Many of the most enduring films of the past few decades remain ungarlandedWhen I was a kid, my parents had an amazingly impressive collection of video cassettes, from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas to Shoah (nothing like a nine-hour Holocaust documentary to make these cosy nights in go with a swing). But my favourite tape was The 65th Anniversary Of The Academy Awards: Oscars Greatest Hits! I was not so much obsessed with this video as possessed by it, and to this day my go-to karaoke song is Billy Crystal’s opening number from the 1991 Oscars: “Ghost! Can it win this lottery?/ Ghost! Made me take up pottery.” Do you want to know when Cher took Val Kilmer to the Oscars as her date? How pissed off Barbra Streisand looked in 1992, not to be up for best director for The Prince Of Tides? Then you, my friend, have come to the right columnist.I still love the Oscars, in all their ludicrous, self-regarding glory. But in recent years they have somehow become elevated from that show where Rob Lowe once sang a duet with Snow White to being a statement about Where America Is Now. On the left, the Oscars have been hammered for being so old, white and male; on the right, they have been criticised for becoming too worthy. An awards ceremony turning itself into a culture war is a makeover to rival Julia Roberts swapping thigh-high boots for twin sets in Pretty Woman (a performance which itself was nominated for an Oscar; as I said, I know all the important stuff). Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/18/oscar-popular-film-shape-water-hadley-freeman

People aren’t pooping on the streets because they unlearned basic hygiene. Rather, the incidents reflect shameful levels of inequality in the cityIt’s an empirical fact: San Francisco is a crappier place to live these days. Sightings of human feces on the sidewalks are now a regular occurrence; over the past 10 years, complaints about human waste have increased 400%. People now call the city 65 times a day to report poop, and there have been 14,597 calls in 2018 alone. Last year, software engineer Jenn Wong even created a poop map of San Francisco, showing the concentration of incidents across the city. New mayor London Breed said: “There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here.” In a revolting recent incident, a 20lb bag of fecal waste showed up on a street in the city’s Tenderloin district. Related: Gentrification’s toll: ‘It’s you or the bottom line and sorry, it’s not you’ Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/18/san-francisco-poop-problem-inequality-homelessness

Trump trade tariffs and higher borrowing costs are causing problems from Turkey to ChinaDonald Trump’s trade tariffs are causing tremors in global markets. Emerging economies from Turkey to China are finding it more expensive to export to the US. Investors who put their money in safe havens after the 2012 Greek crisis are nervous again. The FTSE Emerging Index of stocks in the developing world tumbled last week, taking the decline in its value since the beginning of the year to more than 20%.It is not only the US president troubling investors though. The country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, has quadrupled interest rates in the last couple of years. Countries that borrowed heavily in dollars to fund their growth face the prospect of paying a heavy price in extra interest payments. It is a crippling bill that has already forced Argentina to seek help from the International Monetary Fund. Others could follow: Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/18/emerging-markets-whos-taking-the-biggest-hits-and-why

Punishing critics like John Brennan is part of the US president’s ongoing abuse of power – and normalisation of autocracyMore than 18 months into his presidency, Donald Trump’s modus operandi – and the danger it represents – is clear. His working method is that of the mafia boss and gangland chieftain, daily wielding his power to settle scores, teach lessons and crush dissent. Anyone who’s seen The Sopranos will know the routine: the casual intimidation, the obsession with loyalty, the brutal ostracism meted out to those who dare defy the man at the top. Related: ‘McCarthy-era tactics’: ex-spy chiefs round on Trump in Brennan row Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/18/mafia-style-government-trump-role-autocrats

President and ex-CIA chief trade barbs as White House reportedly drawing up plans to strip credentials from othersJohn Brennan: White House revokes security clearanceDonald Trump continued on Saturday to broadcast caustic criticism of former CIA director John Brennan, three days after stripping him of his security clearance.“Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA director?” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. “He will go down as easily the WORST in history

As fires burn across the state, residents livestream the destruction first-hand: ‘That was a moment I’ll never forget’The Holy fire was raging through southern California’s Cleveland national forest, and his family had already complied with a mandatory evacuation order, but Daniel Perez decided to take the risk anyway.At lunchtime on Thursday 9 August, Perez convinced public officials to allow him to return to his evacuated neighborhood for one last thing: to turn on his home security cameras, connect them to the internet, and point them in the direction of the oncoming flames. Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/17/california-wildfires-livestream-security-cameras

AP reports on the blasphemy trial of an ethnic Chinese woman in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra. The woman was charged after she complained in 2016 about the volume of a mosque’s loudspeakers. Reports of her complaint led to a July 2016 riot in which 14 Buddhist temples were burned and ransacked. Two people have been charged for instigating that riot.  Prosecutors are asking for an 18 month prison term in the blasphemy trial.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/indonesian-blasphemy-trial-underway-for.html

As previously reported, last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the public release (with certain redactions) of a 900-page grand jury report on allegations of child sexual abuse, failure to report abuse, and other acts endangering children by persons associated with 6 Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses.  The full text of the report was made public yesterday. Statements on the release of the report, or in anticipation of it, were issued by the Catholic dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on the statement by Pennsylvania’s attorney general upon release of the document.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/pennsylvania-grand-jury-report-on.html

In Denson v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (D UT, Aug. 13, 2018), a Utah federal district court permitted a sexual assault victim to move ahead with her suit against the LDS Church for fraudulent concealment of its knowledge that the president of the Mission Training Center was a sexual predator. A number of other claims were dismissed, including those against the sexual predator that were dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.  Fox 13 News reports on the decision.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/fraudulent-concealment-claim-against.html

In Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, (1st Cir., Aug. 10, 2018), the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals refused to purge the opinion of a Massachusetts federal district court of language that harshly criticized the actions of anti-LGBT activist Pastor Scott Lively.  The 1st Circuit said that because Lively had won in the district court, it lacks jurisdiction over an appeal, noting:federal courts of appeals have no roving writ to review … a district court’s word choices…The case involved an Alien Tort Statute lawsuit against Lively growing out of his aid to anti-LGBT activists in Uganda. The district court held that there had been insufficient conduct in the United States to support a suit under the ATS. Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/1st-circuit-refusesto-change-district.html