Hillsborough bloodbath activist refuses British Empire honour


This video from Liverpool, England says about itself:

The best version of You’ll Never Walk Alone – 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough

15 April 2014

As sung by all that attended – Truly made the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end.

From the BBC:

Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE [Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire]

33 minutes ago

Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

The author, who led the Hillsborough Independent Panel‘s research team, said he could not receive an honour in protest “at those who remained unresponsive” to help families and survivors affected by the disaster.

Ninety-six people died following a crush at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.

In April, an inquest jury concluded the fans were unlawfully killed.

Prof Scraton’s book, Hillsborough: The Truth, is widely accepted as the definitive account of the disaster.

In a statement, he said: “I researched Hillsborough from 1989, publishing reports, articles and the first edition of Hillsborough: The Truth in 1990.

“Until 2009, and despite compelling evidence, successive governments declined to pursue a thorough, independent review of the context, consequences and aftermath of the disaster.

“This changed as a direct result of the families’ and survivors’ brave, persistent campaign.

“It led to the Hillsborough Independent Panel, its ground-breaking findings, new inquests and their crucially significant verdicts.”

Prof Scraton has previously received the Freedom of the City of Liverpool, the Political Studies Association‘s Campaigner of the Year Award and an Honorary Doctorate in Laws from the University of Liverpool “with gratitude and humility”.

But he added: “I headed the Panel’s research team and was a consultant to the families’ lawyers throughout the new inquests.

“I could not receive an honour on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive to the determined efforts of bereaved families and survivors to secure truth and justice.” …

Prof Scraton acknowledged his decision “might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me”.

However, he added: “Finally, I could not accept an honour tied in name to the ‘British Empire’.

“In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.”

Fresh inquests in April concluded that the 96 football fans who died as a result of a crush at Hillsborough were unlawfully killed,

The jury found that match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care.

Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final.

After a 27-year campaign by victims’ families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated.

The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

South African football keeper scores goal


This video says about itself:

30 November 2016

Baroka FC goalkeeper, Oscarine Masuluke, scores a last minute overhead kick winner.

A goalkeeper in South Africa has equalised for his team with a last-minute bicycle kick.

Baroka vs Orlando Pirates 1-1 / South African Premier Division

Iraq war, new Ang Lee film


This video from the USA is called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Official Trailer #1 (2016).

By David Walsh in the USA:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Ang Lee on the Iraq war and American hoopla

15 November 2016

Directed by Ang Lee; written by Jean-Christophe Castelli; based on the novel by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is the latest work from veteran Taiwanese-born filmmaker Ang Lee, probably best known for Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Ice Storm (1997), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Brokeback Mountain (2005). The new film is based on the novel of the same title by American author Ben Fountain, published in 2012.

The drama takes place in 2004. A unit of American soldiers, who have survived a brief but fierce battle with Iraqi insurgents, are being celebrated as “heroes” on a nationwide tour. Thanksgiving Day finds them in Dallas, where they are to take part in halftime festivities at a Dallas Cowboys football game. Despite the media hoopla and public attention, the group of soldiers is on the eve of being shipped back to Iraq.

Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), the central figure in the novel and film, is a 19-year-old US serviceman whose effort to save his beloved sergeant (Vin Diesel) in Iraq was captured on film and has earned him a Silver Star. We follow him as he navigates the goings-on at the football stadium, and we also see what he remembers about the battle in Iraq and other recent episodes in his life, including his first visit home since his deployment. His sister, Kathryn (Kristen Stewart), to whom he has been very close, is working on Billy to find a means (medical, psychological) to avoid returning to the war zone. The young man also encounters and becomes infatuated with a Cowboys cheerleader, Faison (Makenzie Leigh).

Accompanying the “Bravos,” as the media has dubbed the group of young soldiers, is a Hollywood wheeler-dealer, Albert (Chris Tucker), who is trying to put together a film deal. The “heroes” are the guests of Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Norm Oglesby (Steve Martin), who talks cheaply and indiscriminately about God and country. He pompously tells Lynn, “Your story, Billy, no longer belongs to you. It’s America’s story now.” Ultimately, which should surprise no one, Oglesby proves to be a first-class chiseler along with everything else.

Before discussing the substance of Ang Lee’s film, it is necessary briefly to consider its “groundbreaking…technical breakthroughs.” Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was shot in 3D, in high resolution (4K, or twice the number of pixels, both horizontally and vertically, as an ordinary film) and in “a history-making frame rate” (120 frames per second, as opposed to the normal 24).

According to Billy Lynn’s production notes: “The movie even set up its own lab in Atlanta in order to process a vast quantity of data, as Lee and [cinematographer John] Toll invariably relied on two cameras running at five times the normal speed with twice the amount of data running on each of those cameras. That translated into twenty times the data storage of a normal high-quality Hollywood film on a daily basis.”

The technology is impressive and certainly deserves to be explored. However, the claim that technical means by themselves will advance cinema is simply unwarranted. Lee comments, “To me, when we see movies, it’s as if we’re watching someone’s story from a distance. My hope with this new technology is that it could allow for greater intimacy, to really convey the personal feelings of a conflicted young soldier.”

It is difficult to know precisely what this means. We are always watching someone’s story from a distance in a film. Greater physical proximity does not necessarily bring us any closer to the truth of someone’s life. For that, social and psychological knowledge are required. Compared to present-day filmmakers, Murnau, Renoir, Eisenstein, Kurosawa, Ford and Chaplin worked with primitive equipment, but they were able to present far richer pictures of life.

Co-producer Stephen Cornwell: “In some ways the language of cinema hasn’t really evolved for a hundred years. The frame rate’s been the same. The way things are performed, spoken and constructed and the way narrative unfolds is something that we’ve all come to accept as norms. And what Ang has done is ask how do we evolve cinematic language to stay relevant, distinct and unique in the post-digital age, in an age where cinema is plateauing, where story telling has become very familiar? To do that, we have to change the way people experience cinema, and that’s what Ang’s reaching for, what we’re all reaching for in this film.”

The problem with contemporary filmmaking is not primarily mechanical or organizational, but artistic and social. Cornwell seems to imply that the present stagnation can be overcome by astonishing technical knowhow. This is obviously not true. What’s needed, above all, is not greater “technologically induced realism,” but greater historical and psychological realism.

Human beings and objects have always appeared to me to be three-dimensional on screen, at least physically. The 3D technology is often a distraction, and it certainly proves so in Lee’s new film. So-called 3D films sometimes appear to be composed of cardboard cutouts standing in front of one another.

Filming Billy Lynn apparently had its peculiarities. Fewer takes were possible, for example, because of the expense. Also, according to the British-born Alwyn, “The cameras were absolutely huge. … Because of how intimate Ang wanted the shots––so close to the faces––you would be performing to the black-matte box around the camera, rather than being able to see the other actors. Oftentimes, you’d just be following bits and pieces of tape, moving around a black space, and delivering your lines to that.” These circumstances may help explain why there is much stiffness and awkwardness in a number of the performances, especially in those of Steve Martin, Vin Diesel and Chris Tucker.

In any event, the filmmakers have done a reasonable job of adapting Fountain’s book, which––as I noted previously––”is not so much a novel about Iraq…as it is a sharp look at phony patriotism, hypocritical religiosity and corporate greed in [George W.] Bush’s Texas.

Fountain notes that the idea for the novel originally came to him at home while actually watching the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day football game in 2004.

“This was three weeks after the general election when George W. Bush had beaten [Democrat John] Kerry. I felt like I didn’t understand my country.” Fountain explains that he remained seated during halftime and “started watching the halftime show—I mean really looking at it. And it’s very much the way I write it in the book: a surreal, pretty psychotic mash-up of American patriotism, exceptionalism, popular music, soft-core porn and militarism: lots of soldiers standing on the field with American flags and fireworks. I thought, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Presumably, writing the novel was a means by which Fountain attempted to “understand” his country. He succeeded, however, only in fits and starts. The book has amusing and useful features. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk pours a good deal of satirical cold water on the professional sports-military complex, with its unsavory mix of patriotism, meaningless spectacle and violence.

The novel’s generally hostile tone is legitimate, but the targets, including Bush and his administration, are fairly easy ones at this time. In the end, despite its decent intentions, the book is a little too light-hearted and “soft.”

Ang Lee has never appeared to possess a satirical touch. His films have tended toward the earnest and literal. He is a competent, dogged filmmaker, who is capable at his best of shedding light on human relationships and of generating emotion.

The new film alternately and regularly advances toward certain harsh truths and retreats from them.

There are good, serious elements here.

–In one scene, Billy and one of his fellow soldiers, “Mango” Montoya (Arturo Castro), sit and talk with a stadium bartender. The latter is thinking of enlisting, because there is nothing for him in civilian life. They agree that the economic situation is poor and the rich live in another realm from them.

