Monday, February 29, 2016

Cinema Clips: A War

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, writer-director Tobias Lindholm has delivered a mixed bag war drama.

The first half is actually quite good as Claus (Pilou Asbaek), a soldier from Denmark stationed in Afghanistan tries to lead a tired troop on patrols while his wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) holds things together back home. Life takes a bad turn for Claus when he inadvertently kills civilians during battle and is returned home to face charges. Lindholm’s film then becomes a courtroom drama with very little mystery and tension. The second half of the movie doesn’t feel like it belongs to the first.

The film actually works best when showing Maria dealing with a child who is acting up in the absence of his father. In this respect, it’s actually quite memorable as an examination of families whose loved ones have gone off to war.

Once the courtroom drama kicks in, Maria takes a backseat to standard cinematic legal drama. It’s too bad, and it’s also surprising that this film got the Oscar nod over such great movies as the horror show Goodnight, Mommy from Germany and the haunting Rams from Iceland.

Those films were far more fully realized. A War isn’t a bad movie. It has some solid performances (especially from Novotny) and a first half that resonates. As for everything that takes place in the courtroom, it’s unnecessary and, quite frankly, boring. 

Bailey Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 2:15 PM


Oh hey! I'm Bailey!

I was rescued from New Mexico and as you can see I am excited to be here!

I'm 5 years old and a little on the heavy side! I'm looking for a family who will provide me with daily exercise and healthy diet!

If you're interested in adopting me stop by Humane Society of Southern Arizona Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd to meet me!
Hope to see ya soon,

Bailey (819514)

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Don't Miss Free Screening of 'Rape on the Night Shift'—A Look into the Migrant Women Who Clean Your Office and Face Sexual Violence

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 1:15 PM

"Rape on the Night Shift" is screening Wednesday, March 2 at the UA Gallagher Theater. Join co-producers Andrés Cediel and Daffodil Altan for a discussion after.
  • "Rape on the Night Shift" is screening Wednesday, March 2 at the UA Gallagher Theater. Join co-producers Andrés Cediel and Daffodil Altan for a discussion after.

Even months after the official release of the documentary "Rape on the Night Shift"—an investigative piece that truly gave a platform to the voices of immigrant women who have been victims of sexual assault while working late-night janitorial jobs—the creators of the doc continue to feel the ramifications of putting an ignored issue of this caliber under a gigantic magnifying lens. 

To award-winning doc-maker and journalist Andrés Cediel, one of the producers of the film, it's rewarding to know that janitorial corporations like ABM, which was featured in the documentary, agreed to change some of their internal policies to ensure sexual assault allegations are handled with transparency and dignity. "In other words, they are pledging to take this issue more seriously. [It's] a big deal because they are the industry leader," Cediel says. "The fact that we have that response should have effects throughout the industry as well."

He also refers to the more-than-a-handful of times other news outlets have referenced the documentary, as well as janitorial startups that have pledged to protect their workers—again, citing "Rape on the Night Shift" as the foundation.

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What Tucson-area School Districts, and BASIS, Spend on Administration

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 12:30 PM

  • Courtesy of Shutterstock
Last week I wrote about a new report which concludes that charter schools spend far more on administration per student than school districts. According to the report, charters average $1,403 on administrative costs per student and school districts average $628. The higher costs at charters add up to $128 million a year.

To create the report, the authors went through the Annual Financial Reports submitted to the state by all charters and school districts. They put the data on administrative costs per student for all charters and districts into a long table (It begins on page 26 if you want to look at it). I went through the table to find how much each Tucson-area school district spends on administration per student. As I wrote above, the state average for districts is $628. Here's the local district breakdown, from low to high.
Sunnyside: $548
Amphitheater: $610
TUSD: $614
Vail: $666
Marana: $679
Flowing Wells: $684
Catalina Foothills: $807
Interestingly, TUSD, which is regularly accused of having a bloated administration, is the third lowest on the list, just below the state district average.

The report shows that many of the larger charter districts, which should benefit from economies of scale, actually have some of the highest administrative costs (Costs at some of the smaller charters are below the school districts' average cost). BASIS, for instance, spends an average of $2,275 per student on administration, more than 50 percent higher than the charter average. Here are the numbers for the Tucson-area BASIS schools, from low to high.
Oro Valley Primary: $1,952
Tucson North: $1,976
Tucson: $2,075
Oro Valley: $2,456
One final stat from the study: the amount spent on administration relative to classroom spending. School districts spend an average of 22 percent as much on administration as on the classroom. Charters spend 48 percent.

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Jan Brewer: "Donald Trump Is Our Chance To Save This Country and Make America Great Again"

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Former AZ governor Jan Brewer: "As a Washington outsider, Mr. Trump gets it. He will listen to the people and fight for the citizens of the United States."
  • Former AZ governor Jan Brewer: "As a Washington outsider, Mr. Trump gets it. He will listen to the people and fight for the citizens of the United States."
Over the weekend, former Arizona governor Jan Brewer was among the current and former elected officials who came out to endorse Donald Trump for president.

