Miley Cyrus: Cornball and Weed Smoking Extraordinaire

By September 7, 2015 Art, Lifestyle
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The night Miley Cyrus released her first all-grown-up music video changed my life. The release–which officially separated the legal adult from the once Disney Channel star–was one full of emotional turmoil for me. I was in Savannah, Georgia, stopping in a hotel for the evening on my family’s trip back home to Florida from a road trip along the east coast. I watched the video repeatedly, intrigued by the former teen star’s transformation. Miley’s attempt at twerking, and her unconvincing depiction of a good girl gone bad left me completely mesmerized–but mostly confused. Hannah Montana was the show to watch on television for a season, and I supported everything Miley did for quite some time, even if it seemed risque to the parents who were buying their little girls as much Hannah Montana memorabilia their money could buy. With Miley  only a couple years older than me and coming off as a fun, bubbly character, I felt we had some sort of camaraderie, even if it was one she was not aware of in the slightest.

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Critic’s Corner: The Mad Appeal of Mad Max: Fury Road

By September 4, 2015 Critic's Corner
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When it comes to action films, the world is surely in no short supply. It seems like every summer there are at least a dozen explosion riddled blockbuster potential popcorn flicks with big stars and even bigger muscles, and with The Expendables franchise and the growing direct-to-video market, the action genre has seen a growing interest in old school thrills and old school franchises. One such franchise is Mad Max, an Australian carsploitation series that is more interested in showing than saying, loaded with brilliant action set pieces, memorable characters, and some of the best vehicle chases in cinematic history. This summer we saw the release of the series’s fourth entry Mad Max: Fury Road, which hits theaters again next week for a one-week IMAX special and just came out on DVD. And yes, it is as good as everyone says it is.

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The King Of Horror

By September 2, 2015 Art
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The horror film genre is one that many take for granted. Sure, in this day and age, we seldom see any originality in the horror films that “grace” our screens, but if someone can create a work of cinema that is truly haunting and has you terrified to go to sleep that night, they have surely accomplished something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Wes Craven was one such filmmaker.

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Gender & Generals: How Neoliberalism In the Military Is Hurting Trans Rights

By August 31, 2015 USA
Pfc. Samuel Corsolini, a gunner assigned to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, pulls security with other Pathfinders as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter takes off after unloading his team and members of 2nd Afghan National Civil Order Patrol Special Weapons And Tactics Team during a vehicle interdiction as part of Operation Pranoo Verbena in order to disrupt Taliban operations in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 16.

The recent announcement by the Pentagon concerning an upcoming change in the US military’s gender policy is mere months away from becoming reality. As of May 2016, the US military will allow trans soldiers to serve openly for the first time in history. Ending this ban has been celebrated as a progressive win in the realm of transgender rights by cisgender liberals and condemned as another attack on traditional values by conservatives.

However, what has been mostly framed as a two-sided issue is far more complex than what mainstream dialogue around it would suggest.

This move to include transgender individuals in the armed forces is not a sign that the US is leaving preconceived notions about the gender binary behind and embracing a fuller spectrum of identities. Rather, it is an example of shameless neoliberalization of LGBT+ issues and flagrant homonationalism.

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FKA twigs Releases Her Most Ambitious Project Yet: M3LL155X

By August 18, 2015 Art
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FKA twigs (born Tahliah Debrett) is a UK-based singer, dancer, producer, and director who may just be the most innovative name in alternative R&B today. Heavily influenced by producer Arca, who worked with twigs on songs for her releases EP2 and LP1, twigs’ music is haunting, beautiful, and at times disorienting. Her latest release, M3LL155X, shows that twigs continues to evolve — both lyrically and in her production style. Read More

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Ten Things You Need To Know: August 14, 2015

By August 14, 2015 10 Headlines
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Britain making ‘formal protest’ to Ecuador over Assange case

The criticism against the Ecuadorian government comes after Swedish prosecutors dropped a sexual assault probe against Assange, without investigators having succeeded in questioning the WikiLeaks founder.”

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“Where Are You From?”

By August 14, 2015 Lifestyle
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Where are you from?

The States.

They point to my darker complexion, confused.

Yes, my family is originally from India.

Ohhh, India. But you live in the States–how nice.

I have never had my national identity questioned as much as I have in Peru. Thus, I have begun to think: My parents are both from India and I was born and raised in the United States.

But where am I from?

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Ten Things You Need To Know: August 11, 2015

By August 11, 2015 10 Headlines
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Ferguson Police Ordered to Return Military Equipment

“The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is being forced by the Obama administration to return two military vehicles that it obtained from the Pentagon, amid widespread concern and criticism over the deployment on American streets of equipment intended for war zones.”

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Wealth, Poverty, and Musical Chairs

By August 11, 2015 USA
President William J. Clinton gives his Inaugural Address after the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony at the West Front of the Capitol.

As I was surfing through the dark world of Ayn Rand fanatics on Facebook, I came across a comment that embodies the much-touted myth behind success in America. When I see comments like this, I can’t help but feel a paroxysm of anger because it misconstrues how poverty and wealth work. It’s the same trope over and over again: “Rich people worked hard to get where they are; poor people are poor because they are lazy! If poor people had just done things x way, they wouldn’t be in this situation!”

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The End of Boogeyman: The Iran Deal Explained

By August 10, 2015 Middle East
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Much has been made about the American-Iranian nuclear deal negotiated in large part by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javid Zarif. From pundits to the public, suddenly every American has become an expert on American foreign policy in the Middle East. While newfound American interest in international affairs is something to be celebrated, the kneejerk concern about the deal is largely misplaced.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which targets the Iranian nuclear program and international sanctions regime, was negotiated between the UN Security Council (USA, UK, Russia, France, China) and Germany on one side and Iran on the other.  The deal can be examined in two parts: provisions dealing with the Iranian nuclear program and those that focus on the international sanctions program.

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Ten Things You Need To Know: August 6, 2015

By August 6, 2015 10 Headlines
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UK Copyright Law Deems iTunes Illegal

“The IPO specifically notes that copying a CD to an MP3 player is not permitted. This means that iTunes’ popular ripping feature, which Apple actively promotes during the software’s installation, is illegal. Also, under the current law iTunes is actively facilitating copyright infringement by promoting their CD-ripping functionality. This means that the company could face significant claims for damages.”

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Critic’s Corner: The Inherent Vices of Inherent Vice

By August 5, 2015 Critic's Corner
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Have you ever watched a movie that does so much, yet so little at the same time? That when the credits roll the only thing you find yourself saying is, “Well…that was a movie,” a movie that has the potential to be astounding and brilliant, but leaves you feeling a little empty?

Inherent Vice is one such movie.

If you’re one of the few that’s heard of this movie, it’s probably because you saw one of the trailers that contained nothing but a montage of random clips all while a nameless female narrator tells you absolutely nothing about the movie the trailer is trying to market. More likely than not you probably thought to yourself, “Huh. That looks interesting,” but then never saw the movie because it was released in select theaters and came and went relatively unnoticed by the public eye until you just so happened to see it in the New Releases section of Wal-Mart.

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Ten Things You Need To Know: August 5, 2015

By August 5, 2015 10 Headlines
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Snowden Leaks Confirm Existence of Secret Satellite Communication Surveillance Network

“NSA newsletters cited by The Intercept confirm that the program was set up in 1966, just a year after the first communication satellites were launched into Earth orbit. The dragnet was codenamed FROSTING, and consisted of two sub-programs. While TRANSIENT was targeting Soviet Union’s satellite communications, Western satellite signals were to be harvested by ECHELON. Eventually, all satellite surveillance was merged into FORNSAT, a global program exposed by the Snowden revelations.”

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Africa: The “Dark Continent”

By August 3, 2015 Africa
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The death of Cecil the Lion has taken Western media by storm with publications like The Washington Post even going as far as starting an article with “While the world mourns the death of Cecil the Lion.” As a result, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is spearheading legislation to stop acts like this, even stating that “Cecil’s death was a preventable tragedy.” That’s right: Apparently we’re calling this a tragedy. It’s a tragedy to the point that some people have even appropriated the #BlackLivesMatter movement and changed it to #CatLivesMatter, which is simply racist on every level, as it dehumanizes an entire civil rights movement and inherently belittles it by equating human life with those of animals.

Aside from the legitimate reasons of conservation, it appears this public outrage is being fueled by the fact that Cecil, or wildlife in general, is core to the Western view of the African continent. A lot of people’s first exposure to the idea of Africa was through things like Disney’s The Lion King. This portrayal of wildlife has also contributed to how we in the West always refer to Africa as a whole–we forget that there are different regions and countries and always say ridiculous things like “I’m going to Africa” in general. This is directly a result of the fact that wildlife is devoid of borders and therefore isn’t limited by them. Thus, the continental Africa of our minds becomes a sprawling land, where everything coexists with one another–so who would need to make any distinction when referring to the continent?

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Ten Things You Need To Know: August 3, 2015

By August 3, 2015 10 Headlines
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Obama Is About to Release His Most Ambitious Climate Policy Yet — the Clean Power Plan

“So how big a deal is this plan, in the grand scheme of things? It really depends how you look at it. An optimistic view is that the program could transform the US electricity sector, allow renewable energy to flourish, and give a much-needed jolt to global climate talks. A more pessimistic view is that this is a jury-rigged, legally vulnerable plan that’s really just a tiny piece of what’s needed to slow the pace of global warming. (By my calculations, the rule will only amount to a 6 percent cut in total US greenhouse-gas emissions between 2013 and 2030).”

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Ten Things You Need To Know: July 31, 2015

By July 31, 2015 10 Headlines
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Beijing Defeats Almaty in Bid to Host 2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing received 44 votes from International Olympic Committee delegates while Almaty received 40, a strong total indicating just how conflicted voters were over whether to give the Games to a country with plenty of resources but virtually zero winter sports history or send them to Central Asia for the first time in a still-developing former Soviet republic.”

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Dispatch 10: A Visit to the Rebel Offices

By July 31, 2015 Africa
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For the next two months, ReadCONTRA founder Rajiv Golla will be living in Juba, South Sudan, working with the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, local journalists, and a number of local politicians, professors, and community leaders to paint a picture of the Third South Sudanese Civil War. This is the tenth in a series of articles about his travels.


Nestled in between a grocery market and a tailor’s storefront in a run-down high rise Chinese market on Ngong Road sits the pulse of humanitarian coordination of South Sudan.

The Relief Organization of South Sudan (ROSS) was established under the short-lived Cessation of Hostilities agreement signed by the government and rebels and Addis Ababa in January 2014. Article 4.1 stipulated that each warring party establish offices to coordinate humanitarian interventions and opened up humanitarian corridors in neighboring countries Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia. The government of South Sudan already had a functioning, using the term loosely, office to handle relief coordination. Within 5 days of the signing of the agreement, the rebels had already registered with the Kenyan government as a relief organization and secured office space in the China Centre.

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Assata’s Cantata

By July 30, 2015 Poetry
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The cops act like “protestors”
means “professional testers”
of police dogs and weapons:
they take pepper spray to the face
as they’re unjustly arrested
for crying to the government for constitutional protection,
but face institutional rejection
for their unsuitable complexion,

but like the raven, they fly on,
sending forth a freedom song,
crying Nevermore over Baltimore,
bandaging their scars but keeping score.

Assata’s cantata, her unjoyous chorus,
said before you get free,
you’ve gotta
realize your own slavery:

    Read amendment thirteen.

The thirteenth amendment
outlawed slaves everywhere but prison,
but prison is more than four walls,
it’s this country we live in,
the lot that we’re given,
the scraps from the table, Kunta Kinte,
go dig in!

We have a black president,
that doesn’t mean all is forgiven.
A post racial society
says, strip your identity and give in.

People say, MLK didn’t die
so us blacks could riot in the streets—
no, he was assassinated
to keep us from leaping to our feet
and discovering what justice really means.
So give me rubber bullets,
no, shoot me with the real thing,
because America is waking up,
so let freedom ring.

(Title image via).

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Ten Things You Need To Know: July 30, 2015

By July 30, 2015 10 Headlines
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Russia Vetoes Downed Flight MH17 Tribunal Bid

“Eleven countries on the 15-member council voted in favor of the proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine, while three countries abstained: China, Angola and Venezuela. A resolution needs nine votes in favor to pass and no veto by Russia, the United States, China, Britain or France.”

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…But How Do We Get There?

By July 29, 2015 Lifestyle
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Annette visits Vauban 2-3 times a week for art therapy sessions. On Wednesday, she ate cherries at Alfred-Döblin Platz, the main market square. “I asked the worker at the Cantina to borrow his bike. That’s Vauban!” she said.

Annette would love to live in Vauban an eco and socially minded neighborhood of 5,000 in Freiburg, Germany.

“The people here are so friendly. There are a lot of open people. In other places, it’s not like here. I feel connected in Vauban,” said Annette.

Two weeks ago, she toured two units in a cohousing apartment building. It’s a 2 minute walk to the nearest tram stop, 5 minutes to a variety of food markets, and covered in vines.

She won’t be moving in any time soon.

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