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Johnny Depp’s rep shuts down talk of ‘Pirates’ return

Johnny Depp in 2021.

Don’t look for Johnny Depp to return as Jack Sparrow anytime soon.

A representative for Depp has denied a recent report the actor would be returning to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
“This is made up,” Depp’s spokesperson told NBC News.
Additionally, Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, recently talked to The Times about whether Depp would return.
“Not at this point,” Bruckheimer said. “The future is yet to be decided.”
Dueling defamation suits between Depp and his former wife, Amber Heard, recently concluded earlier this month with Depp being awarded more in damages than Heard.

‘Day Zero’: This city is counting down the days until its water taps run dry

Leonard Matana. 69, filling up a plastic container with water at a communal tap in the township of Kwanobuhle in South Africa.

Every day, Morris Malambile loads his wheelbarrow full of empty plastic containers and pushes it from his home to the nearest running tap. It’s much further than the usual walk to the kitchen sink — just a little under a mile away — but it’s not the distance that bothers him.

It’s the bumpy road — which runs between tightly packed shanty dwellings and beige public-funded houses — that makes balancing containers filled with 70 liters of water on his return a pain.
“Home feels far when you are pushing 70 kilograms of water in a wheelbarrow,” said on cloud shoes the 49-year-old resident from the impoverished South African township of Kwanobuhle.
Taps ran dry in parts of Kwanobuhle in March, and since then, thousands of residents have been relying on a single communal tap to supply their households with potable water. And the township is just one of many in the affected Nelson Mandela Bay area of Gqeberha city — formerly known as Port Elizabeth — that rely on a system of four dams that have been steadily drying up for months. There hasn’t been enough heavy rain to replenish them.
A week ago, one dam was decommissioned as levels dropped too low to extract any actual water — its pipes were just sucking up mud. Another is just days away from emptying out.
Now much of the city is counting down to “Day Zero,” the day all taps run dry, when no meaningful amount of water can be extracted. That’s in around two weeks, unless authorities seriously speed up their response.
The wider Eastern Cape region of South Africa suffered a severe multi-year drought between 2015 and 2020, which devastated the local economy, particularly its agricultural sector. It had just a brief reprieve before slipping back into drought in late 2021.
Like so many of the world’s worst natural resource crises, the severe water shortage here is a combination of poor management and warping weather patterns caused by human-made climate change.
Morris Malambile says pushing a wheelbarrow filled with water containers every day is "tiring."

On top of that, thousands of leaks throughout the water system means that a lot of the water that does get piped out of the dams may never actually make it into homes. Poor maintenance, like a failed pump on a main water supply, has only worsened the situation.
That has left Malambile — who lives with his sister and her four children — with no choice but to walk his wheelbarrow through the township every single day for the past three months. Without this daily ritual, he and his family would have no drinking water at all.
“People who don’t live here have no idea what it’s like to wake up in the morning, and the first thing on your mind is water,” Malambile said. His family has enough containers to hold 150 liters of water, but each day he fills around half that while the rest is still in use at home.
“Tomorrow, those ones are empty, and I have to bring them again,” he said. “This is my routine, every day, and it is tiring.”

