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The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 13

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting Here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
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First Chapter
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
In the previous chapter:
Bgrarh gets some Contraband.
Oscar has a Nice Suit.
Two words: Conga Line.
In this chapter:
Resh'skk does some Acting.
Sssnnathor serves up some Snacks.
The Silken Feather does a Clever Girl.
___________
The shuttle was due to depart in [six hours], which should give Bgrarh-of-Arhraz plenty of time. He checked for the hundredth time that his lab door was securely locked, then pulled out the unassigned terminal he'd managed to snag for this. The latter was just in case anyone tried to check the logs on his own 'official' machine. What he was doing was not strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, but it would be considered impolite and cause for censure.
If he got caught, Bgrarh figured he could spin a story of finding the media 'somewhere' and examining it merely to see if he could determine its origin. They wouldn't believe him, but they'd probably let his possession slide...especially if he let the hypothetical Inquisitor watch over his shoulder.
He took a steadying breath and popped in the first chip, then selected "Doctor No". Within a few scenes he'd gotten the gist of this [James Bond] character in spite of the poor quality and terrible dubbing. The Dorarizin had a similar fictional character, namely one Inquisitor Hrnarah. She traveled the galaxy with a blaster at her hip, ready to mete out justice and bed any comely males she came across.
But Hrnarah was also, well, a she. This [Sean Connery] person was as adorable as any [human], but he was also quite clearly male. And even though [Connery] walked with the standard wobbly, about-to-fall-over gait of a [human], there was a relentlessness to the way he moved that drew the eye.
The movie ended, and Bgrarh chose another at random. This had a different actor playing Bond, one who was less imposing but more debonair. The movie followed much the same formula as the first, which was something that [Bond] also had in common with Inquisitor Hrnarah.
As the movie played on, Bgrarh began to pick up on why [Oscar] suggested [Bond]. Whenever the man entered a room, whether it be a casino, a denpile, or a prison cell, [Bond] acted as if he owned that room.
Bgrarh stood and began walking about, picturing himself as a well-dressed secret agent who'd entered a dance competition as cover for some covert assignment...which honestly wasn't that far from the truth. As he did so, his nervousness about the upcoming performance began to fade and he knew he'd found the right personality to emulate.
Of course, there were certain things that Bgrarh was not going to emulate. He wasn't an expert on [human] mating customs, but he was pretty sure it wasn't proper to kiss [human] women without their consent.
Bgrarh chuckled. If he tried kissing the Captain without permission she'd bite his head off. Although now that he thought about it, the idea of kissing her with permission was very appealing. She was quite a handsome woman, after all. Yes, she was the pack leader and thus couldn't play favorites...but she was also a Dorarizin with needs.
Besides, Bgrarh knew his time of 'season' was approaching. Maybe this what the [humans] called a golden opportunity?
___________
In one corner of the hangar deck, two long and sinewy bodies coiled about each other. Each of them held a long needle-like sword in one hand, with the other clamped to their opponent's weapon-arm. There was much pained grunting as each strained to be the first to stab. Finally one of them managed to wrest her sword-arm free with a triumphant shout.
""
With that line Hrathra'sstah lunged forward as her prop sword did its job and buried its holographic blade deep into Resh'skk's chest. The ex-soldier clutched at the sword-hilt sticking out of his chest (which kept it from falling off), then groaned and toppled backward. His own weapon fell to the deck with a clatter.
"" he gasped in mock agony. ""
With a wordless scream, Hrathra leaped onto him and pushed with both her hands at the pommel of the fake sword hilt, acting as if she was driving the nonexistent blade deeper into his chest. At that cue Resh'skk bit down on the capsule hidden in his cheek, then let a little emerald-hued stage blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth.
He gave another groan of pain. "" he said in a stage whisper. Then Resh'skk slumped flat on the deck, staring off sightlessly into space.
After a beat, there was the sound of two small pairs of hands slapping together. It was a gesture of appreciation that Jornissians performed as well, and the sound made Resh'skk feel better about this whole nonsense.
"[Bravo!]" called [Maria].
"[Yeah, that was awesome!]" added [Oscar].
Resh'skk stopped playing dead and picked his hood up off of the deck. ""
"" said Hrathra'sstah. She still lay sprawled on top of him in a position that he would have enjoyed in other circumstances.
""
Hrathra'sstah pressed a finger to his lips. ""
"[And the villain always has to give a big monologue when they die!]" said [Maria]. "[It's a tradition even in [human] drama.]"
"" Resh'skk made as if to get up, but Hrathra didn't budge from her perch on top of him. He felt her tail-tip coil about his own. Ordinarily, Jornissians were a little less fussy about touching tails; it was just a consequence of their body type. But this was a more familiar gesture, one that close friends engaged in.
He glanced over and saw the two humans bumbling off. [Maria] had her hand on [Oscar's] arm as she steered him away from the Jornissians. His [human] friend had clearly picked up on the opportunity and was giving him the private space.
Resh'skk turned his head back to look up into Hrathra's red, gleaming eyes. His old fears returned. How could someone so smart and capable find anything of value in a broken down ex-thug like himself? But he had to try. He'd faced down pirates trying to carve out his intestines, he could face down this.
""
She raised one corner of her hood. "" But she did pick herself up off of him. Resh'skk rose, coiling his lower half below him in the Jornissian version of parade rest. He clasped his hands before him, while Hrathra'sstah folded her arms.
"" she asked.
""
Her arms dropped to her sides as she stared at him in shock. ""
Resh'ssk nodded. ""
Her next words struck him to the heart, an icy feeling far crueler than any stab.
""
Not a trace of his inner pain showed on his face as his clasped hands clenched ever so slightly tighter. ""
Hrathra cut him off with waving hands. "" She slithered back and forth in front of him as her gesticulating grew ever more dramatic. ""
Now it was his turn to interrupt her with a gentle finger to her lips. ""
There was one long moment of mutual staring, then she lunged for him again in an attack that he accepted with literal open arms.
What with their long and muscled bodies, Jornissians are the gold-medal winners of the four Senate species when it comes to dealing out hugs. With these two Jornissians doing their very best to embrace each other, and on top of that doing their very best to kiss each other into oblivion, the resulting tangle was something that would make even Escher throw up his hands.
In the middle of Resh'ssk's bliss, he heard again the sound of a human applauding. He peered to the side and saw [Maria's] grinning face. The [human] stood just out of easy tail-slap range.
After a little bit of complicated tongue-de-tangling, Hrathra'sstah turned her head as well to regard her protege. "<[Maria]?>"
"[Yeah, boss?]"
""
"[You got it, boss.]" [Maria] gave a wink to Resh'skk before strolling away. At any other time he would have found the little alien's cockiness infuriating, but right now he was too happy to be angry. He clasped Hrathra anew to himself and kissed her snout.
"" he asked.
Hrathra'sstah rubbed her hood against his neck. "" She grinned up at him. ""
___________
The sunlight fell like a velvet hammer onto Oscar as he stepped down from the shuttle. He felt sweat begin to pop out on his forehead, and wondered if his furred crewmates would suffer even more. He supposed that the heat made sense, given that a Jornissian owned this planet.
In front of the shuttle was a wedge-shaped formation of Dorarizin wearing full armor. Oscar had seen the pictures during the one time any Dorarizin set foot on Earth. Princess Gwe-Zgranzre-of-Ngrul's honor guard had been almost as armored-up as these guys. But where their armor had been brightly colored and ornate, this armor was sleek and functional.
The armor's visual effect was to turn the already-impressive figure of your average Dorarizin into what looked like a walking tank. The sleek, ovoid, and featureless chrome helmets of the retinue tilted down as one while they regarded Oscar. After a moment, the lead Dorarizin's helmet hinged up to reveal a white-furred face with deep purple eyes. He looked at Oscar for a few seconds, then over at the sphere of Junior which hovered next to the human's shoulder.
Oscar heard the noise behind him as the rest of the crew disembarked from the shuttle. He smiled as he tried his best to keep his heartrate down. Myyreh was at his back, but asking her to take out a werewolf in power armor would be too much even for her.
"Howdy, folks!" Oscar pointed at the lead Dorarizin's armored chest. "Um, are you expecting trouble?"
The lead Dorarizin smiled in response, showing a lot more teeth. "[Not at all. I know it looks like [overkill], but we have certain security protocols that have to be followed for all visitors. I'm Nerlharg-of-Aergh.]"
Oscar settled for a bow in lieu of shaking hands. "Oliver Ward, pleased to meetcha."
"[Likewise.]" Nerlharg looked up at the others. "[I bid you all welcome. Please, follow me. His Excellency was very insistent that he meet your group right away.]"
Oscar slung his bag over his shoulder. The concrete of the landing pad let to a loose gravel pathway lined with tall greenery which was nothing like trees. There was a clear lack of bark, plus the leaves had an odd earth-brown tinge to them. The plants did provide a good amount of shade, however, which gave Oscar some relief from the heat. Further inspection revealed a few tall rod-like structures scattered here and there among the growth; these rods emitted a fine mist of water which drifted over the pathway and provided further cooling.
Nerlharg noticed Oscar's inspection. "[His Excellency's species is better built to withstand heat, but he provides for his subjects.]"
"He sure does," replied Oscar. "I already get enough grief from my non-human comrades about my water usage, so I don't want to be sweating more than I need to."
Nerlharg gave his species' bone-buzzsaw version of a chuckle, but didn't otherwise comment.
The procession crested a rise, and Oscar saw a few buildings ahead. The architecture gave the impression of a high-tech Aztec city, with multiple stepped pyramids situated along either side of the central promenade. A profusion of more greenery overhung each 'step' on the buildings. Oscar wondered if this was proper Jornissian architecture or if Sssnnathor just had a thing for pyramids.
The prominade led forward to the largest pyramid by far, a huge building that rivaled that of any Egyptian tomb. A sloping ramp led up to an entrance that one could sling a starship through. The scale was such that even the giants around him looked small as they passed underneath that over-sized arch.
Oscar wondered about the point of such overkill. Was it to show off Ssssnnathor's wealth and power? The entire planet was proof of that. Perhaps it was more of a subtle warning to any who entered, a way to say 'however big you think you are, you're in the house of someone far more important'.
Whatever the reason for the grand entryway, the pyramid's interior space was even more grand. The walls were clad in white marble with gold trim; they followed the slope of the exterior, with a spiral ramp leading up towards the apex far above. More green vines hung from the edges of the ramp, giving the whole space the air of a slightly less tacky Las Vegas casino. Three large snake-like figures waited in the center of the space in front of a long table piled high with various dishes.
The middle Jornissian could only be Sssnnathor. Oscar half expected him to be clad in some sort of outrageous Ming-The-Merciless getup, but instead he wore a sober-looking 'suit' the hue of sun-bleached bone. The white color contrasted well with his black-and-blue scale pattern.
Sssnnathor's face was split in a wide smile, and he had his arms outstretched in welcome. The guards on either side, however, looked much less friendly, what with their armor. A normal Jornissian 'exo-suit' made them look like a long dakimakura-style pillow. But these guys were all hard edges and armor plating, fitting well with the look of the crew's Dorarizin escort.
Each Jornissian bodyguard cradled a massive rifle casually in one hand; Oscar figured he just might be able to pick one of them up if he used both hands and all his strength.
Sssnnathor's purr-hiss boomed over them all. "[Welcome! You are a pleasant surprise.]" He slithered forward, his silver eyes fixed on Oscar. The tyrant glanced over at Junior as he approached, and stopped at a respectful distance as he lowered himself to look the human in the eye.
"[I apologize for staring, but this is my first time seeing one of your kind,]" said Sssnnathor.
"No problem, Mr. Snape. I'm Oliver Ward." There was no way in hell Oscar was going to get anywhere near the strangled hiss-purr of Sssnnathor's true name. He hoped that the translator matrix was doing its job.
After another moment of fascinated staring, Sssnnathor nodded and rose higher. He gestured towards the table behind him. "[Please, eat and be welcome.]"
___________
After the (fake-name) introductions and hand-shaking, Captain Rgrarshok found herself munching on a bit of grilled glrnada while inside she wondered if this had been the right course of action. Her unease wasn't helped by the fact that Sssnnathor was parked at her right elbow with a calculating smile.
"[It's always nice to have new entertainment, Captain Rgratz,]" said the tyrant. "[But I can't help but wonder why you chose to bless us with your presence. With two [humans] in your company you would have the pick of engagements, yet you come to an out-of-Senate-space backwater like this.]"
Rgrarshok swallowed her mouthful as she prepped the cover story they'd cooked up. "{This is hardly a backwater, but it's true we could name our price. If I'm honest, Excellency, we're not exactly welcome in Senate space at the moment. And it has to do with the [humans].}"
Sssnnathor tilted his hood in curiosity. "[Oh, really?]" He turned to regard the two [humans], who naturally tended to stick together and now conversed in low tones while getting covertly studied by every other person in the pyramid. "[You didn't kidnap them, I hope?]"
Rgrarshok laughed. "{Far from it. Their placement on our crew was done through legal channels...except for the fact that we submitted two applications, under two different names. My XO cooked up the scheme, and I agreed. We thought it would give us a better chance of success.}"
Sssnnathor hissed a laugh of his own. "[I suppose it makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint. After all, the odds of getting a [human] are astronomical enough as it is. Let me guess...both applications were awarded?]"
The Captain gave a weary nod and a sigh. "{The first one was a moment of utter joy for us. [Oliver] was a wonderful addition to our crew, we were so happy...and then we got word of [Masie] coming to join us. I can't tell you how much dancing we had to do so that the auditors never caught the scent that we already had another [human] on board. But we managed it, somehow. Only then to realize we were faced with quite a conundrum.}"
"[Namely, if you performed in Senate space the odds were good that the placement program auditors would find out about your [double-dipping]. Hmm, well I suppose your embarrassment of riches is also our good fortune. Otherwise it might have been centuries before my poor little planet was able to host a [human].]"
Rgrarshok performed a slight bow. "{With your kind permission, we plan to perform many times on your planet. Of course, we'll also provide you with a free private performance if desired.}"
Sssnnathor tapped a finger against his chin. "[Hmm, I don't think a private performance is necessary. I do have a gala planned in three [days] time, one where I will show off my latest acquisition. Would you do me the honor of performing there?]"
"{We'd be happy to.}"
___________
Ngralh-of-Arzgar strolled through the sunlit bazaar. He had his paws clasped behind his back in a casual manner, but his eyes never stopped moving. Ngralh was enough of a student of history to know of the primitive conditions his species had once lived under, that era far back in the mists of time when they'd been bound to one planet.
His surroundings were not that primitive, but this was about as 'squalid' as one could get in a star-spanning civlization. The booths around him were formed of cheap and flimsy plastic, tinted with a hodgepodge of colors that stated louder than words that they'd been formed from castoff pieces. The wares emphasized hand-made tools and clothing, things that were just a little nicer than what one could get while on the dole.
The air was filled with the scent of grilling meat, something else that one couldn't get while on basic income. While the smell made his mouth water a little, he was going to have to give the food-sellers a pass. Dorarizin had pretty hardy metabolisms, but there was no need to risk food poisoning.
Due to the meeting with Sssnnathor, their investigation was now two-fold. First was the hunt for the 'Silken Feather', as they'd planned. But second was an attempt to find out exactly what the tyrant's 'latest acquisition' really was. Had the thief gone ahead and sold the Claw to him?
Either way, his job was to work towards the former goal. To that end, he was looking for someone to press ever-so-gently for information.
"[A pretty scarf for your lady friend, good sir?]" The chirping voice came from a hunched-over Karnakian who presided over a rainbow-colored waterfall of fabric. Ngralh gave her a cordial nod as he stopped strolling to look over her selection. Hmmm, that purple number might look good on Egwreh.
"{How much for this one?}" In the haggling that followed he allowed the seller to get a better deal than usual, figuring that this would put her in a better frame of mind for questioning.
"[Would there be anything else, sir?]" asked the Karnakian after he'd bought two.
"{Is this the only market around? I have some colleagues who might be interested in larger items.}"
"[This is the largest market in the capital, sir.]" She leaned forward as her crest rose. "[You're with the entertainers who just arrived, yes? The ones with the [humans]?]"
"{That's right. I'm surprised word's spread this fast.}"
"[There's always interest when [humans] are involved, good sir.]"
"{I understand. Do you get many off-world visitors? We're trying to determine how much new audience turnover we can expect.}"
"[A few every [month] or so. This planet is very welcoming to all, no matter their past.]"
Ngralh gave an embarrassed click. "{How, er, segregated is it around here? I only ask because some multi-species colonies can be rough; the locals can take it the wrong way if one goes walking through another species' section of town.}"
The seller waved one casual wing-arm. "[Oh, there's no such problems around here but I would be careful, since do have some minor criminals wandering about. The various races tend to cluster together to take advantage of any species-specific infrastructure such as plumbing requirements.]"
He smiled at her and gave a bob of his head to simulate a Karnakian farewell. "[Thanks, you've been very kind.]"
Thanks to a few more generous purchases and pointed questions, Ngralh found the Karnakian portion of town. If the "Silken Feather" was in civilization, chances are it was somewhere around here. It would be far easier for her to keep track of incoming and outgoing ships, plus she'd have a handy population of raptors to get lost in.
For sure she'd be wearing a disguise. Instead of scanning each individual Karnakian that passed, Ngralh set his implant to ping him if it detected anyone matching the body proportions of their quarry.
He spent another hour walking among the Karnakians, trying to look like nothing more than a ship-bound crew member anxious to stretch his legs. His scans of the crowd turned up empty, and after a while he started to wish somebody would try to mug him. At least it would break up the monotony.
Ngralh turned down a narrow and deserted alley with walls formed of the same cheap plastic sheeting used for the market booths. He'd made it halfway down when two feathered forms suddenly blocked the far end. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder...sure enough, two more blocked the way he'd came.
The front and rear pairs of Karnakians began to close in with slow menace towards him.
"[Four against one, furball,]" said one of them. "[Not good odds. Now why don't you just hand over everything in your pockets and we'll call it good, eh?]"
Ngralh shifted his weight so that he was balanced on his toes, then extended his claws. While he might not be death-on-foot like Myyreh, he was still an experienced peace officer. That fact evened the odds more than they realized. Once he'd given these guys a good thrashing, he could lean on them for some more detailed information. His ears swiveled back as he tracked the sounds of the two behind him. They'd probably rush him first, and so he kept his back invitingly open...
A strangled chirp-roar sounded from behind him. He spun himself sideways, careful to keep the front two in his peripheral vision. Both of the Karnakians behind him sprawled twitching on the ground, each wreathed in blue electric sparks. As he took in the sight there was a blur of motion behind to the other two...
They didn't even manage a sound before they too were down and out of any possible fight. Ngralh turned carefully back to face his would-be rescuer, a green-feathered Karnakian with a yellow band around her neck.
The Silken Feather.
She stood just out of easy leaping range. The thief had never laid eyes on Ngralh during her call to the Furious Call of Inquiry, so he figured he'd play ignorant and try to lure her closer. "{You have my thanks, friend. I don't have any money on me, but if you'll follow me back to my ship I'm sure my Captain would be happy to reward you.}"
The thief snorted. "[No games, friend. You know who I am and I know who you are. A mixed-race crew who also happen to have [humans] on board, showing up in a conveniently quick manner after I placed that call? The odds of that are astronomical. I guess you tracked me after all.]"
Ngralh took in a deep, irritated breath and then relaxed. "{All right.}" He glanced again at the sprawled, shuddering bodies around him. "{You still have my thanks.}"
"[Oh, it's my pleasure I assure you. I can't allow any of our brave Senate investigators to get hurt in the line of duty, now can I?]"
The XO chuckled. "{I wasn't in that much danger. So. How easy do you want to make this? I can tell you right now the Captain is not going to allow any sale.]"
"[I would reply that it's not up to her, is it? I think the Matriarchs' opinions would carry greater weight in this case. In any case, just know that I know that you're here and that I'm watching you. I'll be in contact soon to set up the sale. Do you still have that Galnet node of mine?]"
"{Of course. It's evidence.}"
She grinned wide. "[Of course. You police must always play by the rules, eh? I'm rather surprised you don't try to tackle me right here and now.]"
Ngralh tapped the side of his nose. "{It wouldn't do any good. I smell nothing but these four bozos, which tells me I'm talking to a hard-light hologram.}"
The Silken Feather bowed her head. "[Excellent, it's always a pleasure to deal with competent adversaries. I bid you a good day, sir.]"
The green-and-yellow Karnakian vanished, leaving a small metal sphere hovering in the alleyway. The drone fizzed while its internals fried, then fell to the ground with a small thud.
Ngralh blew out a breath that any onlooker would have taken as one of frustration. But then he smiled and touched his ear. "{Egwreh, Myyreh, you're up.}"
___________
The Silken Feather maneuvered down a neighboring alley, looking behind her constantly. It had been a risk to expose herself, but the chance to show these silly police that she was on top of things was too delicious to pass up. The following negotiations would have to be done with great delicacy; she had to conceal the fact that she no longer had the Claw, while keeping in reserve her knowledge of Sssnnathor's covert activities. The latter should act as insurance in the case that she wasn't able to retrieve the Claw.
And she would retrieve that which she'd rightfully stolen. Sssnnathor was not omnipotent, and her audacity would act as a shield. The aged fool would never imagine that she'd be bold enough to try breaking into his main palace. As her mind whirled, she peered around the corner and scanned her surroundings on instinct. She saw nothing, and so she continued on her way.
The Silken Feather trotted along while plotting and was still feeling quite pleased with herself when Myrreh-of-Relgreh's fist came out of thin air and connected solidly with her jaw.
___________
The Silken Feather came to and almost on reflex reached out mentally with her implant to trigger the protective mode of her clothing. All she received was the lurch of an unsuccessful connection, which then made her realize she wasn't wearing her own clothes anymore. All she had was a simple shift made of plain fabric to protect her modesty. Locked tight around her feathered body was a cage of hard-light which allowed her to breathe comfortably...and that was about it for any movement she could perform.
As the Silken Feather blinked and shook her snout, a warbling voice intruded into her aching head.
"[Ah, you're finally awake! Sorry about taking liberties with your person, but you had way too many little goodies hidden in your clothes. We couldn't let you keep them.]"
The voice came from a small figure standing in front of her. Behind that alien was a much bigger form that she recognized as Captain Rgrarshok. The huge Dorarizin stood with folded arms and a steady, unblinking expression that was somehow more fearsome than a snarl.
The Silken Feather focused all four eyes on the small alien in front of her. It was the first time she'd laid eyes on a [human], and for a moment she stared in wonder. As all the reports said, the little-needs-protecting had a soul filled with starlight, almost like a hatchling's but much more complex.
Then her discipline reasserted itself as she took quick stock of her surroundings. She was pinned in the middle of what looked like a hangar deck of some sort. That meant she was in space and surrounded by enemies. Not to mention tied up and completely unarmed. It was a bad situation, but she'd been in worse. The most important thing for now was to appear as if she'd given up.
The Silken Feather smiled ruefully. "|I congratulate you on your plan. It was masterfully done.|"
The [human] shrugged. "[We got lucky. We didn't know if you'd realize that we were the Senate team, but we had [Ngralh] followed just in case you followed him. You didn't just follow, you actually made contact. [Ngralh] sends his regards, by the way, and thanks you again for your help.]"
The thief slumped in her bonds. "|It was my pleasure.|" She stared up at the Captain. "|Shall we make a deal, or are you just going to skip right to the torturing?|"
Rgrarshok grinned. "[Your interrogation will begin now. Go ahead, [Oscar].]"
The computer-generated cage around The Silken Feather shifted, moving her arms apart and exposing more of her keeled chest. She felt a moment of panic as the [human] wobbled towards her. Was he going to pull out a knife and start cutting on her?
The Silken Feather's shift didn't quite cover the front fluff of her chest, and as he reached her [Oscar] pushed aside some of the fabric to expose more feathers. The somewhat intimate act shocked her. She'd heard that [humans] would mate with just about anything, but surely he wouldn't resort to...that against her will?
Without a word, [Oscar] smashed himself face-first into her fluff like a nestling seeking warmth. The sensation created an automatic maternal response in The Silken Feather, causing her feathers to expand out.
"[Where's the Claw?]" asked Rgrarshok.
The thief tried to focus, but it was hard with a soft and warm little sapient doing his best to make a bed out of her chest fluff. "|Eh? Oh, that old thing? Who knows? Maybe I know, maybe I don't. You'll have to...oh...make it worth my while to...care...|"
"[Ah, you're expecting to make a deal with us?]"
The Silken Feather tried to focus, but [Oscar] was still squirming around against her chest. Her bound arms twitched...she wanted to hold the little alien in the worst way...
"|Wouldn't you, in my situation?|" she responded. "|After all, the [Claw's] location is the only bargaining chip I have right now. You must be mad if you think I'll give that up without at least an offer of amnesty.|"
{Oscar] let out a little warbling hum and reached out with both tiny hands to get a good grip on her chest fluff.
The act almost made The Silken Feather miss the Captain's next statement. "[And you must be mad if you think we'll let you go without having the Claw safe in our possession.]"
Any further strategy fled right out of her head. What was wrong with her? She was a ghost, a free soul, she was afraid of no one and wanted nothing more than lots of covert bank accounts stuffed full of credits. Now all that she could think of was the need to grasp this little being close to her, to build a nest and keep him safe and warm. The feeling was worse than any pain or injury.
"|I...well, that is...|" She shook herself and glared up at Rgrarshok. "|I have rights under Senate law! This treatment can't be legal!|"
Rgrarshok unsheathed a claw and held it up to her face. She inspected it closely as she spoke. "[What would you have to complain about? True, we have you bound at the moment but that is merely for our protection. Are we mistreating you in any way?]"
"|You know damn well what I mean...erg...can you tell him to stop squirming?|"
"[Tell him yourself.]"
The Silken Feather looked down at the little creature moving against her. "|I know what you're trying to do. It won't work.|"
"[What do you mean?]" asked [Oscar]. "[I'm tired and need a nap.]"
"|I just...please...|"
Rgrarshok chuckled. "[You know, if you wish to claim rights as a Senate citizen you'll need to tell us who you really are. It seems you've done quite an admirable job in throwing us off of your true scent.]"
The Silken Feather gritted her teeth. "|I will never tell you!|"
Rgrarshok waved her hand in a 'there it is' gesture. "[Then I guess you'll have to put up with [human] interaction. [Oscar], give me a call when you wake up and we'll continue.]" She started to lope away, only to be stopped by the Silken Feather's plea.
"|Please, no. I'll propose a deal. You release me and then I'll tell you where the Claw is.|"
"[You tell us where the Claw is and then we'll release you,]" replied the Captain.
The Silken Feather shook her crest. "|No. You can put an implant in me to track me if you like, but I won't tell you a thing until I'm out of your custody.|" She knew she was technically savvy enough to defeat any possible tracking they'd put in her, since they'd certainly try to capture her again after finding out the Claw was now in Sssnnathor's possession. After her release, she could then steal the Claw back from Sssnnathor as she'd planned. True, having the Senate team breathing on her tail would put a bit of a time constraint on things, but she was capable enough to pull it off.
[Oscar] abruptly let go of her floof and wobbled away back towards the Captain. "[She doesn't have the Claw. Not anymore.]"
Rgrarshok stroked a thoughtful claw along her chin. "[Agreed. She gave in far too easily.]"
"|What nonsense is this? Of course I have it! Not on me, obviously, but I have it stashed in a very safe location! One that you'll never discover unless I tell you. Release me and you can go get it yourself.|"
The pair of peace officers stared back at The Silken Feather for a moment.
"[If she'd sold it to [Sssnnathor], she would've been long gone with her money,]" said [Oscar].
"[True,]" replied Rgrarshok. "[So he must have found out somehow that she was here. The fact that she's alive means that he didn't get his claws on her directly. However he found out, the Claw is now in his custody.]" Her purple eyes stared steadily at The Silken Feather. [Isn't that right?]"
"|I'm not saying anything further,|" replied The Silken Feather. "|You may as well go ahead and torture me. Or whatever that was your [human] was doing.|"
[Oscar] gasped in mock horror. "[Me? Torture? No, I wouldn't dream of harming a single feather on your crest. But there are a few [Karnakians] on board whom you've wronged either directly or indirectly. I'm sure they'd be eager to...discuss...their grievances with you at great length.]"
"[Or we could just leave her tied up somewhere on the planet,]" said Rgarshok. "[Perhaps we should drop an anonymous note to [Sssnnathor] telling her where she is? Only in the interest of making sure she doesn't come to harm, of course.]"
"[Of course!]" said [Oscar].
The Silken Feather sagged once more, this time in real defeat. She had but one bit of leverage left to play. "|We can still make a deal for my release,|" she said.
"[With what information?]" asked Rgrarshok. "[If [Sssnnathor] has the Claw I'm sure you have no idea where he's hidden it. That's something we'll have to figure out.]" The Captain sighed. "[I'll bet this party of his is for showing off the Claw.]"
"[I'm not taking that bet,]" said [Oscar].
The thief shook her crest. "|I'm not talking about the Claw's location. I'm talking about [Sssnnathor] himself. He's up to something. Whatever it is involving cloning.|"
Rgrarshok placed a paw over her eyes. "[Of course he is. By the First Pack, I need a vacation.]"
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY [link] [comments]

Do not apply to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Hello. I am a recent graduate of RPI and I'd like to share my experience with all of you, detailing all of the reasons you should not apply to or attend this school. I hope the mods will consider sticking this post to maximize its exposure.

Hostile administration disrespects student rights

The President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, has mismanaged the Institute throughout her tenure and has brought the Institute to its knees. The present student body and leadership have consistently expressed their discontent with Dr. Jackson's leadership in compliance with the Student Handbook. However, Dr. Jackson's administration has proven more than willing to break the rules. The administration has torn down Handbook-compliant student protest posters, forced modifications to the Student Handbook without any student approval, initiated judicial proceedings against protesting students, erected a wall to keep students from protesting on campus, and even claimed 'eminent domain' to remove students from campus facilities.
Sources:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president (literally) fences out free speech
RPI students lament 'culture of fear' as protesters face judicial action
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute doubles down on sidewalk censorship
Public Safety caught suppressing student rights, claim Student Handbook of Rights and Responsibilities not valid
The Demise of Shared Governance at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Alumni in revolt

Rensselaer alumni have been paying attention to the strife of the present student body, and they too have lost faith in the Institute's leadership. Alumni donation rates are far below the national average and are on the decline, as alumni withhold their contributions until President Jackson is gone. Other alumni are boycotting alumni weekend, donating to specific student organizations, and advocating for the removal of Dr. Jackson.
Sources:
RPI Alumni for Better Governance
Letter from RPI-ABG to Board of Trustees
RPI alumni stop donating amid concerns over leadership, campus climate
RPI email to alumni: Criticism of leadership rooted in racism, sexism
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/9erjwf/im_an_alum_rpi_just_called_for_a_donation_sorry_no/

Greek life under attack

Dr. Jackson and Dean of Students Travis Apgar are working to dismantle the entire Greek system, the heart of RPI's already-lackluster social scene. Jackson and Apgar have unilaterally imposed sanctions that ban alcohol at Greek houses, even for students of legal drinking age, and a halt to Rush, thus preventing houses from recruiting new members. This has had a devastating effect on social life in the current semester, and RPI is currently a pretty sad and depressing place to be. Many freshmen have taken to partying at UAlbany and other neighboring schools.
Email from LeNorman Strong - Greek Life Task Force
Notes from the Student Meeting with interim VP Strong
RPI Community Furious Over Greek Life Sanctions
https://mailchi.mp/4821c4ed7398/save-rpi-greek-life-recruitment-restrictions

Student Union beseiged

Dr. Jackson has waged a decades-long war to wrest control of the Student Union from the students that use, pay for, and operate it. The Jackson administration has hired Union administrators without the approval of student leadership (in violation of the Student Handbook), removed student leaders from important Board of Trustees commitees, and questioned the validity of student held elections. These actions led to two widely attended student protests in 2016 and 2017.
Sources:
SAVE THE UNION - A student/alumni effort dedicated to regaining control of the Student Union
Memo from RPI CFO: administration further restricts E-Board's authority over Union budget and Activity Fee
RPI students protest policy on student union (2016 protest)
RPI students protest student union takeover move (2017 protest)
Administrative disregard for student elections

Finances in disarray

During her tenure, President Jackson has raised billions for RPI over several capital campaigns, permitting the construction of buildings such as EMPAC, CBIS, and ECAV, augmenting student financial aid, and renovating old dorms. However, Dr. Jackson's mismanagement of these funds has left the Institute deeply in debt with a shrinking endowment, declining alumni donations, declining research revenues, poor credit ratings, stagnating rankings, and skyrocketing tuition.
Sources:
Renew Rensselaer's findings - A comprehensive analysis of RPI's financial situation
Standard & Poor’s downgrades RPI’s credit rating to BBB+
Tuition and Fees, 1998-99 Through 2017-18
Alumni report cites concerns at RPI
RPI slides from 42 to 49 in 2019 U.S. News National University Rankings

Other criticisms

Summer Arch

Summer Arch is a new program created by Dr. Jackson that mirrors an existing program at Brown University. Students will be forced to take classes during the summer before their junior year, and then will be forced to leave campus (and hopefully find a job) during the spring or fall semester of their junior year.
Summer Arch has been in a trial “pilot mode” for the last two years; only 70 students signed up in the last year. All 1700 incoming students will be required to take the Arch.
Any students involved in Greek life are not allowed to live in their house or off campus during the summer arch, and must pay to live in the dorms. The dorms are extremely expensive relative to off campus housing. Dorms and meal plans are also required for all freshmen and sophomores.
This program is a money grab that allows the university to squeeze more students onto campus at a time and increase the student body population. The student body population has been rising each year for the last several years. As a result, facilities are cramped. The library, dining halls, and gym are often at or above capacity at peak hours. Full classes means that it is more difficult to obtain the schedule that you want.
I’m having difficulty providing sources for these points, as some of the old documents are no longer extant, but feel free to peruse /rpi for more information.

Awful social life

I feel I can offer a unique perspective on this issue. There are many RPI students that whine that the school has a shit social life—these are usually people that don’t know how to make friends, can’t get into parties, and sit in their rooms most of the time. There are others that will defend it, saying that it’s not that bad, that if you join a fraternity you will still have fun. Both sides are right. You can have fun here, but it will be more difficult, and you could have more fun elsewhere.
The truth is, RPI’s parties pale in comparison to those at most other schools. I have had an important role in the social scene and have helped to host many parties. I also had some success on the dating scene. RPI’s gender ratio disparity is real and you will feel its effects. There are lots of guys here that are perfectly nice and reasonably attractive that will see little to no action during their years here because of the ratio. Even not considering the ratio, you’re still not going to find a lot of the type of girls that you’d find at beachside schools. Having been to parties at many other schools, from the Ivies to big state schools, I can authoritatively say that you are better served almost anywhere else.
A note about the student body—a substantial fraction of people here are antisocial and weird, to the point where it’s a school tradition. There are tons of students that basically never leave their rooms. D&D, Smash, and MTG games are commonplace. Personal hygiene is like a campus joke, particularly among the CS students. The school has hosted an anime convention for the last 30 years. (For the record, I have nothing against anime, you should know that that’s what this school is.) The student body openly disdains the liberal arts and generally has poor attitudes towards women. Last year someone hung a noose on a lightpost as a prank. Before that, someone went around putting up fascist/alt-right posters (presumably as some kind of joke). The Asian international students (close to 20% of this year’s freshmen class) will probably never say a word to you in your time at RPI, or pretend not to speak English if you try to engage them. Yes, this is something that’s easily ignored, and something that more or less comes with the territory for engineering schools, but I think it’s still worth noting.
School spirit is really low. Sports games attendance is low. The student body is uniquely downtrodden and miserable, and lots of my friends have considered transferring or otherwise voiced their discontent to me. Hockey is supposed to be the school’s sport but the team has performed poorly and the administration recently fired the coach. You don’t see students wearing school apparel. Even the hockey commentator quit because of the administration (see last source).
Sources:
https://i.redd.it/zsl4l4smbfiy.jpg
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/5wpvh0/antinazihatespeech_posters_placed_defaced/
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/5xavjn/defacement_increased_to_active_hatespeech/
http://www.withoutapeer.com/2018/06/pushed-too-far.html

Terrible location

Troy is a dump, the opposite of a college town. It isn’t a place you’ll often find yourself unless you visit the fraternities down the hill. People will tell you that it’s not as bad as it once was, which is true, but it’s still got a long way to go. The temperature will be frigid for 80% of your time at RPI (except summer arch), but don’t expect to see a UVM-level ski/snowboarding culture. These temperatures are worsened by the wind chill (RPI is on top of a hill and has nothing to the block the wind).

Other

Several survivors of sexual assault at RPI have spoken up about their experiences. They have shared that they were coached to avoid talking to the police and the perpetrators have faced little to no consequences.
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/92ca5z/rpi_student_recounts_alleged_assault_at_frat_party/
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/8qgh5i/rse_sexual_assault/
https://poly.rpi.edu/2018/04/25/title-ix-issues-should-be-on-prospectives-rada
Mental health services are understaffed and often provide inadequate services.
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/8un25y/mental_health_on_campus/
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/2k4z34/feedback_about_counseling_cente
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/318oma/im_not_handling_life_so_well/
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/2daryb/rpi_graduate_student_passed_away/
https://www.reddit.com/RPI/comments/2mvxft/anyone_know_if_there_are_any_services_to_speak/
The administration is working to shut down RPI’s nuclear reactor, one of the few university research reactors in the world, and one of the reasons that RPI’s nuclear engineering program is as highly rated as it is.
https://m.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Drive-seeks-to-save-tiny-RPI-reactor-in-casino-s-7239184.php

Saving graces

For all of its flaws, I can’t say everything about RPI is bad. RPI is still well regarded in industry, and has excellent job placement and salaries. The education is quite good, and many professors are talented and highly regarded in their fields. Facilities are RPI’s greatest strength, and are better than those at many other schools, even at the Ivy level. People will automatically think you are smart without knowing anything about you (in truth, you probably are). Students are intelligent if unengaged, and you won’t see Ivy level talent or passion. PC culture is at a minimum and the student body is relaxed and laid back. For all of the administration’s efforts, there is a high degree of independence in student life that is refreshing and unique from other schools—almost a pre-9/11 feel. RPI is also fairly generous with financial aid.
Trust me: no matter how in love with this school you are, you don’t want to deal with all of this bullshit. Do not apply to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
I'll try and answer questions within limits, as it's imperative that I shield my identity. I might eventually delete this; save copies and distribute it to your friends.

2020 UPDATE: Find part two HERE

submitted by alt0000_rpi to ApplyingToCollege [link] [comments]

Day 180

Long time lurker, first post.
I tend to be more of an observer than a participator, but I did want to share a little of my story.
I never would have figured myself for a compulsive gambler. I grew up fairly poor, certainly knowing what it was like to do without but still getting by. In time, and with great difficulty, I got educated (BS, MS degrees). Even managed to find a six-figure job. I thought that was my great struggle in life, wresting myself from the clutches of poverty, and I got through it! I was now even pretty good at budgeting/saving money, and, after finishing my master's, here I am making $100,000/year. Not wildly rich, but certainly comfortable. Life is pretty good at this point. And then I found gambling.
I had parents who gambled. Quite a bit, it turns out. I had even been with them to the casinos a time or two when I was a teen (going to the buffets). I thought the slot players looked like zombies. Fast-forward several years later, and I'm living in Houston, making occasional round trips on I-10 to visit family, when one day I decide to stop at a casino in western Louisiana. I had gambled a few times here and there, but this was...different. What began as a random break from driving home one day morphed into me giving every last free dollar I had to this place for the next few years. It's like watching a horror movie, starring me. Or a dream. A nightmare I could never wake up from. I had become one of the zombies I vividly remembered from childhood. Throughout that time, now still, I intimately understand why those people looked so catatonic. Every person I had known who was addicted to something, and every time I wondered why they couldn't just power up and walk away, now I knew. I've eaten that forbidden fruit too. Slots became my obsession. It's knowledge you don't want anymore but can't un-know.
In truth, I'm not sure why I'm 180 days clean at this point. There is no catastrophic turning point, no one thing that prevented me from ever returning to the casinos. I left Houston. Thought that might help. But I moved to an area to which casinos were even closer. I started frequenting them. After years of chasing losses, countless threats of never returning, numerous day 1's, I silently resigned and promised to shift my life closer to something I want it to be. Maybe it was February. I went on a trip to run a half-marathon through some wilderness, something akin to a spiritual trip for me. On the way home, I stopped at a casino. My old casino. Lost the last $300 I had. Wasn't even upset. Just numb the rest of the trip home. Six-figure job and I didn't even have money to stop and grab a burger, and the austere beauty of the weekend trip, the soul-nourishing adventure from which I was returning, was already a dull memory. I was fully aware of the dichotomy of the trip. I'd like to say it was my last casino visit, that the awareness of how much gambling was really robbing me of was enough to shake me loose of its grasp, but I went twice more. I lost a total $20 the first trip, and $6 the second. Both trips ended because I couldn't stomach losing anymore. And that's it. Maybe it was an awakening. Hopefully my last trip ever, out with a whimper. And I'm absolutely okay with that. For all the times I've thought I would win back every last dollar I'd ever lost in one night, then flip the casino two birds Kenny Powers-style on my way out the door, for every time I've felt like something was owed to me and destiny was going to bring it to my doorstep in my casino swan song, reality is that it's not going to happen. And maybe I don't want it to happen. Maybe that leaves the door a little too open, makes it a little too easy to return.
I haven't joined GA yet. I think I will soon. I've been too reclusive about this. And a little fortification can make you stronger. 180 days has surprisingly not been difficult (overall), but I'm still close enough to the fire to sweat. There are certainly days I have to allow the urges to wash over me and let them pass. Once I even got dressed to go, only to plop down on the couch and let the moment pass. For now, the stories people post here have been inspirational and familiar. It's amazing: All these feelings you think are unique, felt by only you, and then you read someone else's post and it reads like a biography.
Here's what 180 days has felt like for me: I have seen my stress levels drop to a fraction of their former selves; I have told myself I hate myself much less; I have quit saying I hate my life and began to think that maybe it's not so bad; the two things I wanted to happen through gambling, debt reduction and savings increase, have both occurred in the absence of gambling. Amazing. I do struggle thinking about the money I've wasted, but I've gotten better about accepting that it's gone. I now try to view it as payment for an education, on an equal plane with the money I paid for college.
I really do wish anyone struggling with this the very best. It's a mountain we're all climbing, looking for the downhill side. A sport that's easier with team support. My friends, family, they all know. It helps to be able to talk about it. Reading stories on here helps. Writing this post is a little cathartic. If you're trying to escape gambling's grasp, please keep climbing. Soon you'll be high enough it can't reach you.

TL;DR - Gambling sucks. Avoid it at all costs if possible.
submitted by radioactivewave to problemgambling [link] [comments]

OP ED: A Socialist View of US Government 'Gun Control' - by Tom Crean (Socialist Alternative) 5 Dec 2017

The horrific Las Vegas massacre at the start of October and the more recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas has rekindled the debate about what can be done to prevent the nightmare of recurring mass shootings. There have been renewed calls from liberal politicians for gun control measures. Even the National Rifle Association recently agreed that there should be some limits placed on the availability of “bump stocks” which allowed Stephen Paddock to turn his weapons into killing machines spewing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over the course of a few minutes into the concert crowd across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
But while mass shootings focus public attention, the truth is that they only account for a fraction of the total number of people killed by guns in the U.S. One recent report suggested that more Americans have died due to gun violence since 1968 than in all the wars engaged in by the U.S. in its entire history.
The question we posed in the document is whether the situation where society is awash in weapons in the interests of the working class. We elaborate why, as socialists, we reject both the “gun rights” narrative of the right as well as the liberal gun control narrative.
We must also note though that despite numerous horrific mass shootings, overall support for gun control measures has not grown over the last five years although there are increases in support for some measures in the wake of particularly horrific mass shootings. For example, 64% told Politico/Morning Consult in October that they support tightening gun regulation, a 3% increase. But the picture becomes much less clear when you look at specific measures
The longer term trend over the past 20 years is actually away from support for tougher gun control measures. For example, according to Gallup the support for a ban on assault rifles went down from 46% in December 2012 to 36% in October 2016. In 1996, by contrast, there was 57% support for a ban.
The gun control measure with overwhelming support is universal background checks including for private sales and sales at gun shows. There is also strong support for preventing people with mental health issues and those on government screening lists from buying weapons as well as for a centralized national database for gun sales.
Gun rights have become a key issue in the country’s deepening political polarization. It is also clear that the liberal arguments for more sweeping gun control measures have failed to convince broad swathes of the population. The NRA tragically has clearly had some success arguing in sections of the population that the way to combat gun violence in society is for the “good guys” to be armed to the teeth. This points all the more to the left needing to articulate an independent position on how to address the epidemic levels of violence in our society.
Is Gun Control the Solution to Gun Violence? A Socialist Analysis (2012)
Horror in Newtown
The massacre of 20 students and 7 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut school in December 2012 by a mentally disturbed young man has reignited the debate on gun control in the U.S. In mid-January, the Obama administration announced its support for a series of legislative measures that would among other things mandate background checks on all gun sales; ban the sale of “military style” semiautomatic weapons and limit ammunition magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds. This proposal to impose limited measures of gun control at the federal level has led to a furious response from the right, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA). However, polls indicate that there is a significant shift in popular sentiment toward supporting such measures.
Nevertheless the attempt to strengthen gun regulation at the federal level is for now dead in the water after even the background check measure which polls say is supported by nearly 90% of the public failed to get the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. It should be stressed that this outcome does not mean the debate on gun control is over. Measures have been brought forward at state level and other massacres, unfortunately inevitable, will revive the issue. It is also clear that a significant section of the elite for their own reasons want to bring the gun lobby to heel.
As a Marxist organization with an increasing public profile we need to have a clear position in this public debate. We must look at the historical context of the right to bear arms and gun control both in the U.S. and internationally. We need to analyze the complex causes of the massive level of gun violence that exists in American society and put forward socialist solutions. We must look dispassionately at the real agenda of both the bourgeois forces pushing for gun control and those opposing it.
Perhaps most importantly, we must ask whether the arming of large sections of the American population in the concrete circumstances of the early 21st century and given the reactionary individualist ideology that promotes this is really in the interests of the working class. On the other hand, how do we address the ever increasing powers of the state which clearly do pose a threat to any section of American society that would resist the dictates of the ruling class? These are complex issues which cannot be summarized in a few glib phrases.
Historical Context
The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The context of the amendment in 1791 was the recent Revolutionary War and the belief that the struggle against the British crown was probably not over – this was confirmed by the War of 1812 when the British burned Washington DC to the ground. There was strong opposition to the idea of a standing army based on historical experience in Europe and recent experience with the British Army. Standing armies were correctly seen as the tools of tyrannical regimes.
As a result, in the early American republic, a big section of the white male population was armed for military reasons first and foremost. Of course there was no question, as far as the elite was concerned, of allowing black slaves or even free blacks to have guns. Many states required gun owners to register their weapons and prohibited carrying concealed weapons.
Broadly speaking, the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights of which it is part, represents part of the progressive legacy of the American Revolution. But as capitalism developed, the issue of weapons and gun control became inseparable from the class struggle between labor and capital and the desire of the ruling class to maintain the subjugation of the African American population.
There have been repeated horrific massacres in U.S. history of working people fighting for their rights. In 1914 during a miners’ strike in Colorado, 21 men, women, and children were killed in Ludlow by machine gun fire from the state militia. In 1937 during a peaceful protest of striking Republic Steel workers and their families in South Chicago, the police opened fire. Ten workers were shot dead and another 40 workers were wounded by gunfire, all of them shot in the back.
On the other side, striking workers resisting attacks from company goons and/or the state during strikes have on numerous occasions armed themselves for self-defense. In the 1880s Chicago’s militant German-centered labor movement went as far as creating a workers’ militia. This is not just a question of the dim and distant past. As recently as the 1970s, some miners pickets armed themselves in self-defense during wildcat UMWA strikes.
Likewise in the mid-1960s during the civil rights movement, the armed Deacons for Defense and Justice were formed by black veterans to protect civil rights activists against attacks by the Klan and state forces. The Deacons were very effective and played an important adjunct role to the mass protests at the heart of that struggle.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense continued this tradition although their experience also shows the life and death consequences of an “ultra-left” approach to this question. Initially some of the actions the Panthers took were effective in exposing police violence, giving people confidence to stand up and putting a check on the state. On a general political level the Panthers were correct to argue a revolutionary case, i.e. against pacifism, and for the right to self-defense, and indeed to take concrete defensive action that was understandable to broader (not yet revolutionary) layers of the black community and the working class – such as practical measures to defend against violent attacks by racist forces.
However, the brandishing of weapons, while being attractive to a minority of revolutionary black youth, was a serious mistake. It contributed to keeping the Panthers isolated from the broader black working class, which sympathized with them but was not prepared to join an explicitly armed revolutionary organization, and played into the hands of the capitalist state which succeeded in brutally crushing them.
Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and the Panther leadership eventually recognized this. As Huey Newton says in his book Revolutionary Suicide “We soon discovered that weapons and uniforms set us apart from the community. We were looked upon as an ad hoc military group, acting outside the community fabric and too radical to be a part of it. Perhaps some of our tactics at the time were extreme; perhaps we placed too much emphasis on military action.”
Even in an actual revolutionary situation, the key issue is not military but political mobilization of the working class and the oppressed on the basis of defensive and democratic appeals to oppose and defeat any violent efforts of the small ruling elite to subvert the will of the majority. This was precisely what the Bolsheviks did in October 1917, the most democratic revolution in history in which there was extremely little violence. The Bolsheviks also made a class appeal to the ranks of the Tsarist army thereby largely neutralizing the old state forces as a weapon for the autocratic regime.
Of course history is replete with negative examples where the working class lacked a leadership sufficiently determined to face down the threat of the old order to unleash counterrevolutionary violence. Adventurist attempts by revolutionaries to prematurely “seize power” have also led to bloody defeats for working people.
The ruling class always tries to portray its opponents as violent. It is the task of Marxists to demonstrate to the mass of the population that the central source of violence in modern society is capitalism and the capitalist elite. This is particularly true in the United States whose ruling class has waged and is still waging a whole series of bloody imperialist adventures around the world to defend the rule of profit.
This is the context in which we must look at gun control. Attempts at gun control have been an ongoing feature of U.S. and other capitalist societies. In Europe, the ruling class made concerted efforts to disarm revolutionary and working class forces in the wake of the revolutionary upheavals of 1848. In general, whatever the reasons given at the time, most attempts at gun control have been at least partly motivated by the desire of the ruling class to disarm its potential opponents, first and foremost the working class. For example, the Mulford Act passed by the California legislature in 1967 which banned the public carrying of a loaded firearm was a direct response to the Black Panthers. The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 was also partly motivated by fear of an armed black population especially in the wake of the 1967 urban upheavals.
Marxists have historically opposed such attempts to try to enforce the bourgeoisie’s desire for a monopoly of force. We do not accept the idea that only the state should be armed as a “neutral” arbiter between the classes. All historical experience shows that the state’s armed bodies are not neutral but rather serve the interests of the ruling class.
How the debate on gun rights changed
For much of the 20th century, federal gun control measures had bipartisan support. In the wake of the defeat of the radical wing of the civil rights movement, the collapse of Stalinism, and the drastic weakening of the labor movement and any real internal challenges to the power of U.S. capitalism, the debate on weapons within the ruling class shifted away from trying to disarm its potential adversaries.
This shift could already be seen during the Reagan administration, with the development of the New Right which took the position that any restrictions on the “right to bear arms” were an attack on the Second Amendment. This was part of a broader process underway in the Republican Party with a turn towards populist and religious appeals. The issue of gun ownership was tied to right-wing populism which used coded racism about crime to mobilize sections of the white working and middle class. This was part of providing a broader political and electoral base for an increasingly aggressive neoliberal corporate agenda.
The NRA wielded increasing power. Despite suffering a setback in the banning of the sales of assault rifles from 1994-2004, their influence continued to grow. At state and local level, they have had a string of successful drives to remove restrictions on the “right” to carry concealed weapons. [According to David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, “Since Newtown, more than two dozen states have expanded the right to carry into previously unknown places: bars, churches, schools, college campuses, and so on” (10/3/2017)]. While we would not in general base ourselves on the argument of what the Constitutional “founders” had in mind, let us be clear that the members of Congress who voted for the Bill of Rights in 1789 would not have supported the right to carry concealed weapons into taverns!
What is behind the rise of the NRA and the drive to systematically repeal gun control measures? One part is the NRA’s role as mouthpiece for the incredibly profitable gun industry whose sales in 2012 are estimated to have been $11.7 billion and whose profits amounted to $993 million (Washington Post, 12/19/2012) [by 2015 revenue had reached $13.5 billion and profits stood at $1.5 billion]. In the wake of the Newtown massacre, it was revealed that Cerberus Capital, a major Wall Street private equity firm, owned the Freedom Group, makers of the legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 that was used by Adam Lanza. Those making big money off of the sale of guns are not just the manufacturers but retailers like Walmart which is now the biggest seller of firearms and ammunition in America (The Nation, 1/7-14/2013).
But the NRA is also driven by a right-wing libertarian ideology that promotes a particularly reactionary version of individualism. This point of view overlaps with the idea that an armed (white) citizenry is needed to defend the constitution against a new tyranny. Of course it is true that the state has significantly increased its powers in the past historical period, using first the “war on drugs” and then the “war against terrorism” as excuses for increasing surveillance and largely shredding Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable search and seizure.”
It is no accident that gun sales have accelerated since Obama came into office in 2008 and have reportedly skyrocketed since his announcement in the wake of Newtown that he would make gun control a priority. Obama’s reelection margin as we have noted was significant but hardly overwhelming. And within the vote for Romney there is a significant section that has been influenced by the fantasies of the far right, specifically the view that Obama is some sort of anti-American Muslim/socialist tyrant. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, right-wing militia groups and other right wing extremist groups have been growing since 2008 although for the time being none of them has a mass audience. The Tea Party was a vehicle for this development but they were set back after 2011.
In reality one of the main right wing groups with a mass base is the NRA itself – as of 2010 it claimed 4.3 million members [5 million as of 2017]. Currently it is used in the interests of the gun industry and to mobilize for “gun rights” as one of several issues that provide cover for the right wing of corporate America to pursue its anti-working class agenda (along with opposition to abortion, immigration, etc.). But we should be clear that while the NRA and its backers currently promote the idea of individually armed citizens and not militias, at another stage a significant part of their heavily armed base could be turned into an overtly counterrevolutionary force to terrorize left-wing activists, workers in struggle, people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people as an auxiliary force to the capitalist state.
Gun violence in the U.S. today
We also need to look at the specific features and causes of the extremely high level of gun violence in U.S. society.
There are an estimated 300 million privately owned weapons in the U.S. The U.S. is far and away the most violent of the wealthy capitalist societies. In 2004, there were 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 persons, roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany. To quote Occupy the NRA, an OWS offshoot, “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but accounts for half of all firearms worldwide and 80% of gun deaths in the 23 richest countries.”
Nevertheless we also need to recognize that the homicide level declined sharply in the 1990s. As of 2009 the homicide rate was at its lowest level since 1964 and half of what it was at the start of the 1980s. While this is a significant fact, the level of violent death is still staggering. In 2010, there were 14,748 homicides. 67.5% of these killings involved a gun (“Crime in The United States 2010, FBI Statistics” ).
The homicide rate nearly doubled from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. In 1980, it peaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population and subsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1984. It rose again in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to another peak in 1991 of 9.8 per 100,000. From 1992 to 2000, the rate declined sharply. (Bureau of Justice Statistics) [in the past few years, the number of homicides has been creeping upward nationally, and dramatically in some cities like Chicago].
And while homicide levels have declined to the level of the early 1960s, violent crime overall (much of it involving guns) remains at a much higher level than it was 50 years ago (FBI Uniform Crime Reports).
While media attention has focused on massacres from Virginia Tech to Aurora, Colorado, gun violence is concentrated in poor neighborhoods in big cities and most of the victims are poor people of color. Perhaps the most extreme example is New Orleans where the 2004 homicide rate was 52 per 100,000, ten times the national average.
Chicago has recently experienced a spike in gun violence. But as The New York Times noted, more than 80 percent of the Chicago’s 500+ homicides in 2012 took place in only about half of the city’s 23 police districts, largely on the city’s South and West Sides (1/3/2013).
Opponents of gun control will argue that the sharp decline of homicides shows that the prevalence of gun ownership and lack of much regulation does not mean that violence will increase. On the other hand, proponents of gun control like New York City’s former Mayor Mike Bloomberg will cite the fact that homicides in NYC are at a 50 year low [334 in 2016 compared to a high of 2,245 in 1989] as proof of the effectiveness of aggressive policing policies and the drive to get illegal guns off the street. In reality in many big cities there is much tighter gun control than in suburbs and rural areas. Massive police presence in poor communities has undoubtedly had some effect but at the cost of creating mini-police states where the police systematically harass young men and a massive prison gulag.
But there are clearly other reasons for the decline in homicide including the end of the crack epidemic of the 1980s. A more recent factor is the improvement in emergency medicine which improves the survival chances of people who have been shot. A Wall Street Journal (12/8/12) article on this subject is worth quoting at length because of its emphasis on the key point – gun violence and overall violence remain at epidemic levels:
“The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, but America has become no less violent.
“Crime experts who attribute the drop in killings to better policing or an aging population fail to square the image of a more tranquil nation with this statistic: The reported number of people treated for gunshot attacks from 2001 to 2011 has grown by nearly half. Improved medical care doesn’t account for the entire decline in homicides but experts say it is a major factor.
“Emergency-room physicians who treat victims of gunshot and knife attacks say more people survive because of the spread of hospital trauma centers—which specialize in treating severe injuries—the increased use of helicopters to ferry patients, better training of first-responders and lessons gleaned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Why is American Society So Violent?
There is no single reason for the level of violence in society. Clearly, the fact that the U.S. is one of the most – if not the most – unequal of the Advanced Capitalist Countries (ACCs) is very relevant. For example the U.S. has a higher poverty rate (17.2% in late 2000s) compared with 22 other OECD countries (Economic Policy Institute, based on OECD Stat Extracts). As documented in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the level of inequality in a society contributes directly to the level of alienation. But of course massive inequality is the result of the particular development of U.S. capitalism. U.S. society has also been steeped in violence from its birth. One element of this historical legacy was that the U.S. was a frontier society where the violent campaign to wrest land from Native Americans lasted well into the 19th century. This involved the arming of a significant section of the population.
Even more important is the legacy of chattel slavery and the ongoing violent repression of African American communities to the present day. The “war on drugs” beginning in the 1970s was an attempt to criminalize and suppress black youth whom the state saw as the most radical section of society, as well as a political/electoral strategy to make a coded appeal to racism under new conditions with the end of legal segregation. This has led the U.S. to have the highest level of incarceration in the world – which in itself is a huge source of violence. Hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders enter the extremely violent prison system and come out with far fewer rights and far more alienated from society than when they entered.
In many of the most depressed communities in the U.S. there exists a toxic combination of systemic poverty, massive alienation, and ferocious state repression. Violence is the inevitable result. Does the availability of weapons contribute to the level of violence? Undoubtedly but it is not the central cause.
And while the dynamic is not the same in more affluent communities like Newtown, it is undoubtedly the case that stress because of economic uncertainty and general social alienation are pervasive in American society. It can be argued that alienation for some young people in some suburbs may be even worse due to the lack of recreation facilities, areas to socialize, etc. An author of a study of “rampage shootings” points out that “There has been only one example of a rampage school shooting in an urban setting since 1970” (The Nation, 12/19/2012).
Added to this is the severely ineffective mental health system, an inevitable result of for-profit medicine and the cuts in funding for mental health and social services. These factors have all contributed to the spate of massacres.
U.S. imperialism’s willingness to unleash massive violence around the world also directly contributes to the violence within the U.S. itself. In a direct sense it has led to a massive expansion of the state justified by the “war on terror.” Obama and other capitalist politicians repeatedly call to “end the violence” inside America while using drones and state assassination abroad and militarizing the police domestically.
But there are other indirect effects as well. As Marxists point out, cultural production inevitably reflects the dominant (ruling class) values of society. Given the commitment of the U.S. ruling class to endless violence against its perceived enemies it is not surprising to see this reflected in movies, videogames, and music which idealize a macho, gun toting cult of death. The Current Debate on Gun Control
After years in which gun control measures especially at the federal level were seen by liberals as politically unfeasible because of the strength of the NRA, the aftermath of the Newtown massacre caused the issue to return to center stage. Obama decided to make this one of the central issues of his second term alongside immigration reform, fiscal “reform,” and climate change.
The debate on gun control as played out in the capitalist media features only two sides: on the one hand high profile Democrats, big city mayors and a section of the bourgeois who have decided that it is time to take on the NRA and on the other side right wing Republicans, backed up by the NRA who are digging in to oppose almost any gun control measures.
Our starting point in formulating our position should be sympathy with the understandable desire of most ordinary people to do something about gun violence, particularly to stop the horrific string of massacres. We completely rejected the NRA’s proposal that the appropriate response to Newtown was to put an armed police officer in every school in the country – right wingers have even raised the idea of allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom and incredibly South Dakota passed a law to allow this! Their argument that the only way to stop “bad guys with guns” is to have more “good guys with guns” on the streets is a recipe for even more violence in society not less.
While we strongly believe in the right of working people, racial minorities, and the oppressed to defend themselves against the violence of the bosses, the state or reactionary groups, the current level of gun violence in the U.S. is actually an obstacle to the development of social struggle. While defending our general theoretical position on the state – and not making any concession to liberal ideas that the state is neutral we need to examine the question concretely under the current conditions, balance of forces, and consciousness. In the situation prevailing in the U.S. today, does the current regime of widespread access to guns actually help strengthen the position of the working class?
The reality is that it does not, and in fact the past 30 years – when the tendency has been for gun control to be relaxed – has seen a major offensive by big business, an undermining of democratic rights, and the strengthening of the repressive powers of the state. The dominant forces arguing against gun control promote a right-wing, individualist, racist, and sexist ideology that weakens the working class.
Furthermore the threat of violence, ranging from the everyday threat of shootings in many communities up to and including the threat of terrorist attacks, has given the state ready-made excuses to ramp up its powers of repression. That does not mean we should adopt the position of the liberal gun-control advocates or echo the view that guns are the main problem in society. We need to put forward an independent, working-class position.
We reject the NRA argument that the type of limited gun control measures proposed by Obama are the beginning of the end of the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms. There is no serious proposal being put forward to try to disarm or partially disarm the population as a whole. The only areas where there are forcible attempts by the police to disarm people are public housing projects in the inner cities.
But opposing the attempt of the NRA to whip up collective paranoia is not sufficient. We also need to be clear that there are many legitimate reasons why people want to own guns. In rural culture, guns are widely used for hunting, dealing with predators, and entertainment. This does not inevitably lead to massive levels of violence. Likewise many suburban and urban dwellers understandably want to own a gun for protection. This is often particularly the case in areas where gun violence is endemic. It is not surprising that many women want to own a gun for self-defense. Socialists are not pacifists and we do not criticize ordinary people for owning a gun or wanting to.
But the question which most ordinary people want answered now is how to significantly reduce the violence. The elite advocates of gun control do not have a serious answer to this question. Even if all the measures proposed by the Obama administration were passed into law the history of recent gun control measures suggests that the extremely powerful gun industry will find ways around them. This is what happened to the 1994 “ban” on assault weapons.
The other fundamental reason that the ruling-class gun-control lobby can’t show a way to seriously reduce violence is that, as has already been pointed out, the central source of violence in society is capitalism itself including the capitalist state.
Serious measures to reduce violence would include ending the “war on drugs” and decriminalizing most or all drugs. (It should be stressed that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Essentially it means trying to treat drug addiction as a public health problem first and foremost.) Releasing the hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders from prison and the dismantling of the bloated and racist criminal injustice system would do more to reduce violence than any gun control measure.
We also advocate taking serious measures against the massively profitable gun industry such as banning the sales of weapons by these companies (or the government) to various right-wing regimes around the world. We also are for ending the military adventures of U.S. imperialism abroad and massively reducing the scale of the military and the Pentagon budget. The resources freed up could be used to create jobs and improve education, health care (including mental health), and social services and thereby contribute to reducing violence abroad and at home. Finally we are for repealing the Patriot Act and other legislation that has legalized a massive security state that has done precious little to improve the safety of ordinary people but has certainly contributed to a big increase in state violence.
Simply enacting a massive jobs program, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage and other anti-poverty measures, and a single-payer, socialized health-care system which prioritizes mental health care would be huge steps forward in creating a saner, less violent society. We advocate all measures that would reduce the level of inequality in society and that would dismantle institutional racism, but we stress that only by uprooting capitalism can we create a just, egalitarian society. However, even limited reforms quite quickly come up against the limits of this diseased and decaying system.
Again it should be stressed that these measures we are proposing would be far more effective in reducing gun violence than “gun control” which is likely to be very ineffective. But in the context of our wider aim of strengthening the struggle of working people, we support some gun control measures including mandating background checks on all gun sales, banning the sale of “military style” semi-automatic weapons, and reducing the number of rounds in ammunition magazines on the basis that they would act to reduce the level of violence even if only to a limited degree.
However, we have reservations about how background checks proposals are often written. Banning anyone with a conviction from buying a gun in practice means excluding a significant section of the black working class. At the very least, there should be an appeal process built into background checks.
Again we are in no way saying that many ordinary people do not have entirely legitimate reasons for owning or wanting to own weapons but we do not see the present situation as being in the interests of the working class. Not all issues have a simple yes or no answer. Our position embodies a certain contradiction but really it is reality which is full of impossible contradictions as long as we continue to operate within a capitalist framework.
https://web.archive.org/web/20171210101637/https://www.socialistalternative.org/2017/12/05/gun-control-solution-gun-violence-socialist-analysis/
submitted by FinnagainsAwake to WorkersVanguard2 [link] [comments]

Happy Father’s Day -- JAY SEKULOW: Trump is not under investigation -- Scalise update -- WHITE HOUSE week ahead -- KNOWING MARK CORALLO – SCHUMER’s first big test -- WEEKEND READS – RODAY/MARRE wedding pool report

Happy Father’s Day -- JAY SEKULOW: Trump is not under investigation -- Scalise update -- WHITE HOUSE week ahead -- KNOWING MARK CORALLO – SCHUMER’s first big test -- WEEKEND READS – RODAY/MARRE wedding pool report
by [email protected] (Daniel Lippman) via POLITICO - TOP Stories
URL: http://ift.tt/2soWHWP
Good Sunday morning. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! SPEAKER PAUL RYAN discusses what he’s learning as a father as his kids approach their teenage years. http://bit.ly/2rJIO3F
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- Speaker Paul Ryan spent the weekend at the Homestead in Virginia for his annual “Team Ryan” summer outing. His message to K Streeters and donors: the Republican agenda is on track. The Wisconsin Republican laid out his preferred timeline for Obamacare repeal bill, saying that it will be done by mid-summer and tax reform will be completed by the end of the year. Ryan said that he expected the Senate to pass their health care bill before the July 4 recess and that would give House Republicans the rest of July to take action. Ryan said he has been talking to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell daily. Ryan also was bullish on infrastructure, telling the group that a series of infrastructure bills will be passed by the end of the year. SPOTTED: Chris Russell, Bob Wood, Chris Giblin, David Tamasi, Richard Hunt, Ray Berman, Ed Kutler and Nicole Gustafson.
STATEMENTS FROM PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP FROM CAMP DAVID -- @realDonaldTrump at 6:38 a.m.: “The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt. Many new jobs, high business enthusiasm,..” … at 6:46 a.m.: “...massive regulation cuts, 36 new legislative bills signed, great new S.C.Justice, and Infrastructure, Healthcare and Tax Cuts in works!” …at 7:02 a.m.: “The new Rasmussen Poll, one of the most accurate in the 2016 Election, just out with a Trump 50% Approval Rating.That’s higher than O’s #’s!”
-- @kylegriffin1: “For reference (spot the outlier): Gallup 38 … Economist/YouGov 42 … Reuters/Ipsos 40 … PPP 41 … Quinnipiac 34 … Rasmussen 50”
TAKE NOTE: Trump had just one surrogate on the Sunday shows: a member of his legal team. Not one Cabinet secretary or adviser talking about policy or politics.
SUNDAY BEST, PART I -- JAY SEKULOW tells CHUCK TODD on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” that the president isn’t under investigation -- TODD: “The president tweeted earlier this week, ‘I am being investigated for firing the F.B.I. director by the man who told me to fire the F.B.I. director. Witch hunt.’ So let me start with this. When did the president become aware that he was officially under investigation by the special counsel?” SEKULOW: “The president is not under investigation by the special counsel. The tweet from the president was in response to the five anonymous sources that were purportedly leaking information to The Washington Post about a potential investigation of the president. But the president, as James Comey said in his testimony and as we know as of today, the president has not been and is not under investigation.”
-- MARCO RUBIO to JAKE TAPPER on CNN’s “STATE OF THE UNION” -- TAPPER: “Some of your Senate colleagues, as you know, are concerned that President Trump is preparing to fire Mueller or Mueller and Rosenstein. How would you react if he did?” RUBIO: “Well, first of all, that’s not going to happen. I don’t believe it’s going to happen. And here’s what I would say. The best thing that could happen for the president, and the country, is a full and credible investigation. I really, truly believe that. If we want to put all this behind us, let’s find out what happened, let’s put it out there, and let’s not undermine the credibility of the investigation. And so my view on it is that’s the best thing that could happen for the president and for the country, and I believe ultimately that’s what will happen, irrespective of all the other stuff that’s going on out there.”
-- SEKULOW GETS TESTY under sharp questioning from Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday": "I do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth, when I've been crystal clear that the president is not and has not been under investigation."
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK -- MONDAY: Trump has Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and his wife to the White House. He will participate in an American Technology Council roundtable at 5 p.m. WEDNESDAY: The president is going to Iowa. THURSDAY: The Congressional picnic.
THE BIG SUNDAY READ -- NYT, A1 -- “How Michael Flynn’s Disdain for Limits Led to a Legal Quagmire,” by Nick Confessore, Matt Rosenberg and Danny Hakim: “Mr. Flynn decided that the military’s loss would be his gain: He would parlay his contacts, his disdain for conventional bureaucracy, and his intelligence career battling Al Qaeda into a lucrative business advising cybersecurity firms and other government contractors. Over the next two years he would sign on as a consultant to nearly two dozen companies, while carving out a niche as a sought-after author and speaker -- and ultimately becoming a top adviser to President Trump.
“‘I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,’ Mr. Flynn said in an interview in October 2015. In the military, he added, ‘I learned that following the way you’re supposed to do things isn’t always the way to accomplish a task.’ But instead of lofting him into the upper ranks of Beltway bandits, where some other top soldiers have landed, his foray into consulting has become a legal and political quagmire, driven by the same disdain for boundaries that once propelled his rise in the military.” http://nyti.ms/2sDrCkx
SCALISE UPDATE -- “Hospital says Scalise showing ‘signs of improvement’ after additional surgery,” by Rebecca Morin: “[House] Majority Whip Steve Scalise is showing ‘signs of improvement’ and is ‘speaking with his loved ones’ following an additional surgery, according to an update provided by MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Saturday. The hospital also downgraded his condition from critical to serious.
“‘Congressman Steve Scalise is in serious condition. He underwent another surgery today, but continues to show signs of improvement,’ according to a statement from the hospital, courtesy of the Scalise family. ‘He is more responsive, and is speaking with his loved ones. The Scalise family greatly appreciates the outpouring of thoughts and prayers.’” http://politi.co/2tBoHG5
-- TEAM SCALISE’s video from Thursday’s Congressional baseball game http://bit.ly/2rsXeGe
FROM TYSON LOBBYIST MATT MIKA’S FAMILY: “We want to thank the team at George Washington University Hospital for their world-class care, and we continue to be grateful beyond words for the heroic actions of the U.S. Capitol Police this week. In addition, the positive thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement from across the nation have meant the world to Matt and to all of us.
“Matt has undergone additional surgery and his physicians have reported positive results. Matt will remain in the ICU through at least this weekend. He continues to communicate with us through notes, and even signed the game ball for the Congressional Baseball Game. Matt especially valued the professionalism of the officers of the Capitol Police, and would appreciate contributions to the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, one of the designated charities at Thursday night’s ballgame.
“While we know there will be difficult and challenging days ahead for Matt and our family, the physicians and specialists at Matt’s side expect a full recovery. This will be our final update pending Matt’s discharge from the hospital. We again ask for your understanding and respect of our family’s privacy.”
FOR YOUR RADAR -- “Navy stops search for 7 missing sailors after bodies found,” by AP’s Mari Yamaguchi in Yokosuka, Japan: “The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan was called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship’s flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, described the damage and flooding as extensive, including a big puncture under the waterline. The crew had to fight to keep the ship afloat, he said, and the ship’s captain is lucky to have survived.” http://apne.ws/2sGAXc0
BLAST FROM THE PAST -- KNOWING MARK CORALLO: “Meet the man managing Trump’s biggest crisis yet,” by Eliana Johnson, Josh Dawsey, and Josh Gerstein: “Veteran GOP operative Mark Corallo is known for accepting tough crisis-management cases, but even he wasn’t daredevil enough to accept the job an embattled President Trump considered him for last month: White House communications director. Instead, Corallo chose to stay outside the building, becoming the top spokesman for Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
“In his new role, he finds himself handling the White House’s defense against independent counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, which has expanded to include inquiry into whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation. Corallo had never met Trump or Kasowitz before taking the job but is now routinely in the West Wing several times a week, strategizing with a temperamental and media-obsessed president who sees himself as his own best spokesman.
“‘I think I will be more help to the president on the outside than I would have been on the inside,’ Corallo told POLITICO.” With cameos from Karl Rove, David Ayres and Ed McFaddenhttp://politi.co/2seOZjF
-- FLASHBACK: Corallo speaking to Isaac Dovere in May about Trump staff: “They’re hostages.” http://politi.co/2rKcOMS
SCHUMER’S FIRST BIG TEST -- “Democrats to step up attacks on GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort,” by Burgess Everett: “Democratic senators are planning to hold the Senate floor until at least midnight on Monday to thrash Senate Republicans for refusing to hold committee hearings on their health-care overhaul, according to several people familiar with the plan. The round of speeches is being organized by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington state and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
“But on the more weighty question of whether to object to the GOP’s committee hearings or refusing to allow routine business in the Senate regarding nomination votes or uncontroversial matters, the party has made no final decision. While the party's liberal wing is demanding that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and his team shut the Senate down, Schumer has made no decision and often tries to forge consensus in his caucus before executing party strategy.
“Though several sources on the party’s left believe Schumer may be open to the idea, Democratic leaders have been resistant to procedural obstruction thus far. They believe blocking unrelated matters could shift the spotlight from Republicans' secretive process to Democratic obstruction. And it could set expectations high among the party's base that Democrats can stop the repeal, when in reality if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has the votes the party will be powerless to stop him.” http://politi.co/2seOyWF
-- IT’S WORTH NOTING: Since assuming the top Senate leadership job after the 2016 election, Schumer has made it his leadership style to govern by consensus. Depending on how the Obamacare repeal effort plays out, this could be test for how he’ll appease his frustrated left flank while not overplaying his hand.
THE JUICE …
-- Community Catalyst Action Fund is launching a seven-figure TV and radio ad buy targeting Republican senators in Alaska, Maine, Nevada and West Virginia on Obamacare repeal. The TV ads, produced by GMMB, will run for the next two weeks and feature a mother whose son has chronic asthma and requires frequent trips to the doctor. The radio ad, also produced by GMMB, and digital ad component are part of the “Keep Care at Home” campaign, which is focused on Medicaid cuts, and will also include events in each state. The TV adshttp://bit.ly/2tglz3j … The radio adhttp://bit.ly/2seKt4W
THE LATEST IN GEORGIA -- TOO CLOSE TO CALL: “Georgia special election hurtles toward nail-biting finish,” by Steven Shepard: “As the most expensive House race in history rushes toward the finish line Tuesday, the latest public polls are unanimous: The Georgia special election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is too close to call. The race for the suburban Atlanta seat, closely watched for clues about the shape of the 2018 midterm elections, appears to be within a few percentage points — with perhaps the slightest edge to Ossoff, the 30-year-old Democrat seeking to wrest away a traditionally Republican seat in the first major election of Donald Trump’s presidency. … The current state of play: Of the six public polls conducted in June, Ossoff leads in five of them — and hits the 50-percent mark in each of the five — with the fifth showing a tie.” http://politi.co/2rt57uY
-- NYT's ALEX BURNS and JONATHAN MARTIN: "High-Stakes Referendum on Trump Takes Shape in a Georgia Special Election"http://nyti.ms/2rEqr50
SUNDAY BEST, PART II -- JOHN DICKERSON speaks to SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FLA.) on CBS’S FACE THE NATION -- DICKERSON: “The president has called the investigations a witch hunt. What’s your opinion of that?” RUBIO: “Well, I know he feels very strongly about it. My advice to the president is what I communicated publicly. The way I’ve tried to communicate to everyone on this issue. And that is this. It is in the best interest of the president and the country to have a full investigation. If I were the president, I would be welcoming this investigation. I would ask that it be thorough and completed expeditiously and be very cooperative with it. That’s what ultimately I anticipate they will do. That’s in the best interest of the president. I really believe that. I think it’s in the best interest of our country that we have a full-scale investigation that looks at everything so that we can move forward.”
DICKERSON: “So regardless of what you may think about James Comey’s firing as FBI director, you think it should be investigated?” RUBIO: “Well, I just think it’s important to answer questions. Because otherwise, if people have any doubts, it undermines confidence in our system of government, in our elections, in our leaders. As I said, the best thing that can happen for the president and for America is that we have a full-scale investigation that is credible, that it reaches its conclusion one way or the other so that we can move on. But at the same time be knowledgeable. We have to know everything the Russians did and how they did it so that we can prevent this from happening in the future.”
RUBIO talks with CHUCK TODD on NBC’s “MEET THE PRESS” -- TODD: “The more the administration tries to soften the sanctions in the House, at any point, do you understand, if some people see that as circumstantial evidence in this probe?” RUBIO: “I could understand how some people would make that argument. I could also tell you though that I personally believe that at the core of the resistance is not the president. And I don’t think the president himself has a problem with additional sanctions on Russia. I think the concern actually comes from the State Department and for the following reason: they argue that they are trying to get the Russians to be more cooperative on a number of fronts and that this could set us back. It's a legitimate argument, I’ve thought about it, I don't agree with it. And you saw the majority of my colleagues didn’t agree with it this week.”
POWER PLAYBOOKER – DAVID PETRAEUS to PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff on why Americans should support staying engaged in Afghanistan: “This is a generational struggle. This is not something that is going to be won in a few years. We’re not going to take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade. We need to be there for the long haul but in a way that’s sustainable. You know we’ve been in Korea for 65-plus years because there’s an important national interest for that. We were in Europe for a very long period of time, still there of course, and actually with a renewed emphasis given Russia’s aggressive actions.” Videohttp://bit.ly/2rF21IN
THE BIG QUESTION AHEAD OF TRUMP’S TECH SUMMIT -- “CEOs Have Access to Trump, but Do They Have Clout?,” by WSJ’s Vanessa Fuhrmans and Peter Nicholas: “When tech industry executives gather at the White House Monday, brainstorming ways to modernize government will be on the agenda. But on display will be President Donald Trump’s evolving relationship with America’s corporate chieftains. Some 300 business leaders have met with Mr. Trump since he took office promising the nation’s top executives a direct line to the Oval Office and a chance to shape economic policy.
“The discussions have helped the president project an image of CEO-in-chief as he awaits a major legislative victory and have given CEOs a voice in initiatives like the administration’s push to expand apprenticeship programs. But corporate leaders are learning about the limits of their clout. Hopes for an overhaul of the corporate-tax code this year are fading, some executives and corporate lobbyists say, as the White House and lawmakers struggle to reach consensus on a plan that could get through Congress. Mr. Trump’s move to quit the Paris climate accord has been a stinging lesson for some that White House face time doesn’t always translate into influence.” http://on.wsj.com/2rEUp8V
WHAT K STREET IS READING -- “Republicans debating remedies for corporate tax avoidance,” by Reuters’ David Morgan: “President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress will soon confront a complex challenge for tax reform: how to limit U.S. corporate tax avoidance schemes that take advantage of low tax rates in foreign countries. Congressional and administration staff have begun to examine options to address profit-shifting schemes that include so-called transfer pricing, earnings stripping and tax inversions. A decision on how to handle these in tax legislation could come before Congress leaves town for its one-week July 4 recess on June 29, officials and lobbyists said.” http://reut.rs/2seHWaU
WAPO’S ABBY PHILLIP -- “Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke rescinds acceptance of Homeland Security post”: “‘Late Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. formally notified Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly that he had rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS as an assistant secretary,’ said Craig Peterson, an adviser to Clarke. ‘Sheriff Clarke is 100 percent committed to the success of President Trump and believes his skills could be better utilized to promote the president’s agenda in a more aggressive role.’” http://wapo.st/2sDJaNA
MORE ON MEGYN KELLY -- “Unedited Putin Interview Reveals A Missed Opportunity For Megyn Kelly and America,” by Yashar Ali in HuffPost: “As Megyn Kelly and NBC News face a firestorm over her interview with InfoWars’ Alex Jones, unedited footage from her recent interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin shows a nervous Kelly who asked the authoritarian leader softball questions and failed to hold him accountable on key topics. Most troubling, Kelly devoted precious time in her short interview to a question that led one former CIA Russia analyst to say that it sounded as if Putin had written the question himself.
“In the full, unedited discussion, obtained by HuffPost, Kelly repeatedly fails to interrupt the Russian president while he rambles in his responses. She also asks Putin questions he can easily dispute. The last question Kelly asked Putin, which was not aired, was startling in its pandering. ‘We have been here in St. Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?’” http://bit.ly/2rsxPwo
MEDIAWATCH -- “The Danger of Ignoring Alex Jones,” by Charles J. Skyes in the NYT: “When Mr. Jones was merely a marginal figure on the paranoid right, the case could plausibly be made that he was better left in obscurity. But now that, at least according to Mr. Jones, the president of the United States has praised him and thanked him for the role he played in his election victory, it’s too late to make that argument. We can’t keep ignoring the fringe. We have to expose it.” http://nyti.ms/2rsZ61q … Charlie Sykes is an MSNBC contributor
TV TONIGHT -- MSNBC will air a special edition of “The Point with Ari Melber” at 5 p.m. for the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break in. The show features Tom Brokaw, Dick Cavett, former Watergate special prosecutors and never-before-seen documents from the Justice Department’s Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
--“Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now),” by Peter Suderman in Reason in the July 2017: “A military shooter might offer a simulation of being a crack special forces soldier. A racing game might simulate learning to handle a performance sports car. It’s a simulation of being an expert. It’s a way to fulfil a fantasy. That fantasy is one of work, purpose, and social and professional success.” http://bit.ly/2twpXdC
--“Can Democrats Fix the Party?” by Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson: “Trump’s victory exposed the party establishment as utterly broken – now Dems hope to rebuild in time for a 2018 comeback.” http://rol.st/2rAh2eF
--“What Makes a Glass House the Ideal Home for a Communist Gynecologist,” by Cody Delistraty in JStor: “The windows in the waiting area are high, allowing light to enter, but also arranged so that infertile women waiting for the doctor weren’t forced to see the Dalsace children playing in the backyard.” http://bit.ly/2syDZhU
--“The Ideal Iceland May Only Exist in Your Mind,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner in Afar magazine: “But you can, and should, still go in search of it.” http://bit.ly/2tBnmzi
--“Vatican tailors, cobblers try to adapt to Francis’s ‘papal athleisure,’” by Claire Giangravè in Cruxnow: “Pope Francis’s emphasis on simplicity and frugality is a hit all around the world, but it’s produced just a bit of backlash among fashion-conscious Italians, including an exclusive club of tailors and shoemakers who outfit pontiffs -- some of whom are a little nostalgic for the days when being pope also meant dressing to the nines.” http://bit.ly/2sBCccz
--“The Fake Hermit,” by Natalia Portinari in piaui: “Thomas [Pynchon] was very thin and very handsome, like a Romeo kind of guy. He was like an Italian lover, very, very sexy. He wasn’t interested in money. He had a very dry sense of humor, so that’s why we got along so well. He never hurt my feelings. He tried to be a hippie, but it wasn’t easy for him. He was a hard worker.” http://bit.ly/2roGnnU
--“What Duck Sex Reveals about Human Nature,” by Johann Grolle in Der Spiegel: “Copulation in most birds is achieved by a cloacal kiss, just an apposition of orifices. This is the essential reason why birds are so beautiful. Since they have the freedom of choice, females exhibit aesthetic preferences. And, as a result of these preferences, males developed amazingly elaborate ornaments.” http://bit.ly/2sC9W9A
--“How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico,” by ProPublica’s Ginger Thompson, co-published in NatGeo: “There’s no missing the signs that something unspeakable happened. Entire blocks lie in ruins. In March 2011 gunmen from the Zetas cartel swept through like a flash flood, demolishing homes and businesses and kidnapping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds, of men, women and children. The destruction and disappearances went on in fits and starts for weeks.” http://bit.ly/2sHUo43
--“If Israel were smart,” by Sara Roy on Gaza in the London Review of Books: “[A]lmost half the labour force [do not] any means to earn a living. Unemployment – especially youth unemployment – is the defining feature of life. It now hovers around 42 per cent (it has been higher), but for young people (between the ages of 15 and 29) it stands at 60 per cent. Everyone is consumed by the need to find a job or some way of earning money. ‘Salaries control people’s minds,’ one resident said.” http://bit.ly/2roQAR5
--“Philip Roth’s Newark,” by Steven Malanga in City Journal: “The city at its peak and in its decline are the novelist’s two greatest characters.” http://bit.ly/2sa9tu0 (h/t ALDaily.com)
--“‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene,” by Alex Blasdel in The Guardian: “Timothy Morton wants humanity to give up some of its core beliefs, from the fantasy that we can control the planet to the notion that we are ‘above’ other beings. His ideas might sound weird, but they’re catching on.” http://bit.ly/2rF51QB (h/t Longform.org)
--“What It Would Really Take To Sink A Modern Aircraft Carrier,” by Robert Farley in Jalopnik: “Even a supersonic cruise missile can take twenty minutes to reach its target area at maximum range, and a carrier maneuvering at high speed can move ten miles in the same period of time. A massive aircraft carrier can move surprisingly fast for something weighing over 100,000 tons, with a top speed of more than 30 knots, or about 35 miles an hour, which is what you get when you go for nuclear power.” http://bit.ly/2roV3Dy
--“After Oranges,” by Wyatt Williams in Oxford American, discussing “Oranges,” by John McPhee: “Fifty years later, Oranges reads as an agile survey of world history, a vivid period piece of changing American foodways, and an early classic by a master just beginning to find his form ... Today, no one is quite sure if Florida’s oranges will survive” http://bit.ly/2tbvwPw (h/t TheBrowser.com)
WEEKEND WEDDINGS – Zack Roday, press secretary for Team Ryan, and Alleigh Marre, who does press for HHS, got married on Saturday with the ceremony and reception at Rust Manor House in Leesburg, Virginia. The bride came down the aisle to “At Last,” and the wedding was officiated by Zack’s childhood friend and Best Man Ben Horwitz. The couple met on Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin. Picshttp://bit.ly/2sHijAK ... http://bit.ly/2rEL5Cb ... http://bit.ly/2sE16r1
--SPOTTED: Gov. Scott and Tonette Walker, Matt Gorman and Annie Clark, Jesse Hunt and Kim Kaiser, Ian and Elsie Prior, Chris and Andrea Grant, Jake Kastan, Kevin Seifert, Betsy Ankney, Eli Miller, Jason Heath, Alexandra Clark and Scott Dillie, Bryant Avondoglio and Ellie Krust.
--“Cathryn Clüver, Tom Ashbrook”– N.Y. Times: “The bride, 41, is the founding executive director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She graduated from Brown and received a master’s in European studies from the London School of Economics and a master’s in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. ... The groom, 61, is the host of the NPR talk show ‘On Point,’ a daily program produced at WBUR in Boston. He graduated from Yale. He is the author of ‘The Leap,’ which chronicles his time as an internet entrepreneur, after a career as a journalist.” With pichttp://nyti.ms/2soxxYq
– “Stephanie Sy, David Ariosto”: “Ms. Sy, 40, is a New York-based special on-air news correspondent for PBS and the host of Carnegie Council’s ‘Ethics Matter’ interview series, a public affairs program that is shown periodically on PBS. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. ... On June 26, Mr. Ariosto, 36, will begin working as a supervising producer of ‘All Things Considered,’ the NPR news program. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and received a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University. ... The couple met in June 2015, at Al Jazeera America, where the bride was a news anchor and the groom an on-air reporter.” With pichttp://nyti.ms/2sMcBgR
--“Sara Randazzo, Christopher Kirkham”: “The bride, 31, is a legal reporter at The Wall Street Journal in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles. ... The groom, 33, is also a reporter at The Journal in Los Angeles, covering the casino and hotel industries. He graduated from Northwestern, where he also received his master’s degree in journalism. ... The couple were introduced through mutual friends in New York in November 2011.” With pichttp://nyti.ms/2seYvDG
SPOTTED at the going-away party last night (with a live band) in DC for Paul Wood and Ruth Sherlock, who is leaving in two weeks to become NPR’s new Beirut correspondent (she was previously U.S. editor at The Telegraph): Susannah Cunningham, Merrit Kennedy, Susannah Wellford, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Emily Lenzner, Suzanne Kianpour, John Hudson, Nihal Krishan, Vivek Jain, Matt Rosenberg, Karoun Demirjian, Diaa Hadid, Athena Jones, Karen Attiah.
BIRTHDAYS: Dina Powell ... WaPo’s Fred Barbash … Charlie Herman … Joanne Lipman, chief content officer at Gannett and editor in chief of USA Today … Niall Stanage, WH columnist at The Hill, is 43 ... David Wood (Mr. Beth Frerking), Pulitzer winner ... Kate Knudson ... Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) is 66 ... Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) is 68 ... Nick Johnston, editor at Axios, is 4-0 (h/t Bill McQuillen) … Megan Mitchell ... Bipartisan Senate alumni birthday: former Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa.) is 8-0 and former Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) is 67 ... David Drucker, senior political correspondent at Washington Examiner, is 46 ... Romney alum John Whitman, now press secretary for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ... HFA alum John McCarthy, COS for Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.), (h/ts Fran Holuba, Anastasia Dellaccio and Ben Chang) ... Millie Harmon Meyers, public affairs at the U.S. Mission to the UN (h/t Ben) ... Geri M. Joseph is 94 ... Kenneth Lipper is 76 ... Blair Effron is 55 (h/ts Jewish Insider) ... DOT alum Ajashu Thomas ... Clare Bresnahan, executive director of She Should Run (h/t Jill Bader) ... Politico Europe’s Blanca Renedo is 29 ... Kevin Landrigan, legendary New Hampshire political correspondent ... HFA and GSG alum Chris Allen ... Bob Scutari ...
... Will Kinzel, managing director of gov’t affairs at Delta ... Jennifer Carignan ... Politico’s Claire Okrongly and Shannon Rafferty ... LifeZette’s Jim Stinson (h/t Jon Conradi) ... BuzzFeed’s Mary Ann Georgantopoulos ... Bert Gomez, Univision’s SVP of federal and state gov’t relations... Tom Readmond ... Michael Van Der Galien ... former Hardballer Jeremy Bronson, now creator of “The Mayor,” airing this fall on ABC ... former CNNer Meryl Conant Governski, now an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP ... Zach Wilkes … Jason Kello ... Daniel Epstein is 33 ... Levi Drake ... Max Stahl is 3-0 ... Lisa Barron ... AJ Goodman ... Ron Rosenblith ... Dick Mark ... Debbie Shore (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) ... country singer Blake Shelton is 41 (h/t Kurt Bardella) ... Sir Paul McCartney is 75 ... Dizzy Reed (Guns N’ Roses) is 54 (h/ts AP)
submitted by feedreddit to arableaks [link] [comments]

Some thoughts on THUNDERBALL (1965)

Some random thoughts about the 1965 film...
I don't know if it was intentional or not, but here we get another evil doppelganger for 007. In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, there was Donovan Grant, who really was the brutal coldblooded assassin Bond is inaccurately described as being. And in THUNDERBALL, we have Fiona Volpe, agent of SPECTRE who is again a ruthless killer but who also uses her sex appeal as a tool as Bond himself does. In their clash, she gets the upper hand and taunts him how it feels to have failed aginst a mere woman, and our James takes it equably. "Well, you cant win them all." The cat and mouse games between Bond and Fiona, and between her and Largo are fun. They all know perfectly well whats going on, but they go through polite chat with little barbs just under the surface. This is one of the routines in Bond films that is usually entertaining, like a little game of teasing before open hostilities break out and its just warfare.
The conference room where the 00 agents are assembled to learn about SPECTRE'S new scheme has a lot of interesting points. First, does it NEED to be so huge? My God, you could hold a formal ball in there, and the crystal chandelier and immense paintings on the wall add to the feeling that the conference is being held in the wrong room by accident. Why would MI7 even have such a room? It seems to wandered into the build from Buckingham Palace somehow. And Bond arrives (late of course) and takes his place in the seventh of nine highbacked chairs. We only get tiny glimpses of the other 00 agents. The one to Bond's left has a short beard and goatee. I've read in various accounts that one of the 00 agents was a woman, but watching the DVD just now, I don't see any sign of this and I'm curious. Possibly in one of the hundreds of books about the series there has been an identification of the actress on the set. It's a teeny bit of esoteric trivia, but then that's my hobby.
THUNDERBALL
SPECTRE is badly missed by the Bond films. There has been a drought of sinister organizations ever since their disappearance. We have had decades of one lone criminal mastermind after another, and it's just not the same. The recent QUANTUM OF SOLACE did a good job with reintroducing the idea of a vast secret conspiracy that our boy has to tackle and I was glad to see that. But just the name SPECTRE has a little ominous kick to it, and it was Fleming's idea after all. In this film, the hushed meeting room filled with top criminals answering to that concealed figure with the white cat and speaking with the Voice of Doom itself, the quick execution of the embezzling crook... it's just perfect.
I notice Bond is more vulnerable here than he would become. He gets shot in the leg while trying to escape as the Jamaican equivalent of Mardi Gras and has to limp around painfully the rest of the chase. This is reminiscent of Fleming's character being a mortal man rather than the infallible superman he eventually became in the films. Even the fight scenes have a nostalgic quality. The opening fight with Colonel Bouvier and the final brawl on the DISCO VOLANTE where Bond takes on Largo and three henchmen at the same time hsas a hectic, unplanned quality to them. They seem like real struggles between desperate men rather than the elaborate choreography seen in recent films. Maybe it's just me but hand to hand duels in movies have just become completely unbelievable anymore. The stunts involve such split~second precision and control that the fighters seem to have super-powers. Also the amount of punishment that characters simply shrug off has gone way past the point of credibility these days. The fight with Red Grant on the Orient Express in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE still is gripping and tense, but it doesn't go on for fifteen minutes and end with them hanging on the roof of the train while hitting each other with sledgehammers. I imagine the trend toward longer and longer fights with crazier stunts began with 1970s kung fu movies. I dunno, these seemed more acceptable because of the martial arts involved, which back then had a mysterious almost magical aspect to them.
One aspect of Ian Fleming's formula works well in the first Connery flicks. To succeeed, Bond has to get a woman on his side; she is either in the employ of the mastermind or an outright mistress, and is putting herself in mortal danger by switching sides. But Bond wins her over because he is young, virile and positive while her master is older, unattractive and downright cruel. It's a plot found in romance novels and when its used in thrillers, it usually results in the new pair of lovers conspiring the murder the older husband.
This works so well up to THUNDERBALL because Sean Connery WAS very attractive in his straightforward masculine way, confident and sure of himself. He also had enough money on hand to fit into any situation, including ritzy hotels and casinos, and his clothes and cars added to the impression he was well off. With all this goig for him, when he seduced women left and right, it was entirely believable but as the years went on, the formula was just taken for granted. By the time of Roger Moore, who aged poorly and actually looked haggard by his final film, beautiful young women tumbled for him because the script said so, not because of his charisma. It had no impact, no importance.
It is not mentioned enough, but in three of the Connery films, the woman involved saves the day. In DR NO and THUNDERBALL, she kills the enemy just before Bond would be killed; in GOLDFINGER, she alerts the authorities who stop the Fort Knox robbery and who turn off the nuclear warhead a few seconds before Bond would be vaporized by its explosion. For such an icon of smooth competence and invincibility, it's ironic that in fact James Bond was so often rescued from death by his women. And it's gives the endingsa nice surprise missing from later films.
THUNDERBALL in fact has one of the best oneliners in the entire series because of this. Bond is helpless on his back as Largo takes aim with a pistol and just as he is going to fire, Domino lets her former employelover have it in the back with a speargun. "I'm glad I killed him," she says and Bond replies "YOU'RE glad?"
The theme song is terrific. It's bombastic and melodramatic but Tom Jones sells it perfectly. Like GOLDFINGER with Shirley Basse, he's not embarrassed to belt it out full force. I guess today we are too self-conscious to do a theme like this without having to be ironic and diffident.
Drawbacks. Well, yes. I'm sorry but most of the underwater scenes drag. It's unavoidable, because even with flippers and motorized sleds, people move more slowly underwater. The lack of dialogue and obscured facial expressions don't help. But there it is, this is part of the story and cant be just discarded. I could do without the big climactic underwater duel between SPECTRE goons and American aquatroops. This convention of the Bond films, that there has to be a sprawling brawl between good guy and bad guy armies, is something I can take or leave. I think THUNDERBALL would play better without it. Watching it again, the battle has some clever gags and a few bits of startling violence... at one point, Bond wrests a speargun from an enemy frogman and jabs the points through the visor of the man's goggles to kill him.
submitted by dr_hermes to JamesBond [link] [comments]

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10 Secret Service Tactics that are Insane - YouTube

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