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Academy Award® Nominated: In the Loop

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, and BuellBoy


In the film, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are looking to launch a war in the Middle East. The plot follows government officials and advisers in their behind-the-scenes efforts either to promote the war or prevent it.

In America and the United Kingdom, each official, with his/her entourage of staff, some of whom do not agree with their political master, will do whatever he or she needs to achieve the desired end goal. This includes having fake meetings, fake committees, spinning information, leaking information and documents, and doctoring documents. These actions are most important in the lead up to the UN vote on the issue.

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The cast includes: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Higgins, Mimi Kennedy, and Alex Macqueen

Reviews

IMDB member
“Political comedy is a hard stunt to pull off. Ever since 1964, it seemed like nothing could top Dr. Strangelove. A lot of movies have tried and a lot have failed, although there were the lucky few that passed the bar (Election, Thank You for Smoking) but the brilliant thing about In The Loop is that it’s so stupidly funny that it’s one of the best comedies of the 21st Century! Armando Iannucci, most known for his The Thick of It series in the UK, directs a movie with the a the familiar theme of The Office. That documentary-style of film-making can be hit-or-miss (most recently, Public Enemies, a miss) and Iannucci hits it right on. Every scene he graces with a camera comes out picture perfect; nobody could’ve pegged this movie any better. Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Tony Roche and Simon Blackwell’s script is something out of picture show heaven and sounds like it must’ve taken forever to finish, edit, revise, etc. Although these guys, these geniuses, apparently know what they’re doing and don’t care what anybody else says. That is the heart and soul of movie-making, readers. In The Loop is about a corrupt British government that accidentally gets the country thrown into the middle of a war. Loop stars Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison and there’s even a whimsical cameo by Steve Coogan. Capaldi is the absolute best at what he did, spewing swears as coarse as they are a riot (“f*ck you, you lubricated horse c*ck!”) and freaking out. I can’t even put into words just how funny this guy was; he made the movie! But don’t forget Addison as Toby. Addison is the British Napoleon Dynamite, that incredibly awkward guy that makes even the audience members turn red. James Gandolfini and Gina McKee round out the rest of the cast greatly, filling In The Loop with the type of sexual tension that you don’t want to think about. It’s like when a sex scene pops up on a DVD you’re watching with your parents. Yeah, that bad.In The Loop is one of the most laugh out loud comedies I’ve seen in the past decade, that sadly nobody will get a chance to watch. In a world of Transformers and G.I Joe, In The Loop will sadly be ignored. But on an optimistic note, we may have found this summer’s sleeper, America.”

Did You Know?

Many scenes set at 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister of the United Kingdoms’s office) were actually filmed at the real 10 Downing Street. The production gained access to the location largely because the staff were extremely excited to meet the actors who were playing their fictional counterparts.

Director Armando Iannucci provides the voice over for when the UN resolution passes.

The shooting script after thirty days of filming was 237 pages long. The first cut of the film was 4.5 hours long. The final edit took four months to complete.

One Nomination

Best in Adapted Screenplay

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First Lady Michelle Obama Meets With 11 Black History Month Essay Winners from England

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students from London February 18, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Students from schools in the borough of Islington were rewarded with a trip to the United States sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in London. In April 2009, Mrs. Obama visited the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama has given a pep talk to visiting students from England, saying they have shown they aren’t afraid of hard work that will take them somewhere in life.

Mrs. Obama met with the group of 11 students at the White House on Thursday. They are from schools across the London borough of Islington and were rewarded with the trip to the U.S. for winning a Black History Month essay competition.

She urged them to make the most of this time. She called it “practice for the rest of your life.”

First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Sahar Abdulrahman as she greets students

One girl is a student at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. Mrs. Obama spoke at the school during a visit to London last.

From the pool report: First Lady Michelle Obama hosted 11 school students – six girls, five boys – from schools across the London borough of Islington, in the Old Family Dining Room on Thursday morning.

The kids won an Islington Black History Month essay competition and were rewarded with the trip, sponsored by the US Embassy in London.

They sat around an oval-shaped wooden table, decorated with two glass bowls of shiny apples), nervously waiting for Flotus to arrive. Four teachers/adults sat on the side and one asked your pool to desist from asking questions, saying the kids were very excited and wanted to compose themselves.

