Monday, March 27, 2023

Weekend box office

Via THENUMBERS.COM, here's the box office for the weekend that just ended:

1 N John Wick: Chapter 4 Lionsgate $73,817,950   3,855   $19,149 $73,817,950 1
2 (1) Shazam! Fury of the Gods Warner Bros. $9,340,652 -69% 4,071 n/c $2,294 $45,947,417 2
3 (2) Scream VI Paramount Pi… $8,331,794 -52% 3,355 -321 $2,483 $89,824,504 3
4 (3) Creed III United Artists $8,193,007 -47% 3,207 -270 $2,555 $140,712,800 4
5 (4) 65 Sony Pictures $3,200,037 -45% 2,786 -619 $1,149 $27,784,137 3
6 (5) Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Walt Disney $2,403,387 -43% 1,915 -735 $1,255 $209,846,279 6
7 (6) Cocaine Bear Universal $2,063,825 -48% 2,207 -480 $935 $62,106,030 5
8 (7) Jesus Revolution Lionsgate $1,968,124 -44% 1,964 -391 $1,002 $49,001,473 5
9 (8) Champions Focus Features $1,515,185 -51% 1,917 -1,122 $790 $13,538,120 3
10 (9) Avatar: The Way of Water 20th Century… $1,357,696 -35% 935 -255 $1,452 $680,398,659 15


The weekend box office saw JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 at number one and it made almost 80 million in North American ticket sales.  That's good.  I don't think it's going to do very well next weekend.  I'm not doing spoilers -- and didn't in my review -- but I think people will find it disappointing, the ending at least.  See it and you'll know what I'm talking about.  It's also going up against the new DUNGEONS & DRAGONS film this coming weekend.

Second place was CREED III which might also see a drop off due to allegations regarding Jonathan Majors.  I have no idea if they're true or not.  But it would be surprising if they didn't impact box office.   At number three?  The latest SHAZAM -- it made $9 million this past weekend.  I'm a little touchy on this film as a friend pointed out Friday.  He kept saying it was a bomb and I apparently exploded.  But, okay, I got you first ten times you said it.  Yes, I wish it had done better.  It needed a better script, a much better script.  The acting was first rate. 

SCREAM 6 came in at number four and is now up to $89 million in North America ticket sales.  Guess that means that the won't be in any rush to bring back Neve Campbell.



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


Monday, March 27, 2023.  More reflections on Iraq, NPR serves up War Porn and tries to pass it off as reporting, and so much more.

20 years and counting, the Iraq War continues.  Next year, it'll be of legal drinking age.  Murtaza Hussain (THE INTERCEPT) reports:

[Ghaith] Abdul-Ahad is among a generation of Iraqi writers and journalists who lived through the conflict and, two decades later, are finally being heard. What he has to say not only confronts the self-serving narratives of the war’s supporters and revisionists, but also bitterly confronts how the Iraqi people were used as pawns in a war that was launched in their name.

“Why were the only options for us as a nation and a people the choice between a foreign invasion and a noxious regime led by a brutal dictator? Not that anyone cared what we thought,” Abdul-Ahad writes. “We were all merely potential collateral damage in a war between the dictator and American neocons adamant that the world should be shaped in their image.”

[. . .]
Instead of freedom from Saddam’s predictable tyranny, the U.S. invasion delivered violent anarchy: extrajudicial killings, torture, warrantless detention, and the destruction of Iraq’s basic infrastructure. Following a chance encounter with a British reporter covering the invasion, Abdul-Ahad became a journalist himself, bearing witness to the total destruction of his country.

And THE INTERCEPT discusses the war with Abdul-Ahad in the audio below.

A complacent and willing mass media acquiesced in the Bush fantasy about WMD. The list of Iraq War cheerleaders was bi-partisan, including many liberals as well as neo-conservatives. All shared a colonialist mentality. In its coverage of the war, the Fourth Estate failed America by buying into lies and deception and regurgitating the propaganda. They lent a helping hand to American imperialism.

Still, before the war was fought, many millions around the world saw through the falsity and knew the war lacked any justification. Absolutely massive anti-war demonstrations flared up around the globe. I recall marching in front of the State House in Concord with many others. The anti-war voices were ignored though, and what ensued was a monumental and predictable debacle.

[. . .]

The lies of the Iraq War paved the way for a pathological liar and fascist like Donald Trump. Government lies conditioned the public to an acceptance of a war on truth. I wish I could say we have learned lessons from Iraq but we clearly have not.

The military-industrial complex and our capitalist system are heavily invested in war-fighting. It remains to be seen whether our policymakers will avoid future disasters as foolish, unnecessary, and destructive as the Iraq War.

Have any lessons been learned?  Doesn't appear so, certainly not on the part of those who rushed the United States into war.  Mary Clarke Jalonick (YAHOO NEWS) reports:

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, then a House member who was running for the Senate, says the war will have been worth it if Iraq succeeds in becoming a democracy.

“What can you say 20 years later?” Graham said this past week, reflecting on his own vote in favor. “Intelligence was faulty.”

On Lindsey, Rebecca notes in "lindsey graham got a blow out and new do:"

like this 1.  omg.  is lindsey graham trying to recast himself from u.s. senator to 'a lovely lady'?  because that new hairstyle screams carol brady on 'the brady bunch.'  it's a story ... of a lovely lady ... who spent way too many years in the senate ...  and he was all alone.

Clearly, he has time to contemplate new hair styles.  Sadly, he won't use any of that beauty time to contemplate the many deaths resulting from his actions.

At THE GUARDIAN this morning, Candice Pires reports on families of the fallen and we'll note the family of Jonathan Collns:

Angel Collins, 62: ‘For our family, your best day is your worst’

LCpl Jonathan Collins, son of real estate agent in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Collins was killed in action in Iraq on 8 August 2004, aged 19

It was the middle of the night when we got a call from Jonathan to say he was OK. His unit had recently been ambushed and nine Marines killed. It was April 2004 and the first time we’d heard from him since he’d gone to Iraq two months before.

Usually, if anything was going on with one of our four children, it was a car or plane ride away. But this time, I was helpless. I couldn’t sleep, I was having stress headaches. I often cried, alone. I lived for email updates from the parents of other marines. I listened to all the news I could. I knew there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Jonathan was an incredibly confident kid. He loved being in theatre. He did silly things like go to school dressed up like he was going to play golf. He was always quick to say, “I can do that.” When his brother went to college a four-hour drive away, he insisted he could run there.

He was 15 on September 11th. Then when we went into Afghanistan, a kind of cowboys and Indians ideology was out there with the kids. I was surprised when he said he wanted to join the Marine Corps. But school wasn’t his forte and he saw it as an opportunity to figure out what he wanted. Military recruiters came into the schools and looking back, I think he’d been talking to one.

After that first call from Iraq, we were able to communicate more. We sent him a digital camera and laptop. He always told me it was fine. It was dusty, it was dirty, but he would never say if he was afraid. Later I read in the journal I gave him: “We’re getting scared. We’re being told to get insurance policies out on ourselves.”

The higher-ranking officers started telling the marines to stop telling their parents what was really happening. They couldn’t control the flow of information and they didn’t have anything in place to handle the number of deaths.

Our daughters were 12 and 14. I never left them home alone during that time, because I didn’t know if someone was going to show up at the door. Jonathan was due back in September and by August, I thought he was safe. One day, I finally decided to take my dad to visit his brother when my older daughter called and said: “Mom, there’s a marine at the door.” I was in the car and threw my phone and just screamed and screamed and screamed. My husband and I both drove a hundred miles an hour to get home. The whole time I thought, “Maybe he’s injured. Don’t tell yourself he’s dead.” Another part of me knew they only came to the door for one reason.

Iraq's no better off today.  People died and there is no 'up' in that.  And the media has learned nothing from it.  There's 

NPR's cancelled four podcasts.  (See Ruth's "NPR created their own problems.")  They should make it five.  TAKING COVER needs to be cancelled as well.

Tom Bowman's always been more of an idiot than a journalist -- but he really let his stupidity shine last week with a 'report.'  Bowman and company wasted 49 minutes and over 7,500 words to tell you nothing.  NPR should be ashamed of themselves.  They gave your war porn while claiming it was reporting.  

Here's how it started: A tip to Tom about the US military (when? This year? we're never told).    The tip was  about events on April 12, 2004 in Falluja.  The US military lied.  They concealed details of a death.  They didn't just conceal it in real time.  When Bowman and NPR made an open records request, they were told that there were no records.  

This should have been big.  It should have been huge.

A report like this should have ended with the family of the dead Marine -- or his friends -- speaking about how disgusting it was that the US military concealed his death for 'optics.'   It should have had a comment from Senator Jack Reed who is the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

It didn't.  Instead we got a lot of nonsense.  Including the fact that no one ever needs to hear NPR reporters tossing around the term "man" as though they're buddies with the veterans.  Graham Smith and Tom Bowman aren't part of the Marines.  They are journalists -- someone should have reminded them of that.


