Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

I wish you a most wonderful 2017, a happy year, a year of wise and intelligent decisions, a year in which populism has no impact on society (or a least less than in 2016), a year of progress in awareness concerning racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, islamophobia, and other -isms and phobias, a year in which we can clean up our 2016 footprints. I wish you a year of diversity and inclusion.

Here the original advertisement from 1968:

image via

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Bacon & God's Wrath

Sol Friedman's beautiful, wonderful, fantastic documentary "Bacon & God's Wrath" is about Razie Brownstone, an impressive Jewish woman who is about to turn ninety, who had a strict religious upbringing, who became an atheist (she prefers the term non-believer) after discovering the internet two years ago and who is going to eat bacon for the very first time. Award-winning animator and filmmaker Friedman has blended live-action and animation techniques in his short documentary (via and via).

"Faith. In some ways it is like believing in ghosts or Santa or the tooth fairy." Razie
And when did you come to learn that?
"Well, I wished that my story was a bit more interesting. Like if I had questioned God about suffering a tragic loss or wrestled after accepting my son being gay. But my adult life hasn't been that interesting. It was simple and nice (...). And then two years ago I started using the internet." Razie
So, Razie, how was it (eating bacon)?
"Seemed perfectly OK. I was not stricken down by a heavy arm of the Lord. I seem to have survived fine. And I didn't throw up." Razie
Here the 8-minute documentary:

image via

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Thought for the Day

On 22nd of December, Prince Charles spoke on BBC Radio 4's religious "Thought for the Day" slot; it was the third time he was invited to speak as part of the BBC Radio 4's religious programming (via). In his wonderful speech, the Prince of Wales speaks of populism and religious oppression and calls for tolerance.
Happy Holidays, schöne Feiertage, buone feste!

"In London recently I met a Jesuit priest from Syria. He gave me a graphic account of what life is like for those Christians he was forced to leave behind. He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq and how he feared that Christians will be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible. He thought it quite possible there will be no Christians in Iraq within five years. Clearly, for such people, religious freedom is a daily, stark choice between life and death.

The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.

We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.

All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s. I was born in 1948 – just after the end of World War II in which my parents' generation had fought, and died, in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. That, nearly seventy years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.

Normally, at Christmas, we think of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder, though, if this year we might remember how the story of the Nativity unfolds – with the fleeing of the Holy Family to escape violent persecution. And we might also remember that when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he, too, was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.

Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same - to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God. That’s what I saw when attending the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London recently. Here were a people persecuted for their religion in their own country, but finding refuge in another land and freedom to practise their faith according to their conscience.

It is an example to inspire us all this Christmastime."

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text via, photograph via

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Die Ärzte (4): Schrei nach Liebe (1993)

The song "Scream for Love" is "one of the best known political anthems and anti-fascist songs in Germany". It tells the story (with a lovely happy end) of a fictional right-wing extremist/skinhead who gets insulted during the song. The chorus, in fact, ends with "arsehole" - which may have a catharsis effect but was the very reason why radio stations at first were reluctant to play the song. The music company was afraid the single would be hard to marketing. Nevertheless, the song became the first top ten hit for Die Ärzte in Germay (via). That was in 1993 and it does not stop here.

After more than two decades, "Schrei nach Liebe" became a number one chart song again in 2015. A school teacher started the campaign "Aktion Arschloch" and encouraged people to buy the song "Schrei nach Liebe" online or tell radio stations to play it in order to make a statement against xenophobia in these times of refugee and humanitarian crises. The band "Die Ärzte" stated on their official website that they supported the message and that they would donate all proceeds to "Pro Asyl". Download portals such as Amazon and Universal Publishing donated all proceeds, too (via and via). There are several cover versions, among them one sung by 21 senior citizens (LISTEN/WATCH).

„Wir wünschen allen Nazis und ihren Sympathisanten schlechte Unterhaltung.“
Die Ärzte

Here the official video from 1993:

You are really dumb,
which is why you're doing so well.
Hate is your attitude,
your blood boils constantly.
Everything needs to be explained to you
because you really don't know anything,
most likely not even what attitude means!

Your violence is only a silent cry for love,
your combat boots long for tenderness,
you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your parents never had time for you ... ohhh... asshole!