Flotus entered at 11:03 and said “Hi everybody!” Then proceeded to go around the table and hug all the kids. How are you all doing? “Tell me about your trip. When did you get here?” she asked as she sat at the table.

She welcomed the kids and told them about the room they were in, saying the president hosted the king of Spain here the previous day. Oohs and aahs.

Flotus visited the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington in April 2009. One of the girls visiting today – Nanah Davies – is from that school and Flotus patted her on the back as she described that that visit was one of the highlights of her first year.

We’re living in a wonderful time where if you work hard… The opportunities are endless. That was true for me. Never did I realize that everything I did before would prepare me for being First Lady, but it did,” she said, stressing the importance of working hard at school.

Said that you don’t just wake up and be someone, says you have to work to become someone. Said her husband didn’t just wake up one day as president.

You’re going to trip and fall and slip along the way – he (the president) certainly did, I slipped a little less – don’t be afraid to be wrong, to get a few things wrong, but you’re learning, it’s all practice.”

Flotus encouraged them all to help other people, act as mentors.

Curtly Meijas talked about his essay, about his grandmother who emigrated from Trinidad to the UK.

The students were going on a tour of the White House afterwards.

The students attending were:

  • Abdul Hakim Abdullahi
  • Malcolm Atrobah
  • Degol Tesfai
  • Curtly Mejias
  • Care Ceven
  • Shenece Liburd
  • Ann Kirabo
  • Layla Mohamud
  • Sahar Adbulrahman
  • Nanah Colly Davies
  • Boji Alexandre Weirsangera

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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British Boy, Charlie Simpson Age 7, Raises $240,000 for Haiti Relief

Posted by: BuellBoy

Charlie Simpson

Simpson's efforts have been described as 'bold' and 'innovative' by Unicef's UK executive director.

He’s no Wyclef Jean or George Clooney, but that hasn’t stopped seven-year-old Charlie Simpson from raising more than $240,000 (£150,000) for the Haiti earthquake. Simpson from Fulham, west London had hoped to raise just £500 for UNICEF’s earthquake appeal by cycling eight kilometers (five miles)around a local park.

Charlie Simpson

Charlie Simpson

My name is Charlie Simpson. I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives,” said Simpson on his JustGiving page, a fundraising site which launched his efforts.

I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti,” he said.

Donate to Charlie Simpson’s Haiti fundraising page

And with that simple call, messages of support flooded the site.

Charlie's helpful little sister

Charlie's helpful little sister

Such a big heart for a young boy, you’re a little star!” wrote one supporter. “Well done Charlie. A real celebrity,” said another. More donations began pouring in after the story caught the attention of the British media — with many cheering Simpson past the £100,000 mark.

Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is spreading the message. His “Downing Street” Twitter alias said: “Amazed by response to the great fundraising efforts of 7 yr old Charlie Simpson for the people of Haiti.”

David Bull, UNICEF’s UK executive director described Simpson’s efforts as “very bold and innovative.” “It shows he connects with and not only understands what children his own age must be going through in Haiti,” Bull said in a press statement.

The Simpson family

The Simpson family

The little seed — his idea — that he has planted has grown rapidly and his is a place well deserved in the humanitarian world. On behalf of the many children in Haiti, I thank Charlie for his effort.”

Money raised by Simpson will go towards UNICEF’s Haiti Earthquake Children’s Appeal which will provide water, sanitation, education, nutrition as well as support child protection.

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Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

Blogged by: BarbaraOBrien1

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.

For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.

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A Tribute to Haitian Soldiers for Heroism in the American Revolution

Posted by: Audiegrl

Dedicated to the people of Haiti both in the US and abroad, please except our profound thanks, and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you…

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

After 228 years as largely unsung contributors to American independence, Haitian soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War’s bloody siege of Savannah had a monument dedicated in their honor. On October 9, 1779, a force of more than 500 Haitian gens de couleur libre (free men of color) joined American colonists and French troops in an unsuccessful push to drive the British from Savannah in coastal Georgia.

Chairman Daniel Fils-Aime

“We were here in 1779 to help America win independence. “ said Daniel Fils-Aime, chairman of the Miami-based Haitian American Historical Society. “That recognition is overdue.” “To see a monument in downtown Savannah and the commemoration of the involvement of the Haitian Americans, it’s a dream come true.” said Savannah Mayor Floyd Adams Jr. “This will help educate Americans but also Haitian youth about the significant contribution their ancestors made.” “The role of Haitian soldiers in the battle had long been ignored“, said North Miami Mayor Josaphat Celestin. “It means recognition for our efforts, that we were here all along, that Haiti was a part of the effort to liberate America and that they came here as free men, not as slaves,” Celestin said. “We hope this country will recognize this.”

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“It’s a huge deal,” said Philippe Armand, vice president of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America, who flew to Savannah from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. “All the Haitians who have gone to school know about it from the history books.”

Though not well known in the U.S., Haiti’s role in the American Revolution is a point of national pride for Haitians.

After returning home from the war, Haitian veterans soon led their own rebellion that won Haiti’s independence from France in 1804.


The Siege of Savannah

Click to enlarge

The Siege of Savannah on October 9th, 1779 presents the Revolutionary War as a world conflict more than does any other engagement of the Revolution. The memory of this battle also reminds us of the fact that significant foreign resources of men, money, and material contributed to the eventual success of the cause of American independence. French, Polish, Native Americans, African slaves, free men of African descent, Germans, Hessians, Austrians, Scots, Welsh, Irish, English, Swedish, and American and West Indian colonials also participated as individuals or whole units in this most culturally diverse battle of the war. For six weeks this diverse force was assembled in three armies to contend for the possession of Savannah. This battle resulted in the largest number of casualties the allies suffered in a single engagement.

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The presence of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue as the largest unit of soldiers of African descent to fight in this war is worthy of commemoration. The fact that their number was made up of free men who volunteered for this expedition is startling to most people and surprising to many historians. Their presence reminds us that men of African heritage were to be found on most battlefields of the Revolution in large numbers. As a new and relatively inexperienced unit, the Chasseurs participated in the siege warfare including the battle of September 24th and the siege of October 9th.

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The Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint-Domingue served as a reserve unit to American and French forces fighting a British contingent. As battered American and French soldiers fell back, the Haitian troops moved in to provide a retreat.

Twenty-five of their number has their names recorded as wounded or killed during the campaign. Over 60 were captured in the fall of Charleston eight months later. The British Navy captured three transports carrying Chasseurs; these soldiers were made prizes of war and sold into slavery. Other members of this unit were kept on duty away from their homes for many months as part of French garrison forces. A subsequent unit of Haitians was a part of the French and Spanish campaign against Pensacola where they faced some of the same regiments of British troops that their comrades faced in Savannah.

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The efforts of Haiti to secure its independence from colonial rule beginning in 1791 are remarkable for the fact that what began as a slave revolt was to ultimately succeed in prevailing over the resources of the French Empire and to form a government of Western Hemisphere Africans. Haiti, much smaller in population than the United States, was attacked by armies as large as those sent against America by Britain. The Haitian victory over the legions of Napoleon was achieved with much less foreign assistance than the United States enjoyed.

Henri Christophe

Henri Christophe, Click to enlarge

Many key figures in the Haitian War of Independence gained military experience and political insights through their participation in Savannah — most notably Henri Christophe, a youth at the time but in his adult years a general of Haitian armies and king of his nation for fourteen years. Many of the Haitian soldiers later fought to win their country’s own war of independence, crediting their military experience in Savannah. Influenced by both the events of the American Revolution and the rhetoric of the French Revolution, the people of Haiti began a struggle for self-government and liberty. The first nation in the Western Hemisphere to form a government led by people of African descent, it was also the first nation to renounce slavery.

Sources: Haitian American Historical Society, We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, Wikipedia, and the Associated Press.


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BBC Airing Guantánamo Guard/Detainee Reunion

Posted by: Audiegrl

“He would say, ‘you ever listen to Eminem or Dr Dre’ and… I thought how could it be somebody is here who’s doing the same stuff that I do when I’m back home”~~Former Guard Brandon Neely

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives – two British men – and agree to fly to London to meet them?

BBC News/Gavin Lee~~”You look different without a cap.”

You look different without the jump suits.”

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.

He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.

Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected “terrorists“. But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has “damaged [America’s] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda“.

Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.

The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place,” he says, “like ‘they [prisoners] were treated so great’. No it wasn’t. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages.”

