The Mask Returns With Political Satire Angle in New Comic Series

Dark Horse Comics is reviving the Mask franchise in October. Dubbed The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask, this new series will bring an extra dose of political satire to this darkly comical franchise.

I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask will be written by Halt and Catch Fire showrunner Christopher Cantwell, with art by Patric Reynolds (Joe Golem), colors by Lee Loughridge (Stumptown) and letters by Nate Piekos (William Gibson’s Alien 3). Check out the cover to issue #1 below:

The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask! #1 cover by Patric Reynolds. (Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics) The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask! #1 cover by Patric Reynolds. (Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics)

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Books of The Times: In ‘Spring,’ Ali Smith’s Series Takes Its Most Political Turn

The third book in Smith’s seasonal cycle is about a filmmaker, an old lefty, trying to make sense of the new world.
NYT > Books


Robert Carlyle to play a British PM in new political drama

Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle has said his new drama series, in which he plays a British prime minister dealing with a national emergency, “feels almost too true to be fiction”.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


Critic’s Notebook: Trump, Political TV’s Protagonist, Now Has to Share the Spotlight

The State of the Union address suggested that America’s political drama was becoming an ensemble, not a one-man show anymore.
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Facebook, Twitter Turn to Right-Leaning Groups to Help Referee Political Speech

Advisers on touchy issues include Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and, on the left, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their involvement behind the scenes, designed to tamp down a furor over social media’s policing of content, has instead kicked up a new range of disputes. WSJD


Gary Lineker criticised for voicing political views

Jonathan Agnew advises Gary Lineker on Twitter to remain impartial.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts


Essay: Political Poetry Is Hot Again. The Poet Laureate Explores Why, and How.

Tracy K. Smith, the United States poet laureate, looks at the ways poetry has dealt with the shifting political landscapes of the past two decades.
NYT > Books


Google chief denies political bias claims

US lawmakers accused firm of “programming” bias against conservative views into its algorithms.
BBC News – Technology


Books of The Times: ‘Milkman’ Slogs Through Political and Cultural Tensions in Northern Ireland

In Anna Burns’s novel, winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, an unnamed girl is menaced by a political dissident’s affections.
NYT > Books


Facebook drawn into violent Sri Lankan political row

Facebook has found itself drawn into an escalating political row in Sri Lanka as opposition MPs accuse the ruling party of using data to launch a crackdown.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News


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Facebook delays UK political advertiser checks

Facebook has delayed plans to introduce checks on verifying the identities of political advertisers as part of an initiative to tackle election interference.
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How to Get Political Ads Off Your Facebook Feed

With the midterm elections looming, you might not be wildly surprised your Facebook feed seems like it’s been taken over by political ads. Researchers say campaign-ad spending on the social network is up in these final weeks. WSJD


For Aasif Mandvi, a 20-Year-Old Play Now Feels Like ‘Political Resistance’

“Sakina’s Restaurant,” which put him on the map, has new resonance, which is why he’s summoning the energy to play all its roles all over again.
NYT > Arts

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Swift breaks silence and reveals her political views

Breaking a long-standing refusal to discuss anything political, Taylor Swift has announced who she will be voting for in the midterm elections.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


Facebook stops sending staff to help political campaigns

The social network will no longer send employees to work at the offices of political campaigns.
BBC News – Technology


Facebook’s push to kill bad political ads is also hiding regular posts

Facebook’s push to kill bad political ads is also hiding regular postsFacebook's political ad monitoring system is already hurting regular ads and news posts.

Yahoo Tech


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Books of The Times: Seeing the Art World Through Personal and Political Lenses

Nell Painter’s “Old in Art School” and Aruna D’Souza’s “Whitewalling” bring new energy and insight to questions that have long preoccupied the art world.
NYT > Books


Nul points: Eurovision’s history of political voting

Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


Google vs. Google: How Nonstop Political Arguments Rule Its Workplace

The tech giant, trying to navigate an age of heightened political disagreement, struggles to tame a workplace culture of nonstop debate. Often organized by small groups of employees, the discussions have turned the tech giant’s headquarters into something resembling a college campus. WSJD


Facebook to vet and label political adverts

Political adverts on Facebook will have to be labelled as such and display who paid for them, a senior company official has said.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News


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Donald Trump May Actually Enjoy Jim Carrey’s Latest Biting Political Portrait

“The road to Trump’s White House was paved with good intentions.”
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The ‘Roseanne’ Revival Catches Up To Our Thorny Political Mood, For Better And Worse

What begins with an unrefined, heavy-handed tone eases into a show that again tackles American affairs with humor and candor.
Culture and Arts
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Why the Roseanne Revival Isn’t as Political as You Think It Will Be

RoseanneWhen ABC announced their plans to revive Roseanne, the groundbreaking blue-collar family comedy that ruled the airwaves on the network for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997, much attention was paid…

E! Online (US) – TV News


The Scion of a Pakistani Political Dynasty Comes Out

The artist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, grandson and namesake of the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party, is queer, Muslim and proud.
NYT > Arts

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Nonfiction: From ‘Fire and Fury’ to Political Firestorm

Michael Wolff has everyone talking about a possibly dysfunctional president.
NYT > Books


Books of The Times: A Political Scandal’s Trauma, Seen From the Inside

Nicholas Montemarano’s new novel, “The Senator’s Children,” is about a family weathering the fallout of a scandal like the one that derailed the presidential aspirations of John Edwards.
NYT > Books


Facebook to show who buys political ads

Political advertisers will have to verify their identity and their posts will carry a disclosure.
BBC News – Technology


Twitter Discloses 200 Russia-Linked Accounts, Says It Supports Political Ad Transparency

Following Facebook’s lead, Twitter disclosed the initial results of an internal investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 Presidential election with the help of its service Thursday. In a meeting with congressional investigators, and a subsequent public blog post, the company revealed that it became aware of around 200 accounts likely linked to state-sponsored […]



Jimmy Kimmel Joins Ranks of Late-Night Comedians Seeking Political Sway

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Jimmy Kimmel once again urged viewers to call their senators and urge them to vote against the GOP’s latest plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, his late-night rival had a message for him on Twitter: “Please @JimmyKimmel – stay out of politics. Leave the important stuff to reality TV stars with… Read more »



Made You Click: How Facebook Fed You Political Ads for Less Than a Penny

Political ads on Facebook got into your news feed at a cost of less than a penny each—highlighting the outsize reach contentious paid content can have on the social-networking site. WSJD


Artists Defend Shakespeare In The Park, Because Political Theater Matters

“Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater,” The Public declared.
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Meet The ‘Nasty Stitches’ Making Embroidery And Knitting Political

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JK Rowling writes political tale, but not on paper

JK Rowling’s rumoured political fairy tale has been written and is currently hanging in the author’s closet.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


Justin Trudeau Is King Of The Political Sock Game No More

Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar upstaged his Canadian counterpart in the sock stakes during their first official meeting.
Fashion News, Celebrity Style and Fashion Trends – HuffPost Style
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Has Political Photography Changed Under Trump?

Christopher Anderson’s images of the Women’s March are now on view in NYC.

Lifestyle – Esquire


Jay-Z Releases His Personal and Political Album ‘4:44’ on Tidal

The rapper’s 13th studio album, “4:44,” addresses many of the same themes as “Lemonade,” by his wife, Beyoncé.
NYT > Arts

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Artists Defend Shakespeare In The Park, Because Political Theater Matters

As critics denounce a Trumped-up version of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” actors, writers and illustrators are pledging their support for one of New York City’s most beloved cultural attractions.

Every summer Shakespeare in the Park arrives in New York City, bringing with it free stagings of the Bard’s best works, sometimes updated to appeal to modern audiences flocking to Central Park to see a play.

This year, that was certainly the case. The Public theater’s update of “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare’s famous play about the assassination of the titular Roman dictator, features a Trumped-up storyline in which Caesar, golden hair and all, wears a business suit instead of a toga. His wife Calpurnia dresses in silk and high heels, speaking with what’s been described as a “heavy Slavic accent.” An American flag can be seen waving onstage. 

The decision to infuse the story of Caesar with the spirit of today’s political mania ― to base the main character on U.S. President Donald Trump ― was a bold one. (Though hardly unprecedented; for example, a 2012 American Conservative article recounts a version of the play with an Obama-esque Caesar.) Bold because in the production, the leader of Rome is assassinated, stabbed to death by senators who felt his death would be best for their troubled republic. So in director Oskar Eustis’ rendition, a figure that looks an awful lot like Trump dies at the hands of ardent critics every night of the play’s run.

When Fox News and the corporations sponsoring The Public Theater caught wind of the death, they, still digesting the bloody antics of comedian Kathy Griffin, bridled. Delta and Bank of America pulled their support for the play. Appalled citizens made their opinions known on Twitter, threatening to boycott the free program.

While the outrage machine seemed to be throttling forward, a few famous artists, actors and writers took to social media to disrupt the current of negativity and defend Eustis and the staging of “Julius Caesar.” While some did so by simply pointing out the fact that detractors were largely misunderstanding the very essence of the play, others began rallying support for the theater by pledging to see the show and donate to The Public. 

New Yorker cartoonist Tom Toro promised to give those who donated more than $ 25 to The Public a free print of a themed illustration, which reads, “Just when you’re about to lose your faith in humanity, you see Shakespeare in the Park.” Actress Amber Tamblyn and author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted their intent to see “Julius Caesar” despite Delta’s lack of support. Others, like Nia Vardalos, shared links to The Public’s donation page.

While those strongly opposed to the “Julius Caesar” play have expressed that they don’t want their tax dollars used to fund what they have perceived as an anti-Trump artwork, the National Endowment for the Arts cleared up those concerns quickly: “No taxpayer dollars support Shakespeare in the Park’s production of ‘Julius Caesar,’” it announced in a statement.

And in response to those choosing to boycott The Public, a few individuals have in turn suggested boycotting corporations like Delta, who’ve pulled their support unwisely. 

“Maybe we should be less concerned that Shakespeare in the Park staged Caesar & more that Caesar calls Trump to mind?” author Celeste Ng tweeted. “Just a thought, @delta.”

Those familiar with Shakespeare’s centuries-old work know the playwright presents Caesar’s death as a disastrous event for Rome. The murder is similarly depicted in The Public’s production as an inarguable mistake on behalf of those American democrats who felt deposing of a tyrant through violence and illegal means was an act of patriotism.

“’Julius Caesar’ is about how fragile democracy is,” Eustis wrote in a statement about the play before it even opened. “The institutions that we have grown up with, that we have inherited from the struggle of many generations of our ancestors, can be swept away in no time at all.”

In a more recent statement from The Public Theater, the organization affirmed that it stands “completely behind our production of Julius Caesar. We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion […] such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.”

The theater also reiterated that it in no way condones violence towards anyone. In fact, it makes the exact opposite point: “Those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.”

Julius Caesar is slated to run at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater until June 18 as part of New York’s Shakespeare in the Park festival. Tickets are free.

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Design Students Get Political at London Graduate Fashion Week

LONDON — Graduate Fashion Week was dominated by politics, in the tone of the collections on show and students’ statements.
The five-day event took place this year at East London’s Truman Brewery and showcased the work of students from more than 30 U.K. universities. It wrapped with a Gala Awards Show that highlighted the work of the top 25 students.
London’s latest terrorist attack, which saw eight people die, took place as the showcase was happening, as did the country’s national general election, which ended with a hung Parliament and a weakened Conservative prime minister.
At the start of the showcase, Mark Newton-Jones, the charity’s chairman, was defiant in the face of the terrorist attack. “This is exactly what we should be doing – carrying on with life,” he said.
Graduates voiced their views about the state of British society with slogans printed all over their garments. Lauren McArthur, a design student from the University of Creative Arts Rochester, printed phrases such as “I’m Lost” on girly, pastel-hued dresses, while Sarah Rafferty from Nottingham Trent University splashed words such as “Woe to the Rich” or “Money is Power” on oversized pinstripe suits for men.

Looks by Irene D’Antonio 
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“It’s not something that we used to see

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Investigation opened into political use of data

Unease over how political parties use data to target voters, online and offline, continues to grow. It’s the focus of Sky News’s ongoing Invisible Election project.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News


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Kardashian Sisters Get Political, Film Visit To Planned Parenthood

The Kardashians aren’t exactly known for their political activism, but we’re living in crazy times. 

Kim, Kourtney and Khloe were spotted holding hands as they walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in West Los Angeles on Thursday.

Sources told TMZ that the reality stars met with the organization’s leaders and discussed the health care services offered by the nonprofit and how President Trump’s administration is affecting them. 

According to TMZ’s sources, the goal of the Kardashians’ visit, which was taped for their E! series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” was to find out how the family can raise awareness for Planned Parenthood and how they can contribute in the future. 

No word as to why the Kardashians decided to pick this moment to get involved, but it may have something to do with the fact that earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood as part of the GOP’s American Health Care Act. The bill, which still has to go through the Senate before its passed, would prevent Medicaid from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for preventive health services such as birth control, Pap smears and sexually transmitted infection screenings. 

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Eminem sues NZ political party over ad music

Eminem is taking New Zealand’s ruling political party to court after claiming they used his music in a TV advert without permission.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


American Gods EPs on Political Relevance and Selfish Gods

American Gods will end up being one of the most politically relevant scripted TV series of 2017, though that wasn’t necessarily showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s intent when they started adapting the Neil Gaiman novel.

“It feels like the show that we set out to make was much more entertainment and much less politicking than the show that is going to be released to the audiences,” Fuller told me when I sat down with him and Green to discuss the upcoming new Starz series, which debuts on April 30th. The fantasy drama, which tells the story of a man unwittingly caught in a war between the old and new gods of America, deals with big themes like immigration. Those themes have earned new context given the political climate shift in America over the past year.

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Pierre Bergé Talks Political Persuasions

LEFT BANK: With France’s presidential race heating up, Pierre Bergé in an interview published in French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday revealed that he is rooting for French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The centrist candidate in the latest polls is running neck-and-neck with Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right National Front party, as the two frontrunners in the French presidential election.
Bergé, a patron of the left who was a close friend of the late Socialist president François Mitterrand, also supported former French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal in the 2007 elections when she ran against Nicolas Sarkozy as the Socialist Party candidate.
“Ségolène Royal is Joan of Arc, Emmanuel Macron is a general of the Empire,” quipped Bergé in the interview, which centers on the ongoing sale of his personal library.
Bergé in the piece also dismissed rumors that Macron is gay and shared his theory on the success of the National Front, saying: “People are mistaken about the FN voters because they refuse to feel guilty.…The [true] voters of the FN [fascists] are a minority, the majority of them are people who have been left by the wayside by the traditional parties. The responsibility of the right and left parties in this is considerable.”
Bergé suggests that France’s current Socialist president, François Hollande,

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Critic’s Notebook: How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View

Want to see how the other half live-tweets? The technology that insulated you will now free you.
NYT > Arts

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Jimmy Kimmel on Hosting the Oscars at a Political Moment

With recent awards speeches focusing on President Trump, he says the evening will be a balancing act that avoids too little topical content and too much.
NYT > Arts

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From Brando To Leo, Political Speeches Have Long Dominated The Oscars

Beyond honoring the year’s movies, the Oscars are a hotbed for political fodder. The awards have long provided a showcase for celebrity protests, from Marlon Brando and Vanessa Redgrave in the 1970s to Patricia Arquette and Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2010s. 

