Shooting at Florida Naval Base: 3 other Saudi students film it all | P.M. News

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Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani the Saudi shooter at Florida naval base

Shocking revelations have emerged in the aftermath of the shooting at a Florida Naval base by a Saudi military student Mohammed al-Shamrani. One of the surprises was that three other Saudi students filmed the entire attack.

A total of six Saudis have been detained over the shooting, in which four persons were killed, including al-Shamrani. Eight others were wounded in the shooting which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Among the wounded were two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.

According to the New York Times, the Saudi gunman was armed with a Glock 9mm handgun that had been purchased locally. The gun had an extended magazine and the shooter had four to six other magazines in his possession before he was himself gunned down by Florida policemen.

Al-Shamrani reportedly condemned America as a “nation of evil” in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.

The Florida Naval Air Station

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, said he had posted a short manifesto on Twitter that read: “I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.”

“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” he wrote.

ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter.

The Twitter account that posted the manifesto — which also condemned US support for Israel and included a quote from Al-Qaeda’s deceased leader, the Saudi Osama bin Laden — has been suspended.

DeSantis told a news conference that “the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”

Commanding officer Captain Timothy Kinsella said the shooter was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students at the base.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned US President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting, affirming that “the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia has long been a major US ally in the Middle East, thanks primarily to security considerations and oil.

Trump said King Salman “called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida.”

There was a deja vu about the Florida attack. Shamrani shares the nationality of 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended civilian flight school in Florida.

Police were first called about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”

Only members of the security forces can bring weapons on base, Kinsella said, and it was not clear how the shooter got the gun onto the premises.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he is “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families,” but did not provide details.

Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

“This has been a devastating week for our Navy family,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said. “When tragedy hits, as it did today, and Wednesday in Pearl Harbor, it is felt by all.”

The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training centre for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of naval aviation.”

The base is the centre for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.

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New Zealand restaurant trolls Israel Folau with LGBT donation | QNews

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Israel Folau has unknowingly donated to an LGBTIQ youth charity thanks to an Auckland restaurant.

Vegan restaurant Gorilla Kitchen wrote on their Facebook page that Folau and his wife Maria dined with them earlier this month.

After Folau’s new anti-gay sermon last week, the restaurant said they had decided to donate the couple’s payment to a New Zealand LGBTIQ charity.

“We are proud to say that Israel Folau and his wife Maria Folau have inadvertently shown their support to Rainbow Youth,” they wrote.

“We don’t turn anyone away at Gorilla Kitchen, because we love everyone, not just animals. So when Israel and Maria came in again a couple of weeks ago we happily served them, hydrated them and fed them.

“What they didn’t realise was their money spent at Gorilla Kitchen was going to be donated to Rainbow Youth.

“[It’s] an organisation that embraces diversity and offers support for our young and vulnerable rainbow community.

“Glad to see they are not #notashamed for supporting such a great cause.”

Israel Folau under fire for new anti-gay sermon

Last weekend, Israel Folau claimed the Australian bushfires is God’s punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion.

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are okay in society, going against the laws of what God says,” he told his Sydney church.

“You have changed the law and changed the ordinance of these things. Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time.

“God is speaking to you guys, Australia. You need to repent and you need to take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God.”

Even staunch supporter Alan Jones and Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Folau for the “appallingly insensitive” comments.

However Queensland MP Bob Katter defended Folau, comparing him to disgraced Cardinal George Pell in a jaw-dropping statement.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Stuart Asquith death, obituary: Wargaming star Stuart Asquith died

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Stuart Asquith death, obituary: Wargaming star Stuart Asquith died

Stuart Asquith death, obituary: Wargaming star Stuart Asquith died November 3, 2019.

Asquith death was announced by Henry Hyde who wrote on Twitter:

I am sad to report that well known wargamer and former editor of Practical Wargamer Stuart Asquith passed away last night.

Many will remember his delight at encouraging newcomers into the hobby with simple rules and a fun attitude.

Stuart Asquith joined Phil Olley, John Preece, Steve Gill, Charles S Grant and me to re-stage the battle of Mollwitz that featured in the 1971 “The War Game” by the late Charles Grant.

I know that Stuart was really chuffed to participate in this historic game at Partizan 2007.

I am sad to report that well known wargamer and former editor of Practical Wargamer Stuart Asquith passed away last night. Many will remember his delight at encouraging newcomers into the hobby with simple rules and a fun attitude. pic.twitter.com/gkO4K5D9Hr

— Henry Hyde (@battlegames) November 4, 2019

Beloved Stuart Asquith is celebrated for his fun and gentlemanly approach to wargaming, he also espoused simple wargames rules, such as the ‘Old School’ approach to wargaming.

Stuart was the former editor of Practical Wargames. He edited the magazine for 12 years and influenced a generation of wargamers. Stuart was Practical Wargamer and his editorship raised the bar and set the standard for all wargame magazines.

Stuart Asquith wrote several books and dozens of magazine articles for Military Modelling, Battlegames.

Please say a prayer for his grieving family and loved ones as you read these tributes below:

That’s very sad news indeed. I visited him many years ago at his home. He was having a clear out of unpainted figures and when I asked why he responded “I cannot paint them all before I die.” That was 1990 so he was probably wrong. #RIP

That’s very sad news indeed. I visited him many years ago at his home. He was having a clear out of unpainted figures and when I asked why he responded “I cannot paint them all before I die.” That was 1990 so he was probably wrong. #RIP

— DDWargamesGrp (@DDWargamesGrp) November 4, 2019

Stuart kept the flame burning during the interregnum between the Featherstone/Grant/Wise era and the rise of MW/WI – for that I am eternally grateful as without his work, I may well have moved away from miniature wargaming totally in favour of boardgames and RPGs.

Stuart kept the flame burning during the interregnum between the Featherstone/Grant/Wise era and the rise of MW/WI – for that I am eternally grateful as without his work, I may well have moved away from miniature wargaming totally in favour of boardgames and RPGs.

— Pete (PskDS) Palmer (@PanzerschreckDS) November 4, 2019

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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‘I can last more than 40 seconds’ – Nollywood actor, Mandinga woos Tonto Dikeh

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Fast-rising Nollywood actor Perikles Mandinga was born in Guinea-Bissau and has been in the entertainment industry for many years. He attended college in Lisbon, Portugal before moving to the USA.

He started as a fashion model, and has featured on runways, magazines, billboards and television. Mandinga won “Rip the Runway”, a P Diddy produced reality show aired on BET Network.