–During a dinnertime conversation at home, Kathryn quizzes Billy about the war, and its purpose. Is it for oil, she asks? Where are those WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] we’ve been hearing about? (In the novel, she says: “Then let me ask you this, do you guys believe in the war? Like is it good, legit, are we doing the right thing? Or is it all really just about the oil?” Billy replies, “You know I don’t know that,” and, later, “I don’t think anybody knows what we’re doing over there.”) Kathryn is the most intelligent, sensitive individual in the film and her antagonism toward official society and propaganda is contagious.

–While the Bravos are sitting around at the stadium at one point, an oilman (Tim Blake Nelson) approaches and commends them on their “service.” Sgt. David Dime (Garrett Hedlund), the leader of the squad, responds with excessive, implicitly bitter and sarcastic zeal to this odious individual, “You keep on drilling, we’ll keep on killing!”

–In the only scene that gives some sense of the reality of the Iraq war and occupation, the squad bursts into a house at night and generally terrorizes the residents. They eventually place a hood on the head of the man of the family and take him away.

–In the incident for which he received his decoration, Billy ends up wrestling with one of the insurgents and cutting his throat. We watch as a pool of blood forms around the dead man’s head. Lee shows this image twice. It is the most disturbing in the film.

–The football halftime show itself is a scathing comment on the cultural-political state of things in America. Destiny’s Child (with a Beyoncé stand-in) and groups of dancers perform, marching bands march, fireworks explode, the Bravos stand at attention or move around in a daze. All the while, Billy recalls the mayhem and death in Iraq. Lee effectively brings to the screen Fountain’s “surreal, pretty psychotic mash-up.” It is impossible not to feel the absurdity and monstrosity of the situation, the horrible reality that America’s rulers are sending young men and women to die to ensure business as usual.

At the same time, unhappily, there are numerous moments and elements that undermine or offset much of what is strong in the work. Lee’s approach is too non-committal in many of the sequences, too “even-handed.” The early portions of Billy Lynn are especially flat. One can also feel where Lee gives in to political pressures, to pro-military, “support the troops” rubbish. The assault in Fountain’s book on the businessman at the center of the whole reactionary business, Oglesby (Martin), is considerably downplayed and weakened. One hardly knows what to make of him in the end. Moreover, the evasive note on which the film concludes, a variation on the “band of brothers” theme, is another accommodation to bourgeois public opinion.

The production notes for Billy Lynn include a comment from Alwyn, whose thrust one suspects reflects Ang Lee’s thinking: “The film doesn’t go into the politics of war or why they guys are fighting over there…but it brings the war home and explores people’s projections on the soldiers rather than getting into the morality and the politics of it so much.”

Yes, and this is the movie’s most damaging failing and what prevents it from being a more consistently powerful and artistically satisfying experience. We will make the point one more time––it is not possible to make a coherent and convincing film about the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, with all its devastating and ongoing consequences, without treating in some fashion the driving forces of the war and its broader significance. Every deliberate act of avoidance eats away at the sincerity and depth of a work of art.

Gambian national team goalkeeper drowns off Libya


Fatim Jawara

I was in the Gambia. I saw there how much Gambian people love football. There was a match on TV. Not of the Gambian competition, but English Premier League. Still, much interest and enthusiasm.

Now, terrible news.

This video says about itself:

3 November 2016

The 19-year-old goalkeeper of Gambia’s national women’s football team has drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe.

From Bleacher Report:

Gambia Goalkeeper Fatim Jawara Dies Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

By Rory Marsden, Featured Columnist

Nov 3, 2016

Gambia women’s national team goalkeeper Fatim Jawara died last month on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea while she was travelling from Libya to Europe “in the hope of starting a new life.”

She wanted to become a professional player, not possible in the Gambia.

According to AFP (via the Guardian), Jawara, believed to have been 19 years old, left Gambia for Libya in September to attempt to then get to Europe by sea and subsequently died when the boat she was on “ran into trouble in the Mediterranean.”

Per the report, the treacherous crossing has claimed the lives of over 3,300 migrants in 2016, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Jawara’s death was confirmed to the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) by the agent she had paid to help her leave Libya, per John Atuke of Nigerian outlet Vanguard.

