I am sad. Melvin Van Peebles has passed away. DEADLINE notes:
Melvin Van Peebles, an actor, writer, director, producer and icon of Black cinema whose films include Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Watermelon Man, died Tuesday night at his home. He was 89.
His death was confirmed by his son, Mario Van Peebles, who said in a statement: “Dad knew that Black images matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”
Janus Films and Criterion Collection also announced the news on Twitter and said in a statement: “In an unparalleled career, distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music. His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.”
SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSS was a great film. And Mr. Van Peebles is a pioneer in many ways. Firstly, I would note him as an auteur in the world of independent film making. Like Tom Laughlin, Mr. Van Peebles created his own market and showed how far talent could go. (Mr. Laughlin was responsible for the BILLY JACK films.) Long before Quentin Tarantino was working outside the studio system, Mr. Van Peebles and Mr. Laughlin and a select few others like Barbara Loden and John Cassavetes really showed what you could do in independent film. He belongs in that group of pioneer filmmakers.
He also belongs in a group of pioneers who were bringing people of color to the screen. We had films with Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, and Diahann Carroll among others prior to the seventies -- in fact, let me include Sammy Davis Jr. on that list since Mr. Davis was a star and often gets shortchanged. But in the 70s, we saw performer of color really move into the spotlight. Diana Ross deserved the Oscar for LADY SINGS THE BLUES. And she and Billy Dee Williams made a great onscreen teaming in two movies, they had real chemistry. Richard Pryor also became a film star in the seventies, as did Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, Cicely Tyson, Paul Whitfield, and Bill Cosby among others.
He was a legend and had been for many, many years. Hopefully, that legend will continue to grow as it deserves to.
This is THE CONVO COUCH.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
In his new book, “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power,” Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger says that evidence points to Hunter Biden’s laptop being legit.
While we appreciate the support, the truth is The Post’s reports always have been true, and it’s only because the media wants to protect Joe Biden that they keep referring to the laptop as “unsubstantiated.”
Schreckinger notes that “A person who had independent access to Hunter Biden’s emails” confirms two of the e-mails the Post published, including one about a potential deal with China with the line “10 held by H for the big guy?” — that is, Joe Biden.
But Hunter Biden’s former business partner Tony Bobulinski already said those e-mails were authentic — the media just ignored him.
Schreckinger adds that e-mails released by the Swedish government also match e-mails from the laptop (Hunter had gotten into a kerfuffle when he was staying in a Swedish embassy building). That’s also been reported.
Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.
The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.
An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.
The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.
The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.
Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.
The New York Times quietly deleted its assertion that an October article from the New York Post about the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son Hunter was “unsubstantiated.” In the reworked report, the outlet reported on a Federal Election Commission decision that dismissed a Republican complaint arguing Twitter violated election laws by blocking users from sharing the story during the heat of the 2020 election.
When the New York Times posted the report early Monday afternoon, it read: “The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden.”
A tweet from the outlet's main account, which started trending on Twitter, similarly called the New York Post article an “unsubstantiated article." New York Times national political reporter Shane Goldmacher, who wrote the initial draft, similarly called it “unsubstantiated.”
Neither tweet was deleted as of Monday evening, but the New York Times article was changed without any editor’s note, which happens in the media business. However, this article stands out, as the rewrite was substantial and the original version drew intense scrutiny and backlash with its word choice.
The new version, published hours later with technology reporter Kate Conger added to the byline, removed the “unsubstantiated” claim and other significant details from the story. If not for screenshots taken earlier, the full version of the original report may have been difficult to track down as the original URL now redirects to a new one.
Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office. RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote. The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office." Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign. Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq. Halgurd Sherwani (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday." And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online. THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."
THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003." Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution. Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities." Distrust is all around. Halkawt Aziz (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians."
After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage." Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group). ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement." Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki. Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that, "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."
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