Tuesday, February 28, 2023

TV and movies

Is it just me or does Claire become even more irritating with each episode?  I turned on YOUTUBE TV last night and walked out of the room to get some water.  Came back in and it was playing MODERN FAMILY so I left it on for a moment.  It was the episode where Claire was having a screaming fit about Halloween and I was reminded of just how awful she was.  Both the character and the actress.  "The gays"?  She said they got Thanksgiving.  Do you think people will cringe in ten years at all of Claire's lines which are so often insulting?  Nonsense like that is why I don't watch most TV shows.

What am I watching?  Well, it's Tuesday night so I'll watch WILL TRENT on ABC.  Thursday, I'll watch WOLF PACK on PARAMOUNT+ and at some point on Friday I'll watch LOPEZ VS LOPEZ.  I might be forgetting something but those are the only new shows I watch.  I'll gladly catch an old episode of COLUMBO or PERRY MASON or ALFRED HITCHOCK presents any time of the week.  I'll even watch a KOJAK on GET TV.  But so much of TV plays like they think the viewers an idiot and I avoid that nonsense.  

Which brings us to movies.  Lyle e-mailed asking if I watched movies very often?  I think the last film I bought a ticket for was BROS -- great movie.  Loved it.  In terms of watching on TV?  I watch a lot of them.  I watched MEGAN on PEACOCK when Dak-Ho, Maggie and Sumner came over last weekend.  I wasn't impressed with the acting.  I did love it when Megan ripped off after someone and was moving fast (like the little boy who is a bully at the school the little girls tries out for a day).  We tried to watch BABEL after on PARAMOUNT+ but after 12 minutes we all gave up.  

Last night, I put on something on AMAZON when I was going to sleep.  I can't remember what though.  I woke up in the middle of the night and put on ON A CLEAR DAY -- I do remember that.  Vincent Minnelli directed that musical.  It stars Barbra Streisand.  I like it.  But people fuss over the whole Melinda scenes.  They're good but I prefer when the character remembers being in the orphanage and wish there were more scenes from that.  

Another Barbra movie I watch is WHAT'S UP DOC? And I've seen it way too many times.  I woke myself up Sunday morning saying "That's unbelievable" as the judge was saying it -- apparently I was quoting the movie as it went along while I was asleep.  (He says that when Madeline Kahn claims she was assaulted).  That's probably the best film for Barbra in terms of her male co-star.  Robert Redford is too stand-offish in THE WAY WE WERE.  Ryan O'Neal's a much better partner for her (in THE MAIN EVENT as well).  And the roles are so wonderfully cast in WHAT'S UP DOC -- the only film Barbra's been in that ever matched that casting so expertly was THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES.  She directed that film and chose the best cast and gave everyone a chance to shine -- not just Jeff Bridges and Lauren Bacall but also Mimi Rogers, Brenda Vaccaro, Pierce Brosnan, George Segal, Austin Pendelton, even Elle Macpherson. I think THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES is a really great film. 

It didn't get good reviews.  In real time, people seemed to want to beat up on Barbra for what it wasn't.  It wasn't Larry Kramer's AIDS project.  It wasn't a drama.  

They really went to town on her.  But it is a wonderful comedy and it's fully realized.  It's a film that I can watch over and over. 

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, February 28, 2023.  The attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are not about protecting children, Iraqis protest proposed changes to their elections while the country faces severe water issues, and much more.

Librarians in Louisiana are being targeted and facing harassment from conservative activists who want to ban or limit access to LGBTQ books in public libraries.

Ever since Amanda Jones, a middle school librarian, spoke out broadly against censorship over the summer, she has found herself in the crosshairs of an escalating, statewide campaign.

Conservative groups had begun to challenge specific books in her community, and Jones pushed back during a public board meeting in July, saying that everyone in town deserved to have access to information and see themselves reflected in the public library collection.

“Just because you don’t want to read or see [a particular book], it does not give you the right to deny others or demand its relocation,” said Jones at the meeting. She is the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians and has worked as an educator and librarian in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, for more than two decades.

“Once you start relocating and banning one topic, it becomes a slippery slope, and where does it end?” she added. Since then, Jones said she has faced unrelenting attacks online, like falsely representing that she shares “sexually erotic and pornographic materials” with children as young as six and “advocat[es] teaching anal sex to 11 year olds,” according to a defamation lawsuit filed by Jones in August against the owners of two conservative Facebook groups. In court documents, Jones claimed she was cast “as a deviant and a danger to children.” The lawsuit was dismissed in September but Jones plans to appeal.

Despite nationwide opinion polls showing parents are largely satisfied with their childrens’ education, efforts to ban or challenge books in schools and libraries surged last year, as a conservative political movement in the name of parents’ rights took aim at literature mostly focused on themes of race, gender, and LGBTQ issues.

The American Library Association, which annually tracks the number of book challenges, documented 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2022. About 1,650 unique titles were targeted during that time. The ALA said the latest figures were set to exceed last year’s totals.

While it's not surprising that religious illiterates would want to ban books  -- this is a group whose 'John Steinbeck,' after all, is Kirk Cameron with those bad picture books -- it is amazing that so many would go along with it and buy into the lie that it's about helping children.

You're never helping children by removing books.  You're never helping children by refusing to admit that the children aren't all straight.  They're not interested in helping anyone but their own selves who can't seem to handle the reality that LGBTQ+ people exist.  

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union noted reality at Saturday's NAACP Awards.

Will we fight for some or will we fight for all of our people?

That's the question Gabrielle rightly asked.

From THIRD's "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)" which went up last night:

A point we make repeatedly -- in writing, in talks -- is that an elected official claiming to help children is not helping them with nonsense like ''don't say gay.''  We point out that these people are ignoring that gay children are in elementary school.

