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Belgian Navy Conduct Exercises With Naval Service On Irish Sea In the Run Up to Brexit Deal – Afloat

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 9:20 am


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A Belgian Navy frigate conducting exercises in the Irish Sea was tracked by Afloat days in advance of a visit to Dublin Port and in the run up to this week's Brexit Deal finally struck in Brussels, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The frigate BNS Louise-Marie (F931) under Commander Coppieters de Gibson had carried out crew training exercises off Lambay Island in the Irish Sea in addition to waters between Wicklow Head and the Lln Peninsula, north Wales.

Also engaged was the Irish Naval Service UK built L George Bernard Shaw (P64) which took part in the PASSEX training exercises with BNS Louise-Marie as the frigate transited the Irish Sea en route to Dublin Port for the five day visit. These exercises allowed the INS to practice core naval skills and ensure interoperability.

Following completion of training, BNS Louise-Marie, a former Dutch Navy Karel Doorman-class frigate berthed in Dublin on Sunday. The visit was to enable crew rest and recreation and an opportunity for Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw, Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland to pay a visit on board and meet the crew.

On the frigate's final day in the Irish capital on Thursday (the Brexit Deal was announced), this aptly coincided with an event organised by the Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. The BLCCIE's guest speaker, John J McGrane, director-general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, spoke about Brexit and the need for vigilance over future EU-UK relationships.

In a week of intense political negotiations in mainland Europe, commuters here at home using the Tom Clarke (East-Link) bridge would of observed the naval visitor berthed at the port's North Quay Wall Extension. At the stern on the aft deck was a NATO frigate helicopter.

Commissioned into service in 1991 as HNLMS Willem van der Zaan, the frigate had a career with the Royal Dutch Netherlands Navy until decomissioned in 2006. Three years later the frigate was renamed BNS Marie Louise by Queen Paola of Belgium. The frigate's homeport is at the Zeebrugge Naval Base.

Today, Afloat.ie tracked the naval vessel off Fishguard Bay in south Wales. Arriving this morning to Fishguard was the ferry Stena Europe, recently returned fresh from refit in Turkey. The country (a member state of NATO) is spread across two continents, Europe and Asia.

By early this afternoon the BNS Marie-Louise had departed Welsh waters and likewise the Stena Europe had headed west-bound into the St. Georges Channel. The frigate was astern of the Rosslare 'Europort'bound ferry albeit at some distance away.

As Afloat previously reported there have been discussions to develope a service linking the Irish Europort with mainland Europe through the French port of Le Havre.

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:20 am

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Book Review | The Northumbrians: North-East England and its People by Dan Jackson – British Politics and Policy at LSE

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InThe Northumbrians: North-East England and its People,Dan Jacksonoffers a welcome new history of the North East, demonstrating how many aspects of its culture grew out of centuries of border warfare and industry. In showing that the North East was innovative, resourceful and enlightened, as well as dangerous, poverty-stricken and exhausted, this deeply researched book reveals the compelling past of this seemingly peripheral corner of England, writesTom Draper, whose interview with the author can be readhere.

The Northumbrians: North-East England and its People. Dan Jackson. Hurst. 2019.

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The notion that North-East England has been overlooked, patronised, forgotten and misunderstood runs through Dan JacksonsThe Northumbrians, a welcome examination of the last 2000 years of history in this seemingly peripheral corner of England. What may be seen today as a distant and uneventful region for Jackson deserves not only considerable scholarly interest and attention but popular engagement. This is a book for both historians and the general public and one which succeeds in merging a lifelong fascination and enthusiasm for the people and history of the North East with a scholarly scepticism and reluctance to engage in the exercise of navel-gazing.

Jackson has chosen the Northumbrians as his catch-all term for the people of the two historic counties of Northumberland and Durham. This avoids bogging us down in the imprecise demarcation of Geordies and Mackems, the two feuding tribes of Tyne and Wear whose modern rivalry has obscured how much they share in common (vii). It also ensures that the rural and middle-class inhabitants of Northumberland and Durham are included groups traditionally neglected by the urban working-class associations commonly made with Geordie as well as connecting the experience of the present with the deep-rooted and almost unchanging cultural mores that have persisted over centuries (vii).

This preoccupation with Northumbria has had a long allure in the North East. Jackson stands as a twenty-first-century heir to the New Northumbrians of the nineteenth century, a loose movement who saw themselves as alternative, cultured and historic people distinct from the national norm. An interest in a meaningful past and a sense of an ever-changing present fed this concern for the region and for the Northumbria of Bede, St. Cuthbert and the castles, hills and crumbling Roman ruins that remain far from the smog and soot of industrial Tyneside and Wearside. With a perspective unavailable to the original New Northumbrians, Jackson is able to trace the bonds which connect the nineteenth century with the medieval and modern periods. This is a book which looks for continuities rather than change, channelling Fernand Braudelslongue dure, and seeks to show how the hard-working, heavy drinking, sociable, macho and sentimental North East grew out of hundreds of years of contested border warfare and dangerous, but stimulating, industry.

Few histories of North-East England take the grand sweep of time selected byThe Northumbriansand few have the range of sources, including poetry, song, art, film and television, analysed succinctly here. The book is arranged thematically rather than chronologically a decision much to its benefit and yet this composition still allows for a neat Bede to Brexit structure. Included are chapters on the North Easts medieval past; the martial, fighting tradition prevalent throughout the centuries; the work of the great inventors, scientists, engineers and tinkerers who formed the Northumbrian Enlightenment; the landscape and architecture (with a walking tour through the Northumbrian Riviera) of the region; its endemic sociability, hedonism and boisterous drinking culture; and, finally, the current political scene, where the old assumptions about a Labour-voting region are scrutinised.

There are elements of geography overlooked by other historians who have commonly seen the hyper-masculine, hard-working stereotype of the contemporary North East as stemming from the realities of working in the mines and industrial spaces of the region. Jackson certainly believes that work in dangerous industry has sustained a sense of toughness and a Stakhanovite pride in hard work, but a heavily contested Anglo-Scottish border came first and made sure that violence was the dominant factor in Northumbrian lives in a way that was absent elsewhere in the rest of England (26). The regions martial tradition, and its formidable fighting record in the two World Wars, emerges out of its blood-soaked past just as living in a warzone made it prudent to huddle together for warmth and safety (28), and arguably accounts for its modern sentimentality, solidarity and communalism.

The macho-posturing associated with North East men may be seen today as one of the uglier aspects of the regions historical hangovers, but learning, literacy and curiosity have also been part of its story through the ages. The greatness of Northumbria in the Dark Ages was based less on its political power than on the distinctive Christian culture that flowered there in art and learning and religious piety (9). This emphasis on literacy, exemplified in the medieval period by the Lindisfarne Gospels, theCodex Amiatinusand the work of the Venerable Bede, filters through into the second golden age of Northumbrian history: the great era of the Northumbrian Enlightenment and the extraordinary inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution.

This is a story usually told through the lives of gentleman inventors and tinkerers George and Robert Stephenson, Lord Armstrong, Joseph Swan, Charles Parsons but a focus on the achievements of many notable women Mary Astell, Jane Gomeldon, Josephine Butler, Grace Darling and the rigidly patriarchal society they inhabited freshens Jacksons account. The rivers Tyne and Wear were then a veritable Silicon Valley of Georgian England (63). Nineteenth-century Tyneside was a sort of Dallas or Dubai or even Florence of the Industrial Revolution, both entrepreneurial and highly literate (78); a centre of innovation, printing and study which welcomed many great figures including Charles Dickens, Daniel Defoe, Jean Paul Marat, Ea de Queirs, Oscar Wilde, Yevgeni Zamyatin, George Bernard Shaw and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others.

This interest in knowledge and ingenuity is further illuminated in the twentieth century when a working-class intellectualism found expression in the pit villages and towns of Northumberland and Durham. Jackson admires his pitman painter grandfather and other autodidacts such as Thomas Burt, Jack Lawson, Sid Chaplin, John Gray and Norman Cornish, and discusses their work with insight and intelligence.The achievements of the working-class intellectual and leader of Newcastle City Council (1959-65) T. Dan Smith, however, are brushed over, with Jackson propagating many of the simplistic villain narratives that have found currency recently. Nevertheless, his concern for the accomplishments of many little-known Northumbrians livens the narration and will influence future work on the regions cultural history.

There is a sense of a lost world in these pages, of a once great time now forgotten, even though so much of the past still arguably hangs over the current scene. That the North East was once so innovative, resourceful and enlightened, as well as dangerous, poverty-stricken and exhausted, may surprise some. For those yet to reckon with the compelling past of this peripheral corner of England, Dan JacksonsThe Northumbrians, a work of deep research and lifelong fascination, is an excellent place to start.

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Note: This review was first published on the LSE Review of Books.

Tom Draperhas an MA in Modern History from Durham University. He writes about North East England attom-draper.com.You can follow him on twitterhere.

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Book Review | The Northumbrians: North-East England and its People by Dan Jackson - British Politics and Policy at LSE

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:20 am

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UppBeat, Gypsies on the Autobahn to play Where Will The Art Go? launch at Bernard Shaw – hotpress.com

Posted: October 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm


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The launch week of Where Will The Art Go? - a new campaign which aims to highlight the loss of significant cultural spaces in Dublin - consists of three events; at the Bernard Shaw, The Workman's Club and Lost Lane.

Coming Monday, October 21, She Networks' campaign Where Will The Art Go? launches with a special showcase at the Bernard Shaw. The party will feature Dublin alt-rock band Gypsies on the Autobahn, as well as voices from the growing hip hop scene in Dublin such as UppBeat, amongst others.

The launch at the Bernard Shaw is followed by the Indigo Sessions at The Workman's Club on Wednesday.

One day later, on Thursday, the launch will close with showcases by Little Hours, KTG and Nathan Mac at Lost Lane. Get your tickets here.

The Where Will The Art Go? campaign has three purposes: To give a place for our homegrown and local talent to share their concerns and showcase their work, to market the venues that nurture this development in order for them to fill seats and become more sustainable and finally, to show the government and the city council how important culture is to its people.

Initiated by Rebecca Breene McDonnell, Where Will The Art Go? was a concept that she and her business partner Sorcha have spent many years thinking about. According to the women themselves, "the campaign came into fruition following BodyTonic's announcement that the cultural safe space, The Bernard Shaw, would be closing its doors at the hands of Dublin City Council."

"Nobody is taking action, so we must and we will", McDonnell says. "We are fortunate that we went to a media university and have a large network of people we can work with and we promise that we will use this positively. We want to be a lighthouse in this storm, starting with this campaign."

