Tag Archives: lai

The Hero of Tal Afar Gets the Last Laugh

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

I can still remember a decade ago, when Col. H.R. McMaster, the hero of Tal Afar and genius of counterinsurgency, had been passed over for the second time for promotion to brigadier general. Did we ever find out who had it in for him? Probably not. In any case, he eventually got his star, and then another, and then another, and now he’s got an office in the White House:

President Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new national security adviser on Monday, picking a widely respected military strategist known for challenging conventional thinking and helping to turn around the Iraq war in its darkest days.

….General McMaster had the aura of disruption that Mr. Trump has valued in several cabinet secretaries, said a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity to describe internal deliberations. Another candidate, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the superintendent of West Point, impressed Mr. Trump as being “from central casting,” the official said. But the president wanted him to stay at West Point, which he reveres.

I see that Trump is using his usual keen management insights to choose the folks responsible for running our country. Luckily, he somehow decided that the guy from central casting ought to stay at West Point, and accidentally chose McMaster. This is probably a pretty good selection, so I guess we should all be grateful regardless of how we got there.

I wonder what McMaster thinks of K.T. McFarland? That seems to be a key prerequisite for NSA these days. I sure hope they get along, since I assume McFarland will have no problem using her personal connection with Trump to complain about McMaster behind his back if she doesn’t like what he’s doing.

Link – 

The Hero of Tal Afar Gets the Last Laugh

Posted in alo, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jane Roe” Has Died. Abortion Rights Might Not Be Far Behind.

Mother Jones

Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States, died Saturday at at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Texas. She was 69.

McCorvey was a complicated symbol for the political fight over abortion rights. Following the high court’s 1973 decision, she became the face of the pro-choice movement. At the time, she represented the struggles faced by ordinary women confronted with unwanted pregnancies. Abortion was illegal in Texas in almost all cases when she learned she was pregnant in 1969. Poor and with a ninth grade education, she didn’t have the means to seek abortion across state lines. The legal battle dragged on for three years; by the time she won, she had long since carried the pregnancy to term. She gave the baby up for adoption.

But in 1995, McCorvey reversed her stance on abortion after discussing the Bible with Pastor Flip Benham, the director of Operation Rescue, an aggressive pro-life group that had moved in next door to the women’s health clinic where McCorvey worked. She soon quit her job at the clinic and was baptized by Benham. She became a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion movement, penning a book about her ideological transformation and traveling the country giving speeches to religious groups.

Like McCorvey’s own views on abortion, popular opinion about a woman’s right to choose has been the subject of much conflict and debate since the landmark 1973 case. And while a strong majority of Americans still agrees with the Roe decision, dismantling the right to an abortion is now an explicit objective for both the new administration and the Republican-led congress.

In the month since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, GOP lawmakers have put forward measures aimed at pulling federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and repealing the Affordable Care Act, including its requirement that insurance plans cover contraceptives. They have also introduced bills that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would ban the standard abortion method used by doctors in the second trimester.

A Supreme Court majority that would be open to overturning Roe is becoming increasingly likely, as well. This is something Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign as part of his largely successful effort to win over skeptical evangelical voters. As a candidate, he made four promises to the anti-abortion community: He pledged to nominate anti-abortion justices; defund Planned Parenthood; sign the 20-week abortion ban; and permanently enshrine into law the Hyde Amendment—a 40-year old budget rider that Congress has repeatedly used to bar federal tax dollars from funding most abortions. Assuming that Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed this spring, it may only take the departure of one pro-abortion-rights justice to tip the balance on the court against Roe.

During the campaign, the formerly pro-choice Trump brought on Mike Pence to shore up his anti-abortion bonafides. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed some of the country’s strictest abortion restrictions into law, including a measure requiring burial or cremation of aborted fetus remains and a ban on abortions due to fetal anomaly. In a September 2016 speech, Pence told an evangelical conference in Washington, DC, “I want to live to see the day that we put the sanctity of life back at the center of American law, and we send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history, where it belongs.”

Last month, Pence became the highest-ranking government official to ever address the annual March for Life in person. “Life is winning again in America,” Pence said at the anti-abortion gathering, pointing to the “historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who, I proudly say, stands for the right to life.”

Roe has been seen by many as an imperfect decision. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the foremost legal warriors for gender equality, has criticized the decision for changing too much, too quickly. After founding the ACLU’s women’s rights project in the 1970s, Ginsburg focused on fighting sex discrimination with an incremental strategy. She brought several cases to the Supreme Court, building up a body of court victories that together established a sweeping legal and moral understanding of sex discrimination as something that is both illegal and wrong. Roe, she said at a conference in 2014, “established a target” for abortion opponents because it ditched this incremental approach, instead imposing a drastic change on states across the country. She suggested that if the high court had moved a little more slowly, today the idea of reproductive choice wouldn’t be so controversial. “A movement against access to abortion for women grew up, flourished, around a single target,” Ginsburg said.

After her victory as Roe’s main plaintiff, McCorvey joined the movement that sprung up to oppose Roe. Her death comes at a time when that movement, with help from the Trump White House, could achieve many of its long-held goals.

View article – 

“Jane Roe” Has Died. Abortion Rights Might Not Be Far Behind.

Posted in alo, FF, GE, LAI, Landmark, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Does a White Guy Always Have to Be the Hero?

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Chinese director Zhang Yimou, of Hero and House of Flying Daggers fame, made his English-language debut with The Great Wall, which opened Friday. But in a story set in ancient China, Matt Damon’s character sticks out like a sore thumb. The presence of his pale mug in movie posters and trailers drew backlash even before the film’s release. “We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu wrote in a Twitter tirade. “We don’t need salvation.” Damon and Yimou felt compelled to publicly defend the film, with Damon calling it “historical fantasy.”

The lack of people of color in starring roles is a longstanding Hollywood problem, and things are especially bad for Asians. A 2016 study (PDF) by the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California found that more than half of films and TV shows had no speaking roles for Asian characters—and it’s exceedingly rare to see Asians in lead roles. Producers often claim there just aren’t enough roles for Asian actors, which is true—or vice versa, which is not. Often, when the opportunity arises to cast Asian characters, Hollywood decision-makers hire white actors to portray them. Sometimes they simply rewrite nonwhite characters as white ones. These things are called whitewashing.

The Great Wall exemplifies a related Hollywood trend wherein white characters play a dominant role in a foreign situation, while nonwhite locals are reduced to sidekicks or people “to be killed or rescued—or to have sex with,” as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen put it recently. Vogue recently added to the outrage over cultural tone-deafness by presenting Karlie Kloss, an American model of German and Danish descent, as a geisha—for the magazine’s diversity issue, no less. Vogue later removed the photographs from its website and Kloss apologized for her participation, but it was yet another episode in America’s long history of whitewashing Asians. We’ll leave you with this brief history of the same. Dig around and you’re sure to find plenty more.

1926

The first Charlie Chan film is released, starring Japanese actor George Kuwa, but the films fail to win large audiences until Warner Oland, a Swedish actor, takes on the role. The Chan films become extremely popular, with more than 40 made, but are later criticized for racist stereotypes.

Wikimedia Commons

1935

Merle Oberon, whose partial Indian ancestry she keeps a secret for most of her life, is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She is later credited as the first (and only) Asian-American ever nominated in that category.

1944

In Dragon Seed, Katharine Hepburn, plays Jade, a Chinese woman who stands up to Japanese invaders. Turhan Bey, who is of Turkish and Czech descent, co-stars as her husband.

Katharine Hepburn and Turhan Bey in Dragon Seed. Wikimedia Commons

1945

Rex Harrison portrays a Thai king in Anna and the King of Siam, the film adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. A 1951 remake continues to use non-Asian actors in the role—Russian-born Yul Brynner is the new king.

1956

Marlon Brando plays Sakini, a Japanese translator on the island of Okinawa after World War II, requiring hours of daily makeup work. “It was a horrible picture,” he later writes, “and I was miscast.”

1961

Mickey Rooney dons yellow-face, prosthetic teeth, and taped eyelids for his role as Audrey Hepburn’s temperamental landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (His “bucktoothed, myopic Japanese” is “broadly exotic,” the New York Times writes.) Rooney is later taken aback to learn that his portrayal is considered racist. “It breaks my heart,” he tells the Sacramento Bee in 2008, adding, jokingly, “Those that didn’t like it, I forgive them.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Wikimedia Commons

1967

Sean Connery, 007, goes undercover Japanese in You Only Live Twice. (His makeup job would fool nobody, let alone a Bond villian.)

1972-75

In the TV series Kung Fu, David Carradine plays Kwai Chang Caine, a Buddhist monk versed in the martial arts. Bruce Lee had originally pitched the series and hoped to star in it, but the producers went with Carradine instead. Kung Fu became one of the most popular shows of its day.

David Carradine in Kung Fu. Wikimedia Commons

1981

Asian actors and artists in California protest Hollywood’s attempt to revive Charlie Chan with Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. “I don’t think racism is funny any more,” San Franciscan Eliza Chan tells the Washington Post. “We have been called “Charlie” for so many years. We have been made fun of—the way we speak, the way we act—people expect us to be like Charlie Chan, and we can’t stand that any more.”

1982

British actor Ben Kingsley, whose father is Indian, wins a Best Actor Oscar for Ghandi. He is the first—and as of 2017, the only—actor of Asian descent ever nominated in the category, much less win.

Director Richard Attenborough, left, and actor Ben Kingsley pose with their Ghandi Oscars. Reed Saxon/AP

1984

Japanese-American actor Gedde Watanabe portrays the (ostensibly) Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Mainstream audiences find the caricature hilarious, but many Asian-Americans cringe. “Because there were so few Asian actors onscreen at that time, people were looking for Kurosawa in a comedy,” Watanabe recalls in a 30th anniversary interview. “Sixteen Candles wasn’t that kind of movie.”

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

1990

A British theater production of Miss Saigon, a retelling of Madame Butterfly in the context of the Vietnam War, almost doesn’t make it to Broadway after a union protests the casting of British actor Jonathan Pryce in a Eurasian role. Although Pryce, who wears eye prosthetics and bronzer for the performance, wins a Tony and the play goes on to become one of Broadway’s longest-running hits, Miss Saigon continues to be criticized for its stereotypical portrayals.

2003

Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai features Tom Cruise as Capt. Nathan Algren, a guilt-wracked former Union Army soldier who gets to be the hero when he helps some rebel samurai fight a corrupt Japanese empire—it’s all about Cruise, of course. Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter savages the film: “Basically what Zwick has done is to take Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves and insert it into the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, with a samurai clan in the role of an Indian tribe.”

Warner Bros.

2006

Ang Lee is the first Asian director to win an Oscar, for Brokeback Mountain.

Director Ang Lee accepts his Oscar from Tom Hanks. Chris Carlson/AP

2010

White actors play the leads in the live-action film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, previously an animated series with characters of Asian and Native American descent. Fans pan it and the movie flops.

Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Nickelodeon

The Last Airbender movie. Paramount Pictures

2012

White actor Jim Sturgess dons yellowface and doctored eyes to play a Korean character in Cloud Atlas. Director Andy Wachowski defends the casting: “The intention is to talk about things that are beyond race. The character of this film is humanity.” It’s not Sturgess’ first brush with whitewashing: In 21, a film based on the true story of college card-counters who gamed the casinos, he plays a student who in real life was Chinese-American.

2015

Emma Stone stars as a half-Asian character in Aloha, which flops at the box office. The role, she says later, opened her eyes to Hollywood’s diversity problems and “flaws in the system.” Director Cameron Crowe also apologizes, calling the casting “misguided.”

Feb. 2016

In an otherwise spot-on monologue—”I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards”—Oscars host Chris Rock rips Hollywood’s lack of diversity, yet manages to stereotype Asian Americans, who are all but invisible in American films

April 2016

The creators of Ghost in the Shell, adapted from a Japanese manga and anime film, face backlash after casting Scarlett Johansson as the Japanese main character. Tilda Swinton also gets hit with criticism for her role as the Ancient One, a Tibetan character, in Dr. Strange.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995. Production IG

Ghost in the Shell, 2017. Paramount Pictures

May 2016

Comedian Margaret Cho, Nerds of Color blogger Keith Chow, author Ellen Oh and other Asian Americans start a monthlong #WhiteWashedOut campaign that calls on Hollywood to stop whitewashing Asians and urging white actors to reject Asian roles.

Nov. 2016

Hong Kong actor and director Jackie Chan accepts an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in an emotional speech: “After 56 years in the film industry, making more than 200 films, breaking so many bones, finally this is mine.” He is one of four filmmakers to receive the lifetime achievement award.

Jackie Chan at the Governors Awards. Chris Pizzello/AP

Feb. 2017

Matt Damon plays a European mercenary who saves China from monsters in The Great Wall. Actress Constance Wu takes issue: “We like our color and our culture and our strengths and our own stories,” she writes. “Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them.”

Original link: 

Why Does a White Guy Always Have to Be the Hero?

Posted in alo, ATTRA, Broadway, FF, G & F, GE, Jason, LAI, LG, ONA, Oster, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Decrees That the Economy Must Grow Twice as Fast

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the labor force will grow 0.5 percent annually over the next ten years and productivity will grow 1.4 percent. That’s total economic growth of 1.9 percent per year. But the Trumpists are forecasting 3.5 percent growth over the next decade. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they supercharge the economy, pulling everyone back into work and achieving labor force growth of 0.8 percent. They still need productivity growth of 2.7 percent. That’s astronomically higher than anyone thinks possible. So how are Trump’s economists justifying this?

The answer is simplicity itself. The Wall Street Journal explains:

What’s unusual about the administration’s forecasts isn’t just their relative optimism but also the process by which they were derived. Normally, the executive branch starts with a baseline forecast prepared by career staff of the CEA….Discussions for the Trump administration unfolded differently, with transition officials telling the CEA staff the growth targets that their budget would produce and asking them to backfill other estimates off those figures.

So…they’re doing it by just telling their economists what growth will be. That’s an interesting approach. But what’s the point of this? Here’s a pair of growth forecasts—one for 2 percent and one for 4 percent—that should illustrate things:

If you assume higher growth, you can cut taxes and still get more revenue. Alternatively, you can spend more on the military or a border wall without increasing the deficit. Or a combination of both.

In other words, it’s magic fairy dust. Sprinkle it around and you can do anything you want. Problems only arise if a bunch of snooty Ivy League economists insist that you’re delusional, which explains why Trump hasn’t bothered to hire anyone for his Council of Economic Advisors. They would just tell him stuff he doesn’t want to hear. It also explains why Paul Ryan isn’t playing this game too: his budget is vetted by the CBO, which has no intention of aiding and abetting fantasyland figures like these.

It’s hard to know what the point of this is. Most likely, Trump said on the campaign trail that he’d grow the economy at 4 percent, and by God he’s going to stick with that. (Remember: 3.5 rounds up to 4, so his campaign promise is safe.) Besides, Trump probably really believes that he can get the economy growing that fast through the sheer force of his personality.

The real shock here isn’t Trump—we already know he’s divorced from reality—but the rest of his staff. Is there really not a single person in the White House who has both the gumption and the standing to tell Trump that the president can’t peddle this kind of drivel in an official document? Is there no one who can tell him that Twitter is one thing, but the Budget of the United States of America is another?

I guess not.

UPDATE: The original illustration of 2 percent vs. 4 percent growth used figures for nine years of growth instead of ten. It’s been corrected.

Originally posted here – 

Trump Decrees That the Economy Must Grow Twice as Fast

Posted in Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elon Musk has started digging a tunnel under Los Angeles.

In December, when Musk got stuck in traffic, instead of leaning on the horn or flipping off the other drivers, he decided to build a new transportation system. An hour later, Max Chafkin writes in Bloomberg Businessweek, “the project had a name and a marketing platform. ‘It shall be called The Boring Company,’” Musk wrote.

Musk told employees to grab some heavy machinery and they began digging a hole in the SpaceX parking lot. He bought one of those machines that bores out tunnels and lays down concrete walls as it goes. It’s named Nannie.

Musk is the grown-up version of the kid who decides to dig to China: He doesn’t pause to plan or ask what’s possible, he just grabs a stick and starts shoveling. Maybe that’s the approach we need. As Chafkin points out, “Tunnel technology is older than rockets, and boring speeds are pretty much what they were 50 years ago.” And Bent Flyvbjerg, an academic who studies why big projects cost so much, says that the tunneling industry is ripe for someone with new ideas to shake things up.

Musk is a technical genius. But the things that make tunnels expensive tend to be political — they have to do with endless hearings before local government councils and concessions to satisfy concerned neighbors and politicians. For that stultifying process, at least, Musk’s new company is aptly named. If Musk figures out how disrupt local land-use politics, it would mean he’s smarter than anyone thinks.

Originally from:  

Elon Musk has started digging a tunnel under Los Angeles.

Posted in alo, Anchor, Anker, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, Landmark, LG, ONA, organic, Ringer, Sprout, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment