Like magic, Teller speaks

first_imgTeller, the shorter half of the magic duo Penn & Teller, is famous for his laconic performances. It’s a quirky hallmark of the offbeat act that Teller remains silent during even the most raucous routines. But away from the spotlight, Teller likes to talk.On a recent afternoon, on the phone from Las Vegas, where the two-man show has been running for 13 years, the illusionist had plenty to say about co-directing a magic-inspired version of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” with playwright and director Aaron Posner.“By means of magic tricks, we want the audience to get the same kind of gobsmacked amazement as the characters” said Teller, who helped to oversee a recent four-week run of the show under the big top in Las Vegas. The play opens this weekend at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) and runs through June 15.Captivating magic tricks aren’t the only twists in the production. The work, which the pair also adapted, includes a haunting soundtrack of songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan performed by a live band, and choreography by Pilobolus, the company famous for melding acrobatics and dance.Frequent collaborators, Posner and Teller first worked on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” several yeas ago. Next, they took on “Macbeth.” Staging “The Scottish Play” was a lifelong dream for Teller, but initially Posner wasn’t interested. The productions he’d seen were “overblown or overly important,” he said, and he found the story uninteresting until Teller helped him to envision it as a “supernatural horror thriller.” Buckets of mysterious blood, floating daggers, severed heads, witches, and hallucinations all took creepy turns in their popular 2008 production. But every illusion, they insisted, supported the Bard’s underlying tale.“The magic is always in service to the play,” said Teller. “The idea that things look one way and can be a completely different way is a deep theme in ‘Macbeth,’ and magic is extremely well adapted to that.”He and Posner are taking that same approach with the “The Tempest,” incorporating illusions, tricks, and slights of hand to help the audience feel the wonder experienced by the characters on the stage.“The tricks are fabulously interesting and enjoyable,” said Posner, “but it’s what it does to your mind. It’s the way it transports you … when you see things that simply can’t be happening, it does a pretty wonderful thing to your mind. It sort of blows the lid off a little bit. … And that’s what’s happening to the characters in the show.”For inspiration, the pair turned to a Depression-era, traveling tent-show magician known as Willard the Wizard, who crisscrossed Texas with his company, including his daughter, the star of a well-known levitation trick.Hoping for a soundtrack that would suit their type of “rough-and-tumble” production, Teller reached out to Waits and his wife and collaborator, Brennan. When Waits spied a picture of Willard’s “shockingly shabby band,” he told Teller simply, “These are my people.” So Waits offered up access to a collection of his and Brennan’s work.“This vast catalog includes all sorts of moods, all sorts of contexts,” said Teller. “It covers just about every occasion and every mood within a certain kind of fabulous style.”Posner calls the show a unique hybrid, a “fully embodied Shakespeare play” that is at once a concert, a magic show, and a work completely in step with the Bard’s original intent. “This isn’t one of the ones where a simple, stripped-down, bare-bones production necessarily is your friend,” said Posner. “This is one where actually more might be more, and that’s where I think Shakespeare was going … I think he was putting out a kind of large, theatrical tent, and we tried to match that.”Thought to be the last work Shakespeare wrote alone, “The Tempest” showcases revenge, redemption, and forgiveness. The action unfolds on an island that is home to the play’s protagonist, the powerful magician Prospero; his daughter, Miranda; and several spirits and goddesses. The island also is briefly a refuge for a group of shipwrecked aristocrats.The fantastical play resonates deeply with both directors. As a new father, Posner said he relates to Prospero’s love for his child and his desire to secure her happiness at all costs. For 66-year-old Teller, the notion of a magician relinquishing his craft is captivating.“A big part of this show comes from my recognition that at some point I will have to give up magic … It asks the question ‘What would it take in your life to make you give up the thing that makes you you?’”Another twist in their reimagined production involves the character Caliban, the son of an evil witch who is enslaved by Prospero. Looking to create an original type of monster without makeup tricks or masks, Teller and Posner turned to Pilobolus, whose members suggested several people play the role simultaneously. The final version involves two actors connected to each other throughout the show who move around the stage in  “eerie, four-legged ways that are fluid and strange,” said Teller.For the rest of the surprises — including a creepy dinner table, vanishing cast members, and some nifty card tricks — people will simply have to buy a ticket.last_img read more