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October 19th, 2019 at 1:46 pm

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Inconvenient truths: Potholes along the yellow brick road of LGBTQ history – LGBTQ Nation

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Errors in published histories, misreading, selective perception, willful historical fiction on the big screen, little screen, and web; alternative facts simply made up to suit various agendas; and the desire to believe what some wish to be true have created a constantly reverberating echo chamber of false knowledge which George Bernard Shaw warned is more dangerous than ignorance.

This post is an antidote for some of it.

Related: In 1919, the first pro-gay movie was made. A year later, it was banned.

The origin of faggot

Faggot as a male homosexual slur did not derive from burning gays at the stake. The word is English and did not evolve from another language. England hanged but did not burn gays at the stake as some other countries did. Its first known published gay connotation appeared in 1914s A Vocabulary of Criminal Slang: All the fagots (sissies) will be dressed in drag at the ball tonight.

Any connection to the firewood used for executions is pure fantasy, says Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, 2004.

Victims included Bishop John Atherton and his alleged lover John Childe; both hanged in 1640.

Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin

The few details actually documented about American Revolutionary War Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin continue to generate ever more amplified, ever more colorful retellings based solely on speculation and wishful thinking.

He was not thrown out of the Continental Army for being gay nor being homosexual nor homosexuality nor for his sexual orientation in 1778.

Those are states of being, and we know nothing of his sexual orientation. He was thrown out for same-sex behavior, but that doesnt tell us his motivation. He could have simply been pursuing sexual release with another man because a woman wasnt available as men in the military or prison or all-boys schools have for eternity.

But, contrary to ubiquitous assertions that behavior was not sodomy. He was charged with and found guilty of attempting to commit sodomy. While General George Washingtons secretary recorded the abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes, there was no reference to, let alone definition of, sodomy in the 5th Article 18th Section of the Articles of War which he was charged with violating.

Thus we have nothing to tell us which of the several things that accusation could have meant it actually did mean in this case.

It could have meant attempting to force sex (of whatever kind) upon someone; apparently in this instance from the scanty records, Pvt. John Monhort. It could also mean consensual attempted anal sex but without completing penetration, and, as gay historian Rictor Norton has noted, the phrase was sometimes used to encompass completed consensual same-sex acts other than anal intercourse such as fellatio.

Nor, contrary to assertions, was he dishonorably discharged because the term didnt exist yet.

Nor, as often claimed, was his sword broken over his head. The diary entry of an eyewitness to his drumming out, Lt. James McMichael, mentioned only that the coat of the delinquent was turned wrong side out. The phrase drumming out used metaphorically today was literal then. The regiments drum and fife corps played while the condemned exited the camp.

Maj. Gen. Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben

Articles exist asserting that both Benjamin Franklin and General Washington unequivocally knew that German Maj. Gen. Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben was gay and that his hiring proved they were ahead-of-their-time Friends of the Gays. Some justify the assertion by referencing late author Randy Shilts and his lengthy study of gays in the American military, Conduct Unbecoming.

Actually Shilts wrote: The acceptance of General Steuben and his contributions to the fledgling American military did not mean there was even tacit acceptance of homosexuality by Franklin or Washington.

If they actually knew about his sexuality, his employment was still more a matter of war, like politics, making strange bedfellows, no pun intended. Nor, contrary to the misreading of documents of the time, was von Steuben fleeing possible prosecution in France but, rather, his native Germany.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was certainly a gay martyr, but he was not a gay rights trailblazer who refused to deny his identity. He denied it multiple times over three trials; repeatedly insisting that his attachment to the various men linked to him was not sexual but only deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect.

The first gay magazine in the world

Der Eigene, first published in Berlin in 1896, was not the worlds first homosexual journal nor was it initially a homosexual periodical at all. Originally it was an anarchist magazine, not becoming EIN BLATT FR MNNLICHE KULTUR (A Journal for Male Culture) until 1898. Along with articles and poems, apparently it was the first periodical to feature nude photographs of men intended for gay subscribers.

The first gay periodical was published by German Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs in 1870: Prometheus Beitrge zur Erforschung des Naturrthsels des Uranismus und zur Errterung der sittlichen and gesellschaftlichen Interessen des Urningthums (Prometheus. Contributions to the investigation of the riddle of nature Uranismus and to the discussion of the moral and social interests of Urningthum). His hopes for subsequent issues failed for lack of adequate subscribers.

Franklin Roosevelt and homophobia

Claims that then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelts June 1917 article in the Ladies Home Journal, What the Navy Can Do for Your Boy, was exploiting the publics great fear of homosexual influence on American young men are contradicted by one of the articles photos a group of sailors on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania with the caption, Your Boy Would Not be Lonely on a Battleship.

Nor, contrary to persistent outraged claims, did Roosevelt create or order or use his own staff for the 1919 gay witch-hunt at Newport, Rhode Islands, Naval Training Station.

Such assertions reveal the failure of the authors of such claims to carefully read Lawrence Murphys original research on the witch-hunt published in 1988 as Perverts by Official Order.

It was instigated at the Newport base by a pathologically homophobic but persuasive Chief Machinists Mate not in Washington by Roosevelt and had been going on nearly a month before Roosevelt was even told about it. Those in Newport did not need his permission but only approached his boss, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, because they needed funding to continue. Daniels was leaving on a trip to Europe and told Roosevelt to meet with them.

Yes, his subsequent support was homophobic, but his later adamant denials that he had not known, let alone approved, sailors being told to engage in gay sex to entrap their victims, Navy and civilian, is credible, particularly given he had tried unsuccessfully to get the Justice Department to take over the investigation.

