Oodles of Classic Doctor Who Episodes Streaming Free Online This Month

A quick fyi: This month, Twitch is presenting a marathon streaming of classic Doctor Who episodes. Continuing through January 25th, they plan to broadcast "11 to 12 hours of new episodes per day (~27 episodes), repeating once so you can catch Doctor Who nearly 24 hours a day, every day..." Stream the episodes right above, or here on Twitch.

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via BoingBoing

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Hear Mary Oliver (RIP) Read Five of Her Poems: “The Summer Day,” “Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night,” “Many Miles” and “Night and the River”

Poets get to have strong opinions about what poetry should be and do, especially poets as well-loved as Mary Oliver, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83. “Poetry, to be understood, must be clear,” she told NPR in an interview, “It mustn’t be fancy…. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary should not be in the poem.” Oliver’s Zen approach to her art cut right to the heart of things and honored natural, unpretentious expression. “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is,” she writes in “The Summer Day,” “I do know how to pay attention.”

For Oliver that meant giving careful heed to the natural world, shearing away abstraction and obfuscation. She grew up in Ohio, and during a painful childhood walked through the woods for solace, where she began writing her first poems.

She became an “indefatigable guide to the natural world,” as Maxine Kumin wrote, and at the same time, to the spiritual. She has been compared to Emerson and wrote “about old-fashioned subjects—nature, beauty, and worst of all, God,” Ruth Franklin remarks with irony in a New Yorker review of the poet’s last, 2017 book, Devotions. But, like Emerson, Oliver was not a writer of any orthodoxy or creed.

Oliver’s approach to the spiritual is always rooted firmly in the natural. Spirit, she writes, “needs the body’s world… to be more than pure light / that burns / where no one is.” She was beloved by millions, by teachers, writers, and celebrities. (She was once interviewed by Maria Shriver in an issue of magazine; Gwyneth Paltrow is a big fan). Oliver was long the country’s best-selling poet, as Dwight Garner blithely writes at The New York Times. But “she has not been taken seriously by most poetry critics,” Franklin points out. This despite the fact that she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for her fifth book, American Primitiveand a National Book Award in 1992 for New and Selected Poems.

The word “earnest” comes up often as faint praise in reviews of Oliver’s poetry (Garner tidily sums up her work as “earnest poems about nature”). The implication is that her poems are slight, simple, unrefined. This perhaps inevitably happens to accessible poets who become famous in life, but it is also a serious misreading. Oliver's work is full of paradoxes, ambiguities, and the hard wisdom of a mature moral vision. She is “among the few American poets,” critic Alicia Ostriker writes, “who can describe and transmit ecstasy, while retaining a practical awareness of the world as one of predators and prey.” In her work, she faces suffering with “cold, sharp eyes,” confronting “steadily,” Ostriker goes on, “what she cannot change.”

Her poems have included “historical and personal suffering,” but more often she engages the life and death going on all around us, which we rarely take notice of at all. She peers into the darkness of hermit crab shells, she feeds a grasshopper sugar from the palm of her hand, watching the creature’s “jaws back and forth instead of up and down.” Oliver often wrote about the constant reminders of death in life in poems like “Death at a Great Distance” and “When Death Comes.” She wrote just as often about how astonishing it is to be alive when we make deep connections with the natural world.

“When it’s over,” Oliver writes in "When Death Comes," ” I want to say all my life / I was a bride married to amazement.” The cost of not paying attention, she suggests, is to be a tourist in one’s own life and to never be at home. “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world." In the videos here, see and hear Oliver read “The Summer Day,” “Wild Geese,” “Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night,” “Night and the River” (above) and "Many Miles."

Oliver was an artist, says Franklin, “interested in following her own path, both spiritually and poetically,” and in her work she will continue to inspire her readers to do the same. These readings will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Vintage Geological Maps Get Turned Into 3D Topographical Wonders

What good is an old-fashioned map in the age of apps?

One need not be a mountaineer, geoscientist, or civil engineer to get the topographical lay of the land with a speed and accuracy that would have blown Lewis and Clark’s minds’ right through the top of the lynx and otter toppers they took to wearing after their standard issue army lids wore out.

There’s still something to be said for the old ways, though.

Graphic designer Scott Reinhard has all the latest technological advances at his disposal, but it took combining them with hundred-year-old maps for him to get a truly 3-D appreciation for locations he has visited around the United States, as well as his childhood home.

A son of Indiana, Reinhard told Colossal’s Kate Sierzputowski that he found some Grand Teton-type excitement in the notoriously flat Hoosier State once he started marrying official national geospatial data to vintage map designs:

 When I began rendering the elevation data for the state, the story of the land emerged. The glaciers that receded across the northern half of the state after the last ice age scraped and gouged and shaped the land in a way that is spectacularly clear…I felt empowered by the ability to collect and process the vast amounts of information freely available, and create beautiful images.

(The government shut-down has not damaged the accuracy of Reinhard’s maps, but the U.S. Geological Survey’s website does warn the public that the effects of any earthquakes or other force majeure occurring during this black-out period will not immediately be reflected in their topos.)

(Nor are they able to respond to any inquiries, which puts a damper on holiday weekend plans for making salt dough maps, another Hoosier state fave, at least in 1974...)

As writer Jason Kottke notes, the shadows the mountains cast on the margins of Reinhard’s maps are a particularly effective optical trick.

You can see more of Reinhard’s digitally enhanced maps from the late 19th and early 20th-century, and order prints in his online shop.

via Kottke/Colossal

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City in February as host of  Theater of the Apes book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Hear the Sounds of the Actual Instruments for Which Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Handel Originally Composed Their Music

When we go to a concert of orchestral music today, we hear most every piece played on the same range of instruments — instruments we know and love, to be sure, but instruments designed and operated within quite strict parameters. The pleasing quality of the sounds they produce may make us believe that we're hearing everything just as the composer originally intended, but we usually aren't. To hear what the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Haydn would have had in their head as they composed back in their day, you'd have to have an orchestra go so far as to play it not with modern instruments, but the same ones orchestras used back in those composers' lifetimes.

Enter London's Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, which takes its name from the era of the late 18th century from which it draws most of its repertoire — and from which it draws most of its instruments, a vital part of its mission to achieve period-accurate sound. You can read more about the OAE's instruments on its web site, or better yet, head over to its Youtube channel to hear those instruments demonstrated and their historical backgrounds explained. Here we have four of the OAE's videos: on the clarinet they use for Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, on the contrabassoon they use for Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Haydn's Creation, the organ they use for Handel's Organ Concerto, and an oboe like the one Haydn would have known.

"We love the music we play," says OAE double bassist Cecelia Bruggemeyer, "and we love asking questions about the music we play." So when you use an instrument like the 300-year-old bass she shows off in another video, "you suddenly find it doesn't necessarily do the things a modern instrument will do, and that sets up a whole train of questions." These include, "What would Bach have heard? How might the players in his day have played? What does that mean for us, playing today? What does that mean for live music now, with this historic information? We're not trying to re-create the past. We're trying to make something that's exciting now but using what was from the past" — not a bad metaphor, come to think of it, for the entire enterprise of classical-music performance in the 21st century.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Behold Moebius’ Many Psychedelic Illustrations of Jimi Hendrix


The 1995 release of posthumous Jimi Hendrix compilation Voodoo Soup has divided fans and critics for over two decades now. But whatever its merits, its cover art should hold an honored place in every Hendrix fan’s collection. Drawn by the legendary cult comic artist Moebius from a photograph of Hendrix eating soup in France , it captures the sound Hendrix was moving toward at the end of his life—his head exploding in flames, or mushroom clouds, or pink psychedelic bronchial tubes. The image comes from a larger gatefold, excerpted below, which Moebius drew for the French double LP Are You Experienced/Axis: Bold as Love in 1975.

Journalist Jean-Nöel Coghe was supposedly very upset that he did not even receive mention for taking the original photo, but in the nineties he and Moebius came together again for a project that would do them both credit, a book called Emotions électriques that Coghe wrote of his experiences traveling through France as Hendrix’s guide during the Experience’s first tour of the country in 1967.

Moebius provided the book's illustrations, many of which you can see below, “each of them,” as the publisher's description has it, “imagining Hendrix in a classic Moebius landscape of dreams.”

 

Obviously a huge Hendrix fan, Moebius is in many ways as responsible for the psychedelic space race of the 1970s as the guitarist himself. His work in the French comic magazine Métal hurlantHeavy Metal in the American version—epitomized the sci-fi and fantasy elements that came to dominate heavy rock. His work with Alejandro Jodorowsky on the Chilean visionary filmmaker’s aborted Dune is the stuff of legend.

Moebius had illustrated album covers since the early seventies, mostly those of European artists. But his creations as a magazine and comics illustrator (and film scenarist) have the most enduring appeal for much the same reason as Hendrix’s music. They are both unparalleled masters and natural storytellers whose imagined worlds are so richly detailed and consistently surprising they have birthed entire genres. The two may have crossed paths too late to actually work together, but I like to think Moebius carried on the spirit of Hendrix in a visual form.

