Dear White People Series Premiere Recap: Party Like It’s 1949


Months before one frame of Dear White People ever streamed on Netflix, Justin Simien’s new series was the target of amusing outrage on Twitter. Butthurt folks of the Caucasian persuasion took to their accounts to tweet for a massive boycott of Netflix. How dare they create a TV show with this title, a title that had previously adorned the 2014 film upon which this show is based? According to such critics, it was reverse racism by golly and dagnabbit! Netflix and Simien responded in a way these complainers understood: They trolled the hell out of them.

Netflix’s response was apt, because Dear White People doesn’t have time for your shit. It couldn’t care less about your offense, and at times it seems to revel in it. In today’s climate, where satire can barely compete with the insanity of real life, Simien has crafted a take-no-prisoners approach to his comedic statements. He packs so much detail and information into each episode that multiple viewings are required to fully appreciate the work. In this first episode alone, there are several throwaway lines that fly off-the-cuff, only to return later to your mind like a boomerang. Dear White People is blissfully aware that it is a TV show. How else does one explain the “ethnic but non-threatening voice” of the narrator, the suddenly ubiquitous Giancarlo Esposito?

“The writers of this program are depending on [me] to explain things that they are too lazy to set up traditionally,” says the actor formerly known as Big Brother All-Migh-TEE from School Daze. This writer wishes he could hire Esposito to tell you that, back in 2014, he and Steven Boone covered the film version of Dear White People for our “Black Man Talks” series. We dug into the character-based minutiae of Simien’s debut feature, discussing many elements that carry forth into the ten chapters that make up this series. You should go read that, as it will tell you exactly what to expect from these recaps.

“Chapter I” opens with a James Baldwin quote: “The paradox of education is that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” We are at Winchester University, a Primarily White Institution (PWI) that was, three days prior, the site of a blackface-themed party thrown by the university’s humor magazine, Pastiche. Something of an institution itself, Pastiche turns out successful comedy writers for shows like Saturday Night Live. The Pastiche crew’s rationale for this party matches that of the aforementioned Twitter protestors — they named their party “Dear Black People” in response to the title of a campus radio show. Rather than have people showing up as Dr. Maya Angelou or the mathematically brilliant ladies from Hidden Figures, however, white partygoers showed up as every black stereotype they could conjure.

“That’s an actual black person,” says our narrator, after unsuccessfully trying to identify some of the partygoers’ costumes. That actual black person is joined by numerous other black people, including this episode’s subject, Samantha White (Logan Browning, taking over for Tessa Thompson). She’s recording the party, capturing the less than appreciative response of the party’s gatecrashers. “The hangover from this party is a motherfucker,” intones the narrator. The university’s spin doctors are similarly affected. This was a party that had should have been cancelled, yet somehow it was thrown.

After the party flashback, “Chapter I” explores Sam’s college life. She’s the creator of the call-in radio show “Dear White People,” where she offers advice on what not to do in the presence of one’s brown friends. It is she who utters Simien’s mission statement: “Dear White People is a misnomer,” she tells a caller. “My show is meant to articulate the feelings of a misrepresented group outside the majority.” These feelings include the numerous microaggressions Simien hilariously depicts in a quick montage. “What ARE you?” asks one perky young lady. “Someone about to slap the shit out of you!” Sam replied.

Actually, Sam is biracial. “You’re not Rashida Jones biracial,” says her BFF Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson). “You’re Tracee Ellis Ross biracial.” This is one of those boomerang lines I was talking about. It’s funny on the outset, but it came back to haunt me later. It got me thinking about the double-standard regarding how black (or not black) a biracial person may look. The line comes a few scenes after an allusion to the brilliant “Straight and Nappy” musical number in School Daze: At the monthly Black Caucus, Sam and the darker hued Coco (Antoinette Robertson) get into it over good and bad hair. “Your natural hairdo is held together by bobby pins and prayer,” snaps Coco. “You should talk,” Samantha responds. “You have half of India’s GDP on your head!”

