Fox tells Trump he can “just leave” if he isn't happy with his job.
As a species, we’re working on our seventeenth year into a new century and everything is on fire. The blurring of the lines that divide fact and fiction has grown so smeared and indecipherable as to allow climate change to still be questioned and corruption has been radically normalized to the point of borderline decriminalization.
Unavoidably, this international tendency to believe what we want as often as what’s factual has bled into moviemaking, both in regards to increasingly untenable productions in the big studios and in innumerable filmic takes on major (and minor) historical events seen in narrative films and, perhaps even more so, documentaries.
This is what makes docs like Waltz with Bashir and Tower, both of which rely heavily on animation to convey the tricks of memory that corrode and aggrandize the truth, so important. Then there’s more narrative-based tricks, such as the anxious shell game that is Banksy’s exuberant Exit Through the Gift Shop or the more existential narrative questions at the heart of Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film. Beyond the testing of boundaries between fact and fiction, these movies are infectiously curious about the importance and meaning of truth in movies. Outside of documentaries, one could see this concept being tossed around in the late Abbas Kiarastomi’s Certified Copy, one of the best films of this century full stop.
Nevertheless, these advances don’t discount the power of reinventing more classical stylistic choices in the documentary form. Frederick Wiseman, America’s greatest documentarian, has honed his own no-frills aesthetic over his many decades as a filmmaker and he has made the best documentary of the century thus far. Similarly, elder masters like Steve James, Claude Lanzmann, Werner Herzog, and Errol Morris arrived high on my (very rough) list of the 25 best documentaries of the century thus far. Truthfully, had I not limited myself to one movie per director, Wiseman would have dominated a quarter of this list between Boxing Gym, National Gallery, At Berkeley, Domestic Violence, State Legislature, and the upcoming Ex Libris.
Perhaps a list with those titles would be a more honest collection of the most revelatory documentaries that the last decade and this one have produced. More titles from Herzog, Morris, Chinese master Wang Bing, and several others would have also likely made the final cut. In doing that, however, one might not see the staggering breadth of transformation that the genre (or is it style?) has been going under since we all survived the millennium’s imagined doomsday.
A thrilling tale of cinematic obsession found amongst the wreckage of an unfinished thriller about romantic obsession. Clouzot, who perfected the art of nerve-rattling with Diabolique and The Wages of Fear, had planned to make a tense, diabolic melodrama called L’Enfer with Romy Schneider in the lead as the beautiful bride to a vacationing bourgeoisie Frenchman who grows ravenously jealous of local male attention. Directors Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea find vast, feverish undercurrents of paranoia and self-obsession in the remnants of Clouzot’s footage but, more importantly, finds even stronger and stranger visions of the dark side to imagination and creative control in the story of Clouzot’s inability to fully realize his vision. In conflating the stories, this wildly entertaining near-masterwork evokes the infectious spirit of artistic creation, for better and worse.
Consider Alex Gibney’s latest work – one of the prolific filmmaker’s very best – as an alternate history of the Iran Nuclear deal, one in which the watchful Western eyes get poked by their own sharp stick. In this metaphor, the stick is StuxNet, a computer worm manufactured by Israel and the USA in secret to keep a leash on Iran. Things did not quite turn out that way, as Iran eventually utilized the cyber-weapon to their own advantage to give us our own national security hair-mussing. At once an engrossing, detail-oriented cyner-thriller and a brilliant primer on the era of cyber warfare, Zero Days renews and reinforces the argument that Gibney is one of the most thoughtful and direct political filmmakers out there.
First Run Features
Ross McElwee is primarily known for Sherman’s March, a poignant masterwork that conflated the director’s fascination with General Sherman’s destructive campaign through the South during the Civil War with McElwee’s own chaotic, ambling romantic life. There’s a similar rousing intermingling between geography, the crimes of history, and personal reflection in 2004’s Bright Leaves, which finds the filmmaker studying his family’s connection to tobacco – his great-grandfather was the man behind Bull Durham – while also studying the poverty and desperation that followed in the wake of the cash crop’s plummet in popularity. Obviously and tragically, the insights and images that McElwee stirs up while rambling around North Carolina still resonate in the age of Trump.