He has extensive film and theatre credits both within the US and internationally. His theatre credits include Tower of Babel, Insanity and Properly Plucked. He has also featured in popular Nollywood movies including Omoge, Adaora, Kiss and Tell including some others.

In an interview, Madinga revealed his plans to gain strong network in the Nollywood industry and make a name for himself. He also talked about his crazy fantasy and how he would like to date one of Nigeria’s most controversial actress, Tonto Dikeh.

Who is Perikles Mandinga?

I am a simple person who lived in two different countries (Portugal & USA) from an early age. I like to travel, and I still play sports. I like meeting new people.

What actually informed your decision to go full-time into acting? And how far do you think you can go?

From an early age, I knew acting was something that I love to do but coming from a traditional African family, I knew it was going to be a hard task because my dad wouldn’t accept the idea. He was very hard on me and my siblings. After finishing my studies in Lisbon, I had the opportunity to come to the USA to model. I knew that acting was going to be my full-time devotion, not modelling because it was my life’s purpose.

What are those unique skills you are bringing to play that may possibly stand you out or better still that may give you recognition among all the big stars we have in industry?

Starting out in a poor African country moving to a European capital and then in NYC I have seen things that maybe the other big stars have not experienced.

What kind of roles do you prefer?

I like to play characters that can be genuinely kind, nice guys or bad guy roles- those make me work harder at their motivation. I like characters that have flaws that can be exploited. Because I have a good sense of humour, I can build characters that have two sides to their personality.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What are your personal goals?

In 5 years from now I see myself doing amazing work with actors that inspired me to get into this business.

Which are the films you have acted in?

Kiss and Tell, Omoge, Adaora, Yes I Do. All of these are Nollywood produced.

By all standards, what comparison can you do between Hollywood and Nollywood- which is more relevant to Africans?

Well from my perspective, I see Hollywood as something that has been there for so long, and now there’s a new kid on the block- Nollywood. It is fresh, with new ideas and it’s growing so fast that nothing will be standing in its way. It has a natural and large market eager for new films that it can relate to.

In your opinion, what do you think should be done in terms of sourcing for fund and maintaining world-class movie productions?

In time, as Nollywood grows, it will be able to finance its growth, similar in history to Hollywood. An important thing is to ensure that new, young and upcoming individuals shouldn’t be shut out from participating.

These days, what have you been up to or which project(s) have you been embarking on?

So many things are happening all at the same time, so my hands are full with projects from movies, theatre and other ventures. It is very exciting.

You are quite handsome, you probably would be getting admiration and glances from the female folks. How well do you relate with them?

Thank you for the compliment. I have a big sister who always kept me in line. She and mom taught me to respect everyone. As a result, I have been fortunate to have many female friends who I trust and have deep friendships with.

Currently in the movie industry, who is your female crush?

That should be Tonto Dikeh. I like her so much and she has a very unique personality. Crazy though but I wouldn’t mind going into a serious relationship with her. After all, I can last more than 40 seconds.

What has fame robbed you of and what doors has it opened for you?

You think I have fame? So far nothing has changed me and likely never will. I am no different than anyone else. I am the same person who gets up each morning to see what the day will offer.

Describe a typical day?

My typical day contains jogging, working out or yoga meditation. I have theatre work with my coach and go on many auditions. I like going for walks and playing sports. Nothing makes me happier than reading books. I especially like autobiographies lately.

Name one luxury product you wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for?

I can’t break the bank for what I want because it doesn’t exist yet. I would do everything to help my sister from dying from cancer.

Where is home at the moment?

Home is the place where you’re loved and feel comfortable. Right now I live between Lagos, Lisbon and NYC.

Who is your role model and why?

My Dad is my role model and he will always be. He was a doctor and taught me about ethics, morals and love and helping others.

Aside acting, what other things do you have passion for?

I have a strong love of our African continent. I believe in helping my brothers to achieve their full potential. Sometimes I think that is my calling. I am curious about different aspects of business around the world.

Any message for your fans out there?

Thank you!! Please keep us going by seeing our movies. You inspire us to keep going with new movies, new stories. We started from almost nothing and your attendance at our films answered our prayers. Thank you

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“Make America Great Again”: Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?

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It’s a global village now.

The term “global village” was invented when the global reality was much less apparent. Today, I can read the The New York Times in real time in Oslo and Ottawa and Osaka just as easily as in the city of its publication. CNN brings the world to a global audience of viewers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I have digital subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and a Norwegian newspaper, and I sometimes read German or British newspapers online. This makes me an exception: newspapers and magazines compete for a shrinking audience. Visual news, by contrast, like CNN or Fox, is ubiquitous. We cannot avoid them even if we try.

And the subject — in print or on the television screen? There is more than one, but the main subject is President Donald J. Trump. He is the new chief in the global village; he attracts an audience; he keeps it up, tweet after tireless tweet. For the last four years, in outlets like CNN or Fox, there has not been one twenty-four-hour news cycle that failed to mention candidate Trump and later President Trump. Indeed, for the last four years, there has hardly been a twenty-four-hour news cycle when he was not the main subject.

I do not plan to engage this subject broadly. My focus will be narrow, announced in the headline. “Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?”

Why do I ask the question, why do I pose it as a matter of survival, and why do I ask it now? 

I have wondered about the impact of the political climate on the church on many occasions. A broad approach to my question would not be a waste of time, thinking particularly about the connection between the Sabbath and care for the world or the social conscience of the seventh day.[1] Here, my focus will be narrow; it will have one issue only. While some issues can be discussed dispassionately as matters belonging to gray zones, my concern cannot be discussed dispassionately, and it does not belong to a zone where there are varying shades of gray. Some things are black or white. This is one of those things.

On October 10, 2019, the President of the United States of America traveled to Minneapolis to give a speech. The stands were filled with people, twenty thousand in all. Many were dressed in the colors signifying support for the president’s aspiration to “Make America Great Again.” The president’s speech lasted one hour and thirty minutes. About one hour into the speech, the president turned to talk about the Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the immigration and refugee resettlement programs that brought many Somalis to Minnesota.[2]

Donald Trump: (54:16)
So in desperate attempt to attack our movement. Nancy and Chuck, two beauties, have given control of the Democrat party entirely over to the radical left, including Minnesota’s own representative Ilhan Omar. I know you people. I know you people. I know the people of Minnesota, and I want to tell you, and I also, at the same time, it’s both a question and a statement, how’d the hell did that ever happen? How did it happen? How did it happen? Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.

Donald Trump: (01:21:05)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Great people. Thank you. What a group. I think your very weak mayor made a mistake when he took them on. As you know, for many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers. I promised you that as president, I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy, and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration controls.