Counting down to Day Zero

The prospects of meaningful rain to help resupply the reservoirs here is looking bleak, and if things keep going the way they are, around 40% of the wider city of Gqeberha will be left with no running water at all.
The Eastern Cape relies on weather systems known as “cut-off lows.” The slow-moving weather systems can produce rain in excess of 50 millimeters (around 2 inches) in 24 hours, followed by days of persistent wet weather. The problem is, that kind of rain just hasn’t been coming.
The next several months do not paint a promising picture either. In its Seasonal Climate Outlook, the South African Weather Service forecasts below-normal precipitation.
This isn’t a recent trend. For nearly a decade, oncloud shoes the catchment areas for Nelson Mandela Bay’s main supply dams have received below average rainfall. Water levels have slowly dwindled to the point where the four dams are sitting at a combined level of less than 12% their normal capacity. According to city officials, less than 2% of the remaining water supply is actually useable.
Fresh in the minds of people here is Cape Town’s 2018 water crisis, which was also triggered by the previous, severe drought as well as management problems. The city’s residents would stand in lines for their individually rationed 50 liters of water each day, in fear of reaching Day Zero. It never actually reached that point, but it came dangerously close. Strict rationing enabled the city to halve its water use and avert the worst.
And with no heavy rain expected to come, Nelson Mandela Bay’s officials are so worried about their own Day Zero, they are asking residents to dramatically reduce their water usage. They simply have no choice, the municipality’s water distribution manager Joseph Tsatsire said.
“While it is difficult to monitor how much every person uses, we hope to bring the message across that it is crucial that everyone reduce consumption to 50 liters per person daily,” he said.
A sign urging residents to restrict their water usage in the suburbs of Gqeberha.

To put that in perspective, the average American uses more than seven times that amount, at 82 gallons (372 liters) a day.
While parts of the city will probably never feel the full impact of a potential Day Zero, various interventions are in the pipeline to assist residents in so-called “red zones” where their taps inevitably run dry.
Earlier this month, the South African national government sent a high-ranking delegation to Nelson Mandela Bay to take charge of the crisis and to implement emergency strategies to stretch the last of the city’s dwindling supply.
Leak detection and repairs were a focus, while plans are being made to extract “dead storage water” from below the supply dams’ current levels. Boreholes were drilled in some locations to extract ground water.
Some of the interventions — including patching up leaks and trucking in water — mean some who had lost their water supplies at home are starting to get a trickle from their taps at night. But it’s not enough and authorities are looking to bigger, longer-term solutions to a problem that is only projected to worsen the more the Earth warms.
Workers constructing a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha.

South Africa is naturally prone to drought, but the kind of multi-year droughts that cause such misery and disruption are becoming more frequent.
A desalination plant — to purify ocean water for public consumption — is being explored, though such projects require months of planning, are expensive and often contribute further to the climate crisis, when they are powered by fossil fuels.
People in Kwanobuhle are feeling anxious about the future, wondering when the crisis will end.
At the communal tap there, 25-year-old Babalwa Manyube kizik shoes fills her own containers with water while her 1-year-old daughter waits in her car.
“Flushing toilets, cooking, cleaning — these are problems we all face when there is no water in the taps,” she said. “But raising a baby and having to worry about water is a whole different story. And when will it end? No one can tell us.”

Adapting at home

In Kwanobuhle, the public housing is for people with little to no income. Unemployment is rife and crime is on a steady rise. The streets are packed with residents hustling for money. Old shipping containers operate as a makeshift barbershops.
Just on the other side of the metro is Kamma Heights, a new leafy suburb situated on a hill with a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the city. It is punctuated by several newly built luxury homes, and residents can often be seen sitting on their balconies, enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the sun dips behind the horizon.
Some residents in Kamma Heights are wealthy enough to secure a backup supply of water. Rhett Saayman, 46, lets out a sigh of relief every time it rains and he hears water flow into the tanks he has erected around his house over the last couple of years.
His plan to save money on water in the long run has turned out to be an invaluable investment in securing his household’s water supply.
Saayman has a storage capacity of 18,500 liters. The water for general household use, like bathrooms, runs through a 5-micron particle filter and a carbon block filter, while drinking and cooking water goes through a reverse osmosis filter.
Rhett Saayman standing next to one of his several water tanks at his home in Kamma Heights.

