Plus they weren’t Confederate generals or General Pershing or Mussolini, so you know, who cares.

A chalk mural of Heather Heyer, murdered by a white supremacist hitting her and other anti-racist protesters with his car, adorns the Charlottesville Downtown Mall on August 16, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo: Bored_Grrl)

By Katherine Cross in the USA:

When “Free Speech” Kills

Friday, August 18, 2017

The way we were going, this was always going to end in blood. Every person who’s ever misused arguments for free speech to defend Nazis or white supremacists  —  just so they could puff out their chests and apocryphally quote Voltaire with smug certitude  —  has some measure of Heather Heyer’s blood on their hands.

The road that James Alex Fields Jr. sped down was paved with countless editorials in major newspapers and magazines that positioned student movements or black women on Twitter as existential threats to “free speech.” It was paved by those who said they were less afraid of Richard Spencer than the man who punched him. It was paved by countless people saying, “they’re just words” or “it’s just the internet, it’s not real life” in defence of extremists’ vitriol, never realizing that such statements are not mere words on the wind: they are promises.

After all, how many times have we seen white people online call for mowing down protesters? What happened in Charlottesville wasn’t even the first time someone went out and actually did it. As a recent Slate article notes: “On July 10, 2016  —  the same day a South Carolina fire captain threatened to run over BLM protesters who had shut down Interstate 126  —  an SUV driver in southern Illinois plowed through a group of BLM protesters after yelling ‘All lives matter, not blacks, all lives.'”

That was over a year ago, and we should have seen then how quickly hateful social media slogans quickly become action.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Heyer’s murder, a Springfield, MA policeman wrote on Facebook  —  in response to a news article about the terror attack  —  ”Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block roads.” He added, to someone trying to argue with him, “How do you know [the driver] was a Nazi scumbag? Stop being part of the problem.” An incredible two step: celebrating a woman’s murder, and then tut tutting someone who insulted her murderer while retreating behind formless relativism.

The many instances of whites letting loose their hatred online and calling for the mowing down of protesters are wishes being loosed into the ether. Eventually, they’ll coalesce into a deed. As I said, they are not just words, they are promises, given force and urgency by the overheated rhetoric that prevails on social media, where even the most extreme racists are given free reign to agitate without limit.

Black Lives Splatter racist decal from nazi site Daily Stormer

This variation on the United States racist “All Lives Splatter” decal which encourages drivers to wound or kill protesters against police brutality is specifically a call to kill or injure supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is from the nazi Internet site Daily Stormer, one of the organisers of the Charlottesville violent fascist rally. The murderer of Heather Heyer got his inspiration from this.

Theatre and dance in Den Bosch city


This June 2017 video is a trailer for the Boulevard theatre festival, 3-13 August 2017 in Den Bosch city in the Netherlands.

After we had arrived in Den Bosch on 10 August, we went to that festival.

First, we went to Eendje (Duckling), a solo play by actress Kim van Zeben.

Kim van Zeben with duckling, 10 August 2017

This photo shows Ms van Zeben during her 10 August Den Bosch performance. A cell phone photo, like the other Den Bosch one in this blog post.

The play Eendje is inspired by the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

But it differs: in The Ugly Duckling a duck family hates one duckling because it is different: bigger and whiter than the others. In a happy end, the ‘ugly’ duckling grows up to be a beautiful swan.

In the play Eendje, a duck family (especially the mother) hates one duckling for being different as well. Not because of looks, but because that duckling does not like bread and would like to live in a house.

In Eendje, Kim van Zeben plays the role of Pia, a radio journalist, doing interviews with humans and, in this case, with the duck Dobber. As a ventriloquist, Ms van Zeben plays the six other roles (dolls) as well: duckling Dobber; its conformist mother; Theo, a sewer rat; a human housing bureaucrat; a guitar playing cat and a chicken.

After a quarrel, Dobber swims away from its family and lands in a sewer. It hates the faeces and urine there. Theo the rat living there likes shit and piss, and drives Dobber away for not liking it.

Dobber asks the human bureaucracy if it can get a house. The duck then has to jump through the bureaucratic hoops of various questions and tasks. The last, decisive, task is: can Dobber ring a doorbell? Dobber tries, but the bell is much too high. Then, Dobber remembers being a bird. It flies up to the bell and rings it. ‘Now, I surely qualify to get a house?’ No, says the bureaucrat, you have flown. Humans cannot fly. So, you are not human and don’t have the right to live in a house. Sad, Dobber has to go away again.

