Monthly Archives: April 2013

FACT:

Employees can still be fired in at least 29 states simply for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual and 34 states for being transgender. The Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, is being reintroduced today. LIKE and SHARE if you support equal opportunities for ALL employees!

Marriage Equality

Massive congrats to France today for passing the marriage bill amendment to allow same-sex marriage and adoption!

And a huge congrats to New Zealand, too:
“New Zealand decided that everyone deserves equality and legalized marriage equality. After an amazing final debate and vote, the the people in the galley and many of the members of Parliament decided the next logical thing to do would be to burst into song. So they sang the Maori love song “Pokarekare Ana.” And it’s wonderful. They start singing at 1:20.
The woman who everyone keeps hugging is professional athlete and Member of Parliament Louisa Wall, the representative who sponsored the bill. She also happens to be gay, so this one had some special meaning for her. Bet she would love it if you shared this.”

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Parody of Dove’s new campaign

I posted about Dove’s sketches campaign, and a parody has been created!

“Ogilvy Brazil’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign for Dove took the Internet by storm this week with its clever use of a forensics artist to show women that they’re really more beautiful than they think. What would happen if you tried the same experiment on men? Check out the brilliant parody below from New Feelings Time Comedy. Let’s just say guys get the opposite results—but end up getting a little weepy just the same. “Men. You’re less beautiful than you think.” And you ain’t no movie stars.”

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Dove Hires Criminal Sketch Artist to Draw Women as They See Themselves and as Others See Them: Moving work by Ogilvy Brazil

 

“Gil Zamora is an FBI-trained forensics artist with over 3,000 criminal sketches under his belt. Dove and Ogilvy Brazil hired him to interview and draw seven different women—two sketches of each. The first sketch was based on each woman’s personal description of herself. The second was based on a description provided by a stranger the woman had just met. Of course, the differences are vast. Watching these women come face to face with the version of themselves in their mind and the version everyone else sees is extraordinary. It’s one of the most original and touching experiments to come from the Campaign for Real Beauty in ages, because instead of making faux protests or annoying graphic designers with bullshit filters, they’re actually empowering individual women to appreciate their inherent beauty, and in turn, allowing us all to wonder if we’ve been judging ourselves too harshly. Like all of the best work, the commercial elements are barely there. Beyond the logo, Dove doesn’t even attempt to sell soap. Watch the documentary below, and mini-videos of selected women on the web site. Then enjoy the rousing comments section, where people are already attacking Dove for choosing too many skinny, white chicks.”

CREDITS
Client: Dove
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Brazil
Chief Creative Officer: Anselmo Ramos
Executive Creative Director: Roberto Fernandez /Paco Conde
AD: Diego Machado
CW: Hugo Veiga
Sketch Artist: Gil Zamora
Producer: Veronica Beach
Junior Producer: Renata Neumann
Business Manager: Libby Fine
CEO: Luis Fernando Musa
Group Account Director: Valeria Barone
Account Director: Ricardo Honegger

Production Company: Paranoid US
Director: John X Carey
Executive Producer: Jamie Miller / Claude Letessier
Line Producer: Stan Sawicki
Director of Photography: Ed David

—Long Version
Executive Producer: Jamie Miller / Claude Letessier
Producer: Stan Sawicki
Editor: Phillip Owens
Music: Subtractive
Sound mix: Lime Studio
Composer: Keith Kenniff
Mixer: Sam Casas
Executive Producer: Jessica Locke
Production Sound: Tim O’Malley
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Sean Coleman

—Short Version and Cinema
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissor
Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
Editor: Paul Kumpata
Assistant Editor: Niles Howard
Online: A52
Executive Producer: Megan Meloth
Producer: Jamie McBriety
Music: Subtractive
Composer: Keith Kenniff
Sound mix: Lime Studio
Mixer: Sam Casas
Executive Producer: Jessica Locke
Production Sound: Tim O’Malley
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Sean Coleman

Never really been pulled into Dove’s adverts, but this is pretty cool as an experiment.

