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2013 Martin Luther King Jr Reading & Reference List

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(Blogger’s Note—This is the 6th updated version of this list.)

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King Jr was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole. Continue reading 2013 Martin Luther King Jr Reading & Reference List

Sunday News Roundup

Mike Wallace veteran newscaster

After 9/11 and the billions if not trillions of dollars that we spent in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world, one would figure that we would not support terrorism of any kind. I guess that’s not true. A new article by Seymour Hersh clearly suggests that not only are we training terrorists, we are exporting those terrorist other countries. I urge everyone to read this thoughtful and compelling article. (By the way, I deplore the foreign-policy axiom – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.)

Veteran journalist Mike Wallace has died at the age of 93. There are only a handful of journalists that I can name off the top my head who’ve actually changed the way news is delivered. Mike Wallace did that. Whether you liked him or not, he developed an “in-your-face” style of journalism that became extremely popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a cornerstone of 60 Minutes for more than four decades. He interviewed Malcolm X shortly before he died. He was everywhere and interviewed everyone. 60 Minutes was must-watch TV. Throughout the late 1970s and throughout the ’80s, on Sunday evenings America watched Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, Morey Safer and the gang delve into some problem or issue which affected most if not all Americans. There’s no show on television that has ever done it any better. My condolences to his family.

The gift that is Scott Walker continues to give. As you know, Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin who’s about to be recalled in a special election. Scott Walker’s done more than restrict public workers’ ability to collective bargaining (you should read this as destroying public unions). He is a full spectrum ultraconservative. Therefore, he does not believe that everyone who is an American citizen and is an adult should vote. Therefore, we should have the voter ID laws. Finally, to round out the picture, we should not have women who can think for themselves and choose for themselves. Instead, the reproductive rights of women should be decided at the government level. If you’re looking around and trying to figure out why things are so discombobulated, you have to look no further than this new crop of ultraconservative legislators like Scott Walker.

The final round of the Masters is today. It should be some compelling golf. Tiger Woods has struggled. For all practical purposes, he’s out of contention. Peter Hansen and Phil Mickelson pulled away from the pack late yesterday. They are the ones to watch. Yet, there are a few other people who are still in the hunt. Among them are Lee Westwood (who had a heartbreaking lip out yesterday), Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson and Hunter Mahan. For some reason, I really like the way that Louis Oostuizen has been playing. He’s been consistently making shots the last several weeks. He has been hitting fairways, he’s been hitting greens in regulation and he’s been hitting putts. He is the one that I’m watching today.

Have a safe and happy Easter.

Safe House – A Movie Review

There are very few actors who have been able to do what Denzel Washington has been able to do over the last two decades. For those of you who don’t know, Denzel Washington really got his first big break in the hit television series St. Elsewhere. His first movie role was in a very forgettable movie called Carbon Copy with George Segal. He got a huge role in the movie Glory in 1989. He then starred in several Spike Lee movies including Mo’ Better Blues and Malcolm X. His performance in Malcolm X was simply phenomenal. Then came a string of hits that was nearly unprecedented. There was The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia (with Tom Hanks), Crimson Tide, Courage Under Fire (one of my personal favorites), The Siege, Remember the Titans and Training Day (won an Oscar). Although he may have been in some bad movies (Heart Condition, The Mighty Quinn, Ricochet) I don’t think he’s given a bad performance.

Safe House is basically your CIA, superspy movie in which the hero has gone bad. You never really find out what caused our hero to turn from good to evil. Anyway, he is selling secrets or at least accused of selling secrets to the highest bidder. Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA rookie named Matt Weston. He is deeply in love with a beautiful French girl. He is bored to tears and doing nothing at the CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Basically, the plot is somewhat formulaic. Denzel Washington is our aging superspy who has bought some secrets from an old MI6 spy. He ends up captured and placed in the safe house. He gets waterboarded. I’m guessing that the CIA still believes that waterboarding works or it is good for the plot. The safe house is breached. Plenty of shooting and mayhem. The rest of the movie leads us on an odyssey to try to find out who will go to “any means necessary” to kill Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington).

The movie is entertaining and fast-paced. It is filmed in the style much like the Bourne movies (plenty of jump cuts, somewhat grainy). The movie, in a way, is one big chase scene. The bad guys are chasing Frost on foot. The safe house is breached and Frost, along with Weston, are chased through the streets of Cape Town in an automobile they have commandeered. By the way, why doesn’t anyone ever steal a beat-up Honda Civic or a Ford Pinto from the early ’70s? I’m just askin’. (It is one of the best car chase scenes I have seen in recent memory. The best of all-time was in the 7 Ups or Bullitt.)

Now, not to give away everything, our superheroes at one time or another get shot and they look like they’re on the verge of death. Somehow, through the magic of Hollywood, with a little “rest,” they are good to go. A single gunshot wound to the abdomen or shoulder will not slow down the superspy. There are some significant problems with the plot, but the movie is fast-paced enough that you may not notice. Or, if you’re like me, you noticed but you find that you didn’t mind them that much. (BTW, how did Weston find Frost in that small township? Because Frost glanced at a road sign? Really? Why didn’t the CIA shut down his secure computer access since they thought that Weston was now working with Frost?)

Overall, Safe House is a very entertaining movie. Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington deliver excellent performances. Nora Arnezeder is a beautiful French actress who costars in the movie (she really doesn’t do much besides look sexy and French). Sam Sheppard does a fabulous job as the grizzled CIA director. I thought Daniel Espinosa did a great job directing. The editing was fabulous. Overall I give this movie a B+.