Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others were awarded life imprisonment by the CBI Special Court here in the Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case.
Chattrapati was a Sirsa-based journalist who had published a news item in his newspaper about the alleged sexual exploitation of Sadhvis in Dera Sacha Sauda. He was shot outside his home in Sirsa on October 24, 2002, by Kuldeep Singh and he died on November 21, 2002, at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
Special Judge Jagdeep Singh also awarded life imprisonment to Dera staff Krishan Lal, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh. He also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each on the accused.
Ram Rahim, who is already undergoing 20-year rigorous imprisonment in a case of rape of two women adherents, is lodged in Rohtak jail while Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal are lodged in Ambala jail. The four accused were sentenced through video conferencing.
“Yo, Pac!” You can almost feel the spittle as Gary Oldman launches into his soliloquy. It is 2012, and he is performing in a skit on Jimmy Kimmel’s US talkshow, reciting from R Kelly’s autobiography with the plummy majesty he later brought to the role of Churchill. “What up, baby?” he utters as the audience collapses in giggles. The joke is twofold: English people are so white! But also: R Kelly is so ridiculous!
For years, Robert Kelly, now aged 52, was seen, as Kimmel put it that night, as “great and inexplicable”. He was one of the US’s most brilliant entertainers, beloved for his uproariously carnal R&B tracks and stratospheric ballads. But there was something that set him apart from his musical peers: a knowing ridiculousness, which would prompt him to cast himself in a 33-part television opera centering around a well-endowed dwarf, describe himself as a “sexasaurus”, and make Same Girl, his duet with Usher, so hammy it would inevitably be spoofed by Flight of the Conchords in a song called We’re Both in Love With a Sexy Lady. This sense of self-mockery gained him a new, white hipster audience – Pitchfork booked him to play its festival in 2013 – and also helped insulate him from criticism. Until now.
It has been alleged for more than 20 years that Kelly has had abusive relationships with women. He wrote and produced Aaliyah’s debut album, then was reported to have married the R&B star illegally when she was 15. The album was titled – chillingly, in retrospect – Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number. In 1996, Tiffany Hawkins sued Kelly for “personal injuries and emotional distress” during a three-year relationship that began when she was 15 and he was 24. That suit, and three others since, were settled out of court. Kelly has only appeared before a judge once, in 2008, when he was accused of making child abuse images by filming sexual encounters, including one in which he urinated over an underage girl. A jury couldn’t identify the man or the girl in the video without doubt, and Kelly was acquitted.
Throughout all this, Kelly’s career flourished. Mark Anthony Neal, professor of black popular culture at Duke University, calls him “the most visible R&B star of the 1990s … we haven’t seen an R&B figure emerge post-R Kelly that has the kind of gravitas that he or Luther Vandross or Marvin Gaye had.” Kelly created radio hits that united races and generations, and wrote commercially blockbusting albums such as R, which in 1998 sold 216,000 copies in a single week in the US alone, and boasted duets with both Jay-Z and Celine Dion.
“He had a really good ear,” Neal says. “He couldn’t read or write music, but he was able to mimic these larger traditions: R&B, soul and gospel, adding a contemporary feel so that it felt urgent and vital. And he knew how to record raunch.”
Over the past two years, that success has been replaced with a flood of fresh accusations, including claims that he had sex with girls as young as 14 while running a cult-like harem. His ex-wife claimed that he choked her almost to death, part of a campaign of violence that made her suicidal. A social media campaign, #MuteRKelly, gained traction as the #MeToo movement caught fire.
Then, earlier this month, the documentary Surviving R Kelly aired on Lifetime TV in the US. In it, to devastating effect, numerous women accused the singer of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. After it screened, Kelly’s daughter Joann (who goes by the name Buku Abi) described him as a “monster”, adding: “I am well aware of who and what he is. I grew up in that house.” Activist group UltraViolet flew a banner over the offices of Kelly’s record label, demanding that it drop him. Following fresh appeals from prosecutors in Atlanta and Chicago, where Kelly has residences, three more women have come forward alleging abuse, along with two other families who say their daughters have gone to live with Kelly. Lady Gaga, Phoenix and Chance the Rapper expressed contrition for working with Kelly, while John Legend, Ne-Yo and Common condemned him.
What took them so long? Kelly denies all the accusations of abuse. His lawyer, Steven Greenberg, has threatened to sue Lifetime, and says that Kelly’s sexual relationships have all been “perfectly consensual”. Kelly’s denials include statements through his lawyers, plus a 19-minute song, I Admit, in which he sings that he has been “so falsely accused”, and that his accusers were financially motivated.
Complicating the accusations, one young woman has told police, who made a visit to one of Kelly’s homes, that she was living with Kelly consensually, and was “fine and did not want to be bothered with her parents”. Another told her parents – who said she appeared “brainwashed” – that “she’s in love, and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her.” A further police visit to a Kelly residence reported by TMZ this week saw two women repeatedly profess that they were safe and free to come and go. But they are outnumbered by women who do accuse Kelly of abuse. The sheer frequency – and pattern – of the accusations now means that even fans, and collaborators such Gaga, now believe the accusers.
What if Kelly’s alleged victims had been white? Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago-based journalist who has doggedly reported on Kelly for 17 years, has said that the saga has taught him: “Nobody matters less in society than young black women.” Or, as Mikki Kendall put it in Surviving R Kelly: “No one cared because we were black girls.”
“These black girls and women were not ‘ideal victims’,” says Treva Lindsey, a professor at Ohio State University whose research focuses on violence against black women. She has found “a particular kind of venom that is relatively normalised” towards them, which starts from the top: “Some of Trump’s most vicious attacks on individuals have come at the expense of black women, whether that’s [congresswoman] Maxine Waters or [journalist] April Ryan.”
The Kelly case itself, she says, is compounded by “a narrative around black women and girls being hypersexual. It’s such a fraught, racist history, specifically around sexual violence – black men being accused of raping white women being one of the primary factors in lynching, and black women being seen, legally, as unrapeable.” Lindsey believes that these ideas have become internalised by some African Americans: “‘Oh, those girls knew what they were doing.’ And that is part of why it becomes difficult to see a 14-year-old girl on a child abuse sex tape as wholly a victim.”
Chance the Rapper pointed to another reason why some have been slow to condemn R Kelly, saying: “We’re programmed to really be hypersensitive to black male oppression.” Lindsey adds: “There’s definitely black folks of all genders defending Kelly, who are fearful of what this means for this larger historical narrative of black men being inherently criminal and aggressive. In the context of a racist country, one black person’s actions become illustrative of the depravity of an entire community. Harvey Weinstein isn’t an indictment of white men. But R Kelly can be used by some as an indictment of black men.”
Although the rapper French Montana later said he supported the alleged victims, when asked about Kelly, he grumbled that “they don’t let nobody have their legendary moments” – a sentiment shared by another rapper, Waka Flocka Flame, who, in the wake of the Bill Cosby scandal, said: “Every time a famous minority make it, they throw salt in the game.” Kelly has tried to leverage this sentiment – a representative described the #MuteRKelly campaign as the “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture”.
It is precisely these contributions that are Kelly’s most potent weapon. Listening to him can feel like a struggle between two impulses – to condemn the abuser but adore the artist whose best work touches greatness. She’s Got That Vibe, his debut single from 1992, roared joyously out of the New Jack Swing scene and immediately established a core part of his appeal: the ability to sing lecherous lines (“The tight miniskirt you wear … I can’t help but stare”) with such earnestness that they almost appeared romantic. That earnestness was intensified on his biggest hit, I Believe I Can Fly, a ballad of self-determination so structurally perfect that the words didn’t feel outlandish or silly.
Kelly’s first US No 1, Bump N’ Grind, acknowledged the moral wrongness of his desires, but framed himself as helplessly in thrall to them – a cornily manipulative trick that the excellence of the songwriting makes seductive. Kelly had to present himself as defined and ruled by his sexuality, both to enhance his sex appeal and to absolve him of his problematic libido. Ignition (Remix) was one of the greatest pop songs of the 00s, its double entendres, car horns and atmosphere of three-drink tipsiness so potent that it became a global hit a mere four months after Kelly was indicted on 10 counts of child pornography.
Fans don’t want Kelly to be a paedophile or rapist because that would ruin the music. As Common said in the wake of the documentary: “Instead of trying to be like, ‘Let’s go and try to resolve this situation and free these young ladies and stop this thing that’s going on,’ we were just like, ‘Man, we rocking to the music’.” That effect has endured even now – streams of Kelly’s music have increased since Surviving R Kelly aired.
The love for Kelly’s songs such as these is intensified by their communal appeal: they are the soundtrack to joyful memories of dancefloors and karaoke. As Lindsey says: “His music signals so many moments for us, whether it’s weddings or graduations or your first kiss.” Neal agrees: “He knew how to make songs that a black community would find value in, in black social life,” he says. “Step in the Name of Love at weddings; I Believe I Can Fly – if you’re at a kindergarten graduation, you’re singing this song.”
Less successful singles were still touched with brilliance. One lyric on I’m a Flirt, “like a dog on the prowl when I’m walking through the mall”, is even more sinister when you consider, as Lindsey says: “Any of my black girlfriends from Chicago had an R Kelly story, and most of them involved a high school, or mall, these spaces where he clearly is finding vulnerable black girls.” But the line is – perhaps deliberately – given a spectacularly carefree, beautiful melody.
Listening now to songs such as I’m a Flirt, it feels as if Kelly was getting a kick out of hiding in plain sight. Many of his songs express a desire for control through marriage and impregnation in the starkest terms, such as Marry the Pussy and Pregnant. Songs such as It Seems Like You’re Ready are excruciating given what we know about Kelly’s penchant for underage girls.
Kelly also leveraged the very iconography of R&B. By brazenly embracing a cartoonishly horny image, from 1993’s I Like the Crotch On You to the faceless, naked women on the cover of his 2013 album Black Panties, he made the stories of “sex cults” seem like a joke. “This virility, sexually assertive to the point of aggressive, is a part of a particular R&B persona, and R Kelly is in tradition with that,” Lindsey says. Was Kelly really an abuser, audiences might wonder, or just participating in a tradition of playful lechery going back to 70s soulmen such as Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hanes and Teddy Pendergrass?
Then there are Kelly’s experiences as a victim of sexual assault: in his autobiography, he wrote that, growing up, he was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member. Was this the wellspring of his sexually aggressive lyrics, and his own abusiveness as an adult?
Kelly’s case is complex: a knot of tensions around race, gender, sex and artistry that must be unravelled in order to ask hard questions about how it might have been allowed to flourish, and to bring justice to his alleged victims. “What would it mean to hold R Kelly accountable now?” Lindsey wonders aloud. It will surely take far more than removing his duets from Spotify, as Lady Gaga has done, in penance but also as a means of erasing the historical record. As Lindsey says: “There’s too much at stake for us not to figure it out.”
• Surviving R Kelly airs in the UK on 5 February, 10pm, on Crime and Investigation.
Surrounded by brown hills close to the Ethiopian border, the town of El-Gadarif is an unremarkable place. A centre for the trade in sorghum and sesame, it is dominated by its huge Russian-built grain silos.
Four weeks ago, however, the eastern Sudanese town was thrust into the spotlight when it became a centre for protests against the regime of President Omar al-Bashir.