Many discussions of Christopher Nolan’s recent Dunkirk revolve around the film’s visual power on the biggest screens imaginable, whether in 70mm prints or IMAX. It’s hard to dispute that but Nolan’s bloodless technical exercises are no match to Andrei Ujica‘s cumbersome assemblage of footage of the wildly corrupt former Romanian president of the title. To watch the grand exhibitions thrown in his honor, the massive echoing chambers of legislature, and even his intimate meetings with other leaders on the big screen is to at once understand the power Ceausescu wielded and witness the empty pageantry that often passes for leadership. And when the movie turns toward his grievous misdeeds and widespread use of unlawful detainment, torture, and murder, it makes his inevitable fall as a weak, exhausted old man all the more grandiose.
A visceral experience that never leaves the confines of a massive fishing boat at sea. The camera is tossed into pits of fish guts and other detritus, strapped to the helm of the boat, and turned upward at a crooked angle to catch a flock of birds fluttering away. Nature begins to take on a uniquely chaotic tone here, scrambled into an assemblage of sounds both harsh and delicate, immediate images of churning waters and the labor of fishing for a living. The chosen style of the directors, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel of the influential Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, which also helped produced major works like Foreign Parts and Sweetgrass, creates a symbioses between the filmmaking and the work and atmosphere of the boat, getting at the bedlam of the process and the fractured yet feverish beauty that can come about through it.
A document of the clandestine operation of high-grade graffiti artists becomes a searing indictment of the capitalistic systems that provide backing for many artists. Narrated wryly by Rhys Ifans, this wondrous and often hysterical history of modern art in micro follows the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and the French-based Zevs before trading their urgent, demanding, and criminal doings for preperations for the first major show for Mr. Brainwash, a.k.a. Thierry Guetta. Was Brainwash created for the movie or genuine? Is his work genius or garbage? Does it really matter when it’s all said and done? Banksy undermines and ridicules a culture that values the aesthetic of taste over actual taste on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, creating a boisterous, incisive riot that’s never quite as deep or flippant as it seems.
From the outset, the story of the promising teenage basketball player Lenny Cooke doesn’t seem particularly unique. A star at his New York public school, Cooke short-circuited his career when his anti-authoritarian streak curdled into outright cockiness and stubbornness, making him comfortable with skipping practice and focusing more on carousing or goofing around then honing his skills alongside the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
What the Safdie brothers brilliantly lock onto in Lenny Cooke is the demands of maturity and focus in talented, young black athletes as contrasted against the brash, enviable freedom of sports celebrity that is impossible to escape. Cooke sees himself as the next Michael Jordan, but the work that goes into building a career like Jordan’s never occurred to the young player, and the disconnect sent him into obscurity. Years later, the Safdies catch back up with him – overweight and under-employed – and Cooke remains a hypnotic showman, even as his personal life seems to be quickly deteriorating.
Whether purposeful or not, the inventive and thoughtful fraternal directors create a distinct, intimate behavioral portrait of a would-be world-class athlete,and give Cooke his starring moment years after the one he hoped for slipped away.
Could any other director other than Errol Morris get Donald Rumsfeld to talk so candidly? Can anyone make people talk the way he does? It’s a question that comes to mind in Morris’ Tabloid and Standard Operating Procedure but it’s never been more front and center than in The Unknown Known, in which Rumsfeld gives an abbreviated but no-less mesmerizing account of his life and times. There are no bombshell moments of political revelation, though his time in the President George W. Bush’s administration is the centerpiece of the film, but Morris gets a handle on something bigger: the way he thinks and expresses himself. By seeing Rumsfeld as a seasoned, evasive communicator and an unpredictable thinker first and foremost, the director finds the unexpected art and wonky philosophy of the two-time former Secretary of Defense while simultaneously condemning where his thinking and actions led us.
Had Wang Bing only directed West of the Tracks, his immense three-part study of China’s industrial realms and the people who inhabit them, his name would already be primed for the history books. The works that come after, however, have revealed him to be one of China’s greatest political artists, from Fengming, a Chinese Memoir to this devastating, no-frills look at a community of poverty-ravaged denizens on the Sino-Burmese border in Yunnan. Abandoned by their mother and only occasionally under the same roof as their father, who travels to nearby cities for low-pay work, the titular siblings roam the desolate terrain, watch TV in a communal home, and enjoy the scarce amounts of food that they can find. Purposefully slow and unerringly focused, Bing at once gives a bleak report of what it’s like in the more rural sections of his homeland while also exploring the endearing ability for children to imagine and find scraps of joy, even in realms left forgotten by the privileged masses.
The last film completed by the late, irreplaceable Chantal Ackerman is eerily confrontational about the idea of death. Much of the film features Ackerman hanging out at her elderly mother’s home in France, where they talk about everyday struggles, living under Nazi occupation, and personal stories from Ackerman’s youth. She punctuates these with long takes of traveling through Israel and her mother’s idle apartment, and one can feel Ackerman holding onto these last moments, these images of her mother’s various materials and spaces, even in the rush of daily life and travel. It’s not exactly for the impatient, but those who key into the harrowingly personal world that Ackerman captures here won’t be able to shake this one for a long while.
Though largely celebrated upon its release, there were more than a handful of critics who seemed to condescend to Ava DuVernay’s furious documentary for its seeming straightforwardness and lack of style. These people clearly didn’t watch the movie. Though not radical in her compositions, DuVernay’s exhilarating and unrelenting pace packs in a living history of America’s black population in the aftermath of the 13th amendment, creating a stark, convincing argument that slavery went away in name only in the U.S.A.
She places major figures, from Van Jones and Michelle Alexander to Angela Davis and, yes, Newt Gingrich, in places of work, scenes where you can fully sense the labor that went into building an abandoned warehouse or a towering building filled with dimly lit offices. The observations that DuVernay catches in her interviews may not be anything new to those who have read “The New Jim Crow” or the works of Ta-Nehisi Coates, but deployed as a barrage under DuVernay’s direction, a full-throated demand for equal rights and respect for black labor emerges. It’s not easy to shake, nor should it be.
Where many documentaries have strived and failed to encapsulate the issues facing modern public education, Approaching the Elephant takes a bolder route. Director Amanda Wilder spent a year in New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic school where classes and subjects are voted on and attendance is optional. Her black-and-white footage of Alex, the head of the school, and his students reveals a fascinating experiment in education and a study of the democratic process and regulation in micro. Alex must deal with concerned parents, unruly and attention-hungry students, and the not-so-grounded structure of his distinct schooling on the fly, and Wilder’s grainy, black-and-white imagery reflects both the purity and amateurish nature of his venture. In the classrooms of the Little Falls-based school, the director brings out an unexpectedly challenging vision of freedom of choice as both a crucial and emblematic part of America and an element of democracy that allows the stubborn and under-educated to often baselessly halt progress.
The monologist Spalding Gray seemingly took his own life in 2004, when his body was found in the East River after he reportedly jumped off the Staten Island Ferry. There is not much about his death in Steven Soderbergh’s graceful assemblage of footage of Gray from throughout his life – in movies, on stage, being interviewed on TV, etc. – but he certainly gets at his struggles with depression and disease. He allows the late artist to speak for himself and to tell the story of his life the way that he wanted it to be presented to the public. Some footage shows tracking damage while other snippets feature blown-out color and light balances, suggesting different sides of his personality as well as a brief visual history of how performance is recorded, leading all the way up to the advent of digital cameras. Professional and societal insights abound in Gray’s monologues and extended exchanges but what makes And Everything Is Going Fine so moving is the story of a man who could seemingly talk endlessly about anything until he seemingly lost the will to face himself and what was happening to him.
It’s hard to encapsulate just what happens in Khalik Allah’s bracing 60-odd-minute masterpiece. The director took his camera down to the streets right below the main Harlem stop on the New York Metro North in the middle of the night to talk to those who roam the streets or live on them. He speaks with them about their homelessness and what they’re feeling, no matter how disturbed or angry they might seem on the face of it. What he captures is a harrowing document of those left forgotten by society on a daily basis without sentimentalizing them. The people he meets are not moral titans hidden under unwashed clothes, rather humans who are on the fringes looking for escape and, occasionally, redemption in any way they can find it. Allah doesn’t judge where they go searching for their needs or how they came to be homeless and poor, but he listens and watches them explain with a shattering intensity. In their pauses and silences as much as their actions and talk, the director finds distinct individuals within a community of wayward souls cast out by a system that has limited interest in treating and supporting the mentally disabled, addicts, and those who simply require a second chance.
Why Not Productions
There are three versions of Of Men and War floating around and I would suggest you find the longest version possible when hunting it down. The 142-minute version especially allows for a full immersion in the world of Yountville, California’s Pathway Home, a unique PTSD treatment facility that hinges on therapeutic talking between former and inactive soldiers. There’s little in the way of style in Laurent Beque-Renard’s direction but he brings a tonnage of experience covering and studying the effects of war – he reported heavily on the Bosnian War – to bear here. He captures the therapeutic discussions and meetings, the intermingling between the soldiers, and their home lives, which prove to be distinctly difficult gauntlets for many of these men. We may never see the end of our wars in the Middle East or, for that matter, movies about those myriad conflicts, but scant few will be so attentive to the direct psychological and emotional effects of serving one’s country.
Sony Pictures Classic
Waltz with Bashir was the first Israeli animated film in over 45 years to secure stateside release or, really, release at all. It’s not surprising that the one place where the film was expressly banned was Lebanon. The film’s writer-director, Ari Folman, is a veteran of the Lebanon War, and the film recounts both his memories of those days and his present-day conversations with the men who lived through it with him. Here, the animated form offers a distancing mechanism, a way of conveying the slippery, unreliable nature of memory. There’s a pickled humor to Folman’s interactions with other former soldiers, and the flashbacks are boldly colorful, enthrallingly experiential, and wildly creative. It’s a wonder to behold, but the film hits like a sledgehammer, depicting not just the melancholy of age and fading remembrances but the horrors of war, as much for the dead as for the survivors.
4th Row Films
Fans of HBO’s The Wire will likely remember Brandy Burre as Theresa D’Agostino, Carcetti’s campaign manager and one of many lovers of Detective Jimmy McNulty. She’s a talented performer and has found bit parts elsewhere but for all intents and purposes, The Wire was her swan song until the great Robert Greene decided to follow her domestic life for a few months for Actress, his 2014 sophomore effort. Greene is a graceful and audacious stylist but he allows Burre to take center stage here as she deals with a crumbling marriage to an upstate New York restaurant owner and attempts to rekindle her career after becoming a mother. Is she performing for Greene or just living her life? Is their a difference? Burre trusts Greene enough to show him the messiest, most impulsive, and personal sides of herself as a wife, mother, and actress. In return, she gives him one of the most intimate, fearless performances of this or any other decade.