“We do still rely on municipal water from time to time when we haven’t had enough rain, but that might be two or three times a year, and normally only for a few days at a time,” he said. “The last time we used municipal water was in February, and since then we’ve had sufficient rain to sustain us.”
He added, “Looking at the way things are heading around the city it’s definitely a relief to know we have clean drinking water and enough to flush our toilets and take a shower. Our investment is paying off.”
Residents in many parts of the bay area are being asked to reduce their consumption so that water can be run through stand pipes — temporary pipes placed in strategic locations so that water can be diverted areas most in need.
This means some of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, like Kama Heights, could see huge drop in their water supplies, and they too will have to line up at communal taps, just as those in Kwanobuhle are doing.
Looking ahead, local weather authorities have painted a worrying picture of the months to come, with some warning that the problem had been left to fester for so long, reversing it may be impossible.
“We have been warning the city officials about this for years,” said Garth Sampson, spokesperson for the South African Weather Service in Nelson Mandela Bay. “Whether you want to blame politicians and officials for mismanagement, or the public for not conserving water, it does not matter anymore. Pointing fingers will help no one. The bottom line is we are in a crisis and there is very little we can do anymore.”
Water drips out of a tap at a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha, South Africa. It is one of many collection areas set up in the city.

According to Sampson, the catchment areas supplying Nelson Mandela Bay need about 50 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period for there to be any significant impact on the dam levels.
“Looking at the statistics over the last several years, our best chance of seeing 50-millimiter events will probably be in August. If we don’t see any significant rainfall by September, then our next best chance is only around March next year, which is concerning,” he said.

They tried to take a boat to safety. Then Russian rockets came raining down

Vladimir Nesterenko and his father Oleh, seen during happier times prior to Russia's invasion.

All Vladimir Nesterenko wanted to do when he grew up was to play basketball. The brown haired 12-year-old dribbled and shot hoops with his dad Oleh in the village where they lived in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region. He idolized NBA legend Michael Jordan.

His mother Julia Nesterenko was happy to encourage the habit. “We even had a basketball hoop at home,” the 33-year-old told CNN as she described their first family home. It was their “nest,” she said, with a small garden and a vegetable patch.
When Russian forces captured birdies shoes the regional capital, also called Kherson, and its surrounding area soon after the invasion began, the family knew they could not stay, Julia said. Russian checkpoints, armed forces, and officers of the FSB intelligence agency were reportedly flooding the region at the same time as disappearances and detentions of local mayors, journalists, and civilians became rife, according to local officials and rights groups.
It was time “to get out of the occupied territories to safety… in order to survive,” Julia said. Russians had taken over their village, Verkhnii Rohachyk, and the Nesterenko family feared the consequences.
With nothing more than a backpack and their important documents, the family took what appeared to be the easiest route out to Ukrainian-held areas, she said. On April 7, the family of three and 11 other people boarded an evacuation boat, operated by a local resident, crossing the Dnipro River from the southern, Russian-occupied part of Kherson region to the Ukrainian controlled territory on the other side of the river. The Dnipro, one of Europe’s longest waterways, cuts through Ukraine and its Kherson region before flowing into the Black Sea.
The boat crossing, which began at the bank of the fishing village of Pervomaivka, should have been simple. It was the seventh evacuation trip via boat from the village to a Ukrainian-held area on the north bank of the Dnipro River since the war began, according to Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration of Kryvyi Rih, in the neighboring region of Dnipropetrovsk.
Instead, it turned into a bloodbath, according to Julia, two other survivors, a friend of one victim and several regional officials. They described how Russian rockets and gunfire targeted the boat after it unintentionally drifted into the frontline.
Roman Shelest, head of the Kryvyi Rih Eastern District Prosecutor’s Office for Ukraine told CNN that the boat drifted into the frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and was fired upon 70 meters from the shore.
One survivor, who declined to be named due to safety fears, explained that the boat got lost in a smoke screen, believed to have been created by the Russians. CNN has been unable independently to verify this claim.
“This firing was made using a multiple rocket launching system, possibly Grad, but we would (only) be able to tell the exact type of weapon only after (the) forensic (investigation) is completed,” Shelest added.
One of the survivors also said he believed they were hit by Russian Grad rockets.
When the boat’s navigator indicated that the group had drifted close to the Russian-held village of Osokorivka, the morning’s silence was soon punctured with the salomon shoes sound of exploding rockets, the survivors said.
Vladimir slumped bleeding into Julia’s arms. “My husband behind me also fell on me when he was shot in the head,” Julia told CNN, her voice soft and monotone, seemingly bereft of emotion after all she lost on that journey.
Four people were killed in the attack that day. Oleh was among three to die on the boat; Vladimir died shortly after at a hospital. Another victim was a lawyer who had travelled into Kherson region to rescue her son and deliver humanitarian aid, the lawyer’s friend, Tatyana Denisenko, told CNN.
Photos of the attack’s aftermath showed what looked like the remnants of a rocket on the shore, and bullet and shrapnel holes in the hull of the boat.
The remnants of what appears to have been a rocket, seen on the banks of the the Dnipro river.
Bullet or shrapnel holes are pictured on the boat that was attacked.
“Based on the shells and ammunitions we saw in the area and on the shoreline, we could see the direction of shooting — which demonstrates that (they) were coming from the southern direction, and that is the territory occupied at this time and under the control of the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” prosecutor Shelest, who is investigating the attack, told CNN.
CNN has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment. Since the outbreak of war, Russia has repeatedly denied it targets civilians — a claim disproven by attacks on civilians and civilian targets that have been verified by CNN and other news organizations.
The Nesterenko family is just one of many in Ukraine whose lives have been uprooted or destroyed by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the country. More than 7.1 million people are internally displaced in the country, according to United Nations agencies, with nearly two thirds of Ukraine’s children having left their homes in the past six weeks. At least 191 children had been killed and more than 349 injured since the Russian invasion, birdies shoes according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office on Wednesday.
Kherson was one of the first cities the Russians captured. Mayor Ihor Kolykhayev said people were “actively” leaving Kherson and other cities in the largely Russian occupied southern region after atrocities emerged from the Kyiv region, following the Kremlin’s hasty pull out from Ukraine’s north.
“Cities are becoming empty,” he said Tuesday, as Russia refocuses its offensive on Ukraine’s east. “It hurts me a lot when people leave Kherson. (By) leaving their homes, people will never return home anymore,” he said.
Rumors are growing that a referendum will be held in the Russian-controlled areas of Kherson, especially in areas on the left bank of the Dnipro River, in an attempt to legitimize the illegal Russian landgrab. A similar tactic played out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, where pro-Russian separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk held referendums on the formation of “people’s republics,” in voting that was dismissed by Ukraine and Western countries as a sham.
Ukrainians living in the left bank of the region have peacefully resisted the Russian occupation with rallies in Kherson and Kolykhayev, the mayor said Tuesday. A previous rally in Kherson saw Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accuse Russian forces of shooting at unarmed people. “Russian soldiers do not even know what it is like to be free,” Oleh Baturin, a reporter with the local Novyi Den newspaper, who recently left the region, told CNN.
Demonstrators, some displaying Ukrainian flags, chant "go home" as Russian military vehicles reverse course at a pro-Ukraine rally in Kherson on March 20.
On Kherson’s right bank of the Dnipro, Baturin describes a “tragic situation” that echoes the destruction wrought around the capital’s Kyiv region. People living in villages bordering the frontlines in Mykolayiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions have told him about being robbed, beaten and threatened by Russian forces, he said.
“For example, the Kochubeivka, the Novovorontsovka (where Osokorivka is located), and the Vysokopillia settlements — there are villages that died out in the first half of March and were totally looted and destroyed,” he said.
Only when the Russians leave will the full horror of occupation emerge, Baturin predicted.
Three survivors described the trauma of the boat attack last week in interviews with CNN.
“It was so sudden, everyone was in shock,” one of the survivors who spoke to CNN said. As the rockets hit the area, fragments began to strike the passengers, he said.
The survivor said he was spared from injury because he fell off the boat in the first moments of the bombardment. “I was wearing such heavy boots that I was immediately pulled to the bottom (of the river). Then we heard that (rockets were) pouring in,” he said.
They had drifted into an active frontline hugging the north coast around the village of Osokorivka. Ukrainian soldiers began to shout from the banks of the river, throwing their guns to the ground and wading into the water to retrieve the boat and the civilians, the survivor said. It took up to 15 minutes to get them out of the water around the Novovorontsovka area. CNN geolocated images of the aftermath to that shoreline.
“Our guys (Ukrainian military) helped, of course… rushing into the water, and swimming to the boat,” pulling the boat to the shore, the survivor said.
Julia said the shock of the moment, and the ensuing trauma, meant that her recollection of the event was blurred. “I don’t know why we were fired upon. We didn’t understand what the sounds were: Bullets, shelling, explosions?” she said. “And I did not understand what was happening — I was just in a fog.”
She remembers soldiers carrying her husband’s body and “putting him on the beach.” Her son Vladimir was still alive, but badly injured. “He was breathing, he had a serious head injury (and) lost a lot of blood. We took him 40 kilometers to the nearest hospital,” she said. “He was operated on. There was still hope they could save him. But as doctors later said, ‘it was an injury incompatible with life.'”
Oleh and Vladimir Nesterenko.
Maxim Kolomiyets, a burly 37-year-old handyman, took the boat so that he could get out of the region and join the Ukrainian army. He was knocked unconscious in the first moments of the shelling, waking up hours later in a hospital with a shrapnel wound to his left arm.
A day after the attack, on April 8, Lyudmila Denisova, the human rights commissioner of the Ukrainian parliament, described the shelling of the boat as a “war crime and a crime against humanity,” in a post on Facebook. Speaking to CNN, Vilkul, head of the military administration of Kryvyi Rih, reasoned that Russians were “doing everything in order not to let civilians out of occupied territories. Because, apparently, they are afraid that these people will be able to tell something about their positions.”
Julia is now living with relatives in a Ukrainian-held area, where she buried her son and husband. She is at a loss as to what she should do next.
“We wanted this trip (to be) a chance to escape from occupation… For us it was like a light at the end of the tunnel. Because it was already unbearable for us to be where we were,” she said.
“This war has ruined my family, my life — and the killing of people must stop. Immediately. Because it is (ruining) destinies, lives.”

