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Tag: entertainment

When Science Fiction Becomes Fact, Start To Worry

How did you spend your holiday? If you’re like me, one guilty pleasure was devouring TV marathons, designed to offer relief from the stresses of the season. Reliable favorites include back-to-back episodes of The Twilight Zone and, on Turner Classic Movies, one whole day devoted to science fiction, imaginings both cautionary and consoling of what the future holds for our world.

But usual escapes didn’t quite work this year, not when fact is scarier than anything Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling might have dreamed up, though the serious Serling who introduced each episode of his iconic series, all furrowed brow and cigarette in hand, did signal he suspected what was coming if mankind didn’t shape up.

Hint: Mankind did not listen to that sober sage.

Let’s list just some of the gloom and doom greeting the world at the start of a new decade.

The end of the year brought surprising news from the Trump administration’s own experts — you know, those folks hired to replace scientists from the previous administration, presumably to more closely reflect the views of the boss and because of their ties to industry.

They showed some independence, with members of the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board posting draft letters laying out the disconnect between policies they are tasked with adjusting and real science. The statements criticized the administration’s proposed overhaul of Obama-era regulation of waterways, efforts to curb vehicle tailpipe emissions to fight climate change and plans to limit scientific data when drawing up health regulations.

That news coincidentally paired with the umpteenth showing of the 1973 movie Soylent Green, featuring one of Charlton Heston’s less wooden performances and a future world devastated by pollution, global warming, too many people and too few resources, where the privileged use their riches to escape harm and where — spoiler alert – “Soylent Green is people!”

The start of January brought a preview, reported in The New York Times, of proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act that would mean “federal agencies would no longer have to take climate change into account when they assess the environmental impacts of highways, pipelines and other major infrastructure projects.”

Those supportive of the move contend economic and employment opportunities must be considered, while environmentalists worry about the future of air, water and wildlife. The public and courts will get the chance to weigh in on the changes to the law, expected to be formally announced this week.

Caring about air, water and wildlife is inescapable when every day brings new pictures of a continent and country burning. Man has certainly helped pull the trigger in Australia, with dozens of arrests of those charged with intentionally setting fires. But scientists and researchers have said that climate change has worsened the effects of the wildfires, which have killed many, destroyed thousands of homes and devastated flora and fauna.Climate change activists take to the streets to demand action.

“Climate change is increasing bushfire risk in Australia by lengthening the fire season, decreasing precipitation and increasing temperature,” according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Australia’s leaders, including its prime minister, remain largely unmoved, insisting that despite drought and bushfires, the country does not need to cut carbon emissions. Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor told Reuters, “When it comes to reducing global emissions, Australia must and is doing its bit, but bushfires are a time when communities must unite, not divide.”

To be fair, Serling’s brainchild series remains iconic, in part, because it was prescient in its view of the dark side of humanity, of the greed and xenophobia that trump good sense and charity when the going gets a little bit tough. He shone a light on contentious family dynamics and neighbors turning against neighbors, proving only too well his fictional alien force’s informed hunch that when it comes to defeating the human race, no outside aggression is necessary. We will do it to ourselves every time.

His science was never truly fiction.

Still, what once seemed ironic and clever comes as a shock as the fantastical scenarios increasingly play out in real time. The writing is smart, the concepts clever — and all of it is frightening.

In the 1960 film The Time Machine — not exactly H.G. Wells’ 1895 vision, but entertaining nonetheless — Rod Taylor’s character returns to his Victorian present, chastened and woeful after his “machine” offers a glimpse into the future, full of passive citizens cut off from the knowledge of the past and content to be happy and entertained, and ultimately unable to confront danger.

When I watched this time around, I sympathized with those trapped underground, perhaps more in line with Wells’ sentiment about the plight of the working class during industrialization, though they serve as the movie’s villains. That allows for a last act that contains hope for a new day.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine any sort of happy ending when the future is now.Thunberg: ‘Don’t listen to me, listen to the scientists.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

DeNiro: Trump Makes Mobsters Look Bad

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro unloaded on Donald Trump in a scathing interview published Sunday by the Guardian, calling the president both a white supremacist and a “buffoon.”

De Niro said that when Trump was originally elected, “I thought, well, OK, let’s see what he does – maybe he’ll change.”

“But he just got worse,” De Niro explained. “It showed me that he is a real racist. I thought maybe as a New Yorker he understands the diversity in the city but he’s as bad as I thought he was before – and much worse. It’s a shame. It’s a bad thing in this country.”

Describing Trump as a white supremacist, De Niro mused that the president could also qualify as a fascist.

“That’s what it leads to,” De Niro said. “If he had his way, we’d wind up in a very bad state in this country. I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny.”

De Niro also recalled Trump’s attack on former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who the president described as a “rat” for cooperating with federal investigators.

“I mean, a mob boss calls people ‘a rat,’” De Niro—who played Al Capone in the 1987 film “The Untouchables”—explained. “That means you lied and somebody snitched on you, so you did commit the crime.”

“So that’s interesting and he makes mobsters look bad because there are mobsters who will shake your hand and keep their word,” the actor continued. “He can’t even do that.”

“[Trump’s] a con artist,” he added. “He’s a huckster. He’s a scam artist. And what bothers me is that people don’t see that. I think that ‘The Apprentice’ had a lot to do with that, which I never saw but once, maybe. It’s all smoke and mirrors, it’s all bullshit.”

De Niro, who, the Guardian notes, “has some things in common” with Trump, said he “never had an interest in meeting” the president, adding he has no interest in playing the president as a character “ever.”

“He’s a buffoon,” the actor declared, later adding that he has “so little sympathy” for what Trump has done.

“I always say every person has a story that’s interesting,” De Niro explained. “It’s how you tell it. And of course his ‘how you tell it’ would be interesting, too, but I’ve not seen one moment of reflection from him, ever. He knows what he is and everything he says negative about people or things is really a projection of himself.”

“He’s not even evil,” De Niro declared. He’s mundane.”

“The things that Trump has done; if Obama had done one fiftieth, they’d be all over him,” De Niro said, arguing Democrats “have to be more aggressive.”

“You have to fight fire with fire,” De Niro insisted. “You’ve got to say: ‘I’m sorry – let’s call a spade a spade. You are who you are and we’ve got to confront you at your own game and that’s what’s needed.’ You can do it in a nice way but you have to be hard and tough about it.”

“You need somebody who’s strong enough to outmouth him, because that’s all he is—mouth,” De Niro said. “And smart enough and well-informed enough in a debate, say, to override all that nonsense that he does, because basically it’s just name-calling. He has no substance. I don’t know how people fall for it. He’s just a big blowhard. But it ain’t over till it’s over as far as I’m concerned with a guy like him because he’s a dirty player.”

 

 

Pence Gaffes Embarrass GOP In Georgia

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Appearing in Georgia to back gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, Mike Pence made a series of fumbling remarks and statements that ended up embarrassing the Republican ticket.

Pence complained that some well-known celebrities have been in the state to support Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate. They include Common, Michael B. Jordan, Will Ferrell and Oprah Winfrey.

On Twitter, Pence wrote, “I’ve got a message for all of Stacey Abrams’ Hollywood friends: This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia!”

The ignorant remark ignores Georgia’s major role in film production. A recent study found that Georgia leads the world in the number of films that are produced there.

Over the last year, 455 film and television productions were shot in Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal has noted that production from film and television had an economic impact of $9.5 billion on his state during the most recent fiscal year.

Two of the biggest film releases of 2018, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther,” were filmed in Georgia at Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Those films alone have earned over $3 billion worldwide. The seventh highest grossing film in 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp, was also filmed in Georgia.

Despite Pence’s botched attempt at an insult, Georgia has been described as “Hollywood of the south.”

Pence directed part of his Hollywood attack on Oprah Winfrey, noting in his campaign speech, “I heard Oprah is in town today. I heard Will Ferrell was going door-to-door the other day. I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too.”

Winfrey is a product of the south, and was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. From a poverty-stricken background, Winfrey worked her way up to become a media mogul and the first black multi-billionaire in America.

To dismiss her simply as someone parachuting in from “Hollywood” is extremely dismissive and insulting.

While Winfrey was on the campaign trail and encouraging voters to turn out for the election, Pence’s chosen candidate has been working on voter suppression.

Instead of making ill-informed attacks on a major engine of economic growth in Georgia and whining about Oprah, perhaps Pence should tell his ally to stop suppressing the vote.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

 

Kanye West Dumping Trump? ‘I’ve Been Used’

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

On Tuesday, rapper and record producer Kanye West tweeted that he was done with politics and that he feels “used”.

West has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump over the past few months, and has used his unique position as a Black supporter of the president to urge people of color to sign onto the Trump agenda — something the president desperately needs as his approval rating among African-Americans is dismally low and, by some polls, in single digits.

But West’s pleas for the Black community to warm up to Trump have often been confusing. At one point, West tweeted that under Trump, we would “abolish the 13th Amendment,” the amendment that made slavery illegal. West later clarified that what he really meant was abolish the part of the 13th Amendment that makes an exception for prison labor, although why he imagined such a proposal would be on Trump’s agenda is anyone’s guess.

West’s support for the president culminated in a bizarre, ten-minute rant broadcast from the Oval Office, ostensibly called to address prison reform, in which he denied having bipolar depression, claimed that Black people “really get caught up in the idea of racism over the idea of industry,” and said that “Make America Great Again” bothers Black people because “time is a myth.”

It is unclear what specifically led West to decide he was being “used” by Trump. But there is speculation he was offended by the right-wing youth activist group Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens, who claimed on Sunday to have used a logo designed by West to sell merchandise for her “Blexit” movement (West denies any involvement with the project). He may also have been aghast at Trump’s threat on Tuesday to repeal the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause by executive order.

Whatever West’s motivations, his bizarre saga of Trump stumping appears to be over for the foreseeable future.

Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.

