Monday, August 15, 2022

Weekend box office

Via THENUMBERS.COM, here's the weekend box office:

Movie TitleDistributorGross%LWTheatersTheaters
Weekends In
1 (1) Bullet Train Sony Pictures $13,400,000 -55% 4,357 n/c $3,076 $54,482,703 2
2 (6) Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pi… $7,150,455 +2% 3,181 +421 $2,248 $673,822,000 12
3 (2) DC League of Super Pets Warner Bros. $7,000,000 -37% 3,803 -529 $1,841 $58,176,852 3
4 (3) Nope Universal $5,350,000 -37% 2,760 -256 $1,938 $107,565,570 4
5 (4) Thor: Love and Thunder Walt Disney $5,311,000 -31% 3,175 -225 $1,673 $325,395,211 6
6 (5) Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal $5,000,000 -30% 3,068 -120 $1,630 $343,810,295 7
7 (7) Where the Crawdads Sing Sony Pictures $4,000,000 -30% 2,916 -248 $1,372 $72,149,439 5
8 (15) Bodies Bodies Bodies A24 $3,251,067 +1,334% 1,285 +1,279 $2,530 $3,576,795 2
9 (9) Elvis Warner Bros. $2,600,000 -34% 2,211 -200 $1,176 $141,305,645 8
10 N Fall Lionsgate $2,512,145   1,548   $1,623 $2,512,145 1

It's over for THOR.  $5 million.  It would be lucky at this point to make $350 million before it leaves the theater.  With the exception of Hulk movies, that's the lowest box office for any MARVEL film based around one of The Avengers.  (BLACK WIDOW does not count because it was released in theaters and on streaming at the same time.  Scarlet was right to sue over that.)

MACK AND RITA made $1 million.  It was at number 13.  

It's pretty much over at the movies for the next few weeks.  INDIE WIRE notes:

If you don’t build it, they won’t come. With no new major titles this week, audiences chose to stay home this weekend — and for the next two months, that could be our new normal. “Bullet Train” (Sony) dropped 55 percent in its second week, but led the top 10 with a gross of $13.4 million — the lowest figure for a #1 film in over six months. Similarly, the $65 million weekend total for all films is the worst showing since early February.

They've really got nothing with mass appeal except BEAST which comes out Friday.  It stars Idris Elba but everyone I hear talking about it just notes the lion.  It's the only thing I hear anyone I know talking about with excitement.  People want to see this movie.  If it's a good one, it could carry the summer up to September -- mean keep people showing up in large numbers.  If it's bad, it'll just have a strong opening weekend.

But where are the movies?  They want people back in the theaters?  Where are the movies?

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

Monday, August 15, 2022.  Monkeypox news, including that the co-author of the sole study Joe Biden's basing his vaccine study on finds the decision questionable,  Iraq continues to suffer through the political stalemate, and much more.

Starting with monkeypox, Benjamin Mateus (WSWS) reports:

Given the rising rates of monkeypox infections across the US and the limited available doses of the Jynneos vaccine (Imvanex in Europe) made by Bavarian Nordic, the only authorized vaccine against the orthopoxvirus, last week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to ration the vaccine through the use of intradermal injections.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said, “In recent weeks, the monkeypox virus has continued to spread at a rate that has made it clear our current vaccine supply will not meet the current demand. The FDA quickly explored other scientifically appropriate options to facilitate access to the vaccine for all impacted individuals. By increasing the number of available doses, more individuals who want to be vaccinated against monkeypox will now have the opportunity to do so.”

What the commissioner is explaining is called fractional monkeypox vaccine dosing, or a dose-sparing measure. Instead of giving the vaccine deep into the muscle, one-fifth of the standard dose is injected between the layers of skin. Evidence for the intradermal route was obtained based on a 2015 clinical study conducted by the government which demonstrated it could provide a similar immune response to intramuscular injection. As a result, the total number of available doses has been expanded by five-fold or five doses per vial.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, speaking during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seminar to inform clinicians of the change in the interim guidance on the new practice, estimated that approximately 1.7 million Americans were at risk of contracting monkeypox. At least 3 million doses would be needed, although only half that amount would be available by year’s end.

The fractional dosing offered the only viable alternative as the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, which is available in abundance, carries a significant risk of myocarditis and rare but known complications of death. Specifically, ACAM2000 is contraindicated in immunocompromised individuals.

