The Labour Party (@UKLabour) December 25, 2017
This satiric video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:
21 December 2017
Republicans in Congress just jammed through their $1.5 trillion tax cut giveaway bill. President Trump is gleeful and we all get growing inequality for Christmas, hooray! The tax bill basically makes Christmas permanent for billionaires while phasing it out for lower and middle-income Americans.
Trump ‘tells wealthy friends after passing tax bill’: ‘You all just got a lot richer’. Analysts say President may be $15m personally better off: here.
This satiric video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:
It is the high season for fighting back against the “War on Christmas,” a war that doesn’t seem to actually exist. President Trump is determined to oppose said imaginary war with a full-throated defense of Christianity and all things Christmas.
Parasitism and “tax reform”: Trump’s corporate tax cuts fuel stock buybacks, not investment: here.
This video from London, England says about itself:
13 July 2017
Andreia Gomes was seven months pregnant when she escaped from the 21st floor of Grenfell Tower with her husband and their two daughters. The baby did not survive. The family have been telling their story – including how one of their daughters was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning – for the first time to Newsnight’s Katie Razzall.
By Will Stone in Britain:
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
The broadcast will hear from Megan Gomes, 10, and her sister Luana, 12, who lived on the 21st floor.
Both went into induced comas while they were treated for smoke inhalation.
Megan said: “My Christmas message is that I think all families, children and parents should have a nice warm cosy home. I just want everyone in the world to have a house at least.”
Hayam Atmani, 10, who lived on the 15th floor of the tower, will also recall her memories of the night, as well as fond memories of her former home, including the spectacular views.
Hayam said: “Everyone came. They [Hayam’s friends] were just saying: ‘Oh that’s so cool! I wish I lived here.’ You could see the whole area, parks and stuff.”
Amiel Miller, 10, and his brother Danel, 7, who lived on the 17th floor, will recount how they heard people screaming on the night of the fire.
Channel 4 has broadcast a Christmas Day message since 1993 and is traditionally billed as an alternative to the Queen’s annual address.
The alternative Christmas message will air at 2.30pm.
What Christmas was like for my generation during the Great Depression. My only hope is that the similar pain that many people experience today will anger them as much as it did me, and help forge a new nation from the ashes of grave injustice, by Harry Leslie Smith: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Trump Speaks at Anti-LGBT Event
13 October 2017
On Friday, Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to address the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of evangelical conservatives organized by the Family Research Council, a prominent anti-LGBT group. Trump, who called himself a friend to the LGBT community during his presidential campaign, said at the event that he was “honored and thrilled” to speak there. During the event in Washington DC, guests who attended were reportedly handed flyers promoting a new book entitled ‘The Health Hazards Of Homosexuality’.
LGBT and black reporters left off White House Christmas party guest list for first time in years
5th December 2017, 7:15 PM
Chris Johnson, the chief political and White House reporter for the Washington Blade, one of the world’s oldest LGBT publications, is among those uninvited.
The first Mr Johnson knew of his awol invite was over Thansgiving.
“My first reaction was I assumed it must have been an oversight”, Mr Johnson told The Independent.
After emailing White House officials, he was passed between numerous spokespeople, none of which could answer his question.
“It is consistent with the White House press secretary not calling on me during the on-camera press briefings”, he told the newspaper, noting that he had been called on just twice in the last six months.
He believes that the issue over the invite is “just kind of consistent with the policy of the administration to exclude LGBTQ people”.
April D Ryan, the White House correspondent and DC bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, who is black, was also excluded from the invite list.
“I don’t think I was overlooked,” Ms Ryan told the Washington Post of this year’s party.
“I think they don’t like me. For whatever reason, they have disdain for me.”
Ms Ryan had been invited for the previous 20 years.
Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico have been invited as usual.
CNN, however, has opted to boycott the event this year.
A spokesperson for First Lady Melania Trump said: “As with Christmas parties in past administrations, this is off the record.
“This is not meant to be a news event, rather, it is an opportunity for the media and their guests to enjoy a reception at the White House this Christmas season.”
It’s not the first time Trump has ignored the LGBT community in recent days.
President Trump gave a statement to mark World AIDS day that somehow does not feature a single mention of the LGBT community.
This September 2017 video is called THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS | Official Trailer.
By Joanne Laurier in the USA:
The Man Who Invented Christmas: Charles Dickens and the writing of A Christmas Carol
8 December 2017
“No one could feel more deeply for Nature’s stepchildren, the blind, the dumb, and the deaf, nor more deeply–and this says even more–for the stepchildren of society .”
–Franz Mehring on Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, published on December 19, 1843, is the story of the dramatic moral transformation of the wealthy, miserly, misanthropic businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, under the influence of several ghostly spirits who pay him a visit on Christmas Eve.
The spirits help Scrooge see the error of his dreadful ways, including the mistreatment of his overworked and impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a crippled son, known as Tiny Tim. Scrooge’s initial comment about Tim, who is not expected to live long, is cruel and Malthusian: “If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge’s brutal comments about the benefits for the poor of prisons, workhouses and “the Treadmill” also come back to haunt and shame him (“Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief”).
A Christmas Carol struck a chord with readers in the 1840s, in the midst of the social misery produced by the rise of capitalist industry, and it has remained a staple of popular world literature ever since.
Dickens (1812-1870) began successful public readings of the book in 1849, which he continued until the year of his death.
Modern audiences are more likely to know the novella, or elements of it, from the numerous film and television adaptations. In fact, nearly 20 movies based on A Christmas Carol have been made since 1901, including seven silent versions. Reginald Owen (1938), Alastair Sim (1951) and Albert Finney (1970, in a musical version) are among the leading performers who have taken on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in film.
There have been, as well, dozens of theater, radio and television adaptations (with Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Ralph Richardson, Fredric March, Alec Guinness, Michael Hordern, George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, among many others, as the immortal miser). There are even five operas based on the work.
Perhaps inevitably, most of the various “second-hand” versions tend to play up the more sentimental and melodramatic aspects of Dickens’ book, which is also an attempt to present something of a panorama of English reality at the time and introduces dozens of characters from various walks of life.
The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, is a biographical fantasy that involves an effort to bring A Christmas Carol once again to the screen, this time by reinventing it. For this purpose, the filmmakers turned to the 2008 novel of the same title by Les Standiford, which includes Dickens himself as a character along with his literary creations.
The movie opens as Dickens (Dan Stevens), at the peak of his popularity following the publication of Oliver Twist, is ending his 1842 North America tour. (His travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation includes a condemnation of slavery, linking the plight of the poor in England to that of the slaves in the US).
After his return to London, Dickens’ career undergoes a serious decline over the next several years, with the failure of his next three novels (Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge), thereby increasing his financial difficulties. (“London is not a place for a man without money”, Dickens explains in the film). Under intense pressure, Charles begins composing A Christmas Carol.
His publishers, however, see no great potential in a Christmas tale, and give him six weeks to complete the book. Accompanied by his friend and literary agent (and real-life biographer), John Forster (Justin Edwards), Dickens goes to a restaurant where the arrogant William Thackeray (1811-1863), a rival novelist best known for Vanity Fair (1848), taunts the hard-pressed Charles. It’s not long, however, before the writer draws his first inspiration from a rich man’s funeral that is absent of mourners.
Also feeding his imagination is one of his servants, Tara (Anna Murphy), a young, literate Irish immigrant who sparks his interest in a ghostly world (“Spirits crowd over us on Christmas eve”). As the story begins to take shape, Charles interacts with his characters (“Get the name right, and if you’re lucky, the characters will appear.”), most prominently the wizened Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Jacob Marley (Donald Sumpter), Scrooge’s deceased business partner, emerges from the darkness: “I wear the chains I forged in life–Your chains are all around you–past and present and what is to come.”
The arrival of his irresponsible father, John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce), is an impediment to Charles’ work. It is also the occasion for flashbacks to his early adolescence, when Dickens was forced to work at a blacking factory (pasting labels on pots of boot polish) for six shillings a week, 10 hours a day Monday through Saturday, after his father was taken off to debtors’ prison. Tens of thousands of people unable to pay their debts were incarcerated in such institutions each year in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain.
Even Charles’ relationship with his pregnant wife Kate (Morfydd Clark)–“Sometimes I feel your characters mean more to you than your own flesh and blood”–and the rest of his household, run by Mrs. Fisk (Miriam Margolyes), becomes strained.
Developing something of a writer’s block, Charles is stumped as to whether Scrooge will be reformed and whether Tiny Tim will live or die. In the end, Scrooge’s redemption also redeems Charles’ relationship with his father (“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another”). Commissioning eight engravings from John Leech (Simon Callow), Charles manages to write the book and scrape together the funds to have it illustrated, printed, bound and distributed to shops in six weeks’ time!
The Man Who Invented Christmas is intended as a piece of light entertainment, and it accomplishes certain of its goals. Stevens as Dickens is the energetic, spirited artist at the mercy of the market. At times amusing, the movie does manage to convey the fact that life in Victorian England is insecure and precarious, and that even the successful Dickens feels the shadow of the debtors’ prison as he races against the clock to fulfill the outrageous demands of his publishers.
But even light entertainment has certain responsibilities. In the popular vein too, opportunities have been missed here. The simplistic, unnecessarily slight film makes only insubstantial, passing references to poverty among children–a major issue then as it is today. (Unhappily, “Dickensian” is a term that cannot yet be retired to the museum shelf.) Related to that, too much emphasis is placed on secondary psychological factors in The Man Who Invented Christmas, such as the father-son relationship.
Dickens was an immense figure, deeply affected by the social and economic transformations of his day, and not merely as the result of his own personal experiences.
The influential American critic Edmund Wilson, commented: “It is difficult for British pundits to see in him the great artist and social critic that he was. … [Dickens] was nevertheless the greatest dramatic writer that the English had had since Shakespeare, and he created the largest and most varied world.” Whenever the novelist comes to deal with institutions, Wilson went on, “he makes them either ridiculous or cruel, or both at the same time.” (“Dickens: The Two Scrooges,” 1941)
The origins of A Christmas Carol were not as slight and jovial as The Man Who Invented Christmas would have us believe. According to letterpile.com: “Charles Dickens was involved in charities and social issues throughout his entire life. In early 1843 he read a government report describing the conditions of women and children employed in mines and factories, it described the abuse of the laborers. [Friedrich Engels read the same report, which documented that children as young as eight were hauling coal carts 11 hours a day.] He was stricken down by these victims. Dickens vowed he would strike a ‘sledge hammer blow,’ on behalf of the ‘poor man’s child.’”
“The idea for the Carol came to him in October 1843, while doing a talk [in industrial Manchester, England, where the average life expectancy of a laborer in 1842 was 17]; he thought the best way to bring attention to the horror that was happening, would be to write a story instead of an article.”
In A Christmas Carol, a boy and a girl, Ignorance and Want, are hidden in the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present. “‘They are Man’s, and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’”
This 1979 music video from Britain says about itself:
Steve Jones, Paul Cook & Phil Lynott
Unfortunately, for many people in Theresa May’s Britain Christmas won’t be very merry.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Thursday 7th December 2017
Four out of five displaced households are still without a home following the devastating blaze that killed 71 people almost six months ago on June 14.
Shahin Sadafi, chairman of Grenfell United — an elected body set up by survivors and bereaved relatives — said: “First it was three weeks, then six months, now they are saying a year.
“It’s been six months and we’re now just a fortnight away from Christmas. It’s not too late to put this right but it needs urgent action now.”
See also here.
Meanwhile: Rich Londoners spend thousands of pounds hiring professionals to do their Christmas decorations: here.