Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Will Smith made the bad list too

2016 was not Johnny Depp's year. 

He's number one on FORTUNE's list of overpaid actors in film.

Johnny had a very messy break up (as well as a so-so gangster movie whose drawing card was supposed to be him being bald).  He may bounce back next year, he may not.

But number two on the list?

Will Smith, who ranks second, has had a similarly poor run at the box office: He returned a dismal $5 at the ticket booths for every $1 he earned from his recent films. With Concussion, an Oscar nod evaded him and the movie barely met its $34 million production costs; Focus was a little better. Smith's outsized paydays, coupled with box office disappointments, translate to poor returns.

Will Smith had no messy break up.

He's got no excuses other than America's apparently bored with him still.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY covers the story and notes:

The resulting list includes leading men like Will Smith ($5/$1), Channing Tatum ($6/$1), Will Ferrell ($6.50/$1), and George Clooney ($6.70/$1). The only woman to make the top 10 is Julia Roberts, who came in ninth with $10.80 for every dollar, thanks to Mother’s Day and Money Monster.

Clooney's never been worth a nickel.

He can't deliver an audience.

At least Will Smith could once upon a time.

Will Ferrell is another one who could deliver an audience but now he's just too annoying.

I will state, on Julia Roberts, that she delivered a real performance in MONEY MONSTER.

It was a bad movie, but she was very good in it. (I reviewed it here.)

I like Channing Tatum but I'm not remembering seeing him in a film in 2016.

Okay, I looked up his filmography.

He really only had HAIL, CEASER! and was more of a bit part than a lead player in that.

Anyway, I like Channing.

I'm more apt to see him in a comedy but not when Clooney's in it.

I really can't stand Clooney.

Maybe when he comes out of the closet, I'll re-evaluate him.

But not now.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Mosul slog continues, where's that political solution, a veteran walks across America to raise awareness, a Canadian veteran is released from a KRG jail, the Matt Lee State Dept Press Corps laughs at teachers, and much more.

REUTERS reports that the Baghdad-based Iraqi government has approved the 2017 budget.

This is big news.

There were times under former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki that Iraq would be well into a calendar year and still have no approved budget.

The budget was not supported by the Kurds who note that their fighting force (the Peshmerga) and their government employees are not fully covered in the budget.

This is said to be punishment for the Kurds selling their own oil.

It may not be a success for the Kurds (and we'll certainly note any criticism they continue to offer of the budget) but in terms of Barack Obama-installed prime minister Hayder al-Abadi it is one thing he can call a success.

It may be the only thing -- but never say when didn't give him credit when he actually accomplished something.

And then there's Mosul.

On day 51 of the operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul, the slog continues.

And, please remember, the Islamic State took the city in June of 2014.

Only 51 days ago did the Iraqi government begin trying to move the Islamic State out.

Turns out the government of Iran was more strategic on the Mosul battle plan than the Iraqi government (or the US government) according to REUTERS.

How sad that something as basic as circling the city couldn't come to Hayder's mind (or his generals) during all this time.

How embarrassing for admirers of the Iraqi government that Iran was able to solve what Iraq could not.

More to the point, how embarrassing that even success in Mosul would mean so little.  Saad Aldouri (ANADOLU AGENCY) offers:

The campaign to liberate Mosul has seen an unprecedented coalition of military and paramilitary forces come together to fight ISIS [. . .], but so far this level of cooperation has not been reflected politically.
Without a comprehensive political settlement agreed upon by all invested political factions, any post-[Islamic State] setting in Iraq would be left extremely vulnerable to failure, which could bring catastrophic consequences with it.
The Iraqi government faces several challenges in setting aside vying political ambitions among competing interest groups involved in the fight against [Islamic State].
The early signs are that little progress has been made on this front, with high-profile Kurdish, Shia and Sunni leaders making contradictory statements on what governance structures and arrangements should be put in place.
If a sustainable victory against [Islamic State] is to be achieved, a political agreement over a roadmap for state re-building and reconciliation must be reached in the near future. Any long-lasting future solution must address fundamental issues to encourage greater social and economic inclusion among Iraq’s local populations.
And the above is accurate and true.
Where is that political solution?
It's the one US President Barack Obama insisted June 19, 2014 was the only solution for Iraq.
And nothing's been done on it.
But the White House continues to supply the government of Iraq with US troops and with weapons.

Turning to veterans . . .

This Iraq war veteran is walking nearly 6,000 miles from Maryland to California in search of hope and healing


Ben Bamsey (CNN) reports:

He was a combat veteran who had simply seen too much -- too many brother Marines dead on the battlefield in Iraq. When he came home he faced fresh battles: alcohol, arrests and a suicide attempt.
He chose a date that resonated -- and on September 11, 2015, Jonathan Hancock set out to prove that hurt would no longer define him.
Carrying 70 pounds of gear, he hit the road to walk 5,800 miles from Maryland to California and many backroads in between. He was searching for hope and healing. 

Some may remember Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum also hiked across America.


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes was a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues.  Hike for our Heroes has been replaced with Active Heroes.

That was in 2010.  In 2014, C.J. Lin (STARS AND STRIPES) reported what had happened since:

The journey spanned 7,800 miles, 37 states and 17 months. Hike for Heroes raised $1.3 million, which was distributed to help pay the bills of 1,800 military families, many of whom were about to have their homes foreclosed on, he said.
“Every step I took meant it would support veterans and their families,” he said. “It mostly centered around a lot of my (veteran) friends not being able to find good jobs to take care of their families and then getting behind. Luckily for me, just the hike across America raised so much awareness and funds for that cause that I felt like that was my reward.”
But just like that, the money was gone, and there were more struggling military veterans. Yocum couldn’t keeping hiking across America.

“I see so many Vietnam, Korean, World War II veterans who are wounded or disabled that are not necessarily tended to as much as the younger wounded veterans,” he said. “So we wanted to make sure that the new post-9/11 wounded veterans were going to be helped years and years and years down the road.”

I wish we had room to note all Active Heroes' "our story" statement but we will note this part:

Yocum came up with a plan to raise awareness and funds to help military families by hiking across America. He began the 17-month journey, dubbed the “Hike for Heroes”, on April 17, 2010 and finished more than 7,800 miles across 37 states on September 3rd, 2011. Yocum became the first veteran to ever walk the length of 3 times across America and was awarded the Citizen Honors Medal by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The hike garnered national attention for veteran suicide awareness, raised $1.3 million for military families and helped to create the charity named Active Heroes to continue a mission to end veteran suicide.
Since the inception of Active Heroes, the programs have adapted to identify the triggering points associated with veteran suicide. Active Heroes has national programs in every state and regional programs serving with locations.

  • Active Challenges – Free events, seminars and Team Leader trainings for every state.
  • Peer mentors, business partners and resources in every state
  • A Military Family Retreat Center located in Shepherdsville, KY
  • A Military Family Community Center in Louisville, KY

We'll try to note Active Heroes regularly in the future.  I did know it existed until  CNN's story about Jonathan Hancock made me think of Troy.

 Meanwhile, a Canadian veteran has been released in Iraq.

Link to headline article

VOCM explained yesterday, "Kay Kennedy has confirmed for VOCM News that her son, Michael, was released today.  Kennedy told VOCM that her son would not leave others he was travelling with when they were arrested for visa infractions, even though his visa had not expired."  Colin Farrell (TELEGRAM) added:

 “He called me and he said, ‘Mom, I’ve been released. I’m good, I’m in good health and I’ll be home for Christmas.’”
She explained that her son had been travelling as part of a group when they were arrested.
“The five guys he was travelling with, three Americans and two Germans, their visas were expired,” she explained. “So it was a visa violation, Michael’s visa was not expired. It didn’t expire till January.”
Kennedy explained her son was given an option to go free or stay with the group.
“He turned around and said, the option for me, I am going to stay with my buddies, I am not abandoning them.”

The KRG is standing by their decision to arrest Michael. Murray Brewster (CBC) reports:

But Kurdish authorities, while not disputing the account, say Kennedy's side-trip into Syria was a serious violation that warranted his detention.
"He is arrested because he came from Syria and crossed [the] Iraq and [Kurdish Regional Government] borders illegally [at] Shingal," Dindar Zebari, the assistant head of foreign relations in the semi-autonomous region, told CBC News on Tuesday.

Zebari said Kennedy had been dealt with under Iraqi law.

And the five others that were arrested as well?  Garrett Barry (CBC) reports, "Though the other fighters have yet to be released, Kay Kennedy says their governments -- Germany and the United States -- have begun to work on the file."

I hope those in the United States realize how much they owe Kay Kennedy.

Three Americans.

Being held by the KRG.

And where's the focus on that in the US?

The US State Dept should be working to secure their release.

But at yesterday's State Dept press briefing, no one asked spokesperson Mark Toner about it.

