The Christmas period can be one where the world is rather ‘slow’, news-wise. There’s nothing wrong with that; indeed it could be said to be part of the magic of Christmas that we don’t have to endure much in the way of politics. On the other hand, it’s a day when, occasionally, ‘big news’ happens precisely because people have their eye off the ball to celebrate Christmas. Nicolae Ceaucescu was removed from power in Romania (and killed) on Christmas Day, an event I remember on the news as a child.
The USSR used December 25th to do a nuclear test in 1962.
The USSR used it to transport an invasionary force into Afghanistan in 1979.
Gorbachev resigned as President of Russia in 1981, and on the same day Ukraine voted to leave the Soviet Union.
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to wake up on Monday (or Tuesday) morning to learn that the more than slightly unhinged Kim Jong Un has launched his most provocative nuclear test yet. Because his atrophied mind will have concluded that Christmas Day is the day that ‘the west’ takes its eye off the ball.
One upside to the slack news period of life around Christmas is that journalists still need to fill acres of news print and cyberspace, and to do so they print stories that might otherwise be buried under the day to day aspects of national and international politics. Often, these stories are much more interesting than the stuff often peddled as news day and daily.
For example, the UK’s Daily Mail this morning runs a story about what’s known as Black Eye Friday here, the night when people stop work for the Christmas holidays and go out and get rip-roaringly drunk. They appear to run this story almost every holiday. What a surprise. Young people go out and get drunk.
I don’t really approve of getting into that condition under any circumstances, being someone who always knew my limit with alcohol, then stopped drinking regardless of what friends were doing. But before I learned that lesson I suspect I was just as ‘out of it’ on more than one occasion as much as any of the people in the photos accompanying the story. Hidden away, though, in the photo gallery is the following photo.
Whether drink fuelled or not, a young woman takes time to sit with a homeless man on the streets of Liverpool. It makes for a lovely image of the Christmas spirit, and we can hope the gentleman in question manages to find some hot food and shelter over Christmas and beyond into 2018. I know there’s lots of people who’ll give up their Christmas Day and volunteer to help deliver hot food, warmth and social interaction at Christmas. Perhaps 2018 can be the year when we begin to tackle the issue of people on the streets more robustly.
Another story that grabbed my attention, one of those that would have been buried at most other times of year, was one about people departing Russia, as featured on the BBC news pages.
There’s an exodus of people, young people, educated people, departing Russia because of its oppressions and, assuming the link is available to people around the globe, and not just in the UK, I’d urge you to read the article. If anyone is having difficulty accessing the link, I’ll copy and paste the text as an addendum to this post. There’s even a name for it : Poravalism (roughly translatable as ‘let’s get out of here-ism’ or, as I’ve seen it translated ‘scram-osis’)
Apparently it’s a compound word of two simple Russian words: “пора” (it’s time) and “валить” (to go, clear out, scram.)
I’m not sure how widely known the word ‘scram’ will be known beyond English speakers, or even within the English speaking word. It’s known widely in the UK. ‘To scram’ means to ‘clear off’ or ‘get out of here’ as in ‘you! Scram! Now!’ (as maybe said from a policeman to some unruly teenagers) or ‘Let’s scram’ (as maybe said if a pub’s getting too crowded and you and your friend just want a quiet drink).
Remember when the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot held a concert in a Russian cathedral, were subsequently arrested and jailed?
One of the jailed, Nadya Tolokonnikova, chose to remain in Russia to continue to agitate from within and she’s featured in the BBC article.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, today.
Pussy Riot, of course, didn’t embrace nudity. Theirs was a more ‘punk’, shock tactic approach to challenging authority. But they were supported by the likes of Femen, a group that did embrace nudity for shock tactics.
They were even at it last night, staging a protest in the Vatican’s own Nativity scene, with a protestor, dressed as the Virgin Mary, sporting a slogan that read ‘Assaulted by Church’.
Prior to my learning this, this morning, Harry had set up a photo op at SL’s Red Square when this story was first published, with a nude model conflating Pussy Riot and Femen (the model replicating Nadya Tolokonnikova’s current pink haired look, while including some nudity). See the photo above.
I’m not quite sure Harry did it, but his model also sports a couple of Femen styled slogans, Free the Nipple and Top Freedom Now, on her torso.
The effect is, of course, to show a defiance in the poses to the oppressive society that has grown up (again) in Putin’s Russia, the oppression that is leading to Poravalism.
If you have time, read the article (one that’s being widely shared beyond the BBC link).