Saturday, November 30, 2019

Japanese Internment In WWII Is History, But We Can Still Change Border Internment Today

Esther Nishio, according to an LA Times story today, was a guinea pig, a test.  A white family friend, Hugh Anderson, had been fighting against the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII.  He'd gotten permission for one young Japanese internee - Elizabeth - to come get out of the camp in 1944 and begin Pasadena Junior College.
"When she arrived in Pasadena on Sept. 12, Esther was greeted enthusiastically by the Anderson family, along with the editor of the school newspaper and members of the Student Christian Assn.
She moved into the Andersons’ two-story home with a swooped roof on Roosevelt Avenue in Altadena and was the guest of honor that night at the Eagle Rock residence of E.C. Farnham, executive director of the Church Federation of Los Angeles.
The warm welcome was short-lived. The next morning, newspapers tipped off by the editor of the campus newspaper published articles about her arrival — including the address of Anderson’s home. The story was picked up by Stars and Stripes and published in papers around the world.
Local nativist groups began whipping up a froth. Menacing letters started piling up in the Andersons’ mailbox.
“The only kind of a Jap the people of Cal. trust is a dead one,” an anonymous correspondent from Los Angeles wrote.
Others railed against Anderson as being un-American.
'I have a son in the service who has just recently been discharged.' a Mrs. J.H. Wilson wrote. 'The boys wonder what they are fighting for when the government tells them to kill them and our citizens take them into their homes.'”
It seems appropriate to recount this tale now as the president and his henchmen (why is Stephen Miller still allowed to be working the White House?!) abuse legitimate and legal asylum seekers.  The details are a bit different, but this is a racist policy that intentionally and cruelly treats innocent human beings.  At least back after Pearl Harbor, in the pre-civil rights era, one can sort of understand how people might believe there were Japanese spies among the Japanese-American communities of the west coast.  But, of course, no similar program was set up for the German-American citizens.  And a number of white neighbors were able to profit from the rush sales internees were forced to have before being taken to camps.  

I would also note, that I first learned about the internment camps in 1956, when I transferred to a new elementary school and YF was in my new class.  And in junior and senior high there were a number of other Japanese-American students who had been born in internment camps at the end of the war.  

And as I write this I'm on Bainbridge Island and I've visited several times at the memorial to the Bainbridge Island residents who were shipped off to internment camps.  And I've seen the movie, The Empty Chair, about the how the valedictorian of a Juneau high school's chair was placed on the stage, empty, after he was interned before graduation.  I know that there were whites who essentially stole the property of interned Japanese and there were whites who kept their property safe and returned it to them when they got out.

But this is the first time I've heard about groups of white Americans fighting against the interment camps.  

Fortunately, today, there is a lot more opposition to the internment camps and family separations (which was not part of theWWII policy) that we have now.  Yet that doesn't seem to be ending the practice.  

And today we still have rabid haters who know nothing but their own anger projected out onto suffering people in support of the president.  

We can't send too many emails and letters, or make too many calls to our legislators.  You are right if you think one call doesn't matter.  But 50 people making one call on a topic does.  Particularly in a small population state like Alaska.  At the very least, you can show your grandchildren copies of what you sent and tell them you did what you could.  

This is Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a good time to try to make amends for what Americans have done to the people who helped them survive those first winters in Massachusetts.  (A number of the refugees are indigenous peoples of Central America.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

AIFF 2019: Questions (and Answers) People Should Be Asking About The Festival

This was originally posted in 2009 and then redone in 2015  and there have been minor changes since, but it's time to redo it.  

A lot of people don't even know what questions they should be asking.  So I'm listing them out here (with the answers) to help you find out what's happening at the Anchorage International Film Festival and how to take advantage of all the great films that will be in town Dec. 6-16, 2019.

Below are links to posts with general information about the Anchorage International Film Festival.

Q: Where's the official Anchorage International Film Festival website?  It's now hosted by  GOELevent which is described by Website Outlook  as:
Elevent is the first user-friendly, modern ticketing platform made for film festivals, zoos, national parks, museums, and other complex event organizers. Our cloud-based platform can be deployed and maintained with minimal effort, with an emphasis on ease of use & design. Built to withstand high demand, it's powerful enough to support the toughest ticketing scenarios.
This is a big change from last year's independent website linked to Festival Genius.

Q: What do all the categories mean?   Basically there are different film categories - 
  • Based on Length -  Features tend to be over 55 minutes, Shorts are less than that.  Previous festivals have had a Super Short category, but not this year.  
  • Based on Content - Fictional films are Narratives and films that tell a true story, faithfully, are Documentaries.
  • Animated - are films that are drawn or painted, either by hand or computer   
  • Alaskana -  are films with an Alaska theme, setting, or film maker.  These films might also be in one of the other categories too.  
  • Children's - films particularly appropriate for children 
  • 'Selected' - all films submitted to the festival and some of them are  selected to be in the festival by the programmers

Q: What  films are the best films this year?