Yet even as an intradermal injection, the Jynneos vaccine (a smallpox vaccine) still requires two doses to be given 28 days apart to complete the series. It has also not been approved for children under the age of 18. Jynneos has also never been verified to be effective against monkeypox, and little is known about its role as postexposure prophylaxis.

We've called out, repeatedly last week, Joe's 'answer' to take 400,00 vaccines and divide them up into fifths to create '2 million vaccines.'  We've pointed out that the basis for this 'answer' is one study -- one clinical study -- that was done back in 2015.  Now, thanks to MJ Lee's reporting for CNN, we know that among those objecting to this move?  The CEO of Bavarian Nordic Paul Chaplin.  Why should that especially register?  Because as Lee reports, Chaplin was the co-author of that 2015 study -- of the only study that this decision has been based upon. Lee notes:

Chaplin, the CEO of Bavarian Nordic, also raised concerns. CNN reported that Chaplin wrote in a letter Tuesday to Califf and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra that he had concerns about the "very limited safety data available" on the newly announced vaccination strategy, and that a relatively high percentage of people in the clinical study -- 20% -- did not get their second shot.

 On BREAKING POINTS, Krystal and Saager have a video that confuses me.

What is their point?  Gay people are being hurt by this?  I don't see that in the way that they're claiming.  The people who are being hurt by this are the ones living in a stupid bubble who think they're not at risk because they aren't male -- and gay or bi male at that.  

It is not now, nor has it ever been a gay disease.  Monkeypox has been around forever.  That may 'change' in that the World Health Organization is seeking another name for it and asking for public input.  Maggie Baska (PINK NEWS) reports:

WHO said the decision was made after meeting with a group of “global experts” this week and in line with current best practices for naming diseases. 

The organisation said the goal of renaming monkeypox variants is to “avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare”. 

WHO said the new names for the monkeypox clades will “take effect immediately”. The health agency announced it was also opening a forum for the public to suggest new names for the disease, the Associated Press reported. 

Ireland's JOURNAL reports:

THERE IS A DANGER that commentary around the current global monkeypox outbreak could cause a false sense of security about the level of risk posed by the virus, a leading Irish virologist has said.

There have now been over 100 reported cases of monkeypox in Ireland since the start of the outbreak in May. Around 30,000 cases have been reported across 80 countries where monkeypox is not endemic and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

While the majority of cases in this outbreak have been among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM), experts have cautioned against linking transmission solely to sexual activity and have warned that messaging, if not managed correctly, risks stigmatising people. 

Speaking to The Journal‘s The Explainer podcast this week, Dr Cillian de Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory said the terminology around the outbreak can be “challenging”, with some referring to it as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“Traditionally, we wouldn’t have considered it an STI because when we think about sexually transmitted infections we often think about pathogens, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea, that require direct sexual contact – be that penetrative or otherwise – for transmission,” he explained.

“Now, when we look at monkeypox we know that’s not the case. It’s typically skin-to-skin direct contact, but it can also be respiratory droplets or through contaminated fomites or objects in an infected person’s households.”

Dr de Gascun said referring to monkeypox as an STI “automatically causes some people to think they are not at risk because perhaps they’re not sexually active or they haven’t been in contact with somebody sexually in a period of time or they haven’t seen somebody with lesions”.

And let's be clear on something, Saager, if I were a gay man and I knew you and you came up to me to lecture me about my 'behavior,' I think I'd punch you in the face (a) for your homophobia, (b) for your assumption that I needed you to explain current events to me because you thought I was too stupid to understand them myself and (c) to help you calm your ass down because you were clearly in the midst of a panic.

It is not a gay disease and the sooner everyone grasp that, the sooner things will be better.  Are gay men more at risk, it appears right now that they are.  But they're not solely at risk and things change and infections can morph.  POLITICO notes:

It may be too late to stop monkeypox from circulating in the U.S. permanently.

The Biden administration was caught off-guard when the CDC confirmed monkeypox in a Massachusetts man on May 18. It was part of the first major outbreak outside parts of Africa where the virus is endemic, an unusual event that quickly spun into a global health crisis.

Caught off guard?  What was the lazy, senile man prepared for?  Clearly, it wasn't to govern.  There was a pandemic in place when he was running for the presidency.  Back then, he spoke of how he would address it and all that he felt Donald Trump was doing wrong about COVID.  Now Joe's president and he tells us it's hear and we're all going to catch it and . . .

When is this dumb ass do-nothing ever prepared?


