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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reuters is the fastest

 
This is a MD-83 aircraft like the one which crashed today in Mali/Reuters
 
When it comes to the story today about the Air Algerie tragedy in Africa, Reuters was the first news service I could find to confirm the crash.

Here is a headline timeline in EST:

10:22 a.m.  Reuters confirms the plane has crashed

10:38 a.m.  Bloomberg News reports the plane has vanished

10:39 a.m.  BBC reports the plane is missing

10:41 a.m.  CNN says the plane is "lost" and "off radar"

10:42 a.m.  Washington Post reports the plane has vanished

10:44 a.m.  New York Times has no mention of it on its website

10:50 a.m.  Wall Street Journal reports the crash

10:52 a.m.  Reuters was added to my "favorites"
The planned route of the Air Algerie flight/Chicago Tribune, NDN

EUMETSAT


patricialesli@gmail.com



 

Monday, July 21, 2014

CATF's 'Dead and Breathing' is alive and kickin'


Lizan Mitchell is "Carolyn," the patient, and N.L. Graham is "Veronika" in Dead and Breathing by Chisa Hutchinson at CATF/Photo by Seth Freeman

At the Contemporary American Theater Festival underway at Shepherd University in Shepardstown, West Virginia, every single attendee I spoke with enthusiastically praised the acting in each of the five new plays of the 2014 season, which would definitely include the portrayals seen in Dead and Breathing by Chisa Hutchinson.

Two actors, a hospice nurse and her patient, consumed by her dying days, make up Dead's cast. Not a particularly uplifting subject but comedy was promised in the promotion, and it delivered that, and more.  Too much in some instances. 

The production fulfills CATF's goals to be a daring story of diversity, innovation, and one which links the audience with the work.  All five plays have been written in the last year or two.

The new nurse, Veronika (craftily acted by N.L. Graham), arrives at the home of the negative and bitter, sarcastic and unsmiling, humorless and old (she would have been old at 28) rich patient, Carolyn, brilliantly acted by Lizan Mitchell.  Veronika is a nurse, after all, whose mission is to nurture her patient and live happily ever after?

Any sunshine in Carolyn's life disappeared long ago, and she greedily waits for approaching death which will extinguish the lights of her sorry existence. Her frowns become lines in concrete, permanently etched upon her dry face. She is tightly coiled, from her covered head to her mean spirit, ready to strike fast at anything which impedes her goal to die now and get it over with.  She scowls often, turning her mouth upside down.

The characters sling it out with all the obscene language we have grown to expect in contemporary theatre.   They are not of the same school, you see.

Their lines are biting. You may think these things, but civility demands restraint, and aren't we glad?

The play opens with a full frontal nudity scene of Carolyn stepping in and out of the bath tub with Veronika's help while we have to witness another nude scene when Veronika steps away momentarily to answer the door. The patient disrobes again and attempts suicide with a hair dryer in the bath tub filled with water. Right.  (That must have been b-r-r-r cold water, but if so, Ms. Mitchell covered her shivers with aplomb.)
   
While Veronika tidies up the patient and the surroundings, wipes her clean after Carolyn urinates in the toilet (please), Veronika preaches the Gospel to her patient, urging Carolyn to adopt the Gospel, too. 

The exchanges present opposing viewpoints, and if the Almighty and hereafter are not enough, other contemporary issues are thrown in for good measure. 

The two set up an exchange (you scratch my eyes out and I'll scratch yours): Rather than an eye for an eye, how about an exchange of murder and Jesus for cash?  I told you it was a comedy.
"Veronika" (N.L. Graham) gets ready to stick it to the patient in Dead and Breathing at CATF/Photo by Seth Freeman

Carolyn calls her attorney to make Veronika the beneficiary of Carolyn's $27 million estate if Veronika will just agree to murder Carolyn with a nice shot to the neck and get the damned life over.  If you'll accept Jesus Christ in your heart, I'll kill you.  As simple as that. 

Makes sense, no?  What would you do? 

The dilemmas presented are excellent, and the audience wrestles with self-doubt. Don't do it! I found myself imploring her.  (Which her?)

My ending differed from the playwright's.  I fully expected the stage to darken with answers left to the audience to determine. 

The age of the playwright, 34, comes as a shock, for the dialogue suggests experience far beyond someone so young, someone who knows about the closing of life. Ms. Hutchinson has multiple sclerosis who cared for her own mother, ill with cancer.

Congratulations to the director, Kristin Horton. The set (by Luciana Stecconi) was nicely divided into a full bathroom (with real tub, toilet and sink) and the patient's sitting room.

(In the program the playwright complains about repetitive plays about married white women contemplating divorce. Well, you know what? I am tired of seeing naked white/black/ brown/orange women on stage. Where are the naked men? That a man could have played this part, and we could have seen a full monty male nude twice might help dispel the notion that all old women are bitter, uncompromising, hateful creatures. I know a few old coots. Give us naked men.)

Shepherd University is just a little over an hour's beautiful drive from D.C. in the delightfully "quaint" town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, founded in 1762, where free lectures, discussions, late-night salons, workshops, and more are part of the festival.

For another review of Dead and Breathing and other CATF productions and area performances, click DC Metro Theater Arts.

What:  Dead and Breathing by Chisa Hutchinson

When: The five new plays in the Contemporary American Theater Festival are staged in rotating repertory, Wednesday through Sunday afternoons and evenings through August 3, 2014.

Where:  Shepherd University, Shepardstown, WVA

Tickets: $59 for single seats with discounts for military, students, seniors, families, those under age 30, and West Virginia residents, plus four and five-show discount packages starting at $100. The 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday shows are $30.

For more information: 800-999-2283 or 304-876-3473

patricialesli@gmail.com

Saturday, July 12, 2014

CATO panel condemns U.S. spying on us

CATO's Julian Sanchez, left, and Congressman Tom Poe at CATO on Tuesday/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Have you ever attended a presentation at the CATO Institute when the "other side" was not represented?

Me neither. 

Until this past week.

After the fourth of July, it was the Fourth Amendment* to the U.S. Constitution and "digital privacy" which drew attention from about 100 who came to hear four panelists, one keynote speaker, and a moderator discuss government snooping on its citizens, and the critical need to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

The way the U.S. government interprets the law, without a warrant it can sneak, peek, and keep private communications which are stored "in the cloud."

The law remained current about a nanosecond after it passed Congress and was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Although 220 members of Congress endorse reform of the ECPA, proposals languish on Capitol Hill because..."the government wants to read your email without you knowing it, and that's why legislation is stalled. That's it," said Katie McAuliffe, the executive director of Digital Liberty, Americans for Tax Reform, and a panel member.

"It's gotten to the point of absurdity," Greg Nojeim, another panelist and senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said. Ms. McAuliffe echoed:  "It's absurd." 

The right of government to track citizens by "location information" on cell phones and towers will be decided by "the Supremes" quicker than Congress will act, Mr. Nojeim predicted, noting that the courts have issued different opinions on the matter.  Digital searches are many times more pervasive than wiretaps, he said.

Before the panelists discussed, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) gave a short presentation and history of the Fourth Amendment, and brought along a placard with the amendment spelled out, which stood on an easel nearby.

If vision was blocked, but probably to emphasize the content, Mr. Poe read the amendment out loud and frequently cited the wording in his talk which the panelists did, also.

Mr. Poe, a former prosecutor and criminal court judge in Houston, said that based on his experience, government spying is government oppression:  "Law enforcement will always push the envelope to get their way," he said.

The National Security Agency violates the Patriot Act with its snooping.  "We don't know what they have, and they won't tell us....Government seizure of information on citizens" violates the Fourth Amendment, and he read again some of the amendment to the audience.

Americans are weary of hearing that old, tired refrain: Rights must be relinquished to protect national safety and security, Mr. Poe said.
 
Mr. Nojeim has "lived in Washington a long time, and I have never seen" an issue which has produced as much consensus among disparate groups (he named the ACLU and Americans for Tax Reform).

"It is really amazing," he said and mentioned a website devoted to citizens' privacy protections:  Digital Due Process.org.

Responding to a question from an audience member, no members of the panel knew of any challenges in the courts to the government's claim of "ownership" of letters mailed in the U.S. Postal System. In other words, because a sender "gives" her letter to the U.S. Postal Service to mail, the government then "owns" it and can track it, which it does.

Julian Sanchez, senior fellow at CATO and the event's moderator, said the CIA routinely tracks and analyzes snail mail.

Earlier, Mr. Poe said he was working to pass this year new legislation on citizen privacy. Email should receive stronger privacy protection than a letter snail mailed since the government does not have legitimate possession of email, he said.

Mr. Sanchez reported that in a recent six-month period the government sent Google almost 8,000 requests for user data for more than 16,000 accounts.

If anyone in the audience disagreed with the tone of the discussion, if anyone meant to defend the government, or to endorse government snooping, if anyone favored the idea, that person(s) remained silent. Perhaps, the NSA was too busy taking notes.

Edward Snowden's name never came up during the 90-minute presentation.

Also on the panel were attorneys David Lieber from Google and Nate Jones from Microsoft.
 
*The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

patricialesli@gmail.com

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 5


These Washington Mystics fans threw their hands in the air when they learned the Mystics had scored in the Washington Post/Photo by Patricia Leslie

It is almost a miracle.

Found in the sports section of Thursday's Washington Post on page D3 was an article which spanned three columns with a picture about the Washington Mystics beating the Chicago Sky, 72-65, in Illinois Tuesday night ("Washington holds on to end its slide").

That the Post even carried an article (Associated Press), let alone a photo of a Mystic (!) (Bria Hartley) and not a picture of the competition as in pages past, are reasons to celebrate and bring out the cake and champagne with the hope that from now on, the Post will give the Mystics the coverage they need, warrant, and their fans demand. 

After all, Washington Post, this town is made up of more than strictly men.

For more on the matter:

Read: Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 1

 
Next up for the Mystics:

July 12 at Tulsa Shock, 7 p.m.

July 15 at Phoenix Mercury, 7 p.m.

July 23 v. Connecticut Sun at Verizon Center, 11:30 a.m.

July 25 v. Tulsa Shock at Verizon Center, 7 p.m.

July 27 v. Atlanta Dream at Verizon Center, 4 p.m.

July 29 at New York Liberty, 7 p.m.

 patricialesli@gmail.com

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cruisin' July 4 on the Potomac

Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming  
 
The view of the fireworks on the National Mall July 4, 2014, from onboard Virginia's Jewel on the Potomac River.  To the far right and barely visible is a tall, white lighted structure, the Washington Monument/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Sometimes, "late" is a good thing.

"Late" as in a fire which transformed a cash bar into an open bar, yes!

It was a July 4th miracle.
No matter where you go in this town, there is no escaping Bryce Harper.  This was the upstairs bar on Virginia's Jewel where alcohol flowed freely.  Happy July 4th, Everybody!/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The fire occurred at the Washington Marina and delayed the scheduled departure of the yacht, Virginia's Jewel, chartered by the International Club for a three-hour July 4 cruise.

My spirits doth overfloweth.
In Alexandria, Virginia's Jewel anchors behind two smaller boats/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Champagne greeted us who finally boarded the boat after a riding shuttle buses which the International Club had to procure at the last minute to take us from the marina at 1300 Maine over to Alexandria where the ship and delights awaited. 

Rather than leaving the Maine dock at the scheduled 6:30 p.m. time, the frustrated captain set sail from Alexandria at 8:15 p.m. but we guests were not unhappy, anticipating the three-hour boat ride, bounteous food and beverage, a beautiful night on the water with perfect weather, gorgeous scenery, a well-stocked bar, great times with new and old friends, and, ahoy matey!  Fireworks, ahead!
Rosslyn even looks kinda purty from the Potomac at night.  The captain of Virginia's Jewel said July 4 was the worst time to navigate a vessel on the river because of the jammed sea and so many inept ("drinking" and unlicensed) boat drivers.  "If something happens, I could lose my license," he wailed, "and they would lose nothing."  Maybe, a life?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The time is always right for love. To the right in the distance and what looks like a straight pin rising from the ground is the Washington Monument/Photo by Patricia Leslie

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming...Our view of the National' Mall's fireworks July 4, 2014 was obscured somewhat by the ensuing black smoke, but it could not compare to the view from a hill at the Pentagon several years ago during a grey day when all we saw was black smoke and n'er a purty color or fireworks/Photo by Patricia Leslie 
For once, since it was July 4, the Secret Service ignored the red flying saucers above the Potomac River.  Far in the distance and what looks like the Batman building is the Washington National Cathedral/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Lucy in the sky with diamonds/Photo by Patricia Leslie
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air...Red birds flew in every direction frightened by the noise, I suppose/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Jefferson Memorial peeks out on the far right/Photo by Patricia Leslie
From inside Virginia's Jewel/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Adjacent to Virginia's Jewel was the Delta Queen getting ready to sail down the Mississippi River.  The white line of lights at the top of the picture is a reflection of lights inside the yacht, Virginia's Jewel.  Our boat was bigger than their boat/Photo by Patricia Leslie

After the really big fireworks ended on the Mall, we yachters were treated to more fireworks set off by partygoers who lit up the shores of Hains Point and other locations in Maryland. Did we see any fireworks going up on the Virginia side of the Potomac?  You've got to be kidding. Yes,Virginia, there really are fireworks in Maryland.

Towards evening's end, the yacht's restrooms got a little raunchy, and to quote my favorite politician:  Go early and go often.

The ship's wait staff was ample and attentive, frequently inquiring if we were "okay," especially as I briefly dozed on a table while lying on soiled napkins, overturned plastic cups, chicken remains, and slurring "life jacket" in my stupor. (Just kidding.  It's hard to beat non-stop, unsalted Margaritas. I only drank four. Really though, folks, the staff was wonderfully pleasant during the whole affair, especially, the besieged bartenders who never lost their smiles,  composures, or upbeat attitudes.)

Early tickets for the cruise cost $100 (later price, $145) for unreserved seating while $120 ($165) got you a reserved seat on the upper deck, both which included a loaded BBQ buffet.



On the menu were pork and chicken bar-b-cue, corn on the cob, cole slaw, potato and macaroni salad, petite chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, chocolate brownies, and plenty to drink/Photo by Patricia Leslie

We didn't dock until 11:15 p.m., affording the ones  onboard who rode the Metro, opportunities to ride uncrowded trains on July 4 from the Mall all the way home (Little Piggy) which set a new world's record for Metro efficiency. (Another benefit of "lateness.")  You see, the increased Metro fare is working, after all.
A band of revelers onboard Virginia's Jewel/Photo by another reveler 
 
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
 
Francis Scott Key, 1814

patricialesli@gmail.com

 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 4

This fellow was jumping for joy when he heard the Washington Mystics got a story in the Washington Post/Photo by Patricia Leslie

All right, already. 

So the Washington Post ran a story June 30, 2014 with the headline at the top of the page (D3), "Misfiring Mystics lose eighth in past 11."  

You think the Mystics would get that much coverage if they won a game?

No, sista.  You've got to be kidding.  They lost to the San Antonio Stars, 73-65.

But it was a story.

A story. 

A miracle on page D3.

Hold on.

Whatsis?

You think the editors used a picture of the Washington Mystics in a story about the Washington Mystics? 

This bears repeating:  
You think the editors used a picture of the Washington Mystics in a story about the Washington Mystics?

That makes sense, no?

Yes.

You think? 

You think.

 God forbid, WAPO would send a photographer to a Mystics' game. I don't suppose the wire services shot any photos of the Mystics' game and that is why WAPO used a picture of, instead and hold on, the "Liberty." Who's that?  Dunno.  Never identified.  New York or Connecticut?

Oh, come on.  Not really.

Really.
Now, just imagine this: 

A newspaper story of the Whatevertheskins' game and no picture of the Skins!  But juxtaposed (rhymes with "panty hose") with the story is a picture of the Dallas Cowboys playing another team! 

No Whatsisskins! 

No hometown team pictured anywhere!

You've got to be kidding.

Or, a story (one of four on the same day) about the Nationals and all you see are tomahawks and Atlanta Braves! 

Or, how about 16 stories (the same day) about Bryce Harper and nothing but pictures of Justin Upton?

Come on! No way!

I tell you, it's the truth.

You think?

I am going to write my favorite legislator and propose Title IX for the newspaper once the newspaper almost goes defunct and has to accept a federal bail-out. 

Hey!  GM got one.  Why not WAPO?  A newspaper run by the government.  Richard Nixon was right, all along.

Next up for the Mystics:

July 2, 7 p.m. v. Indiana Fever at Verizon

Read:  Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 1
 
 
patricialesli@gmail.com

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 3

Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault seems to cry "Help!" for media coverage/Photo by Patricia Leslie

If you thought you might get some pre-game coverage in the Washington Post about today's Mystics game v. the San Antonio Stars at Verizon, you found out you were wrong.

Nothing.

Well, excuuuuusssse me, a single line of 8 point type in the right corner on page D10 is not coverage? 

"San Antonio at Washington, 4"

"4" as in 4 p.m. 

As on the bottom of the last sports page.

The only female in today's sports section was Serena Williams and her defeat at Wimbledon.

Why bother subscribing to WAPO

News about local women in sports? 

Local female teams?  

Getoutahere.


If the Washington Mystics had any friends at the Washington Post, the stands might be a little fuller/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 
Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know, I need someone
Help

When I was coachin', so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured
Now I find, I've changed my mind, we don't want to be ignored

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate your comin' round
Help me get our team back on the ground
Won't you, please, please help me?

And now our lives have changed in, oh, so many ways
Our winning team never makes it to the page
But every day and some we feel so ignored
I know that you can help us like you've never done before
 
Help us if you can, we're feeling down
And we do appreciate your bein' round
Help us bring the fans back on down town
Won't you please, please help us
Help us
Help us
Whoooooooo.....
 
 
 
 
Next up for the Mystics:
 
Wednesday, July 2, 7 p.m. v. Indiana Fever at Verizon