Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Truest statement of the week

For the first time in US history, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death among children in 2020, surpassing automobile accidents. Firearm-related deaths have been increasing in children since 2013 but rose markedly after 2019. The Pew Research Center reported a 50 percent increase in total firearm-related deaths in children under the age of 18 between 2019 and 2021. The majority of these (60 percent) were homicides, followed by suicides (32 percent) and accidents (5 percent). In contrast, among adult victims of firearm-related deaths in 2021, the majority (55 percent) were suicides. 

The United States stands alone among its peers in regard to firearm deaths in children. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation comparing firearm-involved death rates in children in the US to those in peer countries found that the US had 7 times the rate of Canada, the second-highest country. Moreover, the US is the only country among comparable nations where youth firearm deaths have increased since 2000.

  -- Emma Arceneaux, "Child mortality rises sharply in the United States" (WSWS).   

Truest statement of the week II

In Florida, you can’t say “gay,” unless it’s as a slur, in which case you’ll probably get elected to office.

-- Jeffrey St. Clair, "Roaming Charges: Living With the Unacceptable" (COUNTERPUNCH). 

A note to our readers

Hey --

Still Monday on the west coast.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?  







-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.



Iraq and the UN

From C.I.'s Friday  "Iraq snapshot:"

The United Nations Security Council got a briefing on Iraq yesterday.  As usually happens, the United Nations Special Representative for Iraq briefed the Committee.  Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert holds that position currently.  We're going to note some of the testimony.  

UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: With UNAMI’s next mandate renewal around the corner, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect, just a bit, and more importantly: to look ahead.  In the past months, numerous people and entities have analysed the events that shook Iraq 20 years ago, as well as the developments since.  Few would deny that it has been a very rough road. A road that has seen not only the compounding of existing fragilities, inherited from the previous decades, but also the exposure of new weaknesses. And while many acknowledged that Iraq, throughout its history, has overcome some very dark times - they also argued that the drivers of instability in the country’s more recent past remained, for the most part, the same. Drivers such as corruption, weak governance, the presence of armed non-state actors, impunity, factional politics, poor service delivery, inequality, unemployment, and an overreliance on oil.
[. . .]

Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.  Meanwhile, Iraq continues to rely on oil. And the public sector remains the biggest employer. Now, these phenomena are, of course, nothing new. But, as I have said so many times, neither can last indefinitely. Economic diversification and major structural reforms remain urgent.

Representing the US to the Security Council  Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis:  

The United States will stand side-by-side with all Iraqis as they continue their effort, which has come at great sacrifice, to ensuring an enduring defeat of ISIS. The United States and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition will continue to provide support for this critical effort, at the invitation of the Iraqi government.  An essential element of ISIS’s defeat is the dismantling of their networks for recruitment and radicalization to violence, particularly those that prey on children in displacement camps in Syria. We commend Iraq for its efforts to bring home Iraqis, overwhelmingly women and children, from al-Hol camp, and we call on all UN Member States to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and where appropriate, prosecute their nationals in Iraq and Syria.

So the US military is never leaving.  

We used to cover this briefing in detail.  It really has little importance.  They want the UNAMI mandate renewed that's probably the big thing out of this one.  Here's the United Kingdom's  Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley:

 Over the past twenty years the Mission has played a vital role in supporting Iraq and the Iraqi people. We strongly support the renewal of the mandate of the Mission and welcome the opportunity for an independent strategic review to ensure the Mission is aligned to the current peace and security threats facing Iraq.

He also stressed the importance of the budget for the year being passed.

We're going to note Khanim Latif's remarks in full (the main reason we're noting the briefing, in fact):

President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on the situation of women and civil society in Iraq this morning.

I am Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women, an Iraqi non-profit organization that strives to achieve gender equality, eliminate gender-based discrimination, and end all forms of violence against women. My organization established the first independent shelter for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Iraq in 2002.

The current situation in Iraq is characterized by widespread violence against women in all fields, including the targeting of women human rights defenders.[1] In recent months, we have witnessed campaigns against women human rights defenders in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq simply for using the term “gender.”[2] The precarious situation of Iraqi women, coupled with social and economic inequality and the unacceptably low numbers of women in decision-making, means that the space for women to fully and freely exercise their rights is highly restricted.

The current situation of women and girls in Iraq should deeply concern us all. My statement today will focus on how the international community can effectively address four key issues:

  • Legal protection from violence against women;
  • Women’s political participation;
  • The gendered impact of climate change; and
  • Renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) mandate.

With regard to legal protection from violence against women:

Discrimination and violence against women in Iraq are now widespread. Hardly a day goes by without reports of women being killed, maimed, and targeted by their own family members, simply because of their gender.[3] Besides the alarming levels of violence against women across the country — GBV increased by 125 percent to over 22,000 cases between 2020 and 2021, and over 75 percent of those at risk of GBV are women — the brutal nature of these crimes is also of grave concern.[4] So-called ”honor killings” of women for transgressing social norms, early and forced marriage and incest are also widespread across the country.[5] This sharp increase in GBV is occurring against a backdrop of impunity for perpetrators, and lack of access to services, legal protection, and justice for survivors of GBV.[6]

Excellencies, without protection from violence and freedom from discrimination, women cannot engage fully or equally on the political, social, and economic levels. The prevalence of GBV not only violates women’s basic human rights as guaranteed by international standards outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Iraq, but also violates Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security (WPS) that have, for more than 20 years, emphasized the important linkages between protection and participation.[7] For women to have a voice in determining their country’s future, the violence must end.

Therefore, I urge the Security Council to call on the Iraqi Government to take all necessary measures to protect girls and women from all forms of GBV and to support access to justice for survivors. This requires adopting the long-overdue draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law, amending the Penal Code, and preventing the interpretation of the Personal Status Law on sectarian grounds.[8] Adopting the Anti-Domestic Violence Law could provide an important solution for the thousands of Iraqi girls and women who are exposed to GBV on a daily basis. I also urge you to call on the Government of Iraq to provide GBV survivors with robust access to shelters for those fleeing domestic violence, including shelters operated by NGOs, and ensure their access to psychosocial support, access to justice and legal services, as well as support for livelihoods.

Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.[9]

As for women’s political participation:

Today, 29 percent of the members of Iraqi Parliament are women, and the cabinet includes three women ministers, including the Minister of Finance.[10] While this is a positive first step, there must be far greater efforts by political parties to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all processes. It is not enough to only increase the number of women in decision-making positions — they must also have meaningful influence over the outcomes of such processes and negotiations.[11] Quite simply, without women at the table, decisions will remain the preserve of men in the political process and fail to reflect women’s rights.

Therefore, I call on the Security Council to encourage the Iraqi Government to establish a national mechanism for women, whether it is a council or a ministry, with competent human resources, and to allocate a sufficient budget to implement the second National Action Plan to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

Concerning the gendered impact of climate change:

We know that Iraq is the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change in the world.[12] The percentage of Iraqi lands exposed to desertification reached 92 percent.[13] Iraq also contributed 9 percent on average of all global emissions of greenhouse gasses, methane, and carbon dioxide.[14]

As is the case with wars, the first victims of climate change are women. After the agricultural lands dried up in Iraq, migration from rural to major urban centers increased in search of livelihoods, exposing women to sexual harassment, economic violence, loss of adequate shelter, and deprivation of their most fundamental rights.[15]

In this regard, Asuda organized awareness campaigns calling on stakeholders to take concrete measures to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on women and girls and to include them in programs to improve irrigation systems and resource management.

Therefore, the Security Council should call on the Government of Iraq to abide by the Paris Agreement and the Helsinki Principles on climate change. This would help ease internal migration to large cities and provide livelihoods for the displaced, especially women, rehabilitate them and provide them with information, psychosocial support, and economic opportunities to ensure security and respect for their rights.

On the renewal of UNAMI’s mandate:

The United Nations has a vital role to play in supporting and advocating for the protection and advancement of women’s human rights, gender equality, and their full, safe, equal and meaningful participation in peace and political processes within Iraq.

As the mandate for UNAMI is renewed, it is essential to strengthen its role in advancing any issues related to WPS. I strongly encourage the Security Council to be explicit in calling on UNAMI to support women’s participation in all political and decision-making processes. Additionally, UNAMI must monitor and report on any violations or retaliation against women human rights defenders and civil society leaders. UNAMI should also prioritize regularly engaging with Iraqi civil society to ensure their views inform its work throughout the country. UNAMI must also provide the necessary support to the Government of Iraq to carry out judicial and legal reforms, protect women’s rights, support women’s organizations, and prevent all forms of GBV in line with all relevant Security Council resolutions. Finally, the Security Council should urge the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMI to provide comprehensive analysis on WPS issues in all upcoming briefings and reports to the Security Council.

In conclusion, I can say that Iraq is currently in the process of being built. I urge the international community to relinquish militarized approaches and to instead support us, with technical expertise and resources, as Iraqis, to rebuild our homeland, end corruption and work towards lasting peace. As I hope my statement today highlights, none of this is possible without respect for women’s rights, or without women taking their rightful place at the table.

Thank you.

The rights of women in Iraq get very little attention from the international press.  If a murder gets reported -- not takes place, but actually gets reported in the international press -- we might see a paragraph of two on the issues facing women in Iraq today -- we might even get a sentence of how women's rights were destroyed in the 2003 invasion.  That's pretty much all.  Ali Younes (ARAB NEWS) is the only one I'm seeing who reported in English on the testimony above (click here).

 UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert didn't address the issue nor did she speak of the disappeared.  The latter was especially surprising since it was just last month that the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances noted that forced disappearances continue in Iraq -- their timeline covered "he Ba’ath era from 1968-2003 - characterized by the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein - through to the anti-Government protests from 2018 to 2020. "  She may represent UNAMI but how can Hennis-Plasschaert represent the UN when she can't even speak to that?  And please note, this is not a minor issue.  She has been protested in Iraq for ignoring this very topic.  She's also been protested for some of the people she elects to meet with -- known assassins and gangsters and she infamously refused to meet with the mother of Ihab al-Wazni.  Ihab was one of many activists who was assassinated.  In 2021, she had to be publicly shamed into meeting with Samira al-Wazni. 

One thing Hennis-Plasschaert did address, as an aside and late into her remarks, was water:

Something else, Madam President: water. Water represents the most critical climate emergency for Iraq. By 2035, it is estimated that Iraq will have the capacity to meet only 15% of its water demands. 90% of Iraq's rivers are polluted, and 7 million people are currently suffering from reduced access to water. This is a significant multiplier of threats to Iraq’s stability.

The priority placed on the issue of water security by Iraq’s Government is, therefore, most welcome. And, plans for the extensive updating of Iraq’s water management systems are said to be underway. This will be vital in meeting demands driven by population growth and urbanization.

The fair sharing of resources among Iraq’s neighbours is equally important. If water is a competition, everyone loses. Bold domestic actions and close regional cooperation offer the only winning solution.

Saturday, May 6h, Baghdad hosted the International Water Conference.  Though the conference was needed, there was no real attention from the international press.

TV: The four stories of LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER

LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER debuted over the weekend on HBO.  It's a documentary that tells four stories.


First and foremost, it tells the story of HBO versus SHOWTIME.  When SHOWTIME has a documentary on a female singer, it's insipid and laughable.  Most recently, they did a documentary on Sinead O'Conner -- a one hit wonder.  She had a hit when she badly mangled Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U."  She never had another hit and she never will because she can screech but she can't sing.  That's how you end up with 57 singles and only one makes the top forty.  (One more made the top 100 in the US.  Which means 54 singles never charted in this country.)  They could have done a documentary on a female artist -- Liz Phair, Tracy Chapman, etc -- but instead they went with the female version of Falco.  

By contrast, HBO focuses on Tina Turner or someone of that stature.  You know, an actual artist.  And, yes, Donna Summer qualifies for that.  The singer co-wrote a number of her hits and wrote "Dim All The Lights" all by herself.  She came to international attention via disco and charted with "Love To Love You Baby" (co-written by Donna who was inspired by Laura Nyro's "The Confession"), "I Feel Love," "Heaven Knows," "Last Dance," "Heaven Knows," the disco version of "MacArthur Park" and the number one duet with Barbra Streisand "Enough Is Enough."  The same year that last song was a hit, Donna released her BAD GIRLS album which took her into another realm.  Sides three and four of the vinyl album are pretty much one brilliant Donna Summer song after another and all four sides exhibited a shocking growth of artistic talent.  Donna could handle a song and then some.  She had been doing thematic albums as well.  But BAD GIRLS showed she was more than the last dance at midnight or an AM pop hit, she truly was an artist.

BAD GIRLS was the high water mark and the beginning of the downfall.  She'd have a hit with "On The Radio" as the 70s ended and then she'd leave CASABLANCA -- her US label this entire time -- to move to GEFFEN RECORDS (David Geffen's new label -- a big mistake and where was the Laura Nyro inspiration when she needed it -- in the seventies, Nyro had refused to leave COLUMBIA to sign with GEFFEN's ASYLUM RECORDS).  

She moved to GEFFEN for a number of reasons -- disco was considered passe and while she had moved on from just that one genre with "Last Dance" and BAD GIRLS, CASABLANCA was identified with disco; she hated being called The Queen Of Disco; she felt the label was ripping her off; she had battled with them over releases (not just "Dim All The Lights"); and she'd had a major change in life.  THE WANDERER was her first GEFFEN release and, no longer on a disco label, it led to ROLLING STONE finally recognizing the artistic achievements she had made and comparing her in artistic terms to Bod Dylan.

So, yes, Donna's more than worthy of a documentary.


The second story the documentary tells is the story of lies.  It is not that hard to fact check your witnesses.  We're not into the controversial part yet -- where someone will try to defend Donna.  We're talking about basic facts here.

Susan Muneo, Donna's former manager, declares of the "She Works Hard For The Money" video, "She was the first Black female to have a video on MTV."  




It's as bad as the Whitney Houston freaks who lie to insist that Whitney broke down the color barrier on MTV.  


MTV was highly racist at the beginning and for many years after.  But they did play African-American artists even at the beginning -- they just usually didn't play them very often.  Among the women, Grace Jones and Joan Armatrading were played. 


The claim (false) given to Donna Summer by some 'journalists' is that she was the first (with 1983's "She Works Hard For The Money") to get played in heavy rotation.  That's false as well.  Diana Ross' "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" (which came out the same year MTV started) was played in heavy rotation as was her 1982 single "Muscles."  And we're not saying Diana's the first.  There may be others.  But we are saying Donna Summer was not (a) the first African-American woman to have a video played on MTV (as the documentary wrongly tells you) and (b) that she wasn't the first African-American woman to be in heavy rotation on MTV (as some 'journalists' tell you).   


It would be really great if films billed as documentaries didn't confuse bad press releases with fact sheets.

The third story that the documentary tells is that of an adult-child.  Just as Robert Downey Jr. recently produced a wonderful documentary about his father (2022's SR.), Donna's daughter Brooklyn Sudano co-produced this documentary.  


As a result, the documentary has access to many things another documentary wouldn't have -- such as access to film Donna made, such as access to her sisters and her brother.  A moving portrait emerges of the Donna they knew.  The human being comes through.  Her first daughter Mimi Sommer speaks to the camera frequently and provides many illuminating stories about Donna's career and about her relationship with her mother.  


Film of Donna coming up with the descending riff from "I Feel Love" or talking about how she realized something was missing from "Bad Girls" and realized it was the men calling a street walker over to the car (that's when she came up with the "Toot-toot, beep-beep" refrain) and Donna at the piano in 1979 with a song she's writing (interrupted when she gets a phone call about CASABLANCA) provide a look at the artist.  More should have been done there, honestly.  Some of the songs chosen shouldn't have been.  By all means, include the one she wrote about her daughter Mimi that was donated to UNICEF for 1979's Year of the Child (Stevie Nicks' donated her "Beautiful Child" song recorded with Fleetwood Mac).  But when she's singing a so-so album song and you're realizing that the bulk of her hits are not included in performance footage in this documentary, you'll probably agree that it could sharpen the portrait of the artist with better song selections.   They could have also brought on music critics -- Nelson George, for example -- who could have placed Donna Summer in context.

But, again, it does bring home the  person.

And it's more honest than we expected.  

Donna destroyed her own career.  It would be very easy for the documentary to ignore that.

She made some hideous comments about gay men.  She did this despite the fact that gay men had been her strongest supporters -- a fact one of her sisters notes early on the documentary.  

Donna enablers and liars did her no help.  They have, for example, insisted that since there's no video of these comments that they never happened.  

Donna's career is now on the downslide.  It is flaming out already.  No, in the pre-cell phone era, there weren't camera crews following around a singer struggling to fill auditoriums.  From 1977 to 1979, she had 8 top forty hits -- four were number ones on the pop charts ("MacArthur Park," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and, with Barbra, "Enough Is Enough").  She will release 22 singles in the US from 1980 to 1985 and only three singles will go top ten: "The Wanderer," "Love Is In Control" and "She Works Hard For The Money." Four other (for a total of seven) will go top forty.  Seven of 22 singles during a five year period -- contrast that with how, as the seventies wound down, she managed to score one huge hit after another.

The downfall was not surprising.  It's not addressed in the film.  The anti-gay aspect of it is.  But why did Donna become anti-gay?


Donna found religion in October 1979.  Apparently, it had been the devil giving her all of those hits in the 70s. It's amazing that someone who ripped off Laura Nyro could avoid all of Laura's songs about the devil and the drama.   

Donna was basically the female Little Richard in that she had a great career and people loved her but apparently God was calling her back, to hear her tell it.  Drugs, she insisted as the 70s wound down, had led her astray.  She was repenting, she was reborn. And she planned to give up pop music for gospel but couldn't find a label to sign her for that in 1980.

Artistically speaking, she was now boring as hell.  So boring, that NBC cancelled the deal that they had with her to do a special in the fall of 1981. Her longtime producer and songwriting partner Giorgio Moroder told SPIN magazine about a decade ago that Donna was always a homophobe.  That may be true.


But once she was born-again, she felt the need to 'testify' at her concerts.  No one needed that.  Later in her life, in the documentary, she makes a joke about that.  They paid to hear songs and have some fun and there's Donna trying to save their souls.  And on those concerts, also not noted in the documentary, Donna wasn't performing "Love To Love You Baby" -- she's announced as she entered her born-again phase that she was done with that sinful song.


It's in that world that she makes her statement about AIDS being God's punishment for gay men.  


Fierce and defensive Donna fans who can't handle the truth -- check out any DATALOUNGE post on Donna, if you doubt us -- will to this day show up and insist that Donna never made homophobic remarks.  They will insist that not only did she not make the AIDS remark, she never made any homophobic remarks at all. They'll type that there's no evidence.  They'll say it would be on film.  They'll hiss that gay men made up her audience and she wouldn't turn on them.


Like the documentary, they apparently have no idea that Donna cited drug use as leading her away from God and letting her record music that she was now ashamed of.  She had already announced as the 80s began that she would not be performing "Love To Love You Baby" in concert anymore.  She would tell CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC in 1981 that she hoped to drop "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" next.  That's why she hated "The Queen of Disco" label.  She identified it with sin.  And she was rejecting that past -- that acclaim -- and the audience that gave it to her.  


In the documentary, one of her sisters talks about how Donna got on stage and made her God didn't create "Adam and Steve" remarks.  That was part of her 'testifying' and it was part of her 'retribution' for her own sinful past.  She said it.  She said it in Atlanta and elsewhere.


We'll give the documentary credit for copping to that.  We honestly didn't think it would before we watched.  


However, the documentary then wants to quibble over whether she made the AIDS comment as well.  No, she didn't, the documentary insists. Yes, she did.  She said that in Florida and, publicly, stated to the Canadian press two years afterwards that she thought AIDS was like herpes and, if she'd known people were dying from it, she never would have said it.  In 1989, she gave a variation on that in an interview with THE ADVOCATE declaring, "At the time, I thought AIDS was a herpes pimple, like you get on your mouth.  I certainly didn't have any idea what it really was, and certainly if I had, in my heart I would not wish AIDS on anyone." So her defense was both homophobia and stupidity?


"Adam and Steve" leads right into that comment about AIDS, first of all.  So let's all grasp that and grasp that she had become a public homophobe (again, according to Moroder, she was always one in private). 

The documentary wants to focus on Donna's 1989 letter (to ACT UP and THE VILLAGE VOICE) and play the lie that Donna put in that letter -- she's only recently learned about the rumors, her staff and her family had hidden them from her to avoid her being hurt and she was busy giving birth to two daughters and . . .

1982 and 1981 -- that's when Amanda and Brooklyn were born. (Mimi was born in 1973.)  Clay Cane typed at THE ADVOCATE, in 2012, that after the comments "[s]he soon released a statement."  He then rushes to quote from that 1989 letter.  But Donna responded -- in writing and in interviews -- many times prior to 1989 and those earlier responses make claims in that 1989 letter questionable.    She made the homophobic comments throughout 1983 and on into 1984, at one concert after another.  Donna did respond in 1985 -- in a letter WARNER BROTHERS -- owner of GEFFEN RECORDS -- sent to THE ADVOCATE and to THE VILLAGE VOICE.  Donna wanted to claim in 1989 that she didn't know about it at first, people kept it from her and that's why she was slow to respond. 


Reality: She knew about the problem.  After her initial remarks in Atlanta, she got confronted on it by fans.  In addition, in 1985, Geffen tried to put her in an AIDS benefit that Lorne Michaels was organizing and Lorne made clear that no one would go for that because of her remarks.  David Geffen told her that she had been turned down for the benefit and why.   The homophobic remarks were noted in ROLLING STONE in a 1984 article on Bronski Beat (which had covered "I Feel Love").

She was okay with all that.

Which brings us to the fourth story.  

Get honest.  

How many times do we say that here?  

We've said it in regards to Betty Friedan (before she died) and we've said it in regards to Gloria Steinem (regarding her work for the CIA -- work that THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW YORKER, THE ATLANTIC and others no longer feel the need to ignore). 

Gloria drops dead tomorrow and we're going to have a bunch of Gloria freaks lying for her, others trying to justify that she worked for the CIA.  

Donna never got honest.  She knew what she said.  She refused to own it, admit to it and apologize.  

You should never paint yourself into a corner. 

And you shouldn't leave it to others to clean up your mess.  Donna should have said, "It was a stupid thing and I regret saying it."  People would have understood.  But she couldn't admit it and so now it harms her legacy and her daughter's left to try to explain it.





 Note, in 1987, after her excellent recording of "Dinner With Gershwin" flopped in the US, she wrote one of us (C.I.) that she didn't know what she had to do at this point to get on the radio?  

"Get honest and apologize," was the reply sent back.  [C.I. note: My journals contain letters sent to me by friends -- stapled onto the pages -- as well as copies of my replies.]   If she'd done that, her place in music history would be stronger today.


Books (Ruth, Ava and C.I.)



We're attempting to again increase book coverage in the community.  Ruth's "A JOYOUS TRANSFORMATION: THE UNEXPURZGATED DIARY OF ANAIS NIN, 1966 -1977" went up tonight.  It's the latest of the unexpurgated journals from Anais Nin.  So Anais Nin was a very influential writer who lived from 1903 to 1977.  You enjoyed THE SEDUCTION OF THE MINOTAUR.

Ruth: I did.  It and A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE are my two favorite novels by Ms. Nin.  I think I like THE SEDUCTION best because we get Lillian having closure.  A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE, I love, but I do not feel that Sabina is healed or has found comfort at the end of A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE.  Anais Nin wrote about the human condition and was very unique.  She also wrote erotica for money and it was later collected in the best sellers DELTA OF VENUS and LITTLE BIRDS.  Her non-fiction includes her diaries and her journals.  The diaries were published while she was alive and were heavily edited because she had to protect some secrets and because others were alive as well -- others who might sue -- Gore Vidal, for example, lied for years that he never came on to Anais Nin but, after both were dead, the truth came out.  So the journals come out after Anais Nin has passed away, January 14, 1977, and they are unexpurgated.  

Did you enjoy this volume of the journal?

Ruth: I did.  But I really think it should have been broken up into two volumes.  It was a lot to read.  It took me several days and I enjoyed it but I think it could have been, for example, the length of HENRY & JUNE.  That is Ms. Nin's best selling journal or diary.  It is the first one to come out unexpurgated.  The focus in it?  Stronger because it covers a briefer time.  I am a big fan of Ms. Nin's writing.  But I think this should have been two volumes and it would have been better.  As it was, knowing I needed to post my review for the community, I felt a pressure to get through it quickly and it was a lot to get through.

What's the primary thing going on in this volume?

Ruth: She is going back and forth between California and New York and back and forth between the two husbands that she is married to.  She is forever fearful of being exposed as a bigamist and the husbands learning of it.  For example, a friend writes a biography of Henry Miller.  He knows Mr. Miller and Ms. Nin.  He avoids going into any real depth about them -- they were lovers.  But he does mention enough regarding the first man she married that Anais Nin feels she has to get them to edit out what was written.  She implores Henry Miller to help her and he makes a request for edits and she tries to reason with the publisher of the biography and, when that does not work, she begins offering her famous diary -- dangling the chance that if he edited out the parts on her from the upcoming biography, she might let them publish her diary.  

Any special surprises in terms of reactions to what you read?

Ruth: I really enjoyed her exchanges with James Herlihy -- the novelist who is famous for MIDNIGHT COWBOY.  There is also a description of Rupert Pole -- his chest, his ears -- after they have had sex that makes it clear that she finds him desirable.  There is nothing like that with regards to the other husband.  If I were going to do a cutting from this volume to put in an anthology, I would use that.

Any thing else you wanted to note?

Ruth: Yes.  I think it is amazing how dishonest people are.  Even after someone's dead.  I did not know everyone in this latest journal -- did not know of.  So I would frequently Google.  John B. L. Goodwin is an author I had not heard of.  He died in 1994 at the age of 81.  He pops up in Anais Nin's journal and he is gay.  But if you read his WIKIPEDIA entry, he is not gay.  He is not anything.  You can search him online and find some sites noting that he was gay.  But his official entry at WIKIPEDIA cannot be bothered with that reality.





Previous book discussions this year:



Tweet of the week


2023 passings

Lisa Presley -- Elaine noted her passing.

Christine McVie -- Kat covered her passing.


Adam Rich -- Marcia noted his passing.


Jeff Beck -- Kat noted his passing.


Lance Kerwin -- Rebecca noted his passing.

Barrett Strong -- Ruth noted his passing.


Lisa Loring -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Burt Bacharach -- Rebecca noted his passing.


Raquel Welch -- Elaine noted her passing.


Stella Stevens  -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Richard Belzer -- Ruth noted his passing.  


Kevin Alexander Gray -- C.I. notes his passing.


Pat Schroeder -- Kat noted her passing.


Lance Reddick -- Mike notes his passing.  


Darcelle XV -- Elaine notes his passing.


"Mark Russell" -- Ruth notes his passing 


"Elizabeth Hubbard" -- Trina notes her passing.


"Mary Quant and more Peabody nominations" -- Elaine notes a passing.


"Harry Belafonte" -- Kat notes a passing.

Gordon Lightfoot" -- Kat notes a passing.


"jacklyn zeman, rose schlossberg, john travolta and..." -- Rebecca notes the passing of Jacklyn Zeman.


Event of the week





"Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" -- C.I. reviews this book.


 "The Sewing Circle" -- Marcia reads Axel Madsen's THE SEWING CIRCLE.


 "Ellen Sander's The Lifestyle That Classic Rock Unleashed" -- Trina reviews this book.

"Phyllis Diller 1917 – 2012: News, Quotes, Interview" -- Ann reviews this book.

"Call Her Heroic (Ava and C.I.)" -- Ava and C.I. review this book.

"Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Gays" -- Marcia reviews this book.


"Robert Sellers wrote a book of garbage" -- Kat reviews HOLLYWOOD HELLRAISERS.   



"SCREAM VI and THE BOYS" -- Stan reviews Ron and Clint Howard's THE BOYS.



"the world according to joan" -- Rebecca reviews this book.


 "Elton John and Whitney Houston" -- Kat reviews Elton John's autobiography and a biography on Whitney Houston.

"DON RICKLES: THE MERCHANT OF VENOM" -- Isaiah reviews this book.




 "Vincent Price and Universal" -- Marcia reviews John L. Flynn's 75 YEARS OF UNIVERSAL MONSTERS and Vincent Price's I LIKE WHAT I KNOW: A VISUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY.







"JOAN BAEZ: THE LAST LEAF" -- Ruth reviews  this book by Elizabeth Thomas.


 "A JOYOUS TRANSFORMATION: THE UNEXPURZGATED DIARY OF ANAIS NIN, 1966 -1977" -- Ruth reviews a book by Anais Nin.




Stan on the streaming services

Stan addresses the streaming services:

Streaming services -- where's the content?

I'm just doing streaming in this post.  Streaming services first and then news on content being removed from HULU and DISNEY+.

It's Friday.  We went to the movies Thursday night, so we're staying in tonight.  We go to the streams and what is the point?

HULU has the new WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP so if you're interested in that, go there.  But I'm not.  I liked the original, it was funny but I haven't been waiting on a remake.  I have no plans to ever see it.  And the layout of HULU is too damn messy.

Which is the reality for all of them.  

HBO MAX -- next month juts MAX -- is garbage.  It never has anything worth watching.  It's a garbage dump.

PARAMOUNT+?  Another nightmare.  I have it via WALMART+ (grocery delivery).  If my subscription doesn't include SHOWTIME, stop cluttering my TV screen with stuff I can't watch.

Now I do have SHOWTIME -- via AMAZON.  And yet when I go there it's a nightmare of bulls**t.  It's old movies and old shwos and it's the worst layout.  That's also true for my other channels at AMAZON: STARZ and MGM+.  They should note very clearly on their own screens what is new.  Maybe they don't do that because they don't have much new?  

DISNEY+ would be the biggest disappointment of late were it not for HBO MAX.  I didn't realize I was subscribing to a kiddie channel.  Family channel?  I can deal with that.  Kiddie channel?  Not interested.  Their TV shows just don't work.  I don't care about moralizing rescues that play like the old Goliath TV show -- the worst thing about Sundays was having my grandmother pass that crap off as 'cartoons.'  She still laughs when I make that comment.  Stop insulting us.  You can make a family friendly show without talking down to us.

PEACOCK.  Give it credit for having the best layout outside of NETFLIX.  They also have the NBC comedies that I like (LOPEZ V LOPEZ and NIGHTCOURT) as well as MODERN FAMILY and 30 ROCK which I watch in repeats.  I can also easily find whatever's new quickly -- again, great layout.

NETFLIX is the standard and remains it and it always has something.  By the way, credit to FIREFLY LANE and THE NIGHT AGENT which are still in the top ten of most streamed series.  April 27 is when the final episodes of FIREFLY LANE dropped and it's still in the top ten and THE NIGHT AGENT debuted March 23rd and is still in the top ten.  Those are two great shows, make a point to catch them if you haven't.  NETFLIX has a great layout and always has something new each week.  (More than one new offering a week, in fact.)

AMAZON PRIME.  I like AMAZON for AMAZON.  By that I mean, channel add-ons are useless here in my opinion.  See my comments on PARAMOUNT+ about SHOWTIME.  But in terms of having my AMAZON film and TV purchases and being able to find what's new on AMAZON -- free and paid -- it works. 

APPLE TV+ I dropped because it's just bad crap.  You can see how they make their programs.  "So and so is a moderate name let's put them in a quirky show and we'll pretend it's art."  They make garbage that's unwatchable for the most part.  They'll get a Stephen King adaptation, LISEY'S STORY, for example, that is worth watching and it'll end while all this garbage that no one would watch goes on and on.  Yes, the garbage shows that no one ever wants to watch will keep coming back for season after season.  Jennifer Aniston, if your interviews over the last few years didn't make me hate you (they did), then THE MORNING SHOW would.  It's not a show.  It's preaching.  And there's something really sad about an actress who so obviously seems to be a lesbian looking down on 60 and still playing "Why can't I find a man!" 

I'm more apt to watch PLUTO (a free streamer) and THE CAROL BURNETT channel on that streamer than the bulk of the channels I'm paying for.

I'm leaving out YOUTUBETV because I watch that for live programming, I don't usually do a la carte -- especially now that most TV shows are over until fall. 

It's not a question of not being able to afford it.  I make my bills.  But it is an issue of I'm just not watching it.  I haven't watched anything on HBO MAX, for example, in at least three months.  

NETFLIX is worth keeping and AMAZON PRIME and PEACOCK but the rest just aren't cutting it.

Now let's talk about shows and films being dropped.

So DEADLINE's reported on HULU and DISNEY+ both being about to drop shows.  But I actually learned about it through THE VERGE's coverage of the DEADLINE report.

Here's what DISNEY+ is dropping:

  • Big Shot 
  • Turner & Hooch 
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society 
  • The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers 
  • Willow 
  • The Making Of Willow 
  • Diary of a Future President 
  • Just Beyond 
  • The World According to Jeff Goldblum 
  • Marvel’s Project Hero 
  • Marvel’s MPower 
  • Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever
  • Rosaline 
  • Cheaper by the Dozen remake 
  • The One and Only Ivan 
  • Stargirl 
  • Artemis Fowl 
  • The Princess 
  • Encore! 
  • A Spark Story 
  • Black Beauty 
  • Clouds 
  • America the Beautiful 
  • Better Nate Than Ever 
  • Weird but True! 
  • Timmy Failure 
  • Be Our Chef 
  • Magic Camp 
  • Earth to Ned 
  • Foodtastic 
  • Stuntman 
  • Disney Fairy Tale Weddings 
  • Wolfgang 
  • It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer 
  • The Real Right Stuff 
  • The Big Fib 
  • Rogue Trip 
  • More Than Robots 
  • Shop Class 
  • Pick the Litter 
  • Own the Room 
  • Among the Stars 
  • Harmonious Live! 
  • Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays

Garbage.  The only thing on the list that mattered at all was MIGHTY DUCKS and that was only season one.  After Emilio was gone, it was garbage as well.

Now for HULU:

  • Y: The Last Man 
  • Pistol 
  • Little Demon 
  • Maggie 
  • Dollface 
  • The Hot Zone 
  • The Premise 
  • Love in the Time of Corona 
  • Everything’s Trash 
  • Best in Snow 
  • Best in Dough 
  • Darby and the Dead 
  • The Quest

Another list of shows no one cared about. 

I don't understand, however, why they have to prune.  FILMSTRUCK did that as well.  Which is why so much of the whining when it ended made me laugh -- it was obvious that many of the celebrity complainers didn't actually stream FILMSTRUCK.  Jean Harlow's BOMBSHELL is a film film lovers should all see.  And you could on FILMSTRUCK -- every six months.  They'd put it up, they'd take it down.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

This edition's playlist

diana cover 2


 1)  Diana Ross' THANK YOU.  





4)  Stevie Wonder's TALKING BOOK.




6)  Tina Turner's BREAK EVERY RULE.

7) Sam Smith's GLORIA.

8) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.



 10) Robbie Williams' XXV.







a park painting 11

This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.  


 "Benched, deleted, etc -- talking entry" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.


"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "No one needs to hear from Brett Favre," "Creepy Chris D'Elia," "Will Lehman," "Idiot of the week," "Graham Elwood, Mickey Z and the crooked Ron DeSantis," "BLACK POWER MEDIA, War Criminal Ron DeSantis, the GOP's missing witness," "Graham Elwood, John Fetterman and hate merchant Tulsi Gabbard," "The hideous Ron DeSantis, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jonathan Turley and Shamoo The Whale Reade," "the palestinians," "who's worse - john stauber or glenneth greenwald?," "the fundamentalists get even creepier," "Disgusting Jonathan Turley; closeted Katharine Hepburn," "Back to crazy Marjorie," "Anya Parampil music 'critic' and racist,"  "In Florida, you don't have parental rights," "Hideous Ron DeSantis," "Applause for Democracy Now," "Colton Underwood, Maren Morris," "The continued attacks on the LGBTQ+ community," "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.," "If given a second term, supposedly he will do what he did not in his first," "The race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination," "Kevin Gosztola is right," "Dianne Feinstein -- worse than anyone knew," "Dianne Feinstein needs to step down now," "Science post," "Who needs to go? You know the answer," "DiFi needs to go and she needs to go now," "Howie Hawkins," "Crooked Clarence Thomas (Betty)," "What fool tries to pimp Barack as a genius at this...," "Tara Shamoo Reade reTweets assaulter James Woods," "Sabby Sabs and Tara Reade get caught lying and del..." and "You've been warned" -- news coverage in the community.

"Watermelon Feta Salad in the Kitchen" and "The Best Oven Baked Chicken and Rice EVER!!! in the Kitchen" -- Trina serves up two recipes.


"Dolly Parton," "Kylie Minogue," "Yusuf/Cat Stevens," "Liz Phair," "Dolly Parton" and "Chase Rice" -- music coverage in the community.


 "the little mermaid," "halle bailey," "Streaming services -- where's the content?," "BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER," "Samuel L. Jackson's SECRET INVASION and Eddie Murphy in the PINK PANTHER?," "The Legion of Super Heroes," "Weekend box office" and "Call Me Kate's double standard" -- movie coverage in the community.







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