Lazy Saturday Reads

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Good Morning!!

We’ve lost another great actor. Famed British character actor John Hurt died yesterday at age 77. He had pancreatic cancer.

NBC News: Acting Legend John Hurt of ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Elephant Man’ Dead at 77.

John Hurt, who appeared in “Midnight Express,” “The Elephant Man” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” among many other films, has died at the age of 77, his publicist said….

With a career that stretches back more than 60 years, Hurt has long been a familiar face to moviegoers. In recent years, audiences recognized him as wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, as the British dictator in “V for Vendetta” and as the disturbed Harold “Ox” Oxley in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

But Hurt is perhaps best known for his role that came some years ago. His role in “Midnight Express” earned him an Oscar nomination and his work as David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” in 1980 and as the main character in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” provided him global name recognition.

In total Hurt was nominated for two Oscars and won four BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In 2015, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II….

Hurt had a unique voice that provided him a rich voice acting career. From the animated films “Watership Down” and “The Lord of the Rings,” both made in 1978, to the popular BBC series “Merlin,” Hurt’s voice built entire worlds for audiences.

Hurt also held the dubious honor for the most onscreen deaths of any actor, according to a 2014 article by the Nerdist.

Orwell’s famous novel has been is selling like hotcakes on Amazon in the first week of the Trump presidency; perhaps the movie will do the same now.

John Hurt as Kane dies in "Alien."

John Hurt as Kane dies in “Alien.”

More on John Hurt from The New York Times:

Mr. Hurt was a rising stage actor in England in the 1960s but spent most of the remainder of his career compiling a long résumé in movies and on television. A chameleon of a performer, physically unimposing but with a rich, melodic voice, he played a number of leading roles, though he could never be described as a leading man. Critics often seemed challenged to explain the appeal of his presence.

In “The Naked Civil Servant” (1975), seen first on television in England, he was Quentin Crisp, a flame-haired raconteur and social butterfly whose forthright flamboyance as a gay man helped push the acceptance of homosexuality in Britain.

In a 1979 BBC mini-series, he was Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, the brooding, conscience-stricken killer in “Crime and Punishment.” And in Michael Radford’s 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984,” he was Winston Smith, the protagonist. Mr. Hurt’s pallor, fearful expression and prominent ears made him an especially feral and unromantic rebel.

“His countenance is fishy and bizarre,” Cintra Wilson wrote in Salon in 2004. “He has dark, verminous little eyes, a smirky little mouth full of nicotine-varnished teeth, and that British complexion that evokes a poached worm. Even in his early films, he has eye bags and looks like he put on a face that was at the very bottom of his laundry basket. His body, when it isn’t a little overindulged around the abdomen, is scrawny. He has never, in any role, looked particularly masculine. The characters he plays are generally weak, immoral, murderous, slimy or insane. Yet to gaze upon John Hurt, in almost any role, is to feel a drooly adoration; he is irresistible.”

I signed the petition demanding Donald Trump release his tax returns. If you haven’t signed it yet, I hope you will.

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Huffington Post: Petition Demanding Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns Breaks White House Record.

A petition on the White House website asking President Donald Trump to release information about his tax returns has now received more signatures than any other petition in the system’s five-year history.

The petition demands that the federal government explain what it is doing to “immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.” It garnered over 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of the president’s inauguration and has become the subject of a New York Times editorial.,

“The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” states a brief description of the petition.

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had over 368,000 signatures, surpassing the previous record of 367,180. The previous record-holder called for the United States government to “legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

There are now more than 400,000 signatures.

The Daily Telegraph has an update on the Russian spy who was arrested and charged with treason in December: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump.

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

leg

Oleg Erovinkin

Oleg Erovinkin

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month….

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, tRump signed a cruel executive order to prevent refugees from several majority Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. Countries like Saudia Arabia where tRump has business interests weren’t on the list, but Syria and Iraq were. Voice of America reports:

The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” calls for suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to citizens of “countries of particular concern.”

Two United Nations agencies issued a joint statement Saturday just hours after Trump’s order, saying “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater, and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said they hope the “U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.” The agencies said they “strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.” ….

As a reason for the order, the document cites the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, which were carried out by 19 foreigners who obtained visas to enter the United States without difficulty. It refers to other terrorism-related crimes committed over the past 15 years by foreign nationals who entered the United States using either short-term visas — as visitors, students or temporary workers — or as refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S.

Of course everyone knows the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The order means that we will turn away Iraqis who helped us and are in danger in their own country.

refugees-demonstrating-in-migrant-camp-in-france

The New York Times: Fears That Trump’s Visa Ban Betrays Friends and Bolsters Enemies.

CAIRO — Across the Muslim world, the refrain was resounding: President Trump’s freeze on refugee arrivals and visa requests from seven predominantly Muslim countries will have major diplomatic repercussions, worsen perceptions of Americans and offer a propaganda boost to the terrorist groups Mr. Trump says he is targeting.

Mr. Trump’s stance has been evident since the early days of his campaign, when he advocated a “complete and total shutdown” of all Muslims entering the United States.

President Trump has since softened his language, casting his order on Friday as a way to keep terrorists, not Muslims, out of the United States.

“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

But in interviews with dozens of officials, analysts and ordinary citizens across Muslim-majority countries, there was overwhelming agreement that the order issued Friday signaled a provocation: a sign that the American president sees Islam itself as the problem.

“I think this is going to alienate the whole Muslim world,” said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a lawmaker and former Iraqi national security adviser in Iraq.

This heartless order by tRump will be challenged in the courts.

An Iraqi refugee family

An Iraqi refugee family

The New York Times: Refugees Detained at U.S. Airports, Prompting Legal Challenges to Trump’s Immigration Order.

President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect Friday night. Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.

The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.

Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, created a legal limbo for individuals on the way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.

Mr. Trump’s order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and it bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Just reading the words “President Trump” makes me physically ill.

On bright spot is that the tRump people have walked back a number of the ridiculous plans they’ve proposed. Rachel Maddow did a good report on this last night. If you didn’t see it, I hope you’ll go watch it. And while you’re there, please check out Lawrence O’Donnell’s open monologue about the abject humiliations tRump has suffered over the past two days. I know everyone is demoralized, and I am too. But we have to keep hope alive.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and do your best do enjoy the weekend.