They use the 49 minutes  to serve up war porn.  

And to make themselves the stars.

You can listen to the report and find out about how what books and documents the two 'reporters' went through.  As though that's the story?  Because that is what they made the story.  

Not the death, not the cover up.  In fact most people listening to this garbage may not grasp at the end, after 49 minutes, that Bowman and Smith never revealed what the story needed revealed.

Here's Tom Bowman yammering away early in the porn:

 I might run into a colonel I knew in Afghanistan or a general visiting from his overseas command who can tell me what's really going on. But there are some things, well, people just don't want to talk about in the building. So I might call them at home at night, or...


BOWMAN: ...We might meet up at a bar, which is what happened one night at a whiskey bar in D.C. Actually, this very bar, a guy who spent a lot of time in Iraq told me a story very few people knew. He told me that early in the Iraq War, there'd been this tragedy. U.S. Marines had dropped a mortar or a rocket on their own people. That's what they call friendly fire. Now, in this case, he said, one Marine was killed and another seriously wounded. Friendly fire deaths - they happen. They happen in every war throughout history. That's not what made his story shocking. Here's the thing - he said that the Marine brass had actually covered it up, burying the truth about this terrible incident because, he said, the son of a powerful politician was involved in the screw-up.

"SOUNDBITE OF DRINK POURING"?  That was needed to drive home that the two are trying for entertainment not not news.

A death was covered up.  And it was covered up because "the son of a powerful politician was involved in the screw-up."

We need to know why the cover up and we need to know son of a politician.  

They can add sound effects and they can brag on themselves but Bowman and Harris can't deliver the basic facts.

This is shameful.

You can be sure this isn't the only death that got covered up in Iraq.  In real time, we used to know the helicopter 'crashes' -- they were under investigation, the US government insisted.  Then we'd either find out that they were shot down or there would be no information released on them.  But when they happened, despite what was reported by news outlets, the US military would say that it was probably mechanical issues.

No, they were being shot down and shame on the government for lying to the American people.

And shame on NPR for thinking we needed to hear about Tom Bowman and G Smith cock-knocking around with the Marines and asking if reworking a BLACK & WHITE cigar is like making a spiff -- as though that has a damn thing to do with what they're supposed to be covering.

They pad their garbage with stuff that should be on the cutting room floor.  For example, "Ben was traveling in South America with his girlfriend, a musician, when I reached him. I set up a time to talk. And a week later, I called him from a studio here at NPR."  Who gives two s**ts and what does this have to do with the powerful politician NPR never names.

We don't need 'reporter' Smith sharing, "Yeah. I mean, I've spent a lot of time with Marines over in Afghanistan. I went in 2009 with 2/8 out of Lejeune on the whole, like, insert into the Helmand River Valley and, you know, dropped in with them on the helicopters."  That doesn't have one damn thing to do with Iraq or with the April 12th incident.  But garbage like that -- where 'reporters' try to make themselves the story -- keeps popping up throughout.

Nor do we need this from NPR 'reporter' Smith, "Yeah. Yeah. And let me preface this whole thing by saying I, you know, like - even after talking to Carlos, you know, I was, like, back in the zone for, like, a week. And my wife was like, why are you being such a b****? And..."

No one needs it.  You are not the story.  You're nothing but a piece of garbage using 49 minutes of NPR's time -- and the public's money -- to make yourself a star of a report that should be focusing on facts regarding an April 12, 2004 explosion in Falluja.

Brad Shuder is apparently the one the US military lied about.  When?  When he died April 12, 2004.  When did they get honest?  I don't know but his correct cause of death (what they lied about) is listed in MILITARY TIMES' HONOR THE FALLEN  database:

Marine Lance Cpl. Brad S. Shuder

Died April 12, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of El Dorado, Calif.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; killed April 12 by friendly fire in Anbar province, Iraq.


Brad S. Shuder signed up for the Marine Corps soon after his 18th birthday, making for a dramatic change in lifestyle: He was a gourmet cook who wanted to open a bakery, a man who wore designer fashions and took dates to the opera. “He was a genuine person,” said his longtime friend Kurt Hall. “He was someone who you could trust to be a real friend when you needed one.” The 21-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine from El Dorado Hills, Calif., was killed April 12 by friendly fire in Iraq’s Anbar province. Shuder seemed to know he might die on his second tour in Iraq. “He told us that he felt he wouldn’t be coming back,” his father, Glenn Shuder, said. But he wouldn't listen to his family’s pleas to request a change in assignment. He felt it was his duty to return, his parents said. “From the time he was a youngster, he always wanted to be in the military,” his father said. “He always said it was every American's duty to serve in the military.”

— Associated Press

The original DoD press release lied:

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Brad S. Shuder, 21, of El Dorado Hills, California, died April 12, 2004,  from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.  He was assigned to EchoCompany, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

It was not hostile fire, it was friendly fire.  A bombing was called in by the US military and it hit the Marines instead.

From a 2011 Laura Newell report that GOLD COUNTRY MEDIA ran:

“It’s never the same,” said Rose Shuder, Brad’s mother. “I guess for me, I wonder what he would be doing now at the age of 29. What would he look like and be doing? It never stops. Time makes it not as difficult, but it never stops.”

Rose said the El Dorado Hills community has been supportive and helpful during the time after her son’s death.

“When Brad died, the support was unbelievable, the community was so supportive for our family,” Rose said. “Everyone was so helpful. It was a great honor for Brad’s memory.”

Brad was adopted from Korea at 18 months old into the Shuder family including Rose and her husband Glenn. They also have a younger daughter Chelsey, 26.The family moved to El Dorado Hills in 1993.

“Brad went through the El Dorado County School system and graduated from Oak Ridge in 2001,” Rose said. “He was very well liked. … He always wanted to be in the military. Upon his graduation, Sept. 11, 2001 happened, so he signed up for the Marines.”

After graduating boot camp, Brad went to Iraq in 2003.

In those six paragraphs, Newell provides more information about Brad Shuder than Bowman and Smith did in their 49 minute 'report.'

Bowman and Smith can't be bothered speaking to Brad's parents.  Strange because NPR's DAY BY DAY spoke to his father back in 2006:

MIKE PESCA: We're joined by his father, Glen Shuder. Thanks for coming on, Glenn.

Mr. GLENN SHUDER (Father of Slain Marine): You're welcome.

PESCA: Glenn, in the past three years, or maybe two and a half, since your son died, has your attitude on the war itself changed?

Mr. SHUDER: Probably more so to the point where I just don't think it's a worthwhile cause anymore.

PESCA: And in the beginning, what did you think?

Mr. SHUDER: I really had really strong reservations about invading a country that I don't think we belong there. Since then, I just think it's deteriorated to a point where we've done more harm than good.

PESCA: Now, in the beginning, did you find yourself saying to people that phrase, I support the troops, in fact my son is one but I don't support the war?

Mr. SHUDER: No, I didn't say that. I would just say, you know, I support all the troops and the military and we need to keep on with that. I never said anything against or - for or against the war at that time. 

Bowman and Smith didn't tell who the son of the politician was -- or who the politician was -- that lied.  They don't explore that or anything of value.  Why the lie?

We don't have that in the report so NPR's encouraging conjecture.  Fine, let's go there.  You have two deaths from friendly fire.  You lie and say that it's from an enemy attack.  You do that in the spring of 2004.  By this point, people are turning against the war in the United States.  People are asking why is the US still there?  Two deaths can be used.

Not if you're honest.  If you're honest that the US government just did a bombing that killed 2 US Marines, you're going to get even more complaints about this on going war.  But if you can claim -- just long enough for a press cycle -- that they were killed by Iraqis?  Well you can pump up emotions and maybe get a little support going for the war and a response of "let's go kick their ass" that just might save you for another week or two.

Nothing was accomplished in Iraq, nothing that benefited the Iraqi people.  All this time later, that should be obvious.  Right now, RUDAW notes, Iraq is experiencing flooding in places:

 Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani directed the suspension of working hours in all provinces of the country for Monday on account of heavy rainfall and bad weather conditions.

Torrential downpour accompanied by strong windstorms and floods caused significant material damage in the provinces of Baghdad, Anbar, Najaf, Diwaniyah, and Wasit on Sunday. Many of the provinces individually announced the suspension of working hours prior to the decision from Sudani.

Water levels rose in many of the provinces, including Najaf, where water swept into houses, the historic Great Mosque of Kufa, and the Najaf International Airport.

Some of the flooding is a result of the infrastructure.  As always, you can be sure Sadr City is flooded.  That's what happens when you don't invest in drainage and sewers.   And those issues were never addressed.  Millions wasted and people can't even have basic infrastructure, potable water, electricity, you name it.  There is no way to grade the illegal war as anything but a failure.

THE KATIE HALPER SHOW posted another segment on Iraq yesterday.

The following sites updated:

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