Best Picture Contenders Focus on Timely Issues Like Politics, Addiction

Hollywood has long excelled at telling stories that are cut from reality, featuring topical ingredients that tie escapism to the world we inhabit. Whether it’s true stories from the past or present that help to inform our current social landscape, or wholly creative pieces of fiction that oftentimes touch upon progressive collective change, filmmakers continue […]

Variety

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On Comedy: 3 Savvy Comics Who Shine Where Sex and Politics Intersect

Janelle James, Liza Treyger and Emmy Blotnick smuggle funny political jokes into bits on dating and relationships.
NYT > Arts

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Books of The Times: In ‘Becoming,’ Michelle Obama Mostly Opts for Empowerment Over Politics

The former first lady’s memoir is mostly about her childhood in Chicago, her marriage and her time in the White House, but she leaves room for some unequivocal criticism of President Trump.
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When a Collision Between Politics and Sex Shocked Americans

As the drama “The Front Runner” chronicles, Gary Hart’s presidential campaign was dogged by questions about his personal life. Would we care today?
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Kanye West ‘distancing himself from politics’

Kanye West has said he is “distancing himself from politics” after realising he has been “used to spread messages” he does not believe in.
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Facebook pulls Iran accounts trying to influence UK politics

Facebook has removed dozens of accounts linked to Iran for spreading disinformation to more than a million followers in the UK and US.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News

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Facebook shuts down ‘spammy’ politics pages

Political sites with millions of followers have been purged in a Facebook crackdown on spam.
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Nonfiction: John Kerry Describes Politics as It Used to Be

“Every Day Is Extra” is the memoir of an eyewitness to some of the most dramatic changes in American political history.
NYT > Books

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Books of The Times: When It Comes to Politics, Be Afraid. But Not Too Afraid.

In “The Monarchy of Fear,” the philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum writes against a tradition of philosophical and political thinking that minimizes emotions.
NYT > Books

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Books of The Times: Bill Clinton and James Patterson Team Up to Imagine a True Fantasy: Sane Politics

In “The President Is Missing,” a take-charge leader goes AWOL in an attempt to stop a computer virus from bringing the United States to a standstill.
NYT > Books

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Internet Association CEO: MPAA’s Zuckerberg Letter Was ‘Shameless Rent-Seeking,’ ‘Crony Politics’

WASHINGTON — The head of the trade association representing major internet companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix slammed the MPAA for a letter that its CEO sent to Capitol Hill lawmakers as Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified last month. In his letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Oregon), Michael Beckerman, president and […]

Variety

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Fiction: Meg Wolitzer’s New Novel Takes On the Politics of Women’s Mentorship

Lena Dunham on “The Female Persuasion” and its cultural relevance in our current political climate.
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Cynthia Nixon and 10 other celebrities who entered politics

Including Katie Price, Glenda Jackson… and Donald Trump.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Dua Lipa and Stormzy bring politics to the Brits

Grime artist Stormzy and singer Dua Lipa were the main winners at the Brit Awards, both claiming two awards each.
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Critic’s Notebook: Obama Portraits Blend Paint and Politics, and Fact and Fiction

This Barack Obama Is No Mr. Nice Guy. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of the former president contradicts the impression he often made in office of being detached.
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Fashion Review: Politics Comes to the New York Runways

Prabal Gurung addresses #MeToo, and Pyer Moss pays homage to black cowboys and their part in the history of the West.
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Vintage Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent on Sale Benefitting Women in Politics

Christene Barberich, founder of Refinery 29, has partnered with Rebecca Taylor, Rachel Antonoff and Stacy London for a vintage sale of over 150 one-of-a-kind pieces from the likes of Christian Lacroix, Kenzo, Nike, Yves Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Prada and more to benefit women’s empowerment in the second installment of a series called “Vintage for a Cause.”
The sale tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Rebecca Taylor store in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District will donate 50 percent of the proceeds to “Should She Run,” a charity working to put women in public office (the goal is 250,000 women in public office by 2030).
“Empowering women is something I’m extremely passionate about, so I’m very happy we’re able to host this event to support ‘She Should Run,’” Taylor said. “I think it’s a very important time to support women running for office, and I really admire Christene as a friend and fellow women entrepreneur for starting ‘Vintage for a Cause.’”
“Stacy and I share a deep mutual affection for vintage, so it was a given I wanted to do these pop-up sales with her, as well as other women, designers and shop-owners who share our affinity for beautiful pieces from the past,” Barberich said.

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On the Runway: The Duchess of Cambridge and Family Refine the Art of Pantone Politics

They dressed for their hosts: Clothing that echoed the national colors of Poland and, then, a blue that had special resonance in Germany.
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Books News: Is Everyone in Politics Writing a Tell-All? Yes

From Hillary Clinton to a White House stenographer, readers will hear almost everyone’s point of view in coming books.
NYT > Books

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Jay-Z and the Politics of Rapping in Middle Age

At 47, Jay-Z thinks about where he’s been, where he’s going and what he’s leaving behind. It’s all there on his latest album, “4:44.”
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‘The Cradle Will Rock’ Returns With Its Brazen Politics Intact

Opera Saratoga is staging Marc Blitzstein’s opera on its 80th anniversary, in a year when political messages onstage are under acute scrutiny.
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On the Runway: Megyn Kelly and the Politics of Dress

Websites excitedly reported that the NBC anchor was wearing a short velvet dress to interview Vladimir Putin. But they were wrong.
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Jimmy Kimmel’s Monologue About His Newborn Son Might Change Your Politics

Specifically, how you view the ACA.

Lifestyle – Esquire

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Cannes 2017: Politics, TV and Adam Sandler

The Cannes Film Festival has announced its highly anticipated line-up, featuring the return of Sofia Coppola, David Lynch and Adam Sandler.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Donna Karan on Politics, Yoga – and Urban Zen

CHICAGO — For Donna Karan, it was never just about the clothes.
“It’s not just about dressing. It’s about addressing the issues in health care, education and culture. Everybody is expecting one person to do it; really it’s about each and every one of us. That’s truly what Urban Zen is about,” said the designer and philanthropist, on a phone call last week while en route to Neapolitan Collection, a boutique located in the tree-lined Chicago suburb of Winnetka, to sign copies of her memoir “My Journey.”
“If I go to a store, I want to talk about your community. Yeah I could dress you, yeah my clothes are there,” said Karan, adding she was “so excited” about the event that day and to meet this group of women who shop there and to see Neapolitan owner Kelly Golden, who Karan said she immediately “hit it off” with. “Every time I’ve walked into a dressing room, I guarantee you the conversation goes to my mother, my husband, my daughter, dah, dah, dah. It’s not what I can do for them; it’s what they can do for them. It’s each one of us, our responsibility. I have a vision, there’s no question about that.

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Books of The Times: ‘Unwanted Advances’ Tackles Sexual Politics in Academia

In this new book by Laura Kipnis, the author addresses her dismay over the intersection between free speech and sensitivity issues at universities.
NYT > Books

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Unbuttoned: Of Price, Populism and Politics. Also, Pearls and Pants.

What do Ivanka Trump and François Fillon have in common? The problems of expensive clothing by association.
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Saving Nina Simone’s Birthplace as an Act of Art and Politics

In an act of cultural and historic preservation, four artists have bought the house in Tryon, N.C., where Ms. Simone was born and raised.
NYT > Arts

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This Secret Wine Purse Will Get You Through Your Family’s Next Chat About Politics

Times are tough. Wine helps. Wine that you can hide in your purse and pour at the touch of a button helps even more. 

Bella Vita’s PortoVino leather wine purse is exactly what you think it is: a tote that you can secretly fill up with wine and take with you on the go. (You can actually fill it with anything, but let’s be real, it’s probably going to be wine.) 

This $ 74.95 genius necessity comes in three colors and can hold up to 1.5 liters of wine in a refillable, insulated bag. What’s more? The tote’s spout is hidden until you pull it out to pour. 

It’s perfect for the beach, a picnic, seeing “Fifty Shades Darker,” or any time someone in your family starts talking politics.

Not into booze? Delish even suggests filling it up with ranch dressing, because nothing is worse than getting stuck sans salad dressing, right?

Head to Bella Vita to purchase.

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Grammys mix hip flasks with politics

Adele was the night’s big winner, but what else was going on at the Grammy awards?
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Anna Wintour on Fashion, Politics and Vogue

The Vogue editor plans issues to celebrate female power as the publication turns 125. As New York Fashion Week starts, she’s working on defining fashion’s role in today’s political climate: “Designers are not blind to what’s going on.”
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Lady Gaga stays clear of politics at Super Bowl

Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the Super Bowl was big on glitz and fun, offering an uncontroversial message of inclusion and patriotism to a divided nation.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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No Escaping Politics at the Progressive Sundance Film Festival

While the event says it champions artists, not politics, its array of films affirms its decidedly diverse identity.
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British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1727-44

British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1727-44


Covering the period from the end of the Anglo-French alliance in 1731 to the declaration of war between the two powers in 1744, this book charts a turbulent period in British politics that witnessed the last decade of the Walpole ministry, the attempt to replace it by a Patriot government, and the return of the Old Corps Whigs to a process of dominance. In particular it reveals how ministerial change and political fortunes were closely linked to foreign policy, with foreign policy both affecting, and being affected by, political developments. The book draws upon a great range of foreign and domestic sources, but makes particular use of foreign diplomatic records. These are important as many negotiations were handled, at least in part, through envoys in London. Moreover, these diplomats regularly spoke with George II and his ministers, and some were personal friends of envoys and could be used for secret negotiations outside normal channels. The range of sources consulted ensures that the book offers more than any previous book to cover the period as a whole, whilst not simply becoming a detailed study of a number of episodes. Instead it retains the strong structural aspects of the relationship between foreign policy and politics necessary to examine questions about political stability, motivation and effectiveness. Following on from Jeremy Black’s previous studies on eighteenth-century foreign policy, ‘Politics and Foreign Policy under George I’ (covering the period 1714-27) this new book takes the story up to 1744 and continues to illuminate the complex and often opaque workings of the British state at a turbulent period of European history.

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U.S. Politics Prompt Saudis to Rethink Financial Strategy

Saudi Arabia is re-evaluating its multibillion-dollar U.S. financial strategy because of shifts in the American political landscape, including whether to go elsewhere with the public stock debut of its state oil firm.
WSJ.com: US Business

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Michael Sheen puts acting on hold… for politics

One of Britain’s leading actors, famous for his roles as Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough, is putting his career on hold.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Remember When Kelly Ripa Won the Daytime-TV Politics Game in 2016: A Look at How She Conquered in the End

Kelly RipaKelly Ripa’s 2016 started off just like the previous three years had.
Enjoy the rest of winter vacation and then head back to work with Michael Strahan on Live! With Kelly and…

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Remember When Kelly Ripa Won the Daytime-TV Politics Game in 2016: A Look at How She Conquered in the End

Kelly RipaKelly Ripa’s 2016 started off just like the previous three years had.
Enjoy the rest of winter vacation and then head back to work with Michael Strahan on Live! With Kelly and…

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Don’t Blame Me I Voted For the Other Guy Politics Cool – Mens T-Shirt – Athletic heather – Small

Don’t Blame Me I Voted For the Other Guy Politics Cool – Mens T-Shirt – Athletic heather – Small


Don’t Blame Me I Voted For the Other Guy Politics Cool – Mens T-Shirt – Athletic heather – Small

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name and Accepts Your Politics

Welcome to Neary’s, a safe space for Republicans and Trump voters in a heavily Democratic city. In 2017, the bar will celebrate 50 years in New York.
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British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1744-57

British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1744-57


The years between 1744 and 1757 were a testing time for the British government as political unrest at home exploded into armed rebellion, whilst on the continent French armies were repeatedly victorious. Providing an analytical narrative, supported by thematic chapters, this book examines the relationship between Britain’s politics and foreign policy in a period not hitherto treated as a unit. Building upon methods employed in the preceding two books (‘Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of George I, 1714-1727’ and ‘Politics and Foreign Policy, 1727-44’), this volume charts the significant political changes of 1744-57. It shows how ministerial change and political fortunes were closely linked to foreign policy, with foreign policy affecting, and being affected by, political developments. In particular, it asks important questions about the politics and foreign policy of these years and thus reconsiders the context of imperial growth, economic development and political stability. Far from being simply a study of individual episodes, the book outlines the structural aspects of the relationship between foreign policy and politics, examining issues of political stability, motivation and effectiveness. In particular, the role of monarch, Court and ministers are considered alongside those of Parliament, parliamentary politics, and the public sphere of discussion, notably, but not only, the press. The book therefore offers a guided narrative that both uses and builds on the analysis offered by contemporary commentators, and provides an informed assessment of the significance of the ideas, terms and language employed in eighteenth-century Britain to discuss foreign policy and politics.

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Domestic Politics, International Bargaining and China’s Territorial Disputes

Domestic Politics, International Bargaining and China’s Territorial Disputes


This is a groundbreaking analysis of China’s territorial disputes, exploring the successes and failures of negotiations that have taken place between its three neighbours, namely India, Japan and Russia. By using Roberts Putnam’s two level game framework, Chung relates the outcome of these disputes to the actions of domestic nationalist groups who have exploited these territorial issues to further their own objectives. By using first-class empirical data and applying it to existing theoretical concepts, this book provides a detailed account of China’s land and maritime border disputes that is both clear and accessible.

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British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1744-57

British Politics and Foreign Policy, 1744-57


The years between 1744 and 1757 were a testing time for the British government as political unrest at home exploded into armed rebellion, whilst on the continent French armies were repeatedly victorious. Providing an analytical narrative, supported by thematic chapters, this book examines the relationship between Britain’s politics and foreign policy in a period not hitherto treated as a unit. Building upon methods employed in the preceding two books (‘Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of George I, 1714-1727’ and ‘Politics and Foreign Policy, 1727-44’), this volume charts the significant political changes of 1744-57. It shows how ministerial change and political fortunes were closely linked to foreign policy, with foreign policy affecting, and being affected by, political developments. In particular, it asks important questions about the politics and foreign policy of these years and thus reconsiders the context of imperial growth, economic development and political stability. Far from being simply a study of individual episodes, the book outlines the structural aspects of the relationship between foreign policy and politics, examining issues of political stability, motivation and effectiveness. In particular, the role of monarch, Court and ministers are considered alongside those of Parliament, parliamentary politics, and the public sphere of discussion, notably, but not only, the press. The book therefore offers a guided narrative that both uses and builds on the analysis offered by contemporary commentators, and provides an informed assessment of the significance of the ideas, terms and language employed in eighteenth-century Britain to discuss foreign policy and politics.

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What’s a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend

What’s a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend


Author Name: John Homans No. Of Pages: 272 Pages Publisher: Penguin Books
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Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women’s Fitness, and Feminist Identity Politics

Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women’s Fitness, and Feminist Identity Politics


In her evocative ethnographic study, Body Language, Kimberly Lau traces the multiple ways in which the success of an innovative fitness program illuminates what identity means to its Black female clientele and how their group interaction provides a new perspective on feminist theories of identity politics-especially regarding the significance of identity to political activism and social change. Sisters in Shape, Inc, Fitness Consultants (SIS), a Philadelphia company, promotes balance in physical, mental, and spiritual health. Its program goes beyond workouts, as it educates and motivates women to make health and fitness a priority. Discussing the obstacles at home and the importance of the group’s solidarity to their ability to stay focused on their goals, the women speak to the ways in which their commitment to reshaping their bodies is a commitment to an alternative future. Body Language shows how the group’s explorations of black women’s identity open new possibilities for identity-based claims to recognition, justice, and social change.

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Work, Welfare, and Politics: Confronting Poverty in the Wake of Welfare Reform

Work, Welfare, and Politics: Confronting Poverty in the Wake of Welfare Reform


Work, Welfare and Politics sheds much needed light on the ideology and impacts of the 1996 welfare reform legislation. Led by Frances Fox Piven, activist, professor and author from City University of New York, notable scholars, advocates and policymakers explore the timely issues facing legislators in 2002. From politics and social control to families and childcare, this volume, which is a collection of papers originally presented at a 2000 conference, is comprehensive in scope and offers concrete suggestions for authentic welfare reform.
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Obama Gives Kanye West Some Advice About Getting Into Politics

President Barack Obama gave Kanye West some advice about getting elected on Saturday. 

The rapper recently announced he was running for president in 2020. Obama, alluding to the inability of House Republicans to find a new speaker, suggested Kanye could be a candidate for that position instead.

“You may have heard that Kanye is thinking about running for Speaker of the House. It couldn’t get any stranger,” Obama said at a fundraiser in San Francisco. He dispensed some tips ”in case Kanye is serious about this whole POTUS thing, or as Kanye calls it, ‘Peezy.'”

“Do you really think this country is going to elect a black guy from the south side of Chicago with a funny name to be president of the United States?” Obama said. “That’s cray.”

“Saying you have a beautiful dark twisted fantasy — that’s what’s known as ‘off message’ in politics,” he continued.

Obama also suggested that West’s appearances on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” might serve him well in politics.

“You got to deal with strange characters who behave as if they are on a reality TV show,” Obama said. 

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In Venice, Politics vs. Photos

Mystery and intrigue may be synonymous with the city of Venice, but the latest imbroglio between politicians and preservationists there seems a little more ham-handed.

Why have you banned this photo exhibit,” tweeted Venetophile and publisher JoAnn Locktov to Luigi Brugnaro, mayor of Venice, on August 14. “Are you so scared of the truth?

Yes, it is true, we are afraid of how you know how to mystify reality,” shot back the mayor in Italian.

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Photograph by Gianni Berengo Gardin, Venice

At issue is an exhibition, postponed by the mayor, of photographs depicting cruise ships that grotesquely dwarf the architecture of St. Mark’s Square and other Venetian landmarks. More than 500 ships dock there annually, flooding the city’s streets and canals with tourists. And there’s talk of dredging the city’s canals to accommodate even more.

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Photograph by Gianni Berengo Gardin, Venice

“On some days, there are seven to 10 cruises that can easily mean more than 20,000 visitors in a day for seven to eight months,” says Venice-based photographer Marco Secchi. “Venice has a major issue with mass tourism — last year there were 27 millions visitors.”

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Photograph by Gianni Berengo Gardin, Venice

The new mayor, elected in June on a platform to keep the port in Venice, canceled the photo exhibition at a gallery in the venerated Doge’s Palace. It was to feature works by Gianni Berengo Gardin, who’s been hailed by the U.K.’s Telegraph as Italy’s greatest photographer. Brugnaro evidently intends to display them later, together with an exhibit of his own plans for dredging the city’s lagoon and canals. It’s caused quite the outcry.

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Marco Secchi, Photographer, Venice

If the photos do not represent your reality, let the people decide,” tweeted the San Francisco-based Locktov.

You aren’t the people,” replied the mayor. “You see only yourself and your friends.”

“Friends” seems a near-Freudian slip in wording. The city’s port comes under control of the Venice Port Authority (VPA), with former Mayor of Venice Costa Paolo its president. In 1997, the VPA set up the Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, a commercial enterprise dedicated to managing cruise ship traffic in the port. VPA, Marco Polo Airport and the local chamber of commerce all have shares in the initiative.

Preservationists and lovers of the city’s mystique would like to see the ships dock elsewhere. “The ‘No Big Ship Committee’ is asking not to ban the cruises, but to stop them at the Lido, creating a new tourism port,” Secchi says.

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Marco Secchi, Photographer, Venice

The institutions responsible for finding alternative routes or strategies for cruise ships are many, while the decision-making pathways are tangled and muddled, adds Jane Da Mosto, author of The Science of Saving Venice. “What’s clear are the strong economic pressures of the cruise lobby,” she adds.

And “the last thing they (VPA) want is for ships to dock somewhere else, because of money,” says Anna Somers Cocks, CEO of The Art Newspaper in London and former head of the ‘Venice in Peril’ fund, which has raised 10 million pounds for the preservation of the city.

Fears of another Costa Concordia disaster in the lagoon surrounding Venice run high. But there’s more: dredging the canals to accommodate more and larger ships runs the risk of stirring up detritus from a 1960s petrochemical operation. “Ships would come into the petrochemical trench, then turn into a deeper trench into the port — they want to dig it 10 meters deep from six, and 100 meters wide from 50,” Cocks says.

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Marco Secchi, Photographer, Venice

Heavy metal waste from the petrochemical industry lies at the bottom of the lagoon — it’s highly toxic, but resting quietly for the moment. “There are particles of extremely poisonous chemicals” she says. “As soon as you start digging around, you release them into the lagoon.”

The photography exhibition might have served as a catalyst for change — but the mayor’s delay unveils a different scenario. “It all has to do with what’s going to happen to the port,” she says. “People are lobbying for the protection of the city, and then there are those who say ‘You’re living in cuckoo-land — let’s make as much money as we can.'”

Which may result in some unintended consequences for a city that’s increasingly dependent economically on tourists, rather than its dwindling tax base of shops and residents.

As Locktov tweeted the mayor, it’s “not a good idea to insult the people who fill your coffers with euro.”

Not to mention unleashing deadly toxins into your lagoon.

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications, and edits a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com, where portions of this post first appeared. He is also the author of “Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand,” from Routledge Press.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect

Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect


This astonishing book presents a distinctive approach to the politics of everyday life. Ranging across a variety of spaces in which politics and the political unfold, it questions what is meant by perception, representation and practice, with the aim of valuing the fugitive practices that exist on the margins of the known. It revolves around three key functions. It:introduces the rather dispersed discussion of non-representational theory to a wider audienceprovides the basis for an experimental rather than a representational approach to the social sciences and humanitiesbegins the task of constructing a different kind of political genre.A groundbreaking and comprehensive introduction to this key topic, Thrift''s outstanding work brings together further writings from a body of work that has come to be known as non-representational theory. This noteworthy book makes a significant contribution to the literature in this area and is essential reading for researchers and postgraduates in the fields of social theory, sociology, geography, anthropology and cultural studies.
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Trump Excels at Business, But He Has No Business in International Politics

Listening to Donald Trump’s egotistical take, you’d think his loud business personality translates perfectly into international politics. Mexico acting up? No matter; he’ll hop on the phone and curse Mexico out. China spiffing us in trade deals? Who cares! A solution is a phone call and an immature insult away. “Your country sucks, China!” Problem solved.

Except while that might work on TV, it would backfire in reality. As several commentators have already pointed out, Trump’s “refusal to act diplomatically [would be] catastrophic for the lead diplomat of the United States.” Diplomacy requires subtlety, tact and restraint — something everyone from Sun Tzu to Henry Kissinger agrees on. But screaming insults like a petulant toddler? That sort of behavior is best left on The Apprentice.

I’m not saying business experience has no place in politics. It obviously does. Outsiders bring valuable insights into the political process, and a more realistic representation of how business works — stressing restraint and negotiation over needless offense — translates extremely well into international diplomacy.

But Trump’s view of how his own bombastic business personality would play in the political realm is remarkably shortsighted. He speaks of countries as if they were individuals, and he acts like solutions to complex problems lie in three-word slogans. That pithy ideology might work for Trump’s personal life, but it would spell disaster if adopted by the president of the United States. In Trump’s worldview as presented thus far, one gets the impression that Israel-Palestine can be solved by a few stern phone calls and maybe a fancy steak dinner afterwards. If that fails, then bombs should do the trick. Yeah right.

Obviously, Trump’s oversimplification of international relations has appeal. Most people don’t have the background knowledge, the patience, or the time to truly consider the intricacies of, say, the development of ISIL. As Robert Greene writes in The 48 Laws of Power, short mantras have an intrinsic draw, a resonance that longer, more nuanced takes on things just don’t have. And that’s fine — for the average citizen. But the president of the United States, wielding a governmental branch clothed in immense executive power, should have a more thorough understanding of foreign policy.

He or she should understand that illegal immigration is not a problem the Mexican government alone can control, or that empirical evidence suggests undocumented immigrants actually commit less crime than native-born Americans. He or she should acknowledge that a disgusting phenomenon like ISIL has complex political, religious, and historical underpinnings that will not be, cannot be, dismantled by a few well-placed explosives — rhetorical or military. A responsible president should know that criticisms of China and Japan for manipulating currency should be restrained and qualified, to acknowledge (for example) Japan’s two decades of careful economic policy aimed at counteracting slumping fiscal performance. And so on.

Because in foreign policy, jabs aren’t taken lightly; and unlike in Trump’s business affairs, insulting a country ticks off a heck of a lot more people than the one person on the other side of the phone line.

Business isn’t simple; foreign policy isn’t either. If Trump wants to be taken seriously by the general electorate, he should demonstrate the nuanced understanding of foreign policy exemplified by candidates ranging from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton.

As things stand now, the world is far too dangerous and complex a place for Donald Trump to be at its helm, his hand hovering over the nuclear button, ready to shout “you’re fired!” at anyone who ticks him off.

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Healthcare Solved – Real Answers, No Politics

Healthcare Solved – Real Answers, No Politics


Written for the citizen consumer, healthcare professional and employer who asks: “What is health reform going to mean for me?” If you want to know more, this is the book for you. It is written in response to politicians attempting to hijack healthcare at the expense of the American people. As both a physician and economist, Dr. Smith plainly lays out the problems and real, workable solutions. With clinical and administrative experience, Dr. Smith has worked in every area of healthcare, from hospitals to insurance companies. She has seen what’s worked and what hasn’t in the United States, Europe and the Third World. The answers to how healthcare is actually delivered and where the money is really going will likely surprise you. If we are going to have a serious debate about healthcare, it is time for the American people, healthcare professionals and employers to fully understand and reclaim this most important issue.

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Ivanka Trump Discusses Fashion and Business — But No Politics, Please

With an expanding signature collection of her own, an executive role at the Trump Organization and a father who’s poking the political hornet’s nest with his decidedly non-PC style, it’s safe to say Ivanka Trump has a lot going on.
Accustomed to operating in overdrive, the Wharton grad is now suiting up 3,500 Trump Hotel staffers in uniforms she designed. Trump handles design and the creative vision for the company’s nine existing properties and four yet-to-be-opened ones in Baku, Azerbaijan; Rio de Janeiro; Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. She also serves as executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization. With two young children and an equally ambitious husband in Jared Kushner, the self-described “American wife, mother and entrepreneur” may represent a different sort of bold-faced paradigm in the fashion business. While that alone is something of a feat, it is not a moniker the former model acknowledged in any way during an interview last week.
Speaking about her new uniform designs, Trump very much stayed on message. While she has cheered on her father Donald’s take-no-prisoners presidential bid to her nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers and 582,000 more on Instagram, she wasn’t about to engage on political matters. “I

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Global HIV/AIDS Politics, Policy, and Activism: Persistent Challenges and Emerging Issues

Global HIV/AIDS Politics, Policy, and Activism: Persistent Challenges and Emerging Issues


The HIV/AIDS epidemic is at a critical turning point. Compelling new findings herald the potential to eventually grind the epidemic to a halt through a combination of expanded treatment coverage and new biomedical approaches to prevention. At the same time, the severe global economic downturns have negatively affected wealthy donor nations that have provided the funds and technical support for programs in the developing world. It is against this backdrop that this landmark three-volume set was developed. It provides a broad overview of the critical political issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, inspects key areas of policy and policymaking, and spotlights the most important forms of activism and community mobilization. The volumes reflect an eclectic and wide-ranging set of issues written by an international team comprising dozens of authors from nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, Cambodia, Norway, and Qatar. The international contributors represent a variety of disciplines and bring with them a range of styles and methodological approaches appropriate to their specific topics and disciplines. An important addition to academic and public libraries, this expansive work will benefit students and other readers interested in politics, policymaking, public health, activism, and community mobilization, both in the United States and globally.

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Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect

Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect


This astonishing book presents a distinctive approach to the politics of everyday life. Ranging across a variety of spaces in which politics and the political unfold, it questions what is meant by perception, representation and practice, with the aim of valuing the fugitive practices that exist on the margins of the known. It revolves around three key functions. It:introduces the rather dispersed discussion of non-representational theory to a wider audienceprovides the basis for an experimental rather than a representational approach to the social sciences and humanitiesbegins the task of constructing a different kind of political genre.A groundbreaking and comprehensive introduction to this key topic, Thrift''s outstanding work brings together further writings from a body of work that has come to be known as non-representational theory. This noteworthy book makes a significant contribution to the literature in this area and is essential reading for researchers and postgraduates in the fields of social theory, sociology, geography, anthropology and cultural studies.
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The Politics of the Fourth of July From Musical Theatre

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As we approach the celebration of America’s 239th year of independence, Americans can learn about their revolutionary past from many sources, including an unexpected one: musical theatre.

The intersection between politics and musical theatre is small, indeed. One current anomaly is the hottest show in New York City, even though it does not open on Broadway until July 15. Hamilton, the creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda, opened to near-universal raves off-Broadway, and it relies on historian Ron Chernow’s important biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Some 46 years ago, another musical set in the eighteenth century opened to acclaim, capturing the Tony Award for best musical. Set primarily in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, 1776 tells the story of the fateful weeks leading up to the writing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. Given this thumbnail description, one might expect either a ponderous or puffed treatment of those tumultuous days.

Surprisingly, however, the show’s enduring popularity (it was also made into a film in 1972 with most of the original stage cast, including the estimable William Daniels in the starring role of John Adams) attests to the skill and dexterity of its authors. Yes, historical figures depicted on stage burst into song from time to time, and while that art form may turn aside some, those who accept the conceit — which is, after all, the conceit of all musical theatre — find real meat on the historical bones of this show.

(Disclaimer: I am both a political scientist who has written some on the founding period, and currently have a small role in Central New York’s Cortland Repertory Theatre company’s production of 1776. Fittingly, its final performance is July 4.)

The play’s representation of the central characters reflects their historical personas: for example, we learn at the outset that John Adams is “obnoxious and disliked,” as indeed he was. Maryland’s Samuel Chase was discourteously dubbed “bacon-face” by his congressional colleagues, owing to his girth and prodigious appetite. Rhode Island delegate Stephen Hopkins was a prodigious drinker, and so on.

Beyond this, however, the production includes extended discussions of the key issues at stake — many of which continue to bedevil the country today. Commander-in-Chief George Washington’s numerous gloomy dispatches about the abysmal condition of his military in the face of superior British forces were enough to “depress a hyena,” as Delaware’s Thomas McKean lamented. When Adams wails at the top of the show, “By God I have had this Congress!” it could just as easily be Barack Obama speaking in 2015.

During a scene when Declaration chief author Thomas Jefferson is defending the document to skeptical Pennsylvania delegate John Dickinson, who asserts that America lacks the right to rebel, Jefferson counters by citing British political thinker John Locke’s contract theory of governance (whose writing profoundly influenced Jefferson): “When a king becomes a tyrant he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.”

Income inequality and the privilege of wealth inflame passions when Dickinson defends the influence of wealthy elites in a nation of relative poverty. Congress’s President John Hancock notes that the body’s conservatives are unlikely to marshal much support in the country because “there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy.” “Perhaps not,” Dickinson retorts, “but don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. And that is why they will follow us.” Koch brothers, anyone?

States’ rights and the relative balance of state versus national power sparks an exchange between delegates when South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge asks John Adams what the goal is beyond achieving independence. “We intend to become one nation,” Adams replies, to which Rutledge expresses his preference for “a nation of sovereign states, united for our mutual protection, but separate for our individual pursuits.” Preference for a weak national government finds expression in the nation’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (1777). Yet that document’s manifest weaknesses lead to its eclipse by the document of 1787, that far exceeded Rutledge’s call for a limited national government. Last week’s historic Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same sex marriage are but the most recent examples of the continuing struggle over federal versus state power.

Most centrally, the debate over the Declaration’s wording leads to the climactic moment in the show when the southern delegates walk out in protest of wording in the document condemning slavery. That near-rupture was staved off by the wording’s excision. Obviously, slavery would continue to cast its shadow over the country until the bloody Civil War finally ended the practice. As we know today, of course, it hardly ended the pall of fractured race relations which continue to rile our politics.

Finally, musical theatre is a distinctly American phenomenon. The mix of drama, historical text, humor and stirring music in 1776 gives a life to our past in a way that the likes of Ben Franklin might have appreciated, if not enjoyed.

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History: Politics or Culture? Reflections on Ranke and Burckhardt

History: Politics or Culture? Reflections on Ranke and Burckhardt


Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), generally recognized as the founder of the school of modern critical historical scholarship, and Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), the great Swiss proponent of cultural interpretation, are fathers of modern history-giants of their time who continue to exert an immense influence in our own. They are usually seen as contrasts, Ranke as representative of political history and Burckhardt of cultural history. In five essays, each flowing gracefully into the next, the distinguished historian Felix Gilbert shows that such contrasts are oversimplifications. Despite their interest in different aspects of the past, Ranke’s and Burckhardt’s views arose from common elements in the first half of the nineteenth century, the time in which they grew up and in which their first masterworks attracted such wide attention. This concise volume clarifies the beginnings of history as an autonomous discipline, while forcing us to examine our views on basic questions in historical scholarship. In the case of Ranke, relating his work to his times counteracts the current tendency to disregard the difference between the historical concepts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By focusing on this difference, Gilbert emphasizes the originality and novelty of Ranke’s ideas about history. Although Burckhardt is often portrayed as an intellectually lonely figure, this book reveals the importance of relating his thought to the intellectual trends of his time. Originally published in 1990.The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University P

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Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America

Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America


Why, alone among industrial democracies, does the United States not have national health insurance? While many books have addressed this question, Dead on Arrival is the first to do so based on original archival research for the full sweep of the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide range of political, reform, business, and labor records, Colin Gordon traces a complex and interwoven story of political failure and private response. He examines, in turn, the emergence of private, work-based benefits; the uniquely American pursuit of “social insurance”; the influence of race and gender on the health care debate; and the ongoing confrontation between reformers and powerful economic and health interests. Dead on Arrival stands alone in accounting for the failure of national or universal health policy from the early twentieth century to the present. As importantly, it also suggests how various interests (doctors, hospitals, patients, workers, employers, labor unions, medical reformers, and political parties) confronted the question of health care-as a private responsibility, as a job-based benefit, as a political obligation, and as a fundamental right. Using health care as a window onto the logic of American politics and American social provision, Gordon both deepens and informs the contemporary debate. Fluidly written and deftly argued, Dead on Arrival is thus not only a compelling history of the health care quandary but a fascinating exploration of the country’s political economy and political culture through “the American century,” of the role of private interests and private benefits in the shaping of social policy, and, ultimately, of the ways the American welfare state empowers but also imprisons its citizens.

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Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion

Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion


Provides a critical lens through which to view both the contemporary debate about immigration and the US response to the emergent global tuberculosis epidemic. This book shows how the association of the disease with ‘tramps’ during the 1880s and 1890s and Dust Bowl refugees during the 1930s provoked exclusionary measures against both groups.

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Civil Resistance and Power Politics

Civil Resistance and Power Politics


This widely-praised book identified peaceful struggle as a key phenomenon in international politics a year before the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt confirmed its central argument. Civil resistance – non-violent action against such challenges as dictatorial rule, racial discrimination and foreign military occupation – is a significant but inadequately understood feature of world politics. Especially through the peaceful revolutions of 1989, and the developments in the Arab world since December 2010, it has helped to shape the world we live in. Civil Resistance and Power Politics covers most of the leading cases, including the actions master-minded by Gandhi, the US civil rights struggle in the 1960s, the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, the ‘people power’ revolt in the Philippines in the 1980s, the campaigns against apartheid in South Africa, the various movements contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989-91, and, in this century, the ‘colour revolutions’ in Georgia and Ukraine. The chapters, written by leading experts, are richly descriptive and analytically rigorous. This book addresses the complex interrelationship between civil resistance and other dimensions of power. It explores the question of whether civil resistance should be seen as potentially replacing violence completely, or as a phenomenon that operates in conjunction with, and modification of, power politics. It looks at cases where campaigns were repressed, including China in 1989 and Burma in 2007. It notes that in several instances, including Northern Ireland, Kosovo and, Georgia, civil resistance movements were followed by the outbreak of armed conflict. It also includes a chapter with new material from Russian archives showing how the Soviet leadership responded to civil resistance, and a comprehensive bibliographical essay. Illustrated throughout with a remarkable selection of photographs, this uniquely wide-ranging and path-breaking study is written in an accessible sty …

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The Politics of Provisions: Food Riots, Moral Economy, and Market Transition in England, c. 1550-1850

The Politics of Provisions: Food Riots, Moral Economy, and Market Transition in England, c. 1550-1850


The ‘politics of provisions’ – forceful negotiations over sustenance – has created surprising contests in world history, particularly in times of market transition. In England a ‘politics of provisions’ evolved in a dialogue between popular riots and paternalist subsistence policies from Tudor dearths to the Victorian embrace of free-market doctrines. Hence provision politics was a core ingredient of both state-formation and of the emergence of the first market economy and society in England. This book is the first full-scale critical revision of E.P. Thompson’s seminal model of the ‘moral economy of the crowd’, which has had huge influence across the social sciences. It is the first synthesis of the many dispersed studies of three centuries of marketing and negotiations by riot over subsistence. By explaining such long-term shifts in patterns of political negotiation from parish-pump to Privy Council, this study offers a new view of why food riots were a more compelling and lasting bone of contention than enclosures, wages or votes.

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The Making of the Cold War Enemy: Culture and Politics in the Military-Intellectual Complex

The Making of the Cold War Enemy: Culture and Politics in the Military-Intellectual Complex


At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. government enlisted the aid of a select group of psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists to blueprint enemy behavior. Not only did these academics bring sophisticated concepts to what became a project of demonizing communist societies, but they influenced decision-making in the map rooms, prison camps, and battlefields of the Korean War and in Vietnam. With verve and insight, Ron Robin tells the intriguing story of the rise of behavioral scientists in government and how their potentially dangerous, “American” assumptions about human behavior would shape U.S. views of domestic disturbances and insurgencies in Third World countries for decades to come. Based at government-funded think tanks, the experts devised provocative solutions for key Cold War dilemmas, including psychological warfare projects, negotiation strategies during the Korean armistice, and morale studies in the Vietnam era. Robin examines factors that shaped the scientists’ thinking and explores their psycho-cultural and rational choice explanations for enemy behavior. He reveals how the academics’ intolerance for complexity ultimately reduced the nation’s adversaries to borderline psychotics, ignored revolutionary social shifts in post-World War II Asia, and promoted the notion of a maniacal threat facing the United States. Putting the issue of scientific validity aside, Robin presents the first extensive analysis of the intellectual underpinnings of Cold War behavioral sciences in a book that will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the era and its legacy.

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The Politics of Stupid

The Politics of Stupid


The Politics of Stupid takes on the food manufacturers, corrupt governments, and fitness/diet industries in an effort to teach women how to find the motivation to alter their lifestyles in search of well-being and weight loss.

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The Politics of Child Daycare in Britain

The Politics of Child Daycare in Britain


This work assesses childcare policy in post-war Britain to the beginning of the 21st century and focuses on the institutional context. Britian’s meagre provision of publically provided or subsidised daycare is examined, its consequences noted, and alternative systems suggested.

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Desperate Dykes and Dirty Politics

There’s no question that politics is a dirty business. Unless, of course, one makes the mistake of asking how dirty things can get. Greg Mitchell (author of The Campaign of the Century) notes that the first political attack ads to appear on the silver screen surfaced in movie theaters in 1934 when Upton Sinclair was running for Governor of California. The man who produced those ads was none other than MGM’s Irving Thalberg.

Fast forward through eight decades of fear-based political advertising (don’t forget the Swift Boat attacks on Senator John Kerry during his 2004 Presidential campaign) and one begins to wonder if political consultants, like former Senator Joseph McCarthy, have no sense of decency.

As one watches America’s political landscape deteriorate into a glorified version of Lord of the Flies, one learns about dysfunctional creeps and scumbags such as Karl Rove and Michael Needham (the 31-year-old former President of Heritage Action who devised the game plan for 2013’s government shutdown) and yearns for people with higher moral standards to enter politics (perhaps someone like Nellie Lovett or Jack the Ripper). Soon the concept of pursuing a career in public service gets redefined to match the following sentiment:

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Two of 2013’s Bay area productions dealt with self-serving politicians who would do whatever it takes to win an election and, by extension, the ruthless enablers who pave their way to public office.

  • One drama plays it straight; the other goes for guffaws and belly laughs.
  • One is about a male politician and his aide trying to strip a former girlfriend of her potential political power to undermine his candidacy; the other deals with three incredible women determined to wrest power from the status quo and bend it to their own sense of justice.

Each play is a perverse testament to the power of opposition research. To suggest that one belongs on a stage and the other does not severely understates the quality of writing and stage direction that went into each production. Here’s why.

* * * * * * * * * *

At least on paper, Kenneth Lin’s political drama entitled Warrior Class would seem to be well-conceived, carefully plotted, and extremely cost-efficient to produce. The playwright describes his protagonist in the following manner:

“Julius Lee is a successful politician whose life could have taken a very different path after a bad breakup in college. Now that he is about to open new territories of success, will he be able to break through or will he be dragged down by the past and a world that isn’t ready for him to fully succeed? Obama changed everything. Regardless of what you think of him as a president, no one can disagree that his political rise was meteoric, powerful, and game-changing. Politics and show business are both about the black art and magic of stardom. I think the Republicans and the Democrats are always looking for the next Obama. “

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Julius (Pun Bandhu) and Holly (Delia MacDougall) in a
scene from in Warrior Class (Photo by: Mark Kitaoka)

Lin’s three characters are carefully etched, with fully developed back stories:

  • Julius Weishan Lee (Pun Bandhu) is a handsome Chinese-American politician living in Queens, New York. A decorated veteran of the war in Kuwait, he has already defied the conventional political wisdom by running his first campaign on his own terms and being elected to the office of a New York Assemblyman. Julius is now being groomed by the GOP — which sees him as a “Republican Obama” if not necessarily an “Asian-American Obama” — for a possible seat in the House of Representatives. While Julius and his wife have been trying to have a baby through in vitro fertilization, he has been preoccupied with trying to line up the kinds of financial and political support that will get him sent to Washington. Although a political speech he gave has gone viral (helping to transform Julius into a photogenic, up-and-coming political figure), he needs to tidy up some parts of his past before they become a problem for his future.
  • Nathan Berkshire (Robert Sicular) is an old-time political operative acting as Julius’s mentor. An accomplished “fixer,” he is willing and able to pull strings with party hacks when necessary. But in politics, every favor comes with a price: a request for another pound of Julius’s political flesh. Although Nathan may be an expert in opposition research and intimidation tactics, he doesn’t like it when people refuse to play by his rules.
  • Holly Eames (Delia MacDougall) initially set out on a path that would lead to a legal career with political options. However, when she and Julius had a year-and-a-half-long affair in college, their breakup was far from pleasant. An immature, overly dramatic Julius turned into something of a stalker, leaving Holly to wonder whether she should fear for her life. Now, Nathan Berkshire wants her to sign a legal document which would immunize Julius against any possible damage from their past relationship.

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Julius (Pun Bandhu) and Nathan (Robert Sicular ) in a
scene from Warrior Class (Photo by: Mark Kitaoka)

While some might see the workings of a tense political drama in Warrior Class, I did not. Some of that was due to the quality of Lin’s writing; much of it was due to the slow pacing of Leslie Martinson’s stage direction. With the show clocking in at an hour and 38 minutes (including an intermission), as I left the theatre I found an extremely perverse thought going through my mind. Despite Erik Flatmo’s attractive scenery and a rotating turntable, Lin’s play seemed to be lost on the stage of the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

When a stage seems too big for a drama (or its characters), that sometimes means that the story is being told in the wrong medium. If all of the pregnant pauses, time spent on scene changes, nervous gesturing, and 15-minute intermission were eliminated, Warrior Class might be the perfect candidate for an hour-long made-for-television movie in which a camera’s fluidity could give the actors more opportunities for internal acting and the story might seem less leaden. In his program note, Robert Kelley (the artistic director of TheatreWorks) writes that:

“If Watergate set the standard for political spying, if the Lewinsky affair established a low-water mark for recklessness, then the skeletons in the closet of Warrior Class seem modest by comparison. But as every campaign consultant knows, it is the impression, not the reality, that matters in the take-no-prisoners world of American politics. With the difference between win and lose rarely wider than a hanging chad, any sign of weakness can distort perception, thwart potential, and compromise our future. It is a familiar game of dirty tricks and dirtier revelations, a world of innuendos invented and indiscretions disclosed, a world that defines our warrior class politics: charismatic combatants, instant response teams, explosive denunciations, and vehement denials. That’s why theatre is drawn to explore this world of votes and voting, blatant power and subtle persuasion. It’s not politics that will determine what’s ahead and how we’ll get there, it’s people. Turning their hopes, dreams, failings, and frustrations into art is what theatre is all about.”

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Holly (Delia MacDougall) and Nathan (Robert Sicular)
in a scene from Warrior Class (Photo by: Tracy Martin)

Lin raises some interesting questions:

  • Will Julius sell out to the party machine?
  • Will Holly compromise his chances as payback for shattering her self-confidence?
  • Is Nathan only doing this for the money?

The biggest surprise for me was how little I cared about any of Lin’s characters. The opening night performance of Warrior Class seemed embarrassingly lame — almost as exciting as the air popper Julius turns to for comfort in moments of stress. And I don’t think that was because of the general disgust with what’s currently happening in Congress.

* * * * * * * * * *

Bette Midler used to ask audiences what happens when you cross a donkey with an onion (sometimes you get an onion with really large ears; at other times, you get a piece of ass that just makes you want to cry). When Mel Brooks wrote The Producers, he was determined to humiliate Adolf Hitler by making the world see the Fuhrer as a total buffoon.

Sometimes the way to win an audience over to political intrigue is not with drama, but with extreme comedy. Because it’s so hard to write a good farce these days (much less a truly inspired political farce), I tip my hat to Lauren Gunderson who has achieved the impossible with her new play, The Taming (which received a “rolling world premiere” from San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theater and Seattle’s ArtsWest).

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Marilee Talkington, Kathryn Zdan, and Marilet Martinez
star in The Taming (Photo by: Tom Toro)

As with Warrior Class, Gunderson’s play requires only three actors (although they take on numerous roles). Initially inspired by the women in Shakespeare’s bawdy comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, they are appropriately named Bianca, Patricia, and Katherine.

  • Bianca (Marilet Martinez) is a liberal blogger with furious talents for whipping her followers on various social media platforms into a frenzy. Determined to save the “panda shrew,” she is threatening to post compromising pictures of a certain senator in flagrante delicto to the Internet. Not the brightest hipster activist around, Bianca has been laboring under the misguided assumption that NRA stands for National Rodent Association. She is also holding her twin sister hostage in the armoire in her hotel room.
  • Patricia (Marilee Talkington) is the very butch chief of staff for the conservative, slightly dimwitted Republican Senator from Georgia who is currently seeking re-election. A pushy political operative who likes to think of herself as having bigger balls than any of the men in Congress, Patricia has a strict Christian conservative agenda and does not believe in compromise. Ever.
  • Katherine (Kathryn Zdan) appears at first to be a ditzy southern belle. But beneath all that blonde hair and sparkly glitter, Miss Georgia is a fierce patriot, well versed in the United States Constitution, who knows — JUST KNOWS — what America’s Founding Fathers had in mind, y’all. A political operative gone rogue, she is not above slipping a couple of roofies into Bianca and Patricia’s drinks. Imagine Michele Bachmann with a brain. Or the bastard love child of Sarah Palin and Rahm Emanuel.

Crowded Fire Theater’s artistic director, Marissa Wolf (who directed this production with the madcap zeal of an I Love Lucy episode) previously worked with Gunderson on the rolling premiere of her 2011 farce entitled Exit, Pursued By A Bear. Wolf stresses that:

“Lauren’s plays always offer rich roles for women and give tremendous agency to under-represented female voices in both a modern context and throughout history. She writes with startling humor and breathtaking poignancy. Her use of sharp, nuanced language is a splendid fit with Crowded Fire’s aesthetic. It’s a match made in heaven. Every time I hear her language out loud (the fast pace, the Southern cadence, the sharp-tongued phrases), I imagine the words leaping right off the page and giving me a sharp, flirty slap as they gallop down the street to spin circles around any person who encounters them.

Gunderson’s smart and hilarious confrontations in The Taming engage us in questions about the erotics of gender and power in this bristling and contested landscape in which three women (and their earlier American avatars, from George Washington to James Madison) enter the jousting ring. The ferocity of political arguments acts as a magnet, drawing the characters ever closer to each other in their quest to be heard and understood. Gunderson’s play inspires us to start listening freshly and more attentively to others’ voices as we ask: How do we tame others’ political views when they seem so ridiculous and harmful to our country’s promise? Can we tame our own insistence on the absolute rightness of our cherished beliefs? How do we start creating a genuine dialogue?”

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Marilet Martinez as a liberal hipster/blogger in The Taming
(Photo by: Pak Han)

The Taming was originally commissioned and developed as part of Crowded Fire Theater’s “The Matchbox: Commissioning and Developing New Plays Series.” The staged premiere throws zingers into the audience with the ferocity of a lesbian tornado determined to flatten the opposition. While all three women appear to be borderline psychotic, in the second act they get caught up in a dream sequence in which Katherine becomes George and Martha Washington (as well as Dolley Madison) and Patricia becomes her political hero, James Madison.

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Kathryn Zdan as George Washington and Marilee Talkington
as James Madison in The Taming (Photo by: Pak Han)

Crowded Fire’s production was fast, fierce, and ferociously funny (I found myself aching to see a second performance just to make sure I caught all the jokes). Even something as innocent as Martha Washington’s reference to her big new hat was delivered in a manner that brought down the house. Kathryn Zdan, Marilee Talkington, and Marilet Martinez all proved to be gifted physical comedians.

If you have the slightest interest in American history and/or the current political landscape, you won’t want to miss Gunderson’s brilliant political farce. Were he still alive, Gore Vidal would be green with envy!

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Kathryn Zdan as Miss Georgia in The Taming (Photo by: Pak Han)

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Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance

Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance


Used – Contemporary urban spaces are critical sites of resistance for black women. By focusing on the spatial aspects of political resistance of black women in Newark, this book provides new ways of understanding the complex dynamics and innovative political practices within major American cities. Activist women devote their lives to creating and sustaining clothing exchanges, sister-circles, rites of passage programs and other open and progressive spaces of struggle. In so doing, they transform

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