Escaping the bad news cycle #SootinClaimon.Com

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Escaping the bad news cycle

Arts & CultureOct 11. 2020

By The Washington Post · Elahe Izadi · FEATURES, MEDIA 
Henry David Thoreau used to make fun of people like us. 

“Hardly a man takes a half hour’s nap after dinner,” the poet snarked in 1854, “but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What’s the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels.”

No disrespect to the bard of Walden Pond, but he didn’t have to live through 1 a.m. tweets from the president of the United States announcing he caught a deadly virus during a global pandemic.

“I wake up several times a night in a panic and grab my phone to see the latest,” says Kay Bolden of Shorewood, Ill. “If I accidentally leave my phone inside while I walk the dog or water the garden, I’m a nervous wreck until I can check the news again.”

Turn on CNN or Fox News, and there’s a helicopter taking President Donald Trump to the hospital. Refresh Twitter, and nearly all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine. Check your news apps and see another firestorm in the West, another hurricane in the East, another unarmed Black man shot by police, another update to our national coronavirus death toll.

Sleep? At a time like this? No way. So we stay up late, doomscrolling on our phones until our eyes dry out. During the day, we let television sets roar while we juggle jobs (if we are lucky enough to have them), children, dishes. We want to shut the news off, but we can’t get enough.

“This is no way to live,” Bolden admits. “But how can I relax? The country is going crazy.”

Our news media ecosystem has been building to meet this crazy moment. Forty years ago saw the birth of cable news with CNN, the conceit of which was basically “let’s train our cameras on what’s happening and let it unfold, so that the viewer never wants to turn it off,” says Lisa Napoli, author of “Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-hour News.”

Even if he couldn’t have envisioned an event quite like this, CNN’s first president, Reese Schonfeld, certainly prepared for it when building the network, Napoli adds. He “imagined unfolding news captivating viewers like a live drama.”

Welp, talk about a live drama. The problem, now, of course, is that there’s no end in sight. We’re in the middle of a presidential election, a sudden Supreme Court vacancy, the aforementioned global pandemic, natural disasters and the biggest social protest movement in decades. And each new development is more unbelievable than the last.

“It’s like a plot keeps churning, twist after twist, and they just keep the character arc going up and up and up, and you’re just waiting for that last third of the book where the protagonist gets their revenge or it comes to a nice happily-ever-after – and it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen,” says Elisa Nader of Ashburn, Va. She tries to tune it out with “The Great British Baking Show” at night, and walks outside during the day. “But I get back on my phone because it’s like, you’re afraid to miss something, even if it doesn’t matter if I miss something.”

In Dallas, English professor Karen Roggenkamp has a pile of papers to grade, children to help with distance learning and a house that “currently resembles a dilapidated pigsty. 

“Yet every time I put my phone down or turn off the radio,” she says, “I feel a crush of not knowing if I am missing any news updates or some important new ‘angle’ on a story I’m following.” 

News consumption jumped dramatically at the start of the pandemic in March, when several news outlets reported spikes in web traffic. Digital readership has since leveled off some, but for many sites, it’s still higher than pre-pandemic times. Over the summer, cable outlets like Fox News and the evening newscasts of the three big networks attracted some of the biggest audiences they’ve had in years. 

But the news cycle has gotten out of hand since last week, and many of us have the horrifying screen time reports to show for it.

Tracy Dingmann and her boyfriend had planned a getaway to northern New Mexico last weekend – “peaceful, non-connected, disconnected type of vacation.” But “the whole time we were just glued to MSNBC – which, unfortunately, I get through satellite radio in my car,” she says. As long as they could get reception on their phones, they frantically checked Twitter for updates and launched into “long, intense discussions” about the news, she says.

Is all of this news healthy for us as thinking and feeling humans? Let’s consult an expert. 

“The clear message of research from the last 20 years is that there is no psychological benefit to repeated exposure to bad news,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychological science, medicine and public health at the University of California at Irvine. 

So why do we torture ourselves like this? Silver conducted a study of more than 4,000 people during an especially intense period of news – from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 through the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando – and found that trauma-related media exposure fuels a cycle that just creates more and more distress.

“One of the ways people respond to their anxieties about a particular crisis is to monitor the media about that crisis,” she says. “But that serves to amplify the distress, which leads to increased concerns, which leads to media consumption.”

It’s like being scared of spiders and then constantly scanning every room you enter for spiders and WebMDing “spider bites side effects.” Or freaking out about the state of our democracy and studying the 25th amendment at 3 a.m. 

It’s a cycle that’s very difficult from which to extricate yourself.