It may not be common knowledge that Hendrix hated his album covers, leaving detailed notes about them for his record company, who ignored them. His own choices, one must admit, including a Linda McCartney photo for the cover of Electric Ladyland that makes the band look like they’re on the set of a proto-Sesame Street, do not exactly sell the records’ treasures. But Jimi might have loved Moebius’ interpretations of his headspace, a visual continuation of a prominent strand of Hendrix's imagination. See all of Moebius' Hendrix illustrations here.

 

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Page of Madness: The Lost, Avant Garde Masterpiece from Early Japanese Cinema (1926)

It’s a sad fact that the vast majority of silent movies in Japan have been lost thanks to human carelessness, earthquakes and the grim efficiency of the United States Air Force. The first films of hugely important figures like Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, and Hiroshi Shimizu have simply vanished. So we should consider ourselves fortunate that Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Kuretta Ippei -- a 1926 film known in the States as A Page of Madness -- has somehow managed to survive the vagaries of fate. Kinugasa sought to make a European-style experimental movie in Japan and, in the process, he made one of the great landmarks of silent cinema. You can watch it above.

Born in 1896, Kinugasa started his adult life working as an onnagata, an actor who specializes in playing female roles. In 1926, after working for a few years behind the camera under pioneering director Shozo Makino, Kinugasa bought a film camera and set up a lab in his house in order to create his own independently financed movies. He then approached members of the Shinkankaku (new impressionists) literary group to help him come up with a story. Author Yasunari Kawabata wrote a treatment that would eventually become the basis for A Page of Madness.

Though the synopsis of the plot doesn’t really do justice to the movie -- a retired sailor who works at an insane asylum to care after his wife who tried to kill their child -- the visual audacity of Page is still startling today. The opening sequence rhythmically cuts between shots of a torrential downpour and gushing water before dissolving into a hallucinatorily odd scene of a young woman in a rhomboid headdress dancing in front of a massive spinning ball. The woman is, of course, an inmate at the asylum dressed in rags. As her dance becomes more and more frenzied, the film cuts faster and faster, using superimpositions, spinning cameras and just about every other trick in the book.

While Kinugasa was clearly influenced by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which also visualizes the inner world of the insane, the movie is also reminiscent of the works of French avant-garde filmmakers like Abel Gance, Russian montage masters like Sergei Eisenstein and, in particular, the subjective camerawork of F. W. Murnau in Der Letzte Mann. Kinugasa incorporated all of these influences seamlessly, creating an exhilarating, disturbing and ultimately sad tour de force of filmmaking. The great Japanese film critic Akira Iwasaki called the movie “the first film-like film born in Japan.”

When A Page of Madness was released, it played at a theater in Tokyo that specialized in foreign movies. Page was indeed pretty foreign compared to most other Japanese films at the time. The movie was regarded, film scholar Aaron Gerow notes, as "one of the few Japanese works to be treated as the 'equal' of foreign motion pictures in a culture that still looked down on domestic productions." Yet it didn’t change the course of Japanese cinema, and it was thought of as a curiosity at a time when most films in Japan were kabuki adaptations and samurai stories.

Page disappeared not long after its release and, for over 50 years, was thought lost until Kinugasa found it in his own storehouse in 1971. During that time Kinugasa received a Palme d’Or and an Oscar for his splashy samurai spectacle The Gate of Hell (1953) and Kawabata, who wrote the treatment, got a Nobel Prize in Literature for writing books like Snow Country about a lovelorn geisha.

You can find A Page of Madness on our list of Free Silent Films, which is part of our collection,  1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

An Animated History of Cheese: 10,000 Years in Under Six Minutes

We can now eat cheese nearly anywhere in the world, and most world cuisines seem to have found — to varying degrees of success — ways of working the stuff into their native dishes. But if cheese has gone and continues to go global, from where did its journey begin? The TED-Ed video above can tell you that and more, having been written by University of Vermont professor of nutrition and food sciences Paul Kindstedt, author of Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization. Titled "A Brie(f) History of Cheese," it begins in 8000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent and arrives at our avidly cheese-eating present in under six minutes.

Humanity's discovery of cheese happened not long after its implementation of agriculture. Left under the sun, the milk of domesticated animals would separate into a liquid, which we now call whey, and solids, called curds. These curds, says Kindstedt, "became the building blocks of cheese, which would eventually be aged, pressed, ripened, and whizzed into a diverse cornucopia of dairy delights."

Cheese gained popularity quickly enough to become a standard commodity, even a staple, throughout the eastern Mediterranean by the end of the Bronze Age. In the fullness of time, regional variations developed, from the hard, sun-dried Mongolian byaslag to Egyptian goat's-milk cottage cheese to south Asian paneer.

Some populations, of course, have an easier time eating cheese than others, and some individuals simply don't like it. But examined closely, few foods reveal as much about humanity's long efforts to nourish itself with as much efficiency and variety as possible as cheese does. "Today, the world produces roughly 22 billion kilograms of cheese a year," says Kindstedt, "shipped and produced around the globe. But 10,000 years after its invention, local farms are still following in the footsteps of their Neolithic ancestors, hand-crafting one of humanity's oldest and favorite foods." And the more you appreciate that fact — learnable in greater depth in the accompanying TED-Ed lesson, the harder time you'll have, say, turning down the cheese course when next you dine at a French restaurant. Cheese may be rich, but it's rich not least in history.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

An Ancient Egyptian Homework Assignment from 1800 Years Ago: Some Things Are Truly Timeless

Every generation of schoolchildren no doubt first assumes homework to be a historically distinct form of punishment, developed expressly to be inflicted on them. But the parents of today's miserable homework-doers also, of course, had to do homework themselves, as did their parents' parents. It turns out that you can go back surprisingly far in history and still find examples of the menace of homework, as far back as ancient Egypt, a civilization from which one example of an out-of-classroom assignment will go on display at the British Library's exhibition Writing: Making Your Mark, which opens this spring.

"Beginning with the origins of writing in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and the Americas, the exhibition will explore the many manifestations, purposes and forms of writing, demonstrating how writing has continually enabled human progress and questioning the role it plays in an increasingly digital world," says the British Library's press release.

"From an ancient wax tablet containing a schoolchild’s homework as they struggle to learn their Greek letters to a Chinese typewriter from the 1970s, Writing: Making Your Mark will showcase over 30 different writing systems to reveal that every mark made – whether on paper or on a screen – is the continuation of a 5,000 year story and is a step towards determining how writing will be used in the future."

That wax tablet, preserved since the second century A.D., bears Greek words that Livescience's Mindy Weisberger describes as "familiar to any kid whose parents worry about them falling in with a bad crowd": "You should accept advice from a wise man only" and "You cannot trust all your friends." First acquired by the British Library in 1892 but not publicly displayed since the 1970s, the tablet's surface preserves "a two-part lesson in Greek that provides a snapshot of daily life for a pupil attending primary school in Egypt about 1,800 years ago." Its lines, "copied by this long-ago student were not just for practicing penmanship; they were also intended to impart moral lessons."

But why Greek? "In the 2nd century A.D., when this lesson was written," writes Smithsonian.com's Jason Daley, "Egypt had been under Roman rule for almost 200 years following 300 years of Greek and Macedonian rule under the Ptolemy dynasty. Greeks in Egypt held a special status below Roman citizens but higher than those of Egyptian descent. Any educated person in the Roman world, however, would be expected to know Latin, Greek and — depending on where they lived — local or regional languages." It was a bit like the situation today with the English language, which has become a requirement for educated people in a variety of cultures — and a subject especially loathed by many a homework-burdened student the world over.

via Livescience

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

America at War: Infographic Reveals How the U.S. Military Is Operating in 40% of the World’s Nations

Earlier this month, NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin ended a 30-year career as a journalist, announcing in a “scathing letter,” Democracy Now! reports, that “he would be leaving the network. Arkin accuses “the media of warmongering while ignoring the, quote, ‘creeping fascism of homeland security.’” He does not equivocate in a follow-up interview with Amy Goodman. “The generals and the national security leadership" are also now, he says, “the commentators and the analysts who populate the news media” (Arkin himself is a former Army intelligence officer).

The problem isn’t only NBC, in his estimation, and it isn’t only supposed journalists cheerleading for war. Most of the conflicts the country is currently engaged in are un- or under-reported in major sources. His letter “applies to all of the mainstream networks, applies to CNN and Fox, as well…. We’ve just become so shallow that we’re not really able even to see the truth, which is that we’re at war right now in nine countries around the world where we’re bombing, and we hardly report any of it on a day-to-day basis.”

This isn’t the case with independent media organizations like Democracy Now!, The Intercept, or Airwars. Secular and religious refugee relief organizations like the International Rescue Committee, World Relief, or Muslim Global Relief are paying attention. Many of these organizations are non-U.S.-based or connected to the “civilian experts” Arkin says once appeared regularly in the national media and represented opposing views, “people who might be university professors or activists… or experts who were associated with think tanks.”

Airwars, affiliated with the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, has monitored conflicts around the world since 2014, with extensive coverage and records of alleged civilian deaths, military reports, and the names of victims. For a comparable U.S.-focused deep dive, see the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs. The project’s website not only tracks the enormous economic costs of wars in the Middle East and Africa since 9/11; it also tracks “the human toll,” as you can see in the video below.

At the top of the post, see a map (view in a larger format here) from the Cost of War Project’s Stephanie Savell, 5W Infographics, and the Smithsonian of all the regions where the U.S. is “combatting terrorism.” While most of the media orgs and non-profits mentioned above would probably dispute the use of that term in some or all of the conflict zones, Savell sticks with the official language to describe the situation—one in which the nation “is now operating in 40 percent of the world’s nations," as she writes at Smithsonian.com.

Maybe no one needs an editorial to imagine the enormous toll this level of military engagement has taken over the course of 17 years since the inception of the “Global War on Terror.” The map covers the past two, illustrating “80 countries, engaged through 40 U.S. military bases,” and conducting training, exercises, active combat, and air and drone strikes on six continents. The selections, writes Savell, are “conservative,” and sourced from both independent and mainstream media outlets and international government and military sources.

“The most comprehensive depiction in civilian circles of U.S. military and government antiterrorist actions overseas,” the America at War map provides information we don't often get in our daily—or hourly, or by-the-minute—diet of news. "Contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down.” It is expanding. Given the country’s history of sustained mass movements against legally suspect, grossly expensive wars with high civilian casualties, disease epidemics, starvation, and refugee crises, one would think that a sizable segment of the population would want to know what their country's military and civilian defense contractors are doing around the world.

via Smithsonian.com

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Stephen Fry Narrates Two Animated Videos Explaining How Fear, Loathing & Misinformation Drove the Brexit Campaign

For millions watching in the UK and around the world, anticipating the looming Brexit deadline over the past two years has been like watching the slowest train wreck in history. But for those not following the coverage daily, the impending UK secession from the European Union is mystifying. Just how many trains are there, and where are they coming from, and how fast, exactly, are they going?

From the future of food and drug imports, to the status of the “currently invisible” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to all of the legal minutiae no one mentioned during the campaign, the consequences of the recent failure of a Brexit deal could be disastrous. Were “leave” campaigners honest in their sale of Brexit to the voters? Did they have any idea how such a thing would work? Ample evidence shows the answer to both questions is an unqualified No.

The Vote Leave campaign director now describes the referendum as a “dumb idea.” Wealthy UK residents, including many a Brexit politician, are fast moving their assets out of the country. So how did Brexit get sold to voters if it’s such a potential catastrophe? The usual methods worked quite well, Stephen Fry explains in the video above.

By stoking xenophobic fears over migrants and refugees, Brexiteers, he says, created “false assumptions about the EU, some very dark, and some comical.” They were assisted in conjuring a “mythical EU dragon” by tabloid journalists who called migrants “cockroaches” and “feral humans.” Rhetoric indistinguishable from Nazi propaganda drove a spike in hate crimes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Despite the insistence of many voters that their choice was not driven by racial animus, the Brexit campaign, like the Trump campaign, Fry says above, undeniably was. The consequences of these votes for migrant workers and refugees speak for themselves. In the UK, Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies have deprived British citizens from migrant families of livelihoods and safety. Some have faced threats of deportation, a situation similar to that facing the children of Vietnam War refugees in the US.

Fry calls for identifying a “new enemy” of the people: misleading information like the false claim that the NHS would save 350 million pounds a week after Brexit and the repeated lies in the U.S. about undocumented immigrants, crime, and terrorism. “Perception of crime levels,” he says, “has become completely detached from reality,” especially since the biggest security threats come from hate crimes and right-wing violence, a situation reported on, warned about, and ignored, for several years.

As in the US, so in the UK: relentlessly repeated claims about “invasions” has created a very hostile environment for millions of people. Are the facts likely to sway those voters who were carried away by excesses of hate and fear? Probably not. But those who care about the truth should pay attention to Fry's debunking. The facts about immigration and other issues used to sell far right policies and politicians, as he outlines in these videos, are entirely different than what Brexit leaders and their counterparts in the US want the public to believe.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness





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