Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbajian Could Hold Clues to Israeli-Iran Conflict

 

The Eurovision Song Competition semi-finals begin May 22 in Baku, Azerbaijan, climaxing with finals May 26th. And the world should be watching, because Azerbaijan, which shares an open border with Iran, is believed to have opened access to airbases in the secular Moslem nation to Israel, with whom they have a relationship, according to Foreign Policy:

Four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran’s northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. “The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior administration official told me in early February, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

The report of Israel using airbases in Azerbaijan for war planes is discounted by Israel’s Haaretz, citing a number of logistical issues that make the use of the Azeri airfields impractical as launching grounds for F-15 fighter planes:

[T]hey fail to address the problem of where the Israeli warplanes can fly to once they have refueled in Azerbaijan. There is no friendly route to fly back to Israel, except over Iranian or Turkish territory, hardly appealing alternatives once an attack has already been carried out and both countries will be on highest alert…

Since landing in Azerbaijan after a strike on Iran would almost certainly mean that returning these valuable aircraft to Israel would be a lengthy and complicated process, especially at a time when the IAF [Israeli Air Force] would certainly need them for additional missions, this doesn’t seem to make sense. Other uses proposed in the FP feature, using Azeri fields just in the case of emergency landings or using them to base search-and-rescue helicopters or reconnaissance drones, makes more sense.

As part of the European Broadcasting Union, Israel is a participant in Eurovision, despite the contest’s May 26 final falling on Shavuot, an Israeli holiday, which commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jews. (Shavuot is celebrated seven weeks after the second day of Passover). Israel’s entry Izabo will perform on the May 22 semi-final.

Now in its 57th year, Eurovision is held among the active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) or members of the Council of Europe. Each member country submits a song which is voted on by other countries, and the winner hosts the next year’s contest, providing a chance to promote their nation. Eurovision is such a huge deal that in 2005, host country the Ukraine waived their visa requirements for the summer. This year, 75-year old Englebert Humperdink will be representing for the UK, and Russia has a team of grannies from Urals performing their entry. Sadly this year Armenia withdrew from the competition over tension with Azerbiajan stemming from the 1990s war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh which killed over 25,000.

Regarding the mounting Israeli/Iranian tension, Haaretz adds:

Meanwhile, it may turn out that the only Israeli attack through Azerbaijan this year will be psychedelic punk-rock band Izabo since according to Haaretz’s senior columnist, Amir Oren, Tuesday night’s announcement that the U.S. Defense Department would be seeking funding for further development of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, was a signal that there would be no Israeli strike on Iran this year.

But if for some reason Izabo cancels, duck and cover.

“Neighborhood Watch” Trailer Pulled from Florida Movie Theaters

Last week I questioned the appropriateness of running the trailers of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn’s upcoming movie “Neighborhood Watch” in light of 17-year old Trayvon Martin’s shooting death at the hands of gun-toting Neighbor Watch captain and cop-wannabe George Zimmerman.

The summer comedy’s distributor, Twentieth Century Fox, has now pulled trailers and posters from Florida theaters

out of respect.

Protests over the shooting death have spread across the country, and director Spike Lee in a bonehead move tweeted the address of the wrong George Zimmerman to half a million people who follow him on Twitter. Dude, if you’re gonna dox somebody, get it right, and don’t make a nice old couple have to hide out in a motel. On the other hand, if the Zimmermans get a good lawyer, Spike may end up funding their retirement account and a nice college fund for their grandkids.  Reacting to Lee’s clumsy use of teh Googles, journalist Mark Ebner tweeted Spike Lee’s address.

Rick Santorum Afraid of Pink Balls

Rick Santorum is seeking to strike Wisconsin voters the right way by incorporating bowling terms into speeches, showing up at bowling lanes three times in five days and telling reporters:

Well, I always try to make campaigning fun and do things that are, you know, along the way, and get a chance to meet people in sort of normal settings instead of in rallies or structured events.