I Am Not Your Negro – Velvet Film Company
In a better, stranger world, Samuel L. Jackson would have been handed some kind of award for his voiceover work in this exceedingly eloquent yet raging look at the unfinished final manuscript by the iconic author and civil rights advocate James Baldwin. When he passed away, the writer and civil rights advocate was working on a book about the deaths of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers, all of whom he was close friends with when they were murdered. The director, Raoul Peck, makes a staggering assemblage of footage of Baldwin, other civil rights leaders, and protests both new and old, connecting Baldwin’s forge to that of modern black leaders like Van Jones and DeRay Mckesson. What ties the film together is Jackson’s readings from the unfinished manuscript, neither trying to replicate Baldwin’s piercing, powerful voice nor relying on his natural rhythms. He responds to the material in a wispy, exhausted, and angry tone, allowing Baldwin’s words to reflect Jackson’s own experiences as a famous black man in America.
Did Timothy Treadwell have any idea that living amongst bears could lead to his death? It certainly doesn’t feel that way from the footage that Werner Herzog pieces together in Grizzly Man, only the most thematically potent of a handful of masterworks the director has released this century. He enjoys his work and feels already immersed in the world of the grizzlies when we first get a look at him. He’s respecting nature but he never fears it, and that’s where Herzog seems to buck against his subject. As the self-produced video diaries of Treadwell give us insight into his righteous environmental passions and his reasons for living in the wild, Herzog goes about studying just how alarmingly naïve it is to believe that humans can predict animal behavior or, even worse, control it.
Herzog’s main focus in filmmaking has often been the chaos of nature and the inherent weaknesses in trying to reason with beasts. In the film’s most memorable scene, the director listens to an audio recording of Treadwell being attacked and consumed by one of the bears but refuses to share with the audience. What he hears confirms all his suspicions about the unsentimental, uncaring violence of nature in one fail swoop but he’s also humanistic enough to know that there’s no good in sharing the frantic final moments of Treadwell’s life for his audience.
Even when parsing the darkest passages of O.J. Simpson’s life in the sprawling O.J. Made in America, director Ezra Edelman is careful to also show how much of an innovator and groundbreaker that Simpson was, in terms of marketing and presenting himself as the quintessential All-American. Here was a man who starred in movies, appeared on TV and in a famous Hertz advertising campaign, worked as a sports commentator before moving into the daily news cycle as a accused murderer. He was good for all time zones, and yet there’s a continuous, eerie sense in this series that this denial of his own idiosyncrasies, personal turmoil, and relationship to his race and the black community led to him becoming so controlling, so vehement in the protection of his image. Or was he just an egomaniacal monster?
In a way, Edelman’s vision of Orenthal James Simpson is a classic tale of repression, of an expert image-maker losing hold of his facade, lashing out and finally crumbling in the aftermath. The vastness of what O.J.: Made in Americacovers, however, makes it clear that the feelings plaguing Simpson were not unique to him, and have not dissipated in the realm of sports or, for that matter, in America on the whole.
Decades after crafting the quitessential cinematic document of the Holocaust with the monumental Shoah, Claude Lanzmann returned in 2013 with this epic, endlessly provocative consideration of Benjamin Murmelstein. In 1975, Lanzmann sat down for a series of exchanges with Murmelstein in Rome, to discuss his role as the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadtghetto in Czechoslovakia and the fact that he was the only surviving member of a group that the Nazi’s referred to as the Elders of the Jews. Lanzmann’s film flips back and forth between these extensive, exhausting interviews and Lanzmann’s modern-day visitations to the places that Murmelstein spoke of in his interviews, while also reading aloud plans and descriptions of the original model ghetto and other places of grim importance. What Lanzmann gives here is at once a full-bodied portrait of a genuine, brilliant survivor, a severe consideration of time and history, and, in Murmelstein’s influence on Adolf Eichmann, a complex depiction of how one must be prepared to work with, fight with, and understand one’s enemies, in the name of saving thousands upon thousands of lives.
Whenever you plan to watch this surreal, horrifying account of the military-led genocide of alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and any and all intellectuals in mid-60s Indonesia, plan to take a day off. Joshua Oppenheimer’s radical, entirely singular feature not only summons the ghastly terrors of that time but visits the living men who were responsible for the firing squads who headed the genocide, who are asked to recreate their actions in their own style for Oppenheimer to film. What follows is visceral eruption of violent psychologies, rampant self-denial, discombobulating pop culture refractions, and, finally, something like awareness, in the movie’s final, breathless minutes. Oppenheimer, working with co-director Christine Cynn, creates something like a guided tour of the genocidal psyche, a devastating reflection of how the mortal crime of murder and needless slaughter is at once easy to enact and impossible to shake off. One might have hoped that the timeliness of this film might have been dulled in the four years since its initial release. No such luck.
Following his groundbreaking Hoop Dreams, the director Steve James returned to Chi-town to follow the members of the titular violence-prevention squad, made up of concerned community members and ex-cons amongst a myriad of other people who have come face-to-face with gang violence. They attend funerals and speak to children about what’s happening, roam the streets looking for disputes to settle without guns, knives, or fists, and council drug addicts or other former prisoners just trying to get straight. James, a master chronicler of race in America, sees the Interrupters as both a force for good and as individuals who are still recuperating and struggling on their own, but he never tips into exploitation or sentimentality. What he sees in this group is the very spirit of modern-day activism in all its contradictions, set-backs, and unmovable hope.
Snuck out of Iran by way of a loaf of bread (or maybe a pound cake?) while it’s creator was under house arrest, Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film gets extra credit for somehow being even more exhilarating than the story of its release. Not that Panahi’s most excruciatingly personal work needs any extra points on the board. In his apartment, Panahi watches and analyzes his own movies on DVD, describes scenes from unfinished or unfilmed works, and plays with his pet iguana, all while kept in place by an ankle bracelet given to him by his government. If the idea of caging Panahi was to make him livid, the Iranian government succeeded but if they were out to shut him up or dilute his imagination, they made a staggering miscalculation. In This is Not a Film, he expresses more inspiring, unbound ideas about the process of filmmaking than any single one-location film ever made and his long takes show a seemingly effortless knowledge of where to put the camera and when to cut.
The title functions as a sarcastic response to the ban on filmmaking that his country slapped him with and as a sincere statement about how his political woes have interrupted his creative process at once. The brilliance of Panahi is that he sees no reason to pick one, and his film could be seen at once as a furious siren’s screech against governmental suppression and undeniable proof that repression can be and should be undermined as often as possible.
A group of neighbors comes together to talk about plans for upcoming events around the neighborhood of Jackson Heights in New York City. A man prays with incense in an aged, gorgeously tiled sanctuary in the same area. A marching band stomps down a street in support of gay rights, while later that night, a community of Latin Americans discusses their horror stories about crossing the border and keeping up connections between family members.
These are only a handful of scenes that can be found within the extended, sublime runtime of In Jackson Heights. These conversations about matters both urgent and everyday come out at once plainspoken and exceedingly eloquent. Wiseman’s great talent for knowing where to put his camera and when, as well as a honed, unparalleled talent for pacing with long takes, gives an unfettered backboard to the vast vision of close-quartered multiculturalism, celebrated and represented in a myriad of actions, discussions, or harmonious stretches of natural city sound – engines revving, footsteps, floating chatter, etc.
Wiseman may have never made a more progressive yet measured work in his career, but this is easily his most engrossing and lively study of society in micro since Belfast, Maine, one of the best documentaries of the 1990s and the last century. Here, he doubles down on his legacy as one of the greatest of all American filmmakers by seeing America without bias or filter, cluttered together, making noise, and mostly doing there own thing.
We in Trinidad and Tobago tout that the greatest invention of the 21st century is the steel pan, yet annually we read of artistes returning home to hold benefit concerts to finance their studies abroad.
Pan prodigy Aviel Scanterbury, the latest, considered by some to be a musical prodigy will be pursuing a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies at the George Mason University in Virginia, USA and is pleading for financial support.
How many times have we read such a story, not only of panplayers but other artistes such as singers, dancers, actors etc, studying abroad? When will we get it right? Young and talented artistes, all with dreams, have to be pleading for monetary support.
How long has Pan Trinbago been in existence? There is annual Panorama bacchanal, no pan theatre and clearly no funding in the form of scholarships or grants to support panplayers, arrangers etc.
We hear of questionable actions and alleged corruption in Pan Trinbago and no one is ever held accountable. Silence from the Culture Minister until next Carnival and the same story rehashed.
Where are the private businesses? What role do they play in supporting artistes in this country?
The large bands have top businesses for sponsors and in return receive advertising locally, regionally and internationally.
There are positive young, upcoming artistes who need financial resources to sustain them abroad. The practice in T&T is after you win, businesses and people jump on your bandwagon. Assistance, at least partial funding, can be provided. Help our youths. They are flying the flag of our country.
Editorial voices from newspapers across the United States:
Earlier this month, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a $3 million fine and turn over thousands of artifacts smuggled out of Iraq and the Middle East in yet another unfortunate display of corporate double standards.
According to USA Today and the Associated Press, the arts and crafts supplier known for its president’s strong religious beliefs bought $1.6 million of cuneiform tablets and other artifacts in a “clandestine” deal “fraught with red flags” – meaning Hobby Lobby knew what it was doing was wrong and went to great lengths to hide it, no matter what company officials claim about their motives.
In a great understatement, President Steve Green said the company “should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.”
That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t put the company above the law – and nor should a company that claims to be so steeped in religion need a fine to be encouraged to do what is right. Yet the fact is that while the fine is more than normally issued in such cases, to a huge company like Hobby Lobby it is a mere slap on the wrist. The “punishment” is unlikely to do much to deter Hobby Lobby or other companies – “Corporate America” continues to skate when it comes to lawbreaking and illegal, predatory practices.
Life is tough for many children in Mississippi. The state rates at or near the top in numerous categories including childhood poverty, childhood obesity and lack of access to health care.
Lately, some children in the state have faced another peril: getting shot.
During last month, at least three children in Mississippi have been the victims of fatal shootings.
On July 12, a 12-year-old boy in Columbus was killed when several children were playing with a rifle. A 5-year-old died July 1 in Jackson. Another child, also 5, died July 4 in Louisville.
There was a similar incident in Greenwood in June. A 6-year-old was severely injured when he was shot by a 5-year-old playmate who found a loaded gun under the couch.
Note the common element in all of these shootings: Every victim was shot by himself or another child while playing with a firearm. But don’t put the blame on the children.
It’s up to adult gun owners to make certain guns are kept out of little hands. Yes, adults need to teach children to stay away from firearms unless they are supervised by an adult.
But at least – the very least – keep guns out of kids’ reach.
Women remain underrepresented in national, state and local governments in 2017.
And in Pennsylvania, that number is “particularly stark,” according to a May 2017 report, “Few, but Mighty: Women and Bill Sponsorship in the Pennsylvania General Assembly,” by the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University’s Women’s Institute.
The report finds the lack of female representation is detrimental in terms of representation, policy-making, collaboration and legislative success.
Across the United States, women make up more than 50 percent of the population, yet hold less than 20 percent of the available seats in Congress, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Pennsylvania, according to the Center for Women in Politics report, the 253-member General Assembly, only 40 women legislators currently serve in the House, and eight in the Senate.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has been ranked 46th in overall gender parity, according to the report.
The report goes on to indicate that partisan gridlock may be a function of having fewer women in the Legislature.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what taxpayers are seeking – a more effective and efficient government?
If that’s what you’re looking for, encourage women to run for office locally – and vote for them to represent you when they do.
From Jim Turner and the News Service of Florida: Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, the chairman of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, may soon be in a gubernatorial fight with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Neither has formally jumped …