TopNews - Feed https://topnews.pw from around Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:14:38 +0000 en-US https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://topnews.pw/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cropped-ama-news-logo-32x32.pngTopNews – from aroundhttps://topnews.pw 32 32 124120822 How Rami Malek became Freddie Mercuryhttps://topnews.pw/how-rami-malek-became-freddie-mercury/ Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:11:32 +0000 https://topnews.pw/?p=6374
David Bowie Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rami Malek studied hundreds of professional and amateur films of the musician to prepare for the role

Every impersonator will explain how they are always looking to find and exploit a "tell" - a little catchphrase or physical tic a famous person had that helps a person imitating them to slip into character.

To become De Niro, it's "You talking to me?". For Adele, it's THAT cackling laugh.

And for Rami Malek, becoming Freddie Mercury was as easy as going, "Awlright".

That gave him the star's effete British accent and, more importantly, told everyone on the set of the Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody that he was ready for action.

"Everyone on set would hear me going 'Awlright' and that meant 'hurry up and move it along, let's rock and roll'."

But Malek's portrayal of Queen's frontman goes beyond an impersonation.

He has the preening, peacock strut of the star's stage persona down to a tee. So much so that, watching the film's breathtaking recreation of Queen's Live Aid set, it's easy to forget you're not watching the real thing.

He also excavates the star's psyche to reveal a vulnerable, anxious soul - who disowns his birth name, Farrokh Bulsara, but whose alter-ego only comes alive in the spotlight.

"There's just something quite unsettled about him," says Malek.

"He has such a compassionate side, and he longs for the sense of community and love and companionship… but there's a sense of distance there, somehow."

Dexter Fletcher Image copyright Twentieth Century Fox
Image caption The film recreates the Live Aid concert in 1985

It was hard to uncover the real Mercury, though. He was famously waspish in interviews, which he viewed as a chore, describing himself as "a dandy" and "a musical prostitute" instead of revealing anything too intimate.

Because of his untimely death of Aids-related pneumonia in 1991, there are no memoirs to give a glimpse of his innermost thoughts.

"I kept searching for ways into the man and then I realised, he left us a diary and it's in all of the songs," says Malek.

Two of the most revealing were Lily Of The Valley and You Take My Breath Away - both of which are quieter and more contemplative than the bullet-proof confidence of Don't Stop Me Now or Another One Bites The Dust.

"Trust me, I pushed for those songs to be in the movie, because they informed so much of Freddie to me," he says. "But no-one's singing those ones at karaoke."

Indeed, the film has been accused of obscuring "the real Freddie". It glosses over his excesses - the sex, the drugs, the parties with naked waiters and dwarves carrying trays of cocaine on their heads.

Others fretted the story would be "straight-washed" - but despite focusing on his common-law wife, Mary Austin, Mercury's closeted homosexuality is a key part of the film's script.

"It's not a documentary," stresses Malek, "and we take liberties with the chronology because we have two hours to tell the story.

Getty Images
Image caption Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar but raised in Feltham, West London

"It was tricky at some points. We thought, 'Are we going to show him in Zanzibar as a child? Will we show him in St Peter's boarding school?' And those are things that we shot but we realised we have a finite amount of time.

"So we chose to focus on this period from the early 70s to 1985. The agenda was to celebrate this human being."

No-one can question Malek's commitment to the role. He auditioned for six hours, long before the film was financed; and spent hours studying shaky, fan-shot Queen videos to pick up Mercury's mannerisms and stage patter.

During development, he'd fly to London for singing and piano lessons, working with a dialect coach and choreographer Polly Bennett, who encouraged him to watch Mercury's inspirations - Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and, especially, Liza Minelli in Cabaret.

Malek also had to get himself some new teeth…

As the film explains, Mercury was born with four extra incisors, which pushed his upper teeth into an extreme overbite but also, he believed, gave his voice extra resonance.

The actor got his false teeth made months in advance of the film shoot, wearing them between takes on his TV series Mr Robot to make sure he didn't lisp or slur on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Production troubles

All the hard work paid off. Early reviews are split on the movie's quality (Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times called it a "glorified Wikipedia entry") but everyone is agreed on Malek's "outstanding" performance.

"If the idea was to firmly plant Rami Malek among top contenders for the best actor Oscar," wrote Deadline's Pete Hammond, "then it was mission accomplished".

That's pretty remarkable, given the film's troubled gestation.

By the time Malek signed on, it had already burned through three lead actors, several scripts and two A-list directors. Then, with 16 days of filming left to complete, director Bryan Singer was fired for erratic behaviour after failing to turn up on set.

Dexter Fletcher was brought in to complete the project, amid rumours that Singer and Malek had butted heads.