The prisoners arriving on planes, in goggles and jump suits, from Afghanistan were termed by then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as the “worst of the worst“. But after getting to know some of the English-speaking detainees, Mr Neely started to have doubts all of them were fanatical terrorists.

Mr Neely was 22 when he worked at the camp and left after six months to serve in Iraq. But after quitting the military his doubts about Guantanamo began to crystallize. This led to a spontaneous decision last year to reach out to his former prisoners on Facebook.

Released in 2004, after being held for two years, Mr Rasul and Mr Ahmed and another friend from Tipton had been captured in Afghanistan on suspicion of links to the Taliban. The three said they were beaten by US troops although this was disputed by the US government at the time.

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But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?

They explain that, being in their late teens and early twenties at the time, they had made a naive, spontaneous decision to travel for free with an aid convoy weeks before a friend’s wedding, due to take place in Pakistan.

Mr Ahmed admits they had a secret agenda for entering Afghanistan, but it wasn’t to join al-Qaeda.

Aid work was like probably 5% of it. Our main reason was just to go and sightsee really and smoke some dope“.

Does their former prison guard believe them? Yes, says Mr Neely, who says he thinks it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time“.

Both sides are beginning to bond, yet towards the end, Mr Neely has a confession of his own. It threatens to destroy the mood of reconciliation.

He is deeply ashamed of an incident in which he “slammed” an elderly prisoner’s head against the floor.

Mr Neely recalls that he thought he had been under attack because the man kept trying to rise to his feet. But weeks later he discovered the prisoner thought he was being placed on his knees to be executed and believed he was fighting for his life.

Mr Ahmed is speechless, then evidently conflicted as he wrestles in his mind with whether or not he can forgive. Eventually, he says he can.

But should Mr Neely be prosecuted for his actions? Mr Ahmed pauses again.

He’s realized what he did was wrong and he’s living with it and suffering with it and as long as that he knows what he did was wrong. That’s the main thing.”

Afterwards, each say they had genuinely found some sort of closure from meeting. The sense of relief in all their faces speaks volumes, and they leave the meeting closer to one another.

Their story will be featured on the documentary Guantanamo Reunited on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday 14 January at 2200 BST.

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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas as we know it was born in the Victorian era, and Charles Dickens is often credited with contributing to its creation. From 1649-1660, England had been governed as a Commonwealth, led by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, who believed that Christmas and several other holidays had come from ancient pagan ceremonies. They tried to cleanse the church and the nation of what they thought were lingering pagan traditions, and in 1644 they actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas in England. In 1660 the Puritans were overthrown, the monarchy was restored with Charles II as king, and a diminished version of the Christmas holiday returned. Great feasting and drinking was done in the name of Christmas in the 18th century, but the nation had lost its spiritual and emotional investment in the season.

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

In the 1840s, Dickens produced a series of extremely popular Christmas tales for the purpose of regenerating the true spirit of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens’s Christmas Books, is Dickens’s most beloved and widely acclaimed fictional piece, cherished for its simple expression of what relations between human beings should be, at Christmas time and throughout the year. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens gives Scrooge’s nephew these words, which sum up the Christmas spirit this enduring tale has preserved for generations past and generations to come:

I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow-passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

“Santa Claus”  1895 Library of Congress

“Santa Claus” 1895 Library of Congress

The English Christmas transformed in the mid-1800s, partly as a result of the traditions described in A Christmas Carol. The pre-Victorian-era Christmas was gradually reshaped to reflect the Victorian era’s religious revival and its growing humanitarianism and romanticism. The presence of the Industrial Revolution was felt in a newly-created, large and visible lower class unable to celebrate Christmas with the same luxurious abandon as their wealthier neighbors. The Victorians’ “New Christmas” stressed “the traditional values of neighborliness, charity, and good will” and emphasized the obligation of the rich to the poor.

The New Christmas met with some resistance, however, mostly from Puritans, Quakers and others who disapproved of the mingling of liquor and merriment with a sacred holiday, and who were disturbed by some of the tradition’s origins in pagan ritual. Writing in 1871, G.K. Chesterton provides an insight into the mid-19th century mindset with his claim that:

…in fighting for Christmas [Dickens] was fighting for the old European festival, Pagan and Christian, for that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, for the holy day which is really a holiday.

In spite of its detractors, the New Christmas gradually took hold, and the Victorians established many of the customs that are at the center of today’s traditional Christmas celebration. In 1840, when Prince Albert celebrated the holiday at Windsor Castle by presenting his family with the “German” Christmas tree, all of England followed suit. The festival began to focus predominantly on the family, particularly on children. The first Christmas cards appeared in 1843, the year that A Christmas Carol was published. The originally pagan ritual of caroling was revived, gift giving grew in importance, and the traditional Christmas dinner began to take shape.

Christmas Customs in Victorian England

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

Charity: Christmas was a time to remember the less fortunate, and a host of charitable causes stepped up their appeals during the holiday season. Well-to-do individuals often visited poorhouses and other charitable institutions on Christmas Day, when a holiday dinner was served to the residents.

Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, was traditionally the day when servants and tradesmen were paid for services rendered during the year: money was deposited in the Christmas box.

Tree: Christmas trees became popular after an illustration of Victoria, Albert, and their children decorating a Christmas tree was published in The Illustrated London News in 1848. Victorian Christmas trees were elaborately decorated with trinkets such as tin soldiers, dolls, whistles, candies, fruit, nuts, and candles. Many decorations were homemade, and children often helped make garlands and paper decorations.

Beverages:Here we go a-wassailing,” begins a familiar carol. No Victorian Christmas was complete without a Wassail Bowl, a strong mulled punch made of sweetened and spiced ale or wine and garnished with roasted crab apples. Drinking the wassail from the same cup was the fashion.

A Christmas Carol title page

A Christmas Carol title page

Dance: In A Christmas Carol, partygoers at the Fezziwigs’ indulge in spirited dancing, akin to modern day square dancing. Another traditional dance was the Pavon or Pavane, named after the peacock because the movements of the gentlemen in their mantles and the ladies in their long gowns resembled a peacock’s sweeping steps.

Decorations: Then as now, halls were decked with holly, ivy, red berries, and of course, mistletoe. Young sweethearts kissed under the mistletoe and plucked a berry for each kiss.

Spectacles: The annual holiday excursion for families in the Victorian era was to a Christmas pantomime, a fairy tale or other traditional story adapted for the stage with music, spectacle and stock characters.

Christmas revels at prominent noblemen’s dwellings might include masques: short allegorical dramas performed by ladies and gentlemen in elaborate costumes, masks and headdresses, often ending in a formal dance.

Charles Dickens Biography

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in Potsmouth in 1812. When he was 10, his family moved to London. They were very poor and his father was even arrested (when Charles was 12) because of their debts. Charles had to start working – at first in the factory and later in solicitor´s office.

He was always very keen reader and later he also started to write. His first work was published in 1833. He got married in 1836 and in the same year he started working on Pickwick Papers – he finished it a year later. The book was extremely successful and he became well-known. Within seven years he wrote next five novels and created unforgettable characters (as Scrooge from A Christmas Carol). Dickens very often referred to the situation of poor and wanted to improve their social condition. He wrote books as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol and was considered to be one of the most famous writers of the 19th century. He was very energetic and remarkable. He had ten children, published his own magazines, traveled a lot and also acted. When he died in 1870, he was working on his 15th novel.

A Christmas Carol Illustrations

John Leech provided eight illustrations, four woodcuts and four hand colored etchings, for A Christmas Carol published in December 1843.


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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I

A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I


Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

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Christmas Truce on WWI Battlefield Inspires Theater Show 94 Years Later

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

A 2008 national theater production, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” was based on that historic moment, when an extraordinary night of camaraderie brought the spirit of the holidays even into the darkest of places. Written by Peter Rothstein, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, the presentation features a cast of actors and vocalists who use letters, journals, official war documents, gravestone inscriptions and songs associated with the spontaneous truce to re-create a remarkable sequence of wartime events.

Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in ‘No Man’s Land’,” said Rothstein, who traveled to museums and libraries in Belgium and London as part of a two- year effort to collect first-hand accounts of the truce. “They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum and chocolates, even photographs of loved ones. They sang songs, played a game of soccer and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.”