Locals say those initial protests comprised largely of secondary school pupils who converged on one of the town’s main markets to voice their anger over a sharp cut to the subsidy for bread. “Hungry people!” they chanted, and “You dancer!”– a mocking reference to Bashir, who often dances at public occasions.
The hubbub of voices was soon drowned out by the crack of gunfire as security forces gunned down 10 protesters, three of them children.
What followed would be significant not only for El-Gadarif, but for the entire country. The next day, townspeople inflamed by the regime’s vicious response turned their fury on offices of the ruling National Congress party and the intelligence services.
In less than a week, the protests had spread from rural centres like El-Gadarif to Sudan’s major cities, exposing a widespread desire for an end to 75-year-old Bashir’s harsh rule.
“The murder of innocent people and children turned the anger against the government,” said Jaafar Khidir, a long-time member of the Sudanese opposition in El-Gadarif. “People came out to protest spontaneously.”
“There was change in people’s hearts,” added Khidir, who has been arrested four times since the beginning of the protests. “Now I expect to be taken into custody at any time.”
Since those initial protests in December, more than 40 demonstrators have been killed nationwide, right groups say, some reportedly shot by the Rapid Support Forces, a government militia. Hundreds more have been injured.
Activists have also been detained in towns and cities across this vast country, often by the intelligence and security services, notorious for their documented abuses and use of torture.
On Thursday, security forces deployed in numbers in the capital, Khartoum, as demonstrators threatened to march on Bashir’s palace. Simultaneous protests were called in 11 other towns and cities, including Atbara, another cradle of the current movement.
The protests may appear to have come from nowhere, but in reality Sudan’s instability has long been prefigured.
Bashir, who took power after leading a military coup in 1989, has survived conflict, protests, years of US-led sanctions and even pursuit by the international criminal court for alleged genocide in Darfur. What is different this time is that the constellation of problems facing the country is having an impact even on the elites who have long supported him.
Two million people are internally displaced, corruption is widespread and mismanagement rife. The country is in the grip of a long-running economic crisis that has its roots in the secession of South Sudan in 2011 and the loss of oil reserves to the new and troubled southern state. Spiralling inflation has hit Sudan’s embattled middle-classes. A cut in the subsidy for bread – the proximate cause of protests in place like El-Gadarif – was merely the spark that ignited deep-seated anger and desperation.
Cracks have appeared on the political front. Bashir faces mounting discontent within his ruling party as well as dissatisfaction in areas in the country’s riverine north, once considered his stronghold.
Another feature is the use of social media. Activists have actively documented confrontations and flooded social media with footage that they claim is “exposing” Bashir’s government.
Observers say the protests have united people from different tribes and ethnicities. Women have joined in, even as the protests escalated into bloody confrontations. Dressed in headscarves, they can be seen in nearly all the footage shared on social media, which in turn has helped to convince even more women to take to the streets.
All of which has led some, including Hafiz Ismail, an analyst at Justice Africa Sudan, to argue that the demonstrations are likely to have sustained momentum.
“The protests won’t stop,” Ismail said, “because the regime doesn’t have any solution for the problem, which is as much political as economic”.
Ismail expects the regime to offer concessions – as happened after protests in 2013 – but said they may not go far enough for Bashir’s opponents.
Particularly problematic for the regime has been the involvement of the Sudanese Professionals Association, a new and broad movement, representing middle-class professions, that has spearheaded the protests, stepping into the vacuum created by the arrest of many opposition leaders.
Mohammed Yousif al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the association and professor at Khartoum University, and a relative of the president, described the moment he realised that the burgeoning protest movement had created a new reality.
“We can’t be behind the people,” he said. “People would laugh at us if we stuck to our position of handing a memorandum to the parliament and asking for a raise in the minimum wage. Our position is opposing the regime and its policies.”
Which raises the question: what next?
“The longer the protests go on, the more violence and abuses we might see the Sudanese government use,” said Jehanne Henry, of Human Rights Watch. “The government uses the same sorts of tactics every time there are protests. The risk is that it will get bloodier.”
“One is that the president survives, though without funds to offer protesters significant reforms, he will likely have to subdue them by force,” said the group. “A second scenario could see protests gathering pace and prompting the president’s ousting by elements within his party or security elites … A third scenario would see Bashir resign. This would allow for a leadership change that could mollify protesters.”
For Henry, the outcome hinges on the regime’s response. “The key question is how much the government feels it is facing an existential threat, and that is hard to predict.”
The chief executive of ETS, Paul Tymensen, told Guardian Australia on Monday, as the first protest was unfolding, that the company decided to accept work in line with its values, which include making communities safer. He said those values – not the actions of protesters – would determine whether they accepted future work from Adani.
On Thursday morning, ETS and the anti-coal group Galilee Blockade released apparently coordinated statements confirming the company would not participate in the Carmichael project.
“Following events of the past week ETS can confirm we will not undertake work for Adani relating to the proposed Carmichael mine, including the mine site, water facilities, rail corridor or expansion of the port,” the company said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Galilee Blockade thanked the company for upholding their value to “make communities safer” and not take on contracts “if potential client work compromises this”.
“ETS asserted they were not contracted to do further work for Adani but until today refused to rule out working on Adani’s Carmichael mine.”
The political climate around Adani will likely become more heated in the coming months, as the Indian conglomerate attempts to push ahead with construction, the Queensland government assesses critical management plans and traditional owners launch another court challenge – all amid a federal election campaign.
Protesters are expected to ramp up actions during that time.
“Adani must be the most toxic company in Australia’s corporate history,” Galilee Blockade spokesman Ben Pennings said. “Eastern Tree Service learnt very quickly how committed people are to protecting the reef, scarce water and a liveable climate.
“Banks, insurers and major contractors have all walked away from Adani. Now smaller contractors are beginning to understand that Australians will punish companies that threaten their future.”
Adani, which usually ignores the actions of anti-coal groups, criticised the protesters in a statement on Monday.
“Once again we are seeing activist and anti-coal groups peddle misinformation in an attempt to create hysteria based on myths,” the statement said. “Had the group checked its facts, it would have found that the business which it caused disruption to … is not a contractor for the Carmichael project.
“We recognise there are varied opinions about the Carmichael project but when groups such as this disrupt private businesses, impacting employees and their families based on incorrect information, they should be held accountable.
“The great thing about living in a democracy is that we can hold and express our different views. All we ask is that people’s opinions are based on facts and that they don’t put lives at risk through irresponsible, illegal and unsafe protest behaviour.”
The Green Book blowback is the new Kominsky Method blowback
WINNER: Green Book – best motion picture – comedy
Another win here for a film that’s starting to receive quite a backlash: the crowd-pleasing road trip comedy Green Book.
It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure and its broad moments surely appealed to voters more than the misanthropic humour of The Favourite. It’ll definitely score a host of Oscar nominations but can the growing collection of voices against it eventually derail its chances of winning?
Remember about five hours ago when I said that the Fiji water girl would be getting a parody Twitter account? Well, yeah:
WINNER: Olivia Colman (The Favourite) – best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy
Finally The Favourite wins something, and happily for Olivia Colman’s tragic and bizarro lead turn, beating out Emily Blunt and Constance Wu. Firstly, Colman thanked someone for the sandwiches, who we assume must have been Melissa McCarthy, who smuggled in some ham sandwiches for anyone who was hungry.
She’s infectiously happy to be up there and thanks her “bitches” before swearing, which is bleeped out but makes total sense given how bawdy The Favourite is. Whoever wins the best actress in a drama category is about to be her greatest competition next month.
Yeah about that Kominsky Method win…
While sitting in the audience watching Emily Blunt on stage, Barry Jenkins has reminded us all of a very important fact.
WINNER: The Assassination of Gianni Versace – best limited series or television movie
A rather divisive choice, since it’s a show that left some cold – unlike, say, Sharp Objects or A Very English Scandal, which lost out – but again Ryan Murphy leaves an awards ceremony as the undisputed king of TV.
There’s a rather great speech about the importance of LGBT representation and fighting back against hatred against the community: “Our show is a period piece but those forces are not historical.”
Backstage, the Globe winner Mahershala Ali has addressed the controversy swirling around the truth behind Green Book. According to Deadline:
“I will say this,” Ali said, “my job is always the same: I have to look at what I am doing and be responsible for it.” He says he and everyone working on the film put a lot energy into the project and he does not want to “throw away” what everyone has done.
“I respect the family … and Doc Shirley,” he said. “I spoke to the studio and the family and at the end of the day you wish everyone was happy and you don’t want to offend anyone in any capacity.”
Over on Instagram, Natalie Portman has gone Black Swan again
WINNER: The Kominsky Method – best television series – comedy
Oof, quite a shock here for a show that really didn’t make much of an impact when Netflix launched it last year. It’s the second award of the night, after Michael Douglas won best actor in a comedy series, and it revealed the HFPA yet again to be rather out of sync with critics and audiences.
With Roma and this though, it’s quite the night for Netflix.
WINNER: Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) – best actress in a television series – comedy
Yet again, proof that awards voters love Amazon’s period comedy more than critics seem to, with Rachel Brosnahan winning her second Globe for her role as a stand-up comic.
She beat out a rather weak category, adding yet another trophy to Maisel’s shelf after it won big at last year’s Emmys. In her speech, she praises the female-heavy crew of the show and speaks with the same speed as her character as she’s told to wrap it up. More awards coming literally straight after …
In one of the more surprising stories of the night, Melissa McCarthy is apparently handing out ham and cheese sandwiches to guests.
“I’ve been handing them out to everyone,” McCarthy told Variety. “Next year, I’m bringing hot dogs.”
In what reads like a parody story, there’s also a reaction from Jessica Chastain.
“How did she get them in here?” she wondered, “But it’s a good idea because by the time you get into the ballroom dinner has already been served, and you’re always so hungry.”
Will keep an eye out for further celeb reactions/pictures of sandwiches being eaten.
WINNER: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) – best director
Phew. This was a category with some serious potholes (no thanks, Adam McKay!) but Cuarón is the entirely deserving winner for his splendid work on the Netflix drama.
He comments that he feels he cheated as he was just watching great women exist on screen and that the film was really directed by his family. Tonight couldn’t have been better for Roma and sets it on track to win big at the Oscars next month.
Also she’s become the icon she deserved to become:
Now it’s time for Jeff Bridges to pick up this year’s Cecil B DeMille award for achievement in film. The last two years have seen this moment turn into a major talking point with Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey using their time on stage to deliver hair-raising, water cooler speeches.
After a shoddily assembled montage that ended with his most iconic role, voicing a penguin in Surf’s Up, Bridges arrives to deliver a far more formulaic, if still charmingly rambling stoner speech. There’s a great supercut of confused celebrity reactions that needs to be made and I will spend a considerable amount of time searching for it later.
And the Poehler/Rudolph Oscars hosts campaign starts here:
WINNER: Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace) – best actor – limited series or television movie
Damn, a category full of big names that was taken down by Darren Criss. Beating out Hugh Grant, Antonio Banderas and Benedict Cumberbatch is the ex-Glee star who received plaudits for his role as a killer in the second season of American Crime Story.
It wouldn’t be a TV awards night without at least one Ryan Murphy actor picking something up and while Gianni Versace hasn’t been quite the trophy magnet that OJ Simpson was, Murphy continues to showcase his ability to lead actors up on stage.
