longtime leader

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Fidel Castro, Longtime Cuban Leader, Dead At Age 90
The former revolutionary's death was reported overnight.
By Karla Zabludovsky

Fidel Castro, the harbinger of the 20th century Latin American communist wave and leader of the Cuban revolution, died overnight Friday, the Associated Press reported. He was 90.

Castro, who stepped down from power in 2008 permanently after nearly five decades as prime minister and president of the island, had made few public appearances in recent months.

Castro’s sightings were increasingly bookended by rumors of his death, which often set social media abuzz for hours. One of his last appearances was in April, meeting a group of Venezuelan visitors to Cuba, shortly before his brother, Raul, sat down with US President Obama to discuss the thawing of relations between the two countries, the first meeting of its kind since 1956.

ROMANIA. Bucharest. 1989. In an example of acute historical irony, this anticommunist civilian uses an AK-47 to hunt down secret police during the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s oppressive communist dictator.

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in December 1989 and part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Communist regime in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country’s government and executed its leader.

Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty

Christopher Plummer honoured with lifetime achievement award as longtime leader of the pack for Canadian actors

Christopher Plummer has been a class act for more than 50 years. Fittingly, the Toronto-born, Montreal-raised 87-year-old was honoured by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television with a lifetime achievement trophy at the Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday. The respected thespian has been a mainstay in film, on TV and the stage, including high-profile productions in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. And he’s still going strong. Despite the accolades and his many international awards, including an Oscar at 82 for his Beginners portrayal, Plummer is pleased with his Canadian Screen Awards salute. That’s especially true now that Canada seems to have asserted itself as a nation proud of accomplishments. “It’s always nice to receive something from your own home country, particularly now that it’s much better than it was,” says Plummer. “When I was young, Canada was very indifferent to the arts, and we fought hard to become professionals, and we did. And then Canada began to perk up and listen to its own people.” Certainly, Plummer was one of the few leading the way at the time. Over the years he established his reputation as a multi-faceted performer earning an Oscar, two Emmys, and two Tonys along the way. On stage, he made his high-profile debut at the Stratford Festival in 1956, playing the title role in Henry V. He also enjoyed celebrated performances in Cyrano, Barrymore, King Lear and Inherit the Wind, among many other productions, mounted at various times at Stratford, on Broadway and London’s West End. He also dabbled in TV with roles in the popular miniseries The Thorn Birds and the telefilm Cyrano de Bergerac. And he co-starred in over 100 films with memorable portrayals in The Sound of Music, The Insider, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Last Station, which gave him his first Academy Award nomination for his Leo Tolstoy portrayal. “Versatility is so attractive to me,” Plummer says. “If I could do something, and it would never be the same, I’d be happy. That’s what I went after and that’s the way I always wanted to do it.” Only The Sound of Music proved difficult for him to shake. The classic 1965 musical became a huge hit and labelled Plummer as the debonair leading man type. “It was such a successful film,” he says. “There was nothing wrong with it. I just didn’t want to always be known as Captain von Trapp. It wasn’t my favourite role but it taught me a lot about musicals.” His dedication to variety eventually served him well, and likely provided him with the longevity he so richly deserves. “I’ve always liked the smell of the business,” says Plummer of acting. “It is something that I’ve grown to love, and I’ve always had such fun doing it, whether it’s tragedy, comedy or whatever.” And he’s not done. A Word or Two, his “autobiographical journey through literature,” may be heading to Broadway after a recently well-received tour of Canada and the U.S.

Gather ‘round, kids, today we’re going to look at one of my favourite topics in German history: The Stasi, the East German Secret Police. We’re going to learn how they rose from humble beginnings as a little sister of the KGB, to becoming the most sophisticated surveillance organization in the world.

They did this, of course, with dildos.

Under longtime leader Markus Wolf, the Stasi grew in size, complexity, and ferocity. Between 1950 and 1989, over 279,000 individuals were employed by them, working in ten different administrative divisions, including tapping telephones and mail, secret informants around the world, an entire guards regiment, and there was even a division responsible for digging through the damn garbage.

That is where I can be found.

Any and every aspect of East German life could (and often would) be recorded, spied, or somehow otherwise noted. Stasi spies were nurses, trolley conductors, teachers, doctors - there was a designated spy in every apartment complex, and it was not uncommon to have holes drilled into walls or telephone lines monitored.

An estimated 1 out of every 63 East Germans regularly collaborated with the Stasi, or 1 for every 7 citizen including casual informants, making it the most extensive and comprehensive surveillance state in the world at the time, surpassing the Gestapo (1:2,000) and the KGB (1:5,800)

But it wasn’t the fact that they were fucking everywhere, literally, all the time, that gave the Stasi it’s reputation. It was their preferred method of “making themselves known”, called Zersetzung. And it sometimes involved Dildos.

Pictured: Stasi officer at work.

Around 1971, the Stasi realized that the whole, “making people disappear and/or imprisoning them” wasn’t doing a very good job. After all, like, people still thought that East Germany was a shithole! What was up with that?

“Zersetzung” roughly translates to “decomposition”, a term used in biology, which refers to when something rots away. That’s what they wanted their dissidents - to rot away. It was a form of psychological oppression, with the intention being to cripple a person’s self-esteem and self-worth

The idea was simple: If you think you’re shit (instead of THE shit), you’ll be less likely to cause a ruckus. You think Ghengis Khan invaded Mongolia worrying about how many hits his blog was getting every day, or that a new pimple had broken out on his face? Hell no! The Stasi didn’t think so, either.

Next time, just blame the Stasi on your shitty anon hate.

So when someone was trying to shake things up, or leaning a little bit more to the west than they liked, they wanted to drive them insane or paralyze their life. Random phone calls. Staking out their house. Order a pizza? You did now, bitch! Poor work review? But you’ve been working so hard! Too bad, slut, you suck! Taking, and altering compromising photographs. Crippling marriages - they sent dildos to people’s wives to instill a sense of doubt, distrust, and crippling self worth. Why worry about your shitty government when you’re apparently JUST AS SHITTY in bed? And work? And you’re poor, because someone keeps sending you these pizzas to your house, but it isn’t you! But maybe it is you? Maybe you can’t remember? Where’s the phone? Wasn’t it always over there, why isn’t it there now??

They would break into homes and subtly change things, or plant spies into the target’s life to make them believe (or disbelieve) a certain idea. People literally went insane and/or were driven to suicide by the Stasi’s subtle fucking-up of their lives - in which case, they would then monitor the people around the target (or former target) to make sure that nobody figured out that it was their own government.

Pictured: Another Stasi officer, hard at work.

In 1989, during the Peaceful Revolution which led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall, demonstrations outside of the Stasi headquarters in Leipzig (totalling over 300,000 at one point) caused the Stasi to begin to sense what was up and started to destroy documents - over one billion pieces of paper, which totalled only 5% of their total inventory. The Stasi headquarters was stormed in December of 1989, and the organization was dissolved along with the rest of GDR in 1990.

Even if you were only a goddamn zygote in East Germany, the Stasi still probably had a file on you, documenting that time you cursed when you spilled coffee on your hand, or picked your nose when your crush looked away for like, a minute. Fortunately, you can find out for sure, and read all the boring details about your life by sending a request to the Stasi Records Agency in Berlin.

In the photo above, East Germans sort through records in the Stasi headquarters after it has been stormed by civilians on 4 December 1989. Photo: DPA

ROMANIA. Bucharest. 1989. Demonstrators and TAB-71 APCs on the street. Part of the photobook 1989 Libertate Roumanie by Denoel Paris and other photographers.

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in December 1989 and part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Communist regime in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country’s government and executed its leader.

Photograph: Denoel Paris

time.com
See the Massive Statue of Mao Zedong Under Construction in China
The work was photographed in Tongxu County

The statue reportedly measures 120 feet (36.6 meters) in height and is located in Zhushigang village. It commemorates the Chinese Marxist who was the longtime leader of the country’s communist party, serving as chairman both of the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. Mao, who died in 1976, is already commemorated in thousands of statues around the country.