Watch: High School (1968)

Trailer:

WATCH FILM HERE

There were a lot of things that interested me freshman year that I never got around to writing about- but better late than never right?

I’m very interested in film because I look at them as a way to learn. The best films in my opinion are the ones that cause you to reflect on things in your real life. I hope to provide plenty of recommendations going forward but there is one in particular that has been stuck in my head recently because I find that some of the major themes in it are more relevant than ever today.

I agree that there’s bigger things to talk about then films but I also don’t think it’s a bad place to start so…

The film:

High School by Frederick Wiseman

The genre:

Cinéma vérité (nerd word) documentary

The context:

Wiseman serves as a fly on the wall inside Northeast High School in Philadelphia during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam war.

Things to consider when watching:

-Is it always best to comply with authority?

-What is truly honorable?

-Who pays the price of war?

-Were the students back then different than they are now?

-If it seems like a bad system how do we fix it? If it’s good- why?

Pat you don’t really think I’m going to get anything out of some old ass black and white film do you?

Maybe not but if you put the phone down for an hour and fifteen minutes- you just might (these kids and them damn phones!).

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P.S- #EmbraceDebate

 

 

 

 

Impeachment; Facts and Opinions

By: Colin Messinger Twitter: @ColinMessinger Instagram: @colin_messinger

Impeachment is the elephant in the room (no pun intended).  I’ll try to lay out the facts in chronological order as best I can.  But before I get started I have something to say that is arguably as important as the facts or my opinion.

I am very liberal.

In fact, I have described myself as a socialist more than once, although, I think Democratic socialist would be more accurate.  Everything I’ve written should be read with that in mind. I can’t get rid of my biases, so the best I can do is to state them clearly and let them be taken into account.  Of course, citing my sources helps as well. I’m not going to do some janky MLA shit though, I’ll just link articles to the concrete details I use.

With that aside, let’s get into it.

The basics:

The current hearings are being done by the House Intelligence Committee.  The chairman of this Committee is Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California’s 28th district.  The ranking Republican member is Devin Nunes of California’s 22nd district.  Generally, the impeachment process is misunderstood.  “Impeachment” happens in the House of Representatives, but it is nothing more than a formal recognition of misconduct.  Once an official has been impeached in the House, the Senate holds a trial. If the official who was impeached is convicted in that trial, they are removed from office.  If they are acquitted, they go back to their job. Multiple Presidents have been impeached; none have been removed from office.

A timeline:

In 2016, Hunter Biden, the son of then American Vice President Joe Biden was appointed to the board of a Ukrainian company named Barisma.  Ukraine has an endemic corruption problem. Ukraine’s top prosecutor at the time was Viktor Shokin and he was investigating Barisma for corruption.  Joe Biden conditioned foreign aid from the United States to Ukraine on Shokin being fired, and he was.  This is regular practice that foreign aid comes with conditions. It is also true however, that the EU, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) were calling for Shokin to be fired.  It was official United States Policy that Ukraine replace him as prosecutor.

In April of 2019, Ukraine elected Volodymyr Zelensky to be their President.  He ran on a largely anti-corruption platform. He requested that Vice President Pence come to his inauguration.  Pence said he would go if his schedule allowed it. In the end, according to sworn testimony in front of the Intelligence Committee, President Trump decided that Pence would not go to the Inauguration in Ukraine.

The United States gives out Billions in foreign aid to a number of nations.  That includes Ukraine. I said earlier that it is standard practice for foreign aid to come with conditions.  The aid going to Ukraine had anti-corruption stipulations. Ukraine met those conditions according to a Defense Department statement on June 18, and the aid was scheduled to be released.  Later, a hold was placed on that aid by the executive branch.  When exactly the Trump administration decided to withhold the aid is disputed.  Jim Jordan, a Republican Senator from Ohio, stated in Ambassador Sondland’s hearing that the aid was held up on July 18th.  However, Lt. Colonel Vindman testified to the House committee that he was “concretely made aware of the fact that there was a hold” on the funds by July 3rd.

On July 25th President Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  (This is where any liberal bias I have is likely to come through, read this critically and read the call transcript yourself.)  In the call, right after President Zelensky brings up the aid that the U.S. is giving to Ukraine, he was not yet aware that there was a hold on the funds, President Trump says “I would like you to do us a favor though.”  He then asks the Ukrainian President to investigate Crowdstrike.  Crowdstrike is a theory that Russian interference in the 2016 election was fabricated and that there are DNC servers to prove it hidden in Ukraine.  It has been widely discredited, and the Associated Press called it a conspiracy theory. Later in the call, Trump asks the Ukrainian President to speak to Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, and the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr about Joe Biden’s role in firing Ukrainian Prosecutor Shokin.  Trump says “I would like you to get to the bottom of it.” At the time, Joe Biden was leading the polls for the Democratic Primary.

Next comes the whistleblower. 

On August 12th, the whistleblower, whose identity is unknown, submitted a complaint to the Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.  On September 9th a letter from Atkinson reached congress that said that the whistleblower’s concerns were urgent, and being ignored.   On that day, September 9th, Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, demanded that the whistleblower’s complaint be released and sent to his committee.  The Whistleblower Statute outlines this as proper procedure.

On September 11th the aid to Ukraine was released.

The aid to Ukraine was vitally important because Ukraine is currently at war with Russia.  Not only would the aid help their defense efforts, but the optics of the United States backing them against Russia is certainly a deterrent to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictator.  Multiple witnesses in the hearings testified to this, among them were Bill Taylor and George Kent.

Now comes my opinion:

President Donald Trump, asked a foreign government to investigate his domestic political rival.  In other words, he asked Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 Presidential election. This was an official phone call between our President and Ukraine’s.  And our president used it to further his personal, political goals. For that- he should be impeached. To me, trying to get a foreign country to interfere in our elections is treason.  If I were the Speaker of the House, I would include treason as an article of impeachment. But that’s just me, and to be honest I’m really not sure if this would fall under the legal definition of treason.

If you’ve followed the impeachment inquiry even a little, you’ve probably heard the terms “quid pro quo,” “extortion,” and “bribery.” In this context though, they essentially mean the same thing, that the President made a deal, using his power as President, to help himself in the 2020 election.  Bribery, however, is the Democrats’ best bet for an impeachment article, because the Constitution specifically mentions it. Article II, Section Four of the constitution is only one sentence long. It says; “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Because the deal between Trump and Ukraine is clear, bribery is a relatively easy case to make. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, testified that the aid was contingent on an investigation or an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens.

The Public hearings have not gone well for republicans.  Tim Morrison and Kurt Volker were included in the Republicans’ list of witnesses they’d like to see called.  They testified on November 19th and at one-point Republican Rep. Nunes referred to them as Schiff’s witnesses. Clearly they didn’t testify the way he had hoped they would.  During the proceedings the Representatives from both parties have asked the witnesses if they thought there was a quid pro quo. The question is an irrelevant one.  They are not legal witnesses, in Congress to testify whether Trump committed a crime. So far, they have all been fact witnesses called to give Congress a clearer picture of how things unfolded so that the Committee, and eventually the house as a whole can decide if a crime was committed.

One of many Republican arguments at the moment is that there was no quid pro quo because the aid was released and no investigation was announced or started into the Bidens.  The thing is though that the aid wasn’t released until after Congress found out about the whistleblower complaint. On September 9th, Congress caught the Trump administration with its pants down.  Releasing the aid two days later was just them pulling their pants back up.  In Ambassador Sondland’s testimony, a quote from Trump saying he wanted “no quid pro quo” came out.  The thing is though that he said that on September 9th after Congress announced they’d be looking into the whistleblower complaint and any potential quid pro quo.

Of course he denied it- it’s a fucking impeachable crime.

Next up is Rudy Giuliani who has acted as a back channel between Trump and Ukrainian officials.  Time and time again, in the impeachment hearings it was stated that investigating the Biden’s was not official U.S. policy.  But according to witnesses, that was what Giuliani was advocating for. That means that Giuliani, a private citizen, was undermining U.S. Foreign Policy.  That is treason and he should be tried for it.

I have no idea if the senate will vote to remove President Trump from office.  Reason and logic (remember again that this is my opinion section) suggest they would.  But the realist in me thinks they’ll fall perfectly in line with their party.

If you can, watch the hearings because this is history unfolding. I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’ll be impeached.  And I hope to every God there is, that this will be the last time a President needs to be removed from office.

Notes about this:

A decent amount of the facts included in here are not cited or included in the articles I’ve linked.  I just know the information from watching the hearings, and following the story for the past two months.  So, if something doesn’t sound right to you, please don’t take my word for it.

Look it up yourself. (You won’t find the whole story on CNN or Fox News btw)*

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Editor’s Note:

You never truly can- nice work Colin.

 

 

NNNN Episode #24 with Matt DiPesa

Had a great conversation with Matt that will give you plenty of ammunition to liven up the banter at your Thanksgiving dinner this year*

https://anchor.fm/s/9f00fb0/podcast/rss

Article referenced:

Title: Inside the Radical, Uncomfortable Movement to Reform White Supremacists

Inside the Radical, Uncomfortable Movement to Reform White Supremacists

Quote from article:

“What the fuck am I doing with my fucking life? How are we the supreme race? We’re fucking idiots.”

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Editor’s Note:

*- Or maybe wait until Christmas**

**- Or maybe just think about these topics for yourself and have a fantastic holiday season being grateful for all that you have***.

***- Tell a family member you love them.

 

 

 

 

When the World Turns a Blind Eye

Written by Aidan Poole in his junior year of high school.

He says: “It may be a bit rusty, but the subject matter remains poignant and relevant”.

Email: aidanmpoole@gmail.com

Instagram: @aidanpoole18

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September 1945 marked the end of World War II, in which the Axis powers officially surrendered to the Allies. Although the Axis forces had to pay the economic and political prices of military defeat, the pain ridden experiences of the Jewish population in Europe are too great to compare. The world may have been haunted by war, but European Jews were plagued by something far worse: genocide. Genocide is defined by the United Nations as acts carried out with intent to destroy a racial, ethnic, religious, or national group in whole or in part. During the genocide known as the Holocaust, millions of Jews were systematically dehumanized and slaughtered by the Nazi regime because of their religious alignment. After the war, countries around the world stood together and sang the phrase “Never Again” as a way to honor the nearly 6,000,000 Jews who perished and raise awareness in order to protect the future from potential genocides. In the years immediately following the Holocaust, the world seemed determined never to let another genocide occur. As time began to pass, it became evident that more genocides were going to take place. However, the international community did little or nothing to prevent these massacres from happening. The most notable post-Holocaust genocide took place in Rwanda, in which the Hutu majority slaughtered close to 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority in the span of just three months. Equipped with ample information and the ability to intervene, countries around the world refused to stop the killings. Despite the good intentions of the phrase “Never Again,” those words ought to ring facuous and hollow in the ears of all who hear them, as the world has demonstrated it will never act on this empty promise. Although government officials have the ability to intervene and prevent genocides from taking place, they instead sit in their opulent offices and fabricate excuses for their lack of involvement while pretending to care. These excuses are merely covering up the unnerving truth. Although the international community has the ability to intervene and stop genocide, people constantly choose not to due to selfish and xenophobic tendencies, as demonstrated by the Holocaust, and lack of general interest and humanity, as demonstrated by the Rwandan massacres.

Adolf Hitler was appointed as chancellor of Germany during the year 1933. As soon as his Nazi party held enough influence over the government, they began to eliminate political opposition and perpetuate anti-semitic propaganda in German society. Documentaries such as The Eternal Jew and literary works including Mein Kampf made the Nazi’s sinister plan of Jewish extermination explicitly clear. Nazis fostered a sense of hate among the German people by claiming Jews were biologically impure and blaming them for Germany’s poor economic state following World War I. The national socialist party began to implement laws that deprived the German Jews of civic rights, their homes, and eventually their lives. Any outside observer could peer into Germany and agree that the plan to exterminate the Jewish population was clear as day. Journalists within Germany reported on the events, urgent to make the rest of the world aware.  An article from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states that the US government publicly “confirmed that Nazi Germany planned to murder all the Jews of Europe” (“United States”). This sinister news was “reported widely in the American press.” The people of the United States had access to various reports detailing the German plot to eliminate Jews from Europe. Despite this truth, no action was taken to stop the killings or save those who were being persecuted. Instead, the US government ignored the desperate cries for help as hundreds of Jews were gassed and burned alive every day. The heartless United States claims that it was too busy fighting the war in Europe to intervene. However, digging deeper will reveal that there are a number of darker and more disturbing reasons to explain the failure of the US to get involved and try to save dying European Jews.

One of the reasons that the United States abstained from providing support to European Jews during the Holocaust was simply because members of the government were anti-Jewish as well. One source details that the State Department made certain decisions because it was “characteristically insensitive and influenced by anti-Semitism” (“American Response”). These individuals subscribed to their hateful ideology because they believed in rumors that an organization of Jewish communists would soon try to overthrow the American government and its democratic ideals. In the form of posters and radio shows, propaganda existed in the United States that promoted the idea that Jews were a threat to democracy, striking fear into the hearts of Americans. Other people were anti-Semitic because they believed that a Jewish plot to manipulate financial institutions posed a threat to American economic integrity. The existence of anti-Semitism in the United States government provides a more shocking reason as to why America did not try to stop the killings of Jews. Their reluctance to help can be attributed to racist and backwards motives that the government as a whole would be too embarrassed to admit to.

Another reason that explains the refusal of the United States to aid dying European Jews was the American attitude towards immigrants during this time period. The economy of the United States was already suffering much strain from the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce and the fear existed that increasing the immigration quota would give homeless and desperate Jews the chance to steal American jobs. It is for this reason that in the year 1939, “83% of Americans were opposed to the admission of refugees” (“America”). The working class of the US prioritized the safety of their careers over the lives of European Jews, proving the selfish nature of the country as a whole; they were willing to throw ideals of acceptance and equality out the window for better chances at work. People believed that their economic well-being came before the lives of fellow humans, a practice that proves to be egotistical at heart. Economic factors aside, a general fear and mistrust of those who were different also shaped American attitudes towards immigrants during this period. Harmful xenophobia, or fear of foreigners, permeated every part of society, weaving its way into even governmental politics. One source states that “immigration policies were shaped by fears of communist infiltrators and Nazi spies” (“America”). This illustrates the negative light in which society viewed immigrants. Fear of Nazi infiltration and a communist takeover threatened the United States with destruction. This demonstrates how America’s bigoted worldview prevented them from helping suffering European Jews. Although the United States claimed it abstained from intervention due to preoccupation with war, the real reason it refused to get involved was because it disliked and feared minorities and the negative impact it thought they would have on the country.

Much like in the case of the Holocaust, the failure of the international community to intervene during the Rwandan genocide also has disturbing origins. Racism was always an issue in Rwanda, creating high tensions between the Hutu majority and the frequently targeted Tutsi minority. In 1990, a group of persecuted Tutsis, exiled by abusive Hutus, invaded Rwanda to secure a right to their homeland and protect the rights of Tutsis against vicious hate crimes. The Hutu majority used this event as an excuse to enact a policy of genocide upon the Tutsis, killing up to 800,000 of them over 100 days. Plans for the genocide were explicitly transparent in Rwanda, as the public radio was used to dehumanize Tutsis and promote their merciless slaughter. The radio created a culture of hatred, allowing the genocide to take place. The United Nations peacekeeping correspondent in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, witnessed the events that led up to the genocide personally. He anticipated the start of a slaughter and “gave the UN information of the atrocities that were going to happen” (Merkel). This leaves no doubt as to whether or not the UN was aware of the events going on in Rwanda. Still, despite clear and concise information and knowledge of the killings, the United Nations continually debated whether humanitarian intervention was appropriate to cover up the true reason they did not get involved. The international community abstained from intervening during the Rwandan genocide simply because governments did not care enough to spend time and resources to save lives, suggesting a bankruptcy of humanity in the world.

Those who argued that the United Nations should stay out of Rwanda pointed primarily at the problem with sovereignty. Intervention, “whether humanitarian or not, has always been a problem for states” (Merkel). Many believe that foreign governments should not involve themselves with the affairs of sovereign states in order to preserve the “autonomy and freedom” of the state. Each country has a responsibility to protect its own people. However, the truth is that many times humanitarian intervention is the only way to protect the freedom of states that cannot handle the responsibility of protecting their own people. During the Rwandan genocide, the arguments and regulations defending the sovereignty of foreign states were abused and used as excuses to avoid involvement. Although these arguments have some rationality to them, the truth is that they were a transparent cover to the truth; the UN did not involve itself in Rwanda because it suffered from a severe lack of interest in the matter. By ignoring the glaring evidence of the genocide and refusing to protect the persecuted Tutsis, the United Nations proves itself guilty of this charge. One source details that the international community suffered from “a lack of will to take on the commitment necessary to prevent the genocide” (Winfield). This statement is very true, as it demonstrates that the UN was not willing to pay the financial price of military intervention or spend the time needed to remedy the situation. Instead, they turned a blind eye, proving the organization incapable of carrying out one of its main functions; to preserve international peace.

Another example that demonstrates the baffling degree to which the world refused to care about the Rwandan genocide is the infamous speech delivered by Bill Clinton to the devastated Tutsis after the massacres ended. The weary crowd that gathered to hear him speak expected an official apology, aid for the damage, and a promise for the future. Instead, the US president refused to apologize and merely acknowledged that “we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred” (Power). This statement suggests that America took at least some amount of action to prevent the slaughter of Tutsis, but this is a lie. In fact, it was the United States that took selfish efforts to “remove most of the UN peacekeepers already in Rwanda” when the killings began and it was the United States that refused to use its superior technology to shut down the radio in Rwanda, the main tool for organizing killings. He then formulated the excuse that those in America did not “fully appreciate the depth and the speed by with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror” (Power). This claim of not knowing about the depth and scale of the Rwandan genocide is a blatant lie, as it was the first genocide to be broadcast on television, with news reporters covering it extensively throughout the country. Clinton’s refusal to apologize to the Rwandan people is grossly immature, and his excuse of ignorance regarding the issue is disgustingly sadistic. He tried to work his way around the issue with broken excuses, but the truth is that his failure to intervene stems from a failure to care about the lives of fellow human beings. The “out of sight, out of mind” approach that Clinton and other world leaders took regarding the issue is harrowing.A failure to empathize with others around the globe makes for a dangerous future, one where the interests of the self are promoted above the collective and, with it, humanity.

It is true that the United States makes efforts to help a select few suffering peoples and tries to provide humanitarian aid to broken countries every so often. After all, one of the expressed reasons that the US invaded Iraq in 2003 was the effort of “liberating Iraq from this vicious tyrannical regime” to “bring democratic political process” (“A Necessary War”) to the country. This demonstrates that America is willing to get involved in international conflict to protect the wellbeing and freedom of helpless people. However, a closer examination will reveal more selfish motives for the invasion. The Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, had long been an enemy of the US, meaning the invasion was in part a mission to overthrow his regime to push the American political agenda. In addition to this, Iraq is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world. This is an essential product in the United States, needed for the country to run efficiently. It is likely that the greed for oil helped to promote the invasion rather than a benevolent desire to spread democracy. This demonstrates that the US is willing to impose a policy of intervention, but only when it directly benefits them. The implication of these actions is that the country is inherently self-centered and driven by avarice. There was nothing to gain from helping in the Holocaust or Rwanda, so America simply looked the other way and pretended it did not know the scale of the issue.

The international community refuses to stop genocide because of the self-interested and xenophobic tendencies of people who do not care enough to save dying minorities all over the world. To live in a world where governments willingly allow the systematic dehumanization and murder of thousands to take place every year is not only unnerving, but extremely dangerous as well. Genocide is a historical problem as well as a contemporary one. If political leaders and world populations continue to ignore it, the past will repeat itself again and again. If the world community refuses to show human empathy for those in less fortunate situations, an attitude promoting selfishness and greed will rule society, slaying the American ideals of equal opportunity and justice with the mighty sword of inhumanity. Countries around the globe must fulfill their promise of “Never Again” and stop genocides to save the lives of millions and protect the world from a dark future. If this does not happen soon, the world may never see an end to the hopeless vortex of hate and selfishness it has been sliding into.

Works Cited:

“A Necessary War?” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh//pages/frontline/shows/truth/why/necessary.html

“America and the Holocaust.” Facing History and Ourselves, http://www.facinghistory.org/defying-nazis/america-and-holocaust.

“American Response to the Holocaust.” History.com, A&E Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/american-response-to-the-holocaust.

Merkel, Bernard-Alexandre. “The Rwandan Genocide: The Guilty Bystanders.” E-International Relations, 14 Jan. 2010, http://www.e-ir.info/2010/01/14/the-rwandan-genocide-the-guilty-bystanders/.

Power, Samantha. “Bystanders to Genocide.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 31 Mar. 2017, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/09/bystanders-to-genocide/304571/.

“The United States and the Holocaust, 1942–45.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007094.

Winfield, Nicole. “UN Failed Rwanda.” Global Policy Forum, Associated Press, http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/201-rwanda/39240.html.

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Editor’s Note:

Great work Aidan- people have a right to be informed.

 

Honestly Just Click the Link So I Don’t Starve to Death

By: Jake Sockett Twitter: @SockettJake Instagram: @jake.sockett

I honestly think that it’s important to know which celebrities you look like so that if you’re ever in a place where you need a quick disguise or a friend to save you from a weird situation by running up to you and yelling “oh my god! It’s you! XYZ!”

It’s a handy solution to a lot of potential issues.

When reflecting upon this thought, I came up with a list of six celebrities I think I could pass for in a situation where I’m left with no other options. 

The Definitive List of My Celebrity Lookalikes:

  1. Ellen DeGeneres

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2) Chord Overstreet

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3) A Young Vladimir Putin

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4) That kid from the Polar Express

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5) Otis from Back at the Barnyard

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6) Travis Scott (I know what you’re thinking just bear with me)

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Now obviously not every one of these celebrities are my doppelganger but I do think that I could pass for them in a SNAFU.

Who’s to say I’m not any of them though? I haven’t been seen in the same room as any of these people*. 

Stay frosty.

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Editor’s Note:

*- Image result for shaq real shit