 

Donald Trump: The First U.S. President Who’s Openly Traumatized By ‘Saturday Night Live’

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

The end of summer and arrival of fall not only means cooler temperatures and shorter days; it also means the return of NBC’s long-running “Saturday Night Live,” which launched its 44th season on September 29. For President Donald Trump, a new “SNL” season brings with it the fear of being lampooned by Alec Baldwin—and sure enough, “SNL’s” October 13 show opened with a skit poking fun at Trump’s recent meeting with rapper Kanye West(played by Chris Redd). Baldwin’s impression of Trump has been wildly popular, but the president is not a fan. And Trump is the first president in “SNL’s” 43-year history who has been deeply upset by a humorous impression of him.

“SNL’s” lampooning of presidents of the United States is a time-honored tradition going back to 1975,when Chevy Chase (who was part of the show’s original cast along with comic giants like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner) unveiled his impression of President Gerald R. Ford. Chase was unmerciful, portraying Ford as an accident-prone klutz who would leave the Oval Office in shambles. But Ford didn’t react negatively. He even appeared with Chase at a White House dinner in 1976, declaring, “I’m Gerald Ford, and you’re not” (a play on Chase’s famous line, “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not”).

Actually, Ford wasn’t a klutz. He was an avid tennis player who had been a college football star, but showing that he could take a joke and appearing with Chase in public was a smart public relations move.

Over the years, “SNL” has lampooned eight different presidents: five Republicans (Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Sr., George W. Bush and Trump) and three Democrats (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama). There were some hilarious impressions along the way, from Dana Carvey portraying Bush, Sr. to Aykroyd portraying Carter. And sometimes, the real-life presidents would show up, such as President George H.W. Bush, Sr. himself appearing and humorously critiquing Carvey’s impression of him.

When it comes to mocking presidents, “SNL’s” nonpartisan rule has always been that both Democrats and Republicans are fair game. But Trump is the first president who has gotten into a bitter war of words with the person doing an impression of him.

Showing how thin-skinned he is, Trump (who hosted “SNL” in 2015) has repeatedly attacked Baldwin on Twitter. On October 16, 2016, Trump posted, “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

On March 2, Trump tweeted, “Alex (sic) Baldwin, whose dieing (sic) mediocre career was saved by his impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing DJT was agony for him. Alex, it was also agony for those who were forced to watch. It was terrible.”

Trump’s angry anti-Baldwin tweets are quite a contrast to “SNL’s” relationship with members of the Bush family. Carvey was on very friendly terms with President George H.W. Bush, who was genuinely amused by Carvey’s impression of him. And President George W. Bush stressed that he never took offense when Will Ferrell portrayed him as a goof who couldn’t speak English correctly.

Nor did President Bill Clinton take offense when he was lampooned by two different “SNL” cast members—first Phil Hartman, then Darrell Hammond.

On September 30—the day after “SNL’s” season premiere—Trump couldn’t resist attacking the show on Twitter. Trump tweeted, “Like many, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it) – no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told “no”), was great. He’s leading the charge!”

The “political ad for the Dems” part is ludicrous in light of the fact that “SNL” has been having laughs at the expense of Democrats for 43 years—and “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels himself recently donated $5000 to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who most Democrats are furious with for voting for the confirmation of Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh.

While others view “SNL” as a show that ridicules politicians of both the left and the right, Trump insists that “SNL” has a vendetta against him personally. And the more he rails against “SNL,” the more he shows his controlling, authoritarian nature.

Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.

 

Kanye’s 5 Craziest Comments During His Oval Office Visit

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

By Sarah Burris / Raw Story

 

President Donald Trump received Kanye West in the Oval Office Thursday in the White House before they had lunch with former NFL player Jim Brown.

The conversation was so high-energy it bordered on manic. Here are the most bizarre things said during the press availability.

1. The MAGA hat gives me power 

According to West, he doesn’t have a lot of male energy in his home and he didn’t grow up with a father in his house so he didn’t have that either. He told Trump that the hat gave him “male energy” that he couldn’t get from Hillary Clinton’s campaign “I’m with her.” He called the hat his “Superman cape.”

West seems to view Trump as a kind of father figure.

2. West addresses his mental health issues.

If West seems to be dramatically swinging all over the place with his emotions, there’s a reason for it. The rapper told the president that he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

West “is currently on an extended soliloquy that included saying he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Said that was a misdiagnosis and he is sleep-deprived,” the pool report said.

3. West drops the f-bomb in the Oval Office.

“He might not expect to have a crazy motherf*cker like Kanye West support him,” West told the press in the room.

4. West ran into the Oval Office and literally threw his arms around the president.

The germaphobe president was probably a little unnerved by the physical affection, but he responded with a grin.

Kanye runs up to President Trump to give him a hug. pic.twitter.com/2HF8R1qlmc

— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) October 11, 2018

5. Trump was quieter with West than we’ve seen him be with many other guests. 

West’s soliloquy was so loud and he bounced around from issue to issues in a seemingly breathless declaration about every issue that came to mind.

It was obvious the president was uncomfortable.

“I’ll say that was pretty impressive,” the president responded when West stopped talking.

Watch the video below: