Trump under fire for threat to Iranian cultural sites

US President Donald Trump has faced growing criticism over his threats to attack Iran’s cultural sites.

Mr Trump made the threats amid fallout from the US assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

The president said cultural sites were among 52 identified Iranian targets that could be attacked if Iranians “torture, maim and blow up our people”.

But the UN’s cultural organisation and UK foreign secretary were among those to note that such sites were protected.

The US and Iran have signed conventions to protect cultural heritage, including during conflict. Military attacks targeting cultural sites are considered war crimes under international law.

Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday on the orders of Mr Trump. The killing has sharply increased regional tensions, with Iran threatening “severe revenge”.

What were the president’s threats?

The first came in a series of tweets on Saturday.

Mr Trump said the US had identified 52 Iranian sites, some “at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture”, and warned they would be “hit very fast and hard” if Tehran carried out revenge attacks on US interests or personnel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to try to soften the threat by saying the US would act within international law.

But the president later repeated his threat, saying: “They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people – and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

On Monday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway defended the president, saying he had not said he was targeting cultural sites, only “asking the question”.

She also said: “Iran has many strategic military sites that you may cite are also cultural sites”, before later clarifying her remark to say she was not suggesting Iran had camouflaged military targets as cultural sites.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper was later asked if the US would target cultural sites, and said: “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”

When asked if that meant no, “because targeting a cultural site is a war crime?”, he responded: “That’s the laws of armed conflict.”

What criticism did his comments draw?

The director general of the UN’s cultural organisation, Unesco, Audrey Azoulay, said both Iran and the US had signed a 1972 convention to protect the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

They have also both signed a 1954 convention protecting cultural property in the event of armed conflict. Mr Trump withdrew the US from Unesco in 2018, citing alleged anti-Israeli bias.

US Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy said Mr Trump was “threatening to commit war crimes”, echoing similar statements by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said cultural sites were protected by international law, and Britain expected that to be respected.

The guy is a raving lunatic. You don’t attack cultural sites.

Inflatable extras in Hollywood movies

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is expensive and extras are difficult to handle, besides costing money. The Inflatable Crowd Company offers the alternative – plastic, inflatable mannequins, thirty thousands of them for use in movies where a large crowd is required. The company was formed in 2002 for creating crowd scenes for the Hollywood movie Sea Biscuit. Their inflatable crowd have since appeared in over 80 feature films including many memorable ones like The King’s Speech, Frost/Nixon, American Gangster, Spiderman 3 and many more. These plastic men and women were featured in many TV shows and commercials as well.

Blow up dolls are taken from their boxes and inflated for shooting in a commercial.

 

The dolls are then dressed. They still don’t have faces. These along with wig, hat etc. are fitted later.

 

 

A scene on the set of the movie American Gangster with 1,500 Inflatables.

A scene on the set of the movie Cinderella Man with 11,000 Inflatables.

A scene on the set of the movie We Are Marshall with 2,400 Inflatables.

A scene on the set of the movie The Changeling with 400 Inflatables.

A scene on the set of the movie Glory Road with 4,000 Inflatables.

550 inflatable dolls getting prepared for a scene in the movie Angels & Demons.

The KGB planned to assassinate John Wayne

How John Wayne Got Rid of the KGB Agents Hired to Kill Him

It seems like so many dictators just love movies. We all do, but absolute power takes it to a whole new level. Gaddafi had a channel set up just to play his favorite movie – his one favorite movie. Kim Jong-Il kidnapped his favorite actors and actresses to star in North Korea’s movies. Then, of course, the next natural step for these guys is directing movies.

Kim Jong-Il made several films. Benito Mussolini pitched to Columbia pictures. And even Saddam Hussein made a $30 million war epic. But Joseph Stalin was the Soviet Union’s “ultimate censor.”

At the time, global Communism was still very much a growing threat, one Stalin wanted to continue to spread around the world – under Soviet leadership.

He saw how much power and influence films – and the stars in them – held over large audiences. He saw it in Nazi German propaganda during the Second World War and he used it effectively himself to further his own personality cult.

So when he saw John Wayne’s power as an virulent anti-Communist on the rise, he ordered the actor killed and then sent (allegedly) more than one hit squad to do the job. He saw the Duke as a threat to the spread of Communism around the world – and especially in America.

According to the book John Wayne – The Man Behind The Myth, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov told Wayne of the KGB plot in 1949. What the Duke and his Hollywood friends did to the hit squad is mind blowing.

Obviously not one to let a thing like Communist assassins get him down, Wayne and his scriptwriter Jimmy Grant allegedly abducted the hitmen, took them to the beach, and staged a mock execution. No one knows exactly what happened after that, but Wayne’s friends say the Soviet agents began to work for the FBI from that day on.

But there were other incidents. The book also alleges KGB agents tried to take the actor out on the set of 1953’s Hondo in Mexico. A captured sniper in Vietnam claimed that he was hired by Chairman Mao to take the actor out on a visit to troops there.

Stalin died in 1953. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, met privately with John Wayne in 1958 and informed him that the order had been rescinded. Wayne told his friends Khrushchev called Stalin’s last years his “mad years” and apologized.

The entire time Wayne knew there was a price on his head, he refused the FBI’s offer of federal protection and didn’t even tell his family. He just moved into a house with a big wall around it. Once word got out, though, Hollywood stuntmen loyal to the Duke began to infiltrate Communist Party cells around the country and expose plots against him.

Wayne never spoke of the incidents publicly.