Why do you have fear of caressing, what's the meaning of all this nonsense?
under the laurel wreath with acorns, I know your heart beats,
and romanticism is only grey theory for you,
between Störkraft and den Onkelz (explanation: nazi bands) is a Kuschelrock LP! (explanation: cuddle rock, a soft rock compilation franchise)

Your violence is only a silent cry for love,
your combat boots long for tenderness,
you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your parents never had time for you ... ohhh... asshole!

Because you have problems that interest nobody,
because you have fear of intimacy you are a fascist.
You don't have to project your self-hate on others,
so nobody notices what a lovely man you are ... ohhh...

Your violence is only a silent cry for love,
your combat boots long for tenderness,
you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your girlfriend never has time for you ... ohhh.
Asshole, asshole, asshole!

(translation via)

Live in 2012:

And here another version:

In 2000, Die Ärzte released the song "A Summer Just For Me" in which they asked the question whether the sun also shone for nazis.

Does the sun also shine for Nazis? If so, I would cry.
Are fascists also allowed to travel? That seems unfair.
Do racists also get to see part of the blue sky?
Does the sun also shine for Nazis?
If it's up to me, it doesn't:

(complete lyrics in English: LINK)

::: "Ein Sommer nur für mich" (live): LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph via

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Die Ärzte (3): Manchmal haben Frauen (2000)

The song "is about a man who meets a drunken man in a bar who tells him something that's unbelievable for him - sometimes women like a little spanking. The man rushes home and asks his girlfriend about this. The woman starts to ..." (via) - no spoiler, just watch the clip.

"Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit
Always, yeah, really always
Guys like you deserve to have your asses kicked"

It was in a bar, he talked to me
He was drunk and smelled like sweat
He said:
Boy, listen to me
There are a few things that I know better
Emancipation is the just reward
For the pussy-whipped wussies of this world

But you can trust in me
Between men and women
There is a difference on an enormous scale
And what I then heard totally outraged me
Repeating it about took it out of me
He said:

Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit
Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit

I told him - leave me alone
I will listen no more
You stinking drunk macho freak
He didn’t want to hear that
He started to drag me away
Shortly thereafter, I caught one from him
He yelled - don’t act as if you’re blind,
You aren’t a child

I’ll flatten you
And then you’ll know
But instead of smacking me,
He started to whine

Then suddenly I felt bad for that guy
He started to beg
I should finally understand
His bad breath really made me queasy

He said:
Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit
Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit

I pushed him away and I ran right home
I had to tell that to my girlfriend
I didn’t leave anything out, it came gushing out
The uncertainty started to torture me
That never happened to me before, I was traumatized
And I was a little bit curious, too
She smiled and then raised her knee
And, as hard as she could, rammed it into my stomach
As I gasped for breath and I heard her voice
Blowing an ice-cold breeze

She said:

Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit
Sometimes, but just sometimes
Women like to be slapped around a bit
Always, yeah, really always
Guys like you deserve to have your asses kicked
Always, yeah, really always
Guys like you deserve to have your asses kicked

translation via

"Wir sind nicht so unpolitisch wie die Leute es gerne hätten (...)."
Farin Urlaub

photographs by Nela König via and via and via

Monday, 19 December 2016

Die Ärzte (2): Waldspaziergang mit Folgen (2012)

"A Walk in the Woods with Consequences" is about a piece of wood that turns into God and is put on a shelf. Having God on the shelf is seen as nothing extraordinary as religious symbols are often part of, for instance, living rooms. According to sociologist Oliver Susami, their main purpose is to have a message, to tell guests and visitors who you are (via). The song is an appeal to turn religiosity into a private matter (via).

I was going for a walk in the woods, I just had to get out
there I spotted a piece of wood, it looked sacred
so I put it in my pocket, took it home with me
and there I carved a God out of it.

Then I placed my God on my shelf
there he‘s got a nice view over the world
and as long as he‘s not making promises that he then won‘t keep
I have to say that I like God quite a bit
and may others claim it being abnormal
I have a God on my shelf.

And soon hereafter some miracles started happening:
I got incredibly rich, and yet more incredibly handsome
I made the lame run and the blind see
and of course I could walk on water as well.

