Sunday, May 29, 2022

THE LOST CITY crossed the $100 million mark

Per THENUMBERS.COM, after Thursday's ticket sales, THE LOST CITY's domestic box office ticket sales stood at $99.9 million.  Friday night, it hit the $100 million mark.  It's at $100.3 million as of Friday.

When it opened to $30 million, some were claiming it was a bomb.  No, it was a hit.  It's the biggest romantic comedy of 2022 and it passed the blockbuster number ($100 million).  

Not every hit has to hit on opening weekend.  Some films are good enough that they can build an audience based on word of mouth.  Also true, Sandra Bullock's fans turn out if the film is good and they turn out throughout the film's run, not just on opening weekend.

If you're looking for something to stream . . . 

PEACOCK has a ood crime movie that came and went quickly in theaters this year: THE OUTFIT. The cast is uncommonly good but I'd especially praise Nikki Amuka-Bird. And if you're looking for a series to stream, NETFLIX's THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a pretty good one.  The cast includes Neve Campbell and she looks so much better than she did in SCREAM earlier this year.  I'm assuming it was an acting choice, her deciding Sydney Prescott is so damaged that she needs to look like a grandma.

On SCREAM, Ginger e-mailed she won't see the next one.  (Yes, there will be another.  I believe it's already been announced and this year's film made $80 million at the box office in the US alone.)  She's upset that Dewey was killed.  I am too.  He was a great character.

If Courtney Cox is in the next one, I will see it.  Gail Weathers was always my favorite character.  I can remember watching it the first time, at the movies, and being so impressed with Courtney because she wasn't coasting on Monica (her character in FRIENDS) but had created this new character who was self-center, brave, fierce and flawed.  

She was great from her first minutes in the film but when she and David Arquette started interacting (he played Dewey), that first film got even better.  

I can't imagine how they make another film without Dewey.  He was an important character and someone you could really root for.  

But Gail was always my favorite so, if Courtney Cox is in the next one, I will buy a ticket.

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

Friday, May 27, 2022. The UN makes clear how little it cares about Iraq, Katrina vanden Heuverl just realized your birthday was last month, Margaret Kimberley pictures a better world and Amber Heard is not a poster for feminism.

The Security Council of the United Nations pretended to 'address' Iraq yesterday.  They did not address Iraq.  It was another going-through-the-motions meeting where they pretended to explore Iraq so they could renew the one year mandate over Iraq.  

They issued a lengthy, 366 word press release on the matter that might fool some idiots but the reality is there in the last sentence, "The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:14 a.m."

Four minutes.  

Four minutes is how long they spent in a meeting about the security in Iraq.  Four minutes.  And that allowed them -- that incredible overview -- to put themselves in charge of Iraq for another  year.  And people think Britney Spears was railroaded?

Four minutes.

It was so unimportant to the UN that they didn't even post the 'meeting' or 'hearing' to their UN YOUTUBE page.

The increasingly laughable UNAMI did post the prepared remarks of the United Nations' Secretary General's Special Representative (Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert):

Thank you, Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Security Council,

My briefing today will hit many all-too-familiar notes, as notorious aspects of Iraqi political life are repeating themselves in a seemingly incessant loop of zero-sum politics. But before delving into that, I would like to share some impressions on the recent and ongoing waves of massive dust- and sandstorms hitting Iraq.

Now, while a dust- or sandstorm as such is not a new phenomenon for the country, the current wave far exceeds Iraq’s experiences in recent years. Briefing this Council last February, I spoke about the dangers of climate change and its effects, with desertification as a central concern. Ever since, Iraq has been battered by intense dust- and sandstorms that obscure the sky, send people running for shelter, even resulting in sickness and death.

Now, these storms are only expected to become more frequent. In other words: continued inaction, also here, comes at enormous costs. Having said this, Mr. President, these storms are not the only concern for the people in Iraq.

