Wednesday reading

May. 24th, 2017 06:15 pm
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I think somewhere I mentioned the subject of book I read through most recently. It is The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan, which covers the years between 1908 and the armistice on October 31, 1918 ending Turkey's participation in World War One, eleven days before the armistice on the Western Front. Not sure anyone here is interested in that subject, but I should say it is balanced, well written and easy to follow. I've read a couple books on the Ottomans before, the excellent The Ottoman Centuries by Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, which covered the entire sweep of Ottoman history and another book I don't recall well that also focused on the Ottomans in World War One, but without the clarity of The Fall of the Ottomans.

The book manages to relate the problems Turks had without painting them as 'the enemy,' but also not ignoring the ugly side of Young Turk rule. The book explains why the Armenian genocide began, who was behind it in government, and some of the horrors, but it does not let that topic overwhelm the rest of the history. It does cover the double dealing on the part of the British in the war who seemed to have made promises to far too many groups, tribes and nations with conflicting interests. It does however show without actually arguing the point that perhaps those who think that the current troubles in the Middle East began with the British and French occupation after World War One probably haven't dug deeply enough into the issues that were tearing the Ottoman Empire apart long before then.

My only gripe about the book is that it stops in 1918 where as the transition from the Ottomans to the modern Turkey took several more years of fighting.

Currently, I am translating a very long, Soviet era, Russian novel called Blockade by Aleksander Chakovsky, about the siege of Leningrad in World War Two. It seems the book was turned into a movie shortly after it was published in 1978, but it is not easy to find out anything about its author. The book is fine for brushing up on my Russian skills, but it certainly is not one I would recommend to anyone, Russian speaking or not, as a work of art. Among the problems I've seen in it besides the usual Soviet era ideological crap are plagiarism (It's bad when you know the English language sources a Russian book stole from), horrible syntax, and possibly non-existent or possibly terrifyingly bad editing.
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Posted by David Covucci

No one, in the first four months of the tumultuous Trump administration, has publicly gone to bat for President Donald Trump quite like Sean Spicer.

Sure, that’s the nature of his job as press secretary—and his efficacy can be debated—but day in and day out, he bore the entire brunt of the media’s pointed questioning of the administration. And he’s been the focus of SO MUCH internet scorn.

So this story is just sad.

According to CNN, Spicer, who is Catholic, was not allowed in Trump’s meeting today with Pope Francis. Included were Hope Hicks and his director of social media, Dan Scavino, as well as Ivanka and Jared. Also in the audience were Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster.

No Spicer, though.

From CNN. No matter what you think of Spicer, this will just bum you out.

Asked about Spicer not being included in the group that met the Pope, a source close to the White House said: “Wow. That’s all he wanted.”

Man. Sad face.

The White House said that the Vatican was very strict about the number of people allowed in the meeting, but the source added that it should definitely be seen as a “slight” from the president. Speculation has been rampant in Washington, D.C.., that the president is planning on replacing Spicer soon.

But still. Man.

That’s messed up.

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Posted by Andrew Wyrich

The Republican’s signature healthcare legislation would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance in the next decade, according to a new report released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO assessment of the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—which Republicans narrowly pushed through the House last month—estimated that if enacted, an estimated 51 million people under the age of 65 would be uninsured in 2026, compared to the 28 million who lack insurance under the current law.

The report also estimated that the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade if the AHCA replaced the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often known as Obamacare.

While some premiums are expected to go down (a major point for Republicans wanting to replace the ACA), the CBO estimated that beginning in 2020—when new tax credits under the AHCA take effect—people who are “less healthy” and those with pre-existing conditions would “ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding available” under the AHCA.

“As a result, the non-group markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs,” the report states. “That instability would cause some people who would have been insured in the non-group market under current law to be uninsured.”

While Republicans have been trying to repeal the ACA since former President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010, the law has become embedded in the nation’s healthcare system and many people have grown accustomed to being able to afford some type of health insurance.

Many Republican lawmakers have faced angry crowds of constituents as they ramped up and eventually wrote the AHCA.

The AHCA would alter key provisions of the ACA, including the elimination of the tax penalty on Americans who fail to maintain health insurance coverage, the addition of state-level waivers on coverage of “essential benefits,” and cutting federal funds for Medicaid.

Perhaps most controversially, the AHCA would also weaken the ACA provision requiring insurers to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The report also found that in states request waivers under the AHCA premiums for low-income people over the age of 64 would see premiums skyrocket.

The findings will likely be a blow to House Republicans, especially as the bill faces the more moderate Senate, where lawmakers are expected to write their own version of the bill.

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Posted by Sarah Weber

The creative genius behind American Gods and the Sandman comics has a wonderfully odd new project on his plate.

It all started Friday when comedian and writer Sara Benincasa reached out to celebrated author Neil Gaiman on Twitter to ask if he’d do a live reading of the entire Cheesecake Factory menu provided his fans raised $500,000 for a charity of his choice.

Being a stand-up kind of chap in addition to a talented wordsmith, Gaiman agreed, selecting the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as the benefactor. UNHCR provides critical protection, shelter, healthcare, sanitation, and clean water support to millions of refugees around the world, many of whom are children.

And now Gaiman’s fans are off to the races, collectively donating $32,700 and growing since a donation page for the project went live. Besides being over the moon that Gaiman accepted the challenge, Benincasa was immediately blown away by the response to the project, for which she coined the hashtag #neilcake.

Benincasa explained on the donation page that she pitched the project for the same reason a lot of the best internet shenanigans happen: It’s silly and fun and does some good in this crazy world. (Plus Gaiman really does have an incredible reading voice. Check out another charity reading he did of the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham below.)

“You think you loved ‘American Gods’ or ‘Sandman’ or ‘Good Omens’ or his ‘Doctor Who’ episodes or the other 18,000 great things he’s written?” Benincasa wrote on the donation page. “This will almost certainly be better or at least involve more Snickers and Oreo references.”

Benincasa wants to meet the fundraising goal by June 20, which happily coincides with World Refugee Day. The details of the live reading haven’t been ironed out yet, but Benincasa promises that she’ll livestream the event and/or upload a video so “you can watch later whilst weeping at the beauty of Neil Gaiman saying ‘avocado egg rolls.'”

We can’t wait to hear the delicious results.

H/T Los Angeles Times 

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Posted by Teresa Jusino


Equality is slowly making its way around the world. Earlier today, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that a provision in the current civil code banning same-sex marriages violated two articles of the constitution that guard human dignity and equality. According to NBC News, “Authorities must now either enact or amend relevant laws within two years, failing which same-sex couples could have their marriages recognized by submitting a written document.”

LGBTQIA activists in Taiwan have been working for this for years, and hundreds cheered outside the legislature when the ruling came down. It was a long time coming, as surveys in the country all point to a majority of Taiwan’s citizens being in favor, as is its current president, Tsai Ing-wen, who also happens to be Taiwan’s first female leader.

The court’s ruling said, in part, “The need, capability, willingness and longing, in both physical and psychological senses, for creating such permanent unions of intimate and exclusive nature are equally essential to homosexuals and heterosexuals, given the importance of the freedom of marriage to the sound development of personality and safeguarding of human dignity.”

To put this in perspective, despite much progress since 2001, in the world’s nearly 200 countries, gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry in only 22 of them. Taiwan is the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and South Africa is the only country in Africa to do so. Meanwhile, not only is same-sex marriage legal in only 22 countries, but 70 countries outright criminalize homosexuality.

Which makes this news all the sweeter today.

(image: Paul Stringer/Shutterstock)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

pjimage (22)

Everyone’s favorite Mad Woman and Handmaiden will be taking on the role of one of history’s most mysterious (and infectious) figures for the BBC.

Moss will executive produce as well as star in the BBC America miniseries Fever, based on Mary Beth Keane’s book about the life of Mary Mallon. Mary, an asymptomatic typhoid carrier, poisoned a slew of people in New York City in the early 1900’s when she worked as a cook in several households. After being caught as the locus of the outbreak, Mary had to swear never to cook again, but she broke her promise and continued to spread typhoid. Her actions and motivations are still the subject of debate, and it’ll be fascinating to see how Moss portrays Mary. As a lover of strange and morbid history, I’m excited for this one. (via A.V. Club)


(image: American Eagle newspaper, 1909)

    • Visit the URL We promise it’s safe for work, and an ingenious use of redirect. (via Twitter)
    • George R. R. Martin thinks Trump is a grown-up King Joffrey. Yuppp. (via B.I.)
    • Here’s the real reason Marvel Comics’ sales are tanking (hint: it’s not diversity). (via The Atlantic)
    • Little Petal is doing a Wonder Woman fundraiser giveaway with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Donate as little as $1 for the chance to win sweet WW items and give to a good cause. (via Twitter)

So what’d you see today, bud?