But when Frothy Santorum stopped to perform in an alley in La Crosse, he suddenly got controlling. According to Reuters reporter Sam Youngman, Santorum said to a young man bowling with him:

You’re not gonna use that pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera.

Wait, what exactly is wrong with a pink bowling ball? And what if that bowling ball was the one closest in weight for the guy’s playing needs? Is this what we have to look forward to if Frothy Santorum is elected–the government telling us what color balls we can play with? That men can’t stick their fingers into something pink?

Santorum then added:

Friend don’t let friends use pink balls.

Oh Rick, I beg to differ. My friend lets me use his.

Jane Fonda Plays Nancy Reagan?

Oh can’t you hear the screams from the Excessive Machine now that it’s been announced that Jane Fonda is in talks to play Nancy Reagan in “The Butler,”  directed by Lee Daniels (the Oscar winning “Precious”). The film centers around White House butler Eugene Allen, who worked for eight United States presidents over more than thirty years.

I hope they show Mr. Allen admitting astrologers into Mrs. Reagan’s sitting room!

Late Night FDL: Astronauts, Idiots, Three Men and a Tenor

 

A Sacramento law firm is suing to prevent Democratic congressional candidate Jose Hernandez from describing himself as an “astronaut/scientist/engineer” on the June ballot. The firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk has ties to Republican politicians:

Attorney Charles Bell Jr., one of two lawyers named on the lawsuit, is general counsel to the California Republican Party. The other attorney listed on the lawsuit, Brian Hildreth, has worked for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

The lawsuit points out that Jose Hernandez did not receive any pay from NASA in 2011 and that

Hernandez’s attempted use of ‘astronaut’ violates the Election Code’s unambiguous requirement that a candidate’s ballot designation reflect one’s current profession, vocation, or one held during the previous calendar year.

Hernandez left NASA in January of 2011. He was

born into a farmworker family, trained as an engineer at the University of the Pacific and was selected as an astronaut candidate in May 2004. He flew aboard the shuttle Discovery in 2009.

 

Shepard Fairey: Bringing “1984″ to a Screen Near You

Artist Shepard Fairey has been instrumental in bringing George Orwell’s influential and classic work of  dystopian fiction Nineteen Eighty-Four to Imagine Entertainment and production company LBI. If greenlit, the artist could receive producer credit.

Last month,  Fairey  plead guilty to charges of criminal contempt of court for destroying documents and manufacturing evidence related to AP’s lawsuit against him.  That suit dealt with the unlicensed appropriation of Mannie Garcia’s photograph of Barak Obama for the iconic “Hope” poster. Fairey now faces fines and jail time.

As part of the lawsuit settlement, which included an undisclosed sum, Fairey agreed to license any AP photos he may wish to use in future art work. Additionally, both the AP and Fairey will share the rights to create merchandise based on the image–and that means the profits from those items. Fairey recently voiced a parody of himself on an episode  of The Simpson’s, “Exit Through the Kwik_E-Mart” playing a street artist who is actually a police informant.

First published in 1949, Orwell’s book has twice been given cinematic treatment, first in 1956 and then, appropriately enough, in 1984.  In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell coined terms like Big Brother, thought crime, New Speak, thought police and doublethink, now in common usage. And “Orwellian” has come to mean a totalitarian, secretive,  manipulative, overbearing and controlling regime.

In America,  Nineteen Eighty-Four is often invoked as a cautionary tale in order to cast the politicians of either or both parties in unfavorable light. The book however, makes the point that there is only one party.

 

Madonna vs St. Petersburg Over LGBT Rights

Madonna declared on her Facebook page that she will speak up against a new stringent anti-LGBT law in St. Petersburg, Russian which calls for fining anyone who promotes

the false perception that traditional and non-traditional relationships are socially equal.