Iraqis continue to wait for a political class that, instead of being content with stale power battles, they are waiting for a political class that will roll up its sleeves to make headway on Iraq’s long list of outstanding domestic priorities. As you know, national elections took place well over seven months ago, and multiple deadlines for the formation of a government have been missed. 

Now, it is true, Iraq is not the only country facing a protracted government formation process. But Iraq’s political leaders would do well not to hide behind that argument. It distracts from what is at stake.

It excuses a political deadlock while non-state armed groups fire rockets with apparent freedom and impunity. It excuses a political stalemate while ordinary people suffer. It excuses a political impasse while simmering anger – public anger can boil over at any moments.

So, my question is: what will it take to realize that this situation is completely untenable?

To date, political leaders subscribe to the notion of dialogue, or another round of negotiations. But the necessary willingness to compromise? It is painfully absent. Visit any market and Iraqis will tell you: the national interest is, yet again, taking a backseat to short-sighted considerations of control over resources and power play.

It is therefore high time (and yes, I repeat myself), but it is high time to return the spotlight where it must be: on the people of Iraq, and a programme of action that provides:

  • Adequate service delivery to all citizens.
  • An end to pervasive corruption, factionalism and the pillaging of state institutions.
  • The implementation of desperately needed reforms.
  • The diversification of the economy.
  • Predictable governance instead of constant crisis management.
  • An end to impunity, with accountability as a key feature of the State, and (of course) …
  • Reining in non-state armed actors while asserting the State’s authority.


Over the past three years, you have heard me make these points numerous times. And one thing remains clear: the neglect of the population’s most basic needs has gone on for far too long.

Again, Iraqi political inaction comes at a huge price. Not (in the short term) for those in power, but for those desperately trying to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Mr. President,

A few more specific observations, beginning with relations between Baghdad and Erbil. The sorry pattern of ad-hoc negotiations continues to prevail instead of what is critically needed: an institutionalized, predictable mechanism for the comprehensive, holistic and durable resolutions of all outstanding issues.

While this is evidently necessary, such a mechanism continues to be plainly missing, and this deficiency is sadly coupled with internal rivalries on both sides as well.

As I said last time: a spirit of partnership and cooperation can and must guide all stakeholders, including with regards to the recent Federal Supreme Court ruling on the KRG Oil and Gas Law. Having engaged with both sides on this matter, I am convinced that there is a way out.

However, and there is no denying it: events in the past have gravely eroded mutual trust. Hence, it will prove essential to build confidence, including by pledging to refrain from politically motivated, unilateral actions in the future.

Now, Mr. President, zooming in on the political situation within the Kurdistan Region: last year, in May, I participated in an event at the University of Kurdistan. It is a promising event with all Kurdistan Region political parties present.

In my remarks, I outlined the toxicity of political infighting and factionalism. I emphasized the importance of unity, not to be confused with uniformity. I spoke candidly about the need to move away from the yellow & green divide, about the responsibility of leaders to guide outreach and to bring together opposing interests, to focus on solutions that represent the interests of all peoples living in the Kurdistan Region - be it Erbil, Dohuk or Sulaymaniyah.

However, one year later, this promising event seems to have gained zero traction. On the contrary, divisions have deepened - with adverse effects on the peoples of the Kurdistan Region.

Now, and without repeating my remarks of a year ago, but it must be clear: the Kurdistan Region has a choice. And with the Kurdistan Region elections scheduled for the 1st of October later this year, it is of utmost importance to level the electoral playing field - with all political actors, big or small, enjoying equal opportunities. Promoting a conducive electoral environment, that is.

Additionally, I can only underline that geography does not always play in the Kurdistan Region’s advantage. In other words: its unique geopolitical circumstances alone, should be enough to give its leaders pause.

And, of course, that goes for the whole of Iraq as well. As I have said on countless occasions: whether we like it or not, a weak domestic home front only creates a welcoming environment for continued external interference.

Now, on a related note, let me also comment on incoming missiles and rockets: Disturbing, disruptive and dangerous.

With the IRGC claiming responsibility for up to 12 short-range ballistic missiles launched in the early hours of Sunday March 13, another worrisome chapter was opened. And while the IRGC described the targeted location in Erbil as “the strategic centre for conspiracy and evil acts of the Zionists”, no evidence for such claims was found. The targeted site is known as a civilian area, a private compound.

Although both sides – Iraq, Iran – although they are currently engaged in dialogue and do not wish to escalate the issue, Iraq rightfully rejects the notion that it can be treated as the region’s backyard, with routine violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Now, another case in point are the ongoing Turkish and Iranian shelling activities in the North. So, what are we looking at? Cross-border shelling and missiles as the new normal for Iraq? This is a very risky way to advance interests, and one which further weakens the State of Iraq.

Needless to say: any country or actor seeking to settle a dispute has established diplomatic instruments, including our good offices, at their disposal.

Now, moving to Iraq’s very own armed actors operating outside state control: the reckless firing of rockets, including at an oil refinery in Erbil some two weeks ago, remains alarming and unjustifiable. These attacks seek to undermine Iraq’s security and stability within an already extremely volatile, politically charged post-electoral environment.

Fact is: “messaging by rockets”, “missile diplomacy” – these are reckless acts, with potentially devastating consequences. Also, and let me emphasize, Iraq does not need self-proclaimed armed arbiters. And I again underline the great importance of asserting the State’s authority. If the perpetrators are known, call them out. This is essential to uphold the Rule of Law.

Ladies and gentlemen, turning to the ever-pressing question of Sinjar:

As we know all too well, Sinjar’s recent history has witnessed horrific ordeals, culminating in the heinous crimes committed by Da’esh. Today, while locals urgently need to rebuild their lives, they continue to face unconscionable obstacles. Obstacles due to discord on security arrangements, public service provisions and a unified administration.

The Sinjar agreement, signed by Baghdad and Erbil in October 2020, was seen (by many) as a glimmer of hope: a very first but important step in the right direction.

At the time, I expressed hope that the agreement would lead to a new chapter for Sinjar, one in which the needs of the Sinjari people would come first, that it would help displaced people return to their homes, that it would accelerate reconstruction and improve public service delivery.

But for that to happen, stable governance and security structures are - of course - pre-requisites. Now, ever since the agreement was signed, I have called for a speedy implementation. Well clearly, the opposite is true. To date, there is no agreement on the selection of a new independent mayor, and funds for a new local security force remain blocked, possibly due to interference into unclear recruitment procedures.

Now, on these recruitment procedures: I again emphasize the importance of pragmatism and realism. Not all people who joined “other forces” in the past can simply be painted with the same brush. It must be understood that some of them, absent the authority of the State, simply opted for a safety net, an identity and an income to provide for their families.

We also called on both Baghdad and Erbil to reach out to the people of Sinjar, to open their arms to all Sinjaris. Meanwhile, critics of the Sinjar agreement kept on emphasizing the lack of consultations with local communities.

Now, while no one dismisses good advice, and certainly not UNAMI, I have to say: local consultations did take place and continue to take place. At the same time, it is true that both Baghdad and Erbil could and should step up their outreach at the grassroots level. The implementation of any agreement, winning hearts and minds, is hard work. And this one in particular.

A piece of paper alone will not do the job. One needs to be on top of it, 24/7, own it, constantly and proactively engage with the communities on the ground, provide explanations, clarify why a decision has been taken and why it benefits the Sinjaris in the medium to long term. Having said this: significant divides and the fragmentation of local communities are a fact of life in Sinjar, making things even more challenging.

And within this context, it is also important to note that Sinjar has increasingly turned into an arena for external and domestic spoilers.

Now, while some of this can be traced back to 2014 as Da’esh kicked off its atrocities, eight years later it is time to acknowledge that yes, mistakes have been made in the past, but Sinjar is part of the State of Iraq.

By giving room to external and domestic spoilers, the situation will not get any better. And by now, all stakeholders would do well to acknowledge this fact - notwithstanding their gratitude for the help and assistance received in the past. You know, nobody said that the establishment of stable security and governance structures would be an easy ride.

But there is no denying it: the lack of clear-cut coordination and implementation mechanism, the dominance of partisan interests and the ongoing presence of spoilers significantly hamper meaningful progress. I have to say – international observers have been deployed for less.

Clashes have again erupted in recent weeks. And this sadly made Sinjari families again pack their belongings and find their way back to the Kurdistan Region to seek shelter.

So, let me reiterate:

  • Sinjaris’ safety and security should be front and centre at all times.
  • They deserve peace under the authority of the State.
  • Domestic and external spoilers have no place in Sinjar.
  • Baghdad and Erbil must assume their responsibility, and urgently work together with only one objective: to improve the lives of people on the ground and promote the voluntary, dignified return of displaced persons to their homes.

Mr. President,

A few words on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.

In recent months, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has stepped up efforts to reach new witnesses through broadcasts, the media, as well as consular and diplomatic channels worldwide. As a result, at least two potential new witnesses have come forward during this period, confirming that broadcasts with a wide geographic reach can be helpful in eliciting information.

This demonstrated that investing efforts in obtaining new witness information, and insisting on acquiring satellite imagery analysis from relevant member States, are essential steps to bring this crucial and sensitive file to a close.

Now, Mr. President,

I will conclude my remarks by underlining (once more) the importance of overcoming the political stalemate. Significant domestic vulnerabilities are being compounded by the ongoing effects of the pandemic and global geopolitical tensions.

A sincere, collective and urgent will to resolve political differences must now prevail – it must prevail for the country to move forward and to meet the needs of its citizens.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Once upon a time, we attended these meetings and reported on them here.  But then they became a non-deniable farce.  Those present on the council didn't even pretend to be interested, stopped any questions -- even softballs -- and the UNAMI rep would read their statements.  Then it got worse as they'd summarize their prepared remarks instead of even reading them in full.

Now the UN has extended its mandate over Iraq for a year and they did so in a 'meeting' that lasted four minutes  I think most of us spend more time than that considering what we for dinner.  

The UN made clear that it doesn't care about Iraq -- it only cares about controlling the country.

We are weeks away from the eight month mark -- eight months since the October 10th elections and the Iraqi government has still not announced a president or prime minister.

But that's apparently not worthy of discussion.

Climate change is impacting Iraq harshly and nothing's being done but the UN doesn't want to discuss that.

The vastly unpopular holdover prime minister attended the funeral of an Iraqi poet days ago and was booed and pelted with objects forcing him to leave but that's not anything the UN wants to address or explore.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Continuing the ridiculous, at SCHEER POST, Katrina vanden Heuvel offers:

It’s time to challenge the orthodox view on the war in Ukraine.

As Russia’s illegal and brutal assault enters its fourth month, the impact on Europe, the Global South and the world is already profound. We are witnessing the emergence of a new political/military world order. Climate action is being sidelined as reliance on fossil fuels increases; food scarcity and other resource demands are pushing prices upward and causing widespread global hunger; and the worldwide refugee crisis — with more international refugees and internally displaced people than at any time since the end of World War II — poses a massive challenge.

Furthermore, the more protracted the war in Ukraine, the greater the risk of a nuclear accident or incident. And with the Biden administration’s strategy to “weaken” Russia with the scale of weapons shipments, including anti-ship missiles, and revelations of U.S. intelligence assistance to Ukraine, it is clear that the United States and NATO are in a proxy war with Russia.

Shouldn’t the ramifications, perils and multifaceted costs of this proxy war be a central topic of media coverage — as well as informed analysis, discussion and debate? Yet what we have in the media and political establishment is, for the most part, a one-sided, even nonexistent, public discussion and debate. It’s as if we live with what journalist Matt Taibbi has dubbed an “intellectual no-fly zone.”

Those who have departed from the orthodox line on Ukraine are regularly excluded from or marginalized — certainly rarely seen — on big corporate media. The result is that alternative and countervailing views and voices seem nonexistent. Wouldn’t it be healthy to have more diversity of views, history and context rather than “confirmation bias”?

Those who speak of history and offer context about the West’s precipitating role in the Ukraine tragedy are not excusing Russia’s criminal attack. It is a measure of such thinking, and the rhetorical or intellectual no-fly zone, that prominent figures such as Noam Chomsky, University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer and former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, among others, have been demonized or slurred for raising cogent arguments and providing much-needed context and history to explain the background of this war.

Now it's time.


All these months later.

Is Katrina a 911 operator out of Buffalo, New York?

There's a saying, better late than never.

It's a saying.

It's not accurate.  But people do say it.

People aslo see that the US government is indifferent to the lives of American babies as evidenced by the baby formula shortage.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) offers:

“Socialism doesn’t work” is repeated like a mantra. We’re told endlessly that capitalism provides jobs, housing, food, and health care in this country when it does a very bad job of doing all these things. The United States is said to be “the richest country in the world,” a strange statement which implies that the people are prosperous even though they aren’t.

Gig work, housing insecurity, medical debt, and student loan debt are all common experiences for people in the U.S. Now, to add insult to injury, the system said to be so superior can’t even keep little babies fed.

There is an historic shortage of baby formula. There are parts of the country where food for infants simply can’t be found at any price. This headline is the most honest about the situation. “America is running out of baby formula because 3 companies control the market and babies aren’t that profitable .” There are only three baby formula manufacturers and one of them, Abbott, had to shut down its plant after a whistleblower revealed their product was contaminated. Two infant deaths may be related to the contamination, which went undiscovered despite Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority.

The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the supply and now allows formula from foreign countries to be imported. They are making quite a show of their late in the day response to a situation that should have been addressed sooner. But the stop gaps to resolve a temporary crisis should not allow a bigger problem to go unmentioned. Capitalism is the problem. Transportation Secretary and onetime presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted as much even as he tried to defend the failed state. “But let's be very clear. This is a capitalist country. The government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula.”

In a better society, a socialist society, baby formula wouldn’t be sold by private interests. It would be provided free of charge to every family and yes, the government would make it. The “market forces” which we are told solve every problem actually create very serious ones. In this country even the effort to provide infant formula to all, regardless of income, is yet another means of supporting monopoly capital.

Disclosure, I have known and been friends with Johnny Depp for years.  Yes, we're going back to the trial.

For those stupid enough to fall for Amber Heard's play acting yesterday, thank goodness you aren't casting directors, the film industry would be shut down.

Only the deeply stupid could have bought her act.

People want to kill her.

Yes, Amber, when a woman speaks out, she's going to get threats.  We've all seen it happen.  Here's the thing though, life does go on.  And if you're getting a threat you slide it over to the authorities -- see the side of this website.  I am not picking on Mike but I am using him as an example.  He could call out Joe Biden tomorrow in the same language I did or worse and he would get a certain type of response.  I would get a different one -- mine would be more personal, mine would be more threatening and more violent.  That's because we live in a society that does condone violence against women and don't kid yourself that it doesn't.  

That's reality.  

It needs to change.

But I am not right because I receive a threat.  Nor, Amber, are you.  

People are upset with you and they are right to be upset.

You took 7 million -- 'for charity' -- laughing all the way -- and then you turned around and wrote that awful column.  It wasn't written in a vacuum.  Despite agreeing not to disparage him (and he agreed to the same with regard to her) as part of the divorce settlement, Amber began a whisper campaign to lay the groundwork against Johnny.  Emboldened by the lack of pushback, she then went with her 2018 WASHINGTON POST column which was calling him a domestic abuser.  

Sorry, Amber, people are going to be mad at you and they should be.

Let's pretend you're telling the truth: Well greedy trash, you shouldn't have taken 7 million dollars.  You should have prosecuted.  But, if you're telling the truth, your greed was more important than justice or in protecting other women.

So climb off the cross because no one's buying your act.

You ended a brief marriage that was a huge mistake.  And you got 7 million dollars out of it -- that you were never going to give to charity.  

You should have gone on with your life.

Instead, you wanted to hype yourself and turn yourself into a star so you timed the column to debut as someone else's big film that featured you in a small role came out.  You were going to use this column for publicity and the whole country was going to be blown away and obsessed with Amber.

Didn't happen. 

Because as I wrote in real time, you were a cold fish on screen.  You had no heat.  Julia Ormond didn't either and Julia's was a nice person.  I love Debra Winger but to stand next to her, you'd just think she was a nice person.  Put her in front of a camera and something happens.  That's how someone becomes a star.  Meryl Streep's famous and she's a leading lady (who doesn't really sell tickets) but she's never been a star and she never will be.  She lacks that certain something.  I did not know Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, I knew her much, much later.  But you could still see the spark even at the end.  You either have it or you don't.  There's a writer who I loathe because she lies and in one of her books she went off on Elliott Gould.  If she'd said Elliott was never a star, okay, you can make that argument.  But to say he's not sexy?  He was very sexy back in the day.  But the spark that makes a star is not just about sexy -- it's something much more.  Amber didn't have it. 

I can usually look at someone -- on film -- and tell you whether they've got it or not.  I told Sydney not to cast Julia in SABRINA.  He was convinced she was star material and she wasn't and to put her into an Audrey Hepburn remake?  That would have been too much for any female -- even Demi at the height of her fame.  Julia might have pulled it off -- might have because SABRINA's really not a film that the world needs remakes of because it's not fun and it's not dramatic and it really adds up to nothing.  Audrey gave it magic that the property really didn't have.  

Demi Moore was a star.  She captured the public's fascination, she sold tickets.  Greg Kinnear was not.  A star sells tickets and a star has a following.  

Famous does not make you a star.  

Amber's a bad actress who does not connect onscreen with the audience -- there is no dynamic, there is no pull.

But many times, it's difficult for people to see themselves honestly.  She's thought for years she was going to be a star -- any day!!!! That day never arrived and it's not arriving.  But the plan was that AQUAMAN would make her a star -- a big budget film!  With her in it!!! And timing the column to amplify attention, she just knew this was the thing to do.

You know what the thing to do is?  Get John Waters to write a screenplay  about this.  It's his next SERIAL MOM.  Let Helen Hunt or some older actress play the role since Amber looks so haggard these days.  (That chin was always gong to defeat any chance she had of aging well.)  

14 years and 34 films after she started appearing in motion pictures, she just knew this was her big break.  Appearing in films with  Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Channing Tatum, etc did not make her a star.  There is no stardom within her.  

But she hoped it would come via the one-two punch of AQUAMAN and her column.

It didn't.

I have no idea what the jury will think -- her smirking at them every time she took the stand wouldn't have done well had I been on the jury.  But she's lied repeatedly on the stand, been exposed repeatedly on the stand, called others liars and then, seconds later, insisted she didn't just call them a liar, she's shown 'devoted wife' in the elevators with two men during the marriage -- once when she's nude except for a blanket.  That kind of weakens her claim that he beat her but she stayed because of love.  

She's a liar and both genders can lie.

Those trying to make Amber the poster girl of feminism are deluded.  If more were known of her abuse of her female lovers, they'd probably shut their uninformed mouths.

Unlike those idiots -- male and female -- I actually known Johnny and, sadly, I actually know Amber.   Which is why I can say: Amber is lying.

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