Then, Dobber meets a cat which tries to eat the duck. However, when Dobber talks about being a unusual, nonconformist duck, the cat stops being aggressive. As the cat is unusual and nonconformist as well, being able to play heavy metal music on a guitar. The cat’s girlfriend is a chicken. ‘How ridiculous, a chicken and a cat as a couple’, Dobber says. ‘No, not ridiculous at all’, the cat says. ‘Remember what you yourself went through. It is OK to be different’.

Now, Dobber really understands diversity, and discovers how to live a happy life. The duck can go back to its native wetland; and, as well, build a house there to live in.

After we came out of the tent where Ms van Zeben had performed, we were on the main theatre festival ground.

Boulevard theatre festival, 10 August 2017

Next, we went to a performance by the five dancers of MAN||CO.

This video announces their new thirty minute show The Winner Takes It All; which we saw. It is modern dance with also some spoken word (in English, about a president). Its theme is power, and how it may lead to militarism and oppression. With a hint in the show to, eg, Donald Trump.

Then, we went by bus from the city to the countryside, for a performance of Hallo Dampkring (Hello Atmosphere), by children’s theatre company Artemis.

Hallo Dampkring

The theme of the play is global warming. The text is based on letters about that by children from Terschelling island and the Den Bosch area. It is in the form of a Roman Catholic Requiem. Six children are the actors. The audience sings along in some parts.

The open air stands were full of spectators, who applauded much.

Hieronymus Bosch, still inspiring art


Hieronymus Bosch, 10 August 2017

On 10 August 2017, we went to Den Bosch city, the capital of North Brabant province in the Netherlands. Here we saw this house, De Kleine Winst. In the fifteenth century, its owner was the father of famous painter Hieronymus Bosch, who probably spent his childhood here.

Hieronymus Bosch, window, 10 August 2017

Behind the windows, fantasy animals, inspired by Bosch’s art.

All photos in this blog post are cell phone photos.

This is a Dutch 360 degree video about De Kleine Winst.

In 2016 was the commemoration of Hieronymus Bosch’s death 500 years ago. That included exhibitions in Den Bosch, and elsewhere.

However, now in 2017, Den Bosch has not forgotten its artist. As 21st century art in de Kerkstraat (Church Street) shows.

Den Bosch city walls, 10 August 2017

This picture on a Kerkstraat fence shows a fishy monster, inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s works. The Dutch text is about Den Bosch’s city walls: first built in the 12th century, they were mostly torn down in the 19th century.

Den Bosch statue, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows another Bosch-style fantasy animal. The text is about the statue of Hieronymus Bosch at the central city square, erected in 1930. Sculptor August Falise made it.

Den Bosch fish, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows a very big fish.

Den Bosch lute player, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows a lute player, a common sight in the days of Hieronymus Bosch.

Den Bosch dragon, 10 August 2017

The last picture in this series shows a crowned dragon. The text is about a royal visit to the city in 1936.

Den Bosch kingfisher, 10 August 2017

Finally, also in the Kerkstraat, a shop sign depicting a kingfisher; a bird depicted by Hieronymus Bosch as well.

We continued to a theatre festival in Den Bosch. So, stay tuned!

Vincent van Gogh, new film


This video says about itself:

Loving Vincent, Official Theatrical Trailer

7 August 2017

LOVING VINCENT is the world’s first fully oil painted feature film. Written & directed by Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, produced by Poland’s BreakThru Films & UK’s Trademark Films.

The film brings the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professional oil-painters who travelled from all across the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production. As remarkable as Vincent’s brilliant paintings, is his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death.

In theaters beginning September 22.

British army recruits child soldiers


This 1978 punk rock music video from England is called FAREWELL TO THE ROXY: The Tickets: [Join The Army,] Get Yourself Killed.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

British Army targets working-class schoolchildren for recruitment

7 August 2017

The British Army recently launched a recruitment campaign that specifically targets working-class youth. Blandly named “This is belonging,” the campaign identifies its main audience as economically deprived young people, including adolescents only 16 years of age.

A briefing document section titled “Target audience” spells out that the army is primarily aiming to recruit 16-24 year olds in the C2DE sociological category. The C2DE category refers to the lowest three economic groupings, which range from skilled manual workers through to unskilled labour and the unemployed. The document specifies that it is chiefly targeting those who come from families with an annual household income of less than £10,000 ($US 13,100), meaning that many of the children targeted live below the poverty line.

Although the campaign is UK-wide, the army document indicates that there are “up-weights” to cities in the North of England and in the West Midlands, such as Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Urban centres such as these tend to have high rates of youth unemployment, at 22.8, 19.4 and 22.5 percent respectively, compared to a UK average of 14.4 percent (figures from August 2016).

Speaking to the World Socialist Web Site, Rachel Taylor, director of programmes at Child Soldiers International, condemned the army’s recruitment drive for targeting “the youngest and most vulnerable people for its most dangerous roles. Many children in these towns and cities have grown-up in communities with little economic capital or career opportunities and are easy targets for Army recruiters who are desperate to fill recruitment shortfalls.”

The fact that the armed forces are “preying on communities where unemployment and social deprivation is high … is a brazen, calculated policy to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds who have few options in life for dangerous infantry jobs that others do not want.”

The “This is belonging” campaign uses a series of short video clips showing staged scenes of young soldiers undergoing training or participating in mock combat situations, attempting to present the armed forces as a supportive, family environment. These videos were shown on social media, on television and in cinemas.

The army describes “This is belonging” as “a new inspirational and motivating creative campaign” to convey the message that recruits would be joining “a brotherhood and sisterhood formed of unbreakable bonds which … will accept you for you.”

Labelling these videos as “cleverly engineered propaganda which glamorises army life,” Taylor insisted that “the reality could not be more different.”

“Morale among the armed forces is plummeting. Forty percent of recruits are actively looking for other employment, while issues of bullying and abuse are commonplace, especially for the 24 percent of recruits who sign up under the age of 18.”

ForcesWatch, a non-profit organisation that scrutinises military recruitment practices, also criticised the army for targeting young people and for “appealing to the adolescent child’s need to belong.” The organisation argued that the army “have latched onto a very popular recruitment tool, powerful in particular among those who feel isolated or marginalised, or who have a sense of non-belonging and potentially low self-esteem.”

The UK is the only country in Europe, and one of only a handful in the world, that allows the recruitment of minors. The enlistment process into the armed forces can begin at 15 years and seven months, although training does not start until the child has reached 16 and these recruits cannot be deployed into active service until they reach 18 years.

According to a report by Medact, a non-profit organisation of health professionals, there are serious long-term consequences of child recruitment by the army. The study showed that these young recruits are more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol abuse and self-harm after leaving the army. Male under-20 recruits have a 64 percent higher risk of suicide than their adult civilian peers and have a higher chance of being wounded or killed during their career in the armed forces.

The report concluded that military recruitment techniques “[take] advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychological vulnerabilities” and that current child recruitment practices “do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent.”

The UK government has actively promoted army recruitment within schools, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announcing the creation of 150 new cadet units in schools last October. There are now more than 300 cadet units across UK schools, in which children as young as 12 are taught battle planning, weapon use and military discipline.

According to ForcesWatch, the military make thousands of visits to UK schools and colleges each year and even to primary schools and nurseries. These visits include recruitment stalls at careers fairs, curriculum and career-related activities, sessions with staff members and interviews for pre-recruitment courses at army bases, among other things.

Some schools are either sponsored by or have partnerships with the armed forces or arms industry.

ForcesWatch coordinator Emma Sangster rejected the Ministry of Defence claim that the army does not directly recruit within schools. She told the Guardian: “Recruitment is a process, it’s not a single event.” During visits to school, armed forces recruiters, “drip feed things of interest to children of school age. They sanitise what conflict involves, and also glamorise it. They focus on adventure, which young people are desperate for.”

The British state is attempting to indoctrinate and prepare the next generation of working-class youth to be cannon fodder in their imperialist wars abroad. This is confirmed by the analysis of Veterans for Peace (VFP). In its report, “The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment,” VFP asserts that British Army policy is to “channel the youngest recruits and those from poorer backgrounds into the infantry, which uses the most coercive training methods … [and] carries the greatest risks in war…

“To ensure that recruits will follow all orders and kill their opponents in war, army training indoctrinates unconditional obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination.”

The VFP report notes that recruitment policy is rooted in class divisions, with army recruiters “creaming off” high-achieving adults from English universities to become future officers, while “dredging” poorer areas to fill the lower ranks with working-class youth whose lives are seen by the ruling elite as more dispensable.

This recruitment drive and the militarisation of education comes in the context of the escalation of British and NATO operations in the Middle East and on Russia’s borders, with the British Army currently deployed in some capacity in over 80 countries across the world.

It is not just within Britain that the militarisation of social life is taking place. In 2011, the German Bundeswehr began recruiting in schools and universities as part of a broader drive by the Defence Ministry to recruit thousands of new soldiers. Last year, the Swedish Parliament voted to bring back conscription and French President Emmanuel Macron … included the return of the draft as an electoral promise.

More than 75 years after the outbreak of World War II, ruling elites across the world are again seeking to create powerful armies able to enforce their geostrategic and economic interests through war. A century after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the international working class is once again confronted with the necessity of building a revolutionary socialist and internationalist movement in order to prevent the descent into a catastrophic world war.