The actor has admitted there were "creative differences" on set but shrugs off the change of director as a mere bump in the road.

The standard (and presumably studio-approved) explanation, repeated in a multitude of interviews, is that he was used to having multiple directors on Mr Robot, and this situation was no different.

"It's not odd for me," he told Collider. "It's not debilitating to have a fresh voice in there, especially on the last legs, when everybody gets tired."

Instagram Image copyright Alex Bailey
Image caption Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee go back to the 80s

But if the film's pre-publicity focused on its troubled gestation; the reveal of the first trailer left everyone talking about Malek's stellar transformation.

What, I wonder, was the part of Mercury he couldn't leave behind when the cameras stopped rolling?

"I think just his spirit," he says. "This refusal to be stereotyped, this refusal to conform.

"He's a revolutionary, I think, because I don't think he ever allowed himself to be marginalised or segregated into one particular group.

"He essentially did what we as a collective society are all aspiring to do at the very moment - which is to not be labelled, to be as authentic as we possibly can without anybody trying to put us in a particular box.

"He was chastised for it at the time, but you look at it now and realise he was trailblazing. He was saying, 'I am going to be me, and if you don't like it, you can get stuffed.'"

Liza Minelli

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

queen

Related Topics

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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David Bowie Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rami Malek studied hundreds of professional and amateur films of the musician to prepare for the role

Every impersonator will explain how they are always looking to find and exploit a "tell" - a little catchphrase or physical tic a famous person had that helps a person imitating them to slip into character.

To become De Niro, it's "You talking to me?". For Adele, it's THAT cackling laugh.

And for Rami Malek, becoming Freddie Mercury was as easy as going, "Awlright".

That gave him the star's effete British accent and, more importantly, told everyone on the set of the Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody that he was ready for action.

"Everyone on set would hear me going 'Awlright' and that meant 'hurry up and move it along, let's rock and roll'."

But Malek's portrayal of Queen's frontman goes beyond an impersonation.

He has the preening, peacock strut of the star's stage persona down to a tee. So much so that, watching the film's breathtaking recreation of Queen's Live Aid set, it's easy to forget you're not watching the real thing.

He also excavates the star's psyche to reveal a vulnerable, anxious soul - who disowns his birth name, Farrokh Bulsara, but whose alter-ego only comes alive in the spotlight.

"There's just something quite unsettled about him," says Malek.

"He has such a compassionate side, and he longs for the sense of community and love and companionship… but there's a sense of distance there, somehow."

Dexter Fletcher Image copyright Twentieth Century Fox
Image caption The film recreates the Live Aid concert in 1985

It was hard to uncover the real Mercury, though. He was famously waspish in interviews, which he viewed as a chore, describing himself as "a dandy" and "a musical prostitute" instead of revealing anything too intimate.

Because of his untimely death of Aids-related pneumonia in 1991, there are no memoirs to give a glimpse of his innermost thoughts.

"I kept searching for ways into the man and then I realised, he left us a diary and it's in all of the songs," says Malek.

Two of the most revealing were Lily Of The Valley and You Take My Breath Away - both of which are quieter and more contemplative than the bullet-proof confidence of Don't Stop Me Now or Another One Bites The Dust.

"Trust me, I pushed for those songs to be in the movie, because they informed so much of Freddie to me," he says. "But no-one's singing those ones at karaoke."

Indeed, the film has been accused of obscuring "the real Freddie". It glosses over his excesses - the sex, the drugs, the parties with naked waiters and dwarves carrying trays of cocaine on their heads.

Others fretted the story would be "straight-washed" - but despite focusing on his common-law wife, Mary Austin, Mercury's closeted homosexuality is a key part of the film's script.

"It's not a documentary," stresses Malek, "and we take liberties with the chronology because we have two hours to tell the story.

Getty Images
Image caption Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar but raised in Feltham, West London

"It was tricky at some points. We thought, 'Are we going to show him in Zanzibar as a child? Will we show him in St Peter's boarding school?' And those are things that we shot but we realised we have a finite amount of time.

"So we chose to focus on this period from the early 70s to 1985. The agenda was to celebrate this human being."

No-one can question Malek's commitment to the role. He auditioned for six hours, long before the film was financed; and spent hours studying shaky, fan-shot Queen videos to pick up Mercury's mannerisms and stage patter.

During development, he'd fly to London for singing and piano lessons, working with a dialect coach and choreographer Polly Bennett, who encouraged him to watch Mercury's inspirations - Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and, especially, Liza Minelli in Cabaret.

Malek also had to get himself some new teeth…

As the film explains, Mercury was born with four extra incisors, which pushed his upper teeth into an extreme overbite but also, he believed, gave his voice extra resonance.

The actor got his false teeth made months in advance of the film shoot, wearing them between takes on his TV series Mr Robot to make sure he didn't lisp or slur on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Production troubles

All the hard work paid off. Early reviews are split on the movie's quality (Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times called it a "glorified Wikipedia entry") but everyone is agreed on Malek's "outstanding" performance.

"If the idea was to firmly plant Rami Malek among top contenders for the best actor Oscar," wrote Deadline's Pete Hammond, "then it was mission accomplished".

That's pretty remarkable, given the film's troubled gestation.

By the time Malek signed on, it had already burned through three lead actors, several scripts and two A-list directors. Then, with 16 days of filming left to complete, director Bryan Singer was fired for erratic behaviour after failing to turn up on set.

Dexter Fletcher was brought in to complete the project, amid rumours that Singer and Malek had butted heads.

The actor has admitted there were "creative differences" on set but shrugs off the change of director as a mere bump in the road.

The standard (and presumably studio-approved) explanation, repeated in a multitude of interviews, is that he was used to having multiple directors on Mr Robot, and this situation was no different.

"It's not odd for me," he told Collider. "It's not debilitating to have a fresh voice in there, especially on the last legs, when everybody gets tired."

Instagram Image copyright Alex Bailey
Image caption Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee go back to the 80s

But if the film's pre-publicity focused on its troubled gestation; the reveal of the first trailer left everyone talking about Malek's stellar transformation.

What, I wonder, was the part of Mercury he couldn't leave behind when the cameras stopped rolling?

"I think just his spirit," he says. "This refusal to be stereotyped, this refusal to conform.

"He's a revolutionary, I think, because I don't think he ever allowed himself to be marginalised or segregated into one particular group.

"He essentially did what we as a collective society are all aspiring to do at the very moment - which is to not be labelled, to be as authentic as we possibly can without anybody trying to put us in a particular box.

"He was chastised for it at the time, but you look at it now and realise he was trailblazing. He was saying, 'I am going to be me, and if you don't like it, you can get stuffed.'"

Liza Minelli

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

queen

Related Topics

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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6374
Why Did Christine Blasey Ford Have To Perform Her Victimhood For Us?https://topnews.pw/why-did-christine-blasey-ford-have-to-perform-her-victimhood-for-us/ Tue, 23 Oct 2018 09:32:24 +0000 https://topnews.pw/?p=6370

As Christine Blasey Ford’s testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Nina Totenberg, the venerable Supreme Court observer, made an observation that belonged more in the realm of theater criticism than legal affairs. Blasey, she suggested, was “nothing like Anita Hill,” who in 1991 accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Blasey was “shaky, physically shaky,” and thus “a much more typical victim” than Hill, who was “imperturbable and unshakeable” in her appearance before the same committee. All of this made Blasey a “powerful witness for herself.” 

Elsewhere, on CNN, Joan Biskupic made a similar comparison, suggesting that Blasey’s testimony, unlike Hill’s, projected a degree of vulnerability that made her seem more credible. “Anita Hill projected strength and control and a real professionalism to match then-Judge Thomas. The vulnerability of this witness is coming through much more. You feel her reliving it, and I think that makes it much harder than what Clarence Thomas faced with Anita Hill ... This time around, the idea that she’s living it on an almost daily basis, the way she talked;  I think is tougher, much tougher.”

This is what it came down to, according to our pundit class: whether Blasey had nailed her performance of victimhood, as though she were an actress on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” 

Just who they imagined the audience for this performance to be, the analysts did not say. Certainly, it did not include the people of color who might also identify with the stoicism of a young black woman negotiating a roomful of white men. 

But beyond that there was the spectacle of the whole thing. Or more precisely, the acquiescence to the spectacle — a testament to the pure dysfunction that defines how we (actually, y’all) talk about assault, trauma and abusive men, and how we process these things. We like to say that moments like these are opportunities to “start a conversation,” and yet, so often, these conversations devolve into scenarios in which people, overwhelmingly the victims of assault, overwhelmingly women, are forced to perform their trauma as a sordid, sadistic kind of entertainment. 

Things Blasey’s testimony hearing was not: a primetime sports event; a courtroom drama; a live TV performance to be critiqued and graded and snarked about. But that’s what it became, an exercise in appraising her role and whether she played that role well enough. Consider this New York Times Opinion poll, posted on Thursday (and then deleted after several complaints): 

actress

Twitter
Yikes. 

Is she credible?

That is to say: Is she well cast in the role of victim?