Given the percentage of Hollywood that opposes Donald Trump’s presidency, this stands to be the most politically engaged Oscar stage in the awards’ 89-year history. In preparation for Sunday’s impassioned speeches, watch our supercut of civic rallying cries through the years.

Video credits:
Associate Producer: Dzana Ashworth
Video Editor: Lee Porcella
Supervising Producers: Kate Balch & Sam Mackereth
Post-Production Supervisor: Mike DeAngelis

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The 5 Most Political Moments From New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017

New York Fashion Week wasn’t just about clothes this year ― it was also about the message. 

This February, designers finally began making some bold moves toward inclusivity and diversity. But other shows also became political acts of resistance, like when LSR sent models down the runway in clothes denouncing President Trump’s Muslim travel ban and proposed wall between Mexico and the U.S. Or when designers and models wore white bandanas to signal they were part of the opposition, and pink Planned Parenthood pins to show their support. 

No matter the action, however big or small, the fashion world made it clear it won’t tolerate the intolerance found in the current political climate. 

1. “F**k Your Wall” clothing. 

Mexican-born designer Raul Solis had a clear-cut message for Donald Trump in his LSR NYFW show. He printed “No Ban, No Wall” and “F**k Your Wall” on models’ underwear. Solis told Dazed Digital he opposed Trump’s wall because the designer’s family is “first generation Mexican and some had to migrate to the U.S., [so] this issue is something extremely personal to me.” 

2. Trolling Trump with his signature slogan.

Public School New York put a fun spin on Donald Trump’s campaign hat and made it their own. They put the slogan on a cropped sweatshirt and hats for the show.  

3. White bandanas for solidarity, unity and inclusiveness.

The news site Business of Fashion started the bandana movement to show solidarity during a time of turmoil. Designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Prabal Gurung, Tommy Hilfiger, Thakoon, Phillip Lim, and Diane von Furstenberg either incorporated the bandanas into their shows or simply wore them.  

4. “This Is Not America” music. 

Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein debut included a mix of David Bowie’s 1985 song, “This Is Not America.” Attendees were also given white bandanas to wear before the show started. 

5. Fashion’s Planned Parenthood stance. 

Thanks to a partnership between the CFDA and Planned Parenthood, over 40 designers joined forces to include PP pins at their shows. The pins were also given out to PR people, modeling agencies, influencers and press throughout NYFW, along with a pamphlet outlining all the services Planned Parenthood offers.

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How To Love Someone With Opposite Political Views

Just two weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, news hit of the first divorce triggered by the election results (or at least, the first to go viral). 

In an interview with Reuters, Californian Gayle McCormick, 73, said she and her husband of 22 years decided to split up after he mentioned that he planned to vote for Trump

Though her husband ended up writing in former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich at the ballot box instead, the damage was already done.

“It really came down to the fact I needed to not be in a position where I had to argue my point of view 24/7,” she said. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that.” 

Though an extreme example, the story highlights how hard it is to love and maintain a civil relationship when you’re at odds politically. Like the McCormicks, 30 percent of married households contain a mismatched partisan pair, according to data site FiveThirtyEight

If those couples weren’t getting into arguments before the election, chances are they are now, with each day bringing fresh executive orders, cabinet confirmations and emotionally charged POTUS tweets. It’s all too easy to get upset if your spouse is your political opposite.

How do you avoid the McCormicks’ fate if you have different political views? Below, couples who’ve been in mixed political marriages for years share their advice.

Rule #1: Don’t look at your partner as a surrogate for his or her party’s candidate.

Kerry Maguire, a left-leaning dentist who serves as the director of the children’s outreach program at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been married to her husband Thomas Stossel, a right-leaning hematologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, for over 20 years.

In that time, she’s tried to not confuse Republican leaders’ views with those of her spouse.

“Tom has nothing in common with Donald Trump except they both belong to the Republican party,” she told The Huffington Post. “Still, I have occasionally ― and unfairly ― dumped my frustrations over Trump in Tom’s lap. Not surprisingly, that can evoke a defensive response in him, which I sometimes interpret as Tom being in agreement with Trump.”

Highly charged events like the Women’s March in January have definitely triggered some emotions in the couple. When arguments get too heated and Maguire is responsible, she takes full ownership for stirring things up. 

“His response to the Women’s March was, ‘Didn’t these people vote?’ And I wanted to tear my hair out and start talking about parallel universes,” she told us. “Then I realized that I was the one who set us up for the fight.” 

Rule #2:  Keep things in perspective. 

Stossell, meanwhile, recognizes that President Trump’s actions offend his wife far more than they offend him. Like any supportive spouse, he takes it in stride and actively listens when his wife is unnerved by the latest executive order or Kellyanne Conway’s most recent claim of “fake news.” 

“Kerry complains about him from time to time and that’s OK with me,” he told HuffPost. “The 20 plus years I’ve been married to her have been the best of my life and there’s no way political disagreements could compromise my affection for her.”

Rule #3: Remind yourself that winning isn’t everything.

They may have appeared in a pre-election video titled “Donald Trump Is Ruining My Marriage,” but New York magazine columnist Mandy Stadtmiller and her Trump-supporting husband, comedian Pat Dixon, are still very much married.

That’s partly because both realized that winning an argument about Trump means very little compared to their growth as a couple. 

“If we disagree on a political issue, America’s future is not going to be determined by who wins a single argument we are having in our tiny Chelsea apartment,” Stadtmillter said. “It might determine our future, though.” 

She added: “Challenge, disagreement and adversity can make a good couple grow stronger, more emphatic and more sensitive if you never lose your respect for each other in the process of spirited debate.”

Rule #4: Don’t bring politics to bed.

Alicia Chandler, a left-leaning attorney who lives in the greater Detroit, Michigan area, has endured four presidential elections with her conservative, Trump-supporting husband. In that time, they’ve learned to avoid placing campaign signs in their yard (”We do not need to let the whole neighborhood in on our dysfunction,” she joked in a blog prior to the 2017 election) and to avoid talking about politics or unsettling world news before bed.

“You have to give each other safe spaces ― and I’m not simply suggesting that term because the mere mention of it infuriates my husband and most other conservatives,” she said.

To protect her marriage, Chandler tries to avoid looking at social media while in bed.

“When I do, I have the bad habit of getting into a heated conversation about whatever the political crisis of the day, which is horrible because my brain has already shut down for the day,” she said. “Basically, I am more likely to lose any argument on an intellectual level and it ends the the day on a negative note.”

Talking about news of the day with your spouse is important, but Chandler stressed the importance of designating times of days where the conversation is politics-free.

Rule #5: Recognize the core beliefs you do share. 

Micah Leydorf is a former congressional staffer and a conservative married to a liberal. When the divide between her and her husband seems great, she reminds herself that they ultimately share a common belief system. 

“We may not agree on many important national policies, but we agree that loving people and loving each other are more important,” she told HuffPost. “We don’t argue when we discuss politics because we are united in our focus on living out our common belief in a loving God. You have to focus more on living out your core beliefs every day instead of just talking about them.” 

Rule #6: Value the experience of listening to the other side. 

In these hyper-partisan days, most of us consume a media diet that feeds into our preconceived beliefs and biases. Being married to your political opposite forces you to consider the other side’s opinions and hear their latest talking points, said Julia Arnold, a Minnesota-based blogger who’s been married to a conservative for nine years. Yes, she said, sometimes that means she’s forced to watch Fox News. 

“The truth is, you may or may not believe that the media is biased, but either way I still find value in spending time with a variety of news outlets,” she said. “The way I see it, it’s helpful, not harmful, to watch and read a variety of media.” 

Arnold added that being being married to your political opposite compels you to look at your beliefs and sometimes, even question them.

“Our relationship has made me more open-minded and less judgmental,” she said. “I hope my husband feels the same way. My marriage has made me look at things through more than one lens and I feel lucky for that opportunity.”

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Grammys strike political chord after mild BAFTAs

Politically charged interventions at the Grammys struck a contrast with the surprisingly mild BAFTAs just hours before.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


Let’s Not Fear A “Political” Awards Show – Let’s Celebrate It


With the 59th’s Annual Grammy Awards coming up, much talk has emerged about just how the first Grammys of the Trump administration would go down. In a recent Rolling Stones interview, while the show’s producer expressed understanding that artists shouldn’t have to suppress their views, some organizers have expressed caution over performances and monologues that might take a stab at the Trump administration. With CBS paying over $ 20 million just to air the award show, it’s no surprise organizers would want the smoothest outcome. However, music was never meant to be smooth. It was meant to be gritty, reflective, and raw. A turbulent political atmosphere isn’t a setback to the Grammy’s. It’s a push forward for music.

Music doesn’t always have to be political. Everyone needs a party hit or a song that just hits other emotions – hence why albums like Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” have won in the past, or songs like Duke Dumont’s 2014 banger “I Got U” were nominated. Still, political songs shouldn’t be worrying, especially since music’s marriage with politics is nothing new. Many political songs and performances have been subjects of controversy in the past, like Beyoncé’s “Formation” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, both of which are 2017 nominees, and both of which have allowed for heart-stopping past performances. News articles and panels have been throwing around the word “controversy” to describe these songs but in reality, these performances aren’t causing controversy. They’re sparking conversations – unfortunately ones that many people still don’t want to have. When someone comments that Beyoncé’s performance is praising violence against police, we shouldn’t be so quick to call Beyonce controversial. She’s not an attention-seeking celebrity. She’s an artist having a conversation with her audience and some people, angry as they were, joined.

Trump’s inauguration may have strengthened our politics-detectors but music and politics have been blending long before. Music was never supposed to be solely apolitical. Politics are the reason for classics like MJ’s “They Don’t Care About Us,” KRS One’s “Sound of Da Police,” and Janis Joplin’s “Women Is Losers.” It’s also the reason for modern performances, like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s performance of “Same Love” at the 2014 Grammy’s, where thirty-four same-sex couples were wed – a performance that even got a reaction from the “typically publicly apolitical” duo Daft Punk that year. Some have been assuming a more political performance from Lady Gaga at the Grammy’s after her Superbowl show, which saw mixed interpretations. However, Lady Gaga was practically a mascot for the LGBTQ+ community when “Born This Way” came out in 2011. Music has always been depicting reality from the artist’s perspective. To some, the reality in 2017 is that we’re in a vulnerable political state and many of our ethnic communities are angry about being overlooked and systemically oppressed.

Celebrity Twitter accounts are only so far-reaching when it comes to activism. It isn’t necessarily a singer’s job to be a part-time humanitarian but we can’t blame artists for taking the opportunity when it arises, whether through performance or in acceptance speeches. The amount of people who probably care to listen to an artist list off names of friends, producers, photographers, videographers, and designers to thank is only so long. When artists use their few minutes of gratitude to highlight the issues that impact us all, it gets people’s attention, and for a good cause.

Ratings matter, and with last year’s Grammy’s garnering approximately 25 million viewers, it’s understandable for organizers to be keeping a close tab on the messages that might be sent out by artists this year. Still, the dignity of music and its musicians matters too. The fact that celebrities are tying their music into the issues that impact so many of their fans is valuable. When there are so many poor lyrics readily available in the mainstream music industry, why would we be afraid of truthful ones? Twenty-One Pilots, who racked up three nominations this year, have long been creating music addressing mental health. Though Chance the Rapper has gotten exceptional fame thanks to 2016’s Coloring Book, Acid Rap (2013) and other mixtapes contain commentary on life for youth in Chicago. Even Lukas Graham, self-proclaimed underdogs and nominees for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, have stated that the most appealing part of “7 Years” is that it’s not pretentious, and is actually understandable to the audience. We should be celebrating this generation of musicians who prefer to put out quality poetry instead of redundant verse, not fearing how people will react to them.

Just because we’re under an administration that doesn’t prioritize some of the political issues artists are singing about, doesn’t mean these issues all of a sudden become “controversial’ and we should be cautious about bringing them up. We should be celebrating musicians with political fervor. They’re exactly what we need in this fight.

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Social media political ‘echo chamber’ warning

Research appears to confirm the existence of an “echo chamber” effect in UK politics, in which social media users are more likely to engage with people and media sources that share their political beliefs.
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Amazon Is Running Out Of Dystopian Books That Eerily Reflect Our Present Political Moment

George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. 

One by one, classic books depicting dystopian dictatorships ― and the factors that allow such governments to “happen here” ― have been shooting to the top of Amazon’s hourly-updated best-seller lists, and, in some cases, selling out on the site, leaving publishers rushing to fulfill demand.

It’s a fitting sequel to the dire literary warnings bandied about regarding a potential Donald J. Trump presidency during, and immediately after, the long campaign. Authors such as J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin compared Trump’s promised vision of America with the darkest dystopian elements of their own works, and critics invoked the chilling alternative histories The Plot Against America by Philip Roth and The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (as well as the Amazon series based on it) as warnings of what could come to pass.

Now that the Trump presidency has actually commenced, interest in such literary examinations of totalitarianism and malevolent dictatorships has only appeared to grow. Trump’s first week in office was packed with overtly false statements from his press surrogates, as well as drastic executive orders that many Americans saw as evidence that his time in office would match the least optimistic projections. Following massive protests and federal court orders responding to his ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, these orders were reportedly flouted, leading experts to warn of a constitutional crisis

Meanwhile, just as Rep. John Lewis’ award-winning graphic memoir series March rocketed up the Amazon charts and sold out on the site after the civil rights icon sparred with Trump earlier this month, classic works of fiction and nonfiction that depict oppressive regimes have taken up residence at the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.

George Orwell’s 1984, which portrays a dystopian government’s use of disinformation and revised history to solidify power, sold out on Amazon last week after it saw sales explode by upwards of 9,500 percent following the inauguration, according to Penguin Random House’s Craig Burke. (The publisher’s Signet imprint puts out editions of classics, including 1984.) Animal Farm, another political satire by Orwell, has also seen higher demand, Burke told HuffPost in an email. “Last week, Signet ordered an additional 300,000 copies of Orwell’s novels,” Burke said ― a number which includes a 75,000-copy reprint of 1984 announced last week.

He added, “We printed last week about half the copies of 1984 that we sell in a typical year.”

It Can’t Happen Here, a less widely read classic by Sinclair Lewis, has also been selling strongly for Signet. Described as the satirical, yet unsettlingly realistic narrative of “a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press,” the book’s eerie resonance with current political events has made it another popular choice in recent weeks. About 45,000 copies of Signet’s It Can’t Happen Here have been sold since Inauguration Day, said Penguin Random House ― and as of Monday, it had also sold out on Amazon: 

Perhaps most jarring is the sudden popularity of Hannah Arendt’s 1951 doorstop The Origins of Totalitarianism, a hefty work of political philosophy that traces the roots of both the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. It’s not a light read, given both the subject matter and its 500-plus page count. Nonetheless, the book ascended the Amazon chart and, as of Monday, was sold out on the site. “This,” wrote Jezebel’s Hannah Gold, “is extremely metal.”

Edging Arendt out for the top spot in current history best-sellers: the 1988 oral history The Journey Back From Hell: Conversations with Concentration Camp Survivors by Anton Gill. 

Based purely on these Amazon snapshots of current demand, it seems America is in a rather pessimistic mood these days. Of course, nothing eases a sense of pervasive existential despair like curling up with a good book. Anyone need to borrow a copy of The Hunger Games?

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Trump makes political music great again

Protest songs have already made a comeback since Donald Trump won the US presidential election, marking a sharp change from the previous presidency, during which Barack Obama mingled with music A-listers from Beyonce to Bruce SpringsteenDonald Trump took office vowing to rebuild industry. One where he has already achieved inadvertent success is political music, with songs against his presidency quickly proliferating. Trump's idiosyncratic campaign, in which he denounced Mexican immigrants, Muslims and other minorities, set off a deluge of protest songs and a new round has emerged as he was sworn in Friday as the 45th president of the United States.

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Mormon Bar Rules or Political Mayhem

Mormon Bar Rules or Political Mayhem

Mormon Bar Rules or Political Mayhem” Completed on 7/23/2013 a complete 171000 word novel Based on A True Story (Adult Political Thriller) This is my unbelievable true story, the story of Degan Knight. I am a native Salt Laker, and heck my great, great, great grandfather was born in Salt Lake City when it was still a territory. I am from the old school Mormons. This novel is how I rose to the heights of the Salt Lake City Church (Mormon) socialite community. How the son of major Salt Lake City politician failed overdose on heroin and cocaine in my basement of my house, forever changing my life. How I was physically beaten strangled and scapegoated almost to death by his father and his attorney gang of super-criminals for what I know. My story involves attempted suicide, drugs, corrupt legal system, Mayor, Lawyers, betrayal, aggravated assaults, attempted murder, padded court rooms, political cover up’s, 911 system, whining, ranting, invisible guns, sex, date rape drug, prostitution, incarceration, friends, cyber-streaking, farting, dog, chess, Ted Bundy, Abu Ghraib prison, drunkenness, evil spirits, devil, golf, spice, health care, skull and bones, philosophy, ect and a Bar. And a whole lot of crazy psychopathic sociopathic characters. This is a true story, and you will laugh, you will cry, and you will defiantly learn something in this ultimate hart warming story of survival against a corrupt Mormon government and all odds. This is one crazy fun true ride. Names changed, of course to protect my ass.

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Soledad O’Brien to Anchor Hearst’s Political Magazine Show ‘Matter of Fact’

Soledad O’Brien will join the second season of Hearst Television’s political magazine show “Matter of Fact” as anchor and producer. O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group also will co-produce national specials with Hearst Television. The half-hour program, launched last November, was previously hosted by Fernando Espuelas, and will be renamed “Matter of Fact with Soleded O’Brien.” It… Read more »



Political Culture and Media Genre

Political Culture and Media Genre

Exploring the forms and meanings of mediated politics beyond the news cycle, this book encompasses genres drawn from television, radio, the press and the internet, assessing their individual and collective contribution to contemporary political culture through textual analysis and thematic review.

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The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba

The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba

Ducks herein dealt with belong not to the quack-quack tribe. Bombay Ducks is a time-honoured A nglo Indian expression. In the palmy days of the East India Company, when the now-barren pagoda-tree showered its fruits upon a Uwho shook it, the European residents of the Western Presidency were known as Bombay Ducks to distinguish them from Bengal Qui-his and Madras Mulls. In very early times Ducks was spelt Duckys and is probably a corruption of the Latin duces leaders or -bosses. Dwellers in Bombay are no longer called ducks, nevertheless the expression Bombay Ducks or Bombay Duck st Qlsurvives. It now denotes (I know not why) brittle pieces of sun-dried fish which are eaten with curry in South I ndia. It seems to me that the animals dealt with in this volume, all of which are to be found on the Bombay side, have at least an equal right with pieces of dried fish to be called Bombay Ducks.(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don’t occur in the book.)About the Publisher Forgotten Books is a publisher of historical writings, such as: Philosophy, Classics, Science, Religion, History, Folklore and Mythology.Forgotten Books’ Classic Reprint Series utilizes the latest technology to regenerate facsimiles of historically important writings. Careful attention has been made to accurately preserve the original format of each page whilst digitally enhancing the aged text. Read books online for free at
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�Obamanos!: The Birth of a New Political Era

�Obamanos!: The Birth of a New Political Era

Hertzberg has a novelist’s control of metaphor and a comedian’s gift for the one-liner.” -The New York Times Book Review �Ob�manos! is powered by celebrated political essayist Hendrik Hertzberg’s “Comments” for The New Yorker’s “The Talk of the Town” and the personal blog he began keeping on the magazine’s Web site fifteen months before the election. Hertzberg follows the players and the stars while examining the issues that emerged as critical during the debates such as health care, the Iraq war, and the economic crisis. Through his observation and analysis of the campaign’s defining moments, we come to see the current political landscape in a new light. �Ob�manos!–the title inspired by a poster Hertzberg saw on a dusty road near Santa Fe-heralds the opening of a new era in American politics.
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�OBAMANOS!: The Birth of a New Political Era

�OBAMANOS!: The Birth of a New Political Era

Hendrik Hertzberg, celebrated political analyst for the New Yorker, watches the long presidential campaign of 2007 and 2008 as it unfolds to reveal the transformation of the Democratic Party, the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, and other seismic shifts in our national political consciousness. Hertzberg wrote about the events that culminated in the victory of Barack Obama in two venues, one Olympian and one immediate: his “Comments” for “The Talk of the Town” and the informal blog he began keeping on the magazine’s Web site fifteen months before the election. & iexcl;Ob & aacute;manos! is adapted from both and framed by a new introductory essay. & iexcl;Ob & aacute;manos! shares the context needed to truly understand the events of the general election-the first in more than half a century in which no incumbent president or vice president was on the ballot-by first examining Bush’s second term and the primary campaign. Hertzberg follows the central political players and rising stars while also looking at the issues that emerged as critical during the debates, such as health care, the war in Iraq, and our economic crisis. Through his documentation and analysis of the campaign’s defining moments, we come to understand the current political landscape in a whole new way.Hertzberg’s voice combines sharp observation, historical perspective, analytic power, and often funny polemic. He brings all these qualities to his chronicle of one of the most intense, exciting, and surprising
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Alexis Bittar Gets Political for Store Windows

Alexis Bittar is getting into politics — sort of.
Today, the jewelry designer launched a new series of window displays in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Unlike his previous displays, which include, most recently, artwork done by Bradley Theodore, these are less jewelry, and more, well, Trump.
In what he’s proclaiming a “salute to absurdity,” Bittar and his visual team have created a series of larger-than-life papier-mâché models in the likeness of Donald Trump’s head — bouffant hair and all. “I’ve been increasingly disturbed by the popularity of Trump in our country and some of the more insane things he’s said,” Bittar said. “I decided to channel my energy and use our creative talent to have a comedic commentary on his vanity coupled with a dash of Halloween craziness.”
The displays feature the model head atop a mannequin dressed in a money-print suit, standing next to a full-length mirror — and decked out in Alexis Bittar jewelry, of course —  a mix of bangles, brooches and necklaces.
Stores getting the Trump treatment include SoHo, Columbus Avenue and Madison Avenue in New York; Newbury Street in Boston; City Center in Washington, D.C.; and West Hollywood, Calif.

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Salome: From Femme Fatale to Political Heroine


In hindsight, there were actually some advantages in growing up in the Bible Belt.
One of them was Sunday School where I gained an appreciation of the Good Book’s most notorious women: Bathsheba, Jezebel, and perhaps the precursor of all femme fatales, Salome, or the nameless stepdaughter of a powerful ruler who gets John the Baptist’s head on a platter, after performing a strip tease for the lascivious Herod.
Her story has always perplexed me, thanks to the famous Strauss opera and the Oscar Wilde play on which it was based.
But her story was never really her story.
She has always been an invention of sorts, a myth created by men, perhaps more interested in her sexual allure and titillating dance than her humanity.
I had the pleasure of seeing a new take on “Salome” at the Shakespeare Theatre Company here in Washington, a fitting start to their Women’s Voices Theater Festival.
Director Yael Farber has adapted the Wilde play into a first person narrative, finally giving Salome her own voice.
“Wilde tells us it had to do with sex, that Salome desired to kiss John the Baptist’s mouth. The scriptures tell us it was vengeance, which her mother Herodias sought against Herod, ” Farber explains.
“Women are still playing the vengeful harpy, in Hollywood, in everyday life. I could not be less interested in telling that story.”
The first voice we hear is of an aging Salome looking back on that famous night, when John the Baptist died, setting off a political firestorm, as revolutionaries, as John was, were of more use to the establishment in prison.
Salome is taken prisoner and interrogated about her role in John’s death, but we see her resolute, brazen, even as her captors taunt and abuse her.
In flashbacks, Salome becomes fascinated with John, not so much as an object of desire, but as a fellow prisoner of Herod. One is left with the impression that the two identify with each other, both courageous, but falling weak under Herod’s oppression.
She resists her stepfather’s sexual overtures, rather than manipulate them, in contrast to previous interpretations.
“I want to create the possibility that this woman, living under an occupying regime, came to a deep understanding of her selfhood, one that allowed her to drive forward a political agenda.”
We do see Salome naked, in a sensual scene is which her body is washed and clothed in slow motion by handmaidens, but the story’s innate sensuality was never a problem for Farber.
“I don’t want to shy away from the great danger of the feminine, from the notion of powerful sensuality attendant in this story. Women are dangerous. That’s the beautiful thing about us.”

“Salome” runs through November 8.

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A Political Parable: The Little Bush That Could — The Roots to the White House and Beyond

Gather around, my children, for a tale that’s sure to warm the heart. Watch the lay of the land unfold as a not-so-exotic vegetation emerges from among us, coming from nowhere to a position of leadership. It’s sure to encourage us all to pursue our dreams and never give up hope.


Once upon a time, there lived a nondescript bush. Lonely and unrecognized amidst the more colorful vegetation, he dreamed one day of becoming a bush in his own right. For too long he had stood in the shadow of bush the elder, a bush transformed in people’s eyes into a mighty elm. Each day, he looked up at that great tree, sobbing softly to himself: “I am somebody, yes, I am… Someday I too can attain that same greatness of stature.”

But a number of obstacles stood in his path. Though the bushes had all been raised in a hothouse, they all suffered from the illusion that they were actually part of the forest primeval. His younger sibling, the shrub, had always stressed his rural roots. After all, where does one find most bushes — certainly not in urbane, metropolitan areas.

In 1910, the major leagues of baseball, created and subsidized the minor leagues, generally locating them in small cities and towns. Thus were born the “bush leagues” and “bush towns,” along with an association with things “mediocre,” “second rate,” “amateur,” and “unsophisticated;” in short, the “inferior reaches.”


Shrub had embraced this definition. But it was a real problem for our aspiring bush — how to kick that image.

Adding to his woes was that when folks got fatigued, exhausted, sapped, or pooped out, they said they were “bushed” — perhaps from the 19th century meaning, “lost in the woods.” So it was that the actions of his brother, shrub, had left folks “bushed out.”

Adding further to his woes was that our little bush, like others in the family, had a speaking style, described as “bushwa(h),” causing him to sound “nonsensical and pretentious,” “exaggerated,” and “deceitful;” i.e., “full of baloney.”

Coined in about 1900, “bushwa” derives from an old word, “bodwash,” meaning “bosh” or “trash.” It, in turn, derives from the old French bois de vache, “cow’s wood or “dried manure.” We don’t use “bushwa,” very much nowadays, preferring instead to call ’em the way we see’z ’em.

Poor little bush. He wanted so much to have everyone root for him, meaning they would be a regular supporter of his, to cheer him on. This “root,” incidentally, comes from the British dialect route, “to roar or bellow.”

Encouraged by his supporters and undeterred by the obstacles, he set off on his trek — bright-eyed and — what else but — bushy tailed — “eager and energetic,” “in fine fettle,” “wide awake,” and “prepared for any situation.”


We’ve been bright-eyed and bushy tailed since the 1930s, alluding to the seemingly attentive behavior of squirrels, chipmunks and other animals, as displayed in their wide eyes, quick movement, and high degree of nervous energy,.

But a funny thing happened on the way to his goal. A bunch of rival vegetation lay in ambush for him from the old French embusche, from embuscher, literally meaning, “to hide in the bushes.” It was an insidious plot, the ultimate roots of which are in the Latin insidere, “to lie in wait.”

In plain English, they were hoping — you guessed it — to bushwhack him. Our very first bushwhackers, got their name by pulling their boats up parts of the Mississippi River by grasping at bushes along the bank. Today, bushwhacking is back in style; though the grasping of straws, rather than bushes, is more the norm.

There was lots of bushwhacking during the Civil War by the soldiers who hid in the bushes, wood, or thickets as part of their guerrilla tactics. Later, bushwhacking came to mean “making one’s way through unbroken forest,” by pushing bushes aside or breaking them.

Undaunted by such stalkers, and taking advantage of the greenery in which he hid and from which he received sustenance, the little bush moved on. Weed-whacking the competition, he made his way out of the woods to the big horticultural Show on a certain magic Tuesday in March. This would be his telling encounter. Everyone in the forest was following his progress. Some were fir him, others agin. All the firs were on pins and needles awaiting the result.

Could the little bush really do it? Would he go on from there to his final resting place? Would he finally make it to his ultimate destination… and at last sink his roots into the fabled rose garden?


Stay Tuned

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Importance of Cultural Exchange with Russia during Political Frost

Even during the height of the Cold War with its threat of Nuclear Armageddon, the cultural exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union never ground to a halt. But in the last few years, because of the “boomerang effect of a rancorous legal battle between the Russian government and the Chassidic Jewish group, Chabad” (LA Times 1/17/13), Russia imposed a ban on all art loans to American museums. This legal case is based on Chabad’s decades-long effort to recover religious books and manuscripts that the Russians expropriated after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.


Visiting some major museum exhibitions in Paris this past April, I thought about this unfortunate freeze on art exchange between America and Russia. The traveling exhibition, Keys to a passion, currently on display at Fondation Louis Vuitton, proudly displays one of the most famous paintings by Matisse, La Danse (1909-10), on loan from The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. At the same time, the impressive retrospective of paintings by Pierre Bonnard at Musée d’Orsay displays with particular reverence the largest and most famous triptych by the artist, La Méditerranée (1911), which is also on loan from The Hermitage Museum. The Bonnard exhibition is scheduled to travel to San Francisco next February, but this famous triptych, in all probability, will not be allowed to be included on the American leg of this traveling exhibition.