U.S. public health officials tracked the early cases around the country that followed. But a series of setbacks in the administration’s response — including clunky early testing protocols, slow vaccine distribution, a lack of federal funding to help state and local governments respond to the outbreak, and patchy communication with communities most affected by the virus — allowed the disease to gain a foothold among men who have sex with men, particularly those who have had multiple partners in a short period of time.

Can you read that slowly, Saager?  Because the way I read it, this government's mistakes put us all at risk.  Emily Alvarenga and John Wilkens (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE) observe:

But the federal government reportedly bungled the nation’s supply of monkeypox vaccine, leading to an unnecessary shortage. The U.S. could have had many more doses but waited too long to ask the manufacturer to process the bulk vaccine the government already owned into vials, according to The New York Times.

“Unlike HIV, a vaccine that offers protection already exists, and yet there aren’t enough vaccines to protect all of us who need it — and there could have been,” Lopez said.

Emily Lang (GOTHAMIST) reports:

LGBTQ+ activists gathered outside Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office in Manhattan on Sunday to demand better access to monkeypox testing and vaccines from the federal government.

Organizers with ACT UP New York, PrEP4All and members of the queer community that have been impacted by the monkeypox outbreak called for or an emergency use authorization of the tecovirimat, or Tpoxx vaccine, an investment in new testing that detects the virus before skin lesions appear and more educational outreach to all communities.

“I don't have a degree in epidemiology,” said ACT UP NY organizer Millie-Christie Dervaux. “There's a huge amount of confusion and it is preventing people from getting the clarity that they need if they are able to access that care at all.”

ACT UP Tweets:

CUT THE RED TAPE At the Senate’s Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s offices in NYC, demanding: - Fill & distribute 16 mil doses if #MPV Vax; - Authorize emergency use of TPOXX; - Develop new tests to detect MVP before symptoms appear; - Establish emergency funds - help MOV+ people

So Saager and Krystal can jaw bone, yammer and waste everyone's time with a segment that just reveals that they're scared and worried, but ACT UP can call for what the country actually needs.  Maybe Saager needs to worry less about what he's going to tell his alleged gay friends and should actually be listening more to them?

At VOX, 

But that reporting is hobbled by the fact that there is no single agency responsible for the US health care system. Data is collected by federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services — which houses the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Indian Health Service — as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which focuses on supplies and infrastructure for disaster preparedness. But communication among these agencies, the state health departments that report to them, and the hospitals and organizations where data is collected is often challenging, thanks to a fractured system made up of hundreds of different organizations.

Data comes in from over 900 health systems, or chains of hospitals under shared management; the largest include about 200 hospitals. But that’s just a fraction of the over 6,000 hospitals across the country. So when, for example, positive test results for Covid-19 or monkeypox, or cases of workplace exposure to pesticides, have to be reported to the state, public health boards in every state must coordinate with hundreds of different organizations and aggregate their data before they can share it with federal agencies. Except during an officially declared public health emergency — which, for monkeypox, is only a week old — the CDC has limited legal power to mandate reporting.

Data also isn’t collected the same way everywhere. There is a large number of different electronic health record systems currently in use in the US. They allow medical professionals to document a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, and in theory, share them more efficiently than in the days of paper-based records. But the software systems aren’t designed to be compatible with each other, so they cannot easily exchange data.

Even for a popular software platform like Epic, which covers about a third of hospital systems in the US, categories like a patient’s diagnosis — or even something as simple as their height or weight — are often customized for a particular hospital or chain. This makes for a more efficient workflow for the medical professionals on the ground, but it means that every hospital or chain is collecting slightly different information and organizing it differently. In order to piece the information together into a national picture that policymakers can actually use, each individual dataset has to be mapped onto a standardized format, a massive administrative burden that adds to delays.  

Maybe instead of your fear-based panic,  BREAKING POINTS could offer segments on what actually can be done, right now, to help address the epidemic?

October 10th, Iraq held elections.  The sitting prime minister suppressed the vote turnout by refusing to allow the militia members to, as they had before, take part in early voting.  The reason security forces have their own day of early voting is because on the actual voting day, they are deployed throughout the country to protect the voting centers.  

All this time later, still nothing, no progress.  No prime minister, no president.  If you think you're getting tired of it, imagine how the Iraqi people feel.  And that's a point we've made for some time but a point that only now is the western press picking up on.  

 Followers of Moqtada al-Sadr protested Friday but the cult saw a large number of people show up to protest Moqtada and his demands.  NEWSGRAM reports:

Members of al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc resigned but instead of allowing his rivals — the Coordination Framework — to try to form a government, al-Sadr has demanded the parliament be dissolved and that early elections be held. It's unclear whether he has any legal basis for those demands.

