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What Movies To Expect This Fall – NPR

Posted: September 8, 2020 at 7:57 am


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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hollywood's much delayed summer blockbuster season is barely one weekend old and already it's Labor Day, so it's time to talk about fall movies. The spy thriller "Tenet" proved over the weekend that pandemic-weary audiences will return to cinemas for the right film. So assuming it's safe where you are, what's the next right film? Well, we've got some possibilities in critic Bob Mondello's fall movie preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: When the coronavirus struck, Tinseltown's men all hightailed it to next year - Vin Diesel in "Fast & Furious 9," Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick," even Gru in the "Minions." So fall falls to the women, and they're hitting reset by looking to the past.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACK WIDOW")

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (As Natasha Romanoff) The Avengers weren't my first family.

MONDELLO: Marvel's "Black Widow."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACK WIDOW")

FLORENCE PUGH: (As Yelena Belova) Natasha, my sister, after all this time, what brings you home?

JOHANSSON: (As Natasha Romanoff) We have unfinished business.

PUGH: (As Yelena Belova) Who's we?

MONDELLO: Two trained assassins working together - this is how Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow upped her game between "Civil War" and "Infinity War."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACK WIDOW")

PUGH: (As Yelena Belova) OK. You got a plan or shall I just stay duck and cover?

JOHANSSON: (As Natasha Romanoff) Yeah. My plan was to drive us away.

PUGH: (As Yelena Belova) Well, your plan sucks.

MONDELLO: Family, am I right? For a DC superheroine played by Gal Gadot, the problem is an envious gal pal played by Kristen Wiig.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONDER WOMAN 1984")

KRISTEN WIIG: (As Barbara Minerva) You've always had everything while people like me have had nothing. Well, now it's my turn.

GAL GADOT: (As Wonder Woman) Barbara, what did you do?

MONDELLO: She's become an apex predator in "Wonder Woman 1984." The '80s were a time of relative enlightenment for women in the non-comics world as opposed to the 1940s depicted in the espionage thriller "A Call To Spy."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A CALL TO SPY")

STANA KATIC: (As Vera Atkins) Churchill has asked us to create a secret army of spies.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) This is a rudimentary operation.

LINUS ROACHE: (As Maurice Buckmaster) Women will be more inconspicuous.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Make sure they're pretty.

KATIC: (As Vera Atkins) For you or for the Germans?

MONDELLO: And things haven't changed much by the 1970s as contestants in beauty pageants well knew.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MISBEHAVIOUR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) We really believe beauty isn't just skin deep. The girls also have charm, grace, good deportment.

RHYS IFANS: (As Eric Morley) Swimsuits.

MONDELLO: The film "Misbehaviour" recreates the 1970 Miss World pageant, Gugu Mbatha-Raw lining up on one side...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MISBEHAVIOUR")

LOREECE HARRISON: (As Pearl Jansen) I'm the first Black South African to take part.

GUGU MBATHA-RAW: (As Jennifer Hosten) I'm the first Miss Grenada.

MONDELLO: ...Keira Knightley on another.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MISBEHAVIOUR")

JESSIE BUCKLEY: (As Jo Robinson) They're turning oppression into a spectacle. Let's make a spectacle of our own. We'd infiltrate the theater.

MONDELLO: About that same time, singer Helen Reddy was fighting Capital Records when she wanted to record the song that gives her biopic its title.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I AM WOMAN")

TILDA COBHAM-HERVEY: (As Helen Reddy, singing) I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) It's kind of angry.

MATTY CARDAROPLE: (As Roy Meyer) It's man hating.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Jeff, you OK with this?

EVAN PETERS: (As Jeff Wald) What are you doing? You want to lose your recording contract?

COBHAM-HERVEY: (As Helen Reddy) This is more than just a song to me.

MONDELLO: She'd be joined on movie screens by fellow feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug played by Julianne Moore and Bette Midler if the producers of the biopic "The Glorias" hadn't decided to stream it instead to get the widest possible audience by Election Day. Other films centered on women include "Kajillionaire" about an unhappy teenager in a family of petty criminals...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KAJILLIONAIRE")

RICHARD JENKINS: (As Robert) She learned to forge before she learned to write. No, actually, that's how she did learn to write.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) So what do your parents do, hun?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD: (As Old Dolio) Hun - you've never called me that. I bet you could if it was a job, though, right?

MONDELLO: ...And the French film "Sibyl" about a psychotherapist who's corralled into refereeing disputes on a film set.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SIBYL")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As character) Action.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #7: (As character) I just have to sit back and watch reality destroy things.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As character) Keep the drama fictional, if you don't mind.

MONDELLO: It's worth noting that all of these films don't just feature women. They were directed by women. A woman director will also tackle the fall's most awaited genre flick.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CANDYMAN")

YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II: (As Anthony McCoy) I just moved in around the corner.

COLMAN DOMINGO: (As William Burke) The old candy factory.

ABDUL-MATEEN: (As Anthony McCoy) I'm an artist.