Lili Elbe reality check

As noted in my earlier article about Christine Jorgensen, Danish Girl Lili Ilse Elvenes/Lili Elbe was not the first person to have gender confirmation surgery. Her first operation in 1930 was supervised by legendary gay sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin who had been involved in such surgeries since at least 1906.

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the Institute for Sexual Science, and book burning

Demonized for years as the Jewish Apostle of Sodomy, the mob attack on Hirschfeld that nearly killed him some newspapers did report his death happened in Munich in October 1920, not Berlin in May 1933 when a Nazi-affiliated youth group ransacked his Institute for Sexual Science.

Time and again one reads that the Institute and all of its contents were subsequently burned or destroyed. While most of the thousands of confiscated books, photos, and others items were burned, some of the materials were strangely held back and offered for sale through intermediaries back to Hirschfeld who was in Paris by then.

Further, anticipating such threats, his former lover Karl Giese had smuggled some of the most important documents out of the country.

Nor were all of the materials about homosexuality or gender identity. The Institute studied heterosexuality, too, and had a large medical practice for such things as contraception, infertility, and impotence. Nor was that the only book burning that day

A May 10, 1933, Associated Press article, along with several others, reported, Proscribed volumes [were] collected all over Germany for public burning blacklisted books from private as well as public libraries of ungerman influences All books of a socialistic, Jewish or Pacifist trend are especially marked for destruction.

The authors the article specifically named whose works were included were Helen Keller and Albert Einstein, neither of which, to the best of my knowledge, were L or G or B or T.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. George Bernard Shaw.

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Inconvenient truths: Potholes along the yellow brick road of LGBTQ history - LGBTQ Nation

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October 19th, 2019 at 1:46 pm

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The subtle humour in paraprosdokians, writes Karan Thapar – Hindustan Times

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You wont find the word in the Oxford dictionary but its there in Wikipedia. Paraprosdokians is defined as a figure of speech in which the second half of a phrase or sentence is surprising or unexpected. It can be a clever form of wit or a neat way of making a dig.

I most enjoy paraprosdokians when theyre used as a put down. PG Wodehouses description of a fat woman is devastating: She looks as though shes been poured into her clothes and forgot to say when. So, too, Groucho Marxs parting comment to his hostess: Ive had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasnt it.

For debaters paraprosdokians are a Godsend. Here are a few from the Cambridge Union which are a part of the conventional armoury used for tackling awkward opponents: Hes a modest man with much to be modest about, Hes a well balanced person with a chip on both shoulders, and Our quarrels are a case of mind over matter I dont mind and he doesnt matter.

Winston Churchill was one of the few politicians who used paraprosdokians to great effect. Often the United States was his target: You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after theyve tried everything else. But even Clemenceau, though French, had a knack for it. And guess who his target was? America is the only country to have progressed from barbarism to decadence without experiencing the intervening stage of civilization. Theres a delightful but possibly apocryphal anecdote about George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill which is entirely based on this delicious figure of speech. The playwright sent the politician two tickets to the first night of one of his new plays. For you and a friend, if you have one, the accompanying note read. Not a bit put out, Churchill replied I cant make the first night but Ill be there for the second, if there is one.

My late cousin Ranjit, who spent his life researching the ephemeral and the obscure, once sent me a joyous collection of paraprosdokians. Theyre the sort you could cheerfully use. Memorise a few and wait for the first good opportunity! Here they are:-

The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but its still on my list. If I agreed with you, wed both be wrong. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. I used to be indecisive. Now Im not so sure. I didnt say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research. But heres a special one for all of you fed up of television: The evening news is where they begin with Good Evening and then proceed to tell you why it isnt.

When I told my secretary, Santosh Kumar, I was going to write about paraprosdokians he did a bit of research and came up with a few delightful ones. Theyre both witty and clever: Where theres a will, I want to be in it; Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak; To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first & call whatever you hit the target; Youre never too old to learn something stupid; Im supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder & harder for me to find one now.

Let me leave you with a tongue-in-cheek truth about men and women which might be a trifle sexist but is also largely true. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think theyre sexy.

Karan Thapar is the author of Devils Advocate: The Untold Story

The views expressed are personal

First Published:Oct 19, 2019 20:42 IST

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Bret Baier ’92 Discusses His Upcoming Book, Three Days at the Brink: FDR’s Daring Gamble to Win World War II – DePauw University

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October 17, 2019

"This book happens at a moment, World War II, when it really was at the brink -- the Allies could have lost," says Bret Baier of his latest book, Three Days at the Brink: FDR's Daring Gamble to Win World War II. Baier, anchor and executive editor of Fox News Channel's Special Report and the network's chief political anchor, is a 1992 graduate of DePauw University. He appeared on WAGA-TV/Fox 5 in Atlanta this morning to preview the book, which will be published October 22 by William Morrow.

Baier says he focuses on an "overlooked moment" from November 1943. "We were losing in Europe, Hitler was on the march, things were not going great in the Pacific, and at this moment the leaders -- the big three, which is FDR, Churchill and Stalin -- designed to have this secret meeting in Tehran and they plan D-Day. And onbviously Operation Overlord, as it was known, became the moment that changed the dynamic."

The publisher will also offer a young reader's edition of the book. "I think sometimes history gets lost in our schools," Baier tells the program. "So we're doing a contest where we're going to give the big book and the young reader's edition to two schools' libraries in each state across the country."