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Spectacular frozen waterfall created by resident who left hot tap on ALL winter

“Have you ever wondered what might happen if you leave the tap running for too long at home?

This astonishing frozen waterfall was created out of a building in Jilin city in Jilin province, north-east China, after seventh-floor resident Wen Hsu, 58, left the hot tap on all winter.

He had lived for 35 years in the property scheduled for demolition to make way for a new shopping centre – and when developers managed to buy all the other flats, he was left as the only resident.

As winter approached, Mr Hsu was worried that the uninsulated water pipes running up through the unused and unheated flats below him would freeze, leaving him without running water. 

 
Waterfall

Amazing: This spectacular frozen waterfall was created out of a building in Jilin city in Jilin, China, after the owner left the hot tap running

So in order to keep the temperature of the pipes above freezing he simply switched on the tap – and then diverted the warm water to flow down the side of the building.

He said: ‘The water running into the pipe is from underground where it is above freezing and that is stopping the water pipes in my house from freezing. If that had happened I really would have had to move out. They want me to move.

‘But what they were offering was not enough for me to get another place so I’m refusing to leave. I don’t have anywhere to go anyway.’

Ironically the spectacular waterfall has now drawn attention to his case in international media and council officials are urging developers to settle the matter so that the project can move on.

Mr Hsu said: ‘The weather is warmer now so there is no danger of the pipes freezing – although I think it might take a while for the waterfall to melt.

‘In any case I understand the developers may be prepared to make me a better offer now – I hope so. It is very lonely here in my apartment with nobody else around.’

 
High up: Mr Hsu had lived for 35 years in the property scheduled for demolition to make way for a new shopping centre - and when developers managed to buy all the other flats, he was left as the only resident

High up: Mr Hsu had lived for 35 years in the property scheduled for demolition to make way for a new shopping centre – and when developers managed to buy all the other flats, he was left as the only resident

 
Frozen: In order to keep the temperature of the pipes above freezing Mr Hsu simply switched on the tap - and then diverted the warm water to flow down the side of the building

Frozen: In order to keep the temperature of the pipes above freezing Mr Hsu simply switched on the tap – and then diverted the warm water to flow down the side of the building”

 

If this was published on April 1st, I wouldn’t believe it!

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Westboro Baptist Church threatens to picket funerals of those slain at the Boston Marathon

“…

In the hours since the two explosions rocked the streets of Boston, messages of love and support have saturated the internet — but these inspiring and compassionate posts were not universal.

In fact, the commentary streaming across the Twitter feed of the Westboro Baptist Church was both hostile and hateful.

The Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas, is a small, virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group that regularly stages protests or pickets institutions and individuals they think support homosexuality or otherwise subvert what they believe is God’s law. 

WBC even protested the funerals of children who were slain in the horrific Newtown shootings this past December.

Given their history, perhaps it should come as no surprise that members of the Westboro Baptist Church have vowed to picket the funerals of those killed at the Boston Marathon today.

In one tweet, the church wrote, “God sent the Boston Marathon Bombs for the sin of Massachusetts passing same-sex marriage!””

 

One word: freaks.

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Kid President meets the President of the United States of America

Cute video of the day!

“After previously only speaking via can and string, Kid President and President Barack Obama finally meet face to face. The two met in the Oval Office to discuss how kids and grown-ups can work together to change the world. This meeting is proof that dreams can come true and ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Thank you for watching and spreading the Kid President message! You made this happen.

Footage courtesy of The White House.”

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Facebook Home “Launch Day”

“Facebook HQ. Launch day. The team of engineers who built Facebook Home gathers as it finally ships. One guy appears to enjoy using Home already. Shot on location at Facebook, and featuring the actual product team, the film gives people a fun peek behind the Menlo Park curtain. http://www.FacebookHome.com”

Loving the goat!

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Facebook Home “Launch Day”

“Facebook HQ. Launch day. The team of engineers who built Facebook Home gathers as it finally ships. One guy appears to enjoy using Home already. Shot on location at Facebook, and featuring the actual product team, the film gives people a fun peek behind the Menlo Park curtain. http://www.FacebookHome.com”

Loving the goat!

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“Down, down inside the Pyongyang Metro stands a statue of the Eternal Ruler of North Korea, Generalissimo Kim Il Sung – dead these past 19 years but still calling the shots. Brainwashing cast in bronze.

The regime’s florid propaganda blares from loudspeakers: ‘The pure white snows of our sacred mountains’ artillery will wipe the filthy enemy from existence.’ Or something like that.

The newspaper racks on the platforms detail the latest from the ‘American imperialist aggressors’ and warn of thermo-nuclear war.

 
On the inside: Panorama reporter John Sweeney with a North Korean colonel overlooking the De-Militarised Zone

Inside: Panorama reporter John Sweeney with a North Korean colonel overlooking the De-Militarised Zone

 

No ordinary North Koreans talk to us. Almost 400ft below the surface, it’s hard not to feel that we’re trapped inside a doomsday cult like the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, or Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in Guyana. Only this one is a cult nation, armed with nukes, and the clock is counting down to Armageddon.

I’ve reported from Ceausescu’s Romania, Saddam’s Iraq, Gaddafi’s Libya, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and the Ayatollahs’ Iran – but after eight days undercover in North Korea, I believe this regime is the most frightening tyranny of all. 

Kim The First’s grandson, Kim Jong Un, has the power to make the biggest of bangs. The new boy-God holds his people in near-total mental enslavement.

The regime is mad, bad and silly, all at the same time. But its grip is fading – and that makes it even more dangerous.

If the truth about North Korea is slowly trickling down to its people – that it is dirt poor, led by a preposterous gangster-dynasty – then that is the best explanation of Kim Jong Un’s nuclear sabre-rattling.

He’s leading his nation to a state of pseudo-war, lest they wake up and snap out of it and tear him to shreds, as the Libyans did to Gaddafi.

 
Daily grind: Peasants working in a stream in a countryside that resembles a moonscape

Daily grind: Peasants working in a stream in a countryside that resembles a moonscape

 

The scariest scenario is set out by Professor Brian Myers, author of The Cleanest Race and the greatest living authority on North Korean propaganda: that pseudo-war turns into the real thing by accident:

‘We may see a thermo-nuclear  war but it wouldn’t be because the North Koreans wanted it. It’s not their plan to unleash that, but it might come to that as a result of a disastrous miscalculation.’

DAY 1: I fly from China. Beijing, the centre of the world’s great authoritarian power, feels like San Francisco compared with Pyongyang as I get off our plane and stumble through a large cattle shed.

It turns out to be the airport terminal. The absences bite. No Adverts. No planes coming and going. No internet. No mobile phones that can talk to the world. No 21st Century.

North Korea doesn’t allow journalists here so I’m going in with a group of holidaymakers.

The tourist coach is a great tool of totalitarian power: one microphone, one exit. Our lead guide wears a black suit, is a complete believer and has a subtle sense of humour when he greets us: ‘Hello everybody .  .  . the situation is very tense.

‘Nobody knows when the war will be provoked but we will be safe.  Our bus has the mark of the Korean International Travel Company so the Americans won’t strike our bus. Ha ha .  .  .’

Our hotel boasts five stars, North Korean-style. The lobby is dominated by a painting of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il. Kim The First wears a business suit, the hideous goitre on his neck airbrushed out. Kim Two sports a Mao suit, silly Elton John-esque glasses and an Elvis-era quiff.

The television offers endless repeats of the Korean War and Kims One and Two opening factories and things. It’s fascinating for ten minutes, then suddenly it’s not.

The public areas of the Pyongyang version of the Ritz are unlit and freezing, the floor of the gents a stagnant pool of stinking water. Outside my hotel room, human ants build a joint venture with a Chinese bank, night and day, day and night.

 
High and mighty: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un inspecting troopers at a cavalry training compound in a picture released by the regime's press agency

High and mighty: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un inspecting troopers at a cavalry training compound in a picture released by the regime’s press agency

 

Kim Jong Un was born on Elvis’s birthday, schooled in Switzerland and seems to be happy to dump the command economy that his grandfather copied from Stalin.

The question is, can Kim Three free things up economically while retaining absolute political power?

DAY 2: They take us to an almighty monument, a hammer, a sickle and a calligraphy brush: workers by hand and by brain, symbols of an old religion.

Many people think of North Korea as Communist. One year ago Marx and Lenin still had pride of place in a big square in town. But on our trip, they’re gone.

If North Korea is not Stalinist, what is it? Former British ambassador to the country John Everard was blunt: ‘There are sad parallels between North Korea and Nazi Germany and although some people describe  North Korea as a Stalinist state, it’s actually much more accurate to describe it as neo-Nazi. It is deeply racially biased.

‘Kim Jong Il [Kim The Second] was an unabashed admirer of Hitler and copied the Nuremberg marches that are staged in Pyongyang to this day.’

They take us to the mausoleum, beautifully lit, spotlessly clean and splendidly heated. Kims One and Two lie in glass boxes, waxworks both. In North Korea, only the dead rulers lie warm. We’re told to bow, and being undercover, I submit.

Mark Fitzpatrick, an American expert on North Korea, says this is the only nation in the world ruled by a dead man. Generalissimo Kim Il Sung is still the leader of the country – a kind of god.

It’s rule by Zombie and Sons.

No wonder it is the worst-run country I’ve ever been to. They take us to the West Sea barrage – a signature regime achievement. Our road is blocked by an ancient lorry tipping rocks against the barrage wall. It’s falling into the sea.

They take us to a bottling plant. On the production line, there are no bottles. They take us to a show farm, complete with anti-aircraft guns. But no crops. No fields. No beasts. Propaganda drums out from loudspeakers, all the live-long day. The sound is scratchy, the record stuck these past 68 years.

Off to a spa hotel, set aside for regime trusties and foreign tourists like us. It’s pure Bond villain kitsch. We have a barbecue, clams flambéed in petrol, washed down by N‘rocket fuel’ – North Korean vodka. This is a heavy drinking society. I toast our minder: ‘Let’s not have thermo-nuclear war any time soon.’

We were the only guests.

DAY 3: The more we see, the worse it gets: huddled figures scouring the earth by a dead factory, a woman washing clothes in an icy river. Our guides grow anxious: ‘no photos’. The town we hurry through is dirty and mean. An entire industrial complex looks as though it’s been idle for years. From a great chimney, no smoke. At the Daean Heavy Machine Complex, we’re greeted by a nice lady in national costume who points to the mural of Kims One and Two – and then the lights go out. Can we see anything being made?

Our lady guide translates: ‘Now the situation on the Korean peninsula is getting worse. On the verge of Korean war, so they are now producing the military things. So they can’t show the whole factory.’

 
Admired and adored: The rule of Kim Jong Un has been compared to Nazi Germany, with photographs like this drawing parallels to Hitler Jugend meetings

Admired and adored: The rule of Kim Jong Un has been compared to Nazi Germany, with photographs like this drawing parallels to Hitler Jugend meetings

 

DAY 4: We drive through a countryside more like a barren moonscape to see the DMZ – the DeMilitarised Zone where North Korea stops and South Korea starts.

In 1950, North Korea, supported by Stalin and Mao, invaded the South. Three years later and one million dead, the border was back to where it had been – the 38th Parallel. The two sides declared a ceasefire, but there has never been a peace treaty.

The question is: who started the war? I ask the colonel in charge of the DMZ: ‘The Americans, South Koreans and the British say that North Korea invaded South Korea, not the other way around?’

He disagrees.

We talk about the chances of war. I explain that in Britain we are less afraid because we are farther away.

Our female guide translates that as: ‘He needs to leave now because war might break out.’

The colonel puts his arm around my back, laughs, and says: ‘Don’t worry about it.’

At the DMZ it could hardly be more peaceful. But on the other side, something’s missing.

Normally, there’s South Korean and American military watching the North Korean side, watching us. Today, no one.

I ask the colonel: does he think there will be a shooting war?

‘There is no shooting, you can’t say this is a war,’ he replies.

‘Don’t know if war will break out. Whether there is a war depends on the Americans.’

We ask for a group photo, and the colonel obliges.

Up on a hill, by yet another Kim statue, the strangest thing happens: I pick up a phone signal from the South only a few kilometres away.

If I can do this, so can a North Korean. The digital revolution is eating away at the regime’s control – and that makes it harder to keep people brainwashed.

DAY 5: Military have flooded into the capital. At the People’s Study-Library, a vast, freezing ballroom of a place, dominated by Zombie Kim sitting in a marble throne, I ask for one particular book: 1984? No George Orwell, but they have got Discovering Food And Nutrition.

That’s grimly ironic – because mass starvation is one of the regime’s achievements. In the Nineties, its military-first policy brought famine to the land. But images of children with stick-limbs staring at the camera have never been shown. Maybe a million died, maybe more.

 
At war: Pyongyang declared the 1953 non-aggression treaty between North and South Korea invalid last month, cut two military hotlines, and announced that it considered itself in a state of war with the South

At war: Pyongyang declared the 1953 non-aggression treaty between North and South Korea invalid last month, cut two military hotlines, and announced that it considered itself in a state of war with the South

 

DAY 6: We’re on the road again, heading east. Our coach threads through mountain gorges, dotted with late snow. Due north of here is something our guides would never, ever show us: the North Korean gulag.

In South Korea, I met a defector who had been a prisoner. He told me that in winter the ground was so hard they could not bury the dead. They waited until April, the burying season: ‘The dead were kept in a warehouse. When we went to bury them, they were already decomposed. We moved them by shovel and buried up to 80 people in one hole in the ground.’

He said this was still happening now.

We found another defector, a  doctor. ‘I lived as a robot. I was not a human being,’ she said.

I asked: ‘If you as a doctor had said, “We need more money for medicine for the patients”, what would have happened?’ ‘They would kill me that very day,’ she said.

DAY 7: They take us to the biggest hospital in Pyongyang. I’m wearing my coat, jacket, shirt, vest and thermal long johns inside for a reason: it’s freezing. At least the power is on, I think. Then there’s a power cut. They show us a series of fancy machines, but no patients.

The doctor guiding us says he can’t show us patients without their permission, but this feels like yet another propaganda tour, and I’ve had enough: ‘Tell the doctor we’re not fools. We haven’t seen any patients. Please don’t treat us in this way.’

Our last stop is the circus. And who should I bump into in the stalls? What feels like the entire North Korean officer corps – not one of them armed. It’s as if the regime doesn’t quite trust its loyal officers.

Top billing at the circus, hanging just above the trapeze, is a model of an intercontinental ballistic rocket. As it rises up, two lissom acrobats explode from its entrails. The officers clap as if the world about to end.

On the day I leave, North Korea declares a state of war against its neighbour.

How Kim Jong Un – the most dangerous man in the world – chooses to celebrate the 101st birthday of his grandfather tomorrow is up to him. Let’s hope it’s just with lots of candles and a big cake.

 

John Sweeney’s report, Panorama: North Korea Undercover, is on BBC1″

 

You don’t even need to know much about North Korea to see the resemblance to Hitler – the photographs are so Nazi, it’s scary!

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