Archive for May, 2010

Getting to Leningrad’s VE Day Celebrations in a New-Old Style

May 9, 2010

I can’t see Citybus adopting this as its next design.

And today, like every day, it is worth recalling the sacrifices of all those who gave their lives and their efforts in the struggle to defeat the Nazis.

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NI Election Results

May 8, 2010

I’ve just put up a (too) long piece on the election results in NI over at Cedar Lounge Revolution.

V and the Untouchables

May 5, 2010

Shame I don't know how to photoshop Costner into a giant lizard. Might suit him.

The Untouchables is a superb movie, featuring a deservedly Oscar-winning performance from Sean Connery, though it is probably not Connery’s best work. Perhaps Connery’s most-quoted line after those from James Bond is from The Untouchables, where he talks about the Chicago way.

But there was another line from that film that often gets quoted, when Connery confronts a knife-wielder intruder with a sawn-off shotgun, mocking him for bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The Untouchables included Brian De Palma’s hommage to one of the greatest scenes in cinema history, from Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. A mother is shot by troops massacring demonstrators on the Odessa Steps, and her baby’s carriage careers out of control down the steps amidst the violence.

De Palma’s scene referencing Eisenstein can also be seen below, albeit dubbed into a foreign language.

What, then, has all this got to do with the new version of V? Tonight’s episode included several references to The Untouchables; the first was Erica telling the other members of her fledgling resistance group that Anna is fighting dirty, and that if they want to win this war they can’t bring knives to a gunfight. And the second was Erica telling Jack, the priest, that having recruited Hollis, of whom more shortly, she had done a deal with the devil, and broken every oath that she had sworn to protect, referencing the following words of Costner’s Elliott Ness as he pressurises a judge during Capone’s trial.

I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold, I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right!

If you’re going to steal reference, steal from pay hommage to the best.

My favourite character when I first saw V: The Final Battle was Ham Tyler, played by Michael Ironside. I now realise that Ham’s politics, as reflected in his activities in Vietnam and Latin America, make him well dodgy. Despite that, he’s still my favourite character. Not only was he charismatic, mysterious, tough and capable, he also had an ongoing feud with Donovan, reflecting Donovan’s time as a cameraman in Latin America recording the effects of Ham’s work with the forces of reaction. And Donovan was a bit of a wuss, and his son annoys me. Ham was definitely the man you’d rather have along side you if your planet was invaded by alien lizards in disguise, and you wanted to get a little payback. And so to Hollis. Hollis is clearly the new Ham Tyler. And much needed he is too. I just hope that the current character – an ex-SAS (Australian SAS from the sound of his accent) member turned mercenary – retains some of the edginess that Ironside portrayed so well as Tyler. Added to which, I have to say that I have found the other members so far to be somewhat wet, and a bit of remorseless violence from the resistence would go down a treat. Speaking of which, Scyfy or whatever they are calling themselves now, should be ashamed of themselves for the blatant cuts in the fight scene that opened this episode.

Overall, V is bubbling along nicely. The scale of the alien conspiracy is being slowly revealed, the resistance is growing, there is an inter-species pregnancy that has been well handled so far, and Anna just got very nasty (in several senses, although one of those may have been cut too). Added to that, they are referencing a classic gangster movie, and calling to mind two of the three best baldy hard men actors of all time (Bruce Willis of course being also in the top three) in the same episode. Excellent. Shame they couldn’t shoehorn Lee Marvin, the hardest of hard men actors, in as well. My previous V post ended with the music from the original. I’m going to top that with the opening and closing music from The Untouchables for this one.

Iraqi CP May Day Message

May 1, 2010

May Day Greetings to the Workers of Iraq

and the World

Every year, for more than a century, workers in various parts of the world, of all races, nationalities and affiliations, have celebrated the 1st of May as an internationalist occasion for work and struggle, and a symbol of liberation from the yoke of exploitation and oppression and all forms of economic, political and social slavery that violate the most basic human rights of equality and justice.

The workers and toilers of the world have continued to look at May Day as an occasion for renewed determination to continue the glorious internationalist march for more political and economic gains and successes, and social guarantees for the poor, toilers and working people, leading to socialism. The glow of the 1st of May is associated with great mass events and celebrations, giving impetus to many political, economic, social and national battles and victories.

Iraqi workers and toilers are celebrating May Day this year, along with other progressive forces of our people, with mounting feelings of resentment and concern for the general situation in the country in the aftermath of recent elections. The dominant political forces and blocs have dashed their hopes once again. Instead of speeding up the formation of a broad coalition government that adopts a national democratic programme, rejecting sectarian quotas and monopoly of political power, ensuring security and stability, reviving national economy and providing services, as these blocs had promised during their election campaigns, they began to fight amongst themselves over sharing political power, driven by narrow political, partisan and sectarian ambitions and interests that have nothing to do with the people’s basic concerns.

The working masses have the right to ask bitterly what have the ongoing political deliberations and meetings, taking place between the winning blocs, got to do with their own legitimate demands for improving the difficult living conditions, raising wages, and the enactment of a new labour law that guarantees the freedom and independence of trade union work, and the freedom of legitimate trade union activity in state sector institutions similar to private sector institutions? While the country is enduring the consequences of the tedious process of setting up a new government, the masses of Iraqi men and women who braved terrorism and dangers when they went to the polls, want the top priority to be addressing the concerns of millions of the unemployed, mostly young people, the 7 million citizens who are living below the poverty line, the 5 million orphans and the hundreds of thousands of widows. They are also demanding that the dominant blocs disclose their plans for operating the idle factories and establishing new ones, legislating a new labour law and a comprehensive social security law, and dealing firmly with all forms of financial and administrative corruption.

The Iraqi Communist Party, while congratulating the working class on its international day, expresses its full solidarity with its demands and its General Federation of Iraqi Workers, especially its legitimate demands for the abolition of Law No. 150 (1987), that converted public sector workers to government employees, and for annulling Decree No. 8750 (2005), that froze the funds of trade unions and professional associations, and thus paralyzed their work and activity. Furthermore, the Party reiterates its strong backing and support for the national campaign recently launched by the General Federation of Iraqi Workers to legislate a new labour law.

In the present critical conditions, the Iraqi Communist Party shares with the masses of people their concern about the intensifying conflict among the dominant political forces that is taking place in an atmosphere of internal divisions and external interference, with possible grave consequences. The party calls upon all political forces to put the interests of the country above any other consideration and before any other interests. Reciprocated concessions should be made to speed up the formation of a national unity government, away from the sectarian and ethnic quota system, in order to end the anxious and confused situation that prevails in the country.

The First of May will remain a guiding beacon along the path to building a promising future for mankind.

Greetings to our workers and their heroic struggles on their International Day

The Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party

28 April 2010

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Iraqi CP Website: http://www.iraqicp.com/