Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Fake Puerto Rican John Leguizamo (Ava)

Ava here filling in for Trina.  Got a few issues on my plate.  First off, John Leguizamo has a column at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

You can be as talented as Marlon Brando or Ingrid Bergman, you can write like William Shakespeare or Arthur Miller, you can have the screen presence of Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Lawrence. But if you look Latino, or if you have a Latino last name, the odds are against you in Hollywood.

And by Latino, I mean born in Latin America. Not Spain, nor anywhere else in Europe. Those are white peoples. We Latinos are 19% of the population and the largest ethnic group in America, and we’ve been here long before the conquests of the 1500s. How are we not more visible onscreen and onstage? If much of the United States was Mexico until the 1840s or later, how are we not more visible?

Mexicans in East L.A. would sign up to be extras in westerns at the "casting tree" from 1910 until the 1930s. They were put in the background of a genre of film that was an appropriation of Mexican culture. The words were all Spanish: “Cowboy” comes from the Spanish word vaquero. Lassos, rodeos, broncos, corrals, ranches, the chaps, the hats are all parts of Mexican culture. The 10-gallon hat comes from the Spanish phrase tan galan. No cowboy hats were being worn in England, Ireland, Germany or the 13 colonies. But they were worn in Mexico. And yet, who were the leads in the westerns?

We need a better pipeline for Latinos in movies, TV shows and plays. We need a system for our stories and our projects. We need executives to provide the greenlight.

[. . .]

I’m not talking about white or white-passing Latinos. I mean Indigenous Latinos. I mean Aztec, Maya, Inca or Taíno. I mean Afro-Latino or any mix thereof. More often than not, the Latinos you see onscreen are white or white-passing — because Hollywood is drenched in colorism.

Goodness.  What to say?  I don't see the need honestly to draw a line between those from Spain and those from Latin America.  Those from Spain are Hispanic and those from Latin America are Latino and it's been that way since before I was born.  I'm fine with that.  But John seems to want even more divisions.  

We all need better representation in the media.   But let's be clear that sometimes we are let down by our own.  John aged out of princess (TOO WONG FU . . .) long ago.  He wasted his career.  He should have leveraged TWF into a more substantial role and should have worked hard while he was younger to be cute.  It got to the point where he looked like he was competing with Edward James Olmos for roles.  Similarly, why waste your moment by producing a bad cartoon for HULU, a bad sitcom for NBC and a bad soap opera for ABC.  It was all garbage and all from a woman who (a) should have known better and (b) should have done better.  

John and that woman blew their moment and you'd think John could be honest enough to talk about that but he can't be and he won't be.  He also seems weak on his facts such as here:

The fact is that Latinx audiences do support Latinx content. In 2021, Latinx ticket buyers made up 57% of opening weekend sales for “Encanto” and 40% of sales for “In the Heights.” We show up!

IN THE HEIGHTS?   It wasn't a hit because people didn't show up.  In the US (and Canada) it made $30 million.  It had a fifty million dollar shooting budget and it had a $55 million promotion budget in North America.  It needed to make $200 million worldwide to break even. It made $45.1 million worldwide (that includes the US).  That's not a hit.  And when John doesn't understand that basic reality, I don't know why we should pretend like he knows what he's talking about.  

Then there's the fact that he knowingly misrepresents himself.  For example, he has lied repeatedly that he's Purerto Rican but that is not reality.  From WIKIPEDIA:

Research by the genealogy show Finding Your Roots indicated that Leguizamo does not have Puerto Rican, Italian, and Lebanese ancestry, as he has sometimes stated.[1][7][8][9][10] His family is Colombian, and a DNA test found that his genetic ancestry includes European (mostly Spanish), along with Indigenous and distant African roots.[1] His paternal grandfather was a wealthy Colombian landowner, and his great-great-grandfather, Higinio Cualla, was Mayor of Bogotá for sixteen years in the late 1800s, and was considered an important modernizer of the city.[1] Leguizamo had always declared that he was Puerto Rican on his father's side, which was one of the reasons he was selected as the Puerto Rican Day Parade Global Ambassador of the Arts,[11] and marched in the parade on June 12, 2011.[12]

 Going further back in time, it was determined that Leguizamo's maternal lineage includes the 16th-century Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar, as well as Jerónimo Betuma, a 17th-century indigenous Colombian of noble birth.

Get it?

John Leguizamo often peppers his acts with stories about his Puerto Rican roots. But the comedian's father told a newspaper last week that he was Colombian -- and that his son was misleading fans about their family's heritage.

Speaking to reporters as he marched in New York's National Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday, Leguizamo fired back.

"I am Colombian-Puerto Rican. I don't know why he's saying that. I say that I love him, and why is he saying that?" he said.

His father, Alberto Leguizamo, could not be reached by CNN for comment. But according to a report in New York's Spanish-language El Diario newspaper, the elder Leguizamo showed documentation that he was born in Colombia, said he wanted "to clarify the situation" and claimed he had no Puerto Rican family members.

"It hurts me that John is lying to the Puerto Ricans and not backing up his Colombian roots," he told the newspaper.

Now do you get it?

He's 62 years old and he's wasted his life.  He can whine all he wants but it falls down on him.  No one forced him to take roles, for example, where the character is named "Rat."  But he took them, two animated film and one live action.  He's spitting on Europeans in his column despite his own roots and despite his desire to play  Tybalt Capulet in ROMEO & JULIET.  Or when he played the genie in ARABIAN NIGHTS?   Have some standards, have some ethics.

No one asked him to play all those con artists and crooks.  Maybe he should have worked to elevate Latinos instead of taking every bad, bit part he was offered.  He surely should have grasped when he was briefly good looking and honed that and used that because his so-so acting is no reason to hire him.  

Having lied about his own ethnicity, I'm not really sure that we let the Latino Rachel Dozeal define who we are and who we aren't.

And don't get me started on his homophobic remarks in the years after TO WONG FU.  He should be begging forgiveness.

I'm done with John but I'm not done with the topic.  An issue in various communities -- Latino and Hispanic -- that I am in communication with regularly raises the issue of ''brown people.'' I don't know why others get to define us as such.  It's not how most of us self-identify.  And while it makes sense that there are Black people -- it was a name selected in the 60s and popularized by James Brown and Loraine Hainsbury among others -- I've never identified myself as a brown person.   Very few Latinos or Hispanics I know have.  It would be nice if other cultures would stop imposing their racism on us.

So those are a few thoughts.

Be sure to read "BROS: An American Film Classic (Ava and C.I.)" and, please, if you haven't seen BROS yet, make a point to.  In the US, it's available now for purchase or rental on streaming platforms.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 1, 2022.  Old man Joe Biden doesn't worry about the future as evidenced by his ignoring the rates of COVID and his plans to win a nuclear war, meanwhile Iraq continues to see street violence and corporate violence.

At COMMON DREAMS, Jake Johnson notes:

Just weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Russia's assault on Ukraine has dramatically raised the risk of "Armageddon," his administration on Thursday released a Nuclear Posture Review that nonproliferation advocates say does nothing to pull the world back from the brink of global catastrophe.

While the formal statement of U.S. nuclear strategy pays lip service to the need to limit the spread and prevent the use of atomic weaponry and cancels an egregious Trump-era missile program, the document makes clear that the country will move ahead with dangerous and costly modernization plans—and leaves intact the option of a nuclear first strike.

"Allies must be confident that the United States is willing and able to deter the range of strategic threats they face, and mitigate the risks they will assume in a crisis or conflict," the document states. "Modernizing U.S. nuclear forces is key to assuring allies that the United States is committed and capable of deterring the range of threats U.S. nuclear strategy addresses."

The leading threats, according to the posture review, are Russia and China, which the Pentagon document characterizes as "major and growing" nuclear dangers to the U.S. and its allies.

The review makes clear that U.S. officials considered and rejected "no first use" and "sole purpose" policies that would bar the U.S. from launching a preemptive nuclear strike or using an atomic weapon in response to a non-nuclear attack. The document claims such policies "would result in an unacceptable level of risk."

That position conflicts with Biden's statement during the 2020 presidential campaign that "the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and, if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack."

Stephen Young, senior Washington representative at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the Biden administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is "a terrifying document" that "not only keeps the world on a path of increasing nuclear risk, in many ways it increases that risk."

"Citing rising threats from Russia and China," Young noted, "it argues that the only viable U.S. response is to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, maintain an array of dangerous Cold War-era nuclear policies, and threaten the first use of nuclear weapons in a variety of scenarios."

"Yes, the world is becoming a more dangerous place, but the only military threat to the survival of the United States is a nuclear war with Russia or China," he continued. "Rather than recognizing that threat and seeking to find ways to end it, the Biden NPR doubles down on nuclear deterrence and the status quo approach to security that says we all must be prepared to die in less than an hour."

A crazy old man with a foot in the grave got put in charge of the country and now we're all at risk.  Oscar Grenfell (WSWS) reports:

An Australian television program yesterday revealed advanced plans for the US to station B-52 bombers in northern Australia. The deployment of the nuclear-capable bombers, which are crucial to US strike capabilities, marks a significant escalation of the militarisation of Australia, the Indo-Pacific region and the world.

The target is clear. The representatives of pro-war think tanks who spoke on last night’s episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Four Corners” program, and those who have commented in the press since, have openly stated that the bombers are being dispatched to prepare for a war with China that would threaten a global nuclear catastrophe.

In other words, even as the US and its allies are continuously escalating their war with Russia over Ukraine, they are transforming the entire Indo-Pacific into a powder keg that could erupt at any point.

For the strategists of American imperialism, the war that is already underway against Russia is the necessary prelude to war against China, the chief threat to US global dominance. This was spelled out in the latest US National Security Strategy, released last month, which proclaimed a “decisive decade” of “geopolitical conflict between the major powers.” China, it stated, was “the only competitor with both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to reshape the international order,” something the US would combat with everything at its disposal.

The stationing of the bombers points to the disastrous implications of this program, driven by the long-term decline of American imperialism and the deepening crisis of the entire global capitalist system.

“Four Corners” revealed that the US is preparing to build a “squadron operations facility” at the Tindal air force base in northern Australia. It will include a vast hangar and logistical facilities that can equip six B-52 bombers, which will be rotated out of the facility, likely being based there during the tropical dry season. The US will construct jet fuel tanks at Tindal and an ammunition base. An Australian “upgrade” of the facility is expanding its runways and other capabilities.

Kenny Stancil (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

The Pentagon's plan represents the latest U.S. act of hostility toward China.

Relations between the two countries have only worsened since August, when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of Congress visited Taiwan (the Republic of China, or ROC) despite opposition from Beijing, which—along with most of the international community, including Washington since the 1970s—considers the breakaway province to be part of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

In a departure from more than four decades of "One China" policy—in which the U.S. recognizes the PRC as the sole legal government of China and maintains informal relations with the ROC while adopting a position of "strategic ambiguity" to obscure how far it would go to protect Taiwan—U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly threatened to use military force in response to a Chinese invasion of the island.

Although Biden warned earlier this month that Russia's assault on Ukraine has brought the world closer to "Armagedeon" than at any point since the Cuban Missile Crisis, his move to station B-52 bombers in Australia further increases the global risk of nuclear war.

News of the impending deployment comes just days after the Biden administration released a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that nonproliferation advocates said makes catastrophe more, rather than less, likely.

And if Joe Biden doesn't kill us all with a bomb, he just may kill us with COVID.  Benjamin Mateus (WSWS) reports:

Over the past month, the United States has seen a steady rise in the prevalence of the dangerous new immune-evading Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2, threatening yet another surge of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks, and potentially millions more cases of Long COVID.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the highly immune-evasive BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants increased in prevalence from 11 percent to more than 27 percent in just two weeks, or a doubling time of 10 days. By mid-November, these two subvariants will likely be dominant across the country.

The anticipated COVID-19 surge will take place amid a flood of pediatric hospitalizations across the country for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and an unusually harsh beginning to the influenza season. The simultaneous surge of these three respiratory airborne pathogens will severely impact health care systems during the winter months, under conditions in which the industry is already on the verge of collapse three years into the COVID-19 pandemic.

While so far the crisis in children’s hospitals has been most acute, the elderly are particularly predisposed to complications with RSV and flu due to declines in their immunity. Among those 65 years and older, RSV leads to 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths annually.

The typical flu season causes upwards of 16,000 deaths among adults. However, a severe flu season can be far worse. In 2017-18, the US experienced 41 million flu-related illnesses, 19 million flu-related medical visits, 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths. Data from the CDC for the first four weeks of October shows that outpatient medical visits for flu-like symptoms are two to three times higher than the five-year average baseline.

The exact magnitude of the next surge of COVID-19 is impossible to predict, but a number of recent studies indicate that it could potentially be the third catastrophic winter of the pandemic.

And if that happens, how forgiving do you think the country's going to be to Joe Biden who announced COVID was over in September?   It's been a long trail of broken promises from Joe Biden, as Sophie Squire notes at the UK's SOCIALIST WORKER:

Inflation is at a 40-year high, with the price of housing, food and healthcare all rising sharply. Republicans blamed the rising prices on increased state spending and the ­government’s reliance on ­importing fossil fuels from overseas. Of course they don’t object to the military budget of over £700 billion or the money funnelled to war in Ukraine.

But in a poll conducted by NBC News in September, voters favoured the Republicans by 20 points when it came to the economy. With the Democrats ­lagging behind when it comes to the economy, they hope that making promises about abortion rights can win them votes. 

Facing the prospect of defeat, Biden has ­promised that the first piece of ­legislation he will sign if the Democrats increase their seats in Congress is a federal law codifying the provisions of Roe v Wade. He launched the policy ­surrounded by young people and the words “Restore Roe”. But it’s an illusion, ­seizing on a crucial issue and ­directing people’s anger about the attack on abortion rights and directing it into the dead end of the Democrats.

Biden could already have passed such a law if he had been ready to sweep away the filibuster rule that allows a minority to block legislation. But he has not been ­prepared for the upheaval that would involve. And the Democrats will still face a filibuster after the elections, unless all the polls are hugely wrong.

Centring the defence of abortion rights on voting for the Democrats guts the ­campaign on the streets. It takes away from the guerrilla actions to defy the law and defend women. The Women’s March called for a “Summer of Rage” after Roe v Wade was cancelled by the Supreme Court. But there was not a single national action called by the Women’s March. The Women’s March did call for a weekend of action in early October, but only to link action to voting for the Democrats.

The president’s time in power is now littered with broken promises. He has failed to reduce, let alone abolish, the US’s vast nuclear arsenals and has presided over a massive increase in military spending. He has left in place most of  Trump’s brutal immigration policies. 

The biggest assault on abortion rights happened under his watch. He promised trillions would be funnelled into ­infrastructure projects and to fighting climate change. But the money he promised was cut in half. All these retreats opened the door to the Republicans and will strengthen far right forces. 

To defend and improve living standards and abortion rights requires strikes and movements on the streets, not tailing the Democrats. 

     © Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.   

Before becoming president, Joe Biden spent years destroying Iraq.  Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) reports this morning, "During October, at least 105 people were killed, and 239 were wounded. The number of dead fell significantly from last month. In September, 179 people were killed and 294 people were wounded."  And those are the deaths from violence -- or from some violence.  Those aren't the deaths resulting from the violence of Big Business.  MEDIA LENS notes:

To its credit, in several news reports, and in an hour-long film, ‘Under Poisoned Skies’, the BBC provided news from Iraq that will have shocked many readers and viewers (in truth, it is a shock to read any UK media news on life in Iraq):

‘Communities living close to oil fields, where gas is openly burned, are at elevated risk of leukaemia, a BBC News Arabic investigation has revealed.’

By BBC standards, the report was absolutely damning:

‘The UN told the BBC it considers these areas, in Iraq, to be “modern sacrifice zones” – where profit has been prioritised over human rights.

‘Gas flaring is the “wasteful” burning of gas released in oil drilling, which produces cancer-linked pollutants.’

Some of the worst ‘modern sacrifice zones’ are found on the outskirts of Basra, in the south-east of Iraq, ‘some of the country’s biggest oil exploration areas’. Flared gases from these sites are dangerous because they emit a mix of carbon dioxide, methane and black soot which is carcinogenic.

If this sounds bad, it gets worse when we consider just who has been subordinating Iraqi human welfare to profit in this way:

‘BP and Eni are major oil companies we identified as working on these sites.’

Eni is an Italian multinational energy company. BP, of course, is one of the world’s oil and gas ‘supermajors’, and is British.

In other words, these BBC reports highlighted the rarely discussed fact that a British oil giant is deeply involved in a country that was illegally invaded in 2003, at the cost of one million Iraqi lives, on a pack of bogus claims relating to ‘national security’ and ‘human rights’. The 2003 war was, of course, waged by a coalition led by the United States and Britain. Italy was part of the coalition.

Not only did this US-UK war crime secure substantial quantities of Iraq’s oil for US and UK corporations, but BP has now been accused of creating environmental mayhem in Iraq. The BBC reported:

‘A leaked Iraq Health Ministry report, seen by BBC Arabic, blames air pollution for a 20% rise in cancer in Basra between 2015 and 2018.

‘As part of this investigation, the BBC undertook the first pollution monitoring testing amongst the exposed communities. The results indicated high levels of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

‘Using satellite data we found that the largest of Basra’s oil fields, Rumaila, flares more gas than any other site in the world. The Iraqi government owns this field, and BP is the lead contractor.

‘On the field is a town called North Rumaila – which locals call “the cemetery”. Teenagers coined the phrase after they observed high levels of leukaemia amongst their friends, which they suspect is from the flaring.

‘Prof Shukri Al Hassan, a local environmental scientist, told us that cancer here is so rife it is “like the flu”.’

This was a truly shocking comment; no wonder the BBC initially used it as the headline for its report:

‘BP in oil field where “cancer is like the flu”’

The News Sniffer website, which tracks edits made to media articles, found that this headline only lasted a few hours before being toned down to:

‘BP in oil field where “cancer is rife”’

Remarkably, the less dramatic headline and citation was actually fake. The relevant part of the text reads:

‘Prof Shukri Al Hassan, a local environmental scientist, told us that cancer here is so rife it is “like the flu”.’

Professor Al Hassan was not quoted as using the word ‘rife’, nor was anyone else quoted in the article. The edited headline was simply made up.

Reminder, BROS is now available in the US on streaming -- rental and purchase.

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated: