Day: April 11, 2019

Everything We Know About Seasons 3 And 4 Of ‘The Crown’

Left: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Balmoral, Scotland in 1972. Right: Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies in Season 3 of

Now that Netflix has cast its Princess Diana for an upcoming season of “The Crown,” we know who will be portraying all the major players in the dramatization of the lives of the British monarchy throughout the 20th century. And we can’t wait.

Seasons 1 and 2 of the show focused on the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, in the 1950s and early 60s. The next two seasons will focus on the period from the mid-60s to the early 80s. It was an eventful period of British history: the sexual revolution, decolonization in many African and Caribbean countries, industrial unrest, and the elections of Edward Heath and of Margaret Thatcher.

And a lot happened in the lives of the royals, too: the Queen’s Silver jubilee, tours of the Commonwealth, Princess Margaret’s affair and subsequent divorce, Prince Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana, and several attempts on the Queen’s life, to name just a few.

The royal family at Buckingham Palace in 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward and Prince Charles.

We’re still waiting on the release date, but it’s likely to be towards the end of 2019. In the meantime, here’s a look at the stars of seasons 3 and 4.

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II

Left: Queen Elixabeth II in 1970. Right: Olivia Colman at the AACTA International Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 4, 2019.

It won’t be the British actress’s first time as a queen — she won an Oscar for her role as Queen Anne in 2018’s “The Favourite.

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip

Left: Prince Philip at the dedication of a Knights Bachelor temple in London in July 1968. Right: Tobias Menzies at the premiere of "The Terror" in Madrid in March 2018.

Paul Bettany was reportedly in the running to play the Queen’s husband, but Tobias Menzies snagged role instead. You may not recognize the name, but you’ve surely seen the face: he’s appeared in “Game of Thrones,” “Outlander,” “Black Mirror,” and “The Night Manager,” among other popular TV shows and movies.

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret

Left: Princess Margaret at an American fashion show in 1965. Right: Helena Bonham Carter at the EE British Academy Film Awards in London in Feb. 2018.

The dissolution of Margaret’s marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, is apparently a major theme of the third season. Helena Bonham Carter is one of those actors who can project aristocratic prestige as well as a deep well of darkness, which seems perfect for playing Margaret.

Ben Daniels as Lord Snowdon

Left: Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdown, in 1974. Right: Ben Daniels at the Theatre World Awards ceremony at Circle in the Square on June 2, 2014 in New York City.

Daniels is a respected stage actor, and one of those British types who’s appeared in just about everything on TV.

Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles

Left: Prince Charles fishing, 1970s. Right: Josh O'Connor in London on Feb. 16, 2018.

He’s got the ears!

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana

Left: Young Princess Diana. Right: Emma Corrin.

Princess Diana likely won’t appear in Season 3, which will span the period from 1964 to 1976. (She met Charles in 1977.)

Emma Corrin is a relatively unknown actress — her major credit before this one was a guest role on one episode of the British show “Grantchester.”

Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand

Left: Camilla Parker-Bowles in 1979. Right: Emerald Fennell at the L.A. premiere of "Killing Eve" on April 1, 2019.

Emerald Fennell is an acclaimed writer as well as an actress — she’s the head writer for the second season of “Killing Eve“. She also gave a phenomenal quote to Netflix once she was cast in the role: “I absolutely love Camilla, and am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl hair cut.”

Erin Doherty as Princess Anne

Left: Princess Anne at the Society of Film and Television Awards on March 4, 1971. Right: Erin Doherty.

Erin Doherty, who will play the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, is also a relative unknown. Her credits include “Call the Midwife” and a BBC adaptation of “Les Misérables.”

Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother

Left: the Queen Mother at a performance at RADA in London in Nov. 1964. London, UK, November 1964. Right: Marion Bailey a the premiere of "Mr. Turner" on May 15, 2014.

Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who lived to be 101, was one of the members of the Royal Family who remained in good favour with the public even when other family members were unpopular. She’ll be played by Marion Bailey, another workhorse British actor who’s appeared in probably every British show you’ve ever heard of.

Maybe? Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher

Left: Margaret Thatcher at a political conference in London in the early 1980s in London, England. Right: Gillian Anderson at a press conference for "American Gods" on May 3, 2017 in London, England.

This hasn’t been confirmed by Netflix yet, but many outlets have reported that Gillian Anderson is at the very least in talks to play the infamously divisive British prime minister.

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Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque

Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque

OTTAWA — The prolonged Brexit divorce from the European Union will give Britain more time to forge a proper free-trade deal with Canada, says the country’s envoy to Ottawa.

Britain is not legally allowed to engage in free-trade negotiations until it has departed the EU, but High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque said her country’s top trade negotiator has been meeting regularly with their Canadian counterpart to sketch out the broad strokes of a bilateral deal.

Britain remains part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada as long as it is a member of the 28-country bloc.

Canadian and British negotiators aim to replicate CETA as much as possible in a two-way pact, le Jeune d’Allegeershecque told The Canadian Press from London on Thursday.

She spoke hours after a frustrated EU, in an emergency meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, granted Britain a Brexit reprieve until the end of October.

The Halloween extension avoids a messy no-deal departure from the EU that was to occur Friday, which could have triggered a British recession with immediate tariffs on trade with the continent.

“The plan is still to have a transitioned form of the CETA agreement, which would reflect all the benefits that that (deal) has,” le Jeune d’Allegeershecque said. “We obviously now have a little bit more time.”

That includes technical discussions about particular chapters and topics, she added.

“The legal position is we’re not allowed to negotiate,” said le Jeune d’Allegeershecque.

“Technical talks about what an agreement might look like are possible and those have been going on. There’s been intense co-operation and contacts between our two trade policy and trade negotiating teams.”

That work follows May’s September 2017 visit to Ottawa during which she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged a “seamless” transition out of CETA and into a new trading relationship after Brexit.

The May government’s attempts to follow through on its pledge to break from the EU have been fraught with frustration, delays and no end of drama.

The extension was reached in Thursday’s early morning hours in Brussels between May and EU leaders. She was back in London later Thursday and told Parliament she wanted to strike a compromise as soon as possible.

That won’t be easy because the House of Commons has rejected her Brexit plan three times.

May said if her own divided Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party can’t find a way forward soon, Britain will have to take part in the European Parliament election late next month.

May told reporters before leaving Brussels that she was hopeful the departure could take place before June 30 and if possible, before the European election.

“It’s quite an ambitious objective on her part because she will have seen how difficult it has been to get anything through parliament recently,” said le Jeune d’Allegeershecque.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter Thursday to complain that the European Union was being unfair to Britain.

Trump wrote it was “too bad that the European Union is being so tough” and said the EU is “likewise a brutal trading partner with the United States,” something he said he would change.

Le Jeune d’Allegeershecque had no comment on Trump’s tweet, but said the EU has not been tough on her country.

“I think they have legitimate concerns about such things as the European parliamentary elections. I think what came out was a very decent compromise, which gives us both what we wanted,” she said.

“The fact that we and the EU are content to what’s been agreed is the most important thing.”

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Winnipeg Men’s Synchronized Swimming Team Lets Dads Support Their Daughters

Aquatica Synchro Men's Team, which is made up of dads and husbands of female athletes, during a practice in Winnipeg.

A synchronized swimming team in Winnipeg may not rack up many competition medals, but they’re major contenders for dads of the year.

Aquatica Synchro Men’s Team is not only the first all-male team in Manitoba, but it’s also made up entirely of dads and spouses of the club’s female athletes. Nine of the members are dads of girls who are synchronized swimmers with the club, while two are husbands of women involved in the typically female-dominated sport.

And now they’re training to perform their routine in May (set to Queen’s classic anthem “We Will Rock You”) in order to support the women in their lives and to encourage more boys to try synchronized swimming. After all, men can now compete in the mixed duet at the international level. The team’s goal is to raise money for the club, as well as awareness.

Synchronized swimming, also known as artistic swimming, has been an Olympic sport since 1984. It involves performing a synchronized water routine set to music, with a number of technical requirements. Teams are scored for technical merit and artistic impression.

Canada has won eight Olympic medals in the sport.

Head coach Holly Hjartarson works with the men's synchronized swimming team in Winnipeg.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” the club’s head coach Holly Hjartarson told HuffPost Canada. Her husband is “one of the husbands” on the team, she added with a laugh.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the sport, and to showcase this population within our club, which is the dads that are really involved. They’re driving their girls to the pool, they’re sitting at the pool watching them, but they don’t really get recognized that much.”

One of the dads on the team, Christian Gosselin, said the idea for the all-men’s team came up as they were pondering ways to mark the 10th anniversary of the club, find ways to get boys into the sport, and support their daughters.

“This checked all the boxes,” Gosselin, who has two young daughters in the synchro club, told the Winnipeg Free Press.

“It’s a really very challenging sport,” Gosselin said in another interview with CBC “As It Happens.”

“I guess that the best comparison I’ve heard is that it’s like running 400 metres while holding your breath.”

The team trains once a week, and they take it very seriously, Hjartarson told HuffPost Canada. They’re in no way trying to make fun of the sport or trivializing it, she added. The men work hard to nail the figures, the routines, and their counting.

And, wouldn’t you know it, they’re not half bad.

“They’re coming along. They’re working really hard,” she said.

But coaching men has come with some unexpected hurdles. Their buoyancy is different than that of a typical woman, Hjartarson said, and many of them are having trouble keeping their feet from sinking. And when they do land drills (practicing the routine’s movements and patterns on land, over and over, to drill them into memory), Hjartarson has to stand on a table or chair in order to see what’s happening since they’re all much taller than she is.

Plus, standard nose clips don’t fit on the men’s faces — a big problem for a sport where you spend much of your time upside-down underwater.

“The whole first practice, so many of them were just struggling with trying to get their nose clip to stay on. So we had to order large nose clips for them to use so that they could actually go upside-down comfortably,” Hjartarson said.

(Take note, NASA).

The Aquatica Synchro Men's Team hopes to see more boys try the sport. Men can compete in the mixed duet at the international level.

“It’s important just to break the stereotype that this isn’t all glitter and smiles and this easy sport. It is a sport. You need a lot of athleticism to be able to do it, and a lot of strength,” Hjartarson said.

“And now these dads — that are these strong men — are really showing that ‘hey, we’re going to do everything it takes to support our daughters, and we’re going to show everyone that this isn’t as easy as they make it look.'”

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Julian Assange Appears At Westminster Magistrates Court

Julian Assange Appears At Westminster Magistrates Court

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forcibly bundled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and into a British police van on Thursday, setting up a possible court battle over attempts to extradite him to the U.S. to face charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents.

Police arrested Assange after the South American nation revoked the political asylum that had given him sanctuary for almost seven years. Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said he took the action due to “repeated violations to international conventions and daily life.”

In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department accused Assange with conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon. The charge was announced after Assange was taken into custody.

His lawyer said Assange would fight extradition to the U.S.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped. He refused to leave the embassy, fearing arrest and extradition to the U.S. for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.

Over the years, Assange used the embassy as a staging post to keep his name before the public, frequently making appearances on its tiny balcony, posing for pictures and reading statements. Even his cat became well-known.

But his presence was an embarrassment to U.K. authorities, who for years kept a police presence around the clock outside the embassy, costing taxpayers millions in police overtime. Such surveillance was removed years ago, but the embassy remained a vocal point for his activities.

Video posted online by Ruptly, a news service of Russia Today, showed several men in suits pulling Assange out of the embassy and loading him into a police van while uniformed British police formed a passageway. Assange sported a full beard and slicked-back grey hair.

He later appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where District Judge Michael Snow wasted no time in finding him guilty of breaching his bail conditions, flatly rejecting his assertion that he had not had a fair hearing and a reasonable excuse for not appearing.

“Mr. Assange’s behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests,” Snow said. “He hasn’t come close to establishing ’reasonable excuse.”’

Assange waved to the packed public gallery as he was taken away to the cells. His next appearance was set for May 2 via prison video-link in relation to the extradition case.

Assange’s attorney, Jennifer Robinson, said he will fight any extradition to the U.S., adding that his arrest set a dangerous precedent for journalists in the United States

Speaking in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the arrest shows that “no one is above the law.”

Moreno said in a video posted on Twitter that Ecuador was no longer willing to give Assange protection. Other Ecuadorian officials in Quito accused supporters of WikiLeaks and two Russian hackers of trying to destabilize the country.

“The discourteous and aggressive behaviour of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said.

Assange has been under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny for years for WikiLeaks’ role in publishing thousands of government secrets. He was an important figure in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as investigators examined how WikiLeaks obtained emails that were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democratic groups.

WikiLeaks quickly drew attention to U.S. interest in Assange and said that Ecuador had illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law.”

“Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to de-humanise, de-legitimize and imprison him,” the group said in a tweet over a photo of Assange’s smiling face.

But Moreno appeared to suggest that a swift extradition to America was not likely.

“In line with our strong commitment to human rights and international law, I requested Great Britain to guarantee that Mr. Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty,” Moreno said. “The British government has confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules.”

Assange’s arrest came a day after WikiLeaks accused the Ecuador’s government of an “extensive spying operation” against him. WikiLeaks claims that meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed.

In Quito on Thursday, Ecuador’s government denounced what they called attempts by supporters of WikiLeaks and two Russian hackers to destabilize their country as its standoff with Assange intensified in recent weeks.

Ecuador Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said a close collaborator of WikiLeaks had travelled with former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino this year to several countries — including Peru, Spain and Venezuela — in an attempt to undermine the Ecuadorian government. She did not identify the person but said their name and those of the two Russian hackers working in Ecuador would be turned over to judicial authorities.

She also said Ecuador’s embassy in Spain and other diplomatic missions abroad have received threats related.

An external shot of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody Thursday April 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Assange’s arrest drew a mixed reaction.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Moreno for breaking the impasse.

But former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Moreno’s decision was “cowardly,” accusing him of retaliating against Assange for WikiLeaks spreading allegations about an offshore bank account allegedly linked to Moreno’s family and friends.

Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who leaked classified information about U.S. surveillance programs, called Assange’s arrest a blow to media freedom.

“Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the U.K.’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of —like it or not — award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books,” Snowden said in a tweet.

“Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom,” Snowden said from Russia, which has granted him permission to stay there while he is wanted by the U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Russia wants Assange’s rights to be protected following his arrest. Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he could not comment on the overall case but “we of course hope that all of his rights will be observed.”

An independent U.N. human rights expert said he won’t relent in his efforts to determine whether Assange’s privacy rights were violated at the embassy in London. Joe Cannataci, the special rapporteur on privacy, had planned to travel to London on April 25 to meet with Assange and said he still planned to do so — even if in a police station.


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Trump escalates attack against asylum-seekers from Central America

Photo: Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. President Donald Trump is intensifying his vicious crusade against asylum-seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Last weekend he declared, “Our country’s full.” He ousted Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen by tweet, reportedly because he thought Nielsen, who oversaw the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents and then lied about it to Congress, was not tough enough. Tens of thousands of people are seeking asylum in the U.S., fleeing systemic violence. The desperation and fear that drive them north derives in part from decades of U.S. policy in the region that has overthrown democratically elected governments, destabilized civil society, and trained and armed repressive militaries. The U.S. cultivated this crisis for over half a century; it won’t be fixed by a wall.

The effort to challenge Trump’s policies got a bit harder this week with the death at age 89 of Blase Bonpane, a lifelong peace activist. Based in Los Angeles, Bonpane devoted his life to social justice, and had a deep and hard-earned understanding of Central America, its people and its problems.

The CIA overthrew Guatemala’s democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, largely to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company (now called Chiquita Brands). Bonpane served as a Maryknoll priest in Guatemala in the 1960s, when that country waged a bloody war on its own population that lasted into the mid-1990s. Bonpane and other Catholic missionaries were in the rural areas where violence against the Indigenous population was most intense.

At the same time, Pope John XXIII had convened the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), which liberalized many centuries-old church practices, leading to the emergence of “liberation theology” in Latin America. Liberation theology applied a biblical, Christian analysis to the entrenched poverty and inequality that dominated Latin American society, and called for action to change the status quo. Bonpane embraced the challenge. He was lauded by the local population as a “guerrilla of peace.” By 1968, the government of Guatemala expelled Bonpane and other clergy from the country.

Despite Vatican II, the leadership of the Maryknoll Order was not pleased with his activism. “I was put under a gag order,” he said on one of his appearances on the Democracy Now! news hour. “I was told not to speak, not to write anything about Guatemala, and as a result of that, I went to The Washington Post and released all the information I had. That went out to some 400 newspapers, proving that the U.S. was engaged militarily in Guatemala, that it was using napalm, that the Green Berets were there, and that this was our Latin Vietnam.”

When he married another peace activist, who was a Maryknoll nun, Bonpane was promptly excommunicated from the Church. But he maintained his commitment to liberation theology. He and his wife, Theresa, founded the Office of the Americas in 1983, continuing to organize in solidarity with Central Americans and other oppressed people for decades.

Ironically, their organization is based in Santa Monica, the same liberal bastion where Stephen Miller grew up. Miller, just 33 years old, is one of Trump’s key White House advisers, and is the driving force behind Trump’s most xenophobic policies, including several attempts at a Muslim ban and migrant family separations. Miller also espouses a chillingly autocratic view of presidential power. Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Feb. 12, 2017, Miller said, “Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

Questioning power is exactly what Blase Bonpane spent his life doing. A former Marine turned priest, Bonpane titled his autobiography Imagine No Religion, borrowing the phrase from John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” World renowned linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky said: “I am often asked by young people, deeply disturbed by the state of the world, ‘What can I do to make this sad world a better place?’ An eloquent answer now is, ‘Read Blase Bonpane’s autobiography. If you can aspire to a fraction of what he has achieved, you will look back on a life well lived.'”

As President Trump and Stephen Miller escalate their assault on migrants from Central America, threatening to continue the cruel policy of separating children from their parents, those who would honor the memory of Blase Bonpane should heed the words of early 20th-century labour organizer Joe Hill, quoted prominently on the website of the Office of the Americas: “Don’t mourn. Organize.”

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Truthdig.

Photo: Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs/Wikimedia Commons

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April 11, 2019

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