Kew Gardens threatened by British government


This video is about Kew Gardens in greater London, England.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Job cuts threatened at UK’s Kew Gardens

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) says 125 jobs are at risk at the world-famous Kew Gardens as a result of funding cuts proposed by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

The PCS says the cuts would threaten the world-renowned scientific research carried out at Kew.

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British artist Richard Hamilton, exhibition


This video from England says about itself:

Richard Hamilton Serpentine Gallery London 2010

Richard Hamilton, the 88 year old Godfather of Pop Art speaks at the opening of his solo exhibition “Modern Moral Matters” with introduction by Julia Peyton-Jones and Art World Superstar, Hans Ulrich Obrist.

By Christine Lindey in Britain:

Messages in mediums

Saturday 22nd February 2014

An excellent retrospective of Richard Hamilton’s multilayered work reveals an acute commentary on art, politics and mass culture, says CHRISTINE LINDEY

Tate Modern’s comprehensive exhibition shows that Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) achieved far more than pioneering British pop art, for which he is best known.

The son of a London car showroom driver, he studied art at evening classes from the age of 12. Too young to be conscripted, in WWII he was directed to an engineering drawing apprenticeship and worked as a draughtsman until 1946.

Resuming his art studies, he was expelled from the traditionalist Royal Academy schools for voicing his admiration of Cezanne. After his national service, in 1948 he found more congenial teaching at the Slade School of Art where there was a Cezannesque emphasis on painting from the motif to establish acutely judged relationships of form and space.

This disciplined visual awareness, combined with his expertise in engineereng draughtsmanship, informed Hamilton’s future works.

Fascinated by design, science and technology and the impact of the mass media on our understanding of the world, Hamilton rebelled against the rarefied introspection which dominated contemporary art.

In the postwar period visual communication was transformed by sophisticated marketing and advertising techniques, innovations in colour photography and film, television and industrial printing technologies.

While most artists viewed these media as vulgar threats to traditional high art mediums, Hamilton made their messages and processes the subject of his art.

For a 1956 exhibition he worked on The Fun House, a sensory environment complete with optical illusions, a juke box playing and blown-up images of Hollywood stars, science fiction and advertising.

For the catalogue Hamilton produced the now iconic Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? Featuring the latest shiny consumer goods – hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, television and tape recorder – he populated his tiny collage with male and female stereotypes.

This led to paintings which interrogated and satirised but also celebrated the seductive dishonesty of mass media’s verbal and visual languages. Combining these with those of high art painting and drawing Hamilton, bridged the gap between art and mass culture.

He juxtaposed diverse collage materials, photography, airbrushing, technical drawing, representational painting and abstraction’s swirls and eddies. Works such as $he – whose dollar sign S signals advertising’s commercialisation of women’s bodies – show Hamilton’s impressive technical mastery in combining a wide variety of techniques in the pre-digital age.

The handcuffs which link Mick Jagger to Hamilton’s art dealer in the famous Swingeing London painting consist of three-dimensional aluminium and metalised acetate attached to canvas. Its title plays on the judge’s recommendation of a “swingeing sentence” for the drug offence by glamorous protagonists of what the media called swinging London.

Such word games typify Hamilton’s preoccupation with complex, multilayered references and meanings. His major early influences were James Joyce and Marcel Duchamp and Hamilton introduced the latter to a baffled British audience in a mid-1960s exhibition.

Richard Hamilton, Study for “Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell as a Famous Monster of Filmland”, 1964. Oil and collage on photograph on panel 61 x 61 cm

Yet unlike Duchamp, Hamilton engaged periodically with social and political issues. In 1963-4 he combined photographs of Hugh Gaitskell with ones of “a famous monster in filmland” to vilify the Labour leader’s betrayal of the party’s majority support for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

The 1984 installation Treatment Room evokes the bleakness of an impersonal hospital room. Instead of clinical equipment, a television set overhangs a treatment table and broadcasts an unctuously hypocritical Margaret Thatcher repeating a speech. Torture replaces diagnosis or cure. Expressing the anger of his generation which had built the welfare state, Hamilton asked: “Is the vision of Mrs Thatcher patronising a victim of the health service part of the future we once thought so bright?”

Later works addressed the troubles in Northern Ireland, Mordechai Vanunu’s revelation of Israel’s nuclear programme to the press during his abduction from Rome, Tony Blair‘s vile posturing during the invasion of Iraq and Israel’s illegal fragmentation and invasion of Palestine.

The unifying theme of Hamilton’s work is its appeal to the mind. His work’s non-emotive, impersonal means of expression with their multilayered references to art, politics and mass culture can seem over-cerebral. The expectation of art to elicit immediate visceral responses stems from the dominant western aesthetic criteria which privilege sensory and emotional appeal over meaning.

The sensuous painterliness, elegant line and sensitive drawing which bubble up in many works suggest that Hamilton was attracted by both divergent aesthetic currents.

Yet overall he resolutely looked outwards at the contemporary world – quizzically, satirically or accusatorially – but always from a progressive point of view. Rooted in a rejection of the self-indulgent introspection of 1950s abstraction, Hamilton’s work belies a passionate and well informed commitment to jogging consciences and waking up minds.

The Richard Hamilton retrospective runs at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 until May 26, box office: (020) 7887-8888. Two of Hamilton’s pioneering 1950s installations are on view at the ICA in London until April 6.

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World War One in London musical


This music video is called We need recruits! – “Oh! What a lovely war!

The lyrics of the songs of this musical are here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Theatre: Oh What A Lovely War

Tuesday 18th February 2014

The revival of a classic play on WWI is a must-see, says JOHN GREEN

Oh What A Lovely War

Theatre Royal, London E15

5 Stars

How well has Oh What A Lovely War, that iconic collaboration between Charles Chilton, Joan Littlewood and Gerry Raffles, survived the ravages of half a century since its first production in 1963?

The answer is that it is as hale and hearty as ever and remains one of the most powerful anti-war dramas ever. This improbable collision of form and content still sends out an unexpected explosion of dramatic intensity.

At its opening, we’re greeted by a troupe of pierrots who banter and play lightheartedly and engagingly with us before we’re transported to the first world war front and immersed in the horrors of that conflict.

Simply by donning helmets and jackets over their pierrot costumes, they present us with Tommies, Germans or French soldiers, generals and businessmen. Making full use of creative lighting techniques and the sounds of gunshot and detonations, we are in the trenches with the troops on the Somme, at Ypres and Verdun.

The story of the war is told in short, snappy episodes, interrupted by the songs of the time – full of pathos, earthy humour and irony – and jolly cabaret routines. Even Michael Gove makes a fleeting photographic appearance as a donkey at the beginning.

In true Brechtian style, and despite tearful and poignant moments, we are not allowed to wallow in sentiment but forced to confront the harsh realities of an incompetent ruling class indifferent to human misery and mass slaughter.

On a moor in Scotland we see businessmen having a pop at grouse while discussing their war profits and expressing their fears of an early peace.

An army chaplain tells the troops that God is on their side and, despite mounting losses, the generals order the troops forward regardless.

In the background above the stage, rolling text on a panel gives the unbelievable numbers of dead as the weeks and months pass.

There is not a minute of boredom with this excellent ensemble in which there are no stars or main roles. They keep us transfixed with their bursting energy and enthusiasm, easy banter, dancing and singing.

The leader of the troupe at the end brings us back to the present by reminding us that this war game has continued since that century-old conflict and is still being played today.

A really must-see drama. It can’t be recommended strongly enough.

Runs until March 15. Box office: (020) 8534-0310.

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Hungarian fuehrer’s failure in London


This music video is called Der Fuehrer’s Face by Spike Jones.

By Ryan Fletcher in Britain:

Jobbik fascists forced to flee

Tuesday 28th January 2014

Protesters drive off far-right as Vona attempts to rally hatred in London

Anti-fascist campaigners struck a blow against the far-right yesterday by kettling supporters of the Hungarian neonazi party Jobbik inside Holborn Tube station.

A planned rally in Camden with Jobbik leader Gabor Vona, scheduled on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, was cancelled as more than 70 fascists were surrounded by protesters and forced to shelter in the station ticket hall.

After two hours they had to get back on the underground and reconvene at a dismal and last-minute gathering in Hyde Park.

Hundreds of anti-fascists gathered in the pouring rain outside the station at 12.30pm to protest against the arrival of Mr Vona, whose racist and anti-semitic political party is now the third biggest in Hungary.

There were tense scenes as fascists dressed in Hungarian colours and carrying flags attempted to leave to attend the rally but were pushed back by demonstrators.

The stand-off lasted around two hours with police forming a line separating the two groups.

The fascists’ numbers swelled as small groups appeared outside the station to attend the rally, which was supposed to start outside Holborn station. Police officers escorted them inside as protesters shouting “nazi scum – off our streets” surrounded them.

Hungarian Marta Berai attended the protest.

She said: “I am against this fascist development in Hungary. It’s terrible that it has developed like this. I was surprised – I didn’t know there were so many fascists in Hungary.

“It’s shameful.

“The Hungarian community in London are outraged.”

London Assembly member and former Labour MP Andrew Dismore spoke outside Holborn station after hearing that the meeting had been cancelled. Earlier this week he wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding that Mr Vona be banned from holding the event.

He told the Star: “I think it’s been magnificent that we’ve been able to stop them. We’ve been able to stop the nazis peacefully and that’s what it’s about.

“We don’t want to get into fights with nazis we simply want them off our streets.”

After being forced to get back on the underground the Jobbik supporters re-emerged at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, where police allowed a 100-person rally with Mr Vona to go ahead.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) said the disruption of Mr Vona’s plans was a “good day for anti-nazis.”

The organisation’s joint national secretary Sabby Dhalu said: “UAF has played a central role in driving back fascism in Britain. Jobbik’s fascist hatred has no place in a modern society here or in the rest of Europe.

“Wherever fascists have a presence, racist, anti-semitic and Islamophobic attacks increase.”

This video is about the anti-nazi demonstration at Holborn Tube station in London.

On Holocaust Memorial Day LINDSEY GERMAN charts how the nazis were able to perpetrate their crimes by eliminating all effective and organised opposition: here.

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Students discover new supernova


The new supernova discovery by University College London

From University College London in England:

Supernova in Messier 82 discovered by UCL students

22 January 2014

Updated 23 Jan 2014 – 9:30am

Students and staff at UCL’s teaching observatory, the University of London Observatory, have spotted one of the closest supernova to Earth in recent decades. At 19:20 GMT on 21 January, a team of students – Ben Cooke, Tom Wright, Matthew Wilde and Guy Pollack – assisted by Dr Steve Fossey, spotted the exploding star in nearby galaxy Messier 82 (the Cigar Galaxy).

The discovery was a fluke – a 10 minute telescope workshop for undergraduate students that led to a global scramble to acquire confirming images and spectra of a supernova in one of the most unusual and interesting of our near-neighbour galaxies.

“The weather was closing in, with increasing cloud,” Fossey says, “so instead of the planned practical astronomy class, I gave the students an introductory demonstration of how to use the CCD camera on one of the observatory’s automated 0.35–metre telescopes.”

The students chose M 82, a bright and photogenic galaxy as their target, as it was in one of the shrinking patches of clear sky. While adjusting the telescope’s position, Fossey noticed a ‘star’ overlaid on the galaxy which he did not recognise from previous observations.

They inspected online archive images of the galaxy, and it became apparent that there was indeed a new star-like object in M 82. With clouds closing in, there was hardly time to check: so they switched to taking a rapid series of 1 and 2 minute exposures through different coloured filters to check that the object persisted, and to be able to measure its brightness and colour.

Meanwhile, they started up a second telescope to obtain a second source of data, to ensure the object was not an instrumental artefact. By about 19:40 GMT, the cloud cover was almost complete, but it was just possible to make out the new object in the second data set: this was a real astronomical source.

There were no online reports of any prior discoveries of this object, so it seemed clear that this was a new transient source, such as a supernova. It was important to move quickly to alert astronomers worldwide to confirm the discovery, and most importantly, to obtain a spectrum – which would confirm whether or not it was a supernova, rather than some other phenomenon, such as an asteroid that happened to lie in front of the galaxy.

Fossey prepared a report for the International Astronomical Union’s Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the organisation that catalogues supernovae. He also alerted a US-based supernova search team who have access to spectroscopic facilities.

Spectra collected by astronomers at other observatories around the world suggest that it is a Type Ia supernova, caused by a white dwarf star pulling matter off a larger neighbouring star until it becomes unstable and explodes.

The IAU’s official report last night (UK time; daytime 22 January in the US), confirms that Fossey was the first to report the new supernova, and gives the supernova the designation SN 2014J.

The two images here show the Cigar Galaxy before and during the event. Above, an image taken on 10 December 2013, and below the image taken by the students on 21 January 2014. A bright spot of light (labelled) is clearly visible, even though the exposure is shorter and the rest of the galaxy appears darker.

The supernova is one of the nearest to be observed in recent decades. The closest by far since the invention of the telescope was Supernova 1987A (the remnant of which was recently studied by UCL astronomers) in February 1987, located at a distance of 168 000 light years. This discovery is more distant at around 12 million light years, about the same as the 1993 discovery of a supernova in nearby Messier 81.

The students said:

Ben Cooke: “The chances of finding anything new in the sky is astronomical but this was particularly astounding as it was one of the first images we had taken on this telescope. My career plan had been to continue my studies in astrophysics. It’s going to be hard to ever top this though!“

Guy Pollack: “It was a surreal and exciting experience taking images of the unidentified object as Steve ran around the observatory verifying the result. I’m very chuffed to have helped in the discovery of the M 82 Supernova.“

Tom Wright: “One minute we’re eating pizza then five minutes later we’ve helped to discover a supernova. I couldn’t believe it. It reminds me why I got interested in astronomy in the first place.”

Matt Wilde: “To be honest it was just a really odd experience. We were expecting a standard quick look through the telescope and a chance to use the camera for the first time before the clouds moved in, that’s all. When we started looking and Steve began getting a bit more excited none of us could really believe what was going on. I can’t wait to get back on a telescope next week now.“

Notes

Magnitudes of the supernova were measured from discovery images in R and V filters, obtained in poor sky conditions, with reference to the nearby star BD +70 587. The object’s magnitude is estimated to be: V=11.7 (2014 Jan 21.818), R=10.5 (2014 Jan 21.805). This is bright enough to see with a good quality amateur telescope.

Astronomers for the first time have imaged the core of a supernova in its final minutes: here.

Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system, lets off steam: here.

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Keep Hungarian nazi fuehrer out of London


This video says about itself:

HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZI JOBBIK VIGILANTE TERRORISM

15 Aug 2011

Civil Guard Association for a Better Future” (Hungarian: Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület) is a Hungarian militant organisation, sponsored by Jobbik, involved in anti-Roma activities in areas such as the town of Gyöngyöspata in early 2011, where they have been accused of intimidating the Roma population with weapons and dogs.

Jobbik, The Movement for a Better Hungary (Hungarian: Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom) commonly known as Jobbik, is a Hungarian radical nationalist political party, accused by scholars, different press outlets and its political opponents of being fascist, neo-fascist, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and homophobic.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

Keep fascist Vona out

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Coalition asked to ban Hungarian Jobbik party chief from London rather than put up with racist message of hatred

Home Secretary Theresa May faced mounting pressure yesterday to stop Hungarian fascist leader Gabor Vona peddling his ideology of hate on the streets of London.

Mr Vona – head of the far-right Jobbik Party and founder of the outlawed paramilitary Hungarian Guard Movement – plans to descend on Holborn, London, on Sunday, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Jobbik says he is visiting to hold a “meeting” with Hungarian expatriates and has denied reports that he plans to meet representatives of Greek neo-nazi outfit Golden Dawn or the British National Party.

Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore has asked Ms May to issue an exclusion order to keep the fascist out.

“Our Jewish and Roma communities in London, for whom Jobbik reserves special hate, need defending against its filthy ideas,” Mr Dismore said. “All our residents need protection from the undesirable audience of far-right activists he is likely to attract.”

Jobbik has a history of Holocaust denial and the Hungarian Guard Movement has been blamed by police in the country for multiple murders of Roma people.

In his new year message at the start of this month Mr Vona called for “drastic, draconian” measures against Hungary‘s Roma community, demanding “the criminalisation of the Gypsies” and saying a Jobbik government would introduce the death penalty and “chemical castration.”

Anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate called on the Home Secretary to heed Mr Dismore’s request for a ban on the visit.

“Jobbik is a violently anti-semitic, anti-Roma party whose followers have been involved in intimidation, violence and murder,” spokesman Matthew Collins told the Star.

“There is no place for Gabor Vona or his nazi Jobbik Party in Britain any more than there is a place for Nick Griffin‘s BNP.”

And London’s Communist Party district secretary Steve Johnson said that timing the visit for the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day was particularly offensive.

Hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews and Roma were rounded up by the country’s fascist Arrow Cross movement during World War II and handed over to the nazis for extermination.

“To give a Hungarian fascist a platform in London this weekend is an insult to the victims of nazi genocide,” Mr Johnson said.

“It shows the fascist threat is still real and demonstrates the ongoing need for unity against racists seeking to incite divisions and hatred.”

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said the day was “an international day of reflection on the Holocaust and genocide where we learn lessons from the past.

“We condemn any attempt to distract from this message.”

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases or if someone was under consideration for exclusion.

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