That tale, which remains as poignant today as 94 years ago, was re-told on Christmas Day, when “All is Calm” was broadcast to more than 400 public radio stations in the United States as well as on the BBC in Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand. The production featured members of the Minneapolis-based Cantus vocal ensemble and the Theater Latte Da acting troupe.

That these soldiers chose to honor the spirit of Christmas in the midst of chaos is a fitting reason to revisit their actions, Rothstein said, especially as conflicts continue to be waged across the globe.

It is a story that should be heard, especially today,” he said. “A month before the Christmas Truce of 1914, Winston Churchill (who would go on to serve as British Prime Minister during World War II) stated, ‘What would happen, I wonder, if the armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike, and said some other method must be found of settling this dispute?’ I hope people leave the theater moved, enlightened and pondering Churchill’s prophetic statement.”

Joyeux Noël (2005)

In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man’s Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood….

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Soldiers On Acid: 1963 British VIDEO Shows Troops Under The Influence Of LSD

This is a must watch. Environmental Graffiti has a post up on the decades of experiments western armies undertook in an attempt to develop chemical warfare to render their enemies incapacitated: In short, armies gave their own soldiers LSD, and other psychedelic drugs, and studied the effects. The Nazis did it first, then Britain, and the U.S. and other countries followed suit.

The video below is from 1963 and shows British soldiers under the influence of LSD.

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BBC Besieged by Anti-Fascist Protesters Over Whites-Only Party Guest

UK Far-Right Leader in Controversial TV Appearance

BNP party leader Nick Griffin, pelted with eggs

BNP party leader Nick Griffin, pelted with eggs

AP—The leader of Britain’s far-right party outlined his vision in a controversial television debut that critics fear could help his whites-only party ease into the political mainstream.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin feuded with fellow panelists and was excoriated by hostile audience members in a tense appearance on the BBC’s “Question Time” program Thursday night.

It was hard-going,” he told The Associated Press in telephone interview after the show, describing the program as “a bit like a boxing match. I took some punches but I was able to land some punches too.” Still, he complained that the audience had been stacked with minorities.

They put us on in London where the indigenous population is in the minority so we don’t have much sympathy or support,” he said.

'Question Time' host David Dimbleby

'Question Time' host David Dimbleby

Question Time gathers Britain’s leading politicians, journalists and other public figures in a panel to take questions from a studio audience. The three-decade-old program has become something of a national institution, and many have condemned Griffin’s invitation as awarding his far-right group an undeserved aura of political respectability.

The BBC said that, as a publicly funded broadcaster, it must cover all political parties that have a national presence. The BNP has no seats in the Britain’s Parliament, but earlier this year the party won two seats in the European legislature.

The program showed Griffin defending himself against accusations that he sympathized with the ideals of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party – but also showed him ducking the question of whether he ever denied the Holocaust.

I do not have a conviction for Holocaust denial,” he said, smiling faintly as the studio audience snickered. He later said he had changed his mind about the Holocaust, but then refused to explain exactly how.

Fellow panelist Chris Huhne, a lawmaker with Britain’s Liberal Democrats party, spoke for many of the show’s guests when he predicted that Griffin’s credibility “is going to be seriously damaged by his performance.”

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More @ Associated Press

Protesters Besiege BBC Studios Over Far-Rightist TV Appearance

APTOPIX BRITAIN FAR RIGHTReuters—Hundreds of angry demonstrators besieged the BBC’s television studios on Thursday to protest against a planned appearance by the leader of the far-right British National Party on a flagship political program.

A small number of protesters burst into the television center in West London, dodging a heavy security cordon, but were escorted out, a BBC spokeswoman said.

Some 400 demonstrators, brandishing placards reading “Stop the Fascist BNP” and shouting “Smash the BNP” protested outside.

BNP leader Nick Griffin has been invited to appear as a panelist on the BBC’s Question Time debate show due to be recorded at the center later on Thursday.

The first appearance by a far-right politician on a program regularly watched by three million people has aroused strong reactions, with anti-racism groups arguing the BNP should not be given a platform and others backing it on free speech grounds.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Mark Thompson, director-general of the publicly funded BBC, defended the decision, saying it was based purely on support for the BNP at the ballot box in recent elections and that it was up to politicians to bar parties.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the choice of panelists was a matter for the BBC but added that he thought Griffin’s appearance would backfire on the right-wing party.

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