People commended Blasey on her intelligence, on her vocabulary, on her mixture of poise, respectability and sincerity. These are the traits of a “credible” victim, one of Nina Totenberg’s “typical victims” — not so much a believable person as someone who has successfully approximated a figure whom the culture is willing to believe. (As the pundits’ comparisons of Hill and Blasey might suggest, these aren’t the same thing.) But what if she were unpolished, uneducated, unpossessed of shiny credentials? What then? Was there a whiff of the aristocracy in some of the compliments paid to Blasey, as if someone less “impressive” would necessarily be less credible, too?

Horribly, the matter of American sexual violence depends on the credibility of its victims, which means that it turns on this cheap theater of “credibility.” We do not know how to engage with the trauma and pain victims of sexual assault endure without turning it into entertainment. We do not know how to engage with trauma without consuming it as if it’s the latest episode of a gritty HBO drama. We create familiar narratives that make sense of complex situations, which thus absolve us of having to do the hard work, the real work, work that involves letting go of our need to cast a villain and hero, work that means acknowledging that abusers aren’t always monsters and victims aren’t always angels. 

Or maybe it was like a game night on ESPN. Just look at how the CNN pundits gathered ’round a news desk, how they discussed the parameters of this case in terms of who wins and who loses, the GOP or the Dems, when it’s Blasey who has lost the most of all. 

That’s the thing about entertainment. Ultimately, it isn’t really about the truth. It’s about avoiding the truth. It’s about optics and narratives, about who plays what part and how well. “Dazzling testimony,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews marveled Thursday night, quoting an unnamed expert, almost as if his words were a movie blurb. 

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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As Christine Blasey Ford’s testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Nina Totenberg, the venerable Supreme Court observer, made an observation that belonged more in the realm of theater criticism than legal affairs. Blasey, she suggested, was “nothing like Anita Hill,” who in 1991 accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Blasey was “shaky, physically shaky,” and thus “a much more typical victim” than Hill, who was “imperturbable and unshakeable” in her appearance before the same committee. All of this made Blasey a “powerful witness for herself.” 

Elsewhere, on CNN, Joan Biskupic made a similar comparison, suggesting that Blasey’s testimony, unlike Hill’s, projected a degree of vulnerability that made her seem more credible. “Anita Hill projected strength and control and a real professionalism to match then-Judge Thomas. The vulnerability of this witness is coming through much more. You feel her reliving it, and I think that makes it much harder than what Clarence Thomas faced with Anita Hill ... This time around, the idea that she’s living it on an almost daily basis, the way she talked;  I think is tougher, much tougher.”

This is what it came down to, according to our pundit class: whether Blasey had nailed her performance of victimhood, as though she were an actress on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” 

Just who they imagined the audience for this performance to be, the analysts did not say. Certainly, it did not include the people of color who might also identify with the stoicism of a young black woman negotiating a roomful of white men. 

But beyond that there was the spectacle of the whole thing. Or more precisely, the acquiescence to the spectacle — a testament to the pure dysfunction that defines how we (actually, y’all) talk about assault, trauma and abusive men, and how we process these things. We like to say that moments like these are opportunities to “start a conversation,” and yet, so often, these conversations devolve into scenarios in which people, overwhelmingly the victims of assault, overwhelmingly women, are forced to perform their trauma as a sordid, sadistic kind of entertainment. 

Things Blasey’s testimony hearing was not: a primetime sports event; a courtroom drama; a live TV performance to be critiqued and graded and snarked about. But that’s what it became, an exercise in appraising her role and whether she played that role well enough. Consider this New York Times Opinion poll, posted on Thursday (and then deleted after several complaints): 

actress

Twitter
Yikes. 

Is she credible?

That is to say: Is she well cast in the role of victim?

People commended Blasey on her intelligence, on her vocabulary, on her mixture of poise, respectability and sincerity. These are the traits of a “credible” victim, one of Nina Totenberg’s “typical victims” — not so much a believable person as someone who has successfully approximated a figure whom the culture is willing to believe. (As the pundits’ comparisons of Hill and Blasey might suggest, these aren’t the same thing.) But what if she were unpolished, uneducated, unpossessed of shiny credentials? What then? Was there a whiff of the aristocracy in some of the compliments paid to Blasey, as if someone less “impressive” would necessarily be less credible, too?

Horribly, the matter of American sexual violence depends on the credibility of its victims, which means that it turns on this cheap theater of “credibility.” We do not know how to engage with the trauma and pain victims of sexual assault endure without turning it into entertainment. We do not know how to engage with trauma without consuming it as if it’s the latest episode of a gritty HBO drama. We create familiar narratives that make sense of complex situations, which thus absolve us of having to do the hard work, the real work, work that involves letting go of our need to cast a villain and hero, work that means acknowledging that abusers aren’t always monsters and victims aren’t always angels. 

Or maybe it was like a game night on ESPN. Just look at how the CNN pundits gathered ’round a news desk, how they discussed the parameters of this case in terms of who wins and who loses, the GOP or the Dems, when it’s Blasey who has lost the most of all. 

That’s the thing about entertainment. Ultimately, it isn’t really about the truth. It’s about avoiding the truth. It’s about optics and narratives, about who plays what part and how well. “Dazzling testimony,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews marveled Thursday night, quoting an unnamed expert, almost as if his words were a movie blurb. 

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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Source Here: Why Did Christine Blasey Ford Have To Perform Her Victimhood For Us?
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6370
Trump, the Saudis, and America’s disastrous ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ strategyhttps://topnews.pw/trump-the-saudis-and-americas-disastrous-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend-strategy/ Tue, 23 Oct 2018 05:04:36 +0000 https://topnews.pw/?p=6366 America

(CNN)"He's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is said to have been talking about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. It was 1939, and you can imagine him, cigarette and martini in hand, making the case for realpolitik in a world hurtling toward world war.

The downside of this dangerous temptation has reared its head again with Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, throwing the Trump administration's Middle East strategy into chaos. But it's always been a risky business.
Charlie Wilson's War
Take Joseph Stalin, for starters. During the Second World War, after the bloody dissolution of the Hitler-Stalin pact, the Soviet Union was engaged in a bloody war on the eastern front as the allies focused on driving Adolf Hitler out of Western Europe. FDR was convinced he could charm the man who had already murdered millions of his own countrymen and joined naïve left-wingers in our country in calling the Soviet's "man of steel" (a translation of "Stalin") the decidedly more jovial "Uncle Joe."
    The alliance worked when it came to killing Hitler and his Third Reich. But then came the Yalta Conference and a too-casual carving up of the continent, which left Eastern Europe under Soviet-controlled tyranny for the next 40 years. The Cold War was on.
    In the Middle East, many clear-eyed critics point to the 1953 US and British-led overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who had taken control of the British oil interests. The coup put the Shah of Iran in power but also seeded the violent rise of the ayatollahs a generation later.
    Then, the welcoming of the Shah for cancer treatment in the United States spurred the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and the more than 400-day hostage crisis that dogged the Carter administration. The crisis has been invoked to discredit the United States' interventions and created the regional fault lines we're still contending with today -- including using the Saudis to counterbalance Iran.
    ISIS
    Throughout the Cold War, the US backed a rogues' gallery of unsavory characters as a check on communist expansion. They often provided a preferable short-term alternative but the blowback often caused more problems than it solved. In Nicaragua, the brutal Somoza dictatorship dynasty fell to the communist Sandinista National Liberation Front party leaders, who committed crimes of their own (Nicaraguan President and Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is currently orchestrating a bloody crackdown of his citizens).
    US backing of Cuba's Batista created the conditions for the communist Castro regime. And these proxy wars often fueled anti-American sentiment, undercutting our vision of American exceptionalism with accusations of Yankee imperialism.
    The long-standing US support of apartheid South Africa -- a dependably anti-communist Western colonial power -- looks inexcusable today, especially the Reagan administration's refusal to back sanctions in the 1980s. Luckily, Nelson Mandela proved to be far wiser and embraced the United States under Bill Clinton upon his release from prison, in an effort to mend the legacy of the apartheid.
    High up on the list of bad ideas in the rear-view mirror was the brief US embrace of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. During the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein was literally the enemy of our enemy, coming just years after the hostage crisis in Iran. He was a brutal dictator but not an Islamist -- a man that the US could do business with -- literally.
    There's a now-infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld -- the once and future defense secretary -- deferentially shaking Hussein's hand as an envoy of then-President Reagan. Rumsfeld, of course, presided over the Pentagon during the second, massively destabilizing war with Iraq and subsequent execution of Hussein. The rise of ISIS and ongoing regional chaos is one result.
    Jamal Khashoggi
    But perhaps the most brutally ironic example of this strategy was the US backing of the anti-Soviet Afghan rebels known as the mujahideen. The Carter administration directed the CIA to provide backing for the Muslim group they regarded as freedom fighters, especially after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
    The book and movie, "Charlie Wilson's War," captured the idealism behind the intervention -- but also the failure to follow through with funding to help solidify the post-state after the Soviets were repelled. Elements of the mujahideen became the Taliban, and one wealthy fighter was a Saudi billionaire's son by the name of Osama bin Laden.
    This is more than just a cautionary tale. When past Presidents made deals with shadowy figures, they did so primarily with an eye towards the geopolitical chessboard, struggling between our ideals and realpolitik responsibilities. "Since its founding, America has tried to balance the realism of the world around it with the moralism of its founding ideals," said Stuart Gottlieb, who teaches American foreign policy at Columbia.
    "But history shows that whenever it leaned too realist, by, for example, supporting friendly dictators, or too moralist, by undercutting allies based on their human rights record, there was usually some form of blowback that sent the country back in the other direction. It's been a tough balancing act."
    Osama Bin Laden
    But with Donald Trump, it's been a bit different. To be sure, his embrace of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, builds on decades of a close but complicated relationship between the kingdom and the United States. They have often been stalwart allies behind the scenes, despite the kingdom's support of policies from the funding of Wahhabist madrassas to repressive treatment of women, which are not in line with US interests and values.
    But the Trump administration went all in with the Saudis, seeing them as the key to a larger realignment within the Middle East, where that country could serve as a check on Iran and create the outlines of a new alliance for stability involving Egypt and Israel. They cozied up with the Crown Prince despite brutal treatment of his rivals, isolation of Qatar and support of a cruel war in Yemen.
    But what's different is that the Saudi Crown Prince is just one of many strongmen on the world stage that President Trump has hugged close. He seems to have an instinctive affinity for authoritarian figures, from his professed "love" for North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un to praise for the Philippines' leader Rodrigo Duterte's bloody, repressive drug war.
    The biggest difference with Donald Trump is that he's been quick to condemn America's past policies not from an idealistic human rights perspective but from a cold realism that is quick to call the United States morally equivalent to other countries, like Russia. No other US president would refuse to condemn Putin's extra-judicial killings by saying, "You think our country's so innocent?"
    This echoes a criticism of the United States often made by foreign dictators, who take issue with America's sometimes-moralistic approach to foreign policy, seeing the US as hypocritical do-gooders -- and therefore justifying their own brutality with the belief that everybody does it. In the process, claims of American exceptionalism are eroded in a sea of moral equivalence.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

      This ignores the many ways in which the US has been an exceptional world power, with all our imperfections. No other nation has fought foreign wars without seeking land other than to bury our dead, as is often said. That's why the Faustian bargains we sometimes make, under the idea that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," do our nation reputational harm that often outweighs whatever short-term benefits they have provided. It obscures the truth that American patriotism is different from run-of-the-mill nationalism.
      As a country based on an idea rather than a tribal identity, our greatest strength comes from a deeper source. As political figures from Joe Biden to Bill Clinton have pointed out, "America's greatest strength is not the example of our power, but the power of our example."

      Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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      Post Source Here: Trump, the Saudis, and America’s disastrous ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ strategy
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      America

      (CNN)"He's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is said to have been talking about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. It was 1939, and you can imagine him, cigarette and martini in hand, making the case for realpolitik in a world hurtling toward world war.

      The downside of this dangerous temptation has reared its head again with Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, throwing the Trump administration's Middle East strategy into chaos. But it's always been a risky business.
      Charlie Wilson's War
      Take Joseph Stalin, for starters. During the Second World War, after the bloody dissolution of the Hitler-Stalin pact, the Soviet Union was engaged in a bloody war on the eastern front as the allies focused on driving Adolf Hitler out of Western Europe. FDR was convinced he could charm the man who had already murdered millions of his own countrymen and joined naïve left-wingers in our country in calling the Soviet's "man of steel" (a translation of "Stalin") the decidedly more jovial "Uncle Joe."
        The alliance worked when it came to killing Hitler and his Third Reich. But then came the Yalta Conference and a too-casual carving up of the continent, which left Eastern Europe under Soviet-controlled tyranny for the next 40 years. The Cold War was on.
        In the Middle East, many clear-eyed critics point to the 1953 US and British-led overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who had taken control of the British oil interests. The coup put the Shah of Iran in power but also seeded the violent rise of the ayatollahs a generation later.
        Then, the welcoming of the Shah for cancer treatment in the United States spurred the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and the more than 400-day hostage crisis that dogged the Carter administration. The crisis has been invoked to discredit the United States' interventions and created the regional fault lines we're still contending with today -- including using the Saudis to counterbalance Iran.
        ISIS
        Throughout the Cold War, the US backed a rogues' gallery of unsavory characters as a check on communist expansion. They often provided a preferable short-term alternative but the blowback often caused more problems than it solved. In Nicaragua, the brutal Somoza dictatorship dynasty fell to the communist Sandinista National Liberation Front party leaders, who committed crimes of their own (Nicaraguan President and Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is currently orchestrating a bloody crackdown of his citizens).
        US backing of Cuba's Batista created the conditions for the communist Castro regime. And these proxy wars often fueled anti-American sentiment, undercutting our vision of American exceptionalism with accusations of Yankee imperialism.
        The long-standing US support of apartheid South Africa -- a dependably anti-communist Western colonial power -- looks inexcusable today, especially the Reagan administration's refusal to back sanctions in the 1980s. Luckily, Nelson Mandela proved to be far wiser and embraced the United States under Bill Clinton upon his release from prison, in an effort to mend the legacy of the apartheid.
        High up on the list of bad ideas in the rear-view mirror was the brief US embrace of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. During the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein was literally the enemy of our enemy, coming just years after the hostage crisis in Iran. He was a brutal dictator but not an Islamist -- a man that the US could do business with -- literally.
        There's a now-infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld -- the once and future defense secretary -- deferentially shaking Hussein's hand as an envoy of then-President Reagan. Rumsfeld, of course, presided over the Pentagon during the second, massively destabilizing war with Iraq and subsequent execution of Hussein. The rise of ISIS and ongoing regional chaos is one result.
        Jamal Khashoggi
        But perhaps the most brutally ironic example of this strategy was the US backing of the anti-Soviet Afghan rebels known as the mujahideen. The Carter administration directed the CIA to provide backing for the Muslim group they regarded as freedom fighters, especially after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
        The book and movie, "Charlie Wilson's War," captured the idealism behind the intervention -- but also the failure to follow through with funding to help solidify the post-state after the Soviets were repelled. Elements of the mujahideen became the Taliban, and one wealthy fighter was a Saudi billionaire's son by the name of Osama bin Laden.
        This is more than just a cautionary tale. When past Presidents made deals with shadowy figures, they did so primarily with an eye towards the geopolitical chessboard, struggling between our ideals and realpolitik responsibilities. "Since its founding, America has tried to balance the realism of the world around it with the moralism of its founding ideals," said Stuart Gottlieb, who teaches American foreign policy at Columbia.
        "But history shows that whenever it leaned too realist, by, for example, supporting friendly dictators, or too moralist, by undercutting allies based on their human rights record, there was usually some form of blowback that sent the country back in the other direction. It's been a tough balancing act."
        Osama Bin Laden
        But with Donald Trump, it's been a bit different. To be sure, his embrace of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, builds on decades of a close but complicated relationship between the kingdom and the United States. They have often been stalwart allies behind the scenes, despite the kingdom's support of policies from the funding of Wahhabist madrassas to repressive treatment of women, which are not in line with US interests and values.
        But the Trump administration went all in with the Saudis, seeing them as the key to a larger realignment within the Middle East, where that country could serve as a check on Iran and create the outlines of a new alliance for stability involving Egypt and Israel. They cozied up with the Crown Prince despite brutal treatment of his rivals, isolation of Qatar and support of a cruel war in Yemen.
        But what's different is that the Saudi Crown Prince is just one of many strongmen on the world stage that President Trump has hugged close. He seems to have an instinctive affinity for authoritarian figures, from his professed "love" for North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un to praise for the Philippines' leader Rodrigo Duterte's bloody, repressive drug war.
        The biggest difference with Donald Trump is that he's been quick to condemn America's past policies not from an idealistic human rights perspective but from a cold realism that is quick to call the United States morally equivalent to other countries, like Russia. No other US president would refuse to condemn Putin's extra-judicial killings by saying, "You think our country's so innocent?"
        This echoes a criticism of the United States often made by foreign dictators, who take issue with America's sometimes-moralistic approach to foreign policy, seeing the US as hypocritical do-gooders -- and therefore justifying their own brutality with the belief that everybody does it. In the process, claims of American exceptionalism are eroded in a sea of moral equivalence.

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          This ignores the many ways in which the US has been an exceptional world power, with all our imperfections. No other nation has fought foreign wars without seeking land other than to bury our dead, as is often said. That's why the Faustian bargains we sometimes make, under the idea that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," do our nation reputational harm that often outweighs whatever short-term benefits they have provided. It obscures the truth that American patriotism is different from run-of-the-mill nationalism.
          As a country based on an idea rather than a tribal identity, our greatest strength comes from a deeper source. As political figures from Joe Biden to Bill Clinton have pointed out, "America's greatest strength is not the example of our power, but the power of our example."

          Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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          European Union approves content quota for streaming serviceshttps://topnews.pw/european-union-approves-content-quota-for-streaming-services/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 22:45:17 +0000 https://topnews.pw/?p=6363

          The European Parliament has voted in favor of a new quota for content on streaming services. Services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, will have to make sure that at least 30 percent of their catalogs in Europe come from European countries.

          Many European countries already have quotas for movie theaters and TV networks. Quotas foster cultural diversity and ensure that movies with smaller budgets get a chance to compete with blockbuster franchises.

          Other countries thought it was better to let the market decide and now it’s just Fantastic Four and The Emoji Movie on repeat because local production got crushed by Hollywood’s dollars.

          Some European countries also set a tax on ticket sales to finance local movie production. With today’s new European agreement, streaming platforms will also have to contribute to local productions. They’ll be able to invest directly in local content or finance national funds. Netflix has already announced plans to open offices in Paris and Madrid to produce more content in those countries.

          Streaming services will have to contribute proportionally to their revenues in each country. It’ll be a bit tough to calculate for Amazon as Amazon Prime Video is mixed with a bunch of services as part of the Prime subscription plan.

          In other news, online video platforms at large (including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch…) will have to go further when it comes to taking down dangerous content. This time, the Parliament wants to protect minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising in particular.

          Platforms will need to be transparent when it comes to their flagging and moderation mechanisms. And there are new rules on children’s content. Platforms can’t capture personal data of children for targeted advertising purposes.

          Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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          The European Parliament has voted in favor of a new quota for content on streaming services. Services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, will have to make sure that at least 30 percent of their catalogs in Europe come from European countries.

          Many European countries already have quotas for movie theaters and TV networks. Quotas foster cultural diversity and ensure that movies with smaller budgets get a chance to compete with blockbuster franchises.

          Other countries thought it was better to let the market decide and now it’s just Fantastic Four and The Emoji Movie on repeat because local production got crushed by Hollywood’s dollars.

          Some European countries also set a tax on ticket sales to finance local movie production. With today’s new European agreement, streaming platforms will also have to contribute to local productions. They’ll be able to invest directly in local content or finance national funds. Netflix has already announced plans to open offices in Paris and Madrid to produce more content in those countries.

          Streaming services will have to contribute proportionally to their revenues in each country. It’ll be a bit tough to calculate for Amazon as Amazon Prime Video is mixed with a bunch of services as part of the Prime subscription plan.

          In other news, online video platforms at large (including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch…) will have to go further when it comes to taking down dangerous content. This time, the Parliament wants to protect minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising in particular.

          Platforms will need to be transparent when it comes to their flagging and moderation mechanisms. And there are new rules on children’s content. Platforms can’t capture personal data of children for targeted advertising purposes.

          Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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          ‘Avengers 4’ Directors Officially Wrap Filming With Mysterious Photohttps://topnews.pw/avengers-4-directors-officially-wrap-filming-with-mysterious-photo/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:24:47 +0000 https://topnews.pw/?p=6360

          Are they trolling us?

          Filming for the still untitled “Avengers 4” wrapped officially on Friday, according to a tweet from directors Joe and Anthony Russo. The brothers, who also directed the third installment, “Avengers: Infinity War,” couldn’t help but punctuate the announcement by teasing fans with a strange image that’s simply captioned “#wrapped.”

          Is it a set light? Is it Captain America’s coffin? We probably won’t know for sure unless they tell us.

          The Russos have teased fans in the past by posting seemingly random images on social media. They did it on Sept. 19, releasing an image of Joe Russo on set, working on a laptop. The caption read, “Look hard...”

          Fans did indeed look hard, and an infinite number of theories materialized, from four hidden A’s on the set to an idea that the unreleased “Avengers 4” movie poster was somewhere in the image.

          “Infinity War” was Marvel’s most profitable film in history, grossing over $2 billion worldwide, so the anticipation for its follow-up is incredibly high.

          The post-credits scene in “Infinity War” included a nod to Captain Marvel, a powerful new character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, played by Brie Larson. She will officially enter the MCU on March 8, 2019, with the “Captain Marvel” film. That will lead into the release of “Avengers 4,” which hits theaters May 3.

          We’ve got goosebumps.

          Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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          Are they trolling us?

          Filming for the still untitled “Avengers 4” wrapped officially on Friday, according to a tweet from directors Joe and Anthony Russo. The brothers, who also directed the third installment, “Avengers: Infinity War,” couldn’t help but punctuate the announcement by teasing fans with a strange image that’s simply captioned “#wrapped.”

          Is it a set light? Is it Captain America’s coffin? We probably won’t know for sure unless they tell us.

          The Russos have teased fans in the past by posting seemingly random images on social media. They did it on Sept. 19, releasing an image of Joe Russo on set, working on a laptop. The caption read, “Look hard...”

          Fans did indeed look hard, and an infinite number of theories materialized, from four hidden A’s on the set to an idea that the unreleased “Avengers 4” movie poster was somewhere in the image.

          “Infinity War” was Marvel’s most profitable film in history, grossing over $2 billion worldwide, so the anticipation for its follow-up is incredibly high.

          The post-credits scene in “Infinity War” included a nod to Captain Marvel, a powerful new character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, played by Brie Larson. She will officially enter the MCU on March 8, 2019, with the “Captain Marvel” film. That will lead into the release of “Avengers 4,” which hits theaters May 3.

          We’ve got goosebumps.

          Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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