Lamin Kaba Bajo, president of the GFF, remarked upon the tragic nature of Jawara’s death, per Atuke:

“I received the news today and it has really shocked me. The young girl is a talent and on the move for greener pastures but the way she died is just shocking … . We at the GFF are very sad about the development and on behalf of the Football Federation, I want to send our condolences to the family of the girl and her former club Red Scorpions.”

Atuke added that she was part of the Gambia squad that were at the Under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan in 2012 and played for club side Red Scorpions.

Per AFP, her senior debut for the Gambia national team came against a team from Glasgow [in Scotland] a year ago, while the report relayed remarks from Chorro Mbenga, assistant coach of the under-17 side, in which Jawara first emerged: “Her death is untimely, but we will remember her for her great performances on the pitch.”

Ms Jawara managed to stop a penalty kick by the Scottish side.

This 4 November 2016 video commemorates Fatim Jawara.

She will never ever stop penalty kicks again.

Like Somali Olympic athlete Samia Yusuf Omar will never ever run a 200 meter race again. A refugee from her warn-torn country, Ms Omar drowned off the coast of Libya as well.

‘Thank you’, European Union bosses with your ‘Fortress Europe’ policies. You, who are egging on human rights violations against refugees from Italy to Greece to Libya.

‘Thank you’, politicians like Sarkozy in France and Cameron in Britain; who with their ‘humanitarian’ war made Libya a hell for its inhabitants and refugees, and a paradise for violent racists, violent jihadists, torturers and people-smuggling crooks, profiting from the despair of the victims of yet more ‘humanitarian’ wars.

The NATO war opened up in Libya ‘golden’ opportunities for men with racist ideas against people from the Gambia or other African countries. At least, Fatim Jawara survived that. I, and millions of people all over the world, cry that she did not survive the next bloody obstacle to her sportwoman’s dream.

Dutch football cup, Jodan Boys amateurs defeat professionals


This 25 October 2015 video from Deventer city in the Netherlands shows local Premier League professional team Go Ahead Eagles losing their cup match against Gouda city amateurs Jodan Boys one goal to two.

After the first goal by Go Ahead Eagles (not in the video), Levi Marengo (born in Suriname) equalized with a free kick. Just before the end of the match, a header by (cinema worker) Roald Heerkens meant that Jodan Boys won the match.

Yesterday, today evening and tomorrow evening are the second round of the Dutch football cup. Winning teams are included in the last 16 teams in the third round.

A thousand Jodan Boys supporters had traveled in over ten buses with their team from Gouda to Deventer and were very happy with the result. When the team came back in Gouda, hundreds of other supporters welcomed them at the Jodan Boys ground.

This video is about Jodan Boys players celebrating after the match, with the trainer and Roald Heerkens being interviewed.

Before the match, Jodan Boys club official Maarten Westerduin had expected that he would be satisfied if the ‘inevitable’ Go Ahead Eagles victory would be less than ten goals against zero.

This is only the third time ever in Dutch football cup history that an amateur team has won an away match against an Eredivisie (Premier League) team without needing extra time.

Another amateur club is VVSB from Noordwijkerhout village. Last year, this club with their purple and yellow colours very surprisingly were one of four clubs reaching the semi finals. Yesterday, VVSB reached the last sixteen by beating fellow amateurs Katwijk three goals to zero.

This is a video about that match yesterday in Noordwijkerhout.

There are at least four amateur clubs among the last sixteen, as ASWH beat fellow amateurs Spakenburg in an away match three goals against two in extra time.

And at 20:00 tonight, IJsselmeervogels (another amateur club with a history of beating professionals) will play at home in Spakenburg against fellow amateurs HFC from Haarlem, the oldest football club in the Netherlands, founded in 1879. One of these two will be among the last sixteen teams.

This video is a song of IJsselmeervogels; produced by Dutch rock musician Peter Koelewijn.

This video is another IJsselmeervogels song.

Tonight at 18:30, the amateurs of Kozakken Boys will play at home in Werkendam against Ajax Amsterdam. Will a fifth amateur team reach the last sixteen?

Tonight in Almelo, the Heracles Premier League professionals will play against the amateurs of UNA from Veldhoven village. A sixth amateur team among the last sixteen? Well, UNA and some others are ‘second division’, semi-professional. But the second division (re-)started only this year; before that they were amateurs.

Another surprise was that Sparta Rotterdam knocked PSV Eindhoven out of the cup competition by winning three goals against one. They are both Premier League teams; but PSV are last season’s champions.

This video shows Sparta, in the red-white striped shirts, winning this match in Rotterdam.