“I’m not in any way advocating people put their head in the sand or censorship,” Silver says. “I’m just saying, make news consumption a more conscious decision.”

Some have taken some drastic measures to manage this situation: news fasts, deleting apps, putting phones on “airplane mode.” 

“I have thought about getting a flip phone,” confesses Shazat Shawan of Brooklyn, who, it should be noted here, is 23. “Maybe that will stop the constant barrage of information getting thrown my way.”

Karen Ho, a finance and economics reporter for Quartz, has become the “Doomscrolling Reminder Lady” on Twitter, where she tweets tips on how to unwind and reminds her followers every night that it’s OK to put their phones down and go to bed.

“Most of the stuff on Twitter is not worth looking at right before going to bed. It’s bad for anxiety and depression, and I remind people they’re worth doing things that make them happy,” Ho says. “It can feel like a small act of agency when that’s been taken away.”

Ho gets it. Many any of our normal distractions are now gone. The pandemic has eliminated concerts, movie theater nights, parties. Whereas past news cycles ebbed and flowed over time, the kinds of crises that once came every few months now hit us every day, which also adds to the distress, Silver says. All while our fellow citizens navigate job losses or heavy workloads, children home from school or the care of sick loved ones.

Bolden, the Illinois woman who can’t walk her dog without looking at her phone, says she’s worried about the election, her health care access and being Black in America. Watching the news feels like ascending a gigantic roller coaster that’s so long “you can’t see the top. You can’t see where it’s going.”

“You just know,” she says, “that going down is going to be rough.”

Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy #SootinClaimon.Com

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Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy

Arts & CultureOct 11. 2020A statue of Christopher Columbus is dumped into a lake in Richmond, Va. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnellA statue of Christopher Columbus is dumped into a lake in Richmond, Va. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnell 

By The Washington Post · Stefano Pitrelli · WORLD, THE-AMERICAS, EUROPE 
ROME – While many Christopher Columbus statues were toppled this year in the United States – dragged into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, beheaded in Boston – the towering marble monument to the explorer in his hometown, Genoa, Italy, is disturbed only by pigeons.

As Americans feud over whether Columbus Day should remain a federal holiday – or whether the man who first charted the transatlantic route in 1492 should be remembered as a colonial oppressor – in Italy, Columbus is still held in high esteem. Italians tend to think of him as the sum of their best qualities: ingenuity, courage and resilience.

“Columbus represents genocide,” protesters had written in Richmond, Va., after throwing a Columbus statue into a lake. In Italy, that’s just not the case.

The disconnect may have to do with a lack of knowledge among Italians about the more objectionable aspects of Columbus’s life and legacy. But scholars say there’s also a national defensiveness that has gotten in the way of further understanding.

Italians hear little that is critical of Columbus in school. A 2019 high school textbook, “History and Forgotten Stories,” says only: “Columbus exhibited unquestionable skills as a navigator, but wasn’t able to govern the new territories. Thus began the decline of his mythos and of his authority.”

Giuseppe Marcocci, professor in Iberian history at the University of Oxford, said: “Italian school textbooks still present a clear divide between Columbus the discoverer and the subsequent arrival of Cortez the (Spanish) conqueror. In reality, the two processes are intimately intertwined.”

Europe’s former colonial powers have increasingly begun to reckon with the brutality of that historical period. Indeed, when the United States’ Black Lives Matter protests spread to European cities, the chants were about both modern-day discrimination and colonial legacies. But Columbus – who sailed for Spain and served as governor of Hispaniola – has so far largely escaped a reassessment in Italy.

“Some vague awareness of his colonist brutality has only in the last few years made it into classrooms,” said Marina Nezi, a newly retired high school history teacher in Rome. “But (Italy has) a very long history, and school years are often not enough to tell the whole of it.”

The idealized version of Columbus is crystallized in Italy’s most famous encyclopedia, which defines him as a “great navigator, discoverer of America.” When older Italians think of Columbus, they may visualize Gabriel Byrne’s solemn, silver-haired portrayal in a mid-’80s Italian American TV production.

To be sure, the United States held an almost universally romantic view of Columbus until sometime after the celebration of his voyage’s 500th anniversary, when people started looking into the unsavory parts of his past.

“In 1992 America, (Columbus’s reputation) was still immaculate. Thirty years later, it’s a whole other era. The current Italian attitude is still stuck at that time,” said Giulio Busi, author of “Christopher Columbus, the Sailor of Secrets.”

Busi suggested that Italians have resisted their own reassessment, because they’ve taken U.S. criticism of Columbus personally.