Students discover ‘Oasis’ in the Yard

first_img Read Full Story By Jeffrey Blackwell, Memorial Church CommunicationsFor freshman Wassim Marrakchi, the Student Oasis on the ground level of the Memorial Church is a secret sanctuary for study, for quiet socializing and for making slatetblankit, a dish from his Tunisian homeland, for his Canaday housemates.“This place has been a really great place for me to share nice moments with my friends, but also when I need some time alone, I can find it here,” said Marrakchi ’21. “I think more students are getting to know the space because every time I come here, I’m surprised to find more people.”The Student Oasis opened a year ago following an eight-month renovation of the church, which featured a complete redesign of the ground level, carving out a much-needed space for students in the center of Harvard Yard.With its contemporary kitchen, versatile meeting rooms, serene study lounge, and award-winning design, the Oasis is not only developing into a popular refuge for students, campus groups and members of the Harvard community, but is also one of the most diverse student spaces on campus.“I feel it has been successful because we set out to create a space that would serve as a site of human connection,” said Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church. “No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, you will find a place of comfort, and more importantly, a space of grace.”On a normal day during the academic year, the Oasis is bustling from early in the morning following Morning Prayers, to late in the evening when the doors shut at night.Over the course of the day, students nest at study tables writing papers and finishing homework, while others perch at the kitchen counter for a quick lunch or recline in comfortable couches pressed in deep conversations with friends. And on a typical night, the members of Harvard’s Mellon Mays Fellows, Cru, Athletes in Action, or other campus groups may be meeting in one of the conference rooms while the Harvard University Choir or The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College rehearses in the choir room or sanctuary.last_img read more

Colombia fighting organized crime with new CI3 intelligence center

first_img High technological capabilities The new information center has modern computers which have the capacity to process voluminous amounts of data, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Security analysts review and catalog the information that comes into the center from more than 8,000 security agents. Such information could include crime reports and intelligence gathered from informants, including organized crime operatives. Police agents send the information to the center using a small, secure device that is similar to a cellphone. The new intelligence center gives law enforcement analysts the ability to receive and process large amounts of information about criminal threats, according to Germán Garnica Sahid, a security analyst at the University del Rosario. Officers from the Directorate of Police Intelligence (DIPOL) worked with a group of engineers from the U.S. multinational technlology firm IBM to develop the intelligence center. The intelligence gathering system is similar to the model used by Europol, the U.S. State Department, and the New York Police Department (NYPD), according to published reports. Intelligence gathered by DIPOL has led to several important security victories in recent years. For example, in September, 2010, the DIPOL provided intelligence which led to a joint operation between the National Police and the military, in which the security forces confronted and killed Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, a high-ranking FARC leader who was also known as “Mono Jojoy.” DIPOL officials and engineers took four years to develop the new intelligence center, which cost about $15 million (USD) to build. The technological advances available at the intelligence center will help security forces and private citizens alike, Gen. Palomino said. “The technology is allowing a better analysis of criminal behavior that affects citizens to help them avoid those monsters that have been created in the past, it allows them to be detected before they reach a certain level ,” Palomino said. Large amounts of intelligence accumulated by security forces who have battled guerilla fighters and organized crime groups over the span of decades will be kept at the center, said Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, the director of the Colombia National Police. The intelligence on groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Los Rastrojos, and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will help police keep the country’s most dangerous criminal organizations contained, Palomino said. This in turn will help improve security throughout the country, the general explained. “The emphasis now is public safety,” he said. The center is one of the “most advanced” law enforcement facilities in Latin America, Palomino said. It is operated by 400 intelligence analysts, most of whom are young and college-educated. Each of the analysts has received at least two years of training. By Dialogo November 28, 2013 Cooperating with the Armed Forces Tactics and strategy Operation Jaque center_img The new intelligence center will help authorities compile intelligence on FARC activities in cities, according to security analyst Sahid Garnica. This intelligence will help the Armed Forces to develop tactics and strategies to dismantle the FARC in urban areas, Sahid Garnica said. The intelligence center will also help police compile information on the activities of violent drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, the security analyst added. The National Police is investing in new helicopters, patrol cars, and motorcycles as part of a broad initiative to improve security throughout the country. The opening of the intelligence center and the investment in new equipment for the National Police should reassure the civilian population that the government is working effectively to fight organized crime as well as common criminals, the security analyst said. “The government’s security strategy will increase the confidence of society in the security institutions,: Sahid Garnica predicted. President Santos predicted that the new intelligence center will help security forces gain the upper hand in the battle against criminals. “Intelligence is perhaps the most powerful weapon against crime in all its forms,” Santos said. Community policing The new intelligence center will help security forces carry out the National Plan for Community Policing Quadrants (PNVCC), authorities said. Better intelligence will help authorities decide where to place security forces, officials said. Community policing is deployed in 760 municipalities, where about 84 percent of the civilian population lives, Palomino said. The PNVCC has promoted important changes in how police agents do their jobs. Under PNVCC, police agents are assigned to specific neighborhoods, and are mandated to get to know the people who live and work there. This allows police agents to create stronger ties with members of the community and to become familiar with their safety concerns. This approach also encourages citizen participation and greater interaction with security forces, authorities said. Closer ties between the civilian population and police agents will help law enforcement officers obtain more and better intelligence, authorities said. “Intelligence, a key tool for law enforcement,” President Santos said. The Colombian National Police recently launched a modern law enforcement intelligence center to help authorities in the fight against crime. In particular, the technology available in the new Integrated Center for Information and Intelligence for Public Safety CI3 (Command Control Communications and Intelligence) should help police in their battle against organized crime, officials said. The center, located in Bogota, has the most “(modern) technology to be more effective,” President Juan Manuel Santos said on Oct. 15, 2013, during a ceremony to open the new security complex. As an example of the importance of intelligence, the president noted the success of Operation Jaque in July 2008. Security forces obtained intelligence regarding the whereabouts of 14 hostages who were being held by the FARC. The hostages included political candidate Ingrid Betancourt, seven police agents and members of the military, and three U.S. contractors. On July 2, 2008, security forces rescued the hostages without any bloodshed. The operation took 22 minutes. Gathering intelligence last_img read more

FAWL chapters to monitor JNC interviews

first_img October 15, 2005 Managing Editor Regular News FAWL chapters to monitor JNC interviews FAWL chapters to monitor JNC interviewscenter_img Members will be on the look out for gender biases and gather frequently asked questions Mark D. Killian Managing Editor Increasing the number of women judges in Florida and ensuring they are provided a level playing field by monitoring the judicial nominating commission interview process are among the primary goals of the Florida Association for Women this year.FAWL President June McKinney Bartelle of Tallahassee said the association also is encouraging its members to apply for seats on the JNCs.Bartelle said FAWL members have begun monitoring JNC interviews statewide “to see if there is any bias taking place.” FAWL also has begun collecting the questions regularly asked judicial candidates so applicants can be better prepared for going through the JNC process.“Right now we would like to see if the judicial selection process is considered fair — if there is anything there that could alarm any potential candidate, such as in the questions being asked,” said Sarasota’s Evelyn Moya, chair of the JNC monitoring program.Moya said local FAWL chapters are the ones being called on to send members to monitor JNC interviews in their areas. Then the members fill out a questionnaire which alerts the statewide organization to the kinds of questions being asked female candidates. That information, Moya said, eventually will be compiled into a database to help those considering applying for judgeships know what to expect and better prepare for the judicial interview process.“One of the people who monitors [for us] said it seemed to be a regular question of all candidates if they are board certified in a specialty field of law,” Moya said. “That would be a clue to future candidates that it might be really good to be certified in your practice area, because that is important for the selection process — or involvement in pro bono work, public interest work, etc.”The FAWL questionnaire — which can be found at www.fawl.org by clicking on “resources” and then “forms” — asks those who monitor JNC interviews to answer a series of questions, including:• Did the JNC ask any questions regarding the candidate’s experience? If so, did you feel that the question was asked in a way that could potentially penalize applicants who have public interest backgrounds?• Were there any questions asked about the candidate’s personal religious views?• Were there any questions asked regarding one’s ability to balance family life or motherhood with judicial service?• Were there any questions asked about views on controversial issues? If so, did you feel the question was asked in a way that could potentially penalize an applicant?• Do you feel that any of the questions were inappropriate? If so, what were those questions and why did you feel it was inappropriate?• Did you feel that any of the questions were subtly biased? For instance, one year a FAWL monitor reported that some of the male commissioners indicated a preference for applicants with jury experience and experience handling paying clients.The form also asks observers to provide any feedback that may be helpful in determining whether gender bias exists in the judicial selection process.Moya said it has been a goal of FAWL’s for years to increase the number of women judges in Florida because women remain underrepresented on Florida’s bench. As of April 1, 2004, The Florida Bar reported that 30.2 percent of its members are women. But, Florida has a Supreme Court that is 28.5 percent female; district courts of appeal are 20.9 percent female; 21.7 percent of all circuit judges are women; and 28.9 percent of the county court judges are women, according to FAWL.Those interested in becoming involved in the JNC monitoring program may contact Moya via e-mail at moyalex@comcast.net.last_img read more

Photographer Joan Weiss Exhibits Otherworldly ‘Illusions & Impressions’ In Manhasset

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The way Joan Weiss sees it, there’s always more than meets the eye.Her images really reside in the mind. Whether she’s honing in on details others might easily overlook, or capturing layers of meaning hidden in plain sight in a landscape vista, this acclaimed Long Island photographer brings an artistic aesthetic to her work that makes a lasting impression.Not bad for someone who could neither draw nor paint as a kid growing up in Brooklyn—and never saw her artwork stuck on the refrigerator door by her parents. But she did borrow her family’s trusty old Brownie, and that passion for photography—though it took some significant detours over the years as she pursued a high-pressure career as a medical writer and editor—stayed with her.After she retired a couple of years ago, this Jericho resident devoted herself to becoming a full-time art photographer. What she’s accomplished since 2015 is impressive: She’s been elected to the Board of Directors of the Art League of Long Island and had four solo shows on Long Island, with more to come.This Sunday marks another milestone in her photographic odyssey that has taken Weiss from Coney Island to Vietnam, when her exhibit, “Illusions & Impressions,” opens at the Shelter Rock Art Gallery in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset. On display from March 25 through April 24, it’s fitting that the largest show yet of her work takes place at a gallery considered by many professional photographers as the best venue on Long Island aside from museums.“I will be showing 40 photographs, a few of them on the ‘gigantic’ side,” Weiss told the Press, adding that some are five-feet wide. “That will be new for that gallery, but I think it shows those particular photographs to their best advantage.”Admittedly, her work is edgy, impressionistic and even surreal—and at their best breathtakingly beautiful.In her photography, she says, “I see textures, and layers, and the way objects interact in geometric patterns to form other creations. I see shadows and reflections, and the blur of human motion, and sometimes an incongruous fusion of these elements.”Her formal training began at Cornell University when she amazed her friends by signing up for early Saturday morning photography classes. After graduating with a B.S., she went to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she would often be the one wielding the camera instead of the reporter’s notepad. The year was 1968.“It was a turning point in my life,” recalled Weiss, who was known as Joan Solomon back in those days. “I had become sort of the unofficial class photographer,” she said. In April that year, Columbia students protesting the Vietnam War began a nonviolent occupation of campus buildings and subsequently classes were suspended.“So we just wandered around the campus during the day looking for where the action was,” Weiss said. “We would often hear in the middle of the night that there were riots on campus and the police were going after students. So we, of course, got up to join the action. We were all in our 20s then and had no fear. If the police caught you, they either crushed your skull with their batons or arrested you. One night my shoe fell off and I fell down. I was terrified. A couple of my friends got me up and dragged me off campus.”Interestingly, her next big solo exhibit, “Vietnam Now,” will be shown at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills from May 3 to May 31, featuring about 30 photographs she took during her trip through that war-torn south Asian country last January.But it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that her work is overtly, or even covertly, political. It’s more profound than that, and harder to categorize.“I sometimes feel like I’m in a dream, where things are not what they seem but serve as clues to a deeper, more elusive truth,” Weiss explained. “That truth is revealed to me more vividly through the camera lens than through the naked eye.”As Weiss gained confidence in her art, she began to realize that she doesn’t see the world as others do—and she has grown to appreciate the difference. “When I travel and members of my group look in one direction to snap a photo, I invariably aim my camera in the other,” she said. “I find interest and beauty where others might see the mundane. I see glitz where others might see grandeur.”To create a compelling image, she says she takes “a practical approach” that she’s willing to share: “Go out in atrocious weather. Get into impossible positions. Ruin your clothes.”And so she does—willingly. But what she brings back with her camera makes it all so worthwhile.Joan Weiss’ photography show, “Illusions & Impressions,” runs from March 25 through April 24, with an opening reception on March 26 from 1-3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset. Call 516-472-2933 for more information.last_img read more

Heritage Farm & Garden: Greening Long Island

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The Dubner family’s half-century-deep roots in the local horticultural industry grew deeper last year when they opened Heritage Farm & Garden, allowing their passion to blossom in the retail garden center market.The 42-acre store in Muttontown is run by Wendy Dubner Master, daughter of Long Island landscaping and nursery industry veteran Steven Dubner — both of whom pursued careers in law before plowing ahead with the family business.“When I started the landscape business, it was purely a vehicle to help me pay for college and law school,” Steven says. “Once I was a member of the New York State Bar, I said to myself, ‘I will just keep the landscaping business two more years.’ And here I am still doing it. I get to live my passion.”Steven founded the eponymous Steven Dubner Landscaping, Inc., 52 years ago, Northeast Nurseries in Cutchogue three decades ago and Metro Green Visions, which shares Dix Hills office space with his landscaping company, about eight years ago.Last year, the family bought Martin Viette Nurseries, which closed after 87 years, and opened Heritage, which boasts an impressive selection of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and more — including Wendy’s acclaimed pottery designs. Prior to opening Heritage, Wendy worked in the industry for over 25 years, designing  pottery and home décor, as well as consulting with many national retailers providing trend direction.The family, while being reluctant to publicize it, has always been heavily involved in philanthropy.  Steven started a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America troop for kids with Down syndrome and learning disabilities, created a children’s garden at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove and most recently, the Center for Developmental Disabilities in Woodbury recruited Heritage to form an educational program for some of its 5 to 21-year-old students with learning disabilities.Wendy will help, but her mother, Candy, will oversee the program for Heritage and handle most interaction with the students, Wendy says, adding that it represents a way to “use the facilities and location here to do something good for people in the community,” which is “one of our goals.”It’s just another example of how this family is making the Island more beautiful.Heritage Farm & Garden is located at 6050 Northern Blvd., in Muttontown. They can be reached at 516-922-1026 or heritagefarmandgarden.com.Wendy and Stephen Dubner opened Heritage Farm & Garden last year.last_img read more

Bitcoin price hits highest level since January 2018

first_img– Advertisement – But lingering uncertainty over the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election means that it’s unlikely another coronavirus stimulus package will be agreed upon in the near term.“With the U.S. election gradually drawing to a close, the details of a fiscal stimulus could become clearer. Any such package could see weakening of the U.S. dollar and further increases in the bitcoin price going forward,” Peters said.Meanwhile, analysts have cheered moves from the likes of PayPal and Facebook in the cryptocurrency space lately.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – PayPal said it would let its customers buy and sell digital assets like bitcoin and ether through its digital wallet and eventually use them for shopping, while Facebook is developing its libra digital currency with a Switzerland-based consortium called the Libra Association.Still, regulators continue to scrutinize the cryptocurrency industry. Bitcoin’s network doesn’t require a central authority to maintain it, and officials have expressed concern with its use in illicit transactions. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had seized $1 billion worth of bitcoin believed to be linked to Silk Road, the now-defunct online black market.center_img Bitcoin has been on a tear in 2020, more than doubling in value year-to-date. Its meteoric rise comes on the back of unprecedented stimulus from global governments and central banks during the coronavirus pandemic, which some industry insiders believe has made the virtual currency more attractive than fiat currencies like the dollar.“Bitcoin’s creation was in part due to fears that increased fiscal stimulus is devaluing currencies globally,” said Simon Peters, a cryptoasset analyst at investment platform eToro. “As a result, when central banks announce extensive plans to pump money into economies, many investors in the crypto community take this as a major bitcoin buy signal.”Investors are awaiting the latest monetary policy announcement from the Federal Reserve, with the U.S. central bank expected to keep overnight rates close to zero and reiterate the need for more fiscal stimulus. Bitcoin‘s price climbed above $15,000 on Thursday, hitting a level not seen since January 2018 amid U.S. presidential election uncertainty.The world’s best-known cryptocurrency was last trading almost 9% higher at a price of $15,233, according to data from industry website CoinDesk.- Advertisement –last_img read more

US foes delight in criticizing US as protests flare

first_img‘Taking some sort of pleasure’ Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, criticized Chinese officials for “taking some sort of pleasure and solace in what they’re seeing here.”Americans seeking redress are “not going to be thrown in jail for peaceful protesting. There’s a difference between us and you,” he told ABC News.Many demonstrations have been peaceful but activists have accused police of using excessive force in a number of incidents and a man was killed early Monday in Louisville, Kentucky.O’Brien also singled out Zimbabwe among “our foreign adversaries” that may be relishing the scenes in the United States.Zimbabwe — which has faced US criticism over violently dispersing protests as well as British-led pressure over its seizures of white-owned farms — summoned the US ambassador to protest O’Brien’s remarks. Topics : Diverting attention? Observers say that China and Iran are hardly sterling examples on rights.Activists say China is detaining at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in a vast network of brainwashing camps.In the commercial hub of Guangzhou, African residents said that police forcibly evicted them this year from accommodation and that they were refused service at shops and restaurants as part of a coronavirus scare.In Iran, a lawmaker on Monday acknowledged that 230 people died in last year’s protests triggered by a fuel price hike, although outside groups say the number was far higher.”Like every country, America has never been perfect when it comes to human rights. Far from it,” said Rob Berschinski, senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First.”But the fact that a human rights advocate like me can say this openly is what differentiates the United States and other free countries from countries like China and Iran,” he said.”When the Chinese and Iranian governments criticize demonstrations in America, they’re doing so to distract from their own records, not because they care about racial injustice.”Berschinski, who served at the State Department under president Barack Obama, said nonetheless that Trump hurt the cause, including by calling on Twitter for the shooting of looters.”When American citizens are brutalized by our police and national leaders like President Trump promote violence, of course America’s ability to speak credibly on human rights abroad is harmed,” he said. “And to the American officials and police: stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” he said.Both Iran and China also took to social media to troll the United States, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeting a State Department condemnation of Iran in which he flipped the names of the two countries. With US cities in flames over outrage about police brutality, nations that are usually on the receiving end of Washington’s criticism on human rights are gleefully turning the tables.Condemnation of the US record on race came from China, which days earlier faced US counter-measures for tightening controls on Hong Kong, as well as Iran, where officials have been slapped with US sanctions for suppressing protests in November.The United States is experiencing some of its worst riots in 50 years with dozens of cities under curfews following the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who pleaded “I can’t breathe” as a white police officer pinned him under his knee for nearly nine minutes. “Racism against ethnic minorities in the US is a chronic disease of American society,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.”The current situation reflects once more the severity of the problems of racism and police violence in the US,” he told reporters in Beijing.Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi echoed the language frequently voiced by President Donald Trump’s administration in its support for opponents of the clerical state.”To the American people: the world has heard your outcry over the state of oppression. The world is standing with you,” Mousavi said, in English, in Tehran. Gentle criticism from friends Solidarity protests have taken place in US friends including Britain, Ireland and New Zealand. Allied governments have spoken in general terms about US police brutality, without criticizing Trump.A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the violence “very alarming” and voiced concern over the arrests of journalists, including at least one British national.A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that US police should show restraint “as in any other country in the world” and that police worldwide need human rights training.Trump, who advocates a go-it-alone “America First” approach, has long brushed aside foreign critiques.But in a leaked tape of a meeting Monday with governors, he complained that “the whole world was laughing” — because police did not respond forcefully enough.last_img read more