DOMINGO: (As William Burke) You're looking for Candyman

MONDELLO: Nia DaCosta's "Candyman" produced by Jordan Peele will hold up a new mirror to the racial and gender issues of the original, which is not to suggest that men will be missing in action this fall. In fact, Netflix just kicked Oscar season into high gear by announcing David Fincher's black-and-white 1930s-style biopic "Mank" about the man who wrote "Citizen Kane". And elsewhere, men will have their usual swagger, whether contending with an extinction-level event in the disaster flick "Greenland..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GREENLAND")

MORENA BACCARIN: (As Allison Garrity) John, go.

GERARD BUTLER: (As John Garrity) I swear I'm going to get my family into that bunker.

MONDELLO: ...Or solving crimes in a ridiculous mustache in "Death On The Nile..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEATH ON THE NILE")

KENNETH BRANAGH: (As Hercule Poirot) I am Detective Hercule Poirot, and I will deliver your killer.

MONDELLO: ...Or interfering in a daughter's love life in Sofia Coppola's "On The Rocks."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ON THE ROCKS")

BILLY MURRAY: (As Felix) So Dean's going away a lot on business trips?

RASHIDA JONES: (As Laura) Dad.

MURRAY: (As Felix) Raise your hand if that sounds fishy.

JONES: (As Laura) He's not like you. He's a good guy, a great dad.

MURRAY: (As Felix) Sure. It's nature. Males are forced to fight, to dominate and to impregnate all females.

MONDELLO: Enlightenment's still a work in progress, obviously. There are some interestingly paired films, two about kidnappings - "Infidel" in the Middle East...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INFIDEL")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #8: (As character) No one knows where you are. And it's going to stay that way.

MONDELLO: ...And "Let Him Go" in the American West.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LET HIM GO")

DIANE LANE: (As Margaret Blackledge) That girl can't protect her child.

KEVIN COSTNER: (As George Blackledge) Margaret, Jimmy's her boy.

LANE: (As Margaret Blackledge) He's your grandson.

MONDELLO: Opening within a couple of weeks of each other are a pair of unrelated but similar-sounding thrillers, Ben Affleck in "Deep Water" and Matt Damon in "Stillwater." And another pair of films deal with weighty end-of-life issues, Grandma Susan Sarandon doing her best to control her passing in "Blackbird..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACKBIRD")

SUSAN SARANDON: (As Lily) Anna, Chris, you up yet? I'm dead soon. You coming down? That should do it.

MONDELLO: ...Bruce Dern losing control to dementia in "The Artist's Wife."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE ARTIST'S WIFE")

BRUCE DERN: (As Richard Smythson) It's very hard to look inside and paint when it's all gone.

MONDELLO: There are even twinned documentaries - "Time" shot over two decades as a woman struggles to get her husband out of prison...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "TIME")

FOX RICH: My twins will be 18 next month. They have absolutely no idea what it means to have a father in their house.

MONDELLO: ...And "Aggie" about an art collector who sold a painting for $165 million and put the proceeds toward prison reform.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "AGGIE")

AGNUS GUND: We went to San Quentin. I had people come up to me and say, what in the world did you want to do that for?

MONDELLO: Does all this sound less than fully escapist considering we've been cooped up in isolation for months? Well, Pixar to the rescue with "Soul."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SOUL")

JAMIE FOXX: (As Joe) Today started out as the best day of my life.

ANGELA BASSETT: (As Dorothea) Back here tonight; first show's at 7.

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What Movies To Expect This Fall - NPR

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September 8th, 2020 at 7:57 am

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Hajj 2020.. The ticket to board Hajj 2021 flight – The Nigerian Voice

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Hajj 2020 open and close its wing in a flash like mode with a unique operating system that has not been witnessed before. It was a hajj undertaken with COVID 19 complaint model of hajj arrangement. Every segment of hajj services delivery was altered, and that presents us with fresh challenges that must be reviewed before we can create new operational guidelines for Hajj 2021.

Meanwhile, NAHCON has set 9th of September for the commencement of Hajj 2021 registrations. Registration of intending pilgrims signals the commencement of preparations for the next year hajj. What are the issues that should form part of pilgrims registration guidelines?

Will Saudi Arabia adopt or retain the Hajj 2020 COVID 10 protocols for Hajj 2021? Will there be an amendment or are we likely to revert to pre COVID 19 Hajj guidelines? Our ability to projects and creates a flexible plan will allow NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Boards to fashion pilgrims education and enlightenment program. This piece is an attempt to bring the future into the present so that the present will not be surprised by the future.

Vaccine or no vaccine, COVID 19 precautions and protocol will be observed during Hajj 2021. The reduced quota system will still be maintained and for Hajj 2021, it will be between a maximum of 50% and possibly below (depends on the situation of COVID 19 in Saudi Arabia) There is a possibility that the door of Umrah will be opened this month and whatever conditions, and operational guidelines adopted therein can be taken as things to come as far as Hajj 2021 is concerned.

However, Pilgrims registrations and documentations, intending pilgrims enlightenment and educations cannot be on hibernation especially now that NAHCON has set September 9 as the date of commencement of pilgrims registrations.

Pilgrims Registrations Hajj 2020 was undertaken with strict adherence to the established protocols and therefore, hajj 2021 will not be different Before Pilgrims registration guidelines, we must put the underlisted Hajj 2020 protocols into considerations. There may be little or no alteration depends on the availability of unified accepted vaccines and the ratio of COVID 19 cases in the Kingdom before hajj 2021.

During Hajj 2020, intending pilgrims aged between 20 and 65 without chronic illnesses were required to apply online. Each pilgrim undergoes health checkups and PCR test, followed by a 7-day home quarantine. Pilgrims were then transported to Mecca and quarantined for a further three days, followed by a second PCR test. Only those that were tested negative the second time that was allowed to perform hajj. Reference one.

NAHCON should key in into these pilgrim registrations guidelines with a little amendment. Pilgrims within the age of 20-65 without chronic illness for now.

States pilgrims board that has registered above 50% of their original Hajj 2020 quota should adopt the new policy as a pre-condition for Hajj 2021 registration.

NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Boards should introduce a legally binding agreement to be signed by intending pilgrims. For example, That registration can be considered valid only IF Saudi Arabia announced 50% Hajj quota Nigeria in2021. This will serve as insurance for the rollover pilgrims in the event of 20 or 10% hajj quota because the rollover pilgrims are within this range.

Pilgrims registration should be tagged incomplete without a PCR Test with a negative result. That intending pilgrim (whether pre-Hajj 2020 or post-Hajj 2020 candidates) must attend pilgrims enlightenments and education before they can be considered; that amount deposited by each pilgrim is termed as initial deposit subject to the official announcement of Hajj fare

To avoid rollover trouble, NAHCON needs to oversight States Muslim pilgrims board on the number of pilgrims that were rolled over from each state, and whether pilgrims that apply for refunds have been refunded. It will be wrong for us to begin new registration without drawing the curtain on Hajj 2020 registration. NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Boards and Tour Operators should reconcile to know the exact number of pilgrims that rolled over to 2021.

For example, how many pilgrims were registered by States Pilgrims Boards or Tour Operators and how much they paid as deposits; how many were eventually refunded and how much were they paid?

Is there any modality to works out any accrued benefit to pilgrims that agreed to roll over their money (on the condition that such money was kept in fixed deposits accounts by states Muslim pilgrims boards or kept in an accounts that yields interests?)

How can aggrieved pilgrims who may not have been refunded (if there are any) reach NAHCON? Do we have a fall back option in terms of settlement?

My advice is that NAHCON should publish a comprehensive list of numbers of pilgrims that registered in 2020 and how much deposits each pilgrim paid as transmitted to NAHCON by State Muslim Pilgrims Boards. To be followed by amount released to each States by NAHCON for refunds. Though a little number of pilgrims applied for refunds in some states, there are states pilgrims boards that are yet to commence payment of the refund. This is necessary because eventually, the bulk will stop at NAHCON table (being the apex hajj regulatory body) if it turns out that some states defaulted.

Hajj Saving Scheme to the rescue Indeed, NAHCON Chairman Zikrullah Kunle Hassan and his management team must be commended for proactively engaging stakeholders on ways of activating the Hajj Saving Scheme to solve the inherent timelines financial difficulties in Hajj activities.

In reality, the current socio-economic challenges have made it difficult for most Nigerians to raise funds in one fell swoop towards performing Hajj.

HSS will provide a convenient method of payment for Hajj and allow people to build-up funds overtime. NAHCON should accompany its drive with mass education and enlightenment that HSS is the best and more secure system for savers especially pilgrims as against the traditional risk-prone system of savings. It is a public service and the general public should be educated on its benefit.

As stressed by NAHCON Chairman, HSS will empower pilgrims and makes Hajj affordable to them and creates mutual benefits for both Hajj bodies and pilgrims.

Pilgrims Education and Enlightenment Here comes the new normal. Both the old and the new intending pilgrims will have to be educated and enlightened on the new normal in hajj operations. From quarantine and re-quarantine, mandatory PCR test and random tests, the law of social distance, emerging airport protocols, COVID decree pilgrims accommodations spacing, one passenger free seat pilgrims bus rule, possible two or more story tents in Mina with more space and of course the possibility of pay as you are served that means pilgrims may pay more. If hajj 2020 is decreased to 50% quota, there will be additional costs in flights, pilgrims buses, and accommodation because these services will also apply health protocols by reducing capacity.

I didnt say an increase in Hajj fare because that is a term that average intending pilgrims may not like to hear.

Remember that the above analysis does not factor the current exchange rate of naira to a dollar and the possibility of Saudi Arabia introducing additional health-related payable services.

At the end of Hajj 2020, pilgrims were again required to self-isolate for 14-days. It simply means that Hajj 2021 pilgrims may not be allowed to move about after Hajj rites unless they observe 14 or 7 days post-Hajj quarantine.

If COVID era is not completely over, Pilgrims may stay longer because Saudi may adopt country by country entrance system. For example, Saudi may allow only Pakistan or India or Indonesia to airlifts their pilgrims for a certain number of days before another country will be allowed. This may be done to ensure that one country pilgrims do not mixes with another on arrival before they are moved into pre hajj quarantine centre.

Pilgrims will then stay for 7 days quarantine and moved to their hotel before another countrys pilgrims will be allowed to come in.

If this scenario surface, the airlift of pilgrims will take much longer time considering the fact there over 64 countries that will feature in Hajj and that each country will required minimum of 10 days to airlift their pilgrims and an additional 7 days to undergo pre hajj quarantine.

More importantly, the Hajj Instruction Governing Airlift of Pilgrims by Air issued by Saudi Arabia General Authority of Civil Aviation GACA during Hajj 2019 specified the number of days countries with a certain number of pilgrims can airlift their pilgrims.

Item 2-3 under Flight Scheduling and Slot Allocation Procedures therein stated that Arrival and departure Hajj regular and charter flights (both phases) will be distributed based on agreed quota between Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Hajj Affairs Offices of each country, air carriers must provide Hajj Affairs Offices with approved flights schedule, to finalize their contractual issues, according to the requirements of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrahs Electronic Track.

The Quota Flights Distributing/phase in the Hajj Instruction Governing Airlift of Pilgrims by Air shows that hajj Countries with 30,000 pilgrims and above will have flight slots spread to 30 days, while countries with 20,000 - 30, 000 pilgrims need 25 days. Countries with Less than 20,000 pilgrims have 20 days to airlift their pilgrims.

Given the above, a 50% Hajj quota in 2021 will give us about 48,000 pilgrims thereby placing Nigeria within countries with a minimum of 30days airlifts period as prescribed by Saudi GACA.

Item 2-6 of the GACA guidelines added that Air carriers operating Hajj flights must distribute their flights as indicated in item (2-3), in an equal manner to ensure best utilization of the entire period. The air carrier must not intensify their flight schedules during the last week of arrival phase and the first week of departure phase, taking in consideration, spread daily flights overtime periods that suitable for both airports operation slots allocation capability, in order to maintain equality among air carriers.

Given the above, Nigeria will spend a minimum of 30 days to airlift 48,000 pilgrims. This calculation was done on the premise that air carriers will utilize their slots as at when due, that pilgrims will arrive hajj camp and screening takes place on schedule, and that no flight will miss its schedule due to weather or technical problems. There will be a provision for 8-10 days flight free days (five days of hajj rites and an additional 5 days to prepare for movement)

Honestly, I hope that additional 7 or fewer days pre and post hajj quarantine will not be added in 2021 and that GACA will amend pilgrims airlift instructions guidelines before the D-day otherwise, we might spend more days in Saudi Arabia than we envisaged.

There is also electronic tagging of pilgrims right from their homes before they even began their journey. Each pilgrim was tagged with a bracelet designed to monitor and record their health status and track individual quarantine, through the Tatamman app.

The Tatamman applications were meant to enhance the responsibility of those directed into health isolation while closely monitoring their health status. The app also conveniently facilitated various other health-related services including the booking of PCR testing appointments.

Some Hajj rituals were structured to ensure social distancing of at least 1.5 meters between each pilgrim while either praying, circumventing the Kaaba or performing other religious duties. The Umrah guidelines will reveal what Hajj 2021 rituals will look like.

Hajj 2020 Pilgrims were only allowed to move in fixed groups of 20 with an assigned health leader. Each leader was responsible for conducting health checkups twice a day for their designated group. If this is retained, we may need the services of experienced hajj medical teams and more number of physicians in 2021.

This year, Saudi Arabia distributed certified anti-insect IHRAM free of charge to male Pilgrims. The Ihram is produced in Saudi Arabia and therefore, pilgrims may not be allowed to enter the Kingdom with IHRAM or purchase one at the road shops In the absence of a clear roadmap to Hajj 2021, the best we can do is to use Hajj 2020 as a ticket to board the flight of Hajj 2021 with a room for adjustments whenever the needs arise.

Ibrahim Muhammed is the National Coordinator of Independent Hajj Reporters - 08037024356

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Hajj 2020.. The ticket to board Hajj 2021 flight - The Nigerian Voice

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September 8th, 2020 at 7:57 am

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Q&A: Jeff Okudah, on how reading sparked a ‘Quest of Enlightenment’ – The Athletic

Posted: September 7, 2020 at 3:51 am


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The phrase student of the game gets tossed around a lot when scouting athletes, but the one thing Jeff Okudahs teammates and coaches keep coming back to when talking up the Lions rookie cornerback is his desire to learn.

He loves to work at the game, Matt Patricia said on Fox 2s draft show, after the Lions made Okudah the No. 3 overall pick this year. Loves to just study every single week. He was outstanding with his recall on his opponents and things like that. (We) just knew that we had a kid that we thought would be a really good player for us.

This offseason, as the NFL pivoted to a virtual setting, Okudah frequently posted Instagram stories highlighting meaningful passages from books hed been reading on his own time. In August, a few days after the Lions opened training camp, Okudah sat down withThe Athletic (over Zoom) to discuss his inquisitive mind and why it might help him...

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Q&A: Jeff Okudah, on how reading sparked a 'Quest of Enlightenment' - The Athletic

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September 7th, 2020 at 3:51 am

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Terence Corcoran: You are not you, and other truths of the new world – Financial Post

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Diangelo, considered to be in the front ranks of white anti-racist thinkers, rejects the whole idea of individuality because it holds that we are each unique and stand apart from others, even those within our social groups. As for objectivity, Diangelo dismisses the idea that it is possible for individuals to be free of collective bias. Those tired old Enlightenment concepts make it very difficult for white people to explore the collective aspects of the white experience.

Under systemic collectivism, an aging Indigenous man can only see the world through his collective prism as an aging Indigenous man, not as an individual with his own intellect and thoughts. A young white woman working at a downtown Toronto bank can only grasp the world around her through her white female privilege. She cannot think for herself.

Not to be left out of the capitalism-bashing ritual is Desmond Cole. In his book, The Skin Were In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, the Toronto journalist who was fired from the Toronto Star for failing to observe journalisms general adherence to objectivity, Cole states that White power works in concert with other forms of power including capitalism (the dominance of private profit over public benefit).

The physical bookshelves are filled with these ideas, as are the online services and publication lists of university presses, which crank them out by the hundreds.

The overthrow of these core concepts is a calculated and highly public effort to destroy the great fundamental principles that have lifted human beings from ignorance and servitude

These shots at capitalism and individualism as oppressive scourges did not fly into the text of todays best-sellers on the wings of a dove. They have been systematically implanted in the culture over the last half-century by ideological warriors camouflaged as opponents of racism, sexism, inequality, homophobia, colonialism. After straight-up Marxism had self-destructed by the middle of the 20th century, after the workers of the world failed to unite around a communist revolution, cabals of neo-Marxists developed new theories. If we cannot succeed with workers, maybe we can overthrow capitalism and its enabling Enlightenment individualism by appealing to a much larger middle-class population by weaving racism, sexism, inequality, globalization and climate change into one big movement.

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Terence Corcoran: You are not you, and other truths of the new world - Financial Post

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September 7th, 2020 at 3:51 am

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Hercules, Marvel Boy Bi-Sexual In Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Book News

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Marvel Comics confirms both Hercules and Marvel Boy are bi-sexual in the latest issue of its Guardians of the Galaxy comic book.

The issue features a down and out and depressed Richard Rider Nova undergoinga psychotherapy session in regards to the guilt he feels about the death of Star-Lord as well as recent events in his life.

A majority of the issue features flashback scenes, with one scene revealing that Hercules and Marvel Boy hooked up in the midst of battle, which was really cringy (more on that below).

('Guardians of the Galaxy' #6 via ComiXology)

Why it comes off as cringy is because it's forced on to the reader andisn't organic, and in terms of what is going on, doesn't make much sense.

It's Marvel Comics' political correctness.

I'll let Timelord, our Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova reviewer who has previously been quoted by Marvel Comics in solicits and blurbs, explain (read his GOTG review here), and Timelord also has experience with war veterans (note: bold my own):

There was some minor character development for some of the other characters with the Phyla-Moondragon developments referenced for future issues and a rather ridiculous PC moment for Hercules and Marvel Boy. Now before the Facebook and Twitter PC enforcer trolls collectively lose what passes for their minds, let me clarify.

I realize the ancient Greeks and Romans had in many ways much more enlightened views on the expression of sexuality than most of modern Western Civilization, and I realize that Western Civilization is moving toward more enlightenment in terms of sexuality and its myriad methods of expression.

Though Hercules has never been portrayed as bi-sexual in the past, Im open to the possibility that he has always been bi-sexual but that no story has ever explored that part of his sexuality.

I have positively portrayed characters of all sexual orientations in all of my writings, so I have no problem with this development per se. I have a problem with the way it was portrayed.

While I am not a combat veteran myself, I work with combat veterans every day and not one of them in the midst of combat would stop to make out with anyone. Sex is not on your mind during combat. Youre too busy trying to stay alive.

The reveal of Herc and Marvel Boy as an item while bullets were still flying around them is just dumb and is easy fodder for criticism of shoehorning a PC moment into the story where it doesnt belong.

That reveal should have taken place during a celebration after combat. It would have been more realistic and made criticism more difficult for even the harshest critics. In other words, my problem is with the method of the reveal, not the reveal itself.

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September 7th, 2020 at 3:51 am

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Forrest Hubbard Jr.’s newly released "Dreydens" is a riveting novel of a trio of curious individuals on a quest to unveil their world’s…

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MEADVILLE, Pa., Sept. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ --"Dreydens": an awe-striking masterpiece about Zelos, Tai, and Elise's trail in search of the truth behind the origin and mythos of their world. "Dreydens" is the creation of published author Forrest Hubbard Jr., a first-time writer.

Hubbard Jr. shares, "When you read a map and you think you're an accidental hero but actually you're the villain, welcome to the World of Dreydensno, welcome to the Way of Zelos.

"After requesting a copy of an artifact map from the librarian and meeting up, Zelos, Tai, and Elise set out on a search for the truth surrounding the myths of the history of their world. After being thrashed in Mt. Azure, they are transported to another world where a group of rebels requests their help and where Atlas the Overwriter begins his operationthe operation that will gently steer this trio into believing their own hype, warp their sense of worth, and cause them to become the game of Russian roulette that will end with each other."

Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Forrest Hubbard Jr.'s new book is filled with breathtaking moments that depict an unquenchable yearning for enlightenment and understanding of three individuals concerning their world and its mysteries.

Follow the intriguing path of Zelos, Tai, and Elise as they meet otherworldly beings and deal with a powerful force that greatly changes their lives and intertwines danger and purpose.

View the synopsis of "Dreydens" on YouTube.

Consumers can purchase "Dreydens" at traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores or online at Amazon.com, Apple iTunes store, or Barnes and Noble.

For additional information or inquiries about "Dreydens," contact the Christian Faith Publishing media department at 866-554-0919.

SOURCE Christian Faith Publishing

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September 7th, 2020 at 3:51 am

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Mathews: Meditating on Prop 13 with the Tibetan buddhists in Howard Jarvis’ house – The Bakersfield Californian

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Want to stop worrying about Californias future? Go say a prayer at Howard Jarvis house.

No historic plaques mark the five-bedroom home at 515 N. Crescent Heights Blvd. in L.A. But this is where the famed anti-tax activist Jarvis lived and organized Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-limiting ballot initiative that still dominates California politics.

Another fall fight over changing Proposition 13 is underway. The November ballots Proposition 15 proposes to lift Proposition 13 caps on taxing commercial properties. So, recently, I visited the house and got an unexpected lesson about how California always changes, even if its ballot initiatives never do.

Jarvis gray house is now Nechung Dharmapala, L.A.s Tibetan Buddhist Center. The home, now painted orange, has a wheel representing the Dharma over the front windows, and a stupa outside the front door. Inside, bedrooms are occupied by two monks. The high-ceilinged living room where Jarvis conducted populist politics has become a 21st-century sanctuary for lessons on the renunciation of ego and the possibility of enlightenment.

The homes political past and religious present might seem discordant, but the more I contemplated the place, the more I saw the continuities. Indeed, 515 N. Crescent Heights is a double-monument to the perils of revolutions and the paradoxes of protection.

Proposition 13 was the product of a conservative political revolution promising protection against rising taxes and housing prices. The paradox is that Proposition 13 hasnt protected us from Californias high taxes or extortionate housing prices.

Nechung Dharmapalas is associated with Tibets centuries-old Nechung monastery, headquarters of the State Oracle of Tibet, who embodies the deity Pehar, The Protector of Religion. Pehar couldnt stop Chinese communists from destroying Nechung or Tibets other religious sites after the 1949 revolution. But therein lies the paradox. The communist attacks actually protected the faith. Tibetan Buddhists fled, spreading their teachings worldwide, all the way to Howard Jarvis door.

Jarvis bought the 1925 house in 1941 for $8,000 and stayed there through renovations and three marriages. During the Proposition 13 era, Jarvis held court in a big chair, smoking cigars, while distinguished visitors like Gov. Jerry Brown sat on sofas. There were some curses, but no prayers, recalls Jarvis aide Joel Fox.

When Proposition 13 passed, capping property tax increases, Jarvis 3,000-square-foot home was assessed at less than $60,000. Its annual tax bills, from that low base, would stay below $1,000. In 2005, its assessed value for tax purposes was $75,854; in 2006, after his wife died (Jarvis passed in 1986), it was reassessed at $1.25 million.

The house was sold in 2008, and put up for sale again in 2013 as Tibetan Buddhists were searching for L.A. headquarters. The Nechung Kuten, who is also Chief State Oracle of Tibet, had visited L.A. in 2007 and 2009 and called for a center for non-sectarian study and practice of Buddhism. But finding the right place was hard

Tibetan Buddhists bought the house in 2013 for $1.38 million. In Jarvis living room, resident teacher Geshe Wangchuk now presides. Hes learned in not just Buddhist philosophy but also in creating sand mandalas and butter sculptures.

During the pandemic, Geshe Wangchuk shifted weekly teachings to nechungla.org and Zoom. This summers lessons leaned on The Three Principal Aspects of the Path' by Je Tsongkhapa, a 14th century teacher. One passage intrigued me deeply:

Furthermore when appearance dispels the extreme of existence,

And when emptiness dispels the extreme of non-existence,

And if you understand how emptiness arises as cause and effect,

You will never be captivated by views grasping at extremes.

I wondered: Can minds really be that open? Does avoiding extremes require uncertainty about your own existence? And could such enlightenment apply to Californias contemporary extremes?

The Nechung L.A. team knew nothing of Jarvis. Talking with Nechungs board secretary, Tenzin Thokme, I tried explaining Proposition 13 and why Proposition 15 is in the news. But my explanations were just questions. Might Proposition 15 produce billions for schools, or will its exemptions be exploited by wealthy property owners? Might this measure make a symbolic strike against Proposition 13, or will the whole exercise just reinforce Proposition 13s power?

But if I understood Geshe Wangchuk, that I have more questions than answers is OK. Because uncertainty about what comes next for me, a proposition or a home might be the most powerful answer we ever get. As Je Tsongkhapa taught 600 years ago, If the entire object of grasping at certitude is dismantled, at that point your analysis of the view has culminated.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zcalo Public Square.

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Lilian Visinoni: Young And Ready to Save the Earth – THISDAY Newspapers

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Vanessa Obioha writes about a group of young professionals who are championing the cause for a cleaner environment

From Sweden to Morocco, young people are amplifying their voices on environmental and climate issues. They are on the streets, classrooms urging leaders and citizens to protect the earth from further damage. In Nigeria, a group of young professionals are leading the cause for a cleaner earth.

Known as Humanity Nigeria, a non-profit organisation, the team of over 140 youths from different backgrounds are challenging the status quo and creating awareness on environmental issues.

We are deeply amazed and concerned about the massive and increasing amount of plastic wastes in our environment and the fact that one way or the other, we all contributed to it. Thus, we all must come together, work together, for the sake of the Earth, to free our environments and our Earth, from plastic bottle wastes. This is why we rose as catalysts to bring this to pass as quickly as possible, explained 24-year-old undergraduate Lilian Visinoni, who is a director at the organisation.

She added that the level of enlightenment in Nigeria regarding the environment is relatively low, and as such, the earth and its environment are constantly in danger.

Our environment is currently suffering from excessive plastic bottle wastes and other forms of environmental pollution because of the very low level of enlightenment among the populace. And year after year, our environment suffers more degradation as a result of continuous neglect and abuse.

Identifying the major environmental threats in Nigeria as plastic wastes pollution, oil-spillage, and deforestation, Visinoni warned that if they are not nipped in the bud, the human race will be brought to its knees.

To achieve this, the one-year-old organisation rolled out some campaigns. When it officially launched last year, it started with a Save the Earth global campaign for a clean environment. There were only 25 members at the time. For this year, they are planning the Earth Festival Nigeria which Visinoni superintends.

The Earth Festival Nigeria is a novel idea. It was formed out of the need to raise a global voice for a clean environment by bringing young people together to celebrate youthfulness while reminding the world of the need to keep the earth safe for all.

Themed Earth For All, Visinoni stated that the singular driving force for the festival is to ensure that Nigeria is among countries lending their voice for a cleaner environment.

We need to raise a global voice for the care of the earth, a voice by young Nigerians, from Nigeria, from Africa, so that in the roll call of environmentally friendly nations, Nigeria will come top and be globally respected. And with the global respect for Nigeria as an environmentally conscious and active country, more young Nigerians can stand and take charge in leading more environmental campaigns for the benefit of all.

As a way of encouraging young persons to join their cause, the team will be embarking on a World Guinness Record Challenge. They will be bringing together over 10,000 young volunteers from across the 36 States in Nigeria to help in picking five million pieces of plastic bottle wastes from gutters, streets, and canals to set the Guinness World Record for the highest number of plastic bottle wastes picked by a team in five days.

She calls it an ambitious task to draw global attention and get people to take the environment seriously. Moreover, they have been able to get support and endorsement from some influential personalities in society.

The initial idea was to get rid of one million plastic bottles in three days but when the pandemic happened, they had to re-strategize.

The Earth Festival Nigeria which was birthed in February is scheduled for September 22 to 27, while the Guinness World Record Challenge will kick off on September 22 to 26.

Also, there will be a Lagos State Public Participation Day scheduled for September 26.

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Lilian Visinoni: Young And Ready to Save the Earth - THISDAY Newspapers

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Islamic world at decisive point in history: Will it take the path of Emirates or Turkey? – Firstpost

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Islam was going through its golden era of philosophical exploration and scientific discoveries. In front of it were two roads. One of enlightenment, modernity, innovation and peaceful co-existence. The other of orthodoxy, insularity and violent impulses.

The year 1095 was perhaps the most important one in the life of Islam since 610, the year Prophet Muhammad is believed to have had his first revelation.

Islam was going through its golden era of philosophical exploration and scientific discoveries. In front of it were two roads. One of enlightenment, modernity, innovation and peaceful co-existence. The other of orthodoxy, insularity and violent impulses.

It chose the path of darkness and could never recover.

It was in 1095 that Abu Hamid Al Ghazali an otherwise outstanding thinker, jurist and mystic published his book Tahafut al-Falasifa and launched a visceral attack on philosophy and openness of learning. He played on the faiths worst instincts to discredit falsafa, attack the stellar work of scholars such as Al Farabi and Ibn Sina, and declare them kafir or infidel.

Even while the world rediscovered the wisdom of the Greeks, Romans and even ancient Indians through the work of the likes of Ibn Rushd, Ghazali had dimmed out that light from the Islamic world for centuries to come.

In 2020, the Islamic world has once again reached a forked road in history. The United Arab Emirates has taken a revolutionary step to embrace Israel, the only non-Muslim nation in the middle of the Arab world. Last week, the momentous first flight between the two countries landed in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia, which was cosying up to Israel in the last couple of years and even secretly allying on strategic and military issues, gave permission for the flight. Bahrain followed with an overflight clearance.

Israeli and Omani foreign ministers have already spoken on the phone, and Oman could be the next Arab nation to normalise relations with the Jewish state.

Sudan ended 30 years of Islamic law by separating the state from religion. Coincidentally or not, it is one of the countries actively considering normalising relations with Israel.

Years of siding with Palestine and holding Israel as the pariah is slowly, unexpectedly ending. Hostilities unleashed by the Muslim world again Israel to deny its right to exist has made the Middle East the most disturbed and violent place in the world, obviated the scope of solving things bilaterally, egged on the entire Ummah to wallow in victimhood over a local problem, and motivated scores of Islamist terrorist groups worldwide to butcher the innocent in the name of avenging Palestine.

The fact that tiny Israel has been the target of a cabal of over a dozen powerful nations and a victim of relentless waves of terror attacks has constantly been underplayed.

While the new geopolitical changes in the Middle East has wide-ranging positive implications in the Islamic world and the promise of openness last held out in the time of Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina and Al Farabi, there is a troubled road lurking alongside in the form of Turkey.

Tayyip Erdogan could do what Al Ghazali did in 1095: lead Islam down the dark road. He has meticulously dismantled Mustafa Kemal Ataturks secular legacy and dreams of being the modern-day Caliph of the Muslim world. It is easier dreamt than done, with more than half the Arab world having a very different plan.

But Erdogan has managed to pull in a few wretches like Pakistan to do his bidding and try to form a block. The examples he sets to the Islamic world is grabbing the Hagia Sophia church and converting it into a mosque, running a hub at home to revive the failed Kashmir separatism and hosting troublesome elements, bombing Tazidis and Kurds already tormented by ISIS, and following a brutally regressive track on freedom of speech.

The Islamic world is at a very crucial juncture again. Whether it takes the road to Ankara or Dubai will decide whether it loses another shining opportunity to lift itself from the morass of bigotry and orthodoxy.

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Antiheroes and the ‘American’ Experience in Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man – Varsity Online

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The experiences of the protagonist, his move through purgatory, and his eventual death generate the ideal metaphor for the American experience, argues Ishani Sarkar.

Since the early 1980s, Jim Jarmusch has produced a handful of idiosyncratic films that have established him as one of the most imaginatively allusive directors in the history of American cinema. His Dead Man (1995) has been described as a psychedelic/neo/revisionist Western, and has, over the years, gained a cult following who have pondered on its meaning, giving it a rather enduring afterlife. Inspired by unconventional, often Brechtian, Western cinema, the film resists falling into a typical generic formula. In the film, there is no American West; there is only a landscape that America, the usurper, has cleansed of its natives, turning it into a capitalist ossuarium. The pre-credit sequence depicts a train journey, moving between passivity and hasty belligerence, that will continue throughout the film.

His passage is not one of enlightenment or clarity, but depletion, making it the ideal metaphor for the American experience.

The plot rests on recently-orphaned accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp). His namesake, a poet and revolutionary in the Age of Reason, believed that the energy of creation could only be propelled by conflict. Indeed, in the film, physical acts of violence are symbolic representations of the spiritual resistance to the deadening conformity that Western artists have been forced to blindly accept. However, characteristic of Jarmuschs white heroes, the character of Blake is completely unaware of the poet whose name he carries. He is travelling out West to the remote town of Machine, with the promise of a job at a steelworks run by Dickinson (Robert Mitchum in a cameo). The position has already been filled on arrival, and he eventually kills Dickinsons son in self-defence after having slept with the mans former lover, Thel Russell (played by Mili Avital). He has to flee into the wilderness from the lawless land of Machine, fatally wounded. He spends the remainder of the film dying in the company of a renegade, a Native American named Nobody (Gary Farmer), who understands his predicament. From this point onwards, Blake is in purgatory. He begins the experience physically alive, but dead in essence, transforming his journey into something akin to the Divine Comedy. He is forced to surrender to his own destiny: only after crossing over will true vision be possible.

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The films carefully researched, protean approach to various Native American cultures makes for a sobering contrast to the daunting portrait of white America, which is shown as a primitive, chaotic world of spiteful bounty hunters and blood-spattered grudge-matches. There is none of the romanticising of violence that has become de rigueur in commercial Hollywood ever since the heyday of Arthur Penn and, later, in Tarantino and others. The film rejects Western monotheism and presents a spiritual resistance to conditions that political solutions have not resolved. Blake struggles trying to become somebody in a white mans world. However, it is not too late for him to reject the values of his society just as his namesake had done. For Blake the poet, evil was inherently related to repression, rather than unrestrained passions. Nobody (the character) realizes that for Blake to stop being a spiritually dead man, he would have to face the imminent threat of death. Passivity is not the wisdom that Jarmusch offers.

As for Blake himself, he is neither a hero nor a villain, neither likeable nor unlikeable. There is emotion and feeling, but it is misdirected and poignantly unreachable. Blake is dying a little bit faster than he is living. Hes like a tabula rasa that everyone wants to write all over, and successfully so. Almost midway through the film, we experience a haunting moment that acts as more than merely a metaphor for Blakes quandary on the brink of death. He sees a dead doe lying on the ground, feels its blood between his fingers, and mingles it with his own. He lies down on the same forest floor, curling up around it. Depps tenderly distorted detachment extends this explicit metaphor into something more an unsightly gesture in the hunt for meaning.

Jarmusch chose William Blake over any other poet deliberately. He has laden the entire storyline with incredible dualities and the Hegelian concepts of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, which heavily influenced the Blakean dialectic. Nobody (the character) is portrayed as thesis, Cole (a bounty hunter) as antithesis, and their eventual deaths synthesise the two. Blakes soul is finally free, and his journey through purgatory is over. His passage is not one of enlightenment or clarity, but depletion, making it the ideal metaphor for the American experience.

Varsity is the independent newspaper for the University of Cambridge, established in its current form in 1947. In order to maintain our editorial independence, our print newspaper and news website receives no funding from the University of Cambridge or its constituent Colleges.

We are therefore almost entirely reliant on advertising for funding, and during this unprecedented global crisis, we expect to have a tough few months and years ahead.

In spite of this situation, we are going to look at inventive ways to look at serving our readership with digital content and of course in print too.

Therefore we are asking our readers, if they wish, to make a donation from as little as 1, to help with our running costs at least until this global crisis ends and things begin to return to normal.

Many thanks, all of us here at Varsity would like to wish you, your friends, families and all of your loved ones a safe and healthy few months ahead.

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