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The last artist in the Phantom Army

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The obituaries of the most prestigious American newspapers reflect these days of the death of Gilbert Seltzer at the age of 106 in August. Seltzer was part of a wonderful gang of fraudsters, so to speak, which contributed to the final victory of the Allies against the German army. It was about turning artistic prowess into another weapon. Seltzer, who was an architect by profession, became a lieutenant in the 603rd Battalion of Camouflage Engineers. In his ranks and under his command there were publicists, artists, illustrators and architects. And even some characters who would later succeed in the realm of creation. The fashion designer Bill Blass, the photographer Art Kane and the painter Ellsworth Kelly are certainly among the most creative soldiers in the history of armed conflict.

They were all part of the Special Forces at Headquarters 23, a secret unit of a thousand soldiers. These men had to create the illusion that they were really thirty thousand American troops and were where they couldn’t be. After the war, the unit became known as the Phantom Army and Seltzer was the last survivor.

At night they wandered through wooded areas and circulated in France, Belgium and Germany. Each battalion had a specific mission. Some were responsible for the noise. They reproduced the typical noise of troop movements, the engine of vehicles and the rumble of tanks over loudspeakers. Also the noise when building large infrastructures such as bridges and roads. The people in the surrounding villages were convinced that they had seen them when they heard the excitement. “The imagination is incredible,” said Seltzer once, still fascinated by the ingenuity of the mission and its powerful effects. They also created radio messages with fictitious operations that could easily be intercepted by German soldiers. The Phantom Army even had a huge clothing department with different types of uniforms from several regiments, so some soldiers disguised themselves in these clothes and walked through strategically selected villages waiting for local spies to convey their presence to the Germans which was evidence of a lot.

The Phantom Army operated in 1944 and 45. Only three members were killed and thirty others were wounded. A relatively small number of victims because they didn’t have to be on the front lines and because the authenticity of their staging often frightened the enemy. Their large-scale replicas, inspired by artistic strategies successfully used in previous wars, made it possible to move anti-aircraft batteries to more urgent locations, replacing them with plastic batteries to make them believe they had not withdrawn from the war zone. From a distance, inflatable tanks with German aerial reconnaissance systems looked real.

The battlefield became a stage and part of the war became a great theater. It was about fooling the enemy’s eye and, in fact, art has tried to do so throughout its history. He is obsessed with playing with perspective and creating illusions in the viewer. Although he didn’t appear in art books, Seltzer was the last artist of World War II.


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    Almeida seeks the love of the riding circle

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    During his visit to Barcelona, ​​the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, only interrupts the laudation of the President of the Círculo Ecuestre, Antonio Delgado, when he declares that he is single but has 17 nephews. “He emphasizes that I’m single, let’s see if …” says Almeida. “There are a lot of pretty girls here,” Delgado replied helpfully. But Almeida did not come to Barcelona in search of love, although the applause of those present caught more than one of the speech of the mayor of Madrid and would not mind changing it for his current mayor.

    Almeida breaks out into this disillusionment with the city of Círculo Ecuestre audiences and feeds the story of the “decline” of the Catalan capital, which says it lost the character of a “cosmopolitan, dynamic and open” city that it did in the 1980s Years and nineties when it was the “most modern” city in the state. According to Almeida, this role will now be taken over by Madrid, which will take advantage of the gifts of Barcelona as well as, ironically, Atlético de Madrid won the last league. “Thanks to Barça; nothing would have been possible without Luis Suárez,” said Almeida. mattress confessed and that despite the pessimistic history with the city, the laughter of the public has been won.

    Almeida, who cited the 1992 Olympics as the culmination of Barcelona he admired, now says Madrid “runs like a shot” and gives his recipe for regaining the Catalan capital: incorporating liberal policies in Catalonia as the key to success : “We [els polítics] What we have to do is not make the effort and create a framework, ”he says. Applause can be heard here again, and the word appears in the subconscious of those present freedom. “In Madrid no one has ever told me what to do. Nobody comes from Madrid except the one who decides to become one and nobody stops them.” Freedom but control, especially in public order, as “a safe city is a reliable city”. Those present responded again with applause.

    And he gives further advice, such as not to have “given up” the investment in El Prat Airport or to have revoked the license of the Hotel Four Seasons in 2017. You in Madrid are “very satisfied” with your Four Seasons. He says all of this under the watchful eye of Barcelona’s first deputy mayor Jaume Collboni – there was also the PP leadership in Catalonia. And he praises the relationship with Barcelona City Council – which, he says, is sometimes underground but efficient. Barcelona and Madrid must, in his opinion, have a relationship of “competitive dialogue”. But are they equal? Almeida is not against decentralization, but refuses, for example, for institutions such as the Constitutional Court to leave the Spanish capital.

    The conversation is with the journalist from La Vanguardia Enric Juliana, that discuteix el relat que Madrid guanya la partida in Barcelona amb dades sobre inversions that demonstrate that the capital city Catalana segueix per sobre de l’espanyola and various aspects. And he asks if the triumphant vision of Madrid is imposed by a question of attitudes. Almeida does not deny this and admits that in several places they see Madrid as the administrative capital and Barcelona as the actual capital. “The goal is to get them to change their mind,” he says, agreeing that the Olympics wouldn’t go wrong at all to get it.

