Thursday, June 24, 2021

Movies, LUPIN, THE BLACKLIST, DISNEY's homophobia

Though the media acts otherwise, the pandemic continues.  I raise that issue because of the push to get people back into movie theaters.  David Walsh (WSWS) reports:

Hollywood studios are making a concerted effort to draw audiences back to the movie theaters after a 15-month period during which the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the filmmaking and film exhibition industries. The effort is characterized by the predictable shortsightedness, pragmatism and greed with which one normally associates the US movie business.
On May 19, the industry organized a conference, “The Big Screen Is Back,” at a Los Angeles movie theater, sponsored by the Motion Picture Association, National Association of Theatres, various movie studios and distributors and prominent figures in public relations.
Former California governor and Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the select media and industry crowd. “Now is the time to wind down this pandemic period, now is the time to get back to the big screen,” Schwarzenegger asserted, according to Deadline.
“The big screen is back, ladies and gentleman!” the actor declared, and “then led the whole auditorium at the AMC Century City 15 in a chant of ‘We are back! We are back!’”
For entertainment industry executives, of course, wealth and income never went anywhere. The vast majority engorged themselves further during the pandemic on the stock market and by other means, even as job losses and pay cuts, temporary and permanent, climbed dramatically.
Research conducted by Variety, for instance, pointed to the “largely cosmetic” character of the promises of “shared sacrifice” made last year by Hollywood CEOs even as “the global health crisis … closed movie theaters and theme parks and brought film and television production to a standstill, forcing companies to lay off or furlough thousands of workers.”
The trade publication pointed out that “the belts that companies tightened still seemed to stretch a lot with bonuses and perks that ensured media CEOs will continue to rank among the nation’s highest-paid executives.” While total employment at AT&T, Comcast, Discovery, Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Netflix and ViacomCBS dropped by 57,153 in 2020, average compensation of studio chiefs remained at $30 million. Variety cites Charles M. Elson, professor of finance at the University of Delaware, who noted that while some executives “took salary cuts … Most of what they lost in salary will be made up for in long-term incentives.”

 Are you ready to go back into the theaters?

I'm not sure I am.  

I was asked about LUPIN?  I never blogged about it! Didn't realize that.

Season two is very strong -- very strong -- but the final scene appears to wrap up the show and that depressed me.

Otherwise, I loved season two.  My girlfriend and I watched it the Friday night NETFLIX posted it and streamed every episode one after the other.  It was marathon viewing and it was worth it.  An excellent show.  I hope there's a way to do a third season.

On TV, please read Ruth's "The end of THE BLACKLIST" and I'm right there with her.  For me, there is no show without Elizabeth as part of the action.

The only good to come from her leaving the show?  Maybe now, THE BLACKLIST will get called out for its rank sexism?

Homophobia gets called out by Ava and C.I. in "TV: Pride?" which posted yesterday.  Please read it because it's excellent.  DISNEY really does have a homophobia problem and DISNEY needs to address it immediately.

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

 Friday, June 24, 2021.  Today we look at Post-Traumatic Stress, assault and rape in the military, imprisoned Australian Robert Pether and much more.

The signature wounds of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for US troops is TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress).  The "D" in PTS has created a stigma as many in the military noted some time ago.  Retired General Peter W. Chiarelli is probably the highest ranking member of the military who has spoken about this at length and very wisely.  When we refer to it here we refer to it as "PTS" but we don't censor it when others use the "D" with it or if it's an organization with the "D" in the title.  This is from the VA's webpage:

PTSD Basics

Available en EspaƱol

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. During this kind of event, you may not have any control over what's happening, and you may feel very afraid. Anyone who has gone through something like this can develop PTSD.

It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event (also called "trauma"). At first, it may be hard to do daily activities you are used to doing, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later, or they may come and go over time.

If it's been longer than a few months and thoughts and feelings from the trauma are upsetting you or causing problems in your life, you may have PTSD.


How I Knew I Had PTSD

When you have PTSD, the world feels unsafe. You may have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping. You may also try to avoid things that remind you of your trauma—even things you used to enjoy.

Who Develops PTSD?

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Some factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person's control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

Personal factors—like previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender—can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.

This is PTS awareness month.  The PTSD Foundation of America has released the following videos yesterday.

Staying with the US military, another issue is the assault and harassment.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has long worked on this issue.  Tuesday, her office issued the following:

Addressing the release of letters from military leadership opposing reforms to the military justice system, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement:

“The content of these letters is disappointing, but not surprising. From racially integrating the armed forces to enabling women to serve in combat to allowing LGBTQ service members to serve openly, the chain of command has always fought to protect the status quo, just as they are doing here. Their arguments are recycled talking points from the battles for progress in the past and are void of any coherent argument beyond the disingenuous ‘good order and discipline.’ It is time for Congress and the administration to exercise their constitutional oversight duties and professionalize and reform the military justice system to reduce bias, increase efficiency and restore the confidence of our service members.”

Senator Gillibrand’s landmark legislation, the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, has the support of a bipartisan supermajority consisting of sixty-six senators, including 43 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 21 Republicans. The legislation is being blocked in the Senate by Senators Reed (D-RI) and Inhofe (R-OK), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. Tomorrow, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) and a broad bipartisan coalition will introduce the House companion bill.

FORBES filed this report yesterday.

The senator notes that she's been calling for a floor vote for nearly 30 days on her bill.  She doesn't note that it's her latest bill.  She's been calling for this for some time.  There is no justice without it.  You would think an attorney would get that.  You would think.  But I was at the hearing where female veterans watched in shock as then-Senator Claire McCaskill tanked an earlier bill of Kirsten's -- everyone was shocked.  The notion that crimes should be dealt with in a court and not by a commanding officer was just too much for Claire's mind.

Rape and assault (and domestic violence) are swept under the rug in the military by refusing to address them openly and with a legal system.  

Jack Reed is the new Claire McCaskill.  He wants to grand stand on what some in the military leadership want -- no real change -- and stand on the fact that these men -- yes, they are all men -- have experience in combat and blah blah blah.

I'm sorry, Jack, find the one that was raped, find the one that was assaulted, find the one that was beat up by a partner.  Find that man, maybe I'll listen to your nonsense.  

Jack is a joke and always has been.

While pontificating on the floor, he failed to tell you that these jerks and asses are the same ones who supported a system that most Americans are unaware of.  It allowed the survivor to be 'unknown.'  Might sound good but in practice, it meant there was no justice and when asked for numbers by the Congress repeatedly, the ones over this program could not provide numbers, would not provide numbers.  No man was ever punished for rape under that system.  And I'm not talking about the distant past.  I'm talking about when Barack Obama was president.  

There has been no accountability at all.  That's why Kirsten Gillibrand has spent eight years trying to move the current bill forward.

The military leaders opposed to these changes are the same ones who ensure that there is no justice, that the rates of assault and rape continue to climb, that domestic violence isn't even tracked.

They see their role not as helping service members but as ensuring that the crimes are nothing more than statistics that can easily be swept aside.  

There has been no effort to address this on the part of Congress.  They have failed to provide oversight over and over.  They have let the people who are in charge and who have denied justice over and over set the terms.

Rape and assault and domestic abuse are crimes.  They need to be dealt with in a court and decided based upon what happened not by some commander who thinks his 'good old boy' didn't mean any harm when he held a woman down and raped her.  We have laws, they need to be enforced.

The military was granted a waiver from the law for years and that's just made clear that without turning these issues over to a judicial system, there is no justice.

Change needs to take place now.

Also filed yesterday, this report from CBS EVENING NEWS.

While some in military leadership still oppose the needed reform, on Tuesday, the changes found support from Iraq War veteran and the current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin:

Yesterday, I received the final recommendations and complete report of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.

I want to thank Lynn Rosenthal for her exceptional leadership of this commission, as well as the talented experts who worked so diligently to support her.  The work they produced was informed not only by their own significant experience, but by that of so many members of our military, including sexual assault survivors.  

The result is a comprehensive assessment across four lines of effort -- accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support -- that recommends creative and evidence-based options.  It provides us real opportunities to finally end the scourge of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.  

In coming days, I will present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s findings, but I know enough at this point to state the following:

First, we will work with Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice, removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command.  

The IRC recommended the inclusion of other special victims’ crimes inside this independent prosecution system, to include domestic violence.  I support this as well, given the strong correlation between these sorts of crimes and the prevalence of sexual assault.

Second, solving this problem requires not just greater accountability, which we need, but also changes to our approach on prevention, command climate, and victim services.  I am reviewing the full scope of the commission’s recommendations in these areas, but generally they appear strong and well-grounded. I have directed my staff to do a detailed assessment and implementation plan for my review and approval.

Third, the Department will need new resources and authorities necessary to implement the IRC’s recommendations. Those we believe we can implement under existing authorities will be given priority.  We will need to work closely with Congress to secure additional authorities and relief where needed.  We will most assuredly require additional resources, both in personnel and in funding. But it may take us some time to determine how much and where they are most wisely applied.

Finally, as in all other things, these changes demand leadership.  I appreciate the support that the Department’s civilian and military leaders have provided to the commission, and the thoughtfulness with which they have advised me as we develop effective ways to implement the changes we need to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from our ranks.

As I made clear on my first full day in office, this is a leadership issue.  And we will lead.  Our people depend upon it.  They deserve nothing less.

In response to Austin's statement, Gillibrand Tweeted:

By agreeing that we should remove the decision to prosecute sexual assault from the chain of command, Defense Secretary Austin rejected arguments that this would harm good order and discipline. So let's #PassMJIIPA and remove ALL serious crimes from the chain of command.

Senator Gillibrand spoke with Rachel Martin (NPR's MORNING EDITION) yesterday and explained:

So what we're arguing for is a bright line at all serious crimes. So we would like - and the bill for the last eight years has been advocating for - a bright line drawn at crimes that have a conviction penalty of at least a year or more - so the equivalent of felonies, so serious crimes. So we have been advocating that all serious crimes be taken out of the chain of command and given to trained military prosecutors who are professional and unbiased.

And the reason for this is because in the sexual assault cases, we're just not getting better. We're not convicting more predators. We're not taking enough cases. We're not taking the right cases. And in this issue of racial bias, we see that if you are a Black or brown service member, you are more likely to be punished. And in one of the services, it's up to 2.6 times more likely to be punished if you are a Black service member.

And so the answer to this very tough question is how do you improve the military justice system? And the way we recommend is you take all these serious crimes out of the chain of command and give it to trained prosecutors because commanders aren't lawyers. They're not prosecutors, and they may well have bias. And these are hard cases, and these are cases that deserve a professional person reviewing it properly without bias.

Moving over to Iraq, Australian citizen Robert Pether has apparently been abandoned by his own country which does nothing to object to his imprisonment in Iraq.  (The Australian Embassy staff didn't even meet with Pether until May 3rd, 26 days after he was imprisoned.)   It's now been over forty days that he's been held in a prison with no charge (they say they are holding him for "questioning").  His appeal for bail was denied on May 11th.  He was told by his own government that it was safe to go to Baghdad for a meeting.  He showed up at the meeting but there was no meeting.  Instead, he was hauled off to an Iraqi prison. He remains there.  No trial.  Nothing.  Imprisoned since April 7th.

This week, Ireland's INDEPENDENT.IE Tweeted:

Robert Pether is detained without charge in an Iraqi prison due to a contract dispute between his company and the Iraqi government

Christopher Knaus (GUARDIAN) reports:

Australian engineer Robert Pether is losing hope he will be released from the crowded Iraqi jail where he has spent almost 80 days without charge, his wife says.

Pether was arrested 77 days ago after he travelled to Baghdad to try to resolve a dispute between his firm and Iraqi authorities about the construction of the central bank’s new headquarters. Expecting to meet with officials from the Central Bank of Iraq, Pether and a colleague were instead arrested and initially held in isolation.

He is now being held in a 14-foot cell with 22 other inmates and is no closer to understanding what charges he faces, according to his wife, Desree. The case has been shifted to another court, where Pether could be sentenced to three years behind bars.

“For the last two weeks, he has stopped engaging in any conversation about when he’ll get out,” Desree Pether told Guardian Australia.

“Because our eight-year-old daughter has been drawing pictures for him of them at the beach, and them canoeing … I’ve got her focussing on what she wants to do with Daddy on the summer break in Europe. He won’t talk about getting out at all now, he just refuses to engage in it.”

One of Robert’s sons, Flynn, has just turned 18. The stress of the ordeal forced him to miss one of his final exams. He has also put off plans to go to university and study engineering.

Flynn has previously told Guardian Australia what was happening to his father was “downright inhumane” and “criminal”.

Pether is being allowed out of his cell for 20 minutes some days. Otherwise, the inmates push their bunk beds to the back of the room and sit on the floor.

The world needs to be watching and anyone whose job might send them to Iraq needs to be watching.  This should be a disgrace for the Iraqi government which supposedly wants more foreign companies operating in Iraq.  No trial.  No justice.  Nearly 80 days imprisoned.  All because some corrupt person wants to redo the agreed upon terms of a contract.

Maybe you have time to waste?  If so, stream this propaganda from the US Institute for Peace.

Listen to vapid discussion -- with Planning Minister Khalid Najim and Migration and Displacement Minister Evan Jabro -- and grasp how anything of importance has been sealed away from the conversation so that a fact-free infomercial could be made.  They left out the 1-800 number but that's about the only thing they left out.


The following sites updated:


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