Fines can be as high as $15,000, and St Petersburg city assemblyman Vitaly Milanov says he will attend the concert to insure its
moral content
and that Madonna is charged under the new law if she refers to it negatively or makes any positive statements about LGBT rights. The bill, which also bans the promotion of homosexuality and pedophilia to minors, was signed into law by Mayor of St Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko, a former KGB officer and close friend of Vladamir Putin. 

On her Facebook page, Madonna wrote:

I’m a freedom fighter.
My show
My songs
My work
My art
Is all about freedom of expression
Freedom to choose to speak to act
Always with humanity and compassion
I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels opressed.
I don’t run away from adversity.
I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity.

Why it is not illegal to be gay in Russia, LGBT events have been violently disrupted by police, who claim the events upset the populace, and the Russian Orthodox church urges punishment or hospitalization for gays.

Madonna’s concert appearance in August is causing friction in the LGBT community. Yury Gavrikov, head of the St. Petersburg branch of Gay Russia movement told AFP:

We intend to protest against the hypocrisy of pop stars. In Russia, they have fantastic earnings, and this allows them to forget about the problems of human rights. If people like Madonna boycott their concerts particularly in Saint Petersburg that could have economic consequences, and that is important, while declarations of support for gay rights at concerts mean nothing.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network spoke to the Daily Mail, saying:

We consider that Madonna’s visit and her address to millions of her Russian fans with words in support of freedom of expression for everyone will bring more good than a boycott would.

(Icon caption from “Crimes of Passion,”  by Madonna and Kevin Bray)

Making Prom Happen for Foster Care Girls

Pretty dresses, cute shoes, hair and make-up are all part of the prom experience for millions of American girls. But for many teenagers living in foster care, the prom is just one more thing out of their reach. In Los Angeles County, where over 1,200 teen girls are in foster care, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers have stepped up to make sure prom happens for foster care kids with the two day special event Glamor Gowns Giveaway. This year, after an email from my wonderful bra shop (Jenette’s “where the alphabet begins at D”), I volunteered to help at the foundation garment table. To Jenette the event is very special, since a number of her family were raised in foster care. The event hit a chord with me because one of my oldest friends, Victoria , raised a number of foster children, facilitated the adoption of one of her fosters, and recently adopted a girl she had been fostering; so for me, this was a tribute to her.

Glamor Gowns was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where weirdly a cheerleading competition was also going on with loads of girls from 1st to 12th grade in full make-up and custom cheer gear, often with both parents in tow holding video cameras, clogging the escalators and halls. Just around the corner, in a large room, foster parents sat with their wards as hair and make-up teams went to work on the girls who had finished “shopping,” while others waited for their section to be called.

In the giveaway room, each girl received a number and was assigned a personal shopper who helped her pick out a dress from the hundreds of brand new donated gowns, along with shoes, jewelry and handbags. At Jenette’s table we helped girls and their shopper choose bras that would fit correctly. Since these were convertible bras which can go from strapless to halter style and back to “regular,” they were more than one-time use items. Jenette had arranged with her distributors to make sure there was a selection donated in every size range. Seamstresses from local studio unions donated their time to adjust the dresses to ensure they fit perfectly.

Personal shoppers included many women from Alpha Kappa Alpha–founded in 1908 at Howard University, it is now a nationwide community service-based sorority–as well as CASA volunteers and women to whom being of service is an important part of their lives. Local KTLA newscaster Michaela Pereira, an advisory board member of CASA who is very active in foster care issues, served as emcee of the event.

It was so wonderful to see the huge smiles on the girls’ faces as they modeled in their gowns, beaming as they picked out rhinestone earring and necklaces to complete their elegant look. By 1 pm almost 300 girls had come through, and my shift was over, but I decided to ask if I could stay longer and take a turn as a personal shopper.

I stood next to the podium with other personal shoppers as girls were called by number. I was introduced to my client, a beautiful 14 year-old girl with long curly hair and a shy smile who said she wanted a purple or red dress, and admitted she was nervous about attending her first prom. She didn’t know what size she was, but I could kinda figure it out. I chose a red dress from the rack and then another one caught her eye, a knee length gray ruched halter top. She tried it on in one the private dressing rooms set up in the giveaway hall. It fit beautifully, and she exclaimed

“This is the dress! This one!”