It's the third book in Baier's "three days" series: the first entry was Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission; followed by Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire. Baier also authored Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage and Love. He received the 2017 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, the National Press Foundations highest honor for a broadcast journalist.

Access the clip here.

A 1992 graduate of DePauw, Baier was an English (composition) and political science double major and captained the Tiger golf team. He was among the first students to work in the then-new Center for Contemporary Media. While an undergradute Baier interned with Bernard Shaw at CNN and landed his first professional job at WJWJ-TV (PBS) in Beaufort, South Carolina. He also worked at WREX (NBC) in Rockford, Illinois, and WRAL (CBS) in Raleigh, North Carolina, before joining Fox in 1998. Before being named anchor of Special Report, he served as the network's national security correspondent and chief White House correspondent.

Baier returned to DePauw for Old Gold Weekend in 2013 and spoke as part of the Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture Series and received the University's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

"DePauw is a big part of who I am, it's a big part of who I became, and I really like coming back here," he told the homecoming audience.

The talk is summarized here; video is embedded below.

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Bret Baier '92 Discusses His Upcoming Book, Three Days at the Brink: FDR's Daring Gamble to Win World War II - DePauw University

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Golden Gate state puts snooze in the news – Economic Times

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Shakespeares whining schoolboy creeping like a snail unwillingly to school might well be more full of beans were he to be around today in California. The Golden Gate state has passed a law barring middle schools from beginning classes earlier than 8 am, and high schools before 8.30 am, to give students more sleep time. California is the first state in the US to adopt a law that says aye to more shut-eye, but it could become a trendsetter. Sleep therapists say that slumber unlumbers the mind of harmful stress and its beneficial for people of all ages to get in forty-one, or even forty-two, winks in preference to the conventionally recommended forty.

Indeed, sleeping on the job can sometimes prove to be the most efficient way of getting the job done. The German chemist Kekul is said to have hit upon the structure of the carbon molecule while he was in the arms of Morpheus. Freud used his innovative interpretation of dreams as the keystone to the understanding of the psyche through the working of the subconscious. As the poet more succinctly put it, I sleep, and my soul awakens. When a playwright protg of Bernard Shaw remonstrated that the Irish dramatist had been caught napping during a performance of the acolytes latest work to which hed been invited to give his opinion on, the Shavian response was, Sleep, sir, is an opinion.

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Golden Gate state puts snooze in the news - Economic Times

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Hitting the mother lode – Winnipeg Free Press

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Theatre is a business where work can be infrequent at the best of times, and non-existent at the worst.

By that standard, Kimberly Rampersad has had an astonishing couple of seasons. In her Winnipeg hometown alone, she directed the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre production of Intimate Apparel. She choreographed Matilda: The Musical on the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre mainstage. Further afield, she was made an intern artistic director at the Shaw Festival, where she directed an epic, six-hour production of Man and Superman this summer (and earned herself a profile in the New York Times in the bargain). She also directed a production of the hit musical The Color Purple at Neptune Theatre in Halifax before being asked to direct an all-new production of the same play, a co-production of Edmontons Citadel Theatre and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, opening at the Royal MTC mainstage on Oct. 24.

Its not over. The 40-something Rampersad, fiercely proud of her North Kildonan roots, is still based here, but is talking on the phone from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. where she is only two-thirds through her Shaw Festival internship.

Im also co-starring in their winter production of Holiday Inn, she says. Im in rehearsals for that right now.

Theatre is a business where work can be infrequent at the best of times, and non-existent at the worst.

By that standard, Kimberly Rampersad has had an astonishing couple of seasons. In her Winnipeg hometown alone, she directed the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre production of Intimate Apparel. She choreographed Matilda: The Musical on the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre mainstage. Further afield, she was made an intern artistic director at the Shaw Festival, where she directed an epic, six-hour production of Man and Superman this summer (and earned herself a profile in the New York Times in the bargain). She also directed a production of the hit musical The Color Purple at Neptune Theatre in Halifax before being asked to direct an all-new production of the same play, a co-production of Edmontons Citadel Theatre and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, opening at the Royal MTC mainstage on Oct. 24.

Its not over. The 40-something Rampersad, fiercely proud of her North Kildonan roots, is still based here, but is talking on the phone from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. where she is only two-thirds through her Shaw Festival internship.

"Im also co-starring in their winter production of Holiday Inn," she says. "Im in rehearsals for that right now."

"I didnt see it coming," she says of this golden year. "All things being equal, I dont think this will happen again in my career and Im OK with that.

TARA WALTON PHOTO

Kimberley Rampersad says shell look back fondly at her busy 2019. Its been exhausting and thrilling.

"When I get to the end of this year, Im going to be exhausted, but so filled with gratitude that I got through it. Its been exhausting and thrilling."

FP: Directing The Color Purple for the second time in a year could be redundant. Did you look at it as a do-over?

KR: In a sense yes. I had the opportunity to improve what had been presented. But because MTC and the Citadel have contracted me for a new show and a new production, I have a lot of new artists and collaborators, because I wanted to be able to be accountable to them to not (just do) a remount.

So you create a team in terms of lighting designer, set and costume, musical director and about half of my cast.

I think its new. I wanted to be able to do that because I wanted to respect the contract that I was given and I also because I wanted to make sure that I challenged myself to not do the same thing again.

Once you have new collaborators, if youre an artist, you should be able to create something new, because theres new voices in the room."