That Black Caucus meeting yields a reassessment of how righteously and unapologetically black Sam White is, after a surprise Instagram post puts her reputation as the voice of Winchester’s black militancy and pride at stake. “I hate when bae leaves,” the post reads, accompanied by a picture of Sam leaving some white guy’s apartment. That guy turns out to be Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), Sam’s “summer bae,” with whom we previously saw her having orgasmic sex. To quote Joelle, Summer Bae “looks like the white dude in the picture that comes with the frame.” When you’re the author of a piece entitled “Don’t Fall In Love With Your Oppressor: A Black Girl’s Guide to Dating at Winchester,” romancing a white guy gets a solid 10 on the hypocrisy meter.

“Chapter I” is as much about Gabe as it is about Samantha. In the film version of Dear White People, Sam tells Gabe of her own discomfort about the white side of her family. It was a shockingly frank scene, buoyed by the notion that we’re hearing a perspective other narratives would never touch; in fiction, it’s always been the black side that brought out the shame. “Chapter I” shifts Sam’s discomfort to Gabe, but her desire to keep their relationship on the down low is more a matter of optics than shame. Any interpretation by the outside world is bound to be a binary one, an either/or proposition that overshadows its complexity. Even Simien’s framing of her explanation is purposefully guilty of this. “When I’m with him, it’s like a respite from everything,” she tells Joelle, as Simien positions her in front of a giant poster that reads “Missing: Black Culture” in big, bold letters.
Simien’s characterization of Gabe is ripe for multiple interpretations, and John Patrick Amedori plays him in a way that forces the viewer to draw conclusions that depend not only on what we’re seeing on screen, but the biases (implicit or not) we bring to the table. “Is he really this naïve?” I asked myself about his Instagram post, “Or is there a bit of vindictiveness at play here?” That question lingers during the episode’s big “Defamation Wednesday” set piece where, in a moment of defiance (or is it resignation?), Sam brings Gabe to the all-black Armstrong Parker house for an event denoted as “the epicenter of black campus life.”

Defamation is the hilarious show-within-a-show parody of Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, complete with horny white president, steely black fixer, and her evil, cunning papa who, in this incarnation, is really a clone. Shoehorned into the viewing audience of brown people is Gabe’s solitary white face, a situation I have never seen onscreen except in prison movies. It’s a situation I’d wager most white viewers of this show have experienced in real life, either. But I could identify with Gabe feeling all eyes on him; I’d be here all week describing the times I’ve been the only person of color somewhere.

Unfortunately, Gabe’s attempts to interact fall horribly flat. When pressed by Reggie (Marque Richardson), who has a crush on Sam, Gabe blurts out, “I don’t know how black people feel, but I’d like to know.” He then mistakenly assumes Reggie will respond with violence at this statement, a faux pas that sends Gabe sprinting toward the exit. He calls Sam out for not defending him, and she responds with a “now you know how I feel on this campus”-style retort.

Later, Sam is confronted by Lionel (DeRon Horton), a reporter for the campus newspaper who says that tomorrow’s paper will reveal her role in the party. “I don’t like the idea of telling someone else’s truth,” he says. Empowered, Sam takes to the airwaves: “My jokes don’t make it unsafe for you to walk the streets. But yours do,” she tells the audience. “When you mock and belittle us, you enforce an existing system. Before this party, a POC couldn’t mention racism without it being seen as crying wolf. Look, I sent the party invite. It was fascinating to see what was under the surface when you were allowed to suspend your polite white liberalism. I considered it a sociological experiment. And guess what? You proved my point.”

Sam then apologizes to Gabe. He’s part of her truth, optics be damned.


Struggling Austudy Recipient Invites Crush Over For Some Putlocker And Chill


Local university student, Toby Roundtree (19) refuses to let the fact that he can’t afford the $15 per month premium for Netflix affect his chances of having sexual intercourse fellow first-year-students.

With parents who don’t know how to use a computer, and an equally-destitute circle of friends, Toby is unable to even borrow someone else’s Netflix log-in details to stream television programs and movies.Because of this, he’s been unable to find a way to initiate the three-year-old ritual of inviting a young girl over for ‘Netflix and chill’ – a subtle way of snuggling with the opposite sex until sex happens.

Toby has instead opted to organise a ‘Putlocker and chill’ date with his new crush, Jess.

Putlocker is an online index of hosted files and a website used for streaming low-quality entertainment media such as c-list films and bizarre unpopular television series.

“I’m really excited to watch the movie Bounce with Gwenyth Paltrow and Ben Affleck. I think she’ll like it” he said.

“I just need to figure out a few other options to load up in the half hour before she arrives”

“Maybe she’ll be into The Butterfly Effect 2″

“I’m not sure, though. She’s an art student so no doubt she has a weird taste in films”

“If worst comes to worst we can throw on Channel 10 on the fat-back TV my parents gave me before I moved out”


‘America Has Spoken–We Want the Wall Built Right Away’


The National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee held a hearing Thursday on President Donald Trump’s signature election pledge of a wall on the southern border.
Five witnesses, four speaking in favor of the wall’s construction and one against, testified before the Subcommittee.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), framed the issue before the testimony of the witnesses. “A central issue of the President’s 2016 campaign was the promise to build ‘an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,’” he said. DeSantis cited Israel’s successful border wall as a model for our own:

President Trump has identified Israeli border security measures as a potential model for securing the U.S.-Mexico border. The construction of a security fence on the Israel-Sinai Border cut illegal entries from over 16,500 in 2011 to just 43 in 2013 and 12 in 2014 – a 99 percent decrease.

DeSantis also disputed Democrats’ claim that the wall might cost $70 billion, citing the Democrats’ own witness at the hearing, Seth Stodder, an Assistant Secretary in the Obama-DHS, as estimating a cost of only $14 billion in January.

Mark DeSaulnier, a Democratic Member of the National Security Subcommittee, used part of his opening remarks to play a video featuring Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who never supported President Trump’s plans for a wall, saying they did not think he could get “Mexico to pay for the wall” as he promised on the campaign trail.

Maria Espinoza, national director of the Remembrance Project, a non-profit representing the victims of illegal immigrant crime and their families, testified that:

Americans will continue to be under assault until the wall is built … While it seemed as though the politicians listened and even publicly gave the families their condolences, congressional leadership, the bodies of both houses, Republican and Democrat, have failed to enact the very measures that would have saved American lives. America has spoken. We want the wall built right away … those who falsely state that a great border wall would not work either don’t know their history or are in denial.”

Agnes Gibbony, one of Espinoza’s “angel mothers” whose son was murdered by an illegal alien, took over to add her own horrific experience with lax border enforcement to the congressional record. Gibbony’s herself is an immigrant, fleeing to America with her parents in the wake of Nikita Khrushchev’s bloody Soviet intervention in her native Hungary in 1956. Her memory of immigration is a far cry from the lawless chaos on the southern border today. “We followed all the rules, the law. We followed all the background investigation … We also had to have character witnesses testify that we had good moral standing and my father was required to have a job contract,” she recalled for the Subcommittee.

Gibbony’s son, Ronald da Silva, was shot to death by an illegal in 2002. She told the Subcommittee:

The shooter, the murderer, was an illegal alien with a long criminal record who had been previously deported. Immediately after the shooting, he fled to Mexico. His wife was depositing his welfare check at the credit union so he could live on it. He eventually returned to the United States and was sent to prison. He is due to be released in two years and seven months. I am afraid California will fail to notify ICE of his pending release.

Gibbony’s pain, however, will go on longer than Ronald’s killer’s criminal case. “Ronald was my first and my only son,” Gibbony said, “I live a life sentence of pain and suffering, wondering what would Ronald look like. Would he have grey hair at age 44? Would he be married? What would he be doing?”

Gibbony drew a direct link for the Members of Congress present from poor border enforcement to her and many other American’s victimization, pointing out that the true toll of illegal alien crime remains poorly documented:

I will forever miss all the tomorrow and everything that was taken from me, all because of broken open borders … Hundreds of victims, innocent lives. I wonder how many more there are, because our government does not keep statistics on illegal aliens’ crimes.

Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement” office or VOICE in an effort to better track excess crime from illegal border crossing.

Gibbony also called out the culture of giving sympathetic treatment to the illegal alien issue while ignoring people like her, victims of that same unchecked border crossing. “You may say it is inhumane to deport illegal aliens who didn’t care about breaking our laws. How inhumane is it that my son Ronald and thousands of innocent victims’ lives were cut short?” she asked.

Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit dedicated to studying the consequences of immigration, laid out the economic case for the wall. He cited dates from a National Academies of Science paper and estimates of illegal alien educational achievement to reach some striking conclusions. “On balance if you take all the taxes that they’re likely to pay over their lifetime, given their education levels, and the services and costs they create, there’s a net drain on tax payers of about $75,000 per illegal border crosser,” he told the subcommittee.

If the illegal aliens’ descendants here in the United States are included, the net burden rises to $94,000 for each illegal border crosser. “The fiscal cost of illegal immigrants is not due to the fact that they don’t want to work. It’s not even due to the fact that many work off the books. Rather, it reflects their educational attainment,” Camarota noted, “The bottom line is, unskilled immigration, which characterizes most illegal immigrants, is costly to tax payers.”

Camarota told the Subcommittee that the wall stands a good chance of being a net fiscal boon to the United States. “If we were to stop just 9-12% of those crossers in the next decade, it would generate $12-15 billion in savings…in effect, the wall could pay for itself even if it only kept out a small fraction of people expected to come,” he testified.

Agent Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council, added his own practical experience on the border to the mix. “As an agent who worked in two of the busiest sectors in the history of the border patrol, I can personally tell you how effective border barriers are,” he told the Subcommittee.

Judd was clear that he does not think it is necessary to build 2,000 miles of wall across the entire border, but that the effect in certain strategic locations could be substantial. “Border security is not cheap, but the cost of doing nothing is much higher,” he stressed.

Judd further testified that the wall is not a “silver bullet” and would have to work in conjunction with other border security measures including staffing up the Border Patrol and cracking down on so-called “sanctuary” cities.

Mr. Stodder, the former Obama administration official opposed to the wall, called it a “massive waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.”

Stodder mocked analyses like Camarota’s, noting that net immigration from Mexico has markedly decreased in recent years, telling the Subcommittee, “The fear that America is somehow being overwhelmed by massive numbers of Mexican economic migrants seeking to cross the Rio Grand to take our jobs … [is an] outdated talking point from the 1990s.”

While disapproving of the wall, Stodder agreed that “our immigration system is indeed in crisis.” But he attributed this to “straining from the flow of Central American asylum seekers.” According to him:

The Wall will not help address the most pressing migration challenge we face, which stems from the crisis in Central America, whereby thousands of Guatemalan, El Salvadoran, and Honduran families (and unaccompanied children) have been fleeing violence, extreme poverty, and environmental crises, and coming to our border to seek asylum here, we need more resources specifically devoted to addressing this challenge … suffice it to say, a wall is not going to help.

Asked by Chairman DeSantis whether the drop in border crossings referenced by Stodder was related to the new “posture” of the Trump administration, Agent Judd replied, “I know it is. When we interview these individuals who are currently crossing the border, they know that the laws are going to be enforced.”

“But I must warn you,” Judd added, “We’re in a ‘honeymoon period.’ We have to continue to enforce the laws, because if we don’t, illegal immigration is going to go back up.”


Manchester United fan Marcus Rashford aims to upset some of his family again vs Man City

Marcus Rashford is aiming to upset a few family members again in Thursday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Jose Mourinho’s in-form striker is a Manchester United fan but there is some Blue blood in the family.

Last season the teenager scored the winner at City’s HQ in the Reds’ 1-0 March victory.

Once again he is set to be the only Mancunian on the park for the local dust up.

“The derbies have a special atmosphere and effect on the fans and players so there is always a little bit of added pressure. It is about dealing with it,” he told MEN Sport.

“There is a bit more pressure for me in that I am a Manchester lad. A lot of my friends and some of my family members are City fans so it is a massive game. You never want to lose to City.

“On my uncle’s side of the family there are a lot of Blues but my side are all Reds. My City friends and family want to get revenge now so it is important to win it!

“But I have to be relaxed and play football as normal. That can be difficult sometimes you can let your emotions get to you.”

Rashford was given a 70-minute breather from the starting XI on Sunday at Burnley after his extra time stint against Anderlecht in the Europa League last Thursday.