We won't really know until we see them.  We used to have a category called Films in Competition.  These were films that the programmers identified as the best in their category.   This year the process has been different and all the 'selected' films are in competition to be  chosen for the Golden Oosiker awards.  Of course, individual programmers have favorites among the films they've seen, but they often don't agree with each other.

Q:  Short films are grouped together into 'programs.'  How do I find which short films are playing together in the same of program?

I'll try to get those listed here before the festival starts, but you can also check on your own on the festival website.  Opening Night will be a shorts program.  Here's a link to the overview for that program.

Where will the films be shown?

Bear Tooth, is the biggest venue, and where opening night will be.  It will play a smaller role in the festival than in past years.
1230 West 27th Avenue (West of Spenard Road) - 907.276.4200

Alaska Experience Theater
333 W 4th Ave #207, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-9076
There is a large and a small theater there

Anchorage Museum
625 C Street
The Theater is is off the old 6th Avenue which may be the easiest way to get in.  But you may have to go through the main entrance of the museum.  

Marston Theater (Loussac Library) Family Programming on 
Saturday Dec.7, 11 am
3600 Denali St.

Q:  What other events are there?
Workshops - some specifically for young film makers.  These are chances to interact with film makers and learn some aspect of the movie craft and industry.
Five Day Film Royal - A contest where local film makers are given five days to create a short film using a number of prompts.  The completed films will be shown at the Bear Tooth on Saturday night at 10:30pm.

Q:  What are your criteria for a good movie? When I made my picks for the 2008 best films, at the end of the post I outlined my criteria. The link takes you to that post, scroll down to second part.  I also did a post in 2012 on what I thought makes a good documentary.

Q:  Should I buy a pass or just buy tickets as I go?  

Tickets are still only $10 per film.  "All films passes" are only $99.  So, if you go to eleven films, the pass is cheaper. But there are other benefits to the pass.   You also get priority seating with your pass.    That means you go into the theater first at the Bear Tooth.  NOTEYou do have to get a ticket (free when you show your pass) for each film at the door and only a certain number of seats are held for pass holders.

And if you have a pass, you'll go see more films because you'll think "I've paid for them. I should go and get my money's worth."
All Films passes get you into Workshops, and discounts for a few extra events, like the opening night film (which is actually $30 a ticket) and the awards. These extra events also have food.

Another option is to volunteer and get a pass to a movie.

You can buy tickets at the venues.  You can also get advanced tickets at the venues.
You can also buy them online.  Tickets are already available.

Q:  What about family films? 
Kids A Bonanza  - Saturday, December 7, at 11am at Loussac Library - in the Marston Auditorium..  This is a free event.  This will include various shorts appropriate for kids.

Q:  Any free events?
Yes, there are.  Besides the family films (right above), Made in Alaska, and two of the workshops. 

Q:  Who Are You Anyways? - who's paying you to do this? does your brother have a film in competition? What is your connection to the festival? From an earlier post here's my  Disclosure:

 I sort of accidentally blogged about the  2007 festival  and the AIFF people liked what I did and asked if I would be the official blogger in 2008. They promised me I could say what I wanted, but I decided it was better to blog on my own and then if I write something that upsets one of the film makers, the Festival isn't responsible.

I probably won't say anything terrible about a film, but I did rant about one film in the past that I thought was exploiting its subject as well as boorishly demeaning a whole country. I mentioned in an earlier post that if I sound a little promotional at times, it's only because I like films and I like the kinds of quirky films that show up at festivals, so I want as many people to know about the festival as  possible so the festival will continue. Will I fudge on what I write to get people out? No way. There are plenty of people in Anchorage who like films. They're my main target - to get them out of the house in the dark December chill when inertia tugs heavily if they even think about leaving the house. But if others who normally don't go out to films hear about a movie on a topic they're into, that's good too.

I did a post a couple of years ago for Film Festival Skeptics who might be sitting on the fence and need to be given reasons to go and strategies to make it work.

Q:  How Does One Keep Track of What's Happening at the Festival?
Things are much easier this year.  There are no film playing at the same time.  No terrible choices to make.  But then, no films will play twice either - except maybe a few shorts that are in more than one program.  

Because there are no overlaps, the printed and online schedules are much easier to follow.  

I'll be blogging the film festival every day.   
The Golevent website is good.  You can look at the whole schedule here  or you can check it day by day here.
There should also be printed programs in the Anchorage Press you can pick up around town as well and go to the Festival Webpage.

My blog will update every day.  My Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF 2019)  tab on top will have an overview of what's happening each day.

Q:  Are there other Alaskan Film Festivals?  
There are some events called 'festival' that I know of in Anchorage, but they aren't major film events like this one.  There is another organization,  that puts Alaska in its name and used to rent a postal box in Alaska, but has no other connection that we can find to Alaska.  You can read about that at  Comparing the ANCHORAGE and ALASKA International Film Festivals - Real Festival? Scam?

There have been other festivals over the years.  I need to find out which ones are still happening and what new ones have arisen.  If you know, email me. (see upper right column).

AIFF 2019 - Features Part 1: Indigenous Women, Homelessness, Coming of Age, (Young and Old), Bi Polar

There are 12 films in this group and I've got six here and will do a second post with the other six.  We've got a film here with two indigenous women actors, two films with homeless leads, a return to the home country (Italy) to save the family vineyard, a bi-polar college student, and a coming of age film.  (I know it's hokey to try sum them up this way, but the topics may cause some people to be more interested.)

I'd also note that the new website is ready and my first impression is that it's an enormous improvement over past AIFF websites.  But I haven't explored it too closely yet.  It also looks like it's possible to see every film this year, because there aren't two competing films at any given time. I think that's the case but, again, I need to check more carefully.

So, here are the first six of the  NARRATIVE FEATURES

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open  
Directors:  Kathleen Hepburn & Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
Showing:  Sunday, Dec 08, 2019 2:00 pm   Alaska Experience Theatre - Small

Two Indigenous women, unknown to each other, and from very different backgrounds, meet by chance. Áila is middle class, university educated and light skinned. Rosie is eighteen years old, poor, and has just been assaulted by her boyfriend. When Áila sees Rosie crying barefoot in the street, she makes the decision to help her. What follows is a complicated extended conversation between these two women as they navigate their similarities, differences and shifting power dynamics. Tense and affecting, the film employs long takes and masterfully executed handheld cinematography to unveil a story in real-time, a story that at its core is a testament to the resiliency of Indigenous women.

There are a number of interesting aspects to this film.  Not only is it about two Canadian indigenous women, it's also directed by an indigenous woman.  It also is filmed in real time:
"We had many conversations with our DP, Norm Li, and ultimately settled on shooting 16mm. This required that we develop a rather experimental process which Norm calls “real time transitions.” Once we had all of our locations, we carefully choreographed stitch points throughout the film where one of our camera assistants would have a camera pre-rolling to swap with Norm. This required five days of full crew rehearsal. We filmed the prologue scenes in three days, and filmed the continuous action sequence once a day over five days."

Banana Split
Director:  Benjamin Ben Kasulke
88 minutes
Showing  Sun, Dec 08, 2019 8:00 pm  
Bear Tooth Theatrepub

I read some descriptions and interviews and then saw the trailer which didn't match what I'd read at all.  Turns out the trailer was for another movie with a similar title.  

This excerpt  comes from  Sumbreak.  I don't want to say too much about the film.  Others have written that the basic description doesn't do justice to this film   So I've picked this part from an interview with  first time director, but experienced cinematographer Ben Kasulke.  They're talking about actress Addison Riecke who plays the little sister.  
"And yeah, with Addison, it was like you know, we saw the tape and I was like, ‘oh my god, this little girl’s great.’ And I didn’t know much about her. She has a really long history of acting. She’s a full-on child actor who works all the time, and so she comes out of the Nickelodeon World and she does comedy but she does comedy in a sort of very wholesome way. And you know I knew that she had done some comedic work.
But I knew that she had worked in The Beguiled, a Sofia Coppola film, so I knew that understood things that might have to exist as visuals or have a little more nuance to them. So she came from a good pedigree and then the word on the street was that she was just this like powerhouse actress, and that all proved to be true.
I was a little nervous. It was my first film and I you know worked with lots of younger actors and actresses as a cinematographer and spent a lot of time with director like Lynn Shelton and Megan Griffiths, who are really adept at making a set that’s conducive to safe, emotional space and getting good performances out of actors of any age, but in particular, children at times. And so I knew that I’d had some good role models as directors and people I’d collaborated with over the years.?"
Here's part of an interview with the director and writer/producer/star Hanna Marks.  It's an after the film Q&A at the Toronto Intl Film Festival.  I cut out the beginning, but it didn't offer me an option to end it early, so, if you're interested, watch as much or little as you like:


Director:  Andrew Wonder
73 minutes
Showing:  Thu, Dec 12, 2019 6:00 pm
Anchorage Museum Auditorium

Mathew Monagle at Film School Rejects pushes films by former documentary makers who switch to narrative features.
". . .  these films ask us to simply exist in a series of moments with the main characters, exposing ourselves to their truths by seeing the world as they see it. And as of this weekend, you can officially add Andrew Wonder‘s Feral to this list of must-see narrative debuts. 
It would be wrong to say that Yazmine (Annapurna Sriram) lives on the streets, considering her actual home is a good hundred feet below them. When we first meet Yazmine, we walk alongside her in the abandoned tunnels and empty homeless camps that litter the underground relics of the MTA; with her as our guide, we eventually find our way into the long-abandoned power station she has converted into her home. But this underground life is only one facet of Yazmine’s existence. In her collection of sweaters and skirts, she can also pass among the fashionable parts of Brooklyn, moving alongside hipsters and bohemians and passing judgment on their hollow lives as she bums cigarettes." (emphasis added)


From The Vine 
Director:  Sean Cisterna
94 minutes
Showing:  Friday, Dec 13, 2019 4:00 pm  
Alaska Experience Theatre - Small

This is a new film which had its North American premier in Canada in mid-October.  It's also been at the Napa Film Festival this month, which is fitting for a film on a vineyard.  But there's also not much out there about the film besides stock descriptions

Here's from a review from the  Devour! The Food Film Festival where you can read more:

"It’s the tale of a downtrodden man (Joe Pantoliano) who experiences an ethical crisis and travels back to his hometown in rural Italy to recalibrate his moral compass. There he finds new purpose in reviving his grandfather’s old vineyard, offering the small town of Acerenza a sustainable future, and reconnecting with his estranged family in the process.
From director Sean Cisterna, From The Vine is a delightful yet admittedly predictable affair about the need in life to not live for your work but to work for your life.
Cisterna is an experience Canadian filmmaker and with From The Vine he really does manage to get the most out of a well worn formula.  It looks great and as it launches into its story it’s always nice to see a Canadian film that isn’t overtly TRYING to be a Canadian film.  Cisterna has always had a good sense of story, it all has a genuine flow to it as we move along and it really has a strong sense of self.  That kind of narrative confidence not only comes from the script from the director leading the ship."


Director:  Andrew Gibson
100 minutes
Showing:  Wed, Dec 11, 2019 8:00 pm
Alaska Experience Theatre - Small
"Have you ever been walking around Allston and thought, “This place would be the perfect setting for a gritty drama about young, homeless street punks trying to find their place in the world, resisting the tedium of a forced 9-5 careerist lifestyle and simply surviving in a harsh world?” Well, so did Andrew Gibson, who’s gearing up to direct Gutterbug, a film that explores those themes listed above. Gibson is also the former head of video for Allston Pudding, so we’re excited to see him develop a full feature! The project’s synopsis, quoted from the film’s Indie GoGo  description, reads as follows: 
Stephen Bugsby, known by his street name “Bug,” left home on his 18th birthday. GUTTERBUG picks up three years later at his rock bottom. When the punk rock shows end and the drugs wear off, things feel quiet on his dirty mattress under the overpass. The suffocating atmosphere of the homeless environment and its toxic characters spark something in him he forgot he had… Before choosing death as the answer, Bug makes a choice even he didn’t see coming."
Here's an interview with director Andrew Gibson.  This film is focused on some homeless folks and the interviewer here lets us know he was once homeless.   I started it two minutes in when they began talking about the movie.


Inside The Rain  
Director:  Aaron Fisher
90 minutes
Showing:  Wed, Dec 11, 2019 6:00 pm 
Alaska Experience Theatre - Small

From WBOC:
"Facing expulsion from college over a misunderstanding, a bipolar student (Aaron Fisher) indulges his misery at a strip club where he befriends a beautiful and enigmatic sex worker (Ellen Toland) and they hatch a madcap scheme to prove his innocence.  Rosie Perez stars as a tough love shrink, Eric Roberts as an unhinged film producer, and Catherine Curtin and Paul Schulze as the long-suffering parents. The ultimate underdog film and proof that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
"'Inside the Rain' is an important film that deals honestly with issues of mental health, and manages to be at once humorous and poignant," said co-star Rosie Perez.  "I responded to director Aaron Fisher's script, and enjoyed working with him on our scenes together."
"Inside The Rain" has also attracted many film critics attention.  Westwood One states, "Insightful and audacious, with terrific cast…raw and heartfelt emotion." And Tribune Media Services said, ''Inside the Rain' is a captivating story where the brush strokes of life and the arts blend together beautifully.'"


Monday, November 25, 2019

Trump Undermining Military Order - Firing His Own Appointee, Navy Secretary Spencer [Updated]

The president of the United States has intervened in military justice and fired the Secretary of Navy, a person he himself appointed over a Naval justice system case with which he disagreed.  Here's a little background that I haven't heard on the news blurbs I'm hearing at NPR.  Ultimately, this is one more sep onTrump's part to weaken the US internationally, by weakening the US military.  How many rogue military will disobey their officers with the hope of support from the president?

Eddie Gallagher had become, apparently, a right wing cause.  He'd been found innocent of murdering prisoners of war, but guilty of taking a picture with a dead prisoner.  There were problems in the case according to the Navy Times and the LA Times. 

[UPDATED Nov 25, 2019 11:57am] However, other Seals testified against Gallagher - something I suspect is uncommon - though ultimately their testimony wasn't convincing because they didn't actually see him pull the trigger.  Here's description of that testimony.

I tried to find some of the Free Eddie Gallagher websites, but several had been corrupted.

Forged a website aimed at veterans has a t-shirt for Gallagher with this description:
"Chief Eddie Gallagher is a highly decorated Navy SEAL with over 19 years of honorable service to our country. On September 11, 2018, he was separated from his wife and children, and locked up in pre-trial confinement in the military brig. On July 2nd, Chief Gallagher was found NOT GUILTY of all charges, except unlawfully taking a picture with a dead ISIS fighter. Although Chief Gallagher is free, his battle is not yet over. He and his legal team are still fighting for his right to retire with a full pension and benefits.

#FREEEDDIE features the Forged Frogbones, one of our classic designs which has always been, and will forever remain deeply rooted in the Navy SEAL Brotherhood.

Please join us in our fight to #FREEEDDIE! Chief Gallagher deserves justice.
*All proceeds will be donated to the Navy SEALs Fund - Brotherhood Beyond Battlefield (501c3) Justice for Eddie Gallagher Support Fund"

Navy Secretary Spencer is a marine veteran and was appointed by Trump.  Defying the president is a major action here and clearly suggests a serious breach between Trump and the US military.  That's pretty serious.  And one more move that helps Putin by weakening the morale of the US military.

Here's from Wikipedia's post on Richard V. Spencer:
"In June 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Spencer to serve as the 76th United States Secretary of the Navy Spencer was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 1, 2017. He was sworn in on August 3, 2017 and served until November 24, 2019.
On July 15, 2019, he assumed the duties of acting Secretary of Defense and expected "to continue to serve in this role until a Secretary of Defense nominee is confirmed by the Senate and assumes office. At that time, I will continue to serve as Secretary of the Navy." He assumed the duties of Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 23, 2019.
Born in 1954 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Spencer attended Rollins College as an undergraduate, majoring in economics. After graduating, he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving as a Marine Aviator from 1976 to 1981.
After leaving the Marines as a captain, he worked on Wall Street for 15 years, holding positions at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, A. G. Becker, Paine Webber and Merrill Lynch. Spencer served on the Defense Business Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, from 2009 to 2015 and on the Chief of Naval OperationsExecutive Panel. During his time on the Defense Business Board, he proposed shutting down domestic military commissaries in favor of negotiated military discounts at public retailers.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Republicans Were Rabid About Obama et al With Under1% of the Hard Evidence We Have On Trump And His Cronies

[Warning.  I've kept the kleenex box close today was the cold I thought had left a month ago, came roaring back.  If I were grading this post, I'd say it rambles, needs rearranging to make the flow work better, and doesn't really focus.  But I'm too drippy to revise it.  The basic theme is nothing you don't already know:  The Republicans have abandoned logic, principles, the constitution, and consistency, and the truth.  But if that sounds too repetitious and depressing, follow this link to a really cool rethinking of lined notebook paper.  And blogger wouldn't take < in the title, so I had to write 'under']]

From someone who has observed Jim Jordan for a while, we get this blistering commentary by retired Cleveland Plains Dealer editor, titled "Jim Jordan was imposed on us for egregiously partisan reasons. Now he’s afflicting the nation."[Link corrected]
In his Washington Post column of Nov. 14, Gerson showed his keen understanding of Jordan, describing him as “the Truly Trumpian Man – guided by bigotry, seized by conspiracy theories, dismissive of facts and truth, indifferent to ethics, contemptuous of institutional norms and ruthlessly dedicated to the success of a demagogue.”
And there are these hints that Nunes was part of the plot to get Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden  "Giuliani associate willing to testify Rep. Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official, attorney says"
The attorney for an indicted associate of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer says his client is willing to tell Congress that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., met with Ukraine's former top prosecutor about investigating the activities of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. . .
If true, the allegation would mean that Nunes — the chief defender of Trump as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which has been holding impeachment hearings for several weeks — was himself involved in the very plot the committee is investigating. 
Yet the Republican Senate is quite likely to acquit Trump if the House turns over impeachment to them.  We hear stories how they are disgusted, but don't want to lose in the primaries where they face Trump cult members.  These are kids that fawn over the bully, lest he suddenly decide to attack them.  Just think about how he insulted the Republican candidates running against him in the primary - Rubio, Cruz, Graham, for instance - are now all his toadies.

But maybe the bully metaphors are the wrong ones.  From Machievelli on we've had variations of don't take on the king unless you're going to kill him.  And so Republicans are biding their time.

We get new stories like this daily.  Yet the Republicans are busy trying to deflect attention on Joe Biden's son, or lack of transparency, or too much transparency, or witch-hunts. or that impeachment is unconstitutional overturning of the election.

Remember how exercised they got over Bill Clinton talking to then Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix airport?  Even Real Clear Politics, a right leaning web news aggregator, could only buttress the impropriety innuendos with 'strange':
"Strange. One can understand that Lynch needs to maintain that there was no conversation about Hillary’s email predicament — she’s repeated that enough times that there’s no going back. But if they didn’t have that to talk about, they didn’t have much else to say to one another. It would be one thing if theirs had been a random run-in. But do ex-presidents really just appear at the perfect time to talk to the perfect person who is perfectly positioned to make an imperfect situation go away? If the talk was really about nothing, why was Bill Clinton so eager to have it? So eager that he was at the airport in time to catch Lynch before she got off her plane; so eager that ascending the stairs to the airplane doorway, he had all but pushed past Lynch’s head of security. Strange indeed."
This is dated May 16, 2019 - they had three years to get more than innuendo.  Why didn't they interview the flight crew they said were present?  Because even if there was something there, the Hilary Clinton Email Servers, was only an issue because the Republicans (one can guess, with the support of the Russians) made it an issue.

Yet people who tried to make their careers on stories like this, see absolutely nothing wrong with the president shaking down Zelensky, or Sondland talking to the president on his personal cell phone in a restaurant in Kiev where people around them could listen in.

Now, let me say that  Lev Parnas, the convict who's offered to out Nunes is not someone I would trust on most things.  He certainly would know, but I don't know enough about his motivation.  Does he think Trump won't get around to pardoning him on time so he's making a deal with the whoever else could lighten his sentence?  If so, how can we trust him not to lie to save himself?  Or is he making an offer which will turn out to be fake to embarrass the Democrats and blow up their investigation?  Is he just signaling Trump or others by having his attorney make this offer?  If so what's he saying?  (I suspect that's not the case since all these folks seem to have pretty good access to the president.  But maybe that's only when they're making $100K donations.)

As I've said before, what we're seeing is how many people have never grown up, never gotten over their (probably parent induced) inferiority complexes.  Trump tells them their boorishness, misogyny, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia are all perfectly all right.  He tells them that in his words and in his actions

But it doesn't even matter.  There's already enough out there to impeach Trump 50 times.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Netflix and Unions - So Far So Good

LA Times article by Wendy Lee  

"As Hollywood’s major unions gird for potentially contentious contract negotiations with the major studios, streaming giant Netflix is moving to hash out its own labor deals that could give it a competitive advantage in the event of a strike.
This summer Netflix negotiated its first overall agreement with actors union SAG-AFTRA. Last month the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union that represents Hollywood’s craftspeople and technical workers, revealed it will negotiate its own contract with Netflix. And labor experts expect other Hollywood unions will seek their separate agreements with the streaming giant. . . 
Netflix has the ability to go it alone in labor negotiations because unlike Hollywood studios such as Disney — as well as tech rivals Apple and Amazon — it does not belong to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the collective bargaining group that represents studios in negotiations with unions representing actors, writers and directors.
As a result, Netflix would not be subject to any contract dispute that erupts between the unions and the studios should they fail to reach agreement on new film and TV contracts — all of which expire next spring or early summer. Writers, actors and directors could continue to work on Netflix shows even if they staged a walkout with members of the producers alliance.
As a Netflix subscriber, this is good news.  Not only do we get lots of good movies, but it turns out I'm supporting a company that, for now anyway, has a healthy understanding of unions.  But if they heads of Netflix watch the movies I see there, then one would expect a positive attitude toward unions.

But I won't assume that things will always be this way.  As corporations get larger and more powerful, they often forget their original values.  

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Who Are The Three Amigos?

 The Three Amigos is:  (from the Dallas News):
"the name Sondland gave to himself; Perry, the former Texas governor; and Kurt Volker, another diplomat, as the group overseeing U.S.-Ukraine relations."

Basically, these three men took over for the career diplomats working in Ukraine to carry out Trump and Giuliani's behalf to try to get Ukraine president Zelensky to conduct an investigation of Hunter Biden in exchange for a meeting with president Trump and for the release of the funding for Ukraine's military.  It's a name they called themselves.

image from Las Vegas Review Journal

Rick Perry, former Texas Governor, who still heads the Energy Department (though he has announced his resignation), the agency he wanted to abolish.

image from ABC

Gordon Sondland a hotel owner who was appointed as Ambassador to the European Union after donating $1 million for a ticket to the Trump inauguration.

image from CNN
Kurt Volker, (from The Hill:)
"Volker began his career as a CIA officer before working as a foreign service officer for the State Department during the Reagan administration. He was appointed as U.S. ambassador to NATO in 2008 by President George W. Bush. 
“Based on multiple readouts of the meetings recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelensky,” the whistleblower wrote in the formal complaint."
I'd note that Sondland testified yesterday that he and the others didn't agree with the president's demand for an investigation on Hunter Biden, they felt that the President wouldn't budge, and thus the best way to get the funding released to Ukraine was to get Zelensky to comply.

Here's a brief clip from the original Three Amigos.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Remembering Watergate Heroes - Sam Ervin and Barbara Jordan

It's the second sunny day down here on Bainbridge.  I've been happily busy walking my nieta* to and from school.  She's at a great age and we're having lots of fun.

And then there's the impeachment hearings that are eating up my time.  Just seems like something I should be doing.

My Watergate memories (it was always called Watergate hearings, not impeachment hearings in my memory) are mostly of the Senate Committee lead by North Carolina Democrat Sam Ervin, a man with the charm and wit that no one could demonize.  "Ah'm just a country lawyer," was his disclaimer.

Here's a very short video of him interrogating a witness.

When I think back to the House hearings, only two names jump out.  The incredible Barbara Jordan and the methodical Elizabeth Holzman.

A reminder (and antidote to the likes of Reps. Jordan and Nunes) of the seriousness of these proceedings.

Just some context for what we're living through yet again.

*the Spanish nieta is shorter and sweeter than that English word granddaughter

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

As We Examine Hilcorp's Purchase of BP's Alaska Holdings, Looking at the Charter for the Development of the Alaska North Slope Seems Appropriate

Over ten years ago I came across something called the Charter for the Development of the Alaska North Slope.  This post tells that story.  I've been getting hits on the story form various places and organizations in the last couple of months.  I'm guessing that this interest is related to BP's selling it's Alaska interests to Hilcorp  so I thought I should post this again.  So here it is:

Monday, February 02, 2009

Charter for the Development of the Alaska North Slope

When I wrote a post about the Conoco-Philips ads in the ADN some time ago, the "Charter Agreement" came up and I wrote:
I also know that CP makes other contributions to the community such as $100,000 to the Museum in 2007. And there was a $3.68 million gift to the University of Alaska also in 2007. But we need to put an * on that. The University of Alaska press release on the gift also says,
The annual gifts stem from a charter agreement between the oil companies and the state regarding the BP merger with ARCO in the late 1990s. Part of the charter agreement identifies public higher education as a top priority for charitable donations . . .
So a minimum amount of contribution is required by this Charter Agreement that was a condition for the BP-ARCO merger. I called Scott Goldsmith, the author of the ISER report, to find out how to get access to the Charter Agreement.He wasn't sure if he ever actually saw a copy, but said he'd check for it tomorrow. [Update: I also called UAA Advancement and later the UA Foundation called and said they would find the Agreement and email it to me .] On the internet, nearly all references I find about BP or ConocoPhillips contributions to the University have that standard clause in them.
Well, a few days later, I got an email from the University of Alaska Foundation with a copy of the charter. But we were in high gear preparing to go to Thailand and what with the traveling and getting into things here, I didn't get around to posting that agreement. (It's down below) I haven't had a chance to study the whole charter, but I expect there is plenty to chew on.

For the time being, let's just look at the part that discusses community charitable contributions:

D. Community Charitable Commitment. Within three months after the merger is completed, BP and ARCO [what BP wasn't allowed to buy of ARCO because it would have given BP monopolistic power in Alaska eventually became Conoco-Philips if I got this right] will establish a charitable entity dedicated to funding organizations and causes within Alaska. The entity will provide 30% of its giving to the University of Alaska Foundation and the remainder to general community needs. Funding decisions by the entity will be made by BP and ARCO, with the advice of a board of community advisors. BP and ARCO will provide ongoing funding to this entity in an amount that is equal to 2% of BP's and ARCO's combined aggregate net Alaska liquids production after royalty times the price for WTI. Specific entity funding levels will be calculated annually on the same date each year, referencing the liquids production and the average NYMEX WTI prompt month settlement price for the 12 months immediately proceeding the calculation.

So here are some questions I have:
  1. Who monitors these contributions to be sure that they are making the contributions required?
  2. How do members of the public find this out?
  3. Are they contributing what they are required to contribute?
  4. Are they contributing more than they are required to contribute? (If not, can either company seriously claim to make charitable contributions? This was simply a business deal, a required cost of doing business in Alaska and not really charitable donations.)
  5. Who is on these boards and are the meetings announced and public?

A quick Google search got me to the BP website. Searching there for charter agreement I got a copy of the 2007 annual report on the Charter Agreement for 2006. It is four lines over four pages - for the whole charter agreement. Plus a cover letter to Governor Sarah Palin. The part on charitable giving says this:


The BP Board of Community Advisors met in February, 2006, at which time they
reviewed 2005 community spend [sic] and plans for 2006.

BP spent more than $10.2 million in support of community programs in 2006,
consistent with the formula detailed in the Charter.

Approximately $3 million was contributed to the University of Alaska Foundation
(1/3 of community investment).
ConocoPhilips's website gave me this message:
Connection to server failed (The server is not responding.)

Why do I think that is the extent of the oversight? Even BP didn't think it was important enough to proof read it carefully. Am I being too cynical? Did the Governor's office demand back up information so they could see how the 2% times the price of WTI? I don't know. What about all the other issues in the Charter? What sort of scrutiny do they get? Just this brief annual report?

Since I'm pretty busy right now in Thailand, I'm going to have to hold off on pursuing these questions. Though I might send them to my representatives in the State Legislature.

Meanwhile, here is the rest of the Charter. I hope other bloggers and non-bloggers start reading it carefully to see whether the oil companies are living up to the agreement. I guess first we ought to figure out which state agencies are responsible for keeping track.

Charter for Development of the Alaskan North Slope

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering when you would do the next installment, but didn't expect you'd get to it so soon.

    Brilliant! Time for the hive mind to get to work...

Monday, November 18, 2019

TSA Starts Trip Poorly

We both got flagged by the security machine at the Anchorage airport.  I got a very intimate patting down.  "I have nothing in my pockets"  "You're wearing Levis.  The keep you warm and the machine detects heat."  J got the same treatment.  But she got a second one as well.  Here's my wife the terrorist.

Really, how many 70+ year old American women terrorists have there been in the US?  Ones who have a record of recently flying fairly frequently without incident and have round trip tickets, etc. 

There are at least two ways of detecting terrorists:  One is to examine the person - find out if there is anything in their background or behavior that suggests a problem that needs more attention.  That's not what all these airport detectors do.  They examine based on the machine.  They told me when I pointed out that my wife was a very unlikely suspect that "if the alarm goes off, we have to exam."   

This really does feel a lot like theater.  Somewhere there has to be a happy medium between ethnic profiling and terrorist profiling.  How much time and money does TSA spend on people who have .00001 chance of being a terrorist?   I'm sure they have detected plenty of guns with the machines, thrown away lots of pricy water bottles, and someone has sold a lot of scanning machines.  

But once we were in the air, life looked better.

The fresh snow on the Chugach looked magical.  

And the Olympic Range was poking out of the clouds as we neared Seattle.  So was Ranier.

If you look closely, there's an airplane to the right of the mountain against the clouds.  

And walking my granddaughter to school we passed this tree with all its leaves in an almost perfect circle below it.  

The school is really wonderful.  It's part of the public school system, but like Stellar and Polaris in Anchorage, it requires a lot of parental volunteer work.  There's grades 1-6 in two large connected and non-institutional classrooms.  Here's a part.  

Every child should have access to a place like this.  I stayed about 15 minutes.  All the kids had stuff to do and were working quietly.  My granddaughter was writing in her journal.  Then they had a small meeting where they talked about empathy.  And about lice - it's that season.  

Later, after school, we went for a walk through the woods while she was having a music lesson.

There's lots of other things to write about, but I've been busy.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Barr: ". . . so-called progressives treat politics as their religion . . Conservatives . . . are interested in preserving. . . the proper balance of freedom and order "

The title quote comes from the US Department of Justice website!  It's from a speech Attorney General William Barr delivered last night at the Federalist Society's 2019 National Lawyers Convention.  Here are three full paragraphs from that speech:

"In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications.  They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides. 
Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?
For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.  And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy far, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media."

You notice how he's arguing that the liberals (I guess the Republicans now vilify 'progressives' as the Left has begun using that term to avoid the taint of the Republicans campaign to make 'liberal' into a dirty word) want to be God - 'holy mission;'  'remake man and society in their own image;'  'deific end.'  

The people I know who see themselves as progressives are interested in making the United States live up to the spirit of the Constitution, whose letter including slavery and other problematic realities.  They believe in justice, equality before the law, freedom, etc.  I'm not sure what Barr is thinking about when he says progressives want to remake man and perfect him.  (I personally would use human instead of man, but for this I'm using his words.)  Does he mean freeing slaves?  Ending segregation? Giving women the right to vote?  And recognizing that all humans, regardless of color, religion, gender, ability, etc. have equal rights under the law?  After all, Republicans have been working hard to 'perfect' humans by passing laws to prevent abortion and other practices they don't like.  

But I didn't post this to argue these points.  I think they are so ludicrous they don't need anyone to point out the problems.  But obviously if an educated man like Barr believes what he's written here, others do too.  So I did a little critique.  I could go on if anyone who sees this doesn't understand what I object to.

My purpose here is to point out the blatantly partisan tripe that Barr has posted on the Department of Justice website.  The attorney general of the US is supposed to enforce the law without bias.  But this speech raises great doubt whether he can actually do that.  I can't help but believe that under his idea of justice, progressives would be given less benefit of the doubt than would conservatives.  Because, he believes they are simply wrong.

Part of me thinks the whole attempt to suppress the actual beliefs of academics and journalists and judges in an effort to make them 'neutral' is a misguided cause.  It's better to know what they believe so we can judge whether they are able to act neutrally when they do research, report news, or pass judgment.   But the ability to put aside one's personal loyalties in one's professional capacity is not something everyone (many?) can do.  

But Barr's behavior regarding Trump suggests strongly that he can't do that - from the misleading summary of the Mueller Report to his defense of Trump over the Constitution and the people of the United States - suggests he can't.  And his comments in this speech are so ideological and so off the mark in both his characterization of liberals and conservatives as to raise question about his abilities to interpret the world.  Or his honesty.  

I should thank two Tweeters for point this out:  Shalev Roisman and Justin Levitt who I follow because he's an expert on voting and redistricting.

My natural instinct was to take a screenshot before they take his speech down.  But in this administration there is no shame.  And they probably see nothing wrong with this speech.  And they really don't care what the liberals think anyway.  They've got the US governments websites to plaster their ideology.  But I did take a screenshot (and of course they can be doctored too, but the forensics team will be able to see that this shot wasn't doctored - but that question should always be in your mind.

And I need to mention Anchorage got its first snow today.  We haven't even had traces.  But we got a good white cleansing today.