Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
make no mistake about it - no matter what the outcome of the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan is perfectly poised to become the new response point of a new level of militancy and terrorism in the world. Expect to see more spectacular acts of terror, ranging without doubt from more car bombings at crucial Western markets and transportation points, to 9/11-level catastrophes by 2011. If for no other reason, it will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001.
Map of Pakistan and adjoining nations...
I hope you're listening. Al-Qaeda has already established a strong, relatively-permanent (and most likely very mobile), base of operations in Waziristan, the western, mountainous, and well-defended and populous provinces of Pakistan. Uncontrollable by the Musharraf government, they are strong enough to establish & maintain leadership in an area quickly, and perhaps mobile enough (thanks to the 'spreading of the faith' thru the Internet, video feeds to news media, and speeches like the tape coming out soon from Bin-Laden) that make it able to re-establish leadership when needed where its support is strong, as they appear to have done in Waziristan. They also almost did it in Sudan, and they definitely did it with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Perhaps the Wazirs, cousins of the Afghans, can dig where their brothers are coming from. Perhaps they feel the same way when Bin Laden speaks to them, to the heart.
So how do you combat the heart? This is the core issue that has to be either defeated or embraced into a peaceful co-existence. That co-existence is likely impossible, so we have to either change our ways to accommodate their fears or fight and defend ourselves. Sadly, this one doesn't have much of a choice but to fight.
Our world is far from perfect. But at least for the most part no one is telling me what to do. In fact, unless it breaks some rule that I agreed to abide, or involves the unspeakable, I'm probably free to do what I want. That is NOT what Islam offers me, I suspect. While I respect Islam highly, I am not a religious person. That means not Christian, either. I'm happy I can live somewhere where I am relatively free to be who I want to be, not what someone else wants.
The threat of Pakistan is a strong military force and nuclear weapons. More than enough firepower, under the wrong hands, to strike out decisively against Israel, or India, or Iraq. I doubt they'll mess with Iran, but if used to start a regional chain reaction of wars, especially one that bring in the United States, I'm not so sure they wouldn't.
We must realize NOW that we are in true danger from other world powers! Not as a demagogy, but as a fundamental sea change in how the rest of the world sees itself, not how they see us. In fact, they are dismissive more and more of our Western Anglo view of the world. Whether you like it or not the influence and power of the non-U.S. world is steadily increaing, and our ability to be the preeminent world power is steadily weakening. Expect Al-Qaeda to be on the move from now until the end of the decade, with stunning results. Oh, and by the way, he cees u:
Thursday, December 27, 2007
She represented the hopes and dreams of a human race longing for peace and freedom to live without hurt or hurting others, something the whole world wants now more than ever. When such deaths of martyrs occur at such crucial times, it tends to bring very ugly wars. Through which, if past similar events are a measure, they may bring extensive social improvement.
Such was the case when Archbishop Ferdinand's death sparked WWI. Such was the case when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and fire broke out on the streets of America in the 1960s. All bad events, but significant social change for the better occurred after it.
Such was the case when Saddam Hussein was captured, and later put to death by a proxy legal tribunal crafted and created by the U.S. government. Mind you, Saddam was no martyr, but the result was significant: It brought the civil war now ensuing, more terrorism not less as promised, and America's now-seemingly endless involvement over there.
But as for Bhutto's effect, will this recent martyrdom now raise the stakes for American peace and security, at home and abroad? Are we approaching yet another 9/11 brought on by American meddling in other nation's affairs? I do believe so.
What goes around, always comes around.
Friday, December 21, 2007
FILMOLOGY IN MOTION:
THE GREAT DEBATERS (OPENING CHRISTMAS DAY)
By Sergio Mims (wif a little extra journalism from VillagePeeps)
CAST: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker,
Denzel Whitaker (great name choice), Kimberly Elise, Gina Ravera
WRITTEN BY Robert Eisele, DIRECTED BY Denzel Washington
RATED PG-13 *** Already the recipient of 5 (count 'em - FIVE) Golden Globe Awards
The Great Debaters announces its brazen intentions to right a few wrongs straight from the outset. It audaciously wants to answer for all the negative images and degrading stereotypes of black people that have plagued films for last 100 years. It’s a bold, ambitious mission and though one black film (or 100 for that matter) can’t rise up to that challenge, Debaters works triple hard to do its best. The end result is an excellent, rock solid effort that should be on the top of everyone’s “must see” list.
Though we have seen many times over and know all too well the “inspirational” film genre about a group of people rising against the odds before facing the ultimate test and even can predict the final outcome, Debaters puts a spin on the usual proceedings with plot twists, surprising character developments and shifting relationship dynamics unexpected for the genre.
Washington admits to having a greater appreciation for directors. The film is produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Todd Black, and Joe Roth. It is executively produced by David Crockett and The Weinstein Company, and is distributed by MGM. It was written by Robert Eiselle who was introduced to an article about the Wiley Team’s unheard of victory thanks to the help of debate coach Melvin Tolson.
Melvin B. Tolson (center) with the Original Wiley College debate team in 1935 after Harvard University U.S. Championship win. Photo credit: Courtesy of Wiley College
The film is based on the true story of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the heralded 1930’s debate team at Wiley College, an all black college still based in East Texas. The team led by their demanding coach and mentor Melvin Tolson (Washington) rises to the occasion beating all oppositions both white and black until they are invited to compete against Harvard University for the ultimate prize and national recognition.
Needless to say Tolson and his team, all played wonderfully by Smollet (Eve’s Bayou, Roll Bounce) and newcomers Parker and Denzel Whitaker (no relation to Forest Whitaker) face battles of self doubt, setbacks, and tremendous expectations and, of course, the all American scourge of racism as a constant presence which occasionally rears its violent side as in an extremely brutal scene where Tolson and his team accidentally come upon a horrific lynch mob and their unfortunate victim.
Jurnee said it was more about the actual events.
Yet, one of best and most refreshing aspects of The Great Debaters, thanks to an intelligent screenplay by Robert Eisele and nuanced direction by Washington, is that, from the beginning, it treats knowledge, learning and intellectual pursuit as something completely normal and expected by black people and not as an alien concept whose value we find dubious. In the film both parents and teachers demand the best from their students and children and they in turn not only expect that from them, but they try as hard as possible to live up to those expectations. For that alone Debaters is a blessed relief for those who have suffered through enough Whose The Caddys and Soul Planes.
In his second outing as director (after the overrated Antwone Fischer) Denzel Washington has clearly grown more confident and assured behind the camera. He’s become more visually attuned and creative in Debaters with some remarkably striking sequences such as the wonderfully atmospheric opening of the film crosscutting a raucous, sweaty, down home, blues party with a shallow figure of a mysterious man running through the swamp in a desperate attempt to stop a horrible act from happening.
Whitaker's view and Washington's view are the same - Two of the Greatest Academy Award Winners Ever!
It should be no surprise that all the performances are uniformly excellent but then with Washington and Forest Whitaker together in a film it would be expected that everyone else has to be at the best. No slouching when you have to go up against these two.
Before you think I’ve gone soft, let me point out that Debaters does have a few minor problems including an unrequited love affair subplot that’s not really necessary and an awkward, unexplained appearance by Washington during an important moment of the film which, instead of being the dramatic wallop it was intended to be, will only have viewers wondering how he got there. The film also has several historical inaccuracies which no doubt the filmmakers knew they were making but intentionally put in the film to make a bigger dramatic impact.
In spite of these small faults The Great Debaters is far and away better than the standard “inspirational” film and actually becomes something more than that. A moving, emotional movie that delivers a genuine sense of joy and satisfaction at the end.
Film critic, lecturer and festival consultant Sergio Mims covers all things film from the city that works, Chicago. He is a regular contributor to ebonyjet.com
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
we can't wait for the sex DVD - now that's so Kim Kardashian!