He scored the winner against the Belgians and says his marathon night was a pivotal moment for him.

Manchester United

“If you look at the Anderlecht game, that’s new for me that, 120 minutes, that’s a limit that my body has never been to before and once you’ve done it it’s the best feeling because you know if you need to do it again, you can, you can be there, fighting for it,” he added.

“It’s a good period for me now. As a team we want to get in the top four and we want to stay there. Of course we want to win the Europa League. We look at it as three games now to win a European trophy so I don’t see any bigger motivation than that.

“Everyone is completely focused on what we need to do, in the league as well as Europe. So it’s about doing it now.”


Disney Sets a Release Date For Frozen 2


Disney’s Frozen 2 has received its official release date — Nov. 27, 2019 — confirming what had previously been announced as just an “Untitled Disney Animation” slot.
Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee will return for the 2013 blockbuster’s sequel, which was announced in March 2015 by Disney creative chief John Lasseter, CEO Bob Iger, and the voice of Olaf himself, Josh Gad (whose Frozen costars Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are expected, although not officially confirmed, to reprise their roles).
Prior to the 3D sequel’s release, a stage musical adaptation of Frozen will make its debut on Broadway in the spring of 2018.
Meanwhile, Disney has also updated a handful of other movie release dates, notably in its animated division: Disney Animation’s Gigantic, the retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, has been pushed back by more than two years (from Nov. 21, 2018 to November 25, 2020). In its stead, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 will get an extra few months to power up, moving to the Nov. 21 slot instead of its previously announced March 9 date.
Jon Favreau’s new take on The Lion King has also been set for July 19, 2019 (replacing the next Indiana Jones film, now July 2020); A Wrinkle in Time moves up a month to March 9, 2018 rather than April 6, which Magic Camp will now take rather than its August 2018 release; and two untitled animated features have also selected dates — one from Disney (Nov. 24, 2021) and another from Pixar (June 18, 2021).


Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks new space record

Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson has broken the record for most days in space by a US astronaut.
Dr Whitson already holds records for the most spacewalks carried out by a woman astronaut and is the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) twice.
Now she’s beaten the record previously set by Jeff Williams, who had a total of 534 days in space.
President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka have called Dr Whitson to congratulate her.
During their video chat between the White House and the International Space Station, President Trump started by telling Peggy Whitson that her achievement was a “glorious day in the history of space flight”.
“Today Commander Whitson, you have broken the record for the most total time spent in space by an American astronaut – 534 days and counting,” he said.
“That’s an incredible record to break and on behalf of our nation, and frankly on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you. That is really something.”
Donald Trump then asked Dr Whitson what she thought of her achievement.
She replied: “It’s actually a huge honour to break a record like this but it’s an honour for me to be representing all the folks at Nasa who make the space flight possible, who make me setting this record feasible.


“It’s a very exciting time to be at Nasa. We’re excited about the missions to Mars in the 2030s. We actually have hardware on the ground being built for the SLS rocket for the test flights, which will eventually take us there.
“I’m so proud of the team.”
Replying to a question from President Trump on what they’re learning from being in orbit around Earth, Dr Whitson said they were studying the effects of deep space travel on the human body for the planned Mars missions and said water was a particular challenge.


“Right now we’re taking solar power, which we collect and are using it to break apart water into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen we breath. We use the hydrogen, combine it back with the CO2 that we take out of the air and make more water.
“But water is such a precious resource up here that we are also cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable – and it’s really not as bad as it sounds.”


Mr Trump replied: “That’s good. I’m glad to hear that. Better you than me.”
Earlier this month, Nasa astronaut Shane Kimbrough turned command of the ISS over to Dr Whitson.
“She will set another record at this moment,” he said at the time.
“She now becomes the first two-time female commander of the International Space Station.
“The Space Station is in great hands with Peggy.”

At 57, she is also the oldest woman to have gone to space.
Dr Whitson already holds the record for longest time spent in space by a woman.
Born in Iowa, she has an advanced degree in biochemistry and worked for Nasa in several prominent medical science and research positions, before being selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996.
She first went into space in 2002 and became the first woman to command the ISS in 2007.
The oldest person to go into space is John Glenn, who was also the first American to orbit Earth in 1962. He went back into space in 1998 aged 77.
He died last year at the age of 95.


Facebook baby killing: Grief and questions after shocking murder

baby killing

An incident as shocking as a man murdering his 11-month-old daughter live on Facebook before killing himself was bound to provoke heated debate.
The 21-year-old man broadcast himself hanging his daughter from a half-finished building on the island of Phuket in Thailand, reportedly after ending a turbulent and sometimes violent relationship with his wife.
The man’s Facebook page has received dozens of comments from Thai people outraged by the death of the little girl. Some men who have also had failed relationships have posted how they got through their problems and rebuilt bonds with their children.
Thais are accustomed to seeing violent scenes on their television news bulletins, which would be deemed unacceptable in many Western countries.
Previous shocking incidents, like appalling car accidents caused by negligent driving, have led to brief national debates, but have quickly dropped from public consciousness. But there have been some reflective responses to this incident, with a number of people urging people not to share the video.


The long period of time the video remained viewable on Facebook – 24 hours – is one area the social media giant may be able to address.
Thai police were aware of the video almost immediately after the crime took place. It is not clear yet when the Thai authorities alerted Facebook.
The police now say that in future they will discuss inappropriate online content with social media companies like Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, and how to take it down quickly. But the challenge of stopping offensive and disturbing content on a medium, which is used by so many people, including two thirds of the Thai population, is a difficult one.
The Thai military government does operate a range of censorship regimes, and blocks many thousands of websites, especially those carrying content deemed critical of the monarchy.
On the day this awful incident occurred, the Ministry of Digital Information and Economy demanded that local internet service providers (ISPs) do even more to block anti-monarchy content, and the government is believed to be trying to implement a single digital gateway which will allow it to wall Thailand off from such content.
But until now it has been wary of tampering with Facebook. A clumsy attempt to block Facebook shortly after the military had seized power in 2014 provoked a huge public outcry, and the social media giant remained unavailable for only 30 minutes.


Aside from the general popularity of Facebook for social communication, it is also used by large numbers of Thai businesses to promote their products and services.
Until now there has been little public debate over the negative sides of social media, for example hate speech, trolling and fake news, which have aggravated Thailand’s bitter political polarisation.
Thailand has no law against hate speech. It is therefore less prepared to address issues like those thrown up by this murder-suicide.
A more fruitful area for discussion coming out of this incident might instead be the issue of domestic violence in Thailand, and the high level of suicides related to it.
The Thai Department of Mental Health reports that there are around 350 suicides a month here, a figure it says it is working to reduce.
Four times as many men than women are victims of suicide, and the highest number of those male suicides are related to relationship problems, and reactions to being criticised or insulted, or loss of face.
The department says alcohol consumption also plays a big role in encouraging these men to kill themselves, and that it is very common for them to assault others, usually family members, before they do.


New study confirms the height of luxury is enjoying a durrie in the pool


Australia’s peak scientific body revealed the findings of a new study this afternoon that set out to discover what the height of luxury is – causing some controversy in the process.

The CSIRO came to the conclusion that the must enjoyable, luxurious activity a human being can do is to enjoy a ‘premium’ cigarette such as a Peter Stuyvesant Filter or a Benson & Hedges Smooth and enjoy it while relaxing in a pool.

“Surprising, to say the least,” said one researcher.

“The telephone survey canvased over two-thousand Australians from various backgrounds and heritages and they all said they loved smoking durries in the pool more than anything else. Shocking, but telling.”

The news is music to the ears of tobacco growers and cigarette manufacturers, who’ve long championed having a smoke while swimming.

Stopping short of saying it’s vindicated his entire industry, a spokesman from British American Tobacco explained to The Advocate that Australians have been enjoying lung candy in the pool for generations – and this new study proves that point.

“We agree, smoking in the pool is the height of luxury,” she said.

“When accompanied by an ice cold beer or glass of rosé, the feeling of pleasure knows no bounds.”


Al Jazeera wins Broadcaster of the Year award at NYF

Other awards handed to Al Jazeera at New York Festivals include five Gold World Medals, 14 silver and seven bronze.