(image: AMC)

(top image: Shutterstock/ Wikipedia)

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Posted by Keisha Hatchett


What I love about the Bentonville Film Festival is that it celebrates diversity both on-screen and behind the camera. I have never seen so many unique storytellers in one place and it gives me hope to think that these creators represent the future of the industry. I had a chance to talk with quite a few of them about the movies they made and I’m proud to share snippets of those conversations with you now. So without further adieu…


This psychological thriller centers on a female marine corps vet and her “difficult re-entry into civilian and domestic life” after serving in war.

“This story is one that has not been told very much. The story of homecoming from war is one of our oldest, but from a women’s perspective that’s not a story we tell a whole lot in movies,” Remy Auberjonois said of the film which marks his directorial debut. It was co-written by Kate Nowlin who also stars. I can’t embed the video but you can watch the trailer here.

Interesting fact: A blood stripe is a decorative stripe that runs down the leg of the dress uniform of officers in the marine corps.


A short narrative film about a standup comedian who decides to spend the weekend with her estranged daughter.

When asked why she wanted to make this film,  Gloria Mercer (writer/director/producer/editor) told me, “I care a lot about the types of roles that are written for women. I wanted to give a voice to a character who basically wasn’t perfect but still very interesting…and celebrate her imperfections. Especially from the perspective of not being a perfect mom because I feel like women are often defined by motherhood in roles.”

Find more about the film here and catch Gloria’s other works here.

Fun fact: This film was her final project for undergrad and she calls it “the biggest thing that I’ve done.”

Deep Storage

Winner of BFF’s Best Short By Audience Award.

This is a story about a guy with a speech impediment and beautiful singing voice who communicates through singing rather than talking. “He’s a bit hopeless so he ends up living in a unit in a storage facility,” Aussie writer/director Susie Earl explained. But don’t worry, it’s a romcom so you can expect a happy ending. His love interest is a woman with “big, buck teeth” and it’s essentially about them falling for one another.

Earl previously worked in animation and got funding for this film thanks to the Australian government arts council. When asked about the significance of government supporting the arts, she said, “I think it’s really important. It means you get to make stuff and pay people properly.”

You can find more about the film on Facebook or its official website.

Flip the Record

This film is as cool as its namesake. It centers on a young Filipino-American girl who is bullied by her older brother. She teaches herself how to DJ on his turntables and learns to express herself through music. It’s based on the real-life hip-hop scene in San Francisco during the ’80s, which saw teen girls mixing it up with the guys and shaping an entire genre. The film was written, directed and edited by Marie Jamora and features seven original songs which seemed more cost effective than licensing songs from that era.

“It’s about a girl who..learns how to be her own badass, ” producer and co-production designer Jason Mcklaigan added.

Check out their Facebook for more awesome photos.

Let Me Go

Winner of BFF’s Best Ensemble Award.

Based on the true story of German author Helga Schneider, this film is about four generations of women and a secret that started during WWII. The film starts at the moment that secret is revealed and explores how everything unravels.

“This story is about a woman abandoning her family and that’s just so unusual, ” producer Lizzie Pickering explained. “Although it’s set in the year 2000, it’s about the generational messages passed down from that experience. It’s about four strong female leads.”

Agree with me on the importance of women being able to tell their own stories, writer/director Polly Steele said, “We need to have our own voices and we need to tell our own stories. Our film had four female leads and a female producer and a female writer/director and over 50% of our crew were women. We made a point in trying to give this film a female voice.”

“We’re owning it,” Pickering added.

Fun fact: The two started their own production company called In Trust Films and fundraised the project themselves. They even got Philip Selway, drummer for Radiohead, to score the film.

For more info, head over to the movie’s website, Twitter or Facebook.

Letters from Baghdad

This documentary from co-directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum centers on a woman named Gertrude Bell who traveled through the Middle East at the turn of last century. “[She] is often referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia,” Krayenbühl told me. “[She] became familiar with the tribes, spoke the languages, drew maps of the region, was recruited by British military intelligence and worked in the war office. [She] was transferred to Baghdad and became one of the key architects in the modern state of Iraq.”

