Thursday, November 3, 2022

Changes at NETFLIX

We knew it was coming.  And how it is here.  CNET reports:

The era of Netflix with advertising has arrived. Thursday marks the launch of Netflix's cheaper, ad-supported tier

The world's biggest subscription video service, Netflix grew into a behemoth partly thanks to its strategy of making shows and movies available in ad-free binges. Back when traditional, commercial-packed TV was the main way people watched, Netflix pitched itself as the alternative that wouldn't interrupt the flow of your programming with advertising, nor would it make you wait week to week to watch your next episode. Building itself into a giant by going against the grain of the TV industry, Netflix spent years dismissing the notion of advertising on its service. 

Fast forward to today: Netflix is the one behind the times. Nearly all of Hollywood's major media companies have launched their own streaming services to take on Netflix, including Apple TV PlusDisney PlusHBO MaxPeacock and Paramount Plus. And as they rolled out, they introduced features that have now become the norm customers expect, including an option to pay less if you watch ads. 

It's been threatening it forever.  Now it's making good on the threat.  CNET notes:

In the US, Basic with Ads is $7 a month, saving $3 monthly compared with the cheapest ad-free membership.  

By comparison, in the US:

  • Disney Plus will start charging $8 a month for its ad-supported subscription and $11 a month for its ad-free membership starting Dec. 8. (For now, it charges $8 a month for ad-free streaming.) 
  • Hulu is $8 a month with ads and $15 a month ad-free. 
  • Paramount Plus charges $5 for its tier with advertising, and $10 for the ad-free version. 
  • HBO Max is $10 a month if you watch with ads or $15 a month to strip out all commercials. 

  • Peacock lets you stream a portion of its catalog free with advertising, while its paid subscriptions -- which unlock its full library -- are $5 a month with ads and $10 a month without ads. 

I have all the above listed streaming services.  I have PARAMOUNT because I have the WALMART grocery delivery plan -- so we get PARAMOUNT PLUS free.  On PEACOK, I have the ad based plan.  And I'm fine with it.  I have HULU with ads to grab FX and other things.  I need to drop DISNEY PLUS because I haven't watched since the first episode of that awful SHE=HULK.  HBO MAX?  I'm probably dropping it.  They can't even deliver a new movie each weekend -- something that they had to do before the pandemic. 

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

Thursday, November 3, 2022.  Joe Biden delivers a national address about the state of the economy and -- No, just joking.  He goes on the national airwaves to try to turn out the vote for the Democratic Party.  In Iraq, the stalemate be over but other problems continue -- such as an MP dying in the Parliament building.

Tuesday, Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reported:

A group of 10 congressional Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday asked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to estimate how many millions of U.S. workers will be out of a job next year due to the central bank's rate-hiking frenzy, which is expected to continue this week as the Federal Open Market Committee meets to discuss further increases.

In a letter led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), the lawmakers point specifically to Powell's "disturbing warning to American families" in August that "they should expect 'pain' over the coming months as the Fed takes 'forceful and rapid steps' to 'get supply and demand back into alignment... by slowing the economy.'"

"You continue to double down on your commitment to 'act aggressively' with interest rate hikes and 'keep at it until it's done,' even if '[n]o one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or if so, how significant that recession would be,'" the letter reads, further quoting the Fed chair. "These statements reflect an apparent disregard for the livelihoods of millions of working Americans, and we are deeply concerned that your interest rate hikes risk slowing the economy to a crawl while failing to slow rising prices that continue to harm families."

The letter, also signed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was sent as Fed policymakers convened in the nation's capital to decide on the size of the next interest rate increase, which is set to be announced Wednesday. A 75-basis-point hike is widely expected, marking the fourth consecutive increase of that size even as a growing chorus of experts and analysts raise concerns about mass job loss.

As expected, the Fed announced a hike on Wednesday. Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

Accountable.US spokesperson Liz Zelnick noted in a statement that "a chorus of economic experts have warned hiking interest rates again is a recipe for millions of Americans receiving pink slips, yet the Fed has decided to triple down on what is not working."

"Throughout the pandemic, the Fed should have been acting as stewards of the fragile economic recovery but instead have prioritized demands from big banks, hedge funds, and other Wall Street special interests at the great expense of average working families," she contended.