Al Jazeera

This year’s tally from the New York Festivals awards was higher than the total of 19 which the network won in 2016 [Al Jazeera]
Al Jazeera Media Network has been awarded as Broadcaster of the Year at the prestigious New York Festivals awards.

The network received the price on Tuesday, in addition to a total of five Gold World Medals, 14 Silver World Medals and seven Bronze Medals for various programmes and individual pieces of journalism.

Al Jazeera English also bagged three Gold, 12 Silver, five Bronze and ten Finalist Certificates for various content on news, programmes and online.

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Directorate picked up two Gold, two Silver, two Bronze and one Finalist Certificate for a variety of investigations which were aired across the network.


101 East won one Gold World Medal for Good Morning Pakistan in the Best Public Affairs Programme category.

Afghanistan: Medics Under Fire and Too Young to Wed both won Silver World Medals, while Guns, Goons and the Presidency, Hong Kong: Aged and Abandoned and India’s Miracle Babies all were awarded Bronze World Medals.

South Korean Hangover and The Orangutan Whisperer both picked up Finalist Certificates.

Foundation, an episode in The Caliph series picked up a Gold World Award in Religious Programmes category, while the episode Division from the Caliph series won a Silver World Medal.

ISIL and the Taliban won a Gold World Medal for the Best Television-Documentary on Social Issues category and a Bronze World Medal in the Television-Documentary/ National/International Affairs category.

People and Power picked up two Silver World Medals for Syria: Under Russia’s Fist and Borderless: Undercover with the People Smugglers was also awarded a Bronze World Medal.

WATCH: Good morning Pakistan

Witness were awarded two Silver World Medals for Syria’s White Helmets and Kisulu: The Climate Diaries. Syria’s White Helmets along with China’s Fake Boyfriends were also awarded Finalist Certificates as well.

Al Jazeera English also picked up three more Silver World Medals were awarded to the The Stream, My Nigeria – Sandra Aguebo: Lady Mechanic and the People’s Health: Thailand’s Remote Lifesavers.

The episode of UpFront – Islam and Democracy: What’s the Problem? Women Make Change – Going Places: Girls’ Education in Ghana and Al Jazeera Correspondent – Off the Rails – A Journey Through Japan all picked up Finalist Certificates.

Al Jazeera English news was awarded a Silver World Medal and a Finalist Certificate in the Breaking News Story category for the coverage of the Turkey Failed Coup.

Senegal: The Continuous Cycle of FGM picked up a Silver World Award Medal and a Finalist Certificate which gave Al Jazeera English a total of three Gold World Medals, Twelve Silver World Medals, five Bronze World Medals and ten Finalist Certificates.

Watch: Al Jazeera correspondent

Commenting on the success of the awards, Giles Trendle, the Acting Managing Director of Al Jazeera English said: “Al Jazeera English is delighted to be named Broadcaster of the Year at the New York Festival awards and to win a batch of gold, silver and bronze awards for our content.

“It’s a great honour to have our bold and unique journalism recognised on the global stage by our peers. In a world seemingly beset by rising bigotry and extremism, Al Jazeera English continues its mission in providing a wider scope of information, insight and understanding.

“These awards are a testament to the quality of our journalism and the value of our goal to tell important stories from around the world. Behind every award is a multi-talented and multi-cultural team of dedicated individuals whose creativity and commitment come together in the shared aim of listening to, and telling people’s stories”.

The Al Jazeera’s Investigation Directorate that provides groundbreaking investigative programmes for the channels and platforms of Al Jazeera Media Network picked up two Gold World Medals, two Silver, one Bronze and one Finalist Certificate.

Commenting on the awards, the Directorate’s manager, Phil Rees said: “I welcome the recognition that the New York Television Festivals has given to original, hard-hitting investigative work.

The Investigative Directorate gained further recognition in the US at the Headliner Awards. Stealing Paradise, revealing corruption in the Maldives won first place in the Investigative report category. The Poacher’s Pipeline, on the illegal trade in rhino horn, won second in the documentary section.

This year’s tally of 27 World Medals from the New York Festivals awards are significantly higher than the total of 19 which the network won in 2016.