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is shutting down early next year

Harry Potter Wizards Unite - Buckbeak
Niantic Labs and WB Games

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the augmented reality game similar to Pokemon Go, is shutting down early next year, Niantic said in a blog post Tuesday. The mobile game is scheduled to be removed from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store on Dec. 6 and is set to officially close on Jan. 31, 2022.

“Not all games are meant to last forever,” bluetooth headphones reads the post from Niantic, which codeveloped the game with WB Games. “Our goal with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was to bring the magic of the wizarding world to life for millions of players as they stepped outside and explored their neighborhoods.”

Niantic released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in 2019, following the huge success of its previous AR game, Pokemon Go. The Potter game pits players against dark wizards and magical beasts to save beloved characters from the Harry Potter books from the Calamity, an unexplained event scattering magical items across the world. Players walk around their real-world environment and cast spells by tracing patterns on their phone. Though it never quite reached the popularity of Pokemon Go, Niantic says millions of people have played the game around the world.

Before the game shuts down at the end of January, there will be several in-game events during November and December to skechers outlet complete its story arc. There will also be gameplay changes, including increased rewards and more frequent portkeys and other in-game items, according to a post on the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website. In-app purchases are set to be shut off on Dec. 6, though people will be able to continue playing the game up till Jan. 31.

In October, Niantic began rolling out a new AR mobile game, Pikmin Bloom. The map-based community game, made in collaboration with Nintendo, involves walking, life-logging memories and laying flowers everywhere.

Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system, affecting over a billion people

011-facebook-app-logo-on-phone-2021

Facebook users will no longer be able to use its Face Recognition system.

Facebook will shut down its facial recognition system this month and delete the face scan data of more than 1 billion users, the company said Tuesday. It cited societal concerns and regulatory uncertainty about facial recognition technology as the reasons.

More than one-third of the app’s daily active users have opted into its Face Recognition setting, the social network noted in a blog post.

“There are many concerns about the place of facial salomon boots recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” wrote Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook’s newly named parent company, Meta. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

Pesenti said the change also means that automatic descriptions of photos for blind and visually impaired people will no longer include the names of people in the images.

The move marks a major shift away from a controversial technology that Facebook has incorporated in its products, giving users the option to receive automatic notifications when they appear in photos and videos posted by others. But facial recognition technology, which converts face scans into identifiable data, has also become a growing privacy and civil rights concern. The technology is prone to mistakes involving people of color. In one study, 28 members of Congress, roughly 40% of whom were people of color, were incorrectly matched with arrest mugshots in a screen as part of a test that the American Civil Liberties Union conducted using technology made by Amazon.

In the absence of federal regulations, cities and states have begun banning facial recognition systems used by police and government. In 2019, San Francisco was the first city to ban government use of the technology. Others, including Jackson, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Cambridge and Springfield, Massachusetts, have followed. Over the summer, Maine enacted one of the most stringent bans on the technology.

Earlier this year, a judge approved a $650 million settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in its photo-tagging feature. The feature generates suggested tags by using scans of previously uploaded photos to match people in newly uploaded shots. The lawsuit sperry shoes alleged the scans were created without user consent and violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies.

Facebook has also considered building facial recognition in products such as its smart glasses. Facial recognition, for example, could be used to identify the name of people you can’t remember. But the company’s employees raised concerns that the technology could be abused by “stalkers.” Facebook’s first pair of smart glasses, the Ray-Ban Stories, doesn’t include facial recognition technology.

Privacy and civil rights groups applauded Facebook’s move on Tuesday.

“This is a good start toward ending dangerous uses of facial recognition technology. Now it’s time for enforceable rules that prohibit companies from scanning our faces without our consent. Looking at you, Congress,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a tweet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the move was “great news for Facebook users, and for the global movement pushing back on this technology.”

‘Soul Man’ at 35: How a young Spike Lee helped take down ‘the most offensive movie ever’

SOUL MAN, from left: C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, 1986. ©New World Pictures/courtesy Everett Co
C. Thomas Howell and Rae Dawn Chong in 1986’s Soul Man.

Whether it’s the effects of a continually progressing society or the more diabolical wrath of so-called “cancel culture,” there have been countless movies from decades past — fair or not — being re-scrutinized through a contemporary lens in recent years.

And then there’s the case of 1986’s Soul Man.

Released in theaters 35 years ago today, the comedy about a rich white law student (C. Thomas Howell) who poses as a Black man in order to qualify for a scholarship to Harvard was canceled almost immediately after its release.

Almost, that is. The film, reportedly made for a budget of $4.5 million and distributed by New World Pictures, hauled in $35 million at the U.S. box office, making it a commercial success that out-grossed other popular brooks shoes films that year like WildcatsThree Amigos!Iron EagleSpikes Like UsF/XFlight of the Navigator and Children of a Lesser God.

Still, the blowback was quick. Here was a film that’s main character Mark Watson (Howell) wore blackface throughout. Taking tanning pills to darken his face, wearing an Afro wig and putting on a one-man minstrel show, Watson was the ‘80s cinematic equivalent of disgraced former college instructor and Spokane NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal.

Upon its release, the NAACP railed against it. Students at UCLA protested outside of a theater screening it. “We find the Al Jolson-like portrayal of the main character offensive and trivializing,” wrote the university’s Black American Law Students Association, referencing the infamous blackface performer and star of The Jazz Singer. And a young filmmaker named Spike Lee, who was just breaking out with his feature directorial debut She’s Gotta Have It, put it on blast during an uncomfortable appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.

“The whole premise is that he’s passing as Black, and it’s so phony, that means all the Black people in the movie are idiots… that they could think that this guy is Black,” said Lee, who had watched clips from the movie but refused to see it in full.

“They’re trying to pass it off as an attack on racism. I really don’t see it that way. That’s not funny to me.”

Indeed, Soul Man was posited by its creators as exactly that: a well-intentioned comedy that teaches a white man he can’t understand racism until he’s the one being discriminated against. “A comedy with heart and soul,” read the tagline for the film, written by Carol Black (creator of future TV hits The Wonder Years and Ellen) and directed clarks shoes uk by Steve Miner. (The poster’s tagline was not nearly as bad as the trailer’s: “He didn’t give up… he got down.”)

“A white man donning blackface is taboo. Conversation over, you can’t win,” said Howell. “But our intentions were pure: We wanted to make a funny movie that had a message about racism.”

“It used comedy as a device to expose sexual stereotyping. I think Soul Man uses it to explode racial stereotyping,” said producer Steve Tisch, who compared the film’s plot the 1982 favorite Tootsie in which Dustin Hoffman dresses up as a woman to advance his career — and whom Lee mentioned called him after he began publicly putting the movie on blast in 1986.

But let’s remember the sociopolitical climate of the mid-1980s. The Reaganomics era was in full bloom, promising a trickle-down effect to low-income families that never came and ultimately widened the wealth gap between white and Black Americans. Affirmative action, which Mark Watson exploits in the film despite coming from a family of extreme wealth and (white) privilege, was as hot-button an issue as they come — a domestic program Reagan openly opposed.

“It’s really an attack on affirmative action,” Lee told Cavett during his talk show appearance.

How rich then that Soul Man happened to feature the president’s son Ron Reagan in a minor role in the supporting cast that also included Rae Dawn Chong, Leslie Nielsen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and perhaps most perplexing, James Earl Jones. “The Reagans enjoyed the film and especially enjoyed seeing their son Ron,” a White House spokesman saiid after President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan screened the film at Camp David.

No matter its intentions, Soul Man remains an indefensible disaster to many. Consider just a few cringeworthy moments, like the dinner sequence where — through the guise of white characters’ points of view — Howell also imitates a sex-craved savage who tears the blouse off a woman to the sounds of African tribal music, a sex-craved Prince and a sex-craved, jive-talking pimp sucking down watermelon.

It’s no wonder the film was “canceled” almost immediately — and decades before blackface episodes would come back to bite the likes of celebrities Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Paula Deen and Megyn Kelly and politicians Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Howell and Chong, who married in 1989 after meeting on the film but divorced in 1990, remained supporters of the film well into the new millennium.

“This isn’t a movie that should be considered irresponsible on any level. This is a movie that is quite the opposite for me,” Howell told the AV Club in 2013. “I think it’s a really innocent movie with a very powerful message, hey dude shoes and it’s an important part of my life. I’m proud of the performance, and I’m proud of the people that were in it.”

The internet would disagree. YouTube essays on the film come with headers like “Is This the Worst Comedy of the 80s?,” “Soul Man Was Insensitive as Hell!” and “THE MOST OFFENSIVE MOVIE EVER!”

Chong, especially, has remained defiant about the film — and there’s a single person she blames for its swift and lasting downfall.

“It was only controversial because Spike Lee made a thing of it,” the actress said in a 2016 interview with The Wrap. “He’d never seen the movie and he just jumped all over it… He was just starting and pulling everything down in his wake. If you watch the movie, it’s really making white people look stupid.”

Fueled by Lee or not, it’s almost impressive how swiftly Soul Man met its downfall. This was