Marcia: And you both are right about that.  We are there.  And some of us know.  We know we're gay.  And your decision to pull books or try to silence conversations are not helpful to us.  It's nonsense.  I remember the kids in my class all looking at TIME magazine because it had a KING KONG story and Jessica Lange was pictured with her top down as Kong fondled her.  You don't know what's already in your libraries, to be honest.  And you can't kid proof them.  Even if you could, you're only hurting someone like me who knows she's a lesbian early on.  You're telling me that I'm not valued.  Stop saying you're helping children because you're not and, let's be honest, it's going to be the LGBTQ+ kids that are more likely to need help and books in school at a young age.  We're navigating and we need the resources.

And students grasp that which is why you're seeing protests around the country.  Samantha Hernandez (DES MOINES REGISTER) reports:

Students at 14 Iowa public school districts and one university are planning to walk out of class Wednesday to protest bills introduced in the Iowa Legislature that they say discriminate against the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Several controversial bills centered on LGBTQ youth have been introduced this legislative session. Student organizers are particularly concerned about bills that would require educators to notify parents and guardians if a student is transgender, as well as a bill prohibiting the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation to students through sixth-grade.

[. . .]

The statewide protest is being led by student groups IowaWTF and Iowa Queer Student Alliance or IowaQSA. Both groups track legislation at the state level.

Wednesday's protest is being spurred by Iowa youth who say they do not feel legislators are listening to the people most impacted by these bills: students.

As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, Iraqis are protesting proposed changes to their elections.

Iraqis staged a protest in Baghdad on Monday in opposition to changes to the country’s parliamentary and provincial elections law that would bring back a voting system that benefits large parties.

The Demonstrations Committee, a group in Iraq that co-ordinates anti-government protests, attempted to rally demonstrators on Facebook, “calling for major unified Iraqi protests in Baghdad for all the provinces in front of the House of Representatives on Monday to reject the notorious Sainte Lague law”.

The group said the Sainte Lague law, which was replaced in 2021, would ensure “the removal of emerging powers and independents”.

After massive protests that erupted in October 2019 and persisted until the spring of 2020, forcing the administration of former prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to resign, the government agreed to hold early elections, which it did in 2021.

Iraq’s elites were shaken by the protests, the largest demonstrations in Shiite-majority provinces in the country's modern history, while a harsh security clampdown left at least 600 dead.

The 2021 elections were held under a new law to replace the Sainte Lague system, with numerous small electoral districts in each province, a move that gave new independent parties — many of which were supported by protesters — a stronger chance of winning seats.

The Sainte Lague system involved a complicated formula used to apportion seats in favour of established parties.

It was replaced a simple policy to apportion seats to parties with the highest number of votes.

Voters could also vote for individual candidates, rather than party lists, further boosting independent politicians.

Combined, the three changes ensured that about 30 candidates who claimed to be independent won seats in 2021.

The Iran-backed Co-ordination Framework and leading Sunni and Kurdish parties now want to return to a voting system known as Modified Sainte Lague that benefitted larger parties between 2014 and 2021.

Meanwhile, Iraq continues to have water issues.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT runs a report from AFP:

Iraq's Tigris and Euphrates rivers have witnessed a sharp decrease in their levels in the south of the country, officials said Sunday, pledging to take urgent measures to ease water shortages.

In Nasiriyah, capital of the southern province of Dhi Qar, an AFP photographer saw the river bed of the mighty Euphrates dry in patches.

The water ministry blamed the situation in some southern provinces on "the low quantity of water reaching Iraq from neighboring Türkiye".


At a meeting to discuss the problem, Iraqi President Barham Salih highlighted the need for Iraq to reach an agreement with its neighbours over water sharing. The sources of the two main Iraqi rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are both located in Turkey, and many Turkish and Iranian dams are located upstream of Iraq. The Iraqi authorities have accused Tehran and Ankara of reducing the flow of the rivers, however, agricultural practices in Iraq have also contributed to the decline in water reserves.

In response to the emergency, the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources has promised to release more water from the dams located in the north of the country. The World Bank has also called for Iraq to modernise its irrigation methods and the Iraqi President has reiterated this call. 

Robert Tollast (THE NATIONAL) explains, "Iraq has long accused Turkey of holding back water in a network of giant dams, built between the 1970s and the present day. Since then, flows from both rivers have declined by about 40 per cent, cutting off a significant percentage of Iraq’s freshwater, although climate change has also been blamed for declines." Amr Salem (IRAQI NEWS) adds, "The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources indicated that Iraq lost 70 percent of its water shares because of the policies of neighboring countries."

That's US Ambassador to Iraq Alina L. Romanowski meeting with Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid on Sunday.  Her Tweet above notes that they discussed the recent Iraqi delegation that made a trip to the US and that they reaffirmed the US support for Iraq to be energy independent, to resume a leading role in the region and to foster the country's private sector.  Somehow, Alina left out the discussion KURDISTAN 24 reports on:

The President of the Republic of Iraq, Abdul-Latif Rashid, on Sunday, received United States Ambassador to Iraq, Alina L. Romanowski, according to a readout from the Iraqi Presidency Office.

Strengthening bilateral ties between both countries, Iraq’s participation in the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference, combating corruption, and the importance of cooperation on issues of common interest were addressed in the meeting, the readout added.

The Iraqi President stressed the importance of Iraq’s  participation at the UN Water Conference in 2023, as Iraq is one of the countries most affected by water scarcity and drought, per the readout.

The US ambassador reiterated her country's support for Iraq's efforts to strengthen its security and sovereignty, and hoped that the UN Water Conference in 2023 will adopt solutions for water scarcity in Iraq.

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