Archive for August, 2012

A NUN who has been superior at a Syrian monastery for the past 18 years has warned that media coverage of ongoing violence in that country has been “partial and untrue”. It is “a fake”, Mother Agnes Mariam said, which “hides atrocities committed in the name of liberty and democracy”.

Superior of the Melkite Greek Catholic monastery of St James the Mutilated in Qara, in Syria’s diocese of Homs, which is in full communion with Rome, she left Ireland yesterday after a three-day visit during which she met representatives of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth.

She told The Irish Times she was in Ireland “not to advocate for the (Assad) regime but for the facts”. Most news reports from Syria were “forged, with only one side emphasised”, she said. This also applied to the UN, whose reports were “one-sided and not worthy of that organisation”.

UN observers in Syria had been “moderate with the rebels and covered for them in taking back positions after the withdrawal of heavy equipment, as seen so tragically in Homs”, she said.

When it was put to her this suggested the whole world was out of step except for Syria, Russia and China, she protested: “No, no, there are 20 countries, including some in Latin America” of the same view.

The reason the media was being denied easy access to Syria currently was because in the Libyan conflict journalists placed electronic devices for Nato in rooms used at press conferences in that country, she said. “So Syria didn’t want journalists,” she said.

Christians make up about 10 per cent of Syria’s population, dispersed throughout the country, she said. The Assad regime “does not favour Christians”, she said. “It is a secular regime based on equality for all, even though in the constitution it says the Koran is the source of legislation.”

But “Christians are less put aside [in Syria] than in other Islamic countries, for example Saudi Arabia,” she said. “The social fabric of Syria is very diverse, so Christians live in peace.”

The “Arab insurrection” under way in that country included “sectarian factions which promote fundamentalist Islam, which is not genuine Islam”, she said.

The majority of Muslims in Syria are moderate and open to other cultural and interfaith elements, she said. “Wahhabism (a fundamentalist branch of Islam) is not open,” she added.

Christians in Syria were “doubtful about the future if the project to topple the regime succeeded”. The alternative was “a religious sectarian state where all minorities would feel threatened and discriminated against”, she said.

There was “a need to end the violence”, she said. “The West and Gulf states must not give finance to armed insurrectionists who are sectarian terrorists, most of whom are from al-Qaeda, according to a report presented to the German parliament,” she said.

“We don’t want to be invaded, as in Aleppo, by mercenaries, some of whom think they are fighting Israel. They bring terror, destruction, fear and nobody protects the civilians,” she said. There were “very few Syrians among the rebels”, she said. “Mercenaries should go home,” she said.

What she and others sought in Syria was “reform, no violence, no foreign intervention.” She hoped for “a new, third way, a new social pact where the right to autodetermination without outside interference” would be respected. (Source: Irish Times)
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Posted: August 22, 2012 in Joe Giambrone
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Opening of DEAD LAKE is posted here.

 

Mordor D.C.

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Joe Giambrone
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Arnie Gunderson and Fairewinds explain the precarious state of the #4 pool at Fukushima.  One earthquake away from further radioactive disaster.

 

 

 

By Hugh Atkin:

 

Mitt is one of those dark, complicated indie film protagonists, who don’t make a lot of sense.

For real:

 

They think Youtube will allow them to advance their agenda of hatred against non-white, non-German people.  More here.  Did these assholes learn nothing in the 1940s?

 

Little mindless white boys with nothing to add to the world but irrational hatred and a clinging to racial purity.  Can such nonsense really prevail in this day and age?

Via Thnk Progress:

 

“See Them Burn! Hear Them Scream!”
The Most Sickening TV Show in History
by JOHN ESKOW

Surely we have reached some hideous moral low—if only a temporary one—when a TV “reality” show like NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” can reduce the blood-soaked, brain-spattered canvas of war to a feel-good athletic competition between washed-up actors, ex-jocks, and Todd Palin.

The show–which features skier Picabo Street actor Dean Cain, and a host of other musclebound nonentities—premiered last night. Before it even aired, it was reviled by Desmond Tutu and other bishops, which actually got me curious enough to tune in: I mean, what other cheesy reality show has been slammed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner?

It was hosted by Wesley Clark—to his eternal shame. After this debacle, I would imagine that he is no longer Michael Moore’s choice for President.

War’s had a grip on me recently, for two reasons. For one, I’m amazed by liberals’ silence about the ongoing slaughter conducted by their own favorite Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama. For another, this month marks the 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Richmond, in which my great-grandfather and namesake was grievously wounded and left for dead.

My full name is John Temple Eskow, and my forebear–Indiana farmer John Temple–was just one of 4,000 Union casualties in the battle, which is considered one of the biggest Confederate routs of the war. As it happens, I still possess my great-grandfather’s Union Army dogtags, his discharge papers, even the misshapen bullet that a battlefield medic dug out of his side. I keep these heirlooms of pain in a wooden cabinet near the TV, so that each time I looked up to watch Nick Lachey or Laila Ali pretending to be real-deal American soldiers–look at us jump from a helicopter! look at us wriggle in mud!–the tokens of my ancestor’s suffering were also in view.

John Temple, a young Indiana farmer, was so badly wounded that his regiment-mates were sure he’d die. In flight from the Confederates, they were forced to leave him alone in an abandoned one-room schoolhouse, delerious and hemmoraging. After a full day, he was overheard moaning by some other retreating troops; they carried him to a tributary of the Ohio River and hid him among bales of hay on a small barge floating north.

Several weeks later, when he finally staggered back to the farmhouse door in Crawfordsville, he’d become so gaunt, and looked so much older, that his wife had no idea who he was.

But gee, Laila Ali looks cute blowing up an empty guardhouse!

John Temple’s first-born son–my grandfather, also named John–was a doughboy in World War I, and his lungs were by scarred by mustard gas, so that every single breath he took, for eighty more years, tasted of death.

When World War II came, his firstborn son, also named John Temple–the one who taught my mother about art and poetry–wanted to defy family tradition by becoming a conscientious objector, volunteering instead to drive an ambulance on the battlefield. But he relented under my grandfather’s pressure, and became an Army pilot. His plane was sabotaged in an airfield in the Phillipines, and crashed in the ocean shortly after takeoff. His body was never recovered; my mother’s heart never recovered, either. His personal effects were not returned by the Army until 1964. When they arrived, my mother couldn’t bear to open the trunk; she asked me to do it instead. Inside the weatherbeaten trunk was his diary, and I followed the entries for 1944 as he wrote about his growing infatuation with a young Filipino girl on the base…and how he was tentatively, longingly, hoping to make love to her. Reading further, I realized that he was still a virgin. I kept turning pages, all of them filled with the ache of young romance, but then suddenly there were only empty blue pages…I had read right up to the morning of his death.

But look! Dean Cain is shooting at a slowly-moving target!

Still, my mother had one brother left–the second-born son, James–who also became a pilot, and a highly-decorated one, who received medals and national acclaim for safely landing a bomber full of explosives with his landing-gear locked. He was a prototype of the war hero that Stars Earns Stripes so cynically exploits.

One of the “technical advisors” on the show tries to fake aw-shucks modesty as he describes himself as “the sniper with the most confirmed kills” in US military history. Someone should tell him that one day he may yearn to surrender that title. Because even my uncle James–who’d thrown out his medals many years ago–spent his old age tormented by constant nightmares. “I see the Japanese soldiers–and just regular people–running on the hills under my plane…I drop the napalm on them…I see them burn..I keep hearing their screams.”

But Wesley Clark tells the celebrities: great job!

John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He can be reached at: johneskow –at– yahoo.com

Lauren (Short)

Posted: August 16, 2012 in -
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Part 1:

 

New Indiegogo campaign needs your help to raise $150k for production in the next couple of weeks.  Mariel Hemingway sets out to take on GMOs and Monsanto’s corruption.  Click over to join the effort.

 

“Hope Springs” (2012): Not Just Your Grandmother’s Rom-Com

by Jennifer Epps

In a genre continuously spewing out specimens, most of which are as indistinguishable from each other as they are distinguishable from reality, the romantic comedy feature Hope Springs is an anomaly worth paying attention to. It is unfortunate that Hope Springs bears the same title as a 2003 rom-com that received a paltry 25% on Rotten Tomatoes (from a pool of a mere 12 reviewers), and that search engines work rather bizarrely and keep dredging up the older movie. Because the new and unrelated film, released last Wednesday, currently holds a 78% on RT (from a pool of 100 critics). It is a chamber piece scripted by Vanessa Taylor and directed by David Frankel, and revolves around three characters: a couple married 31 years, played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, and their counselor Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell). The film also seems to have the famous sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s endorsement.

But despite its aging romantic leads and the support of an 84-year old psychiatrist, Hope Springs is far from old-fashioned or ‘retiring’. On the contrary, it is refreshingly bold and ahead of the pack in several ways. For one, it presents a female character who actually states what she needs, not just once but as often as it takes, and despite intimidating obstacles (her husband’s attitudes, primarily). And she doesn’t have to be a writhing nympho or a ball-breaking action heroine to do it. She’s quite ordinary, a conventionally-dressing wife and mom of ‘a certain age’, and she’s led a pretty timid life. But the problems in her marriage have reached their zenith, and she’s fed up.

Moreover, Kay and Arnold and Dr. Feld don’t just speak in vague, inoffensive generalities about ‘Love’ the way characters do in most ‘chick flicks’ that are not Sex and the City. They get quite technical – but in a way that is always related to how the characters feel about their sexuality. Unlike the raunch-comedy genre, that’s meant to make you laugh at dick jokes and gross-out humor by making you think “how outrageous!” and “how badly those bros behave!”, Hope Springs scores its points by being honest about the characters’ moments of dismay, embarrassment, and insecurity.

Most unusual of all, it’s a movie with romantic leads who are well beyond middle age. They even have several (PG-13) sex scenes. One of which is actually female masturbation! Kudos to Meryl Streep, I say. Both Streep and Jones know that these scenes are probably not going to go viral as erotic videoclips. Their attraction to the material — and Streep attached herself to it early on, before it had backing – was probably because, as the superb character actors that they are, they could recognize a revealing investigation of human behavior when they saw one. The fact that it’s a facet of human behavior overlooked in an age group that Hollywood all but puts out on an ice floe and sends out to sea was probably impossible to resist.

Now, Hope Springs is unmistakably a mainstream film and a comedy. There’s no chance of confusing it with a raw, harrowing, dysfunctional-relationship drama like Blue Valentine, Closer, or We Don’t Live Here Anymore. Arnold and Kay are not themselves sick, even if their marriage is ailing — their normalcy, and the lack of shame in seeking counseling, is part of the message of the movie. Yes, you can see where it’s headed from the outset: just as the late Nora Ephron’s script for When Harry Met Sally signaled from the initial meet-cute scene that the dramatic question to be solved would be “Can men and women be friends?”, Hope Springs lets the viewer know almost immediately that it will be organized around the question “Can marriages change?” And we’re not exactly astonished when we can predict the answer.

But the assurance this movie takes from knowing what it’s about is palpable. This is screenwriter Taylor’s first produced feature and according to her it took some revising by her — and advising from others — to pare the script down so cleanly to just the nuts and bolts of the principals’ relationship. Though rom-coms are frequently buoyed by quirky supportive characters, this one features only a handful of day-players with just a couple of lines each; the film has a laser focus on its triumvirate of star leads and on its therapy and make-out sessions. This streamlining and Frankel’s succinct, unfussy direction pay off.

The high-powered cast invests emotionally despite the discomfort. Jones is not afraid to wallow in his character’s locked-in curmudgeonly-ness; weaker actors shy away from alienating an audience, but Jones is on Arnold’s side, like a good actor should be. Streep, who worked under Frankel’s direction before on The Devil Wears Prada, has plumbed the kind of woman that Kay is and internalized what makes her tick. (Hint: it’s very different from what made her last film role, Margaret Thatcher, tick.) Carrell – who long ago proved that a background in parody or satire doesn’t necessarily limit a comedian to oversized performances – is excellent at listening and cogitating, saying much with the flicker of an eyelid or the corner of a smile.

In a Q & A, Taylor explained the genesis of the script. Though she is only in her 30’s, she was writing about something with strong personal meaning for her, not specifically to pay tribute to an older generation but because she wanted to write about difficulties with intimacy and she saw how the challenges that any couple can face would be especially magnified with age.

Kay and Arnold’s issue, an enormous distance that has opened in their marriage, is one that a couple could experience at any age. Though Viagra, flab, and wrinkles are mentioned, the real issue is they’ve stopped communicating. In fact, as they limp painfully over the threshold of a real relationship, they discover there were some pretty fundamental things they had never communicated about in the first place.

For years, writing instructors have told their students to “write what you know.” Taylor has demonstrated that the adage can be phrased another way: “write what you feel.”

The packed screening I attended in Los Angeles was very eclectic in terms of age, gender, and race – only about 10% looked to be seniors – and yet the auditorium repeatedly erupted in gales of uproarious laughter over the tiniest line readings, gestures, or facial expressions. I think this shows that Hope Springs is going to be able to transcend the senior-discount demographic and find a general audience, even though there are quite a few people who have a knee-jerk prejudice against entertainment they perceive as geared to the blue-rinse set, to cite a pejorative term. Unfortunately, even some of the staunchest of liberals, concerned about homophobia, racism, sexism, anti-semitism, classism, and even speciesism, haven’t yet added ageism to their list. Part of that bias may derive from observable trends like older voters skewing Republican and socially conservative. But it is also likely to stem from the overall influence of a consumerist, high-tech, disposable culture which constantly equates newer with better.

Hope Springs opens a crack in that mentality. The film is a clear and healthy reminder that everyone is interested in sex. Without being preachy, this rom-com can make you realize how Hollywood’s emphasis on youth, high cheekbones, and well-defined abs keeps everybody down – even those who manage to fill the bill.

Journalist Adeemo Freeman prosecuted for investigating police brutality inside a high school (report).  Sentenced to one year in jail with five more years probation for recording police and school officials over the telephone and posting to youtube.  “Wiretapping” law used to prosecute journalist for asking valid questions about the abuse of a minor by a police officer in the Manchester West High School in New Hampshire.

Video with the so-called criminal wiretapping:

 

Video of alleged police brutality inside the school:

 

Accountability remains an historical artifact.  Citizens no longer have the right to gather newsworthy statements from “officials,” without risk of prison terms.