London (AFP) - After a lifetime of public service by the side of his wife Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip will finally retire on Wednesday at the age of 96.
The Duke of Edinburgh will attend a parade of Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace, the last of 22,219 solo public engagements since she ascended to the throne in 1952.
He has attended countless more events with the queen, now 91, offering his support and livening proceedings with a style of humour that often makes headlines but has eased many an awkward exchange.
Prince Philip will take the salute on Wednesday at the end of a charity challenge by the Royal Marines, in which members ran 1,664 miles (2,678 kilometres) over 100 days to mark the founding of the commando force in 1664.
He has been captain general of the corps since 1953, taking over from the queen’s father king George VI, who had died the year before.
The event also honours his military background – the duke was a naval officer during World War II and was marked out for a glittering career, before he gave it up on becoming the royal consort.
Over the past 65 years, he has carried out 637 visits abroad on his own, given almost 5,500 speeches, and was patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations.
He has a keen interest in scientific and technological research, was an early champion of the conservation movement, and his youth scheme the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has extended across the world.
“He may miss the activity, because he’s been the busiest royal. Every year, he and (his daughter) Princess Anne vie to which of them does more,” one of his biographers, Gyles Brandreth, told BBC radio.
While Prince Philip’s life had not turned out as expected, Brandreth said the duke once told him: “I tried to make the best of it… I had to try to support the queen as best I could, without getting in the way.”
A palace spokeswoman said his individual programme of public events had come to an end, but “he may choose to attend engagements alongside the queen from time to time”.
- ‘Experienced plaque-unveiler’ -
The queen once described her husband of almost 70 years as “my strength and stay”.
Announcing his plans to retire in May, Philip joked that he was the “world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler”.
The prince’s sense of humour has got him into trouble in the past, making headlines for politically incorrect jokes.
But he uses it to break the ice, and many view it as a welcome contrast to the queen’s more formal reserve.
“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” he once asked a driving instructor in Scotland.
Gruff in public – he hates media interviews – he is also widely credited for keeping his family together during the turmoil of his children’s divorces and the death of Diana, princess of Wales.
Prince Philip is still in good health for a man of his age, although he was hospitalised for two nights in June for an undisclosed infection.
He and the queen have scaled back public duties in recent years, handing responsibilities to the younger royals, including heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, and his eldest son Prince William.
William, the 35-year-old Duke of Cambridge, ended his two-year career as an air ambulance pilot last week to turn his full attention to royal duties, alongside his wife Kate.
But while the queen supports her husband’s decision to retire, experts say she considers her own vow at her 1953 coronation to serve for life as unbreakable.
“Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the royal family,” the palace said earlier this year.
Imagine Vulcans on Earth. Not Vulcans on official business, not programmers or ambassadors. Just Vulcans.
Maybe they’re on vacation. Maybe they’re indulging their curiosity. Maybe they like baseball and have come to watch the World Series.
Maybe it’s a new fad to send your children to another planet to give them some culture and some exposure to other beings. Teach them how to be more Vulcan by throwing them together someplace unfamiliar. They’ll fall back on tradition as a way to stay grounded.
Imagine young Vulcans all by themselves in little knots or groups, never quite far enough away from each other that they can’t snatch at each others’ sleeves.
Imagine young Vulcans at restauraunts. Everyone orders something different, and they all share.
Imagine Vulcans showing off the variety of Vulcan clothes…that desert colored “suit” that goes with anything, overalls, tunics in all the orange-red-brown shades of the stone back home, or in exotic blue and green. Layered tunics and draped dresses that make human girls sigh things about princesses.
Imagine some young Vulcans buying human clothes. It’s logical to blend in a little, after all, and the local garment known as a sweatshirt is pleasingly warm.
Imagine a Vulcan “teen” rocking a pink sweater with a cat on it, and getting weird looks from both humans and Vulcans. The humans, because it’s ugly-cute and the Vulcan girl looks so darn pleased with herself, like a cat in a sunbeam. The Vulcans, because cats back home are vicious predators, and it’s as if she’s wearing a black sweater with a skull and crossbones. The cat sweater is very punk.
PHOTOS: David Tennant Attends The 60th BFI London Film Festival Awards
David Tennant walked a distinctly damp red carpet on a rainy night out for the 60th Annual BFI London Film Festival Awards tonight at Banqueting House, Whitehall. The ceremony, hosted by actor Michael Sheen, marks the culmination of the two-week long celebration of the best new films and filmmaking talent from around the globe.
The jury has been deliberating on tonight’s winners from the official programme of films and shorts across the categories of First Feature, Documentary, Best Short and Best Film. Also, this year’s BFI Fellowship award will be presented to the visionary Turner Prize-winning video artist and Oscar-winning producer, director and screenwriter Steve McQueen.
Attended Fantasy on Ice in Makuhari (both of the 1pm shows) last weekend :3 Meant to post this earlier but have been busy visiting friends and sight seeing :p Some brief thoughts:
-Yuzuru performed better in the other two shows that were not broadcast XO. Hopefully some of his other performances will be selected for the repeat broadcast. But for me it was simply a great experience to watch him skate live. He skates with greater speed and flow than I expected from videos and he really has great presence on the ice, the atmosphere in the event hall was electric when he performed Parisienne Walkways. On the first day he performed the side lunge and on the next day a beautiful triple axel and biellmann spin in front of the section I was seated *__* The triple axel is my favourite jump and Yuzuru’s version is my favourite among all skaters’ so to see it up close is a memory I’ll cherish for a long time. For me his performances were over too soon, I really don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching him skate.
-As much as I love Yuzuru and putting aside my excitement at seeing him skate live, Stephane Lambiel’s performances left the strongest impression. He is seriously in a class of his own in terms of artistry and the sheer quality of his performance. There is not a single superfluous moment or action, it seemed that each movement, perfectly timed to the music is meant to be part of a story or express an emotion or the music. His performances to The Water were simply gorgeous, I sighed when they ended and seriously wished the programme could go on longer. Am really regretting not actively following skating during his peak competitive years but I do feel blessed to be able to see him skate live.
- I don’t like Daisuke’s programmes this time but it did not matter when he was skating, this man has amazing charisma *__* And it was great just to see him apparently free from pain and enjoying himself, including being a dork during the P&G promotion segment ;__;
- Akiko skates with such palpably infectious joy and is super pretty in person *__* I kinda wish her programmes this time showcased her dance abilities more but it was wonderful just to see her skate live.
- I’ve liked Haruka for a few years (she’s one of the skaters I brought gifts for =D) and though the music is overused I like her Malaguena programme. Really hope she stays healthy and have a great 2014-2015 season. In the latest issue of World Figure Skating she mentioned she is aiming to go to the World Championships next season and hopefully she gets there as she is so lovely but can be so inconsistent.
-Watching Tatsuki live gave me a better appreciation of his performance, I realised how much I enjoy watching him move across the ice even without the big jumps. His movements are precise and very beautiful and in some moments he reminds me of a practitioner of classical dance forms. He is also truly a diva in the way he takes his bows and he left the ice still holding his arms in a stylised manner XD
There were a lot of great performances by other skaters but I don’t have much to say besides that they were great. Candeloro’s backflips are still amazing and Volosozhar and Trankov’s throw jumps are breathtakingly huge. The final performance was the most fun, during the finale Stephane borrowed Tatiana for a death spiral and a fan put a flower crown on Johnny Weir :3 Kanako and Nobu were next to each other at one point and danced together in an adorably dorky manner, they can probably form a comedy duo XD. And after all the skaters had returned backstage Yuzuru and Daisule came out again to wave to the audience as the applause continued for a while.
Will probably scan some pages from the official programme over the next few days :3
When Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins recently became the 60th woman to go into space, Wally Funk was watching.
There are two televisions in her Texas living room. One is tuned permanently to Nasa TV.
Space is one of her passions. The other is flying. Funk was America’s first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and it was her skills as a pilot that, in 1961, led her to become one of 13 women who passed secret medical tests to become an astronaut.
The Mercury 13, as they are now known, undertook the same tough mental and physical tests as the famous silver-suited Mercury 7.
Those latter all-American heroes included John Glenn and played an important part in the space race against the Soviet Union, eventually placing a man on the Moon.
The Mercury 7 tests, memorably detailed in Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff (later a film), pushed the men to their physical limits. The doctor who devised them, William Randolph Lovelace, was also head of Nasa’s Special Committee on Bioastronautics.
Lovelace had successfully tested one female pilot, Jerrie Cobb, in 1960 and now wanted to see if it was a one off or if other women could pass. Aviatrix Jackie Cochran helped fund it and the chosen women were all accomplished pilots, some with more flying hours than Glenn, and they were prepared to attend at a moment’s notice.
Funk’s mother was denied an aviation career - after her father and husband said her duty was to be a good wife and mother - so she was not going to let her own opportunity pass.
“Lovelace said be there on Monday and I left right away with $10 in my pocket,” she says.
Funk, the youngest, excelled. In one particular test she was off the scale and beat everyone - male and female - after remaining in an isolation tank without any ill effects for an incredible 10 hours and 35 minutes.
The Mercury 13 did not make it into space. The programme, never officially sanctioned by Nasa, lost its funding and the space agency insisted on jet experience as criteria for astronaut training, even though no women were allowed to fly jets at the time.
Funk and the 12 other successful women pilots and wannabe astronauts are now rightly known as trailblazers. People write expressing their thanks and admiration or send pictures requesting autographs, which she’s stopped signing after discovering them on sale for $200 on eBay.
The Mercury 13
Janet Dietrich - deceased
Marion Dietrich - deceased
Sarah Gorelick (later Ratley)
Jane Briggs (later Hart) - deceased
Jean Hixson - deceased
Bernice Trimble (later Steadman) - deceased
Jerri Sloan (later Truhill)
Rhea Hurrle (later Woltman)
Gene Nora Stumbough (later Jessen)
The Soviet Union beat America in 1963 with the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. It could so easily have been Funk. Nasa did not allow women into the astronaut corps until 1978 and it’s not over yet.
Since 1961, Funk has not only continued flying and inspiring others, her ambition to become an astronaut remains. She took additional tests with Lovelace and, more recently, spent a week training with cosmonauts in Russia. As a pilot who also did aerobatic flying when she was younger, the centrifuge and microgravity flights were a doddle.
Do you know much about Svoboda? Western Media seems to be avoiding the issue of this extremist party which holds 36 seats in the Ukrainian parliament. I even heard Anne Applebaum sidestep this issue in an interview the other day. What are your thoughts?
Svoboda is absolutely terrible. Party leaders and members are blatantly pro-Nazi but unsurprisingly they deny any charges of extremism, racism, anti-Semitism, etc., despite their own platform strongly indicating otherwise. Their typical line is that they’re pro-Ukrainian and not anti-anyone else, as if their love of Ukraine can somehow eclipse their rabid hatred of those they perceive to be outsiders, which is actually a very common “defense” in neo-Nazi and white nationalist circles. I really don’t know why some people in the media are so reluctant to acknowledge the support that Svoboda has in Ukraine but the western media doesn’t seem very interested in covering just how complicated the situation really is. Currently they seem most interested in promoting the idea that the Russian occupation of Crimea will result in another Cold War or, better yet, WWIII.
-“In its official programme, Svoboda demands criminal prosecution for “Ukrainophobia”, and also various regulatory measures which are oriented to a greater or lesser extent towards the principle of national identity:
the restoration of the Soviet practice of indicating nationality in passports and on birth certificates;
proportional representation on executive bodies of ethnic Ukrainians, on the one hand, and national minorities, on the other;
a ban on adoptions by non-Ukrainians of Ukrainian children;
preferential treatment for Ukrainian students in the allocation of hostel places, and a series of similar changes to existing legal provisions.
Measures such as these are in themselves nothing out of the ordinary, but if they were all introduced at once, they could result in officially sanctioned ethnic differentiations that may eventually lead to the stigmatization of Ukrainian citizens of various nationalities, and guests of Ukraine. This would violate the principles of human rights to which Ukraine signed up when it joined the Council of Europe, and would aggravate existing ethnic conflicts in Ukrainian society. What is more, Svoboda announces in its programme that it is both possible and necessary to make Ukraine the “geopolitical centre of Europe” – a typically nationalist case of delusions of grandeur, reminiscent of Russia’s current superpower ambitions.” (x)
-“Svoboda’s presence has been felt immediately in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, where its 37 deputies belong to a broad coalition opposing President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Meeting for its first two sessions in mid-December, the Rada - as it has a number of times in the past - degenerated into scenes that resembled not so much a legislative process as an ice hockey brawl, involving dozens of shoving, punching and kicking parliamentarians. Svoboda’s newly installed deputies, clad in traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts, were in the thick of the melee, when not actually leading the charge.
They helped attack and drive from the opposition’s ranks two deputies - a father and son - who were accused of preparing to defect to the ruling party. Then they joined a massive free-for-all around the speaker’s rostrum, in protest at alleged illegal absentee-voting by deputies from the governing party. One of Svoboda’s leading members, sports journalist Ihor Miroshnychenko, his ponytail flying behind him, then charged the podium to prevent a deputy speaking in Russian. (Svoboda believes that only Ukrainian should be used in all official bodies.) Outside, Svoboda deputies used a chainsaw to cut down an iron fence erected last year to prevent crowds from storming the parliament building. This they justified in the name of popular democracy. “No other democratic country has fenced-off the national parliament,” said Svoboda’s Ruslan Koshulinskiy, the deputy speaker of parliament. “People have chosen these lawmakers and should have a right to have access to them.” Chaotic and confrontational as this may seem to Western eyes, Svoboda’s over-the-top behaviour is partly what drove many Ukrainians to vote for them.
The party has tapped a vast reservoir of protest votes. In a political landscape where all other parties are seen as corrupt, weak or anti-democratic - or all three - Svoboda seems to have attracted voters who would otherwise have stayed away from the polls altogether. Its strong anti-corruption stance - promising to “clean up” Ukraine - has resonated deeply. “I’m for Svoboda,” said Vadim Makarevych, a supporter, said at a recent rally in Kiev. “We have to stop what is happening in our country. It’s banditry and mafia.”
At the same time, they have staked out a position as fervent - some say rabid - defenders of traditional Ukrainian culture and language. Months before Miroshnychenko charged the parliament podium, Svoboda activists were photographed appearing to spray police with pepper gas, at a demonstration against a law making Russian an official language in some regions of the country. Among those who see Russia as a threat to Ukraine’s independence - chiefly in the west rather than the east of the country - many applaud this tough anti-Moscow stance. But in the run-up to October’s election, the party also wooed centrist voters by softening its image.
Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok repeatedly reassured voters that Svoboda is not racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic - just pro-Ukrainian. “We are not against anyone, we are for ourselves,” he said. By presenting itself as a party of very devoted patriots, Svoboda seems to have won over voters who would be repelled by some of its more radical views - or voters who sympathise with these views, but prefer them to remain unspoken.
In the last parliamentary elections five years ago, Svoboda managed only 0.7% of the vote. This time, in addition to expanding its traditional base in the country’s Ukrainian-speaking west - it won close to 40% in the Lviv region - Svoboda made inroads into central regions, capturing second place in the capital Kiev. Last week (20/12/12) the charismatic Tyahnybok was voted Person of the Year by readers of the country’s leading news magazine, Korrespondent.
But while the party’s radical past can be papered over, it cannot be erased. Its name until 2004 was the “Social-National Party” and it maintains informal links to another group, the Patriots of Ukraine, regarded by some as proto-fascist. In 2004, Tyahnybok was kicked out of former President Viktor Yushchenko’s parliamentary faction for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” - using two highly insulting words to describe Russians and Jews - and emphasising that Ukrainians had in the past fought this threat with arms.
In 2005, he signed an open letter to Ukrainian leaders, including President Yushchenko, calling for the government to halt the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry”, which, the letter said, was spreading its influence in the country through conspiratorial organisations as the Anti-Defamation League - and which ultimately wanted to commit “genocide” against the Ukrainian people.
Tyahnybok stresses that he has never been convicted for anti-Semitism or racial hatred, though prosecutors opened a case against him after his 2004 speech. “All I said then, I can also repeat now,” he says. “Moreover, this speech is relevant even today.”
Other Svoboda members have also courted controversy. Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, a parliamentary deputy considered one of the party’s ideologues, liberally quotes from former Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, along with other National-Socialist leaders.
This undoubtedly appeals to a number of Svoboda’s voters, though to what extent is difficult to determine. Even now, Svoboda’s platform calls for passports to specify the holder’s ethnicity, and for government positions to be distributed proportionally to ethnic groups, based on their representation in the population at large. “We want Ukrainians to run the country,” says Bohdan, a participant in a recent Svoboda rally, as he waves a Ukrainian flag and organises cheering and chanting. “Seventy percent of the parliament are Jews.”
Some see signs that Svoboda’s radical elements are reasserting themselves. Activists recently attacked and sprayed tear gas at a gay rights rally in central Kiev. Ihor Miroshnychenko, meanwhile, used abusive language to describe the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, who is Jewish, in an online discussion.
However, a number of Svoboda’s critics, while underscoring the potential dangers of the party’s rise, also say that its popularity may be fleeting. Svoboda’s surge mirrors the far-right’s growing strength in many countries across Europe, they point out, and may not signal any fundamental, long-term rightward shift among the Ukrainian population. With the increased scrutiny that the party will come under in parliament, more Ukrainians may also take objection to Svoboda’s wilder statements, or decide it creates unnecessary divisions in an already polarised country. The party itself could also become more mainstream as it conforms to pressure from its political partners. This has happened with other far-right groups in the past, like the Italian Fascist party, which mellowed as it integrated into Italy’s conservative camp, experts say. “There’s a belief that Svoboda will change, once in the Verkhovna Rada, and that they may become proper national democrats,” says Andreas Umland, a political science professor at Kiev’s Mohyla Academy University. But he hesitates to predict how the party’s internal tensions will be resolved. “We don’t know which way Svoboda will go,” he says. “It may actually become more radical.” (x)
The Open Letter signed by Tyahnybok (2005)
Title - Stop the Criminal Activities of Organised Jewry
Signed by Tyahnybok and 17 others
Lists Jewish businessmen, who got rich in the 1990s, and claims they control Ukrainian media
Describes Zionism as “Jewish Nazism” and warns of “genocide” through the impoverishment of Ukrainians
Demands investigation into the activities of Jewish organisations headed by people “suspected of serious crimes” (x)