The New York Festival’s World honours programming in all lengths and forms from over fifty countries. To date, this year’s powerhouse Grand Jury of prominent international broadcast and film industry executives represents 34 countries on 6 continents.


University of California administration is paying excessive salaries and mishandling funds, state audit says


The administration of the University of California system pays top workers salaries and benefits significantly higher than that of similar state employees, and failed to disclose to the Board of Regents and the public that it had $175 million in budget reserve funds while it was seeking to raise tuition, a state audit found Tuesday.

The audit triggered a dispute with UC President Janet Napolitano, who said charges of hidden funds were false, while two members of the UC Board of Regents charged recommendations to give the Legislature budget authority over the Office of the President encroached on UC’s constitutional powers.

Among the sticking points, the auditors believe the regents should contract with an independent third party that can assist the regents in monitoring a three-year corrective action plan.

The audit of the Office of the President also found that it failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on system-wide initiatives and “inappropriately” screened surveys submitted by auditors to campus officials.

“Our report concludes that the Office of the President has amassed substantial reserve funds, used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits, and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on systemwide initiatives,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.

“Furthermore, when we sought independent perspective from campuses about the quality and cost of the services and programs the Office of the President provides to them, the Office of the President intentionally interfered with our audit process,” Howle wrote.

The auditor said that because of recent tuition hikes, she recommends the Office of the President should refund available funds in the reserves by returning them to the campuses for the benefit of students.

Ralph Washington Jr. president of the U.C. Students Assn. said if any reserve money is found it should go to help students, possibly by killing the tuition increase or helping students who are starving or homeless, but he is concerned legislators may use the audit to say the U.C. doesn’t need so much general fund money.

“Students definitely don’t want their tuition to go up,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), who serves on the board of regents, said the audit requires more inquiry.

“The audit of the UC Office of the President appears to have uncovered the same kind of budgetary misrepresentations and executive excess that we’ve seen before with the State Parks Department and the Public Utilities Commission,” Rendon said in a statement. “There are many questions that need to be answered—and answered honestly.

The audit was requested by legislators concerned about high tuition and complaints of a bloated administration overseeing the UC system’s 10 campuses.

“The reserve included $32 million in unspent funds it received from an annual charge levied on the campuses—funds that campuses could have spent on students,” the audit said.

Auditors said salaries paid to those in the president’s office are much higher than the pay of comparable positions in other state government jobs.

President Napolitano agreed with the vast majority of recommendations for improving budget processes and spending, but denied that $175 million was hidden from the UC Board of Regents.

In a letter to Howle, the president said changes were already underway.

“The recommendations to [the UC president’s office] are helpful,” Napolitano wrote. “We welcome this constructive input, which aligns with our proactive efforts to continually improve UCOP’s operations, and UCOP intends to implement the recommendations.”

However, Board of Regents Chair Monica Lozano and Regent Charlene Zettel asked Howle to remove recommendations that they feel encroach on the constitutional autonomy of the university system, including proposals to have the Legislature approve the Office of the President’s budget.

“As written, we believe these recommendations threaten the University’s standing as a constitutionally autonomous entity, and the Board of Regents itself,” the regents wrote.

Administrative salaries amounted to $2.5 million more than the maximum annual salary ranges for comparable state employees, auditors found.

For instance, an accounting manager’s maximum annual salary is $169,000 at UC compared to $156,000 for other state employees.

An information system manager can make $258,000 with UC, but $150,000 with other state agencies.

The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”

On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.

“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said..

The audit also said the Office of the President reimbursed questionable travel expenses, including a ticket for a theater performance and limousine services. One person spent $350 per night on hotel rooms, which is above the allowable standard for other state agencies.

The audit said the Office of the President has not managed its own budget — which amounted to $747 million in fiscal year 2015–16 — “in a fiscally prudent or transparent way.”

Napolitano said the audit was in error in claiming her office failed to publicly disclose tens of millions in surplus funds.

“In fact, UCOP’s budget and financial approaches reflect strategic, deliberate and transparent spending and investment in UC and state priorities,” said a statement by the Office of the President.

Howle disagreed.

“Significant reforms are necessary to strengthen the public’s trust in the Office of the President,” the audit concluded.