Donald Trump: (01:22:13)
And I’ve done that. Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85%, and as you know, maybe especially in Minnesota, I kept another promise. I issued an executive action, making clear that no refugees will be resettled in any city or any state without the express written consent of that city or that state. So speak to your mayor. You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that’s what you have the right to do right now.

Donald Trump: (01:23:12)
If Democrats were ever to seize power, they would open the floodgates to unvetted, uncontrolled migration at levels you have never seen before. Do you think you have it bad now? You would never have seen anything like what they want to do. But in the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first, and that has not been done in Minnesota.

What is the problem? The president is speaking about foreign-born generally non-White people who are already in the country, many of them by now American citizens, including Ilhan Omar. The speech was given in her district, in the same area where some fifty thousand Somali refugees are settled. They came there, the refugees have said, because they were well received and felt safe. And now? The President of the United States of America tracks them down in their neighborhood. He vilified one of them by name, twisting things she has said in the most negative manner. He accused her for minimizing the September 11 tragedy, charged to her “a history of launching virulent anti-Semitic screeds” before delving into her marital history. At the mention of “Somalis,” the president’s mostly white crowd broke out in boos — “in effect jeering their neighbors,” as one person present put it.

In better days, Ilhan Omar would be proof that America is a great country, the greatest there is. How she, a Somali-born refugee found a home in the United States, how she got an education, how she overcame obstacles to make herself into a person who exemplifies the best there is of diversity and opportunity in the U.S. In the president’s world, however, Omar is repeatedly thrashed. She has become one of the members of Congress targeted by the Trump-inspired chant, “Send her back!”

Let us leave Omar out, if need be, for the conversation to proceed without allowing allegations about her to distract us. Let us not leave out the other more than fifty thousand refugees of Somali descent now living in Minnesota. The president had a special line for the mayor of Minneapolis, saying that he showed weakness when he took the refugees in. (33:57) “Minneapolis, Minneapolis, you’ve got a rotten man. You’ve got to change your mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor.” And now the Somali refugees, who fled one of the most broken countries in the world. They are there, in Minnesota, on October 10 the target of a viscerally hostile speech by the president of their new homeland.

Others are there, too. I am now referring to the people in the stands. Let the president do the vilification of the Somalis by himself. It is not necessary to become his accomplice in disparaging a vulnerable group. It is not necessary to attend the rally. It is not necessary to cheer.

This is where the question of survival comes in. Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America survive this storm? Eighty percent of evangelical Christians support this man and his policies. Fifty percent of Catholic white males are said to support him. How high is the percentage among Seventh-day Adventists? Were Adventists in the audience in Minneapolis? Did Adventists cheer the part of the speech that singled out the refugees? One journal, secular, of course, had a fitting headline afterwards. “Trump’s Minneapolis Rally Was a Demonstration of the Moral Suicide Pact He’s Made with His Supporters.”[3] The author, Jack Holmes, the political editor of Esquire magazine, does not want to be in on the moral suicide pact. 

This is a virulently racist tirade aimed at ginning up the worst instincts of the people in the crowd. It is not a coincidence Trump chose to come here, or to target a refugee community that is black and Muslim. This is how he thinks he can win reelection: by continuing to pull his base of support towards more vitriolic expressions of this vision of America as a country for and by white people; by scaring other constituencies away from speaking out; by using the Republican Party’s machinations to stop inconvenient voters from voting; by smearing his opponents as Just As Bad As Him, They Just Pretend to Be Prim and Proper; by soliciting foreign meddling that will benefit him in exchange for favors when he is reelected.

“I know you people. I know you people,” the president said as he began the part about the refugees. What does he know about them? Does he seek to unleash some hidden, inner hostility that resonates with his sentiment, knowing that it is there? What does he know? One of Adolf Hitler’s critics in the German Reichstag said before voices like his fell silent — before the Reichstag went into a twelve-year de facto hibernation — that Hitler had an uncanny ability to spot and stir to life a person’s “inner swine.” Surely, the talk about the Somali refugees in Minnesota, in public, before a cheering audience, some of whom are next-door neighbors to the Somalis, could be an example of inner swines cut loose from moral restraint.

Moral Suicide

In what sense does this qualify as moral suicide, a term that is well chosen? I will offer three reasons.

First is the biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the refugee has special status as an object of God’s protection. Who will not be inspired and humbled by a walk-through of some of these texts? Their thrust is not only an obligation to treat refugees and immigrants with respect. It goes deeper than that. Believers are called to see themselves in the other person — to remember that we are in the same boat: what they are, we used to be. This should be easy to do for people in Minnesota. The ancestors of many in that state were not refugees but economic migrants from Scandinavia and Germany, but they came as aliens.

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21).

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 23:9).

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien (Lev. 19:33).

Does it count as oppression when the president of your adopted country seeks you out in your back yard, there to call your mayor “a rotten person” for letting you in, there to make you be his foil for a vision of America that uses disdain for you to inspire them to be his supporters? Does it count as oppression when the speaker clearly intends to outsource to his audience to change the terms of the alien’s existence?

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:34).

You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance (Num. 15:16).

What is most impressive in these texts is the insistent, unprecedented, vociferous call to remember. Historical amnesia is a dangerous and ever-present risk. To counter the risk, Deuteronomy inscribes the memory of past oppression as a constituent of the believer’s present identity.

Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today (Deut. 15:15). 

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes (Deut. 16:12).

You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land (Deut. 23:7).

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (Deut. 24:18).

There they are, the Edomites and the Egyptians. They are there, in the text, but they are here, too, in the neighborhood. Just look on the map to see how little has changed even though the world has expanded. Lucky ones, are they not, to have a verbal footprint left for them in the Bible, the people who are now coming from where the Edomites used to live (Syria, Iraq, Palestine) or from Egypt (close enough to Somalia to count).

It was part of the liturgy of these believers to rehearse their story over and over in assembly, to say the following out loud:

You shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous” (Deut. 26:5).

The wandering Aramean, of course, is Abraham. In the New Testament, he is the role model for believers in Jesus (Rom. 4:16). In one New Testament iteration, Abraham never ceases to be an itinerant. For such a person and for such an itinerant faith-identity, understanding and empathy for those on the outside will only be stronger.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8-10).

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).

For anyone working with refugees and seeing their plight first-hand, it helps to ponder such a faith identity. To be a migrant or a resident alien, as a believer, is not a stage left behind, a distant chapter to remember. It is a stage — even a state — of present existence.

Second, we have a historical reason not to be part of the moral collapse playing out with respect to refugees and resident aliens. Now as then, at issue is not refugee status only. It is also minority status, ethnic, racial, or religious. Two immense historical realities obligate and inform us, the history of slavery and the Holocaust. Fifteen million Africans were brought to the New World against their will (not all of them to the US); six million Jews were gassed and cremated in the Nazi era. Might it be possible to see in the face of the Somalis seeking entrance the face of Africans who were forced to come against their will? Now they come willingly, in a state of need. Is this a time to shut the doors — or ever to shut them? Is there not still an unpaid debt from us to them, “us” the enslavers of European descent and “them” the enslaved?

And the Holocaust? It was “Not Long Ago, Not Far Away,” as an exhibit now on display in New York puts it. What happened had a toxic rhetorical antecedent. I am not suggesting that something on that scale is in the making today. But I am saying that there is a family resemblance at the level of rhetoric. I do not envision that today’s rhetoric will become tomorrow’s genocide. But yesterday’s genocide makes today’s rhetoric indecent, dangerous, and unconscionable even if it is only rhetoric. For a Somali minority in the US to be disparaged by the nation’s president with a crowd of mostly white Americans cheering him on is immoral because of what happened “Not Far Away, Not Long Ago.” We cannot go near it again; we cannot cheer except to put our souls in the gravest peril. Think of it this way, too: he speaks that way not to show us what he is like but because he thinks he knows what we are like.

I find sobering support for the unfinished work history teaches us to do in the recent book by the philosopher I admire the most. Susan Neiman says that “I began life as a white girl in the segregated South, and I am likely to end it as a Jewish woman in Berlin.”[4] Her remarkable geographic, intellectual, and professional journey is as compelling as her message: the need for Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung, as they say it in German: the need for “working-off-the-past.” The spectacle in Minneapolis and other spectacles like it result, in Neiman’s story, “from America’s failure to confront its own history.”[5]

Third, we have a special Seventh-day Adventist reason not to condone, participate in, or in any way engage in the conduct on display in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019. This has to do with our history and self-understanding. Early Adventists saw themselves called to proclaim a message of everlasting good news or, as I propose to translate it, “an eternally valid message” (Rev. 14:6). The target audience is broadly specified in Revelation. The message is to be proclaimed “to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6). There are no favorites here, no national or ethnic or tribal preference. The first angel in Revelation takes the stage with an equal opportunity proposition with respect to “those who live on the earth.”

When Adventist pioneers contemplated the scope of this commission, they took comfort in how they saw Providence at work in the American experience. Human beings from “every nation and tribe and language and people” had come to the United States! The mission could be accomplished here, in the New World, because God had raised up a nation of migrants and immigrants, of refugees and fortune seekers, in the New World. It would not be necessary to go to them. God had brought them to us; God brought them here.

This vision has since undergone a much-needed correction. They did not all come here; it was necessary to go there to be faithful to the commission. But the early perception should not be abandoned without a trace. Seventh-day Adventists have a special reason to be welcoming to people from other nations and tribes. Not so long ago it was a settled Adventist conviction that God had brought them here as an element in God’s eschatological vision for the nations. God — not simply destitution or need or hope or opportunity.

It is a global village now. We are all in on this. “Immigrants and refugees are welcome in Minneapolis,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after the president’s visit. I am glad he did. According to the transcript, verbatim, people chanted, “Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years” even though the visitors had told them that they have “a rotten mayor.”

Moses wasn’t there, but he gave a different speech to his migrant congregation before they took possession of the Promised Land. Then, too, there was a big crowd. Then, too, there was a pact. It was not a moral suicide pact but a moral pact meant to bring security to the most vulnerable. “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice,” said Moses.

And the people, back then, what did they say?

“All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:19)

Notes & References:

Sigve K. Tonstad is Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Loma Linda University.

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Pendulum : Social Media And President Buhari’s Imaginary Wedding Of The Century By Dele Momodu

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Fellow Nigerians, these are very interesting and humorous times indeed! Barely one week after the Big Brother Naija show was concluded, ending our light relief, some restless Nigerians have started their own nebulous reality show in earnest. To say Nigerians are well endowed with fecund imaginations and fantastic creativity would be an understatement. This is why rumourmongering is big business in this climate.

Let me reassure you that it didn’t just start today. Many are blaming the proliferation of social media and the affordability of internet data for this unusual surge in the wild speculations and stories flying everywhere today, but I wish to disagree with this theory. This is a major aspect of my research work at The African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Society Journalism is not new to Nigeria or Africa. This genre thrives on wild rumours and fertile imaginations. It was once described as junk journalism. And society loves junk generally because it is like fast food. People love to read and hear and discuss society people. Society people or newsmakers themselves love to gobble up junk stories, no matter how ridiculous they may be or sound. More often than not, the stories are untrue, but society still feeds on them.

Let me take you down memory lane. In May 1989, a wild rumour surfaced that nearly sent the government of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida packing. The content of the rumour was so bizarre, but even intelligent people still believed the story. It was what led to what was tagged THE SAP RIOTS. SAP was the acronym for Structural Adjustment Program which President Babangida had introduced at the time. Then came the news, which was made believable by the participation of the famous social critic, Dr Tai Solarin, who swore by Jove that the story was impeccably true. What was it all about? It turned out that this tale was what he had learnt from a brief but hasty trip to a public toilet where he had overheard a conversation in which the lurid allegations were made.

It was reported that while Nigerians were being asked to tighten their belts and lives, Babangida’s family allegedly owned some of the most exclusive and expensive boutiques in Europe. Since there was no social media to help project, propel and distribute the gossip, the promoters had to improvise by typing the tales by moonlight on stencils and printing them as leaflets.

Unlike today, that was a time when we had no social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, it therefore remains a mystery how they were able to make those leaflets go so viral in 1989. From Lagos to Edo State and around the South West axis, the stories developed wings and began to spread across Nigeria like wildfire in harmattan. The more people tried to douse the fire, the higher the fire took a major leap of its life. And sadly, people believed the campaign of calumny against the government of the day which led to the youths taking to the roads and streets screaming “Babangida must go…” Anyone who said anything contrary was instantly considered an enemy of the people and friends of the looters. The situation was not so much different as it is today, but social media has since made such stories readily available to a willing, gullible and sometimes ignorant market.

I was away from our office at the Weekend Concord newspaper when the news broke on a horrible Wednesday. I returned on Friday afternoon by which time the first edition of the tabloid had gone to bed and already printed. The screaming headline was BLACK WEDNESDAY IN LAGOS. I immediately disagreed with my boss, Mr Mike Awoyinfa, that the headline was rather weak for a Saturday paper. He then challenged me to come up with a better headline and I picked up the challenge and came up with my own: RUMOURS THAT FUELLED THE RIOTS! My Editor was over the moon with his Deputy Editor, Mr Dimgba Igwe (now of blessed memory).

The next problem was how to write a good story to justify my new headline without getting into trouble with the military government of the day. Trust me, I offered to be the lamb of God who would carry the sins of the world. Interestingly, this was 30 years ago, in 1989. I ordered a bottle of beer and raised one of my legs on the table while I pumped the alcohol into my brains to emit some powerful words for one of the biggest stories of my journalism career. That was when the famous columnist, May Ellen Ezekiel, who had just lost her job at Quality magazine and was now working on her own publication, Classique magazine, but kept a column in Weekend Concord, which I edited, sauntered in and saw me drinking while writing. First it was strange, and almost sacrilegious, to find anyone drinking in the main offices of Concord newspapers, except at the popular Bush Canteen, earmarked for such purpose, and then to be writing a satanic story at that. May Ellen approached me and said “shuo, what’s going on here?” I explained the delicate story I was working on and she was excited too. That was the day her respect for me quadrupled and she started making moves to headhunt and poach me to her magazine, to which I fell yakata about a year later.

Fortunately, that evening, our Chairman, Chief Moshood Abiola, returned from a trip to Europe and brought us copies of the Ebony magazines which was allegedly supposed to have carried the stories of the Babangida’s outlandish ownerships of expensive shops and choice properties abroad while Nigerians languished in excruciating pains. Nothing of the sort was ever published by Ebony. That was not the type of gossipy stuff Ebony would normally disseminate. So, I first regurgitated all the fictional anecdotes before revealing that we had laid our hands on recent editions of Ebony and nothing of the sort was contained therein. And we published a bromide of the Ebony on the cover to prove the authenticity of our claims. I believe our second edition on Saturday morning reportedly sold over 80,000 copies in Lagos and its environ alone. And I earned a double promotion that May 1989, when I moved straight from Staff Writer to Literary editor. Six months later, I was promoted News Editor, and it was such a meteoric rise for me. Our Managing Director, Dr Doyinsola Hamdat Abiola, who had handpicked me for the job at weekend Concord as a pioneer staff, from my former post at the African Concord magazine, was very proud of her decision.

Thus, you can imagine how I feel today, 30 years after, with another round of incredible fictionalisation, this time, about a former military ruler, now a civilian President, Muhammadu Buhari. The difference this time, I must reiterate is that the youths of today are much more audaciously creative, and largely emboldened by their smartphones from where they can operate even more clandestinely and incognito.

No one knows how the rumours of President Buhari’s supposed whirlwind romance with one of his new Ministers surfaced and blew out of proportion such that everyone is talking about it authoritatively. Different versions of invitation cards have been designed and printed online. Some people claimed the wedding was definitely taking place and procured their own “aso ebi”, a special uniform dress for special guests, friends and relatives. By Thursday night, I had reached out to several impeccable sources within and outside the Presidential villa and was told categorically that no such event would take place on Friday, October 11, 2019. I also confirmed that the supposed bride was not even anywhere near Nigeria. She was away overseas on national assignments.

But some new videos, purportedly showing the supposed arrival of the reportedly estranged First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, who has made England her new home and base these past months, were going viral. One of them was a loud voice lamenting how some parts of the villa had been locked up and the woman in the video was practically stridently lamenting and soliloquising about how she was being treated shabbily. “Enough is enough” was her bitter assertion in that particular video. There were other videos of the new bride dancing and being sprayed with crispy notes in what looked like a traditional wedding party. All the videos of the alleged returnee wife and the supposed incoming bride turned out to be old footage obtained from God knows where and how.

My investigations further revealed that the First Lady was also out of the country. I therefore, tweeted that there was no way such a wedding would take place in secret, but many still disagreed with me. President Buhari is a man well known for his strong convictions and would not hide behind one finger, if and when he decides to take another wife. It is not an offence against his culture and religion to marry more than more wife, so there is nothing that can stop or discourage him, if he really wants another wife. What I find odd and strange is that his handlers allowed the silly rumours to fester beyond redemption. A simple statement would have killed the unbridled rumour in its infancy.

By yesterday afternoon, the rumour came up with renewed vigour as the day of reckoning loomed with some people running commentaries like football commentators from the “wedding venue”. I have never felt so entertained and titillated in my life. My name even came into one of these spoofs. These guys are downright hilarious!

Someone created the account, Uncle Demola @OmoGbajabiamila, and ran this commentary:

“Burna Boy is giving us ‘when the gbedu de enter body’ “…

“Oshiomhole don off shirt.”

“LMFAOOOooo… Chris Ngige is doing breakdance to Burna Boy’s song. Anambra people can disappoint sha!”

“Adebayo Shittu is finally here.”

“When Baba see strippers, E just de shout ‘Astagafurillahi, Astagafurillahi, Astagafurillahi!’ “

“I’m hearing noise outside. Let me go and check what’s happening.”

“There is a serious problem outside between Rochas and DSS.”

“Apparently, Rochas Okorocha came with a giant statue of Buhari and he wants to bring it inside but the DSS guys won’t allow it. Where’s Abba Kyari FFS???

Rochas just came in and he’s complaining bitterly about the DSS guys not allowing him bring the statue in.”

“Wait! Dino Melaye has been allowed to enter as Naira Marley’s backup singer. Smart man!” #BUSA19

“Naira Marley has not even started singing, Lauretta Onochie is already twerking… DSS, heissss DSS. Do your job naaau!”

“Shehu Sani is on low cut. Baba wan disguise enter. ABBA Kyari catch am. DSS is taking him away already!”

“Apparently, someone told Dele Momodu that the party had been called off. So, he didn’t bother to come. Baba dey Twitter now de lament as e see say groove don begin.”

“LMFAOOOOooo… ABBA Kyari don bounce Dino Melaye.”

“Elrufai don show!!!”

“Goodluck Jonathan came with his own Sapele water. Ijaw man himself. Hennessy na like Sprite for am.”

“Garba Shehu de in charge of Barbecue.”

“Be like Femi Adeshina de suspension.”

“…Dem don wake Ganduje, make E come go sleep upstairs. Be like Baba don de snore.”

“Amaechi and Wike are also here but the two of them are on handcuffs so that there won’t be any fighting between them.”

“Akeredolu with this his baggy trousers sha. Who is his tailor nitori Olorun?”

“Buhari has collected the mic from Naira Marley. Looks like he doesn’t like the Soapy song. Not sure Abike Dabiri will like this!”

“Rauf Aregbesola is drinking Malt.”

“Fashola is calling NEPA boys to bring light. Be like fuel don low for gen and Mele Kyari nor remember to buy fuel.”

“Femi Gbajabiamila is here on a Gucci up and down. Iyalaya anybody!”

“Femi Otedola and Dangote are forming big boys. Nonsense!”

“I think I have been reported. The DSS guys are looking at me wan kain…” That’s the narrator, Uncle Demola himself.

For me, that was the height of comic relief that attended this silliness and maybe it came at the right time of acute stress everywhere. It certainly alleviated my feeling of gloom and doom. The solution is certainly not to ban or criminalise fake news. That was not done in 1989 by the more authoritarian, dictatorial military regime of Ibrahim Babangida. It should not be done now, when we are in a constitutional civilian democracy! For me, as a journalist, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution is sacrosanct and, in any event, there are extant laws available to deal with any abuse or infraction. Any new law will only be used by those keen to muzzle critics and presumed opponents of government like the so-called “wailing wailers”!

My conclusion is that nothing can ever shock Nigerians again so that even if this story had been true, we would have taken it in our stride. Our proclivity for absorbing shocks is infinitesimal. The world is waiting and watching how alleged family feuds, rebellion and relationships involving the leadership, domestic and other staff would end eventually.

Will this national drama ever lead to a denouement? Time will tell.

The post Pendulum : Social Media And President Buhari’s Imaginary Wedding Of The Century By Dele Momodu appeared first on TheNigerialawyer.

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Will X Factor Celebrity improve the show’s ratings?

It’s the time of year again where your TV guide fills up with more late-night entertainment.

ITV’s The X Factor used to dominate the weekend ratings with its sometimes harsh auditions and names like Beyonce and Rihanna at the live finals.

But over the years, the show’s figures have dropped to less than half of what they were in 2010.

The first episode of the celebrity edition aired on Saturday, with 4.71 million viewers.

The X Factor reached peak viewing figures in 2010 when, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), episodes averaged more than 14 million viewers in the UK.

Last year’s series, won by Dalton Harris, averaged roughly six million viewers, so last night’s figures of five million aren’t a great start for the series.

The format is simple, celebrities who are already known by the public, but not for singing, compete to impress judges Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh.

The line-up caters to a range of ages, including everyone from Love Island stars and social media influencers, to broadcast journalist Martin Bashir.

newsSpeaking last week at the show’s launch on Thursday, original judge Louis Walsh told Radio 1 Newsbeat: “It needed something different.
This is a whole new chapter and I think it’s the future for X Factor.”

 

The first episode, showing auditions in front of various music producers and writers in Simon’s garden in Malibu, received mixed responses online.

The format is far from the small, minimally designed audition room with an X on the floor from early series’, but the judges haven’t changed much.

Reality star Megan McKenna told Newsbeat: “I was so happy when I found out it was judged by Simon, Nicole and Louis because they’re the originals.

“I’ve watched the show growing up my entire life, so singing in front of them was one of the best moments of my whole life.”

BBCDermot O’Leary will once again host the series and be the contestants’ general shoulder to cry on.

He said: “It may well be that we uncover this incredible singer, it may well be that it doesn’t fly – but it’s definitely worth the risk.

“Whether we can find a recording artist with these celebrities – probably not! As long as we can put on a good entertainment show, that’s what matters.”

Nicole agreed that the show was more about providing entertainment, saying: “We still get pretty great ratings, all we can do it put on the best show we can, and hopefully we can entertain the people who are watching.”

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‘I filled a room with My Little Ponies’

BBC Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption Laura Kate Shippert has paid hundreds of pounds for a single Blythe doll

Ask yourself which toys are most collectible: train sets, die-cast cars, and – it almost goes without saying – Star Wars figures. The most obsessively collected examples tend to have one thing in common – they were originally marketed at boys.

While these toys aren’t collected exclusively by men, women are less likely to have vast collections of them. So which vintage toys are women seeking out?

Blythe

news Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption Blythe pondered on the mysteries of Stonehenge during her visit to the famous stone circle

Thanks to her peculiarly oversized head and bulging eyes that change colour with the pull of a string, not many girls wanted to play with Blythe when she was introduced in 1972.

But Blythe has become strangely popular in recent years and original dolls now sell for between £500 and £2,000, depending on their condition.

“They were only released for a year,” says Laura Kate Shippert, one of the organisers of BlytheCon UK, which was held in Bristol earlier this month. “They failed terribly; people thought they were a bit freaky and scary.”

BBC Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption This Blythe doll was lucky enough to see Notre-Dame before the devastating fire

Their popularity in recent years was sparked by a book called This is Blythe, in which photographer Gina Garan featured the dolls artfully posed like real fashion models. Others then started picking up second-hand Blythe dolls – which were relatively cheap at the time – dressing them in glamorous outfits and photographing them in exotic locations.

The renewed interest has led to new Blythe dolls being produced, known in the community as “Neo Blythes” – and these are pretty valuable too.

“They are anywhere from £100 to £400 new, then after a while some become more popular and harder to find, and the prices will fluctuate,” says Laura Kate.

She has 17 Blythe dolls, but only one is an original from 1972. She paid £400 for it about 10 years ago, which was “a steal” even at the time.

news Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption This Blythe opted for a classic tourist pose in front of the Eiffel Tower

Laura Kate considers her own collection to be quite small compared to other people’s.

“I know someone who owns like 40 of them and I think ‘but you could own a house’,” she says. “If that’s what makes her happy and that’s what she wants to spend her money on, she’s an adult, she can make her choices. It’s not cocaine.”

My Little Pony

BBC Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption Martina Foster (right) is known in the pony community as Sparkler, her favourite My Little Pony

The My Little Pony phenomenon began when the toys were launched in 1982. About 150 million ponies were reportedly sold in the 1980s, with their popularity boosted by an animated TV series. Actor Danny DeVito even lent his voice to the 1986 film My Little Pony: The Movie.

Martina Foster loves My Little Pony so much she has a “pony room” in her house filled with somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 of them, worth between £10,000 and £15,000.

Martina was seven years old when she was given her first one – a pony called Tootsie printed with lollipop “cutie marks”. She rediscovered them while searching eBay as a student, then got her old ones out of the loft.

news Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption These two ponies enjoyed prancing in the sun on a day out at the river
BBC Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption Dressing up as a pony is encouraged at UK PonyCon, but attendees are not permitted to wear real metal horseshoes

“I thought, ‘I’ll buy the ones that I always wanted, just for fun’,” she says. “Then you get sucked into it.”

Martina says the market fluctuates but rare ones in good condition can now fetch thousands of pounds. The most she has spent is a £200 for a pony called Rapunzel – “a bargain” because it is now worth about £500.

Martina is vice chairman of this year’s UK PonyCon, which is being held in Nottingham this weekend. As well as attracting collectors of the original toys, the convention attracts fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, which launched in 2010.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption My Little Pony was originally launched in 1982 by Hasbro and has been revived three times since then

While My Little Pony was marketed towards girls in the 1980s, many fans of the animated series are adult men.

“It is fairly watchable even for grown-ups,” says Martina. “You can watch it as an adult and there are some witty things in it and in the end it’s all about friendship and accepting other people.”

Pippa

BBC Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather Swann photographs her dolls and posts photos online

Pippa was marketed as “the pocket money fashion doll” when she was sold in the 1970s, but Vectis Auctions has sold Pippa dolls for as much as £1,400 in recent years. She and her friends are much shorter than normal fashion dolls at only 6.5 inches (16.5cm) tall, which meant production costs were low.

Heather Swann started collecting them about 20 years ago after picking one up in a charity shop for 50p. She wanted to collect them as a way of recapturing her childhood.

“Isn’t that why people collect toys?” she says.

news Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather has about 50 Pippa dolls, made by Leicestershire toymaker Palitoy

After Heather’s charity shop find she started buying more dolls through eBay.

“They were much cheaper then, as ladies of a certain age were just beginning to find them,” she says. “Unfortunately they are now becoming expensive and many collectors are after them.”

BBC Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather says Pippa dolls are becoming more expensive

Heather describes her collection of about 50 dolls as “medium size”, as many women have hundreds. She has seen individual dolls sell for hundreds of pounds but the most she has ever spent is £40.

“I don’t tend to buy the expensive dolls, I now just look out for the ones which need a transformation,” she says. “I enjoy the process of restoring them.”

Care Bears

news Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer Hawkins’s 200 Care Bears take up so much space in her house she bought a bunk-bed for them

Care Bears were originally painted in 1981 to appear on greetings cards, before the characters were turned into soft toys in 1983. A television series followed, as did books, a plethora of merchandise, multiple LPs and a film in 1985 for which Carole King was persuaded to write and perform songs for the soundtrack.

Jennifer Hawkins loves Care Bears so much she had her favourite one, Bedtime Bear, tattooed on her arm.

“I was looking around earlier and I think I’ve got something Care Bears-related in every room, except my bathroom,” says Jennifer, who lives in Gloucester with about 200 Care Bears.

“But they make me happy so I’m quite happy to have them everywhere. I like the cuteness, I like having the little faces to talk to, I like the fact that they represent different feelings.”

BBC Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer spent £140 on this 25th anniversary edition of Bedtime Bear

Jennifer got one of her favourites – called Beanie – “as a comfort” when her grandfather died the day after her 14th birthday.

“He [Beanie] comes pretty much everywhere with me now,” she says.

news Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer had a tattoo of Bedtime Bear sitting on a cloud

She estimates her collection is worth “a few thousand”. The most she spent on an individual bear was £140, which was a 25th anniversary version of Bedtime Bear, and resisted the temptation to spend £500 on an original 1980s Bedtime Bear that was still in the box.

“Unfortunately I can’t afford to spend a month’s rent on one bear,” she says. “That’s definitely a bit too much.”

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BBC Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Nearly every room of Jennifer’s house has something Care Bears-related in it

Barbie and Sindy

Barbie was launched in 1959 and swiftly became a cultural icon, gathering fans among each new generation of girls.

Linda Richardson was not one of them. When her mother gave her Barbies, she chopped their heads off.

news Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption Most of Linda’s dolls are NRFB – “never removed from box”

“My passion was always cowboys and Indians and motorbikes and all that stuff,” says Linda, who lives in Cumbria. But she now has an “obsession” with dolls and has more than 500, worth about £35,000 at a “conservative estimate”.

Her passion was ignited 15 years ago on a trip to buy presents for her son.

“I saw these Native American Indians and they happened to be Barbies and that just set it off, really,” she says.

She did not buy the dolls at the time but started researching Barbie online and “found a whole new world”.

Most of the ones she buys are aimed at collectors, rather than the typical Barbie dolls made for children. She keeps them protected behind glass doors in a room lined with bookcases.

BBC Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption Linda photographs some of her dolls and puts them on Instagram
news Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption These Native American dolls ignited Linda’s interest in Barbie

She also has some “de-boxed” dolls she puts in dioramas, photographs and posts on Instagram. “It’s just something to do,” she says. “It keeps me out of trouble.”

Others favour Barbie’s rival, which went on to become the best-selling fashion doll in the UK when it launched in 1963.

Melanie Quint only had one Sindy as a child but now has 60 or 70, worth between three and four thousand pounds.

“I decided to sell all of my childhood dolls and when I looked on eBay I realised there was this massive collecting and restoration community,” she says.

Instead of selling her dolls she ended up buying more.

“It’s nostalgia at the end of the day,” says Melanie. “You look at the face and the doll and the fashions and it takes you back to the way you were when you were a child.”

BBC Image copyright Melanie Quint
Image caption Melanie Quint owns dozens of Sindy dolls
news Image copyright Melanie Quint
Image caption Melanie Quint has 60 or 70 Sindy dolls

Melanie now runs Dollycon UK, which is for collectors of all dolls but has a particular focus on Sindy. A particular highlight is the “hilarious” cosplay competition, where people dress up as particular dolls.

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” says Melanie. “They pick some of the weird outfits, the 70s stuff. It’s really funny seeing what they do.

“We had one woman last year who dressed as Action Man Frogman, in a full suit with flippers on. I couldn’t speak, it was hilarious.”

BBC Image copyright DollyCon UK
Image caption The DollyCon cosplay competition is “very tongue-in-cheek”

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Trans models: From decades of rejection to centre stage

BBC Image copyright Pantene
Image caption Paris Lees is a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene

Being outed as transgender was once enough to end a career in modelling, but some brands and magazines are now actively seeking to work with people who are openly and proudly trans. How did being transgender become viewed as not only acceptable but aspirational?

“I never actually thought that trans people would be celebrated,” said Paris Lees. “When I was growing up the only time I ever saw trans people in the media or in advertising, we were presented as objects of pity, ridicule or disgust.”

The trans rights campaigner and writer was speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, where she was announced as a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene.

Lees, who grew up in the Nottinghamshire town of Hucknall, is the first transgender woman to be appointed by Pantene. However, she is far from the only transgender person to model for a mainstream brand, with transgender men and women including Valentina Sampaio, Chella Man and Andreja Pejić being hired by the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Make Up For Ever.

“Increasingly trans has come to signify a certain wokeness or hipness that it has not always had,” says Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution. “To show somebody trans in a positive light as something that is desirable or normal or acceptable, that is like a marketing use of a subcultural chic, to sell shampoo or soap or tequila or what have you.”

How did this happen, and who blazed the trail?

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was one of the earliest people from the UK known to have had gender reassignment surgery
BBC

April Ashley is thought to have been the first successful transgender model. Born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935, she had gender reassignment surgery in 1960 at the age of 25, and her striking looks led her to grace the pages of Vogue magazine.

She kept her past a secret, but her modelling career was cut short when she was outed by tabloid newspaper the Sunday People in 1961, under the headline “The extraordinary case of top model April Ashley: ‘Her’ secret is out”.

“My agent called me and she said ‘April your career is finished. You will never get another job in this town’,” she told the BBC in 2013.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tracey Norman, shown here in 2016, was a successful model in the 1970s before being outed

African-American transgender model Tracey Norman, who later changed her last name to Africa, had a similar experience. For about 10 years she enjoyed a successful career, with her work including a high-profile campaign for Clairol cosmetics.

“As far as I know Tracey Norman is the first trans model in the United States who we know about,” says Prof Elspeth Brown, author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling.

But she was outed in 1980 after being recognised during a photo-shoot for Essence, a magazine aimed at African-American women. “All I know is that my work stopped that day,” Norman told The Cut in 2015. “I just felt so upset about it because it was my people and my community that did this to me – the black community and the gay community.”

She later got modelling work in Paris and was then was hired for an Ultra Sheen cosmetics advert back in the US. However, the advert created too much attention, she was recognised from before, and struggled to get work again.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Another 1980s model, Teri Toye, was open from the start about her trans status and was “really welcomed”, Prof Brown says, although she was not working for mainstream consumer clients
BBC
BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caroline Cossey, also known as Tula, appeared in a Bond film and was the first transgender woman to pose for Playboy

Back in the UK, a closeted transgender women called Caroline Cossey had been climbing the ladder of the fashion industry under the name Tula.

“Cossey worked as a model from 1975 to 1981, appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and did extensive work as a model,” says Prof Stryker.

She even appeared in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and in Playboy alongside the film’s other Bond girls. However, the film led to her being outed by the News of the World in an article with the headline “James Bond’s girl was a boy”.

“I was destroyed overnight,” she said in 2016. “There was nothing I could do and my life was in tatters so I ran away. I hid from the limelight because it was the only way to feel safe.”

She was offered work again but it was based around her transgender status, and she felt she was being “portrayed like a freak”. She also wrote a book and did countless interviews in an effort to raise awareness of trans issues, but hid from the limelight again after being made to feel like “a circus act”.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caitlyn Jenner, shown here with Andreja Pejić, is sometimes credited for a “trans tipping point”
BBC

So what has changed in recent years?

Prof Brown says people refer to a “trans tipping point” within popular culture, and she dates this to 2015 when former Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlyn Jenner.

“Also other things have happened in the United States, in particular in terms of politics,” Prof Brown says. “The right wing’s targeting of trans people has brought the issue of transness into the public imagination. Also in the United States you have very popular television shows like Orange is the New Black, that has the trans actress Laverne Cox on it, and she’s been incredibly outspoken and an advocate for trans people.”

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laverne Cox rose to prominence in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black

Prof Stryker says hiring somebody who is out as trans becomes “a political comment of some kind that flags a certain kind of progressive, woke mentality”.

“You’re using disability or fatness or transness or racial diversity as a way of saying ‘our product fits in with your progressive, woke, metropolitan, hip, progressive views’.”

In fact, Victoria’s Secret apologised in 2018 after its chief marketing officer Ed Razek said trans models should not be cast in its shows. The lingerie brand has since hired transgender model Valentina Sampaio, who has more than 377,000 followers on Instagram.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victoria’s Secret cast Valentina Sampaio after previously saying it would not work with transgender models
news

Jay McCauley Bowstead, a lecturer at the London College of Fashion, believes social media has “provided a space through which more diverse representations can emerge”.

Brands and magazines can now look old-fashioned, he argues, if they do not mirror the diversity seen on social media.

“I think that’s part of why maybe brands and fashion weeks and catwalks and magazines are changing the way they represent people,” he says.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chella Man has documented his transition on YouTube, where he has 235,000 subscribers
BBC

He names Chella Man and Krow Kian as two prominent transgender male models.

“Someone like Chella Man did actually pose for The Gap, the American brand. You can’t get much more mainstream,” he says.

“What’s interesting is he’s reasonably buff and muscular, but he poses with his shirt off so you can see the scars on his chest. He sometimes wears quite androgynous garments, and I think that’s intriguing because it maybe marks a moment in which trans guys are feeling like ‘I don’t have to conform to this very narrow model of masculinity’. It’s not about ‘passing’ in some very narrow way.”

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Image caption Andreja Pejić started her career as an androgynous male model

Andreja Pejić is another example of a model not conforming to gender norms. She started her career almost a decade ago as Andrej Pejić, an androgynous male model. Pejic then had gender reassignment surgery in 2013, despite being warned against transitioning as it might jeopardise her career.

“There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting any more’,” she said. One agent apparently told her: “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.”

Despite the warnings she continues to be a leading model and has branched out into films, recently appearing as Claire Foy’s love interest in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

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Image caption April Ashley was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality in 2012

So what happened to April Ashley, Tracey Norman and Caroline Cossey, models who lost work after being outed as trans?

Norman was hired by Clairol once again at the age of 63 to be the face of a new hair colour campaign. Cossey found the confidence to come back into the limelight, appearing alongside Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox in documentary film The Trans List. And the once ostracised Ashley has featured in a major exhibition in her home city of Liverpool, and in 2012 was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality.

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Image caption Paris Lees was chosen as a Pantene ambassador alongside boxer Ramla Ali and model and broadcaster Katie Piper

Prof Stryker believes increasing representation of trans people is positive, but cautions that it is “not enough”.

“I wouldn’t want to say ‘Oh Paris Lees has got a Pantene commercial so now the world is safe for trans people’,” she says.

“Positive representation of trans people can be a good thing, but it’s not like it’s changing laws or keeping people from being killed by transphobes.

“It’s a good thing but it’s a small part of the big picture.”

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