Ian Jackson / Epic Photography

A scene from The Color Purple during its run at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.

FP: What is the draw of the material for you?

KR: Alice Walkers book has always captured a special part of me because it reminds me so much of my mother and my mothers family. When you read the book, there are images of trees and of nature. The tree is ever-present and its like a female (presence) in the trees. Theyre rooted in the ground and reaching for the sky.

Sometimes it feels like some characters are chopping down the tree, but the tree always perseveres and even though it might be barren, there is still life in it and it still holds a community together.

The strength of the tree really reminds me of my mother and my mothers family. Theyre an incredible group of matriarchs and so Im just fascinated with it because I feel I feel my mothers wisdom in the play and it really just calls out to me. My mom is still alive and around so honestly, to do a show which is really a little a love story a love poem to my mom and to the women of her family its just important to me on that really personal level. We get to tell that kind of story at home in Winnipeg. It moves me."

FP: When you start out as a dancer, it might be assumed your subsequent work in theatre might be limited to choreographing or directing musicals. How did you break free of that to get the job directing the six-hour George Bernard Shaw drama Man and Superman at the Shaw Festival this summer?

KR: That was a thrill. It was so unexpected in the way that people were curious about us and our work and that our play got a feature in the New York Times. It was surreal.

Ian Jackson / Epic Photography

A scene from The Color Purple during its run at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.

I can appreciate when people believe that I have a skill set that leads to musical theatre, because I do... and I love the form. But I think being a dancer or coming from a dance background actually prepares you for any and everything in terms of the discipline, the rigour, the self-assessment, seeing text as movement, being able to analyze, being able to deconstruct, to reconstruct, to work from the classical structure and technique. Theyre actually incredibly transferable."

I just appreciate and really thank my parents were giving me such a beautiful dance education because I think it leads me to my natural curiosity... and hopefully success in being a director.

FP: Youre best known for your work in arts, but you have a degree in political science from the University of Manitoba. Has that served you in your theatre career?

KR: Directing plays and how theyre programmed is a political act. Directing for me is where my art meets my politics. We all have agency to tell stories and thats why am interested in artistic direction.

FP: Given there have been two major Canadian productions of The Color Purple, does it feel the timing must be right for this musical?

KR: Its a great time for The Color Purple. We are ready and looking for and needing strong female narratives. Its a good time because were speaking about so many inequalities. There are so many massive themes that are represented in the play. We have a same-sex love story at the centre of it between Celie (Tara Jackson) and Shug (Karen Burthwright) and we frame it as a holy love, as sacred a love as any other kind of love.

Ian Jackson / Epic Photography

A scene from The Color Purple during its run at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.

I think its so important that these stories are told. I think its important because in many communities and, unfortunately, in the black community in the black diaspora, we still have so many homophobic points of view in our community.

I think it is so important that in a space as large and secular as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Citadel that we are able to represent a love story like this as such a sacred thing.

I think its so important that we talk about normalized domestic violence against women in particular in this play.

And I think its important because were talking about feminism. We have many women in the play, each fighting for space in this world, each a different aspect of what it is to be a woman.

Its a beautiful musical and the music is outstanding the voices and these actors are just... I know Im a little biased... but theyre just extraordinary they make my heart fly.

FP: Being a performer too, does it ever make you want to be on stage with them?

KR: I think I know what my wheelhouse is. I am so happy to watch people who are excellent do their thing and to support them.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall KingReporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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A clear head, a deep heart and thick skin will help raise your creativity – Livemint

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Creativity is a highly desirable and yet widely elusive attribute in both personal and professional spheres. A generally accepted definition of creativity is to come up with ideas that are both useful and novel. If an idea lacks utility, its nothing more than a daydream, whereas if its not novel it is all but common sense. Balancing, or rather striving for, the dual requirements of novelty and utility calls for specific thinking paradigms and temperaments, and even some physiological traits.

Here are the three quintessential characteristics that can possibly raise your creative yield and, hopefully, have a rub-off effect on those around you. The attributes are having a clear head, a deep heart and honing a thick skin.

Staying original

First up, the imperative of thinking clearly. We are surrounded by more noise than probably at any time in history, and yet we manage to distil the signal from the noise. The creative types are far more adept at it. Research suggests that clear decision-making stems from a well laid-out set of rules, or rules of thumb. Such heuristics help think through complex contexts with ease.

The ensuing clarity of thoughts helps you focus on the precious few and keep distractions and temptations at bay, much needed for producing anything remarkable. Thats what Steve Jobs referred to when he observed that innovation is saying no" to 1,000 things. A clear head help both conserve and converge energies, and hence, help thing through problems for longer periods of time, which is essential for complex problem-solving.

Creativity is not just about thinking though. A genuine sense of creativity calls for empathy, and your ability to put yourself in other persons shoes and look for solutions. Studies on emotional intelligence, mindfulness, meditation, empathy and social intelligence show emotions play an important role in problem-solving, for you must feel about the problem and not just think about it.

In fact, leaders such as Satya Nadella and Anand Mahindra, are very vocal about the importance of cultivating workplace empathy and its impact on creativity and employee well-being.

While you need to have a clear mind and empathy for the cause and the potential users, you must also demonstrate high levels of conviction and drive, which means being thick-skinned. In the words of George Bernard Shaw,The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Being unreasonable necessitates you not getting too much perturbed by what people say about you, for any original idea would disturb the status quo. The key is to persist against the odds because every new idea looks ridiculous in the foresight, but obvious in the hindsight.