I placed a God on my shelf
and I hope he won‘t fall down from there
and as long as he‘s not making promises that he then won‘t keep
he‘s surely a gain for this world
and if others claim my being abnormal
I have a God on my shelf.

Now I had it all: fame, fortune and power
but it‘s well known how these things end, I thought to myself
and so I took him sometime at night
and brought him back into the woods.

I placed a God on my shelf
I‘d never have thought that I‘d like him that much
and while he was still up there, he was really my hero
I thought him the best god in the world
others have books - for me that‘d be too mundane
I had a God on my shelf!

Translation via

More Die Ärzte:

::: Lasse redn (2008): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Ich ess Blumen (song from 1988): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Junge (2007): LISTEN/WATCH

photograph by Nela König via

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Die Ärzte (1): Männer & Frauen (2012)

Manche Männer lieben Männer,
Manche Frauen eben Frauen
Da gibt's nichts zu bedauern
und nichts zu staunen
Das ist genauso normal wie Kaugummi kauen
Doch die meisten werden sich das niemals trauen

Some men love men,
like some women love women.
There's nothing to regret
and nothing to marvel at.
It’s just as normal as chewing gum,
but most people would never dare do that.

You tend to see them on the weekend,
athletic modern men with a hot look.
They drag the freshly-painted ladies
out onto the dance floors of the Republik.

The grown ups' public display of affection
is more interesting than some would think;
from a chest-hair toupee to a Botox mask,
all is fair in love and war!

Men and women are a sheer terror.
How they gaze for hours
into each other’s eyes,
how the women steal the men
from other women,
and how the men take their frustration out
on those women.

‘Cause men and women are willingly capable
of mutually messing up
each other’s night
when they pine away until dawn,
and then take off and go home alone again.

As early as noon, they’re in the bushes,
and at night they can hardly walk
through the city park.
Romantic enthusiasts call it love –
I would say:
you can see the hormones at work here.

And when they dim the lights down low –
A nation’s in carnal overdrive
In springtime it’s especially bad–
that’s why I like the winter so much better.

Men and women are a sheer terror.
How they gaze for hours
into each other’s eyes,
how the women steal the men
from other women,
and the men only screw things up anyway!

Some men love men,
like some women love women.
There's nothing to regret
and nothing to marvel at.
It’s just as normal as chewing gum,
but most people would never dare do that.

(translation via)

Die Ärzte is a German band that was founded in 1982. These pioneers of the German punk rock scene that are extremely popular in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and quite unknown in other countries (via), have a great many wonderful songs and hilarious clips that can probably also be enjoyed if one does not speak German.

More Die Ärzte:

::: Dinge von denen (2003): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Mein Baby war beim Frisör (1996): WATCH/LISTEN
::: 3-Tage-Bart (1996): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Die klügsten Männer der Welt (2004): WATCH/LISTEN

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photograph by Nela König via

Friday, 16 December 2016

Gender Roles Online and Offline

Generally, pen and paper tests and their online versions are equivalent. But when it comes to measuring gender roles, there seems to be difference between answers given online vs. offline. A measure of gender role orientation, the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), was completed by 372 participants (online n = 244, offline n = 128). Results show that there was no significant difference between femininity scores depending on the mode of administration (online vs. offline). Masculinity scores, however, were significantly higher when administered offline.

Possible explanations: Masculinity may be conceptualised differently in online and offline environments. Or: People respond in a socially desirable manner (hence more masculine) offline due to decreased anonymity and increased identifiability.
"It has been argued that computers create an impersonal social situation in which individuals feel more anonymous and less concerned about how they appear to others. The reason why only the masculinity scale performed differently online is unclear."
Interestingly, there was no siginificant difference between men's and women's masculinity scores.
"Previous research has found a decrease in sex differences on the BSRI masculinity scale, leading the author to suggest that men and women have become similar in their responses to masculine personality traits."
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- March, E., Grieve, R., Marx, E. & Witteveen, K. (2013) More of a (wo)man offline? Gender roles measured in online and offline environments. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 887-891
- photograph via

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Narrative images: A protester is being physically removed, Los Angeles, 1965

"Pictures told, for those who could not see themselves, of the strength and beauty of the people, of the hostility and anger of the opposition, and of the promise of a world free of racism."
Julian Bond

"These resonant pictures and their recurring themes should remind us that racism and concerted efforts to roll back hard-won civil rights gains persist. The ongoing and constantly evolving struggle against police brutality and militarism, entrenched poverty, institutionalized racism, and everyday microaggressions suggests that photographs will continue to play a crucial role in documenting the struggle and advancing the much-needed dialogue around it."
Mark Speltz
The photograph was taken by Charles Brittin (1928-2011) who was called “one of the great civil and political photographers of the age” (via) but whose work, nevertheless, "is not as revered in Los Angeles as his work deserves" (via). Charles Brittin was rather unknown (via).
"Rather than the familiar images of brutality in Selma from March of 1965, Speltz found Charles Brittin’s dramatic photographs of a protest reacting to that violence in Los Angeles, where a tight focus shows black women being violently removed by white hands from the demonstration." (via)
"Alive during the intersection of some of the most seminal movements in American history—Beat culture, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, and protests against the Vietnam war—Brittin documented key people, places, and events with his powerful, compassionate photographs. He was active during the 1950s and 1960s, living in pre-gentrified Venice Beach, L.A., an outpost for outsiders and activists."
Brittin lived in the Fairfax arae where he was "politically and culturally awakened". In the early 1960s, the focus of his life shifted and he got involved with the Congress of Racial Equality and the Black Panthers. Brittin started documenting civil rights demonstrations: "I suddenly realized I was compelled to do something because the times demanded it."  (via and via). His third wife, Barbara, shared his commitment to activism (via)
"While donating money to the Congress of Racial Equality, the couple attended a meeting where the group posed a question: "Who is prepared to be arrested this week?"
"'In six months, Barbara was teaching techniques of nonviolent resistance, and I was taking political photographs.'" (via).
"In 1962 Charles Brittin and his wife, Barbara, chose to forgo Christmas presents and instead send donations and join area groups and social causes they identified with. The couple attended a local meeting of the civil rights organization Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and became actively engaged. Charles combined his artistic sensibilities and concern for social justice and became CORE’s local photographer. Brittin attended meetings, nonviolence training seminars, demonstrations, and rallies with a camera in hand and a growing awareness about how photography could advance the cause.
The resulting pictures showed up in CORE brochures, leaflets, and fundraising materials and were sent to news outlets and sympathetic publications covering local and national campaigns. Like some of the best-known civil rights era imagery, Brittin’s compelling pictures helped activists raise awareness, communicate issues more clearly, and solicit badly-needed financial support."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Speltz, M. (2016). North of Dixie. Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South. Los Angeles: Getty Publications
- photograph by Charles Brittin (1965) via, copyright by the owner(s)
- similar photographs by Charles Brittin: LINK and LINK and LINK and LINK

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Quoting Mika

"I've never, ever labeled myself."

"I love collaborating with strong women."

"I was brought up in many different cultures, moving around all the time, and I find my identity in my songs. I project the identity I want to have throughout the songs that I write."

"If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah. Are these songs about my relationship with a man? I say yeah. And it's only through my music that I've found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics. This is my real life."

"I've always said in the press, I can fall in love with a man. I can fall in love with a woman. And I've always said that I have no shame in that."

"I was always told that I was too strange or that I was too cheesy by different groups of people, like the record companies said I was way too weird and the indie people wouldn't even let me in their band."

"In the past, it weighed on me because nobody in my family is gay. I had no role models so I had to find my own way."

Mika Sunday Collection

::: Talk About You: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Love Today: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Lollipop: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Relax, Take It Easy: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Blame It On The Girls: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Big Girl: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Grace Kelly: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Je Chante: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Underwater: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs (first one by Francesco Prandoni) via and via and via

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Smalltown Boy

"Smalltown Boy" is a song by Bronski Beat that was released in 1984. It was a commercial success and became a gay anthem as it addressed homophobia, bullying and loneliness (via).
"Accompanied by one of the most literal videos ever filmed, ‘Smalltown Boy’ was the first sortie by the openly gay trio, Bronski Beat, against another aspect of Thatcher’s Britain (and, indeed, of life in Britain in general): homophobia. Written by Bronski Beat, who themselves had ‘run away’ and were to meet in Brixton and form the band in 1983. The sense of the lyrics directly being drawn from personal experience made this a poignant commentary on growing up gay in the provinces." BBC

"‘Smalltown Boy’ was a distinctive step in the right direction, with its lyrics about a young man forced to abandon his home town for fear of this disapproval. Not only did it highlight the plight and shared experiences of hundreds of thousands of gay people, but it also provoked serious debate over these issues." BBC

Jimmy Somerville sings "Smalltown Boy", Rak Studios, St Johns Wood, London, May 2014:

"At a swimming pool, his friends (played by band members Larry Steinbachek and Steve Bronski) dare him to approach a young man that he is attracted to, for which he is later attacked in an alley by a homophobic gang led by the man he had approached at the swimming pool. A police officer brings him back to his home. It is implied that the boy's parents learn of his homosexuality for the first time through this incident and are shocked, but only the father seems unsupportive. The boy then catches a train to London, on which he is reunited with his friends." (via)

::: The original clip from 1984: LISTEN/WATCH

Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Pushed around and kicked around, always a lonely boy
You were the one that they'd talk about around town as they put you down

And as hard as they would try they'd hurt to make you cry
But you never cried to them, just to your soul
No, you never cried to them, just to your soul

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry

Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

written by Jimmy Somerville, Larry Steinbachek, Steve Bronski

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- More: Music Video Closet
- photographs of Jimmy Somerville via and via

Monday, 5 December 2016

Matteo, Silvio & Diversity

The "President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic" (i.e. Prime Minister) is a political leader of Italy since 1861. In the past six years, Italy has had four prime ministers (via). After the referendum defeat last Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - "the Justin Trudeau of Italy" as The Washington Post once called him (via) - declared he would resign.

In 2011, Sun King Berlusconi said, gay couples would never be allowed to marry in Italy or have adoption rights (via). In 2016 - thirty years after lawmakers first proposed the legal recognition of civil unions in Italy -, the Italian Government gave final approval to the law recognising civil unions of same-sex couples; the bill was supported by Matteo Renzi (via). Before Renzi, Italy was "the only major Western European country with no civil partnerships or gay marriage" (via). Renzi met LGBT civil rights activist and Mayor of a small town Alessia Ballini when he was the Mayor of Florence. She inspired him to support the Civil Unions Bill which was passed five years after her death (via).
"The two soon grew close, and the traditionally Catholic Renzi - a man opposed to civil unions - and the lesbian civil rights campaigner found they shared more similarities than differences. Ballini introduced Renzi to her partner, Teresa Vieri, and it was through his experience of this relationship that Renzi learned the powerful lesson that love is love." (LOTL)
“In these crucial hours I keep close to my heart the thought and memory of Alessia. And that’s enough for me, because laws are made for people, not for ideologies. For those who love, not for those who make proclamations.”
Matteo Renzi

“I have a gruelling work schedule and if I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well then, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay.”
Silvio Berlusconi

When Renzi unveiled his cabinet in 2014 (at that time Berlusconi was about to start serving a suspended sentence, i.e. working four hours a week in a nursing home with Alzheimer's patients; via), "one of its most striking aspects was that, for the first time, it was to be split equally between women and men" (via). Renzi's step was a huge one in a country that has never had a female prime minister or head of state, in a country where female politicians are still judged by their looks and outfit (via). In 2008, "gender-equality challenged" Berlusconi made the following comment concerning the Spanish Prime Minister's decision to have a cabinet with more women than men (via):
"[He] has formed a government that is too pink," reads one. "That's something we cannot do... because there is a prevalence of men in politics and it isn't easy to find women who are qualified for government. Now he's asked for it. He'll have problems leading them." The other imagines "the merrie Lawes by them newly Enacted, To live in more Ease, Pompe, Pride, and wantonnesse: but especially that they might have superiority and domineere over their husbands [and] cure any old or new Cuckolds...".
Silvio Berlusconi
To be fair, Berlusconi had also chosen women for the Parliament: a Miss Italy contestant, a former contestant of the Italian "Big Brother", an actress, a soap opera star, and a topless model (via) ... all of them supporting the "harem culture" message he has been sending with showgirls on his TV channels for decades (via).
"(...) while other European lands actively promote gender equality as a builder of national prosperity, Berlusconi has led the charge in the opposite direction, effectively stifling women by creating a world in which they are seen first and foremost as sex objects instead of professional equals." Newsweek
“It is clear to everyone that a mother cannot devote herself to a job (...)"
Silvio Berlusconi

"Let's hope it's a girl."
Matteo Renzi before the Clinton-vs.-Trump election

"I said to a girl to look for a wealthy boyfriend. This suggestion is not unrealistic."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Women are lining up to marry me. Legend has it, I know how to do it."
Silvio Berlusconi

"When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said, 'Yes', while the other 70% replied, 'What, again?'"
Silvio Berlusconi

"I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest." 
Silvio Berlusconi denying that he would pay sex workers

Women are "God's most beautiful gift to men."
Silvio Berlusconi

In order to prevent rape, "we would need as many soldiers as there are beautiful Italian women."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Italy is now a great country to invest in... Today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."
Silvio Berlusconi
(In 2015, one of his "superb" secretaries was jailed for three years; via)

"Angela Merkel is an un****able fat ****."
Silvio Berlusconi

"An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. 'No', the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'."
Silvio Berlusconi

"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance..."
Silvio Berlusconi

"The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilization, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."
Silvio Berlusconi

"(...) in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Ah, Barack Obama. You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned."
Silvio Berlusconi

"(...) the man who has invested in hope over cynicism, who has raised a generation to try (Yes, we can).” Obama will go but "stay in history and the hearts of many of us."
Matteo Renzi on Barack Obama

Finally, two of my favourite quotes:

"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."
Silvio Berlusconi

"I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."
Silvio Berlusconi

In an interview, Matteo Renzi's wife Agnese Renzi openly said how much she had learned from her little niece Maria who had taught her "the true meaning of love". Maria has Down Syndrome and was adopted by Matteo Renzi's sister Matilde Renzi (via).

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- photographs (Vanity Fair) via and via and via and via and via
- List of Prime Ministers of Italy by time in office: LINK

Friday, 2 December 2016

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

"Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century."
Anti-Slavery International

"The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict."
United Nations

According to the International Labour Organisation, about 21 million men, women and children are in a form of slavery. These contemporary forms of slavery comprise forcing women into prostitution, forcing girls into marriage with older men and forcing children and adults to work for nothing (via). The use of children in armed conflicts is a lucrative contemporary manifestation of slavery. Recruiting children for participation in armed conflict or for sexual exploitation falls under the ambit of "trafficking in persons." Child soldiering interferes with a child's "fundamental right to education, health, and development" and is one of the worst forms of child labour. As if combats were not traumatic enough, the exploitation of child soldiers is usually accompanied by torture, sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sadistic treatment that desensitizes children to both the sight and commission of atrocities ... which finally may turn them into "killing machines" (Tiefenbrun, 2007). The reintegration of the children who had been subject to abuse in this highly pathological environment into civilian life is complex and difficult (via), but possible. From 2008 to 2009, Unicef helped to reintegrate more than 24.000 former child soldiers (via). In some countries, almost a third of the child soldiers are girls who additionally encounter forced pregnancy.
"Child soldiers serve within militaries and armed groups in which complete cooperation and obedience is demanded, in contexts where moral and legal safeguards against their abuse may have broken down. In this context sexual violence becomes sexual exploitation."
"Child soldiers are brainwashed thoroughly and brutally until their ethics and moral values become so distorted that they believe doing evil is good."
Child soldiering is a widespread phenomenon. During the civil war in Sierra Leone, for instance, about 25.000 children - some as young as six - were abducted and fored to join armed groups (Tiefenbrun, 2007). From 2009 to 2012, 18.000 children were forced to join guerrilla groups and paramilitaries in Colombia. While extreme poverty is the common denominator, indigenous Colombians are particularly vulnerable (via). Of the 31 countries where there were armed conflicts in 1998, 87% used child soldiers (via). It is estimated that there are currently 300.000 children in armed groups around the world. Many of them are child soldiers, others are "Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups" who are used as cooks, spies, porters or "wives" for adult fighters (via).

- Tiefenbrun, S. (2007). Child Soldiers, Slavery and the Trafficking of Children. Fordham International Law Journal, 31(2), 413-486.
- photographs (first one by Marcus Bleasdale) via and via