British government spying on citizens, documentary


This April 2016 video from Britain says about itself:

Brought to you by Scenes of Reason, The Haystack documentary is a real life investigation into 21st century surveillance in the UK and the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill currently before Parliament.

In light of Snowden’s revelations in 2013, both privacy groups and our government agree that the laws surrounding surveillance need to be updated, but public debate and examination of the Bill have been shockingly limited on an issue that impacts us all. The Haystack explores whether the powers set out in this Bill will stop the next terrorist attack, and asks, are we willing to accept an unimaginable level of intrusion before it’s too late?

Background:

In late 2015 Scenes of Reason decided to take action and do what they do best; decode complicated topics for young millennials in order to stimulate debate. A team of four young female journalists wanted answers to both the simple and complex questions surrounding surveillance. Producer and director, Olivia Cappuccini states;

“At a time when the U.S are rolling back their surveillance powers, we need to be asking why the UK isn’t following suit, and instead pushing forward with an unprecedented Bill that is more intrusive and could seriously challenge our fundamental civil liberties in the name of national security.”

Scenes of Reason set out to present a balanced debate on the effectiveness, necessity and intent behind mass surveillance powers but found that it will never be a simple accept or deny conclusion. We interviewed a host of the biggest players in the surveillance space; ex director of GCHQ David Omand and National Security Agency whistleblower Bill Binney to name a few, and put the main arguments both for and against mass surveillance to them.

For more information, additional content, visit: thehaystackdocumentary.squarespace.com.

Edward Snowden, new Oliver Stone film


This video says about itself:

Snowden‘ Trailer

28 April 2016

Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” provides a look at the drama behind the adventures of former CIA employee turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden. “Snowden” hits theaters September 16.

New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship: here.

Iraq war 2003-2016, new film


This film trailer video from Belgium says about itself:

…WHOSE PEACE WILL IT BE?

18 December 2015

Exploring a future for Iraq and the Middle East, we interviewed all kinds of people. We let people speak for themselves in their true colors. Fiction meets reality in poetry of the image and in esteem of the human kind! – a production of The BRussells Tribunal with the support of theWizard.

You can watch the film here.

From the filmmakers:

…WHOSE PEACE WILL IT BE?

A documentary by Luc Pien

ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY

War is intensifying in Syria and Iraq … with the support of our governements. Life has become unbearable in both countries. Hundreds of thousands of refugees seek safe haven in Europe. Many drown attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Others make it across only to discover that there is no place for them in Hotel Europa. A peaceful life seems a distant dream …

Drawing on voices other than those we hear, see and read daily in the media, “… Whose peace will it be?” traces the origins and causes of the present disaster. The documentary weaves memories of the past through experiences of the present to create a mosaic within which the pathway to peace might be discerned. It provides an impetus to think differently about the future and act accordingly. But, above all, the film seeks to chart a pathway to peace.

Iraqi academics in the diaspora muse about the need for freedom, education and humanity in the Arab world. Refugees from Iraq and neighboring countries highlight the horror of the catastrophe. Artists discuss other ways of social thinking and acting. United Nations officials recount what has gone wrong in recent decades. European philosophers and experts explain how knowledge of, and respect for, other cultures has gotten lost.

In what sense are we, “the West,” complicit in—perhaps even responsible for—the disaster that has struck Iraq and Syria? What political action should the UN take? What’s stopping the supposedly enlightened nations from entering into genuine dialogue, with respect for the identity of all concerned?

What means do we have at our disposal to restore the human and cultural riches of Iraq and Syria? How can we show solidarity with the desire of people to decide their own fate? What can we do to make sure Iraq and the entire region become, once again, a secure and decent place to live? Can so much suffering be forged into hope? Whose peace will it be once the war is over?

All these questions have led to a movie full of options and possibilities for the future. We do not show the atrocities of war: we know them all too well. Nor do we show the unbearable and self-destructive side of human behavior. We let people speak for themselves, in all their uniqueness and sincerity. Utopia and reality meet in the poetry of the narration, and respect for everyday people.

This video from London, England says about itself:

At the invitation of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass and Lord Clarke of Hampstead, a conference was held at the House of Commons on 10 June 2014 “11 Years After the Occupation of Iraq” to discuss the major concerns in Iraq including the situation of human rights, the lack of security, absence of social developments and Iraq’s international obligations.

Participants in the conference included Mr Sabah Al Mukhtar, official of Arab Lawyers and Legal Consultant in UK, Dr Isam Al Chalabi, Former Iraqi Oil Minister, Prof. Saad Naji Jawad, Professor of Political Science and visiting professor at LSE, Dr Subhi Toma, Expert on Minorities and Immigrants, His Excellency Sid Ahmed Al Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria, and Messrs Denis Halliday and Hanz von Sponeck, former Assistant Secretary Generals at the UN.

Scottish 17th century lady-in-waiting’s gown discovered off Texel


Painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, on the occasion of the wedding of William II and Mary Stuart

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Texel gown belonged to member of royal court of Queen Henrietta Maria

20 April 2016

Archival research has revealed that the wardrobe discovered near Texel belonged to the royal court of the English Queen Henrietta Maria. In March 1642 the queen was travelling to the Netherlands on a secret mission when one of her baggage ships sank in the Wadden Sea. This discovery was made by cultural historians Nadine Akkerman from Leiden University and Helmer Helmers from the University of Amsterdam.

Divers had found the gown in a shipwreck off Texel in 2014.

The 17th-century dress, photo Kaap Skil museum on Texel

Scottish lady-in-waiting

The now famous silk gown is still remarkably well preserved and is the showpiece of a larger archaeological find near Texel. It probably belonged to Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe (approximately 1585-1643), lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). There was also a younger lady-in-waiting whose clothes were being transported in the ship, but the more outdated style and size of the gown indicate strongly that it belonged to Kerr, the elder of the two.

Elizabeth Stuart

Cultural historians Nadine Akkerman and Helmer Helmers are experts on the British Royal House of Stuart. Their findings are based on a letter written by Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), the Stuart princess who found refuge in The Hague after being exiled from the Kingdom of Bohemia. In this letter to the English diplomat Sir Thomas Roe, dated 17 March 1642, Elizabeth describes how her sister-in-law lost a baggage ship during the crossing. In addition to the clothing of two ladies-in-waiting and their maids, the queen herself lost the chalices from her private chapel in the shipwreck.

A secret mission

The official story behind Henrietta Maria’s trip to the Dutch Republic was one of royal connections: she was delivering her 11-year-old daughter Mary to the court of William II, Prince of Orange and future stadtholder, whom the girl had married the previous year. This was only a ruse, however: her real mission was to sell the crown jewels and use the proceeds to buy weapons. These were essential for King Charles I to take on Parliament in the English Civil War. According to Akkerman and Helmers, the find at Texel represents a tangible reminder of the strong Dutch involvement in this conflict.

Winter Queen

Akkerman, Assistant Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, and Helmers, Assistant Professor of Early Modern Dutch Literature and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, were able to solve the mystery of the unknown owner of the gown reasonably quickly. Akkerman: ‘Once Helmer alerted me to the find, it took us about five minutes to unearth the relevant letter, as I remembered transcribing and deciphering it in 2006. We are still finding even more references.’ Akkerman is the editor of the Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, while Helmers is the author of The Royalist Republic, on Anglo-Dutch relations in this period.

Unnecessary speculation

The mystery and speculation in the Dutch press surrounding the origin of the wardrobe were unnecessary. With the discovery of the family crest, the evidence quickly started pointing towards the Stuarts. Helmers: ‘It’s a pity we weren’t consulted sooner – the puzzle would have been solved much earlier. The archaeological experts have focused primarily on the material side. That’s important, of course, but the historical texts also tell a thrilling story.’

(CvB)

Lesser kestrels, nesting storks, old buildings in Trujillo, Spain


Trujillo main square

Still 11 April 2016. After the bullring of Trujillo in Spain, to the town center. The main square is called Plaza Mayor. Rain. The statue in the photo is of Francisco Pizarro, the best-known person born in Trujillo. His conquest of the Inca empire brought much bloodshed to South America.

Cuesta de la Sangre, Trujillo

While it kept raining, we went to the higher parts of the town. The photo shows the Cuesta de la Sangre; literally, ‘hill of the blood’. The ‘blood’ does not refer to the blood shed by Pizarro, or in the medieval wars in and around Trujillo between Christian and Muslim princes. It refers to the seventeenth century Holy Blood Church here.

Trujillo, on 11 April 2016

As we went still more uphill, the rain stopped for a while.

Trujillo, 11 April 2016

White stork, 11 April 2016

On church towers and roofs were several white stork nests.

White storks, 11 April 2016

The birds looked muddy on this rainy day. They greeted each other with bill-clattering, when a shift on the nest ended. In at least one nest there were at least two baby storks.

Collared dove, Trujillo, 11 April 2016

There were other birds as well, like this collared dove on a roof.

And a goldfinch in a tree. And a serin in another tree.

Lesser kestrel, Trujillo, Plaza Mayor, 11 April 2016

We went back to the Plaza Mayor square. Lesser kestrels flying around.

Lesser kestrels, swallows, bullfighting in Trujillo, Spain


This video is called Lesser Kestrel, Trujillo, Extremadura, Spain, 8 March 2011. It shows a male: with even more blueish-grey on its head than a common kestrel male. Females of both species have brownish heads.

After 10 April 2016, on 11 April, to the lesser kestrel nesting colony in Trujillo.

Trujillo, bullring, 11 April 2016

That nesting colony is in the bullring of Trujillo town. Special roof tiles enable the lesser kestrels to nest.

Trujillo, lesser kestrels sign, 11 April 2016

In front of the bullring is this information sign about the birds, and about the insects and other food which they eat.

There is less bloody bullfighting in Spain nowadays than there used to be. In Catalonia and the Canary Islands, it has been banned.

In Trujillo it is much less frequent now: about once a year. However, that infrequent bullfight would be soon. Male and female maintenance workers went in and out through the gate. That meant we could pass as well through the normally closed gate. A man rode around in the central, low part of the arena, leveling the ground. One could see that bullfighting is not only always dangerous for bulls, but sometimes for humans as well: there was a special infirmary room for injured matadores, picadores and banderilleros.

Mock bull, Trujillo, 11 April 2016

In another room, there was this mock bull for rehearsing toreros.

Barn swallow, 11 April 2016

Barn swallows used the catacombs of the bullring for less bloody activities: they nested there.

Barn swallow nest, 11 April 2016

Trujillo, inside the arena, 11 April 2016

We had unusual access to the center of the arena.

Spotless starlings, 11 April 2016

Spotless starlings, a south European and north African species, on the roof.

Spotless starlings, Trujillo, 11 April 2016

Lesser kestrels flying around, sometimes landing briefly on the bullring.

Lesser kestrel, 11 April 2016

They had not started nesting yet. As this was an unusually cold, rainy day in an unusually cold, rainy spring.

After the bullring, we went to the town center of Trujillo. Stay tuned!

Dutch Geert Wilders’ spokesman’s financial fraud


Geert Wilders and Michael Heemels

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Heemels spent PVV political party money on Madonna concert

Today, 08:22

Former PVV politician Michael Heemels used party money for a luxurious life. Tickets for a concert by Madonna,

The sister party of Geert Wilders and Heemels’ PVV, their fellow racists of the French National Front, won’t like that.

As Madonna at her concerts denounced National Front boss Marine Le Pen for nazism.

This video says about itself:

27 July 2012

American pop singer Madonna is defending her use of an image depicting French far-right politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on her forehead after Le Pen‘s party threatened legal action. Madonna said the image was meant to highlight intolerance toward immigrants and religious minorities and she refused to remove it from a video played during her live performances.

Heemels paid 900 euros of PVV party money on going to the Madonna concert. All PVV money stolen by Heemels is taxpayers’ money.

The NOS article continues:

engagement rings, an overnight stay at the luxurious Hotel Adler in Berlin and traffic fines were paid out of party money.

This is evident from 1Limburg broadcasting corporation according to the audit report on Heemels’ expenses. He was the leader of the PVV party in the Provincial Council of Limburg, as well as the spokesman for Geert Wilders. Between 2012 and early this year, he abused 176,000 euros in party money. He then departed, when that became known.

Addiction

Heemels himself said that he therewith funded his alcohol and drug addiction, but there was much more spending. What he did with tens of thousands of euros of his cashpoint money that he withdrew from the PVV account is unclear.

Public prosecutor will prosecute Heemels for fraud: here.