One of the best descriptions from a reviewer:
"The Constant Gardener is a thriller with plenty on its mind. It leaves us wondering how well we know the world around us, not to mention the people we love. It's appropriately unsettling."
An old Hollywood adage about movie adaptations says that good novels make bad movies and bad, pulpy novels make great movies.
It's a fallacy, of course. Good books make good movies all the time. David Fincher sharpened and expanded Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club," and Robert Redford captured Norman Maclean's pathos and poetry in "A River Runs Through It."
Very seldom, however, do movies illuminate a print work, mine from it new emotional resonance and thematic tensions. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles accomplishes exactly this in his translation of John le Carre's "The Constant Gardener," a sweaty, vital masterpiece that's always one step ahead of its audience. Read More (though beware of spoilers!)
But whatever Meirelles loses with the omission, he gains in political potency. Seldom have African landscapes and culture been portrayed with such intimacy and power. Unlike the abstract consequences in le Carre's Cold War novels, the politics of African debt and disease in "The Constant Gardener" are horrific and breathlessly immediate.
Almost 1,000 people are known to have died in a stampede of Shia pilgrims in northern Baghdad, Iraqi health officials have said.
So far, there have been at least 965 confirmed deaths, making the incident the single biggest loss of Iraqi life since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The incident happened on a river bridge as about a million Shias marched to a shrine for a religious festival.
Since 2003, FEMA gave no money to Orleans and Jefferson Parishes in Louisiana, even though it recognized the flooding risks from a hurricane or levee breach as reported here about four hours ago.
Maestri [the local EM director] is still awaiting word from FEMA officials as to why Louisiana, despite being called the "floodplain of the nation" in a 2002 FEMA report, received no disaster mitigation grant money from FEMA in 2003 ("Homeland Insecurity," Sept. 28). Maestri says the rejection left emergency officials around the state "flabbergasted."
It is times like these when lack of a competent government becomes fatally clear. On a day to day level, assessing and ensuring preparedness for an emergency does not seem pressing, and thus receives little political or media attention. A competent leader will still ensure that funding and personnel are available for a worst-case scenario, even if such preparedness goes ignored or even lambasted by people such as tax-cut activists and political opponents; a wasteful, reckless leader will also go unnoticed should he deprive emergency services of money and personnel. Sadly, it is not until after the fact that these deficiencies become comprehensible in the loss of lives, property, and livelihoods that we are seeing today in the Mississippi Delta.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain.
BARNES: ...But my problem with it is that, in some of these areas, like a below- sea-level city like New Orleans, they're not -- they want the rest of us to insure their risk. As people who live on the San Andreas Fault in California, where they know there are going to be earthquakes, people who live along the Mississippi River in these low farmland areas...
BARNES: ... near the river, the floodplains. They know they're going to flood. And when these things happen, they want the taxpayers all over the country to pay, and they do.
HUME: So they can rebuild, right?
BARNES: Yes, right, exactly.
(What about his house?)
KONDRACKE: Yes, well, the question is, where do you draw the line? And that's the problem. Do you draw it at the Barrier Islands? Do you draw it at Vero Beach, you know, where Fred has a beach house?
HUME: How did your house, by the way, do over the weekend?
BARNES: Well, it did fine, because we were on the Atlantic coast and the hurricane went to the Gulf Coast. So it missed it entirely.
HUME: It got rained on, right?
BARNES: But last year, when there were two hurricanes, and I got a new roof, I paid my part. My private insurance company paid the other part. The federal government and taxpayers paid no part.
HUME: What about the cover on your swimming pool? Did the government...
BARNES: I paid all of that.
In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked a major hurricane strike on New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country, directly behind a terrorist strike on New York City.
Disaster has, as it almost always does, called up American generosity and instances of heroism. Young people helped the old onto rafts in flooded New Orleans streets, and exhausted rescue workers refused all offers of rest, while people as far away as Kansas and Arizona went online to offer shelter in their homes to the refugees. It was also a reminder of how much we rely on government to imagine the unimaginable and plan for the worst. As the levees of Lake Pontchartrain gave way, flooding New Orleans, it seemed pretty clear that in this case, government did not live up to the job.
But this seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation. All the focus now must be on rescuing the survivors. Beyond that lies a long and painful recovery, which must begin with a national vow to help all the storm victims and to save and repair New Orleans.
CHICAGO -- A fire was reported Wednesday afternoon on a Purple line train at 1600 North Burling.
The fire was reported in the rear car of the train. NBC5's Phil Rogers reported that the rear wheels on the train's last car caught fire, and the flames spread to the tracks.The fire was quickly put out, but power was subsequently shut off on the line between the Sedgewick and Fullerton stations. The train was removed from the area, and passengers were bussed between the Merchandise Mart and Belmont stations.
But when the estate tax is completely repealed, along with it will go a little feature called the "stepped-up basis," which basically forgives, at death, the capital gains tax on all profits accumulated during a person's lifetime. As a result of the repeal, every American who leaves appreciated property to children and grandchildren will send their descendants a 15-percent tax bill as well. Nobody mentioned that? Darn, they forgot.We're talking about all kinds of things people routinely inherit - a house, stocks and bonds, vacant land, rental property, family homes and farms, and small businesses.
August 21,2005 | WASHINGTON -- When Sen. Trent Lott decides which GOP presidential candidate to support in 2008, it apparently will not be Sen. Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican who Lott says betrayed him at a low moment in his political career.
Asked Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether Frist, who challenged and succeeded Lott as Senate majority leader in 2002, has the character to be president, Lott paused before answering.
"I think I'd have to think about that," said Lott, R-Miss.
Lott said "a lot of good people out there" are thinking about whether to run and that "I probably would lean toward some of the others, let me just put it that way."
Half a dozen times a year, Posner and Charlene will have people over for dinner - often the Chicago economist William Landes, Posner's best friend, and his wife - but, on the whole, Posner prefers to avoid social life. "People don't say interesting things," he says. 'A lot of socializing is just dull - I'd rather read a book. I have a friend, an economist who's Swedish, and he told me that Sweden has terrible television, so people there spend their time visiting each other. But that's worse, because when you watch television you get some information, you even get some moral instruction, you learn to be nice to single mothers or what have you, but socializing, particularly family - well, that is deadly. When you're just talking with your friends about trivia, what's the point?"
According to Nick Kotz..."[O]ften late at night [Johnson] would go down to the White House situation room to check the casualty reports. At times, when Johnson sat with visitors in the Oval Office, he would weep openly as he read from the previous day's casualty lists."This brings me back to Nixon, whose main concern was investigating political enemies like Paul Newman and making peace activists and anti-war veterans look bad, all the while justifying continued fighting in Vietnam as the only way to ensure that America didn't look weak, never mind that thousands of people were dying for this petty reasoning.
...Bush doesn't go to funerals for our dead soldiers. Until last week, his administration had refused to release photos of the flag-draped caskets coming back to the United States. (The Pentagon caved as a result of a Freedom of Information Act suit.) When it comes to the second Iraq war, Bush displays no doubt, no anguish.
My favorites: Northwestern kids and people from the northern burbs who gawk out the windows at Argyle, Berwyn, etc. and make comments about what a 'ghetto' the neighborhood is.Sadly this person is RIGHT. So many Northwestern students have not the slightest clue what they're talking about when they say something is "ghetto." Fercryinoutloud, they think the El is "ghetto" when they're on the purple line. Plus, the average Northwestern student (excluding the ones from the city) know Chicago about as well as I know Swahili.
"Can I have a plate?" she asks the waitress. When it promptly arrives, Brulé spoons off the foam, clanking against the china loudly, a pained expression on her face. "This is a cappuccino, not a latte," she says politely, as the waitress watches her empty the cup. "Can I have a latte, please?"In a similar crisis, chronicled by an article run in the New York Times, de Lavandeyra shows a waiter who's boss when it comes to his bagel:
During breakfast last week at the Hotel Plaza Athénée, Mr. de Lavandeyra had a fine fit when his $20 bagel arrived with cream cheese and smoked salmon splayed on the side. “Can you please put my bagel together?” he nearly barked to the waiter. “If I have to work, you should pay me for service.”The husband and wife, who seem to believe that their lives of privilege were their birthright, claim the noble duty of searching out only the most tasteful elegance, all the while exhibiting their absolute lack of taste. Amazing, isn't it?
[T]he Times piece is full of so much retch-inducing blue-blood entitlement bullshit, it makes one want to man the barricades and restart the guillotine program.
I always admired the people with makeshift pillows, such as the book or balled up jacked propped between the shoulder and wall, or (as I am known to do on occasion) wrapped around a duffle bag on the lap.And this one is hilariously well thought out:
I have found that by far the most comfortable sleeping position for me is due to the incredibly convenient positioning of the two rear rows at the back of the car. Behind these last two rows (1 on on each side) and the inward facing seats behind them is a window, the interior ledge of which provides a great armrest. The upward bend in the ledge lets you comfortably lock your upper arm in at the elbow...
The system, at www.ctatattler.com, uses e-mail, cellular phones and personal digital assistants to help commuters fill in the blanks during CTA service breakdowns and emergencies.The article also describes the CTA's communication insufficiencies:
The eyes and ears of the real-time reporting system are its subscribers, who send text messages to group members when they see problems on trains and buses.
CTA riders are complaining more than ever this summer about being transported into an informational void when service screeches to a halt.I want to end by saying that I do like the El--in fact, I think, given its relatively meager funds, it is a great system: affordable, expansive, fast enough, offers nice views of the city. Every great city has a comprehensive transportation network, and every subpar city doesn't (e.g. Chicago v. Dallas). I just hope our great city's transportation network gets the investment it deserves.
It happened Aug. 2 when evening rush-hour service on the Brown and Purple Lines was interrupted for 90 minutes by a small fire under a train near the Sedgwick station. It would've been nice if the CTA did a better job of letting more people know about temporary shuttle-bus service and other ways to get home.
...Riders also say the CTA has failed to keep them informed during bomb scares, including one July 18, when someone called in a bomb threat for the Red Line's Roosevelt stop. It shut down the station for 45 minutes and snarled service on the Red, Orange, Green, Brown and Purple Lines.
The CTA responded to six reports of a bomb threat or a suspicious package from July 7 through July 20, officials said.
In November 2004, Guatemala's Congress repealed a law that gave brand-name prescription drugs protection from generic competition. The law had allowed brand-name companies to conceal data that generic companies would use to bring their own versions to market, and public health activists hailed the move as a step toward greater access to essential medicines. But four months later, legislators reversed themselves and put those protections back in place. The protests that followed led to many injuries and one death. Why did this small nation, where cheap generic drugs have been key to treating one of Latin America's largest HIV-positive populations, change course? In a word: CAFTA. Guatemala changed its laws in order to become part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which encompasses five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.
127. It's "dispersed," More annoyed Cubbie fan. Aside from Cubs fans shoving their way onto an overcrowded train only to belch beer in my face for 20 minutes ... my pet peeve is the people who would knock down their great grandmothers for a chance to make it through the turnstile one split second sooner. Submitted by: Don't run on the stairs, idiot3:05 PM CDT, Aug 9,
Tourists who yell across the train cars at each other like it was their personal limo. Hey Goober! Shut up! Fine you're drunk and going to a Cubs game! SHUT THE HECK UP!Submitted by: 773 Forever3:32 PM CDT, Aug 9, 2005.Even though I am a Cubs fan, I see this person's point.
59. That person who is clipping his or her fingernails, and letting the clippings fall on the ground.Submitted by: Amy3:29 PM CDT, Aug 9, 2005Does that ever happen??
Confronted with the evidence, Hoover finally gave up...His next two moves were pure Hoover. First, he ordered every FBI field office in the country to begin a 'Top Hoodlum Program.' Each office was to prepare a list of ten 'top hoodlums'--no more, no less--and target them for investigation and prosecution. The arrival of this order in such disparate FBI field offices as Butte, Montana, and New York City created two very different reactions. In Butte...the field office desperately searched for hoodlums to put on the list. Finally it listed ten local juvenile delinquents and vowed a full investigation of their 'criminal activities.' Headquarters praised Butte for its diligence. (81)
Few in the FBI knew that for many years Hoover had maintained what he called a 'personal file,' actually several filing cabinets' worth of derogatory or incriminating material culled from FBI reports about leading public officials and assorted movers and shakers.' This collection of dirt, gossip, and rumor was intended as potential blackmail material...Hoover had paid special attention to the transcripts of one particular bug, which had been planted in Meyer Lansky's home. The bug was unproductive..., and the tape transcripts were mostly idle conversations with his wife. But among those conversations was one in which Lansky told his wife of hearing 'rumors' that Robert Kennedy was having an affair with an unnamed woman in El Paso. 'Oh dear,' a shocked Mrs. Lansky replied. 'And he has seven children!' Actually, the rumor was false, but the tidbit was added to a new secret file Hoover had opened on Kennedy. (83)
And more investigative difficulties because of Hoover:
However inane, the Top Hoodlum Program nevertheless had the effect of diverting an increased number of FBI agents into organized crime investigation for the first time...[but] there were several Hooveresque dictates from headquarters: no cooperation with local police, no contact with the hated[Federal Bureau of Narcotics], and no deviation from the FBI's strict codes governing agent conduct--including the Bureau's rigid dress code of white shirt and dark suit, hardly the kind of outfit suitable for agents to get down in the trenches with the Mafiosi. (83)
Impervious to Hoover's usual tactics of bureaucratic end run or outright intimidation, Kennedy presented a real problem...In one afternoon visit, he announced his intention of interrupting Hoover's regular 2 P.M. 'security conference.' Barging into Hoover's office past the furious protests of the director's secretary and gatekeeper, Helen Gandy, Kennedy discovered the 'conference' was in fact Hoover's regular afternoon nap. (89)
Valachi's information was useless. But Hoover grasped the larger significance: for the first time, a member of the Mafia had provided details on the mysterious organization's inner workings. Hoover sought to use this for the FBI's advantage: he ordered that his aides ghostwrite an article under Valachi's name, entitled, 'The Inside Story of Organized Crime and How You can Stop it,' to be published in Parade, the nationally distributed Sunday newspaper supplement. And, coincident with release of the news of Valachi's defection, Hoover planned an article under his own name that would claim Valachi's testimony 'corroborated and embellished facts developed by the FBI as early as 1961.' An appalled Robert Kennedy vetoed the idea. (92)
And one time when Kennedy found out that J. Edgar Hoover's close aide and "rumored lover" Clyde Tolson had been hospitalized, Kennedy replied "For what? A hysterectomy?" (90). J. Edgar Hoover: proving that the cream does not always rise to the top, as the saying goes.
This morning on the WGN news I saw the report they ran about a golf course in Naperville hosting a event run by a local strip club. (The Chicago Tribune also ran a story about it as well.) Residents whose houses back up to the golf course videotaped some of the activities going on at the golf event and contacted Naperville police. They also sent a copy of the tape to WGN.I have to say, I find it kind of voyeuristic of the neighbors of the golf course to record the events that went on at the golf course, detailed here on this WGN newscast (who am I kidding? I might watch out my window for awhile. It's just so twisted). I guess the neighbors were also making a video copy for the police. As McKillip also says,
On a side note, you have to love the final quote in the Trib article on this story:
Naperville Police Lt. Ken Parcell told WGN, "We're going to continue to review (the tape) and try to identify if there's any activity which would be worth prosecuting and meet with our state's attorney to once again discuss it."
I bet you'll continue to review the tape Lt. Parcell - you and all the boys down at the precinct will take a good close look at the tape. Preferably over at Jimmy's house with a couple cases of beer down in his basement while his old lady is out.
He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do.Uhhh, about that...
[Palmeiro] was one of the few people that came before us who spoke with conviction and decisively that one, he didn't take steroids, and two, anyone who did was making a mistake. And for him now to be held accountable for having steroids in his body is really sad. He almost makes Canseco look good,Honestly, Congress investigating steroids in MLB ranks right up there in importance with making a law that protects gun manufacturers from getting sued...what's that you say? Such a bill did just pass? Phew, and here I thought Congress wasn't taking care of the business of the American people.
--Chris Shays, Republican vice-chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform.
That is bulls--t. A miracle...defined in my dictionary is 'a marvelous event manifested in a super-natural act of God.' To me the only thing that was a miracle in that situation was the lightening that hit the plane. That was the act of God. If anything, God was trying to kill these people. His plan was foiled by the crew's Satanic competence. Can't someone take some human credit for a job well done? (Watch here).In the same episode, "correspondent" Stephen Colbert does an interview with Ben Jones the guy who played a character named Cooter on the 1970s-80s TV show "Dukes of Hazard." Jones is trying to lead a boycott of the movie because it doesn't live up to the decency of the original TV show, where a car named General Lee with a Confederate Flag painted on its roof was driven around the county on missions to blow things up. According to Jones, that was good, clean family fun while the movie is filled with "hoochie coochie." Colbert then interviews three frat guys, as members of the youth that Jones is trying to protect from the movie, as Colbert says, who are instead very eager to see the film because of Jessica Simpson.
You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too farSuch a good beat! Hall & Oates: so underappreciated.
’cause you know it don’t matter anyway
You can rely on the old man’s money
You can rely on the old man’s money
It’s a bitch girl but it’s gone too far
’cause you know it don’t matter anyway
Say money but it won’t get you too far,
Get you too far
The Republican Congress adjourned last week for its August recess and patted itself on the back for a job well done. It scored victories this summer on gun-manufacturer liability, CAFTA—having made so many bribes and side-deals that the agreement promotes free trade only in name—and energy and highway bills that had almost nothing to do with actual energy and transportation policy, and everything to do with rewarding big contributors and influential legislators. But in what sense are these actually victories for conservatives? They certainly aren’t steps toward implementing any coherent ideological program. They don’t make government smaller or more market-oriented. They’re only victories if the GOP considers its sole purpose in governing to be distributing spoils to its friends and supporters.My main problem with the article is that it seems to subscribe to the belief that Republicans in Washington actually do care about paring down the government. In fact, what's so worrisome about the current state of the Republican party is that they really do seem to consider their "sole purpose in governing to be distributing spoils to its friends and supporters" which the author finds hard to believe. I don't.
...Bush has no one but himself to blame for his agenda’s trouble. His problem is a much more fundamental one than a bungled burglary or a blowjob. His agenda is stuck in the mud because he wasn’t elected to implement it. Had Bush spent the campaign trumpeting, at every stop, his plans to privatize Social Security and eviscerate progressive taxation—and had he been elected on such a platform, the prospect of which is admittedly dubious at best—then the reaction of Congress and the public to his proposals would be very different. But Bush waged no such campaign. His campaign was about one message, and one message only: “I am not John Kerry.”
This is not to say that everything is rosy for progressives. Being in the minority inevitably means suffering lots of small injustices. When bankruptcy laws are rewritten, at the behest of credit-card companies, to punish unlucky middle-class families, that’s a small injustice.
David Sirota on media conventional wisdom in all of its brainlessness:
A lot has been written about how, when reporters spend too much time in Washington, D.C., their brains start to rot, and they start spewing back insider gossip and stereotype that is so removed from reality, you think you are reading the rantings of patients in an insane asylum. Case in point is Washington Post reporter Dan Balz - one of the most intellectually impaired reporters working today.Balz has made a career parroting whatever Beltway conventional wisdom is out there, regardless of how polls show it is totally disconnected from reality. He regularly writes declarative statements that have literally no connection to anything other than what he and his insulated cocktail party friends have decided in a vacuum is what America believes.
The administration and Congress have gone to extraordinary lengths to insulate voters from the money cost of the wars -- to the point even of excluding outlays for them from the regular budget process. Furthermore, they have financed the wars not with taxes but by borrowing abroad.
The strategic shielding of most voters from any emotional or financial sacrifice for these wars cannot but trigger the analogue of what is called "moral hazard" in the context of health insurance, a field in which I've done a lot of scholarly work.
...Moral hazard can explain why, in wartime, the TV anchors on the morning and evening shows barely make time to report on the wars, lest the reports displace the silly banter with which they seek to humor their viewers. Do they ever wonder how military families with loved ones in the fray might feel after hearing ever so briefly of mayhem in Iraq or Afghanistan?
Moral hazard also can explain why the general public is so noticeably indifferent to the plight of our troops and their families. To be sure, we paste cheap magnetic ribbons on our cars to proclaim our support for the troops. But at the same time, we allow families of reservists and National Guard members to slide into deep financial distress as their loved ones stand tall for us on lethal battlefields and the family is deprived of these troops' typically higher civilian salaries. We offer a pittance in disability pay to seriously wounded soldiers who have not served the full 20 years that entitles them to a regular pension.
...When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: "Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded."
...Unlike the editors of the nation's newspapers, I am not at all impressed by people who resolve to have others stay the course in Iraq and in Afghanistan. At zero sacrifice, who would not have that resolve?
On Monday, nearly five months later, the Baltimore Orioles slugger became baseball's highest-profile player to be suspended 10 days for using steroids.
While he didn't deny testing positive for the drugs, he insisted that ingesting them was an accident.
Edited to add that as the guy working at the place I had lunch today said, "What's wrong with our country? Why can't you just come forward and say, 'I made a mistake'?" AGREED.
"His whole behavior is so shocking," she says. "It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it's kind of a sickness."I'm glad someone of her stature is commenting on celebrity opportunism.