WINNER: Roma – best foreign language film
Another foregone conclusion of the night and an entirely fitting win for Alfonso Cuarón’s black and white Netflix masterpiece. Given the Globes’ rather strange rules, foreign language films aren’t eligible for the main best picture categories, which took Roma out of the big races.
Cuarón praises the importance of cinema for breaking down walls and building bridges in the middle of a very personal speech. Could he be back on stage to pick up best director later tonight?
WINNER: Christian Bale (Vice) – best actor in a motion picture – comedy
Gosh, a weak category here and no real surprise that Christian Bale won out as a result. Vice is the most-nominated film of the evening and even though it’s losing critical steam, even its harshest detractors have praised the performances of Bale and his co-star Amy Adams.
Bale is on enthusiastic form, not always the case, and he’s quipping like there’s no tomorrow, thanking his wife for stopping him from saying too much “dumb crap” while also thanking Satan for inspiring him to play Dick Cheney. He also jokes that he’s playing Mitch McConnell next. A suitably funny speech for a comedic winner.
WINNER: Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects) – best supporting actress – series, limited series or television movie
A tough category here, but making up for that Amy Adams snub earlier is a deserving win for Patricia Clarkson, who gave great gothic in HBO’s sweaty thriller Sharp Objects.
“You demanded everything from me except sex, which is exactly how it should be in our industry,” she says to her director.
Given that he didn’t win for Moonlight, this does seem like a solid explanation:
WINNER: Green Book – best screenplay
Poehler and Rudolph remained on stage for another wonderful skit involving a fake proposal that Bradley Cooper didn’t seem to appreciate.
Wow, a surprise here given that, ya know, The Favourite was nominated. Two awards in a row for Green Book, a film that does seem like catnip for the HFPA given its crowd-pleasing emotional notes. Could it continue on and win best picture as well?
WINNER: Mahershala Ali (Green Book) – best supporting actor in a motion picture
It’s been a strange skit-free night for the presenters, but here to put an end to that are Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, who delivered some genuine laughs on the importance of supporting actors (footage to follow).
A deserving win here for Mahershala Ali, in a film that’s been getting some flak lately for those questioning how true its story is. It’s a big year for Ali, with his True Detective season about to start, and this pushes him to the top of a category that’s a tad under-powered this year.
Brie update. She’s confused:
WINNER: Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) – best actress in a television series – drama
In an ultra-competitive category, the host Sandra Oh has won out for her role in a series that has received passionate acclaim ever since it aired last year. Oh seemed surprised and delivered a genuinely emotional speech, ultimately devoting it to her parents, who were in attendance.
It’s been a rather special night for Oh even without this victory, showcasing her often under-seen comic chops on stage. This will undoubtedly lead to a boost in her onscreen presence in the future.
WINNER: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) – best supporting actress in a motion picture
Another one of tonight’s awards that was a tad easier to predict: Regina King has received universal acclaim for her role in Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin follow-up. It’s a heartfelt, tender performance and she’s now going into the Oscars as the favourite in this category (even in one with two actors from The Favourite).
Rather awkward music playing her off as she starts to talk about Time’s Up; the music was then rather sensibly turned off. When she was then given a chance she revealed that with everything she is producing in the future, she will insist on 50% of the crew being female, similar to a promise made by Michael B Jordan recently.
Fiji Water Girl is getting a parody Twitter account in T-minus five minutes:
In case you haven’t seen it then here’s tonight’s monologue in full:
Metz update. She is denying:
WINNER: Shallow (A Star is Born) – best original song
One of the most foregone conclusions tonight was that Gaga would win for her show-stopping song from A Star is Born. Firstly, it’s worth rewatching the moment that Taylor Swift goes in for a second kiss with Gaga and misreads the situation.
Secondly, Mark Ronson mostly grabs the mic for this one but Gaga will probably be able to give another speech later in the evening …
WINNER: First Man – best original score
It’s been a skit-free night for presenters tonight and that continues here with Idris Elba and Taylor Swift essentially appearing on stage to open an envelope and nothing else. Justin Hurwitz is the big winner here for his work on First Man, a film that’s struggled a bit during this season. It’s criminal that If Beale Street Could Talk wasn’t nominated but hey.
Rather fittingly given the rise in respect for the small screen, the Globes has launched a new award aimed at recognising achievement in television. The Carol Burnett award will sit alongside the Cecil B DeMille award from now on and in its first year it’s being handed to … Carol Burnett.
Steve Carell is on hand to present to the 85-year-old comedian and host of The Carol Burnett Show, calling it the “greatest honour” of his life. After a standing ovation, Burnett delivers a touching, articulate speech about the importance of television. Jeff Bridges will be appearing later to pick up the big screen equivalent.
Rather awkwardly, the This is Us star Chrissy Metz was caught on her mic before the show referring to Glow star Allison Brie as “such a bitch” in a story that’s currently making the rounds. Here ya go:
WINNER: Patricia Arquette (Escape From Dannemora) best actress in a limited series or television movie
Quite a competitive category here and quite a shock result. Amy Adams was seen as the frontrunner for her career-best work in the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects but flying under the radar is the Ben Stiller-directed fact-based drama Escape From Dannemora.
Patricia Arquette is an expert speech-giver and she delivers yet more sterling work here helping to sell a show that needed the boost and will likely lead to a lot of people now Googling just where they can watch it. She went on a bit too long for the producers, who had to cut her speech short with music. A fair few surprises so far, which is nice on a night like this.
WINNER: Ben Whishaw (A Very British Scandal) – best supporting actor in a limited series or television movie
Many had expected Henry Winkler to win this one for Barry but wow, a lovely surprise given how wonderful Ben Whishaw was in the brilliant BBC drama. He devotes the award to the character he played for being a true queer hero and an icon. It’s looking like a good night for the Brits thus far.
There’s a quick word now about donations from the HFPA of $1m to two non-profit non-partisan organisations aimed at helping journalists who are under threat. It’s a nice touch and carries weight given the current climate.
WINNER: The Americans – best television series – drama
… or maybe not. The final season of the critically adored FX thriller has won the big dramatic TV award of the night (announced insanely uncharacteristically early) and it makes sense. It was predicted to win given that it was the show’s last season and could be seen as a way of rewarding the show as a whole. Can Keri Russell also win best actress in a drama series for her work in the final season? Given how manic and speedy tonight has been so far, I imagine we’ll find out in about three seconds.
WINNER: Richard Madden (Bodyguard) – best actor in a television series – drama
Quite a surprise here for a show that’s been endlessly talked about but was still something of an outsider against bigger American shows from Homecoming to The Americans. Madden also seems incredibly surprised but very grateful and it suggests the show could be grabbing some more later on.
Plenty of great saucy jokes with the cast of The Favourite talking about tongues and hands and body parts and a great reminder that a film as rude and filthy as The Favourite is in the awards conversation this year.
Here’s that Emma Stone yelling sorry for Aloha clip that’s arguably the best bit so far tonight
WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse – best animated film
Ooh, this is a deserving winner. Sony’s thrilling, funny, heartfelt animated Spidey spin-off was a rather lovely surprise when it was released last month. It’s also pretty major that Sony Animation has won out over Disney and could well do the same at the Oscars.
But oof the music came in early to cut off the last of the winning group and it happened just as he was talking about the importance of diversity. Not a great look.
WINNER: Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method) – best actor in a television series – musical or comedy
A very worthwhile reminder here that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is obsessed with big stars above all else. Michael Douglas winning for a show that has had roughly zero impact with critics and audiences says quite a bit, especially over Bill Hader in Barry (a show everyone loves) and Donald Glover in Atlanta (a show everyone adores).
Let’s see how many other big stars win in categories they don’t deserve to…
Going for Gold(en)
It’s here! After a burgundy-coloured red carpet, Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg are on stage. Within a few minutes, they’ve already made two Kevin Hart-based jokes about how hard is it to find an Oscars host.
The pair is also ridiculing the fact that they’re not exactly known for saying mean things so they’re going around the room saying nice things about celebrities. They have chemistry but the joke is a tad overplayed, making one relive Poehler and Fey’s brilliant, acidic monologues of years past.
There’s a bizarre garbled Black Panther joke that was followed by a very confused Ryan Coogler which seems like the stuff of gifs. Slightly more successful is a jab at Lady Gaga’s much-repeated A Star is Born interview quote about there being 100 people in the room.
They find a rhythm soon after going through nominated films and performances with lightning-fast jokes (a jab about Emma Stone playing an Asian character in Aloha led to her shouting “I’m sorry”). Lots of references to how diverse this year’s nominees are (not always the case with the Globes) but we’ll have to see how diverse the winners are (remember the Emmys last year).
Timothee Chalamet has gone rogue, eschewing a suit for head-to-tow black with a sequin holster (holsters are big news for SS19 people FYI). We’re predicting a love-hate reaction to this one – we’re going with the former; we like this experimental streak from him.
If you thought her recent Harpers Bazaar cover was Saoirse Ronan at her most glam, think again. The Mary Queen of Scots star is wearing a custom Gucci gown with crystal detailing. Saoirse Queen of Frocks?
While the pairing of Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg might seem about as random as that of previous Oscars hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the two have experience on stage together, presenting as part of last year’s Emmys.
This bodes well:
All hail sharp tailoring – top points to Rami rocking white tie and Julia bossing it (as ever) in a trouser-cum-skirt ensemble.
Place your legal living room-based bets with help from our chief film critic Peter Bradshaw’s predictions along with his picks for what should have been nominated. Spoiler: he’s rather miffed about Widows being snubbed.
Melissa McCarthy has gone full purple this evening and we’re seeing yet more sequins, this time in scattered star-shapes. She’s nominated for best actress – drama for her role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and, according to her Instagram, was busy sheet-masking earlier this evening in preparation for the awards.
Brit Emily Blunt, aka Mary Poppins, has been dressed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen on the red carpet tonight – she who also designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress (although yes, this is more racy than royal). Supercalifragilisticexpial … etc etc.
A lesson in how to pull off a plunging neckline from Taraji P Henson, who’s wearing a custom Vera Wang dress in green velvet. Oh and diamonds, lots of ’em.
Just. Look. At. That. Train. Brava Lady Gaga, who can always be trusted to bring her A-game to the red carpet. Beautifully fitted, the lavender puff sleeves and full skirt is serious Cinderella territory and she is rocking it. It’s said to be by Valentino, whom Gaga has worn several times while promoting A Star Is Born, the film that may see her win the Best Actress – Drama award tonight.
There’ll be a ton of A-listers in attendance tonight and not just those waiting impatiently to find out if they’ve won. As usual, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has assembled a starry line-up of presenters who will hopefully create a few memorable skits, the likes of which have helped to make the Globes a more watchable ceremony in years past.
This year’s crop includes Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Saoirse Ronan, Idris Elba, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jessica Chastain, Sterling K Brown, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Emily Blunt, Taraji P Henson, Kristen Bell, Emma Stone, Mike Myers and Michael B Jordan.
For anyone who’s ever seen Amy Sherman-Palladino, this is big news.
Hold the front page: Michelle Yeoh is wearing THAT green ring from Crazy Rich Asians. We officially couldn’t love her more. Fun fashion fact: the ring actually belonged to Yeoh personally long before she was cast in the smash hit of 2018 that’s hoping to win in two categories tonight. Favourite red-carpet detail so far.
A Good Place has led to a great prank?
Rosamund Pike is not messing about in this black dress paired with a sequin jacket. She’s nominated for best actress in a drama for her role in A Private War but Twitter is murmuring about her “warrior” vibes and, of course, #bigdickenergy.
Sunshine yellow satin isn’t the easiest to pull off, but this is a good look for Claire Foy. We’re also a fan of thematic references – she’s nominated for best supporting actress for the space-travel drama First Man and those sequin appliquéd starbursts look suitably out of this world. The old Hollywood styling suits her vibe too.
Pleased to see you Mr Bond, er, sorry, we mean Mr Bodyguard. Richard Madden has arrived looking slick in a tux. The actor (whose BBC hit is nominated in the best TV series – drama category) has clearly picked up some styling tips from his recent GQ cover shoot. Looking anything but shaken …
Jameela Jamil obviously got the Pantone memo – she’s wearing a strapless dress in the colour of the year, “living coral”. Earlier, The Good Place actor tweeted a video of herself wearing jeans underneath the dress because, as she put it, it’s “forking cold”.
Regina King may be nominated twice tonight (for Seven Seconds and If Beale Street Could Talk) but she’s already a winner in floor-length pink mirrors and sequins. She clearly knows how to pull off a showstoper like this, keeping everything else #done-undone [insert audience applause here].
Oh was joined on the red carpet by her Killing Eve co-star Jodie Comer, all in black, as well as the show’s script-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge in cheerier red sequins. All three have gone floor-length, and look decidedly regal in their chosen gowns.
Every year, the Globes names an ambassador who also happens to be the daughter, or less often son, of an A-list star. The position used to be referred to as Miss or Mr Golden Globe and has previously been filled by the offspring of Jamie Foxx, Jack Nicholson, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Bacon and Andie MacDowell.
This year it’s the turn of Isan Elba, the 16-year-old daughter of Idris Elba, who won a Golden Globe in 2012 for his role in Luther. Isan has been on the interview circuit this week, the funniest tidbit of which saw her respond to her dad being named People’s sexiest man alive last year.
“It was quite uncomfortable,” she said to People. “I was looking forward to seeing who it was this year, probably Michael B Jordan or something like that but no, it was my dad … I’m handling it very well but inside I’m grossed out.”
If the 2018 Golden Globes dress code was a blackout, 2019’s female attendees are so far opting to show their solidarity in white. Co-host Sandra Oh and Jamie Lee Curtis have arrived wearing an asymmetric ruffled gown and power-shouldered floor-length dress respectively. We’re into it. The #TimesUp movement is still sartorially present too – several guests have so far been spotted wearing #TimesUp bracelets and ribbons.
For last year’s ceremony, attendees decided to arrive wearing black as a way of paying tribute to the women who came forward with #MeToo stories but one actor, The Dog of Christmas star Blanca Blanco, garnered a whole heap of negative attention for wearing a red dress.
“I wanted to stand strong and I felt so honored to be there, but what happened after I walked the red carpet was crazy,” she said. “Photos of me went viral, I became a trending topic on Twitter, and I got death threats and tons of hate mail.
I support #MeToo – it had nothing to do with not supporting the cause. It was incredible to see all the courageous women come forward over the past year. I take responsibility for wearing color while everyone else wore black.”
There was some Ocean’s 8/11/12/13-style scammery going on this weekend according to Variety as a rather canny imposter managed to fool his way into W magazine’s big Globes party on Friday.
Apparently he dressed in a black suit and waited by the elevator that would take attendees up to the penthouse at the Chateau Marmont hotel. Pretending to be security, he managed to get the tickets from a number of actors including Keegan Michael-Key. Chaos ensued.
Remember what happened the last time Lady Gaga won a Golden Globe? I mean, how could you ever forget…
Last year’s red carpet was dominated with talk of #MeToo and saw celebrities dressed in black with Time’s Up pins attached. This year it’s been revealed that stars will be wearing ribbons and/or bracelets to continue showing support for survivors of sexual assault.
Here’s a look from Arianne Phillips, the costume designer and stylist who created the pins worn last year and continues to work with the cause:
A rather surrealist ad here teasing what to expect from hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, which will hopefully lead to an equally offbeat evening.
76th time lucky
And so it begins, once again.
The 76th Golden Globes ceremony is mere hours away from kicking off this year’s awards season and unlike the more sedate Oscars, it can be a sprightly, often raucous evening. Alcohol is served aplenty, leading to a looser atmosphere, and the host or hosts are usually allowed to insert some more daring jabs.
The evening has few foregone conclusions. It’s a strange race this year with a number of possible contenders but without a clear frontrunner. On the film side, Vice may lead with most nominations but it’s losing steam with underwhelming box office and, more importantly, a lack of interest from critics. Could The Favourite scoop up the comedy awards instead?
On the dramatic end, A Star is Born feels like the more Globe-friendly choice to win out and Lady Gaga may see herself taking home two awards, for actress and song.
Without Big Little Lies (which returns next year) and The Handmaid’s Tale (which was deservedly snubbed for its dull second season), the small screen trophies are likely to be spread between Sharp Objects, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
What other excitement might the evening provide? The hosts, Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, have promised a “crazy-pants” atmosphere so that could mean a lot of things. We’ll be here with red carpet commentary and then full coverage of the ceremony and the aftermath, so loosen up that bowtie and stay tuned.
Haryana numero uno state in 2018, claims BJP government
During the year 2018, several development schemes and projects were dedicated to people of Haryana and the state got a distinct identity at national and international level. As a result of the efforts of the present State Government, Haryana is among the leading states of the country. In 2018, Haryana has achieved unprecedented development and achievements and long pending projects got completed due to which the state is marching towards great heights.
While giving details of the decisions and achievements of the present State Government in 2018, an official spokesman said that the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway which lying incomplete for decades was completed at a cost of more than Rs 2,320 crore and was dedicated to the people of Haryana by the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi. Similarly, the work of Rohtak-Meham-Hansi Railway Line has already been started and it is likely to be completed in the next two years.
The spokesman said that Haryana has won the Best State Award under Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018. The best six districts of the country in terms of sanitation included three districts of Haryana namely Gurugram, Karnal and Rewari.
The Inter-District Council has been constituted in which some representatives of Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions have been included so that all the institutions together play a vital role in the development of the state.
He said that on January 26, 2018, a 7-Star Gram Panchayat Rainbow Scheme has been launched to bring a positive competition among Panchayats. Under the scheme, Pink Star is given for improvement in the sex ratio, Blue Star for promoting education and to prevent dropout, White Star for cleanliness, Saffron Star for peace and brotherhood, Green Star for protection of the environment, Golden Star for good governance and Silver Star for social participation. Under this scheme, 1122 Gram Panchayats have received these stars in different categories in the first attempt. The gram panchayat, which received the star, has been given a grant of Rs. one lakh per star and a grant of Rs. 50,000 in addition to one lakh to the village panchayats, which received the ‘Sex Ratio’ and ‘Good Governance’ Star. Under this scheme, prize money of Rs 20.10 crore was distributed. He said that a decision has been taken to give a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 to former Sarpanches.
The foundation stone of the National Cancer Institute has been laid in Bhadsa, district Jhajjar. Being constructed on the pattern of NCI of America, the 710-bedded institute will be ready in 2019.
He said that 425 schemes and services of 37 departments were made online on the occasion of Good Governance Day on December 25, 2018. The present government has reduced the electricity bill to almost half under which consumers with monthly usage up to 200 units will now get electricity at the rate of Rs 2.50 per unit. Earlier, the rate applicable was Rs 4.50 per unit up to 150 units and Rs 5.25 per unit for the next 50 units. Consumers with only 50 units monthly consumption will now have to pay only Rs 2 per unit. He said that consumers with monthly consumption up to 500 units will also get the benefit of 16 per cent. Under a new scheme, no charges are being collected from the consumers for connecting dhanis to the rural domestic feeders and Protocol Advance Type (PAT) transformers are being set up on each agriculture feeder in the state. He said that a new connection up to 2 KW in rural areas is being given in only Rs. 200 and the balance amount is taken in 12 instalments.
As part of the measures to prevent pollution caused by burning crop residues in the National Capital Region, 6,338 farmers have been provided equipment for crop residue management and 208 custom hiring centres are being set up. Subsidy amounting to Rs 45 crore has been provided to the farmers of the state.
He said that departmental exhibitions and technical seminars were organized under the Third Agricultural Leadership Summit and owners of outstanding cattle were honoured in Rohtak from March 23 to March 26, 2018.
He said that for the year 2018-19, the support price of sugarcane has been increased by Rs 10 per quintal. The price of Early, Mid and Lateral varieties has been increased from Rs 330, 325 and Rs 320 to Rs 340, Rs 335 and Rs 330 respectively, which is so far the highest rate suggested by the state.
He said that ‘Shivdham Navinikaran Yojana’ has been started under which various works are being carried out including construction of boundary wall of cremation grounds, sheds, the arrangement of drinking water and pucca roads to cremation grounds.
Ten new private Industrial Training Institutes have been started in the academic session of 2018-19. He said that Haryana has received a total of 11 medals including three Gold, two Silver and six Bronze in IndiaSkills Competition 2018 which was held in New Delhi from October 1 to 6, 2018. On November 5, 2018, Haryana was appreciated for achieving the first position in engaging maximum apprentices per lakh of population across the state.
In view of the convenience of merchants who honestly pay taxes, e-Way Bill scheme has been started from April 1, 2018, for Inter-State transport of goods. From April 20, the process of e-Way Billing has been started for ‘Intra-State’ transport of goods in the state.
Under the national strategy for eliminating Measles disease and controlling Rubella, the Measles-Rubella Immunization Campaign was started from April 25, 2018, in all the districts of Haryana. In this, all children from 9 months to 15 years will be administered MR vaccines. A target of 74.38 lakh has been fixed of which 73.64 lakh children have been vaccinated.
Two new Government Medical Colleges (one nursing college and one physiotherapy college), Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, University of Health Sciences, Kutail (Karnal) and Nursing School and College have been opened in Safidon Jind and the admission of the first batch has been done in session 2018-19.
He said that free treatment facility up to Rs five lakh is being given to 15.50 lakh families of poor and needy people under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. There is a target to implement this scheme in 10 per cent of the districts (which constitute two districts). It has been started in main district hospitals in all 22 districts and four other medical institutions. In this way, the scheme has been started in 26 Government Medical Institutes of the state. Of the 4.68 lakh registered construction workers of the state who are not covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, they will also get free treatment up to Rs five lakh. He said that free treatment facility up to Rs. five lakh is also being given to Emergency Victims, Hindi Matribhasha Satyagrahis, journalists and nambardars.
In the Swachh Survekshan 2018, the Gharaunda Municipality has been awarded the Best Town in the North Zone for Innovation and Best Practices. In the process of strengthening infrastructure in urban areas, Haryana has reached 10th position from 28thposition.
He said that it was decided to give monthly pension of Rs. 2,500 to former Mayor and Rs 2,000 to former Senior Deputy Mayor, former Deputy Mayor and former head of Municipal Council. It was also decided to give an insurance coverage of Rs.10 lakh to employees working on hazardous jobs like Fireman and Sewerman. The premium will be borne by the government.
The spokesman said that a decision has been taken to set up the Faridabad Metropolitan Development Authority (FMDA).
— This is unedited and is being released as received from Haryana PR. The headline, however, has been given by NIK Editorial Team.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal said on Sunday that the past importance and stature of Faridabad Industrial Town is being restored and work on different projects worth Rs. 700 crore would start from next month.
He was addressing a public meeting (Shankhnad rally) organised by Haryana Industries and Commerce Minister Vipul Goel at Faridabad.
Mr.Manohar Lal laid the foundation stone of modernisation and beautification of Raja Nahar Singh Cricket Stadium at a cost of Rs. 115 crore. He also announced Rs. 50 crore for development of Faridabad assembly constituency, Rs. 47 crore for multi-storey parking at Sector 12 and swimming pool at Sports Stadium and laying of a metro line between Faridabad and Gurugram.
He said that Faridabad was known as an industrial town, but the previous governments had neglected it. “My regime has made efforts to restore the old form of the town. As per the Development Plan Year 2031 of Faridabad, 143 sectors would be developed in this city. Efforts are being made to transform Faridabad at a rapid pace and in this direction, CCTV cameras would be installed at a cost of Rs.160 crore. All roads in the city are being repaired at a cost of Rs. 245 crore. The electricity wires are being laid underground at a cost of Rs.150 crore.
Apart from this, the Badkhal road would be widened at a cost of Rs. 42 crore. Similarly, a bridge is being constructed at Yamuna river in village Manjhawali for connectivity with Noida. After completion of this bridge, the distance to Noida would be only 15 minutes.
He disclosed that the Faridabad-Delhi Metro line has been extended from Mujesar to Ballabhgarh at a cost of Rs. 580 crore.
The Chief Minister said that under Ujjawala scheme, LPG connections have been provided to poor families and after January 25, 2019, there would be no family in the state without LPG connection.
Mr. Vipul Goel said that under the able leadership of Chief Minister, unprecedented development is being carried out in the state. Mr.Manohar Lal has formulated new industrial policy thanks to which Haryana has reached the third position from the 14th in terms of Ease of Doing Business.
Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister O.P. Dhankar, MLAs Mool Chand Sharma, Seema Trikha, Tek Chand Sharma and Nagender Bhadana also spoke.
भारतीय जनता पार्टी चंडीगढ़ के फार्मास्यूटिकल सेल की एक बैठक आज पार्टी कार्यालय कमलम में हुई | बैठक की अध्यक्षता प्रकोष्ठ के संयोजक प्रिन्स बंदुला ने की | इस बैठक में अध्यक्ष संजय टंडन ने विशेष रूप से भाग लिया और प्रकोष्ठ के सदस्यों से भेंटवार्ता की |
इस बैठक की जानकारी प्रदान करते हुए मीडिया विभाग के इंचार्ज रविंद्र पठानिया ने बताया कि बैठक में प्रकोष्ठों के मुख्य समन्वयक गिरधारी लाल जिंदल, कार्यालय सचिव गजेन्द्र शर्मा भी उपस्थित थे | बैठक में उपस्थित सभी सदस्यों के परिचय के उपरान्त भाजपा चंडीगढ़ के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष संजय टंडन ने माननीय प्रधान मंत्री श्री नरेंद्र मोदी जी के गतिशील नेतृत्व में केंद्र सरकार द्वारा शुरू की गई योजनाओं के कारण देश के नागरिकों को होने वाले लाभों के बारे में प्रत्येक व्यक्ति के सकारात्मक और नकारात्मक दोनों विचारों को लिया। इसके अलावा उज्ज्वला योजना, बेटी बचाओ बेटी पढ़ाओ, स्वच्छ भारत अभियान, मुद्रा योजना के तहत मुफ्त एलपीजी कनेक्शन के वितरण जैसी कुछ महत्वपूर्ण योजनाओं के बारे में भी विस्तार से बताया गया है जिसमें एक व्यक्ति अपने और अपने परिवार की आजीविका कमाने के लिए अपना पेशा शुरू करने के लिए ऋण ले सकता है। , और सबसे महत्वपूर्ण एक आयुष्मान भारत योजना है, जहां सरकार बीपीएल परिवारों को मुफ्त में प्रतिवर्ष 5 लाख रुपये का चिकित्सा बीमा दे रही है, और इस योजना के कारण चंडीगढ़ में पहचाने जाने वाले लगभग 23000 परिवारों ने आयुष्मान भारत अंतर्गत लाभ प्राप्त किया और अपना उपचार करवाया है जिसकी पहचान जल्द ही की जा रही है | उन्हें सोशल मीडिया पर सक्रिय रहने के लिए कहा और 2019 में आगामी चुनाव के बाद श्री नरेंद्र मोदी जी को प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में वापस लाने के लिए पार्टी के लिए कम से कम आधे घंटे बिताने के लिए कहा
रविंद्र पठानिया, मीडिया इंचार्ज, भारतीय जनता पार्टी,चंडीगढ़ |
गोपाल कांडा जैसे लोगों से हाथ मिलाने वाले लोगों का चुनरी चौपाल करने का कोई औचित्य नहीं : चौटाला
जब वे विधानसभा में एसवाईएल नहर निर्माण को लेकर, रोजगार को लेकर, मेवात जैसे जिलों को प्रदेश में विकास की मुख्यधारा में लाने जैसे प्रदेश की जनता के जनहित के मुद्दे विधानसभा में उठा रहे थे तो वहां पर भाजपा के मंत्री व कांग्रेस के विधायक हंस रहे थे, खिलखिला रहे थे, जनता के हितों वाले मुद्दों पर गंभीर होने की बजाय बेशर्मो की तरह दांत निकालना कहां तक शोभनीय है, यह कहना है नेता प्रतिपक्ष और वरिष्ठ इनेलो नेता अभय सिंह चौटाला का, वे आज कैथल में पहुंची जन अधिकार यात्रा के दौरान पत्रकारों से बातचीत कर रहे थे।
उन्होंने कहा कि प्रदेश की बदकिस्मती है कि जनता ने भाजपा व कांग्रेस के उन लोगों को चुनकर विधानसभा में भेजा है जो विधानसभा में जनता के मुद्दों पर चर्चा करने की बजाय बेशर्मो की तरह दांत निकालते हैं। अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि उनको प्रदेश के हितों से कोई सरोकार नहीं और जनहित मुद्दों पर चर्चा की बजाय केवल अपने हितों से जुड़े बिलों को पास करवाने के लिए विधानसभा में जाते हैं, ऐसे लोगों को भेजना दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण है।
अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि जब उन्होंने सीएम से पूछा कि क्या पंजाब, यूपी,, मध्य प्रदेश, राजस्थान की तर्ज पर हरियाणा के किसानों के कर्ज माफ होंगे तो सीएम द्वारा यह मानने से इनकार करते हुए चर्चा को लेकर कोई चिंताजनक नहीं दिखाई दिए और चर्चा करने की बजाय मुस्कुरा रहे थे। अभय चौटाला ने प्रदेश सरकार पर निशाना साधते हुए कहा कि प्रदेशभर के विश्वविद्यालयों के केवल नाम बदले जा रहे हैं, नया स्कूल-कॉलेज अथवा विश्वविद्यालय नहीं बनाए गए हैं। उन्होंने कहा कि सभी योजनाओं में केवल लीपापोती की जा रही है।
अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि रेवाड़ी के अंदर मलेठी गांव है जहां पर पंचायत द्वारा जमीन देकर एक परियोजना का शिलान्यास मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा किया जाना था लेकिन एक विधायक को खुश करने के लिए मुख्यमंत्री ने उसको दूसरी जगह शिफ्ट कर दिया।
इसके साथ-साथ उन्होंने कहा कि रोडवेज कर्मचारियों को भी सरकार द्वारा केवल लॉलीपॉप देने का काम किया है। प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा किसानों के लिए फ्री ट्यूबल कनेक्शन की घोषणा के जवाब में बोलते हुए अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि सत्ता में आने से पहले प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री एक निजी कंपनी में कार्य करते थे जो सोलर लगाने का काम करती थी और अब सोलर कंपनी को फायदा पहुंचाने के लिए मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा सोलर कनेक्शन लगाने की बात की जा रही है, जिसका सीधा सीधा लाभ पच्चीस परसेंट मुनाफा कम्पनी को पहुंचाना चाहते हैं।
उन्होंने कहा कि वे तेलंगाना राज्य की तर्ज पर किसानों की फसल का प्रति एकड़ लागत मूल्य के हिसाब से लाभ देने के लिए योजना तैयार करेंगे। उन्होंने कहा कि यह काम सरकार आने पर तुरंत प्रभाव से किया जाएगा।
मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा स्वयं को पंजाबी बताए जाने की खबर वायरल होने के बाद प्रदेश भर में की जा रही कार्रवाई पर बोलते हुए अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि मुख्यमंत्री को तुरंत प्रभाव से प्रदेशभर की फेक आईडी चलाने वालों पर कड़ी कार्रवाई की जानी चाहिए।
कैथल जिले के भागल गांव में नैना चौटाला द्वारा किए गए कार्यक्रम चुनरी चौपाल पर चुटकी लेते हुए अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि चुनावी चौपाल वाले जब गोपाल कंडा जैसे अपराधी लोगों से हाथ मिलाते हैं तो उनकी चुनरी चौपाल के, बेटियो और माताओं-बहनों की बात करने का क्या औचित्य रह जाएगा, क्या मायने रह जायेंगे ? अभय चौटाला ने कहा कि बेटियों की इज्जत से खेलने वालों, प्रदेश को कलंकित करने वालों से हाथ मिलाने वाले नेता बेटियों को सुरक्षा देने की बात करते हैं।
अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि इनेलो और बसपा की सरकार बनने पर 10 हजार से लेकर 10 लाख तक का कर्जा किसानों का तुरंत प्रभाव से किया जाएगा। जैसे ओथ के सिग्नेचर होंगे उसके तुरंत बाद ही यह प्रस्ताव विधानसभा में पारित किया जाएगा। उन्होंने सरकार पर निशाना साधते हुए कहा कि प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री तो केवल बयानबाजी करते हैं हम काम करके दिखाएंगे। प्रदेश भर में अनेक पार्टी द्वारा की जा रही रैलियों पर बोलते हुए उन्होंने कहा कि रैलियां करना नेताओं का काम है और सत्ता सौंपना जनता का काम है। लोगों ने कांग्रेस व भाजपा के राज को देख लिया है अब इनेलो बसपा की सरकार बनना तय है। इस मौके पर उनके साथ इनेलो प्रदेशाध्यक्ष अशोक अरोड़ा,, पूर्व संसदीय सचिव रामपाल माजरा, जिला अध्यक्ष कंवरपाल करोड़ा, युवा जिलाध्यक्ष अनिल क्योड़क आदि मौजूद रहे।
Courtesy Naveen Malhotra, a Kaithal-based senior journalist.The author is responsible for the content. (Editor-in-Chief)
In the age of President Donald Trump, it is necessary to repeat this mantra constantly. The ways in which Trump breaks norms and shocks the conscience overwhelm America’s capacity to process each event with the appropriate level of outrage and accountability. America’s attention too often moves from one story to the next like sports highlights. Slowly, surely, America’s norms are stripped away.
The legal system is beginning to hold Trump and his associates accountable, evidenced by the guilty pleas, convictions and indictments emanating from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in 2016. Other Trump actions and policies have sparked countless lawsuits, from those challenging emoluments to the travel and asylum bans. However imperfect the system, breaking the law can have consequences.
The penalty for breaking norms, however, isn’t so simple. Presidents are not supposed to continue their private business while in office, attack the media as the “enemy of the people” or talk about throwing political opponents in jail. None of this is normal. But it’s not necessarily illegal.
When it comes to national security, it is much easier to discard norms. There are laws governing the conduct of US national security policy, but norms are an essential part of the glue that keeps America safe. Trump has taken aim at those norms.
US foreign policy has long recognized that alliances with democracies advance US interests, and that grudging partnerships with autocracies are to be managed. But Trump treats autocrats like friends, and friends like enemies. He defends Russia’s President Vladimir Putin against the US intelligence community; defends the Saudi Arabian autocrat Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of ordering the murder of a journalist; and defends the systematic human rights abuses of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, even saying he wishes the American people would treat Trump with the same deference the North Korean people are forced to show Kim. Meanwhile, Trump picks fights with the leaders of Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.
This is not normal. America should debate how best to uphold its values in its foreign policy, not whether those values have a role to play.
Despite periods of xenophobia, America at its best is a country welcoming of foreigners – the Statue of Liberty greets immigrants with the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But Trump is closing America to those yearning to breathe free. Trump has drastically reduced the number of refugees allowed to enter the US, imposed an arbitrary travel ban, is attempting to curb legal immigration, and sent the US military to the border with Mexico to respond to a group of desperate people fleeing violence and poverty.
This is not normal. America can debate the contours of the best immigration policy, but it should not undermine America’s spirit as a land of opportunity.
While climate change has become a partisan issue – with conservatives often denying its existence or extent – US policy should be driven by facts, and facts make clear that manmade climate change is imperiling life on earth. The entire world agrees – except for Trump. Climate change is one of the only existential threats the world faces, and Trump is actively working to make it worse.
This is not normal. America should debate the best way to tackle climate change, not its existence.
America has never had to question whether its president prioritized the country’s interests above all else. But with Trump, it increasingly looks like the president is compromised by Russia. While laws may have been broken (Mueller is on the case), the very idea of a compromised president is shocking. We already know that: Trump asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016; Trump attempted to do business with Vladimir Putin during the campaign; Trump regularly takes Putin’s side over US intelligence agencies; a number of Trump’s senior aides are guilty of crimes related to dealings with Russia; and Trump regularly attacks US law enforcement for investigating Trump’s connections to Russia. Trump is acting like he is compromised.
This is not normal. America should debate the best way to protect itself from Russia – it should not have to debate whether the president is in Russia’s pocket.
And no national security decisions should be made on the fly by tweet. Decisions about how to safeguard America require extensive deliberation within the US government and public. But Trump often makes major national security decisions – such as removing US troops from Syria or meeting with Kim – on a whim, surprising US officials and endangering US interests.
This is not normal. America needs substantive debate about policies and should not have to wonder whether decisions are made on a whim by Trump’s “very, very large brain”.
American history is filled with dark periods, from the wars against Native Americans to slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans to the oppression of women and minorities. But America has also been a beacon to the world, as evidenced by the large numbers of people who have sacrificed much to come to these shores. America has continually worked to improve itself, over time building norms and laws that help protect this country.
The breakdown of norms at home undermines democracy. The breakdown of norms in foreign affairs undermines American security. That is why Americans must continue to remind themselves that what they are seeing right now is not normal and hold Trump to account with vigorous congressional oversight and vocal public pushback.
The breakdown of norms at home undermines democracy. The breakdown of norms in foreign affairs undermines American security. That is why Americans must continue to remind themselves that what they are seeing right now is not normal and hold Trump to account with vigorous congressional oversight and vocal public pushback.
Romania’s government has been accused of seeking to turn the clock back on years of democratic reforms as it prepares to take charge of the European Union’s rotating presidency for the first time on 1 January.
The European commission warned the government in November that it was backtracking on progress made since joining the EU in 2007, while the European parliament passed a resolution voicing “deep concerns” at legislation that has the potential to weaken the rule of law. MEPs also condemned “the violent and disproportionate intervention by police” in Bucharest in August, when police used water cannons and teargas to disperse anti-corruption protesters.
One proposal being closely watched is an amnesty to protect politicians from prosecution for corruption, such as Liviu Dragnea, regarded as the most powerful man in Romania. A businessman-turned-politician, Dragnea is the leader of the Social Democratic party but was barred from becoming prime minister when his party won power in 2016 because of a conviction for vote-rigging.
“Dragnea will be one of the main beneficiaries of the amnesty if adopted,” said Bianca Toma, programme director at the Romanian Centre for European Policies. Even if the amnesty were only in force “for one minute” before being overturned, she said it would still wipe the slate clean for Dragnea and potentially 15,000 others, depending on how the decree was drafted.
“Adopting such a decree on amnesty would be outrageous,” Toma said. “I believe that the civil society would react, the citizens would react, the EU would react, because once this kind of decree is adopted it would be very hard to undo the consequences.”
Iohannis, a former schoolteacher who was mayor of the Transylvanian city of Sibiu, is a member of the centre-right Liberal party and has previously warned that his country risks the EU’s rule of law sanction procedure, which currently embroils Poland. The prime minister, Viorica Dăncilă, is from the Social Democratic party and widely seen as a proxy for Dragnea, who is believed to be behind a ceaseless game of musical chairs at the top of government.
Since the coalition took office in January 2017, 70 ministers have come and gone, according to the political analyst Radu Magdin at the Smartlink consultancy. He counts three prime ministers, six economy ministers, four changes at defence (one minister returned) and three people in charge of EU affairs.
“The main vulnerability for this government is competence,” he said, adding that many ministers had been promoted from local politics “without proper training or proper vision” and lacking knowledge of due process in dealing with civil society, business and foreign countries.
Turbulence may help explain why Romania has asked for little of the €30.8bn in EU cash earmarked by Brussels over 2014-2020 to build roads, railways, metro lines and boost the economy in what remains one of the EU’s poorest countries. To date, projects worth €5.8bn (a mix of EU and Romanian funds) have been approved by Brussels, prompting criticism from opposition politicians that the government is failing to reap the benefits of EU membership.
In Brussels there was even a brief discussion about skipping Romania’s presidency and going straight to Finland, which takes its turn in July. One EU diplomat said the government was “completely focused on domestic issues”, but “somehow they will survive” the presidency. Magdin said “the political noise” would not affect the presidency, because of “seasoned diplomats” in Brussels and the experienced Europe minister, the veteran foreign ministry official George Ciamba, who was appointed in November.
It helps that the presidency is not what it used to be – the EU has had a permanent president and foreign affairs chief since 2009, lightening the workload for member states in the chair. Romania’s presidency will also be unusually short, as European elections in May will bring EU lawmaking to a standstill by the spring. The UK’s departure from the European Union on 29 March is being handled by the commission.
But the presidency plays an important role in organising the EU’s daily business and allows a country to sell itself to its neighbours.
Siegfried Mureşan, a Romanian centre-right MEP, argues it would have been a mistake for the EU to have skipped over Romania, a country where support for the EU is higher than average. More than half of Romanians (52%) think the EU is going in the right direction, while only 24% feel the same way about their country, according to a recent poll by Eurobarometer.
The MEP recalls a banner he saw at a recent demonstration in Bucharest – a blue flag with the word “help” written in gold stars. “It symbolises that the people of Romania expect help from Europe in their struggle against local politicians to defend the rule of law.”
Rembrandt drew Saskia van Uylenburgh for the first time three days after their engagement, in the summer of 1633. His future wife is a picture of spirited allure. She smiles back at him from beneath the brim of a wide straw hat, lips shining, hair tousled, eyes glowing with intelligence and humour. In her hand is a flower; round her hat are several more, perhaps gifts from her lover. Soon she will marry this prodigy, who is sitting so close to her on the other side of the table – the most famous artist in Amsterdam.
Saskia is posing on this June day in the gallery of Hendrick van Uylenburgh, her much older cousin and Rembrandt’s principal dealer. The painter is actually living and working on the premises. Several of his early masterpieces have already been painted in this grand four-storey building on the Amstel canal, including the shattering The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp, with its gathering of medics in white ruffs leaning carelessly over the poor dead body, only half aware of their own mortality. This first huge commission had already brought its maker wealth and renown; and once married, Rembrandt and Saskia will not stay with cousin Hendrick for too much longer. As soon as he has mustered the colossal sums required, Rembrandt will buy the ruinously extravagant house next door, in what is now Jodenbreestraat 4. There he will draw and paint Saskia over and over again, in the agonisingly brief span of their marriage.
Saskia having her hair combed, in bed, asleep or looking enticingly back at her husband; Saskia seen from the inner courtyard, beaming from a casement window. These pen and ink drawings, dashed off with intense concentration, were found in a folder after the artist’s death. They are like the pages of a private diary. And along with his several hundred etchings, surely the greatest in the history of art, they will all be on view in 2019 – the Year of Rembrandt.
It is 350 years since Rembrandt died at the age of 63, destitute, his decline as dramatic as his rise. His rough magic had long since fallen out of fashion with the Dutch, and he was buried, like Mozart, in a pauper’s grave. But his resurrection as the outstanding chronicler of the human face, daily altered by experience, and of the heart’s journey through love, grief, despair and every imaginable emotion, was almost immediate; and it is never-ending. Van Gogh, who once wrote that he would give a decade of his life just to sit in front of The Jewish Bride for a fortnight, spoke for mankind: “Rembrandt says things for which there are no words in any language.”
The Jewish Bride – that portrait of two long-dead Netherlanders, his hand on her breast, hers gently covering his, in a gesture of such mutual adoration – will star in All the Rembrandts, which opens at the Rijksmuseum in February with 22 paintings and all of the etchings. The Mauritshuis in The Hague will be showing another 18 canvases, including Dr Tulp. And so many of his paintings, prints and drawings will appear in so many different cities, that anyone with the slightest interest in the greatest of Dutch painters, so inexhaustibly profound, so magnificently original, might try to get to the Netherlands in the coming year. Begin with Amsterdam, and from here every other crucial exhibition – at his birthplace in Leiden, in Delft, Dordrecht, Leeuwarden and The Hague – is easily reached on one of the country’s swift and reliable trains.
But for me, the first of these commemorative shows is by far the most surprising. Rembrandt and Saskia at the Fries Museum, in the northern city of Leeuwarden, is unprecedented: an intimate portrait of the artist’s marriage in images, objects and words. Rembrandt was 28 when he married Saskia in 1634; 36 when she died, leaving him with a baby son and a sorrow so destructive he gave up painting in oils for several years. The measure of his loss is apparent, too, in the nature of these images of Saskia and their happiness, made before (and in one case after) her death. Here is the artist’s heart.
Leeuwarden is Saskia’s hometown. A miniature Amsterdam of humpbacked bridges and narrow streets, you can walk round it in half an hour. A canal-ringed oval, it looks very much as it did in the 17th century – bright, cobbled streets of thriving shops and Dutch gable houses. Saskia was born here in 1612, youngest child of Rombertus van Uylenburgh, a leading lawyer who was also mayor of the city – in those days the capital of Friesland. He was rich; the family house is a veritable mansion. It is still standing, four floors of high, shuttered windows, and from its front door you can walk in one minute to all the places Saskia went: over the bridge to the lace shops, the bustling dairy market, the weighing station where heavy spherical cheeses were measured before their slow voyage by barge out across Europe. Family life was busy too. Rombertus was a founder of the nearby University of Franeker, and a friend of the stadtholder (the provincial noble) whose spectacularly beautiful house is now a hotel where modern couples can get married.
Saskia was educated, fearless, and wealthy. She lost her mother at seven and her father at 12, and was brought up by an older sister. But still she did not just accept the first proposal from some wily old Frieslander offering protection in exchange for her money. She waited, she studied, she spent time with artists and intellectuals; on her journey to Amsterdam to visit Hendrick in 1633, Saskia’s companions were two illustrious painters. Both appear in life-size contemporary portraits, along with her piratical one-eyed uncle: all three would be guests at her wedding.
Her character is apparent in her choice of Rembrandt, the son of a miller, rebellious, wild, at least as theatrical as his early self-portraits suggest. He had already painted the showstopping Self-Portrait With Dishevelled Hair now in the Rijksmuseum, and which she would have known, since he kept it among his studio works. Here, Rembrandt is a lone soul in the forests of the night, eyes blacker than the darkness around him. He has positioned himself at the exact boundary between that blackness and a shaft of light that ignites his smooth cheek and a flash of white lace collar, showing off his superb gift for flesh and fabric. But his features are hidden in shadow, allowing his true face – his true identity, you might say – to remain beyond reach. The dazzle is in the staging, and yet the staging is all concealment. You have to search for Rembrandt; and when you find him there is a second shock: that he is looking straight back, already had you in his sights.
To see Rembrandt’s self-portraits, scattered across the Netherlands, is to see that he scarcely looks the same from one painting to the next. His hair is tawny, brown or auburn, his nose waxes and wanes, from bulbous potato to sharp nib; he is head in air, and suave, he is down and out, and flaccid. These paintings give a true sense of inner mutability, of a personality – and appearance – that is ever-changing and never fixed; the qualities that make Rembrandt so human, so proverbially Shakespearean.
And what is so revelatory about the depictions of her, seen together, is that he accords the same grace to Saskia. His young wife never looks the same from day to day. That first drawing gives some rudimentary characteristics: small, ripe mouth, the slight double chin that will become considerably more pronounced, lively round eyes and soft tendrils of hair. But in the paintings, this hair may be long and fair, or strawberry blond, or even quite red. She looks alert and flirtatious in an early drawing; stouter and more beady in the famous etching where they are both reflected in the same mirror together; he confidently looking up to get his image, she sitting just behind him at the table, watchful in velvet. She is having her hair done by a maid, she is exhausted in bed, possibly from pregnancy, illness or both. In one sheet of studies, she appears five times – young and fair in the middle, with light eyelashes; more careworn and heavy-nosed below. What did she actually look like?
There is a portrait of Saskia, probably by Govert Flinck, one of the painters who accompanied her to Amsterdam, in which she appears pasty, plump and auburn, though the lovely mouth with its slightly protuberant lower lip is instantly recognisable. But what strikes is just how limited she seems. It is just the same when you come across Jan Lievens’s portrait of his friend Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum; in itself a highly accomplished piece of painting, yet its subject appears narrow, reduced and finite, compared to the wild and unbound self-portraits by Rembrandt on the walls around it.
There are a dozen likenesses of Saskia. She is an expensively dressed Dutch wife, reading, lolling, looking down at some unseen object in her lap. She is got up as a goddess in a flowing golden dress. Rembrandt draws her in pearls, strings of them in her hair, round her neck, dangling from her ears. Could this have been how she looked on their wedding day? They travelled to Friesland for the ceremony through flatlands that look to the modern eye like unfolding Dutch paintings, cows out of Aelbert Cuyp, water and windmills by Jacob van Ruisdael, and of course Rembrandt’s own drawings of the low horizons. His mother gave the necessary permission to a notary back in Amsterdam. The document is in the Fries Museum, signed X with her mark. But neither she nor any of his other relatives attended the wedding.
Saskia’s family became alarmed when he bought their expensive new home in Amsterdam; he even had to sign some legal promises to keep the van Uylenburghs happy. It is now a stupendous museum.
There is nothing to compare with the immediacy of the Rembrandtshuis: the chance to look out of the studio windows and see the same streets Rembrandt saw, the same water flowing away into the Dutch distance, the same light in which he worked every day. To clamber up the steep wooden stairs to the room where he slept with Saskia, and where she is seen in a quickfire sketch in their bed. She has just raised a pensive hand to her cheek; his hasty strokes record the movements of her arm like stop-motion footage.
Six of the nine rooms in this high house were devoted to art. Saskia could hardly have got away from her husband’s work: students on the top floor, assistants in the studio and buyers in the hall, with a special viewing throne by the front window. Even now, the scent of linseed oil drifts through the building, the wooden etching press is still cranked into daily use, the props box is stuffed, and the large room in which Rembrandt kept his art collection still contains “a great quantity of horns, shells and coral branches, casts taken from life, and many other curiosities”, as described in the inventory made after his death.
The studio is nothing like the lonely garret of romantic tradition, but an enormous room warmed by a pair of towering stoves. On the floor above, Rembrandt’s proteges worked in the kind of cubicles you see in art colleges even now. The drying lines for his newly minted prints are still there, and tables for mixing expensive pigments. Rembrandt, who bought works by Dürer, Holbein, Raphael and Titian, who couldn’t resist a stuffed crocodile or an outsize conch, was nothing if not spendthrift.
In a portrait of Saskia got up as Flora, painted the year of their wedding, she appears with an armful of flowers in an abundant gleaming dress. She looks pregnant; and she was, with their first child, Rombertus, named after her father. He died at birth. The next two babies, both daughters, lived only a few days. But their fourth child survived, grew up and became a painter too. We know Titus from Rembrandt’s penetrating portraits of his son, handsome but always anxious. He looks up from his homework, trying to figure out the answers; he becomes a hesitant young pupil in the studio, a teenager who will eventually grow into a dark-eyed gentleman with lustrous long hair. The centre of Titus’s face often received so much painterly attention – loving, questioning, revising – that you could, as a contemporary once commented, pick these portraits up by the nose.
Rembrandt painted all three generations of his family so continuously that their faces are indelibly familiar: his mother, bony, much-creased, so often the model for old women in the Bible and classical myth; himself, his wife and their son as all sorts of characters, but also as themselves. In Leeuwarden these three are reunited for the first time since Rembrandt’s death in an extraordinarily moving trio of portraits. Saskia died at the age of 29, only a few months after the birth of Titus, probably of consumption or plague; it seems a miracle that the child survived. Titus grew up with this painting of his mother: this is how he knew her, how he saw Saskia in their house every day, through his father’s art.
Rembrandt earned much, and he lost much. Self-portraits among the hundred and more paintings on show in Leiden, Amsterdam and The Hague in 2019 will trace the arc of his life from truculent youth to young star in gold chains, and from successful businessman to widowed old sage, no more collectors at the door. His debts mounted. He was forced to sell the house and most of his collection of art and artefacts for a pittance to avoid bankruptcy in the late 1650s, and moved with Titus to rented lodgings on the poorer side of town. He was even reduced to selling Saskia’s tomb at the Westerkerk; though it didn’t stop him bidding for a Holbein a few months later.
If there was no solace for Saskia’s loss, Rembrandt at least managed to hire a nurse called Geertje Dircx to look after Titus. His affair with Geertje lasted six years, until she was supplanted by a young maid called Hendrickje Stoffels. Hendrickje is believed to be the model for several of Rembrandt’s most sensuous works, including the young woman bathing in a stream in the National Gallery in London, the water’s reflections redoubling the light on her pearly skin. It is sometimes said that Hendrickje was more beautiful than Saskia, but how can anyone tell? What Rembrandt gave Saskia, his one and only wife, was the infinity of psychological nuances that he gave himself: the understanding of both mind and eye.
Among the masterworks at the Mauritshuis will be Rembrandt’s late self-portrait in an old beret, quite possibly the last he ever painted. By now he had outlived everyone he loved; and the paint rises at every level to the tragedy of his life’s experience: the face wintry, pensive, sorrowful, faintly ashamed, the paint seeming to fail even as it rises to a pitch of profundity. In the autumn, the Rijksmuseum will pair Rembrandt with Velázquez, his contemporary and peer; and towards the year’s end, the Lakenhal Museum in Leiden will return to the very beginning with masterpieces from Rembrandt’s early career. Almost a third of his 300 or so paintings will be on show in the Netherlands through 2019.
But there is one picture that is rarely seen, and has not moved from the wall in a German castle on which it has been hanging for the past 250 years. It is the great portrait of Saskia that concludes the Fries Museum show. Rembrandt had painted his wife not long after their marriage. But he did not complete the picture until after her death in 1642. He kept her likeness with him, among his close possessions, until financial troubles forced him to sell his own works, as well those in his collection. It was bought by his old friend, the collector Jan Six. Around 1750, the portrait passed to the Elector of Hesse-Kassel, and it has been in Kassel ever since, until now. Saskia has come home to Leeuwarden especially for this exhibition.
What a magnetic painting it is: Saskia in red velvet and gold, beneath a vast and voluptuous hat, suddenly seen, for the first and last time, in profile. How delicate she now looks, with her glowing skin, the lower lip much more subtle and sensuous, the face full of shrewd and steady intelligence. It immediately confirms the remark made by the notary Saskia summoned a week or so before her death, to write down her last will and testament: she had lost neither her wits nor her sense of humour.
Time runs back to the start, and there is her neat little mouth, the sense of her small pearly teeth, the slight double chin, the red-gold hair. She is no longer sick, pregnant or tired, but restored to her spry young self. This is in the gift of her husband and his art; brushing in her soft ear lobe, her fresh complexion, her self-possession and everlasting youth. After her death, Rembrandt added an elegant ostrich feather to her hat and put a sprig of rosemary in her hand. Rosemary for remembrance.
For full listings of Rembrandt exhibitions in the Netherlands in 2019, go to holland.com
Whether it be a training plan from an app such as TrainAsOne or Zombies, Run!, or comparing results with fellow runners via a platform such as Runkeeper or Strava, technology has helped lots of runners off the start line, coached their performance and led them to become obsessed with their digital trails. Most start off tracking their runs with their smartphone strapped to their arm, but other devices can capture metrics beyond just pace and distance.
This is a hefty watch, with a matching price tag. Within its titanium casing is a multitude of sensors that can track your activities (running, rowing, cycling, skiing, kayaking and pretty much anything else), your heart rate, heart rate variability (the time between the beats, an indicator of how stressed you are) and pulse ox acclimatisation (the amount of oxygen in your blood – useful if you are training at high altitudes). It can also prompt you along routes it has created, although in built-up areas these weren’t very runner-friendly.
Apart from this gripe, it’s almost faultless and a powerful device. It’s straightforward to customise for the activities and data you’re most interested in, the screen is easy to read while running, the buttons make it simple to operate and the battery lasts for an age (Garmin claims 33 hours of GPS tracking or 20 days on standby).
However, if you want something for urban running and some racing, something cheaper, such as a Garmin Forerunner 30 (£130) or a Polar M430 (£175), which have HR monitors and GPS, would be more than sufficient.
Best for: ultra-active, high-net-worth individuals who like to run trails, swim wild, ski cross-country and paddleboard – before breakfast.
The newest Apple Watch is a powerful tool for keeping track of your health and exercise. It can measure HR, HRV and VO2 Max; other useful features for runners include the ability to make contactless payments and listen to music without lugging your smartphone along too. The watch is, well, watch-size compared to other sports watches, plus it’s aesthetically pleasing enough to wear all day.
Tracking a run with Apple’s Activity app works smoothly. Other apps and devices can write data to Activity, but this is haphazard, resulting in double entries or oddities, such as mistaking cycling up a hill as climbing up stairs. If you’re happy not to stray from the Apple apps, this is less of an issue but if you want to share your activities to another platform you would be advised to install the HealthFit app, which can export your runs to Strava, TrainingPeaks and other platforms. For £2.99, this app removes one of the Apple Watch’s two drawbacks.
The other issue is poor battery life, not surprising given its small size and the powerful chips and sensors. You’ll need to charge it most days, so using it to track sleep patterns is tricky and there’s not enough juice for tracking long bike rides with GPS. A new feature of the Series 4 is a wrist-based electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor; however, this isn’t enabled on UK devices until Apple gains the appropriate EU approval, since it is classified as a medical device.
This strap for Apple Watches already has EU approval to take ECG measurements, so it could be ideal if you are impatient for this function on the Series 4 or you own an older Apple Watch. The HR sensors in the Apple Watch and other devices work by using optical sensors in their rear to monitor blood flow in the wrist but the KardiaBand can pick up electrical activity from the heart. But why is this of particular interest to runners? An ECG can detect atrial fibrillation (typical AFib symptoms would be a fluttering or pounding feeling in the chest), which is more common in middle-aged endurance athletes than the general, sedentary population. To monitor your heart, you simply place your thumb on the metal tab on the strap for 30 seconds and the app will tell you if your heart is displaying any signs of AFib. The SmartRhythm feature will monitor your heart during runs and will prompt you to take an ECG if it notices anything untoward. If you have any concerns, you can show the results to your GP.
As the name hints, these shoes claim to give a 4% boost to your performance, due to the carbon-fibre plate in the sole. Eliud Kipchoge and Abraham Kiptum set world records this year wearing them in the marathon and half-marathon respectively. I ran 5k and 10k personal bests in these very light shoes, an improvement of 2.4% and 3.95% respectively. Is there any evidence to back up Nike’s claims?
The 4% claim originated from a Nike-funded study but recently two independent studies have been published by US academics. The first found that the shoes do “enhance running economy” by 2.6% to 4.2% (depending on the comparison shoe). The second study concluded that the boost was due to the carbon plate acting as a lever for the foot and that the foam in the shoe’s sole possessed “superior energy storage”.
Aside from the price, the only drawback seems to be longevity – their bounce is widely reported to fade by 100 miles. So they are definitely a shoe to save for (personal) best.
This is a small pod to attach to laces, which tracks how much power is generated as you run.
You may be tracking distance, heart rate and pace, so why would you want to know your wattage? After monitoring your running habits for a while, the Stryd app can calculate the power you should run at for a particular distance, lessening the chances of you “blowing up” before the finish line. And if you are doing interval training, running in zones defined by power is more exact than using your heart rate, which will lag as you recover from exertions.
In practice, the Stryd app was a bit hit and miss, sometimes underestimating distance by half, which messed up the power data. After reinstalling and resetting (and reverting to using a watch to track speed) it became more reliable.
Best for: competitive, data-hungry runners looking to maximise the benefit from their training sessions
To make ends meet, Xu Yuan, 33, has to share a bed with her best friend in Shanghai where she works in marketing. A curtain marks her half of the bed. She stays at work as late as possible every day, going home only to sleep. “Neither of us is happy but we have to be tolerant,” she says.
Liu Xun, 26, a video editor in Beijing, does not watch movies in cinemas, buy new clothes, or date. “To be honest, I think having a girlfriend is too expensive,” he says. Hillary Pan, who works in media, says she no longer eats at restaurants and buys a meal from the convenience store 7-11 almost every day.
China’s economy is slowing and it is people like Xu, Liu, and Pan who are feeling the impact. They are among the many regular Chinese who have had to cut back as the world’s second-largest economy experiences its worst downturn since the 2008 global financial crisis.
“People have started to reduce or even stop spending money because they don’t expect the economy will perform well,” said Ye Tan, an independent economist based in Shanghai. “Companies and individuals are wary about the economy.”
Going into 2019, China faces not just a slowing economy but also a protracted trade war with the US, a pile of debt that threatens the world economy along with the Chinese financial system, and a populace demanding better environmental, labour, and health protections.
Next year, China’s leaders face some of the most difficult policy decisions they have had to make in years. Analysts say they are confronting a choice between pushing headline growth through Beijing’s traditional levers of infrastructure spending funded by debt, or painful reforms that lower financial risk but raise the possibility of unemployment, and ultimately social instability.
Officially, China’s economy is humming along. Economic growth is expected to slow to 6.3% next year, after reaching 6.6% in 2018. The economy expanded by 6.5% in the third quarter, the country’s slowest quarter since 2009.
Yet economic indicators from auto sales to manufacturing activity are all flashing red. In November, growth in China’s manufacturing sector stalled for the first time in more than two years. Annual auto sales in the world’s largest car market are on track to contract for the first time since 1990.
Chinese stocks, more a measure of confidence than the real economy, have been some of the worst performing this year, losing $2tn (£1.58tn) in value. Factories have dismissed workers months early for the Chinese New Year holiday in February. Real estate, one of the few areas in which regular Chinese people can invest, has also suffered, causing developers to slash prices.
An economic slowdown is especially sensitive in China, where social stability is often described as contingent on the government’s ability to deliver continued growth. In September, propaganda officials ordered Chinese journalists to refrain from reporting on signs of a slowing economy, the US-China trade war, or anything portraying the “difficulties of people’s lives”.
But those difficulties are hard to contain. As property developers have cut prices to stimulate sales, homeowners in cities across China have staged protests. Worker protests are also widespread. China Labour Bulletin (CLB), which tracks labour activism in the country, found that strikes and protests have spread beyond the manufacturing sector to the service and retail industries between 2013 and 2017, over the course of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping’s first term.
The group recorded 1,640 industrial strikes or protests in 2018, about 400 more than last year, a figure that is not meant to be representative of all strikes in the country.
“If you look at the nature of these protests, the vast majority can be linked in some way to the slowing economy. Protests are triggered by the failure of employers to pay wages on time, factory closures and the collapse of businesses in the service sector,” said Geoffrey Crothall of CLB.
China has begun measures to shore up the economy through tax cuts for consumers to encourage spending, subsidies for jobless young people, and giving companies who do not lay people off refunds in unemployment insurance.
But that may not be enough to deal with another problem hindering the economy: an uneven distribution of wealth. For the last 30 years of China’s economic growth, wealth has gone into the hands of local governments and local elites who hold on to the money rather than spend it, argues the economist Michael Pettis, a professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua school of management.
“If you want to fix China’s problems, it’s simple. You have to transfer that wealth from elites to ordinary Chinese,” he said. “That’s always been the difficult part, managing the transfer of wealth.”
In some ways, China has reverted to its old playbook of opening the taps. Earlier this year, China ordered state banks to lend to small and medium-sized businesses that have previously struggled to access credit. In the third quarter, planners approved 45 new infrastructure projects worth 437.4bn yuan ($63bn), up from 90.5bn yuan in the previous quarter.
Analysts, optimistic China will deliver on promised reforms and continue its campaign to reduce bad debt, say these measures show China’s restraint and new priorities.
“I think the GDP growth target that has been a fixation for 20, 30 years is no longer as much a fixation for all levels of the government. I think they are much more willing to tolerate slower growth rates,” said Damien Ma, co-founder of the thinktank MacroPolo at the Paulson Institute in Chicago.
He said: “The social contract has evolved under Xi Jinping. It’s no longer about growth … it is healthcare, education, clean air, clean water, quality of life issues.” Referring to a measure of particulate matter in the air, an indicator of pollution, he added: “Over the next five to 10 years the PM2.5 targets will be more important than the GDP target.”
Polls have opened in Bangladesh’s first contested election in a decade after a campaign marred by killings and the mass arrest of opposition leaders and activists.
More than 100m voters will deliver a verdict on the decade-long rule of Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the country’s foremost independence leader, who has overseen record economic growth but undermined the country’s democratic institutions.
Authorities in the country have shut down 3G and 4G services to counter what they called “propaganda”, but opposition activists say the measure will also prevent them reporting any irregularities in voting.
The ruling Awami League claimed one of its regional leaders was killed hours before polls opened in the Sunamganj district in the country’s north-east.
It blamed members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) for the killing as well as the theft of a ballot box in another district in the south-east. At least six of its members or supporters have been killed during the seven-week campaign, the Awami League said.
The BNP alleged police arrested several of its scrutineers on Saturday and that others were left afraid to attend polling stations to monitor voting. Government party MPs outnumbered those from the opposition at three polling station in the capital, Dhaka, attended by the Guardian on Sunday morning and the atmosphere was calm.
Opposition groups say the campaign leading up to Sunday has been the most repressed in the country’s 47-year history, claiming that more than 8,200 people opposed to Hasina have been arrested, four killed and more than 12,000 injured.
The BNP said it was prevented from holding a final campaign event in the capital, where thousands of Awami League supporters rallied on Friday.
Polls close at 4pm local time and the result is expected to be known later in the day, with an opinion poll showing Hasina comfortably ahead.
Hasina, 71, is already the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history. A credible win would indicate voters are willing to tolerate the erosion of public institutions and their civil rights in exchange for relative political stability and economic growth that has led to a tripling in the country’s annual GDP.
A former exile who had most of her family gunned down in a military coup in 1974, Hasina has argued human rights are a peripheral concern to most Bangladeshis and that rural people in particular are more concerned with food and jobs, which she says her government has delivered.
“Democracy and development [have been] made to appear mutually exclusive, with the ruling party members and MPs going to the extent of rooting for development at the cost of democracy,” said Shahedul Anam Khan, a retired brigadier general and opinion columnist.
Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed, who is seen as her possible successor, told Reuters on Saturday his mother believed that being “branded authoritarian by the western media now is a badge of honour”.
“Don’t you see anti-government posts on Facebook?” he said. “You are free to write whatever you want but you are not free to hurt someone. If you write something false and that causes an attack on someone, should there be no consequences?”
Despite the healthy topline numbers, analysts say inequality has widened and labour surveys show 35% of people aged between 20 and 29 are not working or studying. The Centre for Policy Dialogue, a thinktank, has argued corruption during Hasina’s term has cost the country more than $2.5bn.
Opposition groups have formed an alliance headed by lawyer Kamal Hossain, 82, an Oxford-educated lawyer who helped write the constitution and was a close associate of Hasina’s father, Mujibur Rahman.
Hossain said the girl he has known since she was a young woman has changed while in power. “The urge for power can make someone who’s human into something less than human,” he told the Associated Press in an interview.
But he has had to distance himself from some elements of the coalition, including former members of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist party banned since from contesting the polls since 2013, when the high court declared its beliefs were contrary to the secularist principles of the country’s constitution.
The BNP, the most powerful force in the coalition, was also accused of perpetrating human rights abuses during its most recent five-year term in power, which ended in 2009. But rights groups say Hasina’s clampdown on dissent has been more systematic and effective, with the BNP a historically weak force and its leader, Khaleda Zia, in prison after being convicted twice this year of corruption.