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    Less than 30% of the medical subjects at UIB are taught in Catalan

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    PalmaCatalan is a minority in medicine at the University of the Balearic Islands: only 26% of subjects are taught in Catalan. This is a fact that the language platform is saving from the latest survey in the university community and the one within theInfoCAT 2021which was presented in Barcelona this Wednesday.

    “In this context, it is difficult for future doctors to acquire and use medical terms in Catalan, or for the medical community to develop a scientific language specializing in the islands’ own language, an essential prerequisite for making Catalan a lively and useful one Language is used in the fields of medicine and research, “emphasizes the platform.

    theInformeCAT, which takes an X-ray of the situation of the Catalan language in the Catalan countries, contains 49 other indicators that, according to the Catalan NGO, show “the linguistic distress we are in”. And the fact is that in the linguistic field only 32.4% of the population speak Catalan.

    In the Balearic Islands, this value increases slightly to 36.8%. Entre els joves d’entre 15 i 29 anys, per cada jove castellanoparlant que parla en català habitualment hi ha 7,5 joves catalanoparlants que adopten el castellà com a llengua habitual, afirma l’estudi amb dades de la darrera Survey on language usage, compiled from 2014. Another noteworthy piece of information is that only 19% of sixth graders in elementary school have a high level of Catalan.

    Linguistic discrimination

    Of the 245 linguistic discrimination in the hands of the public administrations of the Catalan-speaking areas that the language platform collected between 2007 and 2020, 41 occurred in the hospital and health sector, ie 17%. In 2020, which was marked by the pandemic, 12 of the 53 collected discriminations occurred in this area, 23%.

    On the other hand, the platform highlights that the number of complaints they have received about discrimination has increased by 229% since 2013. Eight years ago 396 complaints were received; this year there are 1,303. They believe that this increase has to do with the fact that the entity has become better known and that there is more “linguistic militancy” in the population.

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    The Portuguese parliament rejects the socialist budget and leads the country to early elections

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    BarcelonaThere were no surprises in Portugal. Parliament on Wednesday overturned the budget proposal put forward by the Socialist Party (PS), which rules in the minority and failed to convince its left allies to avoid a failure that is pushing the country to early elections. Despite calls to change the opposing positions of the Bloc d’Esquerra (BE) and the Communist Party (PCP), the majority of MPs rejected the bill, which received 108 votes (from the socialists). five abstentions (the animal rights activist PAN and two non-attached MPs) and 117 votes against. There was no “steering wheel” or “black magic” – terms used in the Portuguese press to refer to statements made by political leaders in recent days – that could save the accounts. The outcome of the vote is historic: it is the first time a budget presented by a government elected in the elections fails.

    The socialist executive has stressed that the country’s situation has improved since the agreement In 2015 he overthrew the conservative government of Pedro Passos Coelho. Finance Minister João Leão recalled that six years ago the unemployment rate was 13% and had fallen to 6%. “From budget to budget we have won the trust of the Portuguese,” said the minister, who in the early hours of the morning was still “hoping” and considered it a priority to “reach a consensus on the country’s balance”.

    But there was no script twist. The communists, who called for more courageous social measures, especially in the case of wage increases, justified the fact that they could not leave the country “to their fate”, while the left bloc decided that “the lowonça – Name baptized the 2015 Socialist, BE and PCP agreement – died of obsession [del PS] with an absolute majority “. -off agreements instead of a government agreement with the two left parties, as they had done four years earlier after the overthrow of the Conservative Executive Director of Pedro Passos Coelho.

    “Peace of Mind”

    “The government emerges from this vote with a clear conscience and a good head,” said Prime Minister António Costa in his last speech in the House of Commons, in which he reiterated his efforts to reach an agreement. “I have done everything in my power to ensure the sustainability of this budget without accepting what I believe the country cannot,” he added. After the defeat, he insisted that the government not resign and guarantee the country’s stability.

    The parliamentary debate has served to share blame and responsibility for the failure. Costa has criticized the BE for justifying its rejection of many issues that “have nothing to do with the budget”, such as the sustainability of pensions. It is not necessary for left parties to vote for the project, emphasized the Prime Minister: “It is enough that the left of the PS does not add its votes to the right.” However, the left bloc and the communist party have decided to profile and defend their priorities in order to convey the message to their voters that they are not subordinate to the socialists.

    The next steps are now in the hands of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who can dissolve parliament and call elections. The head of state made it clear on Monday that the only alternative to a budget rejection is to advance the election. Costa had suggested a third option to continue to rule through legal channels in such cases. This is not an extension of the accounts, but allows a dozen of the running 2021 budget to be used each month as long as there isn’t a new one. This was not feasible in the first year of post-pandemic reconstruction as it would mean that the funds from the European economic recovery plan could not be used.

    Leadership crisis on the right

    The prime minister said he felt “the joy of the right at the unexpected disruption of the political situation that began in 2015” and called for a “strongest and most stable majority” ahead of the next elections.

    The elections, which could take place in late January or early February, come at a delicate time for the leading opposition party, the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), which is in an internal crisis. The party’s current president, Rui Rio, will face MEP Paulo Rangel in a primary on December 4th. The decision has to be ratified at a party congress in January, a calendar that makes it difficult for the PSD when new elections are due at the beginning of the year. Just in case, Rio has used Parliament’s lectern to convince its people and has stressed the availability of the main opposition formation to govern: “The lowonça will be buried today “.

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