The inter-Shiite power struggle has left Iraq in political limbo and exacerbated the economic crisis. The impasse, now in its 10th month, is the longest in the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion reset the political order.

"We are protesting against the occupation of parliament and those who threaten the judiciary," said university student Abbas Salem, who was part of the rally Friday by Iran-backed groups.

Salem carried a poster of a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, and a top Iraqi Shiite militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a U.S. drone strike in January 2020. He said he worries that if al-Sadr forms a government, he will disband the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella of mostly Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Another protester, Ahmad al-Maliki, 52, said they are opposed to al-Sadr followers' "occupation of parliament" and added that Iraq needs a new government as soon as possible.

As these protests continue, others are getting fed up.  Laure Al Khoury (AFP) reports:

Two rival Shiite Muslim blocs are holding competing sit-ins in Baghdad, ramping up tensions in conflict-weary Iraq, but shopkeeper Mustafa says he's more worried about how he's going to make a living.

"We have no work," said the man in his forties as a lone fan pumped hot summer air around his clothes store.

The two camps are "defending their personal interests", he charged, declining to provide his surname due to security concerns.

Political deadlock has left Iraq without a new government, president or prime minister following general elections 10 months ago.

[.  . .]

An anti-government protest movement that erupted in late 2019 was instead met with a deadly security crackdown.

"We didn't even manage to cross the bridge that led to the Green Zone," said 50-year-old communist activist Ali Jaber, recalling the 2019 protests.

"It took them eight minutes," the civil servant said of the Sadrists, alleging "indulgence" by the security forces.

He dismissed the demands of both the Sadrists and their rivals.

"It's not a fight to build a state, it's the ultimate political conflict in the name of their own interests," he said. "They are in another world."

Analyst Lahib Higel from the International Crisis Group said the demonstrations were "less a people's revolution than an intra-elite fight, mainly pitting Sadr and his political backers against Maliki and his".

The standoff has "exposed once more the fragility of Iraq's post-2003 political system", she said.

Last week, Moqtada made the demand that the judiciary dissolve the Parliament.  The judiciary has responded.  ALJAZEERA carried an AP article which notes, "Iraq’s top judicial body says it does not have the authority to dissolve the country’s parliament, days after influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr escalated a political standoff by giving it one week to dismiss the legislature so new elections can be held."

We've been noting the Iraqi consensus that Moqtada was getting a pass (due to the sitting prime minister) that other groups did not when they protested in the past.  We noted the rumor circulating over a week ago that the sitting prime minister had issued a stand-down order to security forces regarding Moqtada's cult.  We also noted that there were people who frustrated by the protests and that a call for new elections will most likely, if it takes place, see Moqtada get his more traditional results -- far less representation in Parliament -- because he only did well because so many chose to sit the election out.

On the frustrations of those not taking part in Moqtada's protests or the Coordination Framework's protests, Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Samya Kullab (AP) report:


Ordinary Iraqis are increasingly frustrated because the caretaker government is struggling to provide basic services, such as electricity and water.

The political crisis comes at a time of growing unemployment, particularly among young Iraqis. The country has endured consecutive droughts that severely damage agriculture and fisheries industries, further diminishing prospects for jobs.

Protests in southern Iraq turned violent last week after stone-throwing demonstrators clashed with security forces outside oil fields in the provinces of Missan and Dhi Qar. More than a dozen protesters were detained, and more than a dozen members of the security forces were injured.

In Missan, Mustafa Hashem protested against severe water shortages that damaged livelihoods in Iraq's marshes. He said the security forces engaged in "brutal and unjustified repression” against peaceful protesters.

More protests were held in the southern province of Basra after three straight days of power cuts during the peak summer heat. Protests are common during the summer in Iraq, when rising temperatures overwhelm the national grid, causing outages. This year, many demonstrators called for al-Sadr to champion their rights.

Salinity levels in Basra this summer are nearly the same as four years ago when tens of thousands of people were hospitalized because of poor water quality, said environmentalist Shukri al-Hassan. The 2018 health crisis spurred violent protests that served as the harbinger for mass anti-government rallies the following year.

Unable to pass a budget law, the caretaker government has resorted to stop-gap measures to fund urgent expenses such as food and electricity payments to neighboring countries. Meanwhile, crucial investments, including in water infrastructure, have been stalled.

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