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War authority

7 minutes

Timelapse of the future

29 minutes

White fright

30 minutes

Devenir

2 minutes

A date with an Enfield

2 minutes

Aeon for Friends

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How 60 ambiguous words gave the United States’ president unprecedented war power

‘The President is authorised to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organisations, or persons he determines planned, authorised, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harboured such organisations or persons, in order to prevent any future act of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organisations or persons.’

Written in haste and passed by the US Congress in the days after 11 September 2001, the ambiguously worded Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) greatly expanded the war powers of the executive branch, granting US presidents the choice to bomb, raid, detain and monitor nation states and organisations around the world as they see fit. Centred around an interview with Representative Barbara Lee, the sole member of congress to vote against the AUMF, War Authority examines how the authorisation’s vague language – invoked at least 18 times by the former president George W Bush, and at least 19 times by President Barack Obama – has shaped modern US foreign policy and affected people around the world.

Director: Matthew Palmer

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Deep time and beyond: the great nothingness at the end of the Universe

‘The Universe becomes a cosmic boneyard, strewn with remnants of dead stars.’

This is the way the Universe ends, not with a bang, but with an unfathomably profound and gradual chill. Or, at least that’s one guess held by many scientists – but we don’t really know, and it’s entirely possible that we never will. This video from the US filmmaker and musician John Boswell starts in 2019 and plays out one theory of how everything – truly everything – will end. With the speed of the passage of time doubling every five seconds, inventive visual interpretations of cosmological phenomena, and narrated by science luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees and Janna Levin, the video guides us deep into a possible evolution of the Universe. Impressively translating theoretical physics and astronomically vast scales of time and space into 29 breathtaking minutes, Timelapse of the Future takes us all the way into the sublime of the unimaginable, with all the wonder and terror that might provoke.

Via Kottke

Video by John Boswell

Website: melodysheep

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When does US news ignore a terror plot? When the target is called Islamberg

Islamberg is a small hamlet of roughly two dozen families in upstate New York that has come to represent some of the most pernicious contradictions of political culture in the United States. Situated 130 miles north of New York City on the Pennsylvania border, the town was formed in the early 1980s by members of an African-American Muslim community in Brooklyn looking to escape the fraught conditions in the city at the time, including the crack epidemic. As such, Islamberg is an almost archetypal example of those ostensibly ‘American’ ideals of religious freedom and the pursuit of a better life. Since its founding, however, the community has contended with rumours of connections to radical Islamic terrorism despite repeated assurances from local law-enforcement that no such threat exists. On the contrary, the rumours have put the community itself in danger.

The US director David Felix Sutcliffe’s film White Fright explores Islamberg in the context of a foiled 2015 attack on the community, which was planned by a white Christian minister and ultimately intercepted by the FBI. Splicing together FBI documents, news footage and interviews with Islamberg residents, the documentary probes how deceptive and inflammatory Right-wing news coverage helped to inspire the plan for a massacre at a mosque and school in the town, while other national news outlets barely covered the plot upon its unravelling. Since the film’s release in 2018, Islamberg was subject to yet another plot to murder its residents that was foiled by law enforcement in January 2019.

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From ‘The Second Sex’ to ‘Gender Trouble’ – Butler’s hat tip to de Beauvoir

The American philosopher Judith Butler is one of the preeminent contemporary thinkers on issues at the intersection of gender and identity. A professor at the University of California, Berkeley and at the European Graduate School, she’s perhaps best-known for her book Gender Trouble (1990), which argues that gender, sex and sexuality are continuous and highly mutable cultural performances, and not predetermined by human biology. This brisk and energetic video from the French filmmaker Géraldine Charpentier-Basille animates cutouts of diverse human forms to accompany an extract from a 2006 interview with Butler in which she cites Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) as inspiration. Although brief, the piece is an excellent conversation-starter on the question of what ‘becoming’ might mean, both in the context of gender and more broadly in the pursuit of the ‘authentic’ self. It’s also a pleasing reminder of the many ways that ideas spread and transmute over time.

Director: Géraldine Charpentier-Basille

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Love in a time of Street View: on the fraught intersection of human and digital memory

The London Borough of Enfield’s coat of arms features a depiction of the chimeric beast it was named for: a creature with the head of a fox, the talons of an eagle and the legs of a lion. The UK filmmaker Adam Butcher, who experienced his first brush with love in the borough, considers his memory of that time similarly fragmented, comprised of emotion, fleeting recollections and images preserved in the amber of the digital realm. In A Date with an Enfield, Butcher combines hundreds of hand-drawn frames – many of them sketched to directly correspond to Google Street View images –  to construct a poetic, personal rumination on the imperfections of memory.

Via Labocine

Video by Adam Butcher

Aeon for Friends

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How 60 ambiguous words gave the United States’ president unprecedented war power

‘The President is authorised to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organisations, or persons he determines planned, authorised, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harboured such organisations or persons, in order to prevent any future act of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organisations or persons.’

Written in haste and passed by the US Congress in the days after 11 September 2001, the ambiguously worded Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) greatly expanded the war powers of the executive branch, granting US presidents the choice to bomb, raid, detain and monitor nation states and organisations around the world as they see fit. Centred around an interview with Representative Barbara Lee, the sole member of congress to vote against the AUMF, War Authority examines how the authorisation’s vague language – invoked at least 18 times by the former president George W Bush, and at least 19 times by President Barack Obama – has shaped modern US foreign policy and affected people around the world.

Director: Matthew Palmer

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Essay/
Education
Bombay nights

In the night schools of Bombay, factory workers dreamed that literacy and learning would raise them to respectability

Arun Kumar

Essay/
Gender and identity
The woman subject

There is more that unites than divides analytic and continental feminist philosophies – not least efforts to define ‘woman’

Georgia Warnke