No one said one damn word.

About that.

Please be clear, Matt Lee had his usual b.s. questions and "chest thumping" derision of the government of Iran.  And he had lots of questions about what Trump will do.

Donald Trump has not been sworn in as president.

I wish Toner would stop indulging this crap.  Or is he, in fact, encouraging it -- will more embarrassing e-mails for Matt Lee turn out that explain he is yet again coordinating with the State Dept to figure out what topics and questions to emphasize ahead of time in order to assit the current administration?

There was time for that nonsense from the Matt Lee State Dept Press Corps.

There a bunch of men and few women who want to be men (or, in Elise's case, sleep with the Secretary of State).

They're not people that anyone should take pride in.

Yesterday, they couldn't ask about three Americans being held in Iraq.

They did find time to mock teachers.

QUESTION: Let me just add one more question.


QUESTION: I met today with this Palestinian teacher. She won the best teacher award in the world and she’s in town. She actually has a very creative program --

MR TONER: Did she really win the best teacher of the – in the world award? Is that right?

QUESTION: In the world. Yeah, she --

QUESTION: She gets a mug. It says “World’s -- ” (Laughter.)

QUESTION: She has – oh, yeah, she did. Last year --

MR TONER: No, that’s amazing, actually.

QUESTION: -- it was an American teacher, this year it’s a Palestinian teacher.

MR TONER: World’s Greatest – well, okay.

QUESTION: And she has a creative program where she teaches kids to reject violence and so on and all these things. But – and she said – she told me that at one point you guys talked – or the State Department, someone, wanted to invite her over, and then – and they – like they did not disinvite her, but they stopped the process. Are you aware of that? Would you like to see someone like this come and visit with people and --

MR TONER: I apologize. So we’re talking about a different person now. This is not the individual that was just denied entry.

QUESTION: No, no. She was not – she’s here, actually.

MR TONER: She’s here.

QUESTION: She was not denied --

MR TONER: I’m not aware of this case, so we’ll look into it. I promise.

Oh, how funny it was to them.

I guess if I were nothing but a cheap whore who presented the administration's views and opinions as factual events, if I were that much of a liar and coward, I wouldn't like teachers either.

Because good teachers instill ethics and honesty.

Good teachers bust their asses doing actual work -- unlike the Matt Lee fluffers covering the State Dept.

Good teachers make a good difference.

Unlike the Matt Lees who pave the way for war by unquestioningly repeating lies over and over.

They think teachers are something to laugh at?

Have they looked in the mirror?

AFP reported earlier this year:

The Palestinian woman who this week won a $1 million “World’s Best Teacher” award returned home Wednesday and pledged to use part of her winnings to help students and educators.
Hanan al-Hroub, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem and now teaches at a school near Ramallah in the West Bank, was awarded the Global Teacher prize at a Nobel-style ceremony in Dubai on Sunday.
She received congratulations from Pope Francis, who announced the winner in a video message.

Here's Pope Frances announcing the award:

Here's Bill Clinton congratulating the finalists.

Here's Hanan al-Hroub.

They think she, her work and the award she won are funny?

What service do they provide?

With the continuing demise of print, they can't even claim to provide good fish wrapping these days.

Their 'work' is forgotten in an instant.

It has no value.

And they want to mock a teacher?

And a great teacher at that?

Talk about out of touch with the rest of America.

Oh, and a million dollars?

Can you imagine how many people in the administration Matt Lee would have to give head to in order to make that kind of money?  His lips would fall off before he got to $2,000.

Go ahead and laugh it, fat boys, you're the ones who look ridiculous with your frat boy ways at a State Dept press briefing.

Your outlets should be monitoring your behaviors and pulling in your for corrective discipline.

You disgrace both yourselves and them when you act like that in a public press briefing.

From Global Teacher Prize:

2016 Winner

Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine received her Global Teacher Prize award from Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation.


Hanan grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp, Bethlehem, where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school. Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behaviour, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school.
With so many troubled children in the region, Palestinian classrooms can be tense environments. Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn’. She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasises the importance of literacy. She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use.
Hanan has shared her perspective at conferences, meetings and teacher training seminars. She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland.

  • Grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp; motivated to teach by her experiences as a mother of children traumatised by a shooting incident
  • Offers specialist care to pupils exposed to violence
  • Focuses on providing a safe space in the classroom and pays attention to individual needs
  • Has shared her approach at Ministry conferences and teacher training seminars

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT-- updated:

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