I agreed. It was totally perfect, and one she could wear to many things, not just the prom. Next stop, the shoe table, where my sweet niece-for-the-day thought she wanted black shoes until a pair of pale pink strap sandals caught her eye. Again a perfect and fashionable choice. A charcoal handbag, dangling but tasteful earrings and a necklace completed her ensemble, and then she was presented with a goodie bag full of beauty and bath products before heading over to hair and make-up.

Even though the guardian for her group home was in the main waiting area/beauty room, my charge asked me to stay with her as she got dolled up, chatting about her desires to be a pediatrician (her favorite subjects are math and science), Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Vampire Diaries; singing one of her favorite rap songs to me, sharing the head set of her CD player so I could listen along, talking about hair and make-up. When she was all glammed up, her long tresses styled with a curling iron, and just the barest amount of make up on her slightly freckled face, she nearly cried when I said goodbye. It was all I could do to hold back tears myself, and once I was on the escalator and moving through the clots of perky cheerleaders and their perfect families, I started to sob.

Trayvon Martin: Marchers in Hoodies Protest Teen’s Death

Marches protesting the killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent police sloppiness and inaction are spreading across the country, loosely dubbed Million Hoodie March, escalated by Geraldo Rivera’s idiotic fashion comments on Fox & Friends. Geraldo urged parents of Latino and African American children to stop their kids from wearing hoodies. Shouldn’t Geraldo instead decried the idea that the simple act of wearing an article of clothing can target young people as potential criminals?

Wednesday night in New York hundreds rallied in New York City, many wearing hoodies. In London protestors also marched, wearing hoodies. The Miami Heat tweeted a photo of team members wearing hoodies. Friday night 150  Chicagoans marched carrying Skittles and ice tea, and as many of 8,000 people marched in Philadelphia, while earlier that day  12,000 students in Miami staged a school walk out. A prayer vigil was held Friday night in Sanford, Florida where Trayvon was shot by Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman.

More rallies are planned over the next few days: Saturday in Washington D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, and on Monday, the one month anniversary of Travyon’s shooting, at Detroit’s Hart Plaza and at City Hall Park in downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

Rich Gent Wing? GOP Candidate Anagrams


The names of the five GOP candidates make for some goofy, at times telling, anagrams. The letters of openly gay, pro-choice, pro-pot  candidate GOP candidate Fred Karger’s name only rearrange into one anagram, while Rick Santorum’s moniker provides the most. And the raunchiest. Here are some of the choice and fitting combinations.

NEWT GINGRICH
Cringing Whet
Etch Grin Wing
Gent Rig Winch
Get Inch Wring
Grit Gin Wench
Retching Wing
Rich Gent Wing

FRED KARGER
Erg Dark Ref

RON PAUL
A Pol Run
Lunar Op
Oral Pun
Run A Lop

MITT ROMNEY:
I My Torment
Memory Tint
Metro Minty
Not My Merit
Remit My Ton
To Mr Enmity
Yo Mr Mitten

RICK SANTORUM
A Scrotum Rink
A Trick Mourns
Crank Tourism
Crank Out Rims
I Rank Scrotum
Iron Smut Rack
It Murks Acorn
Main Cork Rust
Manic Rusk Rot
Mr Sour Catkin
Muck A Torn Sir
O Karmic Turns
Oink Crams Rut
Or Irk Sanctum
Riots Can Murk
Rim Nuts Croak
Rum Snack Riot
Rut Minor Sack
Scat Ink Rumor
Scrota In Murk
Sir Coma Trunk
Smack Ruin Rot
Smirk Can Tour
Snout Rim Rack
Strain Or Muck
Taco Smirk Run
Tin Sack Rumor
Trucks A Minor
Uncorks A Trim

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