With all the above, I was glad to read in The New York Times that last week, Carnegie Hall was the site of a Russia Day concert by the renowned St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. And this weekend, we in Los Angeles are welcoming the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, which is bringing to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion its performance of “Rodin.” Seeing a prior production of this company, one expects this upcoming production to be very theatrical and very emotional in its telling of the dramatic relationship between Rodin and his student and mistress, Camille Claudel.


A few weeks ago, while reporting about my trip to France, I spoke about a surprise trove of photographs and sculptures by Camille Claudel that I came across at the St. Croix Museum in the city of Poitiers. There I was, in a far-away cozy corner of France, interacting with Camille and Rodin. Now, in Los Angeles, I am looking forward to reconnecting with them again through a Russian ballet company –a good example of how art and culture create welcome connections, in this case, between Russia, France, and America.


In the last few days, prompted by the opening of the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published in-depth articles about the state of Russia’s art world.


Among special installations commissioned for the opening are works by famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and German artist Katharina Grosse. Among the high-profile guests scheduled to appear are a team of curators from MOMA, Metropolitan Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell, LA collector and philanthropist Eli Broad, and movie producer Harvey Weinstein.


One hopes that all this cultural exchange will bring a degree of understanding that might somewhat defrost the current winter of discontent between Russia and the U.S.

To learn about Edward’s Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can also read The New York Times article about his classes here.


Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward’s charming Russian accent, click here.

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The Upsides of a Political Body Double

Photo: Toni Blay

Saddam Hussein did it. So did Andy Warhol. Joseph Stalin was a big fan of using a body double (killing tens of millions of people can create a few murderous enemies), too. When you’re famous and attacked by mobs, in the line of fire, or just want a little peace and quiet, a body double or stand-in might be a good idea. At least that’s what Mexican politician Renato Tronco Gómez believes.

Señor Gómez recently held a competition in the state of Veracruz to find a few passable body doubles. More than personal security concerns (he’s no Stalin), he thinks he needs the extra help because he’s a really busy guy. The newspaper El Pais had a chat with Gómez, and tried to figure out the politician’s reasons for the doppelgänger search. Basically, he wants to maintain his popularity for the next election by being in as many places as he (or his doubles) can possibly be — i.e. talking to constituents, delivering school furniture, going to parties, parades and cultural and civic events.

Since Gómez will train his stand-ins to act just like him, and he’ll let the people know they’re actually doubles, he sees no the harm in a little political theater. Considering how expensive and time-consuming American elections are, I think Gómez might have stumbled onto something here. We could make good use of doubles north of the border as well.

If American politicians employed body doubles on a regular basis, imagine all of the pain and suffering they could avoid, while still managing to stay in office. Hillary Clinton could send her doppelgänger out to less-than-friendly districts where Tea Party folks might throw eggs at her, as well as to debates chock full of uncomfortable, tricky-to-dodge questions. Bill Clinton and President Obama, once he’s finished his second term, could dispatch their body doubles to various charity events, while they hang out on the back nine sipping beer and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

Conservative candidates and office holders who like to claim, “I’m not a scientist” (while attacking the science of climate change), could easily send an actual scientist double to press conferences. The brainy replacement could then — at least in a pseudoscience kind of way — go on the offensive against, you know, actual scientists who insist on citing their boring studies and data accumulated from years of observation and hard work.

And when it comes to sexual shenanigans, having a stand-in would be a godsend. What if Anthony Weiner had actively and publicly used a stand-in to represent him at community and political events? When he was caught sending out pictures of his junk, he could have simply blamed it on his double.

Press: “So, Mr. Weiner, you’re saying those compromising texts and photos were not, in fact, written and taken by you?”

Anthony: “Of course not. They’re images of my stunt Weiner. He’s one horny dude. I’m not into sexting at all. I’m into good governance.”

A passable political body double equals a great political fall guy. And what politician wouldn’t like another person to blame when things go wrong? As a matter of fact, we should all get a body double, regardless of our profession, just in case we need to take our “mea culpa” and pin it one someone else.

Carl Pettit is a contributing journalist for The Blot Magazine.

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Comedy – The Huffington Post
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As Duggar Dad Ran On A Political Platform Saying Rape And Incest Merited Capital Punishment, He Was Covering Up His Son’s Actions

In 2002, Jim Bob Duggar argued that rape and incest merited the death penalty. But that same year, one of his own sons reportedly committed incest, and Duggar allegedly covered it up.

While running for U.S. Senate in Arkansas, the patriarch of the Duggar clan — the family that is the central focus of the TLC reality TV show “19 Kids And Counting” — said that rape and incest should be punishable by death. Yet during his run, he reportedly knew that one of his sons, Josh, had molested one of his daughters.

Gawker Media dug up a cached version of Duggar’s political platform from the 2002 Republican primaries.

When asked if he believed abortion should be legal if a woman had been raped, Duggar said, “If a woman is raped, the rapist should be executed instead of the innocent unborn baby. … Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.”

Duggar lost the primary election in May 2002 to the incumbent, Sen. Tim Hutchinson.

While Duggar was running on a platform that included this position about rape, the first allegations that Josh had molested a child surfaced. According to In Touch Weekly, which broke the story, a female minor told Duggar in March 2002 that Josh, who was 14 at the time, had been sexually touching her as she slept. Josh admitted as much to his parents in July 2002.

A police report suggests that the first victim who came forward lived in the same home as Josh. In March 2003, more minors accused Josh of touching their breasts and genitals. The police report suggests that four of the five total victims were Josh’s sisters.

Duggar did not alert authorities. He reportedly did not punish his son at all, except to send him to live and work with a family friend for a while.

When Josh returned, his father allegedly took him to speak with Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens, who gave the boy a “very stern talk.” According to In Touch, Hutchens is now serving 56 years in jail for child pornography.

The authorities first heard about the allegations in 2006, when an anonymous woman contacted “The Oprah Winfrey Show” with details of the accusations. The police launched an investigation, and In Touch reports five victims confirmed that Josh had touched their breasts and genitals.

Reportedly, the police did not press charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

The Duggar family could not be reached for comment. TLC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Work and Idleness: The Political Economy of Full Employment

Work and Idleness: The Political Economy of Full Employment

Work and Idleness develops the view that redistributing employment is a `feasible capitalist'' solution, not just to the unemployment which particular groups suffer, but also to the work that others have to contend with, including many women. Putting the redistribution of employment on the policy agenda opens up debate on how to ensure a more equitable and fulfilling relationship between the ways we gain our livelihoods and the lives we lead.
Growing insecurity in labour markets and changing patterns in the commodification of labour have led to a redistribution of paid and unpaid labour time as the structure of power relations, the gender order, discrimination, and state regulation have been modified. The first main trend affecting insecurity is mass unemployment and the growth of workless households. A second notable trend is a gender-based redistribution of hours worked. The third major trend is a shift from full-time waged work to full-time self-employment.
Part I of this book presents the main economic theories driving the continuing divide between the intensification of work and the extension of idleness. Part II documents the ways in which the shift to mass idleness in advanced industrial countries has hit some groups particularly hard: the youngest and oldest age groups and other groups, including disabled workers, have traditionally been subject to discrimination in the labor markets. Part III provides a set of policy prescriptions.
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A New “Political Imaginary”

Reestablishing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States will be a positive event for Cuban families, for peaceful coexistence in a globalized world and, most of all, for the individual and collective freedom of each Cuban.

In the open letter I sent to President Obama, President Castro and Pope Francis on December 17, I congratulated them on this historic moment, which Cubans have spent half a century waiting for. Hate and embargos accomplish nothing; only through dialogue and acceptance of mutual differences can we all grow and thrive.

This letter also led to the creation of #YoTambienExijo (“I Also Demand”), a nonpartisan, volunteer public platform. Through the key phrase of this missive, “Yo Exijo” (“I Demand”), Cubans are asking for the fulfillment of their civil, political, economic and cultural rights. Why? Because it’s impossible to talk about the future of Cuba without taking Cubans’ rights and opinions into account. It’s not healthy for a society to think only of possible economic improvement. It’s not healthy for us to think that Cubans’ only future is to be consumers.

It is urgent that Cubans — not only the government but civil society — strengthens itself and discusses in diverse environments what concept of a country and future it wants for itself. It is urgent that each Cuban be able to speak for themselves outside of the official institutions established during more than half a century of Cold War. And it is urgent that this discussion brings forth new structures, institutions, laws and rights that guarantee Cubans happiness, quality of life, sovereignty and well-being in the coming years. It is important that Cubans be citizens.

As a Cuban, I demand we be informed of what the plans of the Cuban government are with our lives. I demand that, as part of this new step, a process of political transparency be established, in which we all have a place to participate and the right to a different opinion without being punished for it.

I proposed an artistic performance in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana on December 30 as an example of political art. Political art is uncomfortable, legally uncomfortable, civically uncomfortable, emotionally uncomfortable. It affects us. Political art is the processing of uncomfortable knowledge.

I’ve heard many times in Cuba that this isn’t the right time to criticize, to use a metaphor or to create a piece of art. Often, I censored myself as an artist as a result of these words that magically place the blame on a doubt or opinion. Today, I know that the right time for an artist is ALWAYS, but most of all when ways of evaluating society and humanity are suspended. The “right time” can’t be a government directive, because the result would be propaganda, not art. The artist would be in the service of the government, not society.

I know that now is the right time for the discussion to leave presidential offices and to include all of society, as the most important political decisions on Cuban daily life under these new conditions have yet to be made.

Changes in Cuba cannot be real if the decision comes from above, is simply told to us, and we are obligated to accept it without questions. Changes in Cuba cannot be real if a different opinion is given only when the government allows it. Changes in Cuba cannot be real if Cubans are afraid of certain words, such as Human Rights. Changes in Cuba cannot be real if Cubans are afraid that having an opinion will cost them a job. Changes in Cuba cannot be real if the Cuban government is only interested in its citizens’ money, not their ideas.

The December 17 announcement has been very positive, because it created a new “political imaginary” (the theory espoused by Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis). Now, we have to fight for this imaginary not to be limited by old behaviors and new censors — because Cuba cannot open itself up to the world without first opening itself up to Cubans.

This post is part of a Huffington Post blog series called “90 Miles: Rethinking the Future of U.S.-Cuba Relations.” The series puts the spotlight on the emerging relations between two long-standing Western Hemisphere foes and will feature pre-eminent thought leaders from the public and private sectors, academia, the NGO community, and prominent observers from both countries. Read all the other posts in the series here.

If you’d like to contribute your own blog on this topic, send a 500-850-word post to (subject line: “90 Miles”).
Arts – The Huffington Post
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LeBron James Embraces His Political Platform — And That’s A Good Thing

LeBron James has begun to embrace his political platform, as he showed in Monday’s pregame warm-up. – NBA

Calle 13 Honored By NYC As Band Demands Political Prisoner’s Release

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) honored one of the most popular anti-imperialist bands in the U.S. on Friday as the group’s frontman donned a T-shirt demanding freedom for a jailed Puerto Rican nationalist viewed by many of the island’s residents as a political prisoner.

At Gracie Mansion ahead of Sunday’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, the elected officials bestowed René Pérez and Eduardo José Martínez of Latin hip-hop group Calle 13 with a proclamation praising the group for “igniting minds, imaginations, and conversations around the world.” It would have seemed an odd sight just a few months ago, during the city’s more conservative Bloomberg administration.

Pérez was crowned the king of this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, which chose the liberation of Oscar López Rivera as one of its main themes.

“They say that this is the country of freedom and human rights,” Pérez told The Huffington Post. “But if this were happening in another country, like Venezuela or China, people would say, ‘That’s a dictatorship.’”

Noting that President Barack Obama had visited the Robben Island jail cell where former South Africa President Nelson Mandela spent most of his 28-year confinement as a political prisoner, Pérez added: “You’ve got a political prisoner in your own country.”

López belonged to the Armed Forces of National Liberation, known by its Spanish initials as the FALN, which committed bombings, killings and kidnappings during the 1970s and 1980s in its efforts for Puerto Rican independence. He was convicted in 1980 of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to 55 years in prison, with 15 years added later after he was found guilty of attempting to escape. He has spent 12 of his 33 years in jail so far in solitary confinement, according to Puerto Rican news agency Primera Hora.

Those calling for his release say that at 71 years of age in an era in which the violent struggle for Puerto Rican independence has fizzled out, López no longer poses a threat. The Chicago-area bombings in which López was connected killed no one, and were intended to damage property rather than hurt people, according to Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who represents the island as a non-voting member of the U.S. Congress.

The issue has widespread support on the island. Both Pierluisi and Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, who belong to opposing political parties, have called on the Obama administration to free López. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), himself of Puerto Rican descent, has also pressed for López’s release.

Wildly popular throughout Latin America as well as among Hispanics in the United States, Calle 13 has become known for its revolutionary politics as much as its eclectic rhythms and risqué lyrics. The band rages against the U.S. killing of Puerto Rican nationalist Filiberto Ojeda Ríos in “Querido FBI,” extends its solidarity to immigrants in “Pa’l Norte,” and offers an anthem to Latin American unity in “Latinoamérica.” Calle 13’s most recent album, “Multiviral,” features a guest appearance by WikiLeaks founder and U.S. government nemesis Julian Assange.

Though de Blasio refrained from discussing Calle 13’s politics in his public remarks, the band’s anti-imperialist message likely strikes a personal chord with the mayor. As a young man, de Blasio supported the Central American solidarity movement, traveling to Nicaragua in 1988 during the left wing Sandinista government to distribute humanitarian aid.

De Blasio’s support of the Sandinistas ran counter to that of the U.S. government at the time, which funded a right wing rebel army in Nicaragua known as the Contras during the Ronald Reagan presidency. A 1989 Human Rights Watch report describes the Contras as “major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners.”

A corruption scandal had threatened to cast a shadow on this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. An investigation by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed in February that the nonprofit that organizes the annual event had mismanaged $ 1.4 in corporate donations, according to the New York Daily News.

But Councilwoman Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to serve as city council’s speaker, praised the reorganized board as she spoke to the crowd at Gracie Mansion on Friday.

“Their efforts and the efforts of a community that is demanding accountability are bringing this parade back to its roots,” Mark-Viverito said.

She applauded the parade’s new leadership for championing the cause of Oscar López, saying that previous parade organizers had “never wanted to highlight” demands for his release.

Mark-Viverito said she chose to honor Calle 13 this year to send a message that those in positions of influence should use their fame to press for social change.

“We have added responsibility to raise our voice,” Mark-Viverito said. “And that is what Calle 13 does.”

In addition to López, this year’s parade will pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Julia de Burgos, as well as the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers. Taking its name from the indigenous name of the island, “Borinquen,” the segregated Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment fought in World Wars I and II and the Korean War, before being disbanded in 1959.
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