Brewer said her endorsement was based on Trump’s proposal to stop illegal immigration by building a massive wall along the border and rounding up undocumented immigrants. Many politicians have promised, as John McCain once said, to “build the danged fence,” but only Trump has come up with the idea of building a “beautiful” concrete wall and making Mexico pay for it.

It’s a plan that seems somewhat unlikely; former Mexican President Felipe Calderón told CNBC earlier this month that “Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall,” while former Mexican president Vicente Fox was more blunt in his comments, telling Univision’s Jorge Ramos: “I am not going to pay for that fucking wall.” Of course, when Trump heard that, he said the wall “just got 10 feet higher,” so those Mexicans had better zip their lips or it’s gonna cost them a lot of pesos once the Trump logo in on the White House.

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Into the Mild: Week One in a Nairobi Slum

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Nairobi, Kenya – January 2016

This is part two of a three-part journal about my month in Kenya volunteering at a children’s foundation in the infamous Mathare Slum. I wrote about my first day in Nairobi here.

Day Two (Wednesday
): The day got off to a quick start. We had a brief staff meeting with an outside adviser who continually told us that we had to make our pictures and stories go viral, as if that isn’t what everybody posting to Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Blogspot, Reddit, Facebook, tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest isn’t already unsuccessfully trying to do. Writing the most profound and catchy article of the month, combined with taking a stunning photo that tells an amazing story, won’t get a second of attention online if Kanye West tweets something stupid that day or Buzzfeed releases a list why people born in the (insert decade here) are the best. Us though, we would do it. We would be successful. We just needed to go viral.

My coworkers were amazing. All volunteers, all welcoming and charismatic, and all with great ideas. I lucked out by landing in a workplace with Eric, Viv, Sharon, and James all working there. Life is good when your friends are your coworkers and your coworkers are your friends.

We went to lunch at a "hotel" near the office. The small restaurants that dot the roadsides are called hotels, each selling traditional Kenyan food for incredibly cheap prices. I got lentils and chapati, a circular piece of bread that is fried generously with crisco. Then I asked for water. I was told to grab a cup from the bucket near the seats. They looked clean, but were still soaking wet and were sitting uncovered in the sun. And there wasn’t a sink to wash them in nearby. I grabbed the driest one I saw. A pitcher of tap water rested on the table. It’s apparently unhealthy to drink tap water from African slums, but I didn’t see any other water so I downed a glass. When in Rome…

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Creating an Army of Killer Robots Might Not Be Such a Hot Idea

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:15 AM


Former Pentagon analyst and Army Ranger Paul Scharre has penned a report warning that creating "autonomous weapons"—or, in more common parlance, killer robots—has a lot of downsides, including the "potential for catastrophic accidents."

The New York Times sums it up:

A new report written by a former Pentagon official who helped establish United States policy on autonomous weapons argues that such weapons could be uncontrollable in real-world environments where they are subject to design failure as well as hacking, spoofing and manipulation by adversaries.

In recent years, low-cost sensors and new artificial intelligence technologies have made it increasingly practical to design weapons systems that make killing decisions without human intervention. The specter of so-called killer robots has touched off an international protest movement and a debate within the United Nations about limiting the development and deployment of such systems.
Did we learn nothing from Terminator? Robocop? Avengers: Age of Ultron? On the other hand, new robot overlords might be a better alternative than President Donald J. Trump.

'Little Brother' Series Says Tucson's Black Boys Are Love, Too

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 9:15 AM

  • Manchild in the Promised Land/ Patreon
Filmmakers Nicole Franklin and Jai Tigget premiere the fifth installation of their race narrative, Little Brother—which was filmed right here in the Old Pueblo—at the YWCA Tucson this Monday, Feb. 29. The documentary's goal: to remind people that black boys are more than societal stereotypes. 

Filming of Little Brother started back in 2010. Each 15-minute chapter explores black boys' lives—as well as their fears and hopes for the future in various communities, ranging from Camden, New Jersey, to Chicago, to here in Tucson. Franklin says the documentaries highlight race issues in wake of recent police violence aimed at black boys and teenagers, but that she and Tigget didn't originally want to tell these boys' stories for that reason. 

"We gotta give everyone a chance to be aware of their humanity," she said. "We have to give them that acknowledgement—you know, that, 'I really need to understand who you are,'"

Little Brother: Manchild in the Promised Land, set here in the Old Pueblo, tells the untold history and present of Tucson's black boys and illuminates southwest race relations at large, according to Franklin, who directed this chapter of the docu-series. She says people often forget that black men and women in the southwest were pioneers and conquistadors, but that Tucson Heritage Tours teach this to the local young black community. 

"Our history doesn’t have to be one where we’re just slaves—which is true—but there's so many different aspects to our history. Different colors, different riches. It's just something we can highlight, especially in this chapter." 

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Staff Pick

World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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