Krayenbühl and Oelbaum previously worked together on a film about Ruth Gruber called Ahead of Time as producer and editor respectively but this marks their directorial debut. They performed archival research from all over the world, looked at primary sources and secured permissions from descendants of those involved. This film was a five-year project and most definitely a labor of love.

When asked what we should take away from the film, Krayenbühl said: “She was a champion of tolerance. She really respected and valued all the people she came in touch with and fought for their right for self-rule. This is right now a very important topic…to respect other ethnic groups, other religions.”

Oelbaum added: We feel like the film is a great springboard for discussion on a lot of different topics. started a Kickstarter to fund the digitization of archival elements.

Fun fact: They used Kickstarter to fund the digitization of archival elements. The doc also features the voices of Tilda Swinton, Rose Leslie, Rachel Stirling
and Andrew Havill.

For more info, head over to their website.

Looking at the Stars

Winner of BFF’s Highest Diversity Score

This inspirational documentary follows two ballerinas from Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association in Brazil, the world’s only ballet school for the blind. Director Alexandre Peralta, who hails from a small town nearby, followed them for three years. He says he made this film because he was curious about the lives of the dancers behind those beautiful performances. “I want people to watch it and feel closer because of similarities, not the differences. It not about what’s different about them but what we have in common. I want you to be yourself in them and have empathy.”

Find out more about the film on the official website or Facebook.

Lost & Found

BFF’s winner of Best Episodic by Audience.

This half-hour pilot centers on a group of thirty-somethings navigating life and love. The first episode is about ending a relationship (referred to as an “an un-wedding”) and where to go from there.

“I wanted to tell a story that involved female characters but wasn’t beating you over the head with female empowerment issues, “said writer/director Haroula Rose. “But [I] also wanted to tell a story of real, grounded people going through human issues.”

Actor Melonie Diaz added, “I feel like there’s something interesting happening with the 30-year-old demographic. We feel like we’re supposed to be settling down and getting married and having children but times have changed and we want other things…So [the show is] kind of just talking about those issues and relationships.”

Keep up with the show on Instagram.

(image: Bentonville Film Festival)

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Posted by Samantha Grasso


First, they came to the aid of children during the Manchester bombing. Now, the internet has, in turn, come to the aid of Stephen Jones and Chris Parker, two homeless men who’ve received overwhelming praise in the form of positive comments, monetary donations, and even an offer of housing, after their story went viral.

On Tuesday, less than a day after the Manchester arena bombing killed 22 people and wounded dozens more, CNN affiliate ITV News shared the story of Parker and Jones, two men who were present at the time of the blast and rushed to help screaming women and children before paramedics arrived.

According to ITV News, Jones thought the blast was initially a firework, but then he saw an explosion. That’s when he and Parker realized that people were screaming and running, and the pair rushed toward the action. Jones described how he and Parker wiped blood from children’s faces, had pulled shrapnel from arms, and helped one woman severely bleeding from the legs while waiting for first responders.

“We are human, we still have a heart, we still have that instinct to help people out that need help and that’s what we are doing. And obviously when we are seeing children like that, with blood, and pulling nails out of their arms and stuff, and there were a couple in a girl’s face,” Jones said in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.

“It was children, a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming. If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that,” he continued.

Manchester attack: Homeless man who helped victims

"We had to pull nails out of children's faces".Steve, a homeless man who was sleeping near #Manchester Arena describes how he rushed to help young victims of the bomb attack.

Posted by ITV News on Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Now, a day after Jones and Parker’s story of heroism has gone viral, strangers have raised money for the pair through crowdfunding platforms, and a co-chairman of the West Ham United Football Club and his son have even offered Jones six months of housing. For Parker, the internet has raised more than $150,000 through GoFundMe, while nearly $30,000 has been raised for Jones through JustGiving.

Additionally, West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan and his son David Sullivan Jr. began looking for Jones on Tuesday in an effort to house him for six months to help him get back on his feet after being homeless for nearly a year.

“What me and my dad saw you do was amazing. Such a selfless act needs rewarding, and we need more people like you in this world. And to be honest, it was the least we could do,” Sullivan Jr. told Jones in a FaceTime call.

Hours later, Sullivan Jr. announced on Twitter that they were able to find Jones, and wrote that they’re still in the process of helping Parker, too.

In a followup interview with ITV News, Jones said he’s been touched by the kind comments from people online and is appreciative for the opportunity the Sullivans have given him. But, even though he wants to sort out his life with the generosity from strangers, he still doesn’t classify himself as a hero and says the words of acknowledgment were good enough.

“I had tears in my eyes when reading some of the comments that people put, but I’m no hero. I don’t class myself as a hero—I class myself as a normal citizen that would have done the same as anybody else would have done,” Jones said. “The donations, there was no need to, and just the kind words and acknowledgment was good enough for me honestly, or even if you if you seen me in the street or took me for coffee, that would have been good enough for me.”


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Posted by Phillip Tracy

The CEO of one of the largest brokerage firms in America announced her love for Bitcoin earlier today at Consensus 2017, a conference dedicated to Blockchain.

“I love this stuff—Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain technology—and what the future holds,” CEO Abigail Johnson said at the event, according to Reuters.

Bitcoin has seen a revitalization over the past 12 months, having increased in value by more than 400 percent to record highs. Last week it topped $2,100 for the first time ever, solidifying its place as the most valuable cryptocurrency on the market.

Johnson announced that Fidelity customers will now be able to monitor their Bitcoin balance straight from the company’s website as long as they hold an account with Coinbase, a digital asset exchange company. Customers will gain this feature sometime in the second or third quarter of this year.

This will make the asset management firm one of the largest services to integrate a digital currency into its website. Johnson said Fidelity has been testing the feature with its own employees, and are even letting them use Bitcoin in their cafeteria. However, fewer than 100 customers, who are internally called “Bitcoin Vikings,” use the payment method.

“I’m a believer,” Johnson said. “I’m one of the few standing before you today from a large financial services company that has not given up on digital currencies.”

Most financial firms are staying far away from Bitcoin. Johnson even copped to her struggles using the cryptocurrency: “Most of our experiments have hit one roadblock or another due to the emerging nature of the technology.”

She wasn’t afraid to present several of its shortcomings at the conference. The CEO said people will be disappointed if they think Bitcoin will beat Visa at point of sale today, or if they believe it can be used as a faster means of transaction. The CEO also cautioned that compromises will need to be made if Bitcoin’s biggest problems are to be fixed.

“We understand there are important trade-offs that need to get made as these systems grow,” Johnson said. “We care about the trade-off between scalability, privacy, and achieving peer-to-peer settlement. It seems right now you can’t have all three.”

Despite those issues, Johnson remains optimistic. She revealed a number of projects her company is working on to figure out how to harness the potential of the cryptocurrency. One of those projects is mining Bitcoin and its rival Ethereum, which Johnson said started for education purposes, but is now proving profitable: “We set up a small Bitcoin and Ethereum mining operation… that miraculously now is actually making a lot of money,” Johnson said, according to Quartz.

If successful, Johnson believes the company could “fundamentally change market structures and perhaps even the architecture of the internet itself.”

H/T Quartz

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Posted by Andrew Wyrich

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) recently told C-SPAN that he is drawing up articles of impeachment to begin the process of removing President Donald Trump from office.

But that doesn’t mean it’s close to becoming a reality.

Green made a passionate speech on the House floor last week calling for Trump’s impeachment and subsequently received racist death threats.

Green insists that Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice after he surprisingly fired former FBI Director James Comey and seemed to threaten or intimidate him on Twitter.

“This is not something that I wanted to do, it’s something that I feel compelled to do,” Green said on C-SPAN.

Green said that he has “constitutional scholars” helping him write the articles of impeachment.

“As a matter of fact, I am currently crafting, drafting if you will, articles of impeachment,” Green said. “Every member of Congress has the right to file a privileged resolution for impeachment, and it has to be heard within two legislative days. I’m a member of Congress, I’m crafting it.”

If his resolution is not acted upon, Green said he will “take it upon himself” to move forward, adding that he did not have an exact date he intends to file it.

Following Green’s speech on the House floor, he received several calls saying that they would “lynch” and “hang” him.

While Green’s written charges are the first step, several other things would need to occur before it was even a real possibility that Trump would be impeached.

A full impeachment would require a majority vote in the House of Representatives—which is Republican controlled. Then the case would be tried in the Senate, and a two-thirds majority would need to vote to convict and remove the president from office. The Senate is also controlled by Republicans, making this scenario unlikely.

Green said the American people should “weigh in” on the matter of impeachment. Searches for “impeachment” have spiked recently online.

“When the will of the people is properly expressed, the will of Congress will change,” Green said.

You can watch all of Green’s comments on C-SPAN here.

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Class... <3

May. 24th, 2017 09:46 pm
elisi: (Class)
[personal profile] elisi
For those watching now, I keep forgetting to link to my Class tag:

On LJ: here

On DW: here

I have written posts up to and including episode 6. No spoilers.
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Posted by Andrew Wyrich

The brothers and father of the alleged Manchester bomber were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to multiple news outlets.

Hashim Abedi, 20, the brother of suspected bomber Salman Abedi, 22, was arrested in Tripoli on Tuesday as he was receiving transferred cash from Salman, the Associated Press reported.

A Libyan anti-terror task force arrested Hashim Abedi, the news agency reported, adding that he was “aware of all the details of the terrorist attack.”

The same force said Hashim Abedi told them that both he and his brother belonged to the so-called Islamic State. The group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Authorities have identified Salman Abedi as the suspected bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens more during an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night. He died during the attack.

The blast ripped through the foyer of the Manchester Arena around 10:35 p.m. local time, as concert attendees were leaving the venue. As the explosion went off videos on social media showed panic and confusion as thousands of people fled.

“We ran and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs … it was just chaos,” Sebastian Diaz, a 19-year-old attendee, told Reuters.

Hashim Abedi’s father, Ramadan Abedi, was detained in Tripoli on Wednesday. Before his arrest, he told news outlets that his son was innocent.

“I don’t believe that it was him,” Ramadan Abedi told the New York Times. “His ideas and his ideology were not like that. He was born and raised in Britain. He’s a British citizen and he does not hold such ideologies.”

Another brother, Ismail Abedi, was arrested in England on Tuesday.

Authorities have been investigating whether Abedi was working as part of a “network” that planned and executed the attack, according to the Times. British authorities have increased security at strategic points in the country in light of the attack.

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Posted by Samantha Grasso


A Maryland teen is being barred from walking at her school graduation because she’s pregnant.

According to the New York Times, Heritage Academy, a small private Christian school near Boonsboro, Maryland, isn’t allowing 18-year-old Maddi Runkles from participating in her graduation ceremony after she violated one of the school’s nine “statements of faith,” a code she signed at the beginning of the year, by becoming pregnant. The point reads, “no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of the marriage commitment between a man and a woman.”

“It’s like a small school and it is such a big deal and I am the only one that is not going to be there that night to walk to the stage,” Runkles told local affiliate Fox 5.

Runkles told the Times that she knew she would face punishment when she decided to announce her pregnancy to her classmates, instead of hiding it or having an abortion. And she did. She was forced to step down from her leadership positions at school and stayed home for two days during an unofficial suspension, while the Heritage board—that at the time was led by her father—decided upon her punishment.

But ultimately, the board decided that Runkles, who had a 4.0 grade-point average, served as student council president, and had never been a disciplinary problem, would receive her diploma but be forbidden from walking the stage at graduation. Runkles’ father ultimately resigned from the board, angry about how his daughter was treated. He told Fox 5 that he sees a distinct inconsistency between her punishment and how other students facing similar infractions have been treated in the past.

“Typically, when somebody breaks a rule, you punish them at the time they break the rule. That way, the punishment is behind them and they’re moving forward with a clean slate,” Runkles’s father told the Times. “With Maddi, her punishment was set four months out. It’s ruined her senior year.”

Runkles’ punishment would have remained a private shame to endure had it not been for her and her family’s decision to get help from anti-abortion group Students for Life. Their president, Kristan Hawkins, attempted to convince to persuade the administrator of Heritage Academy, David Hobbs, to reconsider the punishment, to no avail.

Because of this, Runkles’ story reveals a point of contention for Heritage Academy and other Christian schools in how they promote anti-abortion viewpoints but then punish teenagers who choose to keep their pregnancies.

“She [Runkles] made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed,” Hawkins told the Times. “There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way.”

Hobbs, however, declined to discuss Runkles’ situation with the Times, instead sending a statement that stated her pregnancy was “an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place.”

With just over a week until graduation, Runkles is still unable to walk. But she and her parents will be holding a private ceremony for her graduation the following day, and her classmates are invited to attend.

“You can’t be pro-life, but then refuse to support the girl that keeps her baby,” Runkles told Fox 5.

H/T New York Daily News

The post Christian private school bars student from walking at graduation—because she’s pregnant appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Pope Francis has not been shy about criticizing Donald Trump in the past, nor has he been shy about holding opinions that may be unpopular with other Catholics, and Trump’s visit to Vatican City proved no different. If God isn’t going to step up and do some well-deserved smiting, it looks like the pope is taking matters into his own hands.

Previously, Pope Francis has said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” in reference to Trump, and he gave a serious rebuke to “populist,” nationalist politics more recently. He’s also made non Trump-related waves in the past on topics like abortion, the wage gap, evolution, space aliens, and treating LGBTQIA people like human beings—revolutionary stuff!—as well as climate change.

The pope even went so far as to send out an “encyclical” letter about caring for the very Earth that religious people are so quick to tell everyone god created for us, and it specifically pointed to human beings as drivers of climate change. When it came time to exchange gifts with Trump, that letter is exactly what the pope handed over, in addition to another papal writing that challenges capitalism and the “idolatry of money,” along with a third on families and a medal symbolizing peace. (Trump gifted the pope many things related to Martin Luther King Jr., presumably to show he knows who that is.)

Apparently, the pope is a master of passive-aggression. Austen Ivereigh, author of biography of Pope Francis, told CNN, “He hates direct confrontation, and always avoids it. He doesn’t believe in humiliating or criticizing people directly.” Yeah, he prefers to do it on Twitter and through gifts that are about as subtle as a smack in the face. Perhaps he learned it from god, who’s more than content to freeze us out verbally but send very obvious signals.

The pope wasn’t the only one giving Trump a hard time, either. As happens basically anytime he does or says anything, the Orange Overlord is the butt of the joke yet again over a photo op in which no one appears to be happy but him:

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is trying to understand why Trump would just go and tell someone where we have nuclear submarines, which kind of ruins the whole point of submarines. (Because he’s a vain baby-man who likes to brag.) Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!

(image: GeorgeVieiraSilva41 /

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Posted by Teresa Jusino


If you’ve seen  Logan in theaters, you already know what a brilliant film it is. You may have even been lucky enough to see the black-and-white version of the film, dubbed Logan Noir. If you haven’t seen it in theaters, I’m here to tell you that your life is less full because of it. BUT THERE IS HOPE. Logan is out NOW on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD, so you can remedy that situation immediately.


The film itself is, of course, a masterpiece not just of superhero storytelling, but storytelling in general. You can read our review of the film here, and I will just say that if both Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen aren’t nominated for Oscars for their work in this film, there is no justice in the world.

This Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack includes not only the original theatrical cut of Logan, but Logan Noir on a separate disk! So if you’re like me, and you couldn’t catch that version in theaters, you can now enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. It’s worth it. The black-and-white thing might seem a little gimmicky, but when you watch it, there’s a subtle shift in the film’s vibe. It doesn’t take away from the original film at all, but it adds an interesting, melancholy layer to the film that is worth experiencing.

And then, of course, there are the all-important special features (as if an entirely different version of the film weren’t special enough!):


Deleted Scenes: These are always a mixed bag no matter what the film. You have the scenes where it’s clear why they got cut (they’re bad, they don’t serve the story, etc), and you have the scenes that were likely just cut for time, but that you wish had made the cut. Logan is no exception. The scenes that got cut involving Caliban and the villains of the story are nothing that will be missed. (If I have one complaint about this film it’s the antagonists. It was kind of a waste of Richard E. Grant.) However, there’s one deleted scene titled “Logan Gets a Ticket” and another called “Bobby’s Action Figures” that I’m sorry didn’t make the final cut. Each of them highlight themes from the film in really beautiful and poignant ways.

“Making Logan:” This Blu-ray doesn’t have behind-the-scenes featurettes….it has a behind-the-scenes feature documentary! “Making Logan” is about an hour and a half long and gives you really great insight into what went into making the film, and what time on the set was like. Watching it just made me that much more jazzed to watch the film again, because it really drove home the level of talent and detail and craft that went into the making of Logan. It was inspiring.