Last night, Joe Biden addressed the nation.  Did the US president finally talk to the American people about the awful economy?  Nope.  Did he explain how his actions were taking us to the brink of nuclear war?  No, he continues to save that conversation for fundraisers.  Eric London (WSWS) explains he talked about 'threats' to democracy, "If only the president and the party controlling both houses of Congress had the power to do more than wish away the threat of fascism! He was in effect telling American voters, send more Democrats to Washington although they can do nothing about the danger of dictatorship."

Remember America, we have nothing to fear but . . . everyone!!!!  

Not exactly FDR but it's Joe after all.  If he's standing and his dentures don't slip in his mouth we call it a win.  

Back to Eric London:

Biden’s speech was riven with contradictions. This is the product of the Democratic Party’s desire to avoid saying anything that might (1) trigger the development of protests from below against the far-right threat or (2) undermine the “bipartisan unity” the Biden administration requires to prosecute US imperialism’s war against Russia in Ukraine.  

He asserted that those who wish to disrupt the vote are a “tiny minority” of American society, yet he stated that they pose a massive threat to the entire country. He twice said that “MAGA Republicans” represent “only a minority of that party” but said that Republicans are running over 300 candidates for office who “question not only the legitimacy of past elections, but elections now and in the future.” He said, “We can’t take democracy for granted any longer” but professed blind confidence that “democracy will prevail.”

But most importantly, Biden’s speech presented a version of American “democracy” that has nothing to do with the social reality confronting masses of people. To the extent that this is the presentation the Democrats make of the current state of American democracy, they will fail miserably to mobilize popular support for it. Polls showing the likelihood that Republicans will win the House testify to this danger.

“America is not a zero-sum society,” Biden said, adding that “America is big enough for everyone to succeed.” But three billionaires have as much wealth as the poorest 160 million people.

“We should leave no one behind,” Biden said, even though hundreds of thousands go homeless every night, a majority of the working class is a paycheck away from poverty and one million people have been left behind to die of COVID-19 so far in the US alone.

America is ruled by “the people,” Biden declared. In America “the aspirations of the many” prevail over “the power of the few.” It is not an “autocracy,” where “one interest” controls society. Who does he think he is kidding? There are two political parties, and both are controlled by Wall Street.

Biden’s concern about election fraud is real. But the truth of the matter is that polls show Republicans might win back the Congress even without committing fraud. The fact that this is even possible shows the Democratic Party has been totally incapable of mobilizing the population against the Republicans’ ongoing plot. Inflation is nearing 10 percent, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates in order to slash real wages, and the Biden administration is working tirelessly with the trade union bureaucracies to prevent the outbreak of strikes and social struggles that might threaten corporate profits.

As for Biden's claims to represent “democracy,” his administration and the Democratic Party-controlled Congress are preparing to override the democratic will of 120,000 railroad workers to block them from striking and threatening corporate profits.

While claiming to stand for democracy, Joe's Homeland Security Dept is moving towards censoring speech.  Jake Johnson (WSWS) reports:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should be shut down after reporting shined light on the agency's sweeping campaign to police what it deems disinformation online, an effort that raised alarm among civil liberties groups.

"It's time to talk about shutting down the Department of Homeland Security," Snowden, a former NSA contractor who exposed the agency's illegal mass spying program in 2013, wrote on Twitter.

DHS, formed in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks, "was always a mistake, a costly artifact of the hysteric post-9/11 authoritarianism that left us no more safe, but much less free," Snowden continued. "Its plan to become the Speech Police is the final straw."

Snowden was responding to an in-depth story by The Intercept on Monday detailing secretive DHS attempts to "curb speech it considers dangerous" by trying to pressure and "influence tech platforms" such as Twitter and Facebook. The department's "stepped up counter-disinformation effort" began under former President Donald Trump and has continued under President Joe Biden, the outlet noted.

"According to a draft copy of DHS' Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, DHS' capstone report outlining the department's strategy and priorities in the coming years, the department plans to target 'inaccurate information' on a wide range of topics, including 'the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine," The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang reported.

"How disinformation is defined by the government has not been clearly articulated, and the inherently subjective nature of what constitutes disinformation provides a broad opening for DHS officials to make politically motivated determinations about what constitutes dangerous speech," Klippenstein and Fang stressed.

"DHS justifies these goals—which have expanded far beyond its original purview on foreign threats to encompass disinformation originating domestically—by claiming that terrorist threats can be 'exacerbated by misinformation and disinformation spread online," they added. "But the laudable goal of protecting Americans from danger has often been used to conceal political maneuvering."

Fake ass Joe Biden using the national airwaves to do a partisan voter rally.  He's so disgusting and shameful.  At least last night's lies didn't include him claiming -- as he did in Florida -- that he had gone to the historically Black college of Delaware State University (he went to University of Delaware).  

Next up, Joe claims he was briefly on the first season of A DIFFERNT WORLD and dated Jaleesa for two episodes!

In the real world, Turkey continues bombing Iraq.  MEHR NEWS AGENCY reports:

Local Iraqi media including Shafaq have said that the Turkish airplanes targeted several PKK positions in Kani Masi district on Wednesday.

Today's warplanes' attacks came after the Local media in Iraq reported on Saturday evening that Turkey conducted a drone attack on the Sinjar town located in the Iraqi Nineveh province.

The Turkish drones targeted a residential area in Sinjar town in the north of the country near Mosul, according to local Iraq news sources.

Under the guise of fighting PKK, Turkey has deployed its troops in areas of northern Iraq and Syria and is conducting aerial and artillery attacks on parts of the northern areas of these countries.

Turkey's actions are acts of war -- so, of course, Joe Biden's never condemned them.

Iraq held elections October 10, 2021.  Over a year later, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani formed a cabinet.  With that aspect of the political stalemate over, will Iraq's new government finally become responsive to the people?

Some don't see that happening.  One such person speaks with THE NATIONAL:

Haider Al Mirjan says the life-changing injuries he sustained during the October 2019 pro-reform protests were a sacrifice made in vain as the parties he was rallying against solidify their hold under the new government.

Like other protesters, Mr Al Mirjan says he is disappointed and frustrated about the makeup of the new government formed on October 22, in which Iran-backed political factions made a significant comeback.

“The day when this government was endorsed by the parliament was a gloomy and miserable one for all of us,” Mr Al Mirjan told The National from Germany, where he lives as a political refugee.

IRAQI NEWS notes one effort being made towards inclusion:

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (UN Women) in Iraq signed on Monday a one million USD partnership agreement in Baghdad to support women’s political participation and representation in Iraq, according to a press statement issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The joint project focuses on addressing the constraints on women’s political voice, strengthening women’s decision-making and leadership in elected spaces and increasing leadership in civic spaces, the statement mentioned.

The partnership aims to strengthen elected female leaders and potential candidates’ ability to influence decisions, demand their rights and actively engage in decision-making at all levels, the statement elaborated.

The agreement will increase the use of special measures, such as quotas, to improve women’s leadership and representation within political parties in Iraq, according to the UNAMI statement.  

The partnership will contribute to mitigating obstacles to female participation in public life by addressing violence against women in politics, the statement explained.

Yesterday, Iraq's Parliament lost one member.  Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reports:

A Shiite politician died on Wednesday while inside the Parliament building.

Mahmoud Shakir Al Salami, a member of the State of Law Coalition established and led by former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, was from the southern governorate of Thi Qar.

Mr Al Salami’s health condition deteriorated while he was holding regular meetings inside the parliament building, the Coalition said.

He was later transferred to Ibin Sina hospital inside the Green Zone where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of his death is so far unknown.

RUDAW notes:

Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid on Wednesday said that the country’s new cabinet has a lot of responsibilities to deliver on after a long overdue government formation process.

Rashid attended the 31st Arab Summit in the Algerian capital of Algiers, addressing Iraq’s recent government formation, security issues, and prospects for the future during his speech.

“The Iraqi government has a lot of responsibilities that it will work on to respond to the will of our people for reform, construction, and enhancing Iraq’s interaction with its regional and international surroundings,” said the Iraqi president, expressing his hopes that the efforts of the government would receive “positive interaction” from its regional neighbors.

It's Movember.  What is Movember?  Well it's not a typo:

Movember is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide. The Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity event, housed at

Here's Billy Eichner noting this yearly event and his film BROS.

The following sites updated:

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