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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

(30th post) I am ending this blog, but -

Hello everyone.

It's been a long time I have posted anything on this blog.
Right now, I am in South Korea. Again. Spending my summer with my family.

While I am in South Korea, I had some degree of depression. Or something happened and it depressed me to a point I deleted a Facebook app on my phone.

I don't have more motivation to write another post to this blog.

That being said.

I might return.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rhodes Island Became a 5th State to Call for Article V Convention to Get Money Out of Politics

Hello friends.

Sorry for the late update and I just want to let you all know that I will be out of country for the rest of the summer. I might update this blog more frequently in South Korea but after that there might be another long period of hiatus due to my academic priority.

First and foremost, I have a good news to share with you all. Rhodes Island became a 5th state to call for Article V convention to demand new amendment to the constitution.

To make this blog post brief, I would like to congratulate all RI's Wolf-PAC team to bring this resolution in the state. Most interesting enough though, it is maybe the first time the state senate unanimously - both Republicans and Democrats -  voted yes for the resolution bill and applaud to their own constituents. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Where have I been?

Hello everyone. It's me again.

I haven't blog anything for months because I have been hectic with college stuffs. That's it. That's the shortest summary I could make.

I am not sure when this hiatus would last, but I thought I should better update something before people forget that I existed.

If anyone care, I will make more updates on this blog further later.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What Am I Doing So Far? (True/False Film Festival 2016)

Sorry for not updating this blog for a long time.

I have been SUPER busy lately with school stuffs. Again, I have been saying this for time and time again.

However, I have seen some good documentaries that screened at True/False Film Festival.

For those of you who don't know what's True/False Film Festival is, it is an annual documentary film festival that take place in Columbia, Missouri. When you live in Columbia, Missouri, it's pretty much a tradition to go there and participate in parade, watch movies or live music performances.

I have seen two movies this Saturday. And on Sunday I am going to watch Life, Animated, about a man and his obsession with Disney, and Weiner, a documentary about former congressman Anthony Weiner.

Let's start with the first movie I have seen today:

Behemoth is a documentary from China, done in Koyaanisqatsi-style, mostly visual and minimal use of sound approach. It is about a Mongolian mining communities and how its destruction effect on workers and local people living around the place. Most of the narrations, done by Zhao Liang the director himself and co-written by a French Sylvie Blum, were loosely inspired from Dante Alighieri's epic poem Divine Comedy. The director's poetic narration and destructive landscape juxtapose together very well, to present his environmentalist message he wants to deliver to his audiences.

From my impression, the first half of this movie bored me. I couldn't focus on the screen to the point I fell a sleep. Maybe because all of my energies were drained out to process digestion in my stomach. But in the second half, in other hand, I began to notice the message the director tries to tell and I find it effective very well. The first half of the movie shows the destruction the mining industry made and its unsafe working conditions and the later half shows how it caused so much injustices to its steel workers, who later get pneumoconiois, and their families.

The end is perfect. What I mean by perfect, it was a perfect way to end the movie. I can't tell too much about it (if you are familiar with the outline of Divine Comedy, you would probably get something what you have been expecting), but it really hit the nail on the head.

If you don't like big-visual, little-words documentary like Koyaanisqatis, this might not suit for your taste. But if you like environmentalist themed movies, go check it out.

Secret Screening Navy
I also went to see Secret Screening Navy - SO SECRET, that the festival would cancel the Secret Screening lineup if someone leaked more details about the film out to the public. Why so secret? Because the movie they are showing happens to be its premiere (often times, a work in progress/rough cut of the movie) and the filmmaker doesn't want the world to know about it.

In order to respect the festival's policy, I will not give out more details about the film, so I could only sums up the movie in a list of five words:
- brutality
- sex
- violence
- disorder
- training

That's the most vaguest description I could make. But I will give you all a hint that this movie will also premiere at Tribeca Film Festival (one of the largest film festival in New York) so you can catch up the screening of this film. (Note: I look the movie up on online and the search engine led me to an article about TFF lineups).

On Sunday, I have seen two films. Both of them were great ones and award-winners at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Before I bought the ticket to the screening, I didn't know it was a top prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival. I went to see it just because it's about former congressman Anthony Weiner - the man who ended his political career by posting a picture of his erected genital inside his pants on twitter.

In this film, it focused more on Weiner's run for mayor of New York City in 2013. Done mostly in cinema verite style of filmmaking, we see Anthony Weiner desperately trying to make a comeback despite a media sensation around his previous sex scandal. His brash personality, progressive world view and strong charisma made him a leading candidate of the race. However, the news about his sexting habit broke out and the media turned his campaign into a 24/7 entertainment. (And as you may know by now, this was his last nail to the coffin of his political comeback).

The director of Weiner, Josh Kriegman, who was a chief of staff during Anthony Weiner's time as a congressman, give us a different perspective into a current world of politics through following the subject around wherever he goes. The result it funny, insightful, and sympathetic look into the man's ambition and a complication he made that wrecked his chance for victory. If you like movies that give you an honest look into the subject without making it boring, this might be your film.

Life, Animated
I have heard so much about this movie. It was a big hit at Sundance and the director of this movie, Roger Ross Williams, was known for making a controversial documentary from few years ago called God Loves Uganda, about American Evangelicals' anti-gay campaign in Africa. The subject he is tackling is not as controversial as his previous films, but it is worth to have a discussion on. At the same time, it is also a heartwarming coming-of-age story about an autistic man who's obsessed with classic Disney movies and his transition to an adulthood.

The movie follows Owen Suskind, a son of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind. At the age of three, he stopped speaking. His parents couldn't communicate with him and this is where the family's struggle began. However, Owen's parents discover his epiphany toward Disney movies and we get to see Owen's imagination of him being "the protector" of Disney animated sidekick characters.

This is such a great movie. Maybe one of the best movies I have seen this year. I mean the best, like, top 10 list best. After the screening, the director announced that the movie will be released in sometime in July so if it is playing nearby, please go see it. It does a better job explaining how autism works and what autistic people need than other dubious sources that wrecked many autistic people's lives.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The 40th Anniversary of Buckley v. Valeo

Today is a 40th anniversary of Buckley v. Valeo. This is the day when Supreme Court declared political donations as free speech. Even though the court upheld limits on direct contributions to prevent further corruptions, they ruled that spending money to influence elections is protected speech under the First Amendment.

When you think about it, there is this snowball effects going on with this “money-in-politics” corruption. Arguably, Buckley v. Valeo was a first phase of the effect, while the nomination of Lewis F. Powell as a Supreme Court Justice and his Powell memo was the phase zero. (Although someone I met mentioned that it began way back centuries ago).

What really scares me is how corporations made this sneaky coup plan on the government long time ago and succeeded it. Lewis F. Powell, back when he was a corporate lawyer for tobacco companies, made a deal with big companies to erode American democracy and make right-wing group more aggressive when it comes to promoting their ideas. Keep in mind, Powell was a Democrat, which means this corporate coup is party-less from the beginning.

If you want to read the memo, click here.

Glad I am back at blogging again. Hope to write another blog post.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I'm Back!!!

Greetings Earthlings. 

Sorry for not updating this blog for a long ass time. The new semester started few months ago and I have been intense for a long time.

No, actually, I had no enough time to write anything on my blog for months. The last time I updated my blog was last month when I tried to write a post about meeting with Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander, who is also the Secretary of State of Missouri.

I think I could only post once a month rather than every week to adjust my school schedule and my habit of being lazy.

Then again, I won't update this frequently and I am still following money in politics news. Maybe someday, I could interview someone famous who happens to be a Facebook friend of mine.

I apologize about this delay and I will see you next time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

50 Years After the Voting Rights Act, Voting Restrictions Still Remains

Yes. I know. It is too late to post a blog about the 50th anniversary of the Voting Right Act. But I am gonna do it anyway.

Before I go into this, I will announce that I will be returning to U.S. next week. Just to prepare for the sophomore year this month there won't be second blog.

Anyway, it's been a half of century since LBJ passed the Voting Rights Act, which prevent discrimination in voting and bring equality to the ballot box for all Americans, regardless of the color of one's skin. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Section 4 of the law, the formula laying out which jurisdictions had to seek federal approval for election law changes, which makes the Section 5 of the law - giving minorities to vote - inoperable.

Brennan Center for Justice explains the further consequences of the repeal of this part of the law:
A 5-4 majority looked at improvements in black voter registration rates and the eradication of restrictions like the poll tax to find that the "conditions that originally justified [Section 5] no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions."
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg decried that the majority was holding the Act's own success against it. "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes," she responded, "is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
At its heart, the disagreement boils down to whether, as a nation, we still need federal protections against the possibility of racial discrimination in voting. Although we have come a long way since the 1960s, the past few years have shown that major racial divisions still exist. They may even have gotten worse since 2013, as large majorities of white and black Americans now view race relations as "generally bad," according to a recent poll.
The recent rash of discriminatory voting laws, unleashed by the Shelby County decision, does not help. States have used the court's implicit approval as justification to pass strict measures. These may not be as obviously discriminatory as literacy tests, but they similarly prevent people from voting.
For example, mere hours after the high court ruling, Texas implemented a strict photo ID law, which had previously been rejected under Section 5. That summer, the North Carolina legislature passed a sweeping law that also instituted a stringent photo ID requirement, eliminated same-day registration, and cut back on early voting.
All of these laws respond to phantom complaints of voter fraud, and all disproportionately hurt the ability of minorities to vote. In October 2014, a federal judge found 600,000 registered Texas voters do not have acceptable ID. Testimony showed African-American and Hispanic registered voters are two to four times more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID. In North Carolina, data showed African Americans used early voting and same-day registration at much higher rates than whites.
This seems like one of those "racism is over" rationale. Part of this excuse to get rid of racial equality of this country.

Ari Berman, a journalist who have been covering voting rights throughout his career, the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby county decision made the Voting Rights Act more vulnerable. In his op-ed for New York Times, the voter IDs laws after the decision made the voting more restrictive and thousands of voters turned away from it. A 2014 study by the Government Accountability Office found that voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee reduced turnout by 2 to 3 percent during the 2012 election, enough to swing a close vote, with the highest drop-off among young, black and newly registered voters.

That's one of the reasons why there was a low turnout during the 2014 mid-term - voting restriction laws prevented minority voters and younger voters, these same progressive-minded people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 election. The Republican Party - the party that supports the voter ID laws - wants to make the electorate older, whiter and more conservative as opposed to how the electorate was in 2008.

On the bright side, there has been some efforts to bring back the voting rights to all the people. Couple of months ago, Oregon passed the law that to automatically sign up eligible citizens in the motor vehicle database. Also, several states have advanced bipartisan reforms to modernize voter registration in recent years, and have expanded early voting opportunities and moved registration online.

Right now, the Congress has introduced two separate bills — the Voting Rights Amendment Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act — that would restore the lost protections of Section 5, making it operative once again, and modernize the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century. On this historic anniversary for our country, Congress should move swiftly to restore the lost promise of the Voting Rights Act. 

The Voting Rights Act exist not for the racial equality, but for advancing the core of democracy. 

This needs to be a major concern for everyone - no matter how they viewed the 2013 decision. This could be a major concern for 2016 election, especially for Ari Breman:
I think in many ways we've come to take the VRA and what it did for granted, but the fact that states can pass new voting restrictions, those states with the worst histories of voting discrimination, no longer have to clear their election changes with the federal government means that: No. 1, those states can pass new restrictions very close to the election that are very hard to challenge, and ... No. 2, that other states are going to feel emboldened to try to pass these efforts.