There is a sufficient research to indicate that creativity has little correlation with intelligence, unless one has low latent inhibitions. Those with low latent inhibitions are not too much concerned about what other may think of them, as much as they can learn from a new situation. They are more adept at making newer connections across contexts and domains, and as a result, have a greater ability of associative thinking, a quintessential trait of creativity. You ought to be sensitive towards what other feel (read a deep heart), but not too sensitive about what other feel about you (read a thick skin). Amazons Jeff Bezos once famously said, If you cant tolerate critics, dont do anything new or interesting."

Pavan Soni is the founder of Inflexion Point, an innovation and strategy consultancy.

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Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Harry Houdini (1874-1926), undoubtedly the greatest showman of his age and probably of all time, was an awe-inspiring escape artist and the undisputed master of his craft.

He was the first superstar to manipulate the media to gain broad mass acceptance, and his fame was such that George Bernard Shaw quipped that Jesus, Sherlock Holmes, and Houdini were the three most famous people in world history. Even almost a century after his death, his name is synonymous with magic, and he remains a renowned cultural icon.

Houdini was particularly important to American Jews, for whom he came to embody the idea that a Jew could achieve success in an anti-Semitic world. For Jews who had a long history of fear and vulnerability, Houdini was the ultimate contemporary symbol of strength, and the renowned escape artist became the paradigm of the Jewish immigrants belief that he could escape the metaphorical shackles of Jewish history.

Even after achieving great success, Houdini maintained his ties to Judaism and his loyalty to his Jewish family, saying: I never was ashamed to acknowledge that I was a Jew, and I never will be. He recited Kaddish for his mother every day for the entire year after her death; dutifully marked his fathers yahrzeit throughout his world travels; and made a point to repurchase the family Bible that his father had sold when the family was struggling financially. He apparently studied it as evidenced by the notes he wrote in the margin of the sefer.

During WWI, Houdini founded and presided over the Rabbis Sons Theatrical Association (1918), a group consisting of sons of rabbis and Jewish scholars (Al Jolson served as its vice president and Irving Berlin as second vice president) that raised funds for Hebrew associations helping military families.

He was also a great American patriot who supported a variety of American causes, including the American Red Cross, and was also a major supporter of Zionist institutions. Throughout his life, Houdini performed great acts of charity, but insisted upon anonymity because the Jewish way is to give charity quietly.

Although it is the subject of some dispute, some of Houdinis friends said that he carried his tefillin with him while on tour, regularly putting them on in the morning, and that he carried mezuzot with him, which he nailed to the doorpost of his hotel room during his travels.

Nonetheless, he became the first person in his family to intermarry, which caused a rift with his family that never healed completely, although his parents eventually came to terms with his marriage. He was greatly devoted to his Catholic wife, Bess, but Houdini insisted that he be buried in a Jewish cemetery near his parents despite knowing his wife could not be buried near him.

Houdini was shocked by his first exposures to anti-Semitism during his performances in Germany. He wrote, [T]here is a secret feeling among Europeans against Jews. It surprised me greatly to think that such things exist in this country. It is awful what I hear from people who are Jew haters. When he performed in Russia soon after the notorious Kishinev Pogrom (1903), when Jews were not permitted to remain in Moscow overnight, he muted any reference to his Judaism, but he was deeply affected by what had happened, and what was happening, to his fellow Jews there, and he wrote critically about Russian anti-Semitism.

* * * * *

Houdini was born Ehrich Weisz (later Weiss) in Budapest, where his father, Rabbi Samuel Weisz, Ph.D., L.L.D., was a great scholar. Seeking a haven from rampant anti-Semitism, Samuel immigrated to America in 1876, where he quickly discovered that the streets were not paved with gold. After a two-year struggle, he managed to barely save enough to bring his family to the U.S., including four-year-old Ehrich.

The Appleton, Wisconsin Zion Reform Jewish Congregation retained Samuel as its first rabbi, but it paid him a pittance and, four years later, he was dismissed because his immigrant English was weak and the congregation wanted a modern rabbinical leader.

Soon after losing his position in Appleton, unable to secure another rabbinical position, and virtually indigent, Samuel moved the entire family first to Milwaukee, where he also failed to support his family. To ease the financial strain on the family, Ehrich left home at age 12 to seek his fortune. He lived at a YMCA in New York City and, while still very young, supported himself doing elementary magic tricks as Erik he Great.

After Samuel moved to New York City, where he found a job working in a necktie factory, he was joined in that work by Ehrich. Soon after, Ehrich read from the Torah at his bar mitzvah, which was officiated by the Orthodox Rabbi Bernard Drachman, who reported that Ehrichs progress in Hebrew was extremely weak but that the boy had a profound reverence for the Jewish faith.

Shortly after his father died of tongue cancer in 1892, Ehrich, now Eric, got a job as a magician at Coney Island performing common card tricks, billing himself as The King of Cards. He was unsuccessful until he met and befriended Martin Beck, a fellow Jewish immigrant who advised Eric that he would never succeed as a card magician but could achieve great fame as The King of Handcuffs.

After Beck got him a job on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit as an escape artist, Eric adopted the stage name Houdini in honor of Jean Eugne Robert-Houdin, the father of modern conjuring whom he revered at the time. Houdini quickly gained celebrity for incorporating an audience challenge into his act: He offered to pay $100 (not an inconsequential sum at that time) to anyone who could lock him into a set of handcuffs from which he could not escape. No one ever earned the prize; he became known as Harry Handcuff Houdini, and by the turn of the 20th century, his fame took him on a five-year tour of Europe.

During his career, the great Houdini only failed to escape a pair of cuffs once when he was presented with a rigged set stuffed with buckshot, rendering the locking mechanism inoperative, even with the key. Houdini had to be cut out of them and, thereafter, all challengers had to demonstrate that the cuffs could be opened before he would permit them to be put on him. His reputation remained untarnished, however, as the media and the public deemed buckshot-filled cuffs to be a hoax and an exercise in dishonesty.

Houdini became one of the first early masters of self-promotion, planning carefully to ensure that his feats would be witnessed by the public and by the mass media. His fame and reputation were sealed with incredible stunts, including breaking out of various city jails including cells in Siberia and Scotland Yard; taking less than three minutes to escape from a water-filled milk can; freeing himself from a straitjacket while shackled at the ankles and dangling upside-down in midair; escaping from a crate thrown into New Yorks East River into which he had been locked and manacled; making an elephant disappear (1918); and escaping from a water-torture chamber in the famous Chinese Water Torture Cell trick (1913).

Houdini also performed the famous bullet catch trick which has killed at least 12 magicians in which a bullet would be fired at his head and he would catch it with his bare hand in mid-air. When the czar watched the trick, he was so impressed that he asked Houdini to repeat it with the czar himself firing the weapon and Houdini again caught the bullet.

As an interesting historical note, after the czars death, his family asked Houdini to serve as its spiritual advisor. When he declined the offer (on the grounds that he wanted nothing to do with Russian anti-Semitism), the position went to wait for it the infamous Rasputin.

In one of his most famous tricks, which turned out to be his final stunt, Houdini performed his underwater coffin trick on August 5, 1926 in the swimming pool at the Hotel Shelton in New York. With his hands cuffed in front and chained to his shackled ankles, his arms chained around his neck, and his torso bent over, he was squeezed into a 700-pound metal coffin that was lowered into the pool. Much to the astonishment of the journalists in attendance, Houdini emerged from the coffin some 91 minutes later.

Exhibited here is a remarkable August 28, 1926 correspondence written and signed by Houdini to Edwin A. Dearn in which he describes where he obtained the coffin for the underwater coffin trick:

A friend of mine Mr. John P. Spatz of the Boyertown Casket Company is going to Shanghai on business and have given him a letter of introduction to you. I know you will be interested to hear that he is the man to whom I am indebted for the use of the caskets while training for the under water coffin experiment. They have treated me very nicely in all of this and know you will be glad to meet him.

Interestingly, several authorities have insisted that Houdini used a 700-hundred-pound sealed tank, not a coffin, for this trick, but this letter, on its face, conclusively proves them incorrect.

Houdini corresponded regularly with Dearn (1892-1980), an amateur magician, during the 1920s. Dearn was also a popular ventriloquist who lived in England before spending 25 years as a regular performer in theaters in the Shanghai district of China, and he entertained many world-famous magicians in his home there.

He was also a passionate collector of magic memorabilia and books, including some 2,000 magic works and apparatus. Dearn was held captive for two years when Mao Zedong took over China in the early 1950s, but he ultimately escaped to Sydney, Australia.

Among other distinctions, Houdini became the first man to fly an airplane in Australia. He starred in silent films, founded his own film production company, and amassed an enormous theater archive, which he donated to Harvard.

After the death of his mother in 1913, Houdini became preoccupied with conquering death. Toward that end, he conferred with noted spiritualists, the result of which was what became a lifelong crusade against charlatans trafficking in the despair of the bereaved with fake sances and bogus raisings of the dead, including testifying before Congress against spiritualists and mediums in 1926.

Spiritualism to Houdini was little more than amateur magic clothed in the supernatural, and his close friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ended when the creator of Sherlock Holmes refused to renounce spiritualism. He alienated Doyle further after Mrs. Doyle conducted a sance during which she claimed to have received directions from Houdinis deceased mother and drew a cross and transcribed a detailed message from her.

Houdini later publicly humiliated the Doyles by noting that the late Mrs. Weisz, a rabbis wife and a practicing Jewess her entire life, would not be drawing a cross nor would she be speaking English instead of her usual German.

Houdini offered a standing $10,000 reward for any supernatural manifestations that he could not duplicate (there were, not surprisingly, no takers), and he wrote several books about spiritualist fraud. Many of the charlatans whom he exposed launched anti-Semitic diatribes against him, calling him Judas and arguing that since his Judaism made him un-American, no one should pay any attention to him.

Houdini died of peritonitis, secondary to a ruptured appendix, sustained when he took punches to the stomach from an audience member. Significant mythologies developed regarding his death during a performance on Halloween and there are still some who argue that the man who regularly escaped death during his lifetime would somehow manage to escape it after his death.

Houdini vowed that, if at all possible, he would contact Bess from beyond the grave. However, to disprove any allegation by pseudo-mystics or the like that they had communicated with him after his death, he gave her a secret code known only to them (and to close friend and confident, mentalist Joe Dunninger), in the absence of which any alleged medium, channeler, or spiritualist could be shown to be a fraud.

Bess held a sance on the tenth anniversary of her husbands death, and Harrys bother, Hardeen, conducted sances thereafter, but Harry never did communicate with them or with anyone else.

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