The Korean War: Carnage, stalemate and ceasefire

first_imgAs well as pitting North against South, the Korean War embroiled each side’s communist and Western allies — with the Soviet Union and China backing Pyongyang, and a US-led coalition under a United Nations banner supporting Seoul.AFP traces the course of the conflict, which broke out on June 25, 1950 and ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war. Moscow appointed Kim Il Sung, who had led a Korean contingent in the Soviet army, as head of the North. His son and grandson have since retained an absolute grip on power in Pyongyang.Both the communist North and the capitalist South claimed to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula. Two Koreas created The Soviet Union declared war on Japan, Korea’s colonial ruler, between the US nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and sent troops pouring into the peninsula.Washington and Moscow agreed to divide it into two occupied zones along the 38th parallel, a line of latitude that splits the territory roughly across the middle.Two rival states emerged in 1948. In Seoul, the capital of the South, the Harvard- and Princeton-educated Syngman Rhee led a US-oriented regime. The longest ceasefireThe ceasefire was supposed to be replaced with a final peace settlement, but that has never happened.Washington still stations 28,500 troops in the South, while the North — which has the world’s largest standing army — has spent decades developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, saying it needs them to deter a US invasion.It has been isolated internationally as a result, and subject to multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions.Both Pyongyang and Seoul continue to claim sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula. Topics :center_img Invasion and counter-attack On June 25, 1950, the North invaded the South as Kim Il Sung attempted to reunify Korea by force.The UN Security Council authorized armed intervention in support of the South — Moscow did not veto the resolution as it was boycotting the body.But the South’s forces crumbled before the Northern advance, and Pyongyang’s army seized Seoul just three days after crossing the 38th parallel.Multinational UN forces, led by the US, arrived in the South to help. But they were pushed back to the Pusan Perimeter, a pocket on the peninsula’s southeastern tip around the city now known as Busan.The Incheon Landing — a bold counter-offensive launched in the city to the west of Seoul — recaptured the capital, split the North’s forces and turned the tide.UN units swept north, seized Pyongyang on October 19 and advanced almost to the Chinese border.But Pyongyang’s allies reversed the war’s course again as Beijing sent hundreds of thousands of troops to help.Seoul fell to them again in January 1951, only for the UN coalition to recapture it once more two months later — the fourth time the city had changed hands. Armistice By June the front line had stabilized roughly where the Demilitarized Zone runs today — not far from the pre-war division along the 38th parallel.Another two years of attrition — accompanied by large-scale US bombing of the North, despite Moscow providing air power — followed as the fighting wore its way to a stalemate.After more than two years of truce talks and 158 meetings, an armistice was finally signed in July 1953 by North Korea, China and the UN Command.But Rhee, who still wanted to defeat the North, refused to sign. Casualties Exact numbers are impossible to establish given the scale of the conflict and multiple contradictory accounts on all sides, but up to three million Koreans died, the vast majority of them civilians.According to Seoul’s defense ministry, 520,000 North Korean soldiers were killed, as were 137,000 Southern troops.A display at Pyongyang’s main war museum says more than 1.5 million of the “enemy” were killed or captured.Chinese casualty figures remain disputed, with Western estimates commonly citing a figure of 400,000, while Chinese sources put it at about 180,000.Nearly 37,000 American soldiers were killed, while other UN fatalities included more than 1,000 British soldiers.last_img read more

After mixed messages from White House, Trump says ‘real test’ ahead in his COVID fight

first_imgThe remarks came hours after differing assessments of his health from administration officials left it unclear how ill the president had become since he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday night, a matter of enormous public concern.A White House team of doctors said on Saturday morning that Trump’s condition was improving and that he was already talking about returning to the White House. One doctor said Trump told them, ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today.’Within minutes, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows gave reporters a less rosy assessment, telling them, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”Meadows, whose initial comments were delivered on condition that he not be identified, altered his tone hours later, telling Reuters that Trump was doing “very well” and that “doctors are very pleased with his vital signs.” Meadows did not clarify the discrepancy in his comments. A Trump adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity said the president was not happy to learn of Meadows’ initial remarks.Administration officials have described the move to Walter Reed as precautionary and said Trump would stay at the hospital for several days.Another source who was briefed on Trump’s condition said the president was given supplemental oxygen before he went to the hospital. The decision to hospitalize Trump came after he had experienced difficulty breathing and his oxygen level dropped, according to a source familiar with the situation.White House doctor Sean P. Conley told reporters outside the hospital on Saturday that Trump had not had trouble breathing, and was not given oxygen at Walter Reed.”The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Conley said.He declined to give a timetable for Trump’s possible release from the hospital, and later had to issue a statement saying he misspoke after appearing to suggest Trump had been diagnosed as early as Wednesday.In a statement on Saturday evening, Conley said the president was “not yet out of the woods” but his team remained cautiously optimistic.”Today’s spectacle – doctors saying one thing, White House sources saying another thing, and both later amending their statements – only reinforces the credibility problems of this administration,” said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.The diagnosis was the latest setback for the Republican president, who is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.With Trump in the hospital, his campaign announced “Operation MAGA,” based on his slogan “Make America Great Again,” which will see high-profile allies including Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s elder sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, take over in-person campaigning starting next week.Topics : President Donald Trump said from his hospital room on Saturday that he felt “much better” but the next few days will be “the real test” of his treatment for COVID-19, capping a day of contradictory messages from the White House about his condition.In a four-minute video posted on Twitter, Trump, looking tired and wearing a jacket and open-necked shirt, said he “wasn’t feeling so well” when he first arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday.”Over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days,” Trump said, seated at a round table in front of an American flag.last_img read more