Logan is now not only available in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, but it’s also available via FandangoNOW, Fandango’s streaming service that allows movie fans to view their favorite movies before any other streaming service without a subscription.

So, you’ve got options people, and zero excuses. Get on seeing Logan if you haven’t already. Your life will improve immensely.

(images: 20th Century Fox)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Arrival was one of our favorite movies last year, giving us a unique sci-fi story that was all about communication, trauma, and fear, set to amazing visual effects.

In a new video essay that will make you appreciate the film even more, Michael Tucker of Youtube channel Lessons from the Screenplay took a look at how Denis Vialleneuve’s film Arrival differs from the story it was adapted from, Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer, in an interview on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, explains that there were a few significant changes from Chiang’s text for pacing reasons, creating conflict, and changing Louise Banks’ (Amy Adams) story from one of determinism into one of choice.

In Arrival, Laura’s daughter passes away from an illness, but in Chiang’s story, she dies in a rock-climbing incident at 25. Heisserer said, “I think it’s more profound for me if she has a choice, if she has free will, and can change her future, and yet she chooses to have Hannah.” Thus, by turning Laura’s death into something unpreventable, Louise has chosen her daughter despite the pain of knowing she will lose her.

These differences are all fascinating to hear about and stand as a great example of what it means to adapt a story for the screen. The essay is full of particular ways the screenplay chose to provide exposition and how editing changed original scenes, all great lessons about how to make a powerful screenplay.

Additionally, Tucker reflects on what makes Arrival such a powerful science fiction movie, mainly that through the alien and unfamiliar, we learn more about humanity. He puts into words what’s always been great about this genre, and what it can do. It actually reminds me a lot of director Guillermo del Toro’s recent speech at Cannes about monsters, where he says:

“Today, we need to draw our monsters again, to engage the ones that we live with, to find empathy again, to forgive us our imperfections, and rebel against those that tell us that it’s the other that we have to fear, that there is an us and that there is a them, that we need to reject and demonize everything that is different from our own. It is not true.”

Alien invasion stories definitely build on the xenophobia we see in our society, since we know through history what happens when unknown invaders land on shores of a “new” country. Stories about fighting off the invaders can be fun, but when a story decides to ask why monsters are monsters, and why we are the way we are, the result can be something as compelling and beautiful as Arrival.

(via Indiewire, image: Paramount)

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claudia79ad: (Default)
[personal profile] claudia79ad

dreams do come true. thanks Buzzfeed + North Shore Animal League  🐶💜

from Tumblr

GoT Trailer

May. 23rd, 2017 05:47 pm
beer_good_foamy: (GoT-slap)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
First Twin Peaks, now this:

Looks like we're finally building to something, doesn't it? And they're very conspicuously not showing Team White Walker...

Here's a decent blow-by-blow analysis.

Wednesday is in Wisconsin

May. 24th, 2017 02:35 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Rebel: very very good and longing for the next one (Chekhov's [spoiler])!

Following seeing somebody on my reading list commenting about it, took a punt on L Rowyn, A Rational Arrangement (2015), which is a poly romance in a fantasy (though possibly implied sf) setting of vaguely Regency mores, but on a world where there are other societies with ways of doing things. And as I recall, the person who was reading it had some niggles, and indeed I had some, though possibly different niggles - I have surely previously mentioned my dislike of those narratives in which Our Heroine is the only square peg of her sex, and all the others seem to fit neatly into round holes (I lately did not proceed with a fantasy highly recommended by someone whose judgement I respect because it had the Her Sister Is Shallow and Bitchy trope). However, this did manage to engage me even with that niggle (just as Emma Newman's Split Worlds series gets something of a pass on the Shallow Bitchy Sister).

Anyhow, I enjoyed it well enough to finish it, to read the 3 novellas set in the same world with the same characters, Further Arrangements (2016).

Travel reading has been soothing comfort rereads.

On the go

That book for review, which I've actually brought with me on my travels in the hopes that I might get it read and be in a position to write the review before the deadline.

Scott McCracken, Pulp: Reading Popular Fiction (1998) - picked up in a charity shop as the title was vaguely familiar. Am feeling that it would be a different book if written 10 or so years later with the rise of online book discussions; also, invokes terribly terribly OK bloke authorities, and I'm a bit hmmm at his choices of specific authors and books discussed.

Up next

No idea, supposing I have much time for reading.


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