“There’s a firewall of Italianness that has prevented the critique from breaking through and garnering a meaningful following,” Busi said. Toppling his statues “feels like an attack on our nationality.”

This summer, a national newspaper launched a campaign to collect signatures: #HandsOffColumbus. Facebook groups were formed.

“More than 500 years after his death (Columbus) has to suffer new insults,” Francesco Giubilei and Marco Valle wrote in the conservative newspaper Il Giornale in July. “Thinking that by destroying his statues and eradicating his memory one may solve (U.S. society’s racial tensions) is hypocritical and wrong.”

Andrea Castanini, deputy editor of Genoa’s Il Secolo XIX daily, said his newspaper has published several pieces about the attacks on Columbus statues in the United States, with Italians voicing their dissent. “He’s a local hero, and residents were defending him, for what that’s worth. They are very proud of him,” Castanini said.

Men like Columbus, wrote Gabriella Airaldi in one such appeal, “have contributed to building our identity. By destroying (them) you ultimately harm yourself.”

Italian right-wing politicians, too, have been calling out for the safeguard of the national hero’s monuments in the United States.

Responding to the removal of a statue in Columbus, Ohio – a onetime gift from Genoa – Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, called the sailor “a great Italian” and proposed: “Let’s get it back and display it in one of our beautiful squares … lest it lies abandoned in some warehouse.”

“Against Columbus, like ISIS. Shame on you,” Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, wrote on Facebook, comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to “Islamic terrorists.”

Columbus has played a role in identity formation on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the United States, the idea of Columbus Day was promoted by Italian immigrants trying to project a sense of belonging in the face of sometimes violent xenophobia.

“Columbus becomes this figure that Italians latch on to as a way to get a foothold in this incredibly hostile environment that they find themselves in,” Joseph Sciorra, of Queens College’s Italian American Institute, told NPR.

In Italy, the mythology of Columbus was used to help hold a young nation together. It was politics, not science, that turned a man who lived in a time when Italy didn’t even exist, and would only ever write in Spanish, into a lasting symbol of national pride.

The stark white monument in front of Genoa’s railway station was dedicated in 1862, just one year after Italian unity was attained. It speaks the language of patriotic propaganda. The explorer leans on an anchor with an Indigenous woman sitting meekly at his right. The inscription reads, “To Christopher Columbus, the Fatherland.”

The barely formed Italian state required Romantic heroes, and Columbus fit that bill because of what his real accomplishments had been.

“After him, the ocean was no longer labeled ‘dark and mysterious’,” says Franco Farinelli, geographer at the University of Bologna.

“People already knew the world was spherical. But Columbus was the first to translate that into a map, finding the shortest route and actually risking (his life) to follow it. It’s a pillar of Western, performative thought. He invented the New World, but, of course, he did it for a conquest-oriented entrepreneurial operation.”

During his seven years as governor of Hispaniola, the island that is now divided between Haiti and Dominican Republic, Columbus is reported to have ruled with a ruthlessness that was unfortunately common for the time.

“Establishing the specific individual responsibilities of Columbus is tough,” Marcocci said, but within 25 years of his arrival, most of the native Taíno population had died from enslavement, massacre or disease.

More broadly, Columbus is blamed for opening the floodgates to European colonization – an indictment that some academics say is shaky at best.

Whatever the future of Columbus’s fame, “his is a story of a rise and fall,” Busi said. “If you look at it that way, toppled statues fit his mythos.”

Museums sell Picasso and Warhol, embrace diversity to survive #SootinClaimon.Com

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Museums sell Picasso and Warhol, embrace diversity to survive

Arts & CultureOct 09. 2020People sit on the steps at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Aug. 29, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nina Westervelt.People sit on the steps at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Aug. 29, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nina Westervelt. 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Katya Kazakina · BUSINESS, ENTERTAINMENT, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, MUSEUMS 
The one-two punch of Covid-19 and the racial-justice movement has upended huge swathes of society — work, school and health care. Below the radar, it’s also shaking the foundations of another set of U.S. institutions — museums — forcing them to sell prized works and broaden the definition of great art.

For generations, museums lived by a tightly scripted set of rules. They accepted tax-deductible donations and acquired artists seen as great — mostly European and American, mostly white, mostly men. In deference to the sacredness of their task, they were permitted to sell a work only to buy another, not to keep on the lights or pay conservators.

This past April, after museums from San Francisco to Maine shut their doors due to the pandemic, the Association of Art Museum Directors announced that for two years, works could be sold and the proceeds used for “direct care,” with each institution defining what that means.

The impact has been profound. Museums are not only selling works long off the market but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and — they hope — gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls. In other words, they’re expanding the canon and hoping to turn this crisis into an opportunity.

Masterpieces are pouring into the market. This week at Christie’s, Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, sold its sole Jackson Pollock painting for $13 million and Springfield Museums in Massachusetts offloaded a Picasso for $4.4 million. Brooklyn Museum’s only Lucas Cranach is heading to the auction block next week while the Baltimore Museum of Art is shopping around its signature, monumental Last Supper by Andy Warhol for about $40 million.

“This is really an unparalleled moment,” said Brent Benjamin, president of the museum directors association and director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. He said earlier financial crises, like the one in 2008, were hard, “but we’ve never seen anything like this.”

Museums are slowly reopening but with reduced staff — the Metropolitan Museum of Art eliminated 400 jobs during the pandemic — and at lower capacity. They can’t hold fund-raising events in person or deepen relationships by organizing trips to international exhibitions and fairs. They’re selling to stay alive, and auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s are busy.

Museums represent the distress in the art market while their rich patrons, for the most part, have been so far immune from forced sales. The works are extremely desirable because they’re fresh, historically significant and come from the most exalted of collections.

“In the next two weeks, we’ll be making some significant announcements,” said Nina del Rio, Sotheby’s head of advisory and museum, private and corporate art services, who was granted the $65 million consignment from the Baltimore Museum of Art and smaller ones from Palm Springs Art Museum, San Diego Museum of Art and Art Institute of Chicago.

Adam Levine, the new leader of the Toledo Museum of Art, says he consults often with del Rio. He is exploring if there are ways to extract liquidity from art without breaching public trust, he said. The museum got permission to use $200,000 this year in restricted funds for collection management and its staff is finalizing a plan to diversify its holdings.

“Museums have amazing power,” Levine said. “When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.”

It also becomes unimpeachably valuable, and museums are under pressure to give power and value to those who’ve been underrepresented. Levine’s first acquisition was Black artist Bisa Butler’s large-scale quilted portrait of Frederick Douglass, whose title alludes to his speech to abolish slavery.

To be sure, museums have in the past sold works outside the rules and have occasionally been sanctioned for it. Most exhibit a tiny fraction of the art they own, with the rest in storage rarely if ever seeing light of day.

Taking something off the wall can be precarious. Everson Museum’s sale of Pollock’s “Red Composition” drew sharp criticism. And Brooklyn Museum’s sale of the Cranach, among other works, raised eyebrows.

“These aren’t easy decisions,” said Anne Pasternak, the Brooklyn Museum director. “The Cranach was an outlier in our collection and had need for restoration. Am I sad to let it go? Sure. Are there more important works in the museum collection? Yes.”

She plans to sell at least $40 million worth of art in the next two years, starting with 12 pieces valued at $2.3 million to $3.6 million at Christie’s next week, and use the income to care for the 160,000 objects in the museum’s care. In Baltimore, the city’s encyclopedic museum is selling three signature works — by Clyfford Still, Brice Marden and Warhol — to raise $65 million.

The sale of the Still especially stings some locals. A key Abstract Expressionist who spent the final decades of his life on a Maryland farm, Still gave his “157-G” painting to Baltimore as a gift. It’s estimated to sell for $12 million to $18 million and some funds are to be used to buy works by women and people of color.

“The imperative to act and address decades of inaction around equality in the museum is enormously important,” said Christopher Bedford, museum director. He says the emphasis on diversity will “ensure that the story we are narrating is the full and true story.”

Nobel Prize in literature awarded to Louise Glück #SootinClaimon.Com

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Nobel Prize in literature awarded to Louise Glück

Arts & CultureOct 08. 2020Louise GlückLouise Glück 

By The Washington Post · Ron Charles · NATIONAL, WORLD, BOOKWORLD 
Louise Glück has won the 2020 Nobel Prize in literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

The writer, 77, born in New York, is one of the most celebrated poets in America. She has previously won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Bollingen Prize. She was the poet laureate of the United States from 2003 to 2004.

Before today, only 15 women have ever won the Nobel Prize in literature, since it was first awarded in 1901.

Glück has published 12 collections of poetry and several collections of prose. In announcing the award, the judges said, “She seeks the universal, taking inspiration from classical motifs. . . . Glück’s voice is unmistakable. It is candid and uncompromising, and it signals that this poet wants to be understood – but it is also a voice full of humor and biting wit. 

The literature prize is worth approximately $1,125,000. 

Hearing the news that Glück had won the Nobel Prize, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky said, “Sometimes, the world gets these things right. And – I hope it’s not indiscreet to say – a superb new book of poems will be coming from her soon.”

Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, said, “I am so grateful to the Nobel Committee for awarding this year’s prize to Louise Glück, whose charged, resonant poems are exemplars of the art – the reason she was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress in 2003. The Nobel prize will not only promote Glück’s poems to the world but ensure they sit alongside the greatest literature in any language, from any time.”

In an interview in 2012, Glück said, “I learned to read very early, very young, and my father was fond of writing doggerel verses. So the children, the two of us, we started writing books very early. He would print them out and we would illustrate them, and many times the text was in verse.” She began writing poems in her early teens and began sending verses to poetry magazines. They were rejected, but, she said, “I persisted.”

She once described her young self as “not a successful adolescent.” She felt that other children considered her strange. “I became quite withdrawn, and then I became severely anorexic,” she said. But she was determined to be an artist and a professor. 

Success came for Glück in 1968 with the publication of her debut collection, “Firstborn.” 

In 1985, she won a National Book Critics Circle Award for “The Triumph of Achilles.” She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “The Wild Iris,” and a National Book Award in 2014 for “Faithful and Virtuous Night.”

Her work is widely anthologized and the subject of considerable academic study. In 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux assembled her life’s work in a collection titled simply “Poems 1962-2012.” Reviewing the collection for The Washington Post, Steven Ratiner wrote, “Glück’s ‘Poems 1962-2012’ is weighted with the dark matter of the human universe, invisible in our everyday interactions but at the core of our conscious experience. Though Glück lays bare the most intimate moments of longing and loss, these poems are not what we think of as confessional. They are more like the record of a shipwreck survivor trying to come to terms with the strain of isolation and the stark horizon of her island. Language is the castaway’s only refuge.”

Her poem “Birthday” contains these stark lines:

“Staring blindly ahead, the expression of someone staring into utter darkness.

“And thinking – which meant, I remember, the attempts of the mind

“to prevent change. . . .

“Riddled with self-doubt, self-loathing,

“and at the same time suffused

“with contempt for the communal, the ordinary; forever

“consigned to solitude, the bleak solace of perception. . . .”

Today’s announcement honoring one of the world’s most beloved poets may help put the literature committee’s past troubles behind it. 

In 2017, the husband of one of the academy’s members was accused of sexual assault and subsequently convicted of rape. That scandal led to a host of related accusations involving fraud, bad management and widespread misogyny. In the ensuing administrative battle, the permanent secretary of the academy was forced out, several members resigned, and the Nobel Foundation, which funds the award, demanded changes. Structural problems with the committee were considered so intractable that the 2018 literature prize was postponed till 2019. 

But whatever improvements were made during that hiatus felt irrelevant almost as soon as the committee returned. Last year’s literature prize was awarded to Peter Handke, a controversial Austrian writer known for his sympathy for the late Yugoslavia leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide. To many people around the world, honoring Handke felt like a shameful betrayal of the committee’s ideals. 

The only other living U.S. winner of the Nobel Prize in literature is the musician Bob Dylan, who received the award in 2016.

The winner of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced Friday.

This year’s Nobel ceremony in Stockholm has been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

Dovumentary, panel discussion on Oct 10 to reinforce EU campaign to end death penalty #SootinClaimon.Com

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Dovumentary, panel discussion on Oct 10 to reinforce EU campaign to end death penalty

Arts & CultureOct 08. 2020

By The Nation

“The EU is firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. It is a cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, contrary to the right to life,” Ambassador Pirkka Tapiola said. “We encourage countries that still have the death penalty on their books to abolish it. If total abolition remains difficult to achieve, we hope that they will start with putting a moratorium on death sentences and executions.”

The EU is among the world’s strongest opponents of the death penalty. All EU member states are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, a law governing the protection of human rights and political freedoms across Europe, to respect the right to life and to prohibit the death penalty even in time of war.

Since 1997, the EU remains the world’s largest death penalty-free zone, with a population of almost 450 million spanning its 27 member states. Abolishing the death penalty is a pre-requisite to join the Union and one of the EU’s key foreign policy and human rights priorities abroad.

“We are not trying to preach to other countries out of a sense of superiority. Global trends show that the majority of the world is with us on this issue,” Ambassador Tapiola said.

“Two-thirds of countries in the world have already abolished the death penalty either in law or in practice, and countries that carried out executions in 2019 represented only 10 per cent of the 193 members of the United Nations,” he continued. “Those that move to abolish the death penalty in coming years will then join a global movement to uphold human dignity and every person’s right to life. For me, that is a better way to make the world a safer place to live.”

The EU has been fighting the death penalty through advocacy and diplomatic channels. It encourages countries to adopt the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.

The EU has also adopted legislation to prohibit trade in goods that can be used for torture or execution, such as barbiturate agents used in lethal injections. In a joint initiative with Argentina and Mongolia, the EU launched the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade in 2017 to expand the ban more widely. In addition to the 27 EU member states, more than 30 countries in Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, including Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Uruguay, have now joined the alliance.

Every year on October 10, EU delegations around the world also mark the European and World Day Against the Death Penalty. These events are designed to raise public awareness of the EU’s position on capital punishment and stimulate constructive discussion on the need for its abolition.

In Thailand, the EU delegation has teamed up with Alliance Française Bangkok and Documentary Club to host a screening of “Hakamada”, followed by a panel discussion entitled “The Death Penalty: Justice of Capital Mistake?”. This event is scheduled for Saturday from 1.30 to 4.30pm at Alliance Française Bangkok.

“Alliance Française Bangkok is honoured to be part of the EU’s efforts to get more people joining a constructive debate on the death penalty,” said Valérie Morvan, the deputy director of the institute. “Apart from the screening of ‘Hakamada’ on October 10, we will also be showing ‘Apprentice’, an internationally acclaimed drama by talented Singaporean director Boo Junfeng on Friday. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer and screenwriter Raymond Phathanavirangoon. This film will also contribute to the discussion by looking at the death penalty from an executioner’s point of view.

“Exploring the question of whether our society needs the death penalty will lead us to other underlying issues in the criminal justice system, which should also be addressed,” said Tida Plitpholkarnpim, founder of Documentary Club. “This issue may be sensitive but it deserves to be discussed openly and rationally.”

“Hakamada” is a 72-minute documentary about the struggle for justice of a Japanese boxer named Iwao Hakamada, who was sentenced to death in 1968 for a quadruple murder he denied committing.

In 2014, a Japanese court granted a retrial in his case due to new evidence, resulting in his release after more than 47 years in jail and 33 years on death row. To date, Hakamada is known as the world’s longest-held death-row prisoner.

The documentary is being shown as it lends strong support to the argument that abolishing the death penalty will prevent wrongful executions due to miscarriage of justice. It also demonstrates that execution is a cruel and inhumane punishment because it does not always deliver the instant, painless death that it was intended to do.

Ethical, moral, and human rights considerations raised by “Hakamada” will be further explored during a panel discussion entitled “The Death Penalty: Justice or Capital Mistake?” Scheduled to immediately follow the documentary, the discussion will challenge the argument that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against violent crimes and explore alternatives to capital punishment that may more effectively prevent recidivism.

This event will also be broadcast live on, the website dedicated to promoting the EU’s work in Southeast Asia. Those interested are invited to preregister at The documentary is in Japanese and English, with Thai and English subtitles. The panel discussion will be conducted in Thai, with simultaneous English translation.

Connecting ‘comfort women’ and present-day experience through the eyes of a Korean immigrant #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

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Connecting ‘comfort women’ and present-day experience through the eyes of a Korean immigrant

Arts & CultureSep 27. 2020Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon)Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon) 

By Korea Herald

“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” author Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon)“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” author Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon)

When writer Emily Jungmin Yoon released her 2018 book of poems “A Cruelty Special to Our Species,” it was to inform North American readers about the “comfort women,” a euphemistic term for military sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

With the publication of the Korean translation of the book Aug. 14 with the full English version included in the back, Yoon sees her purpose as not to inform, as many Koreans are familiar with the history, but to continue the voice so that the history is not forgotten.

Yoon, who grew up in Canada and studied in the US after immigrating from South Korea, connects her personal experiences as a female Asian immigrant with the experiences of comfort women in her frank, yet deep and piercing, poems.

One of Yoon’s favorite poems in the book is about her grandmother’s experience during the Korean War. She wrote most of the poems in the book during her master’s degree program at New York University, where she studied creative writing.

“I didn’t set out thinking that I’m going to write a book that centralizes on the voices of comfort women of the Japanese empire. But I started writing poems about them after speaking with other poets in NYU about how to translate into poetry our narratives that a lot of Americans don’t know about,” Yoon told The Korea Herald during an interview last Friday in Seoul.

By presenting the history of comfort women through poems, the author encourages readers to empathize with the victims’ emotional experience.

“I still wonder how these poems will be perceived differently here,” said Yoon. “Are people going to feel tired or will they feel suspicious about my intent? I have a bit of apprehension.”

Yoon hopes Korean readers will see that her poems are not trying to speak for the comfort women but rather speak with the comfort women.

The book’s testimonial poems to the victims who are no longer living are intentionally formatted with many cut-off sentences and blank spaces to reflect both the uncomfortable history of the comfort women and how uncomfortable her writing experience was. It also represents the lost memories of the victims.

Poetry, according to Yoon, is not something readers can experience fully by reading quickly. She hopes readers will take time to reflect on the history.

“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” by Emily Jungmin Yoon (Lim Jang-won/The Korea Herald)
“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” by Emily Jungmin Yoon (Lim Jang-won/The Korea Herald)

Yoon delves into the continuing abuse of women and the continuing effects of imperialism, sexism and racism by sharing her personal experiences, and touches on issues such as the Sewol ferry disaster and environmental pollution in her poems.

“The continuance of these things shows that we’re not fully over these issues. Looking back at the history of comfort women allows us to reevaluate our ethics today,” said Yoon.

The violence of history and the violence of today are connected, according to Yoon. A closer examination of what has been done to end the violence, and what more can be done, is needed. Her attempt at informing people outside Korea about the history of Japanese military sexual slavery is just one step along the way.

“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” author Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon)
“A Cruelty Special to Our Species” author Emily Jungmin Yoon (Yolimwon)

“Literature does a good job of adding emotional information to foster empathy, giving you portals to connect other narratives with yours,” said Yoon. “The ultimate goal of this book for people unfamiliar with the history is to foster empathy. We are all living the same history in the end. Nothing is ever irrelevant.”

Among the myriad of violence, Yoon tries to show that an underlying encompassing love and empathy connect us together.

The author also sees a profound change in awareness of Korean culture in America, opening a path for less racism than before. “When I was little, people in America had no awareness of what Korea is even. Now it’s a totally different story. K-pop, K-drama, K-food, K-everything has become popular, although with awareness fetishization (stereotyping) and other kinds of misconception have come up as well,” said Yoon.

Yoon thinks literary works can have a large impact, and more and more Korean American writers like her are coming up each year, representing their culture.

With her poems now released in Korean, Yoon hopes Korean readers will ask themselves whether Korea is doing a good job of spreading Korean cultural history and accepting other cultures.

Mouawad to unveil Miss Universe Thailand’s Bt3.5m diamond crown #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Mouawad to unveil Miss Universe Thailand’s Bt3.5m diamond crown

Arts & CultureSep 24. 2020

By The Nation

Members of the famed Mouawad family of jewellers turned up to add shine at the Miss Universe Thailand 2020 retreat from Tuesday to Thursday this week.

Father-and-son team Fred and Jimmy Mouawad sized up contestants at the InterContinental Resort Hua Hin for the glittering crown they are crafting to adorn the eventual winner.

Last year, Mouawad teamed up with the Miss Universe Organisation, which saw the 2019 Miss Universe dazzle a global audience wearing a headdress specially crafted by the Dubai-based jewellers.

This year it will be the turn of Miss Thailand Universe 2020 will take her throne adorned with a one-of-a-kind specially crafted Mouawad diamond crown.

The precious gem-set crown, worth over Bt3.5 million, will be unveiled on October 7 at IconSiam in Bangkok. The Mouawad family revealed that this unique, bespoke work of extraordinary craftsmanship boldly reflects the key theme of the Miss Universe Thailand 2020 pageant – “Real U, Real Miss Universe”.

Now in its fifth generation, the Mouawad family of jewellers has built a global reputation for design, opulence and innovation.

2020 Korea Art Week to kick off Thursday #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

2020 Korea Art Week to kick off Thursday

Arts & CultureSep 20. 2020Participants look at the works on display at the Zaha Museum in Seoul during 2019 Korea Art Week.Participants look at the works on display at the Zaha Museum in Seoul during 2019 Korea Art Week. 

By Song Seung-hyun
Korea Herald

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea will hold 2020 Korea Art Week from Thursday to Oct. 11

.The upcoming sixth Korea Art Week, organized by the Korea Arts Management Service, will look at the role of art in everyday life and at the power of art in the coronavirus pandemic era. The theme is “Your Life Is Art.”

Over 300 art museums and art event organizers have contributed to this year’s art week, which will be held in 30 cities throughout the country, making it possible for people in underserved areas to enjoy diverse arts experiences.

A total of 27 art tour routes have been planned for the week. Due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, walking tours led by art professionals will be limited to 10 people per group. The tours are open to all, and reservations can be made on the 2020 Korea Art Week website,

Tour participants will be required to strictly follow the government’s social distancing guidelines. For those who cannot join the walking tours, the Korea Arts Management Service has created six videos about the routes.

In response to the COVID-19 situation, the organizer has also prepared online programs such as a virtual reality art museum tour with audio guidance and a web platform where art can be purchased and auctioned.

The VR service is provided in conjunction with immersive online art-viewing platform operator Easel. The organizer said it will also provide this service in English to promote the artworks overseas.

The organizer also said prints would be this year’s focus. It will send out 250 print art kits to those who signed up to participate last week. This year’s art week will also support exhibitions and online and on-site events held by the Korea Print Photography Promotion Association.

Forbidden City’s 600 years focus of show #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Forbidden City’s 600 years focus of show

Arts & CultureSep 13. 2020An exhibition marking the 600th anniversary of the completion of the construction of the Forbidden City opens in Beijing on Thursday. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]An exhibition marking the 600th anniversary of the completion of the construction of the Forbidden City opens in Beijing on Thursday. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily] 

By China Daily

Times change, but some cultural legacies can be everlasting.

A special exhibition has been set up at the entrance of the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, for visitors to review the remarkable development of this architectural wonder.

The exhibition, Everlasting Splendor: Six Centuries at the Forbidden City, opened in the Meridian Gate Galleries on Thursday and will continue through Nov 15. It marks the 600th anniversary of the completion of the construction of the compound, China’s imperial palace from 1420 to 1911.

Twenty-four emperors lived in the Forbidden City during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Within its 720,000-square-meter area, there are 1,050 ancient buildings.

Over 400 cultural relics are displayed at the exhibition, which reflect the history of the Forbidden City’s construction, the development of its layout, and how it has been protected and renovated in the past decades.

“Palatial constructions were the most splendid chapter in the history of ancient Chinese architecture,” Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum, said on Thursday. “They always reflected the highest-level craftsmanship of their respective time.

“The Forbidden City, the world’s largest remaining palace complex, is the pinnacle of ancient Chinese urban construction and architecture,” he said.

He explained that the Forbidden City highlights the importance of rituals and the harmony between humans and heaven.

Wang said it also reflected how different cultures come together. For example, the Qing emperors, who were from the Manchu ethnic group, introduced elements of their ethnic culture to the Forbidden City. Some buildings also have a combination of Chinese and Western fine arts.

“So, the Forbidden City is also an example showing the inclusiveness of Chinese civilization,” Wang said.

The exhibition also reflects important events in the Forbidden City’s 600-year history, with exhibits including items used in its construction and historical documents.

Zhao Peng, director of the department of architectural heritage at the Palace Museum, said: “The exhibition in the Meridian Gate Galleries is only a prelude. We want to usher visitors into a journey through time and space.”

He said that the curators have identified nine key areas as “checkpoints”, where visitors can get more information by scanning QR codes.

In 1406, Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, decided to move the national capital from Nanjing, capital of today’s Jiangsu province, to Beijing. After a decade of preparation, construction of the Forbidden City took place from 1417 to 1420 in the heart of Beijing.

Although the layout of some parts has changed, with the renovation and rebuilding of palaces, its basic structure remains the same.

The Palace Museum was established in 1925. In 1987, the Forbidden City became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum houses 1.86 million cultural relics and received over 19 million visitors in 2019.

“The Palace Museum has made many achievements in recent years in terms of exhibitions, the renovation of ancient architecture, academic studies, digitization and many other fields,” Hu Heping, minister of culture and tourism, said at Thursday’s opening ceremony. “These achievements have rejuvenated the old Forbidden City.”

“A duty to human civilization has been fulfilled as the Forbidden City has been well preserved,” Hu said. “But it needs our further efforts to tell its good stories and better display its cultural legacies at home and abroad.”

Exhibition offers insights into the renaissance works of princes Damrong and Narisara #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Exhibition offers insights into the renaissance works of princes Damrong and Narisara

Arts & CultureSep 13. 2020

By The Nation

The Fine Arts Department has organised a special exhibition on the occasion of Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2020 entitled “The Renaissance from the Message of HRH”.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 1962, praised the Father of Thai history, His late Royal Highness, Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, as an important person of the world. He is the first Thai person to be honoured. The next year, HRH Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, the great architect of Siam, was also honoured. Both are considered as playing an important role in laying the essential foundation for education and the arts, making history, archaeology and art of Siam widely learned in education systems since the King Rama V period.

The special exhibition consists of over 300 antiques and multimedia under various subheads. The two continued to exchange letters discussing matters in the field of science. The handwritten letters contain commentary and exposition on various matters.

The exhibition at the Sivamok Phiman Throne Hall, Bangkok National Museum is open from 9am to 4pm (closed on Monday and Tuesday and on public holidays). The exhibition, which opened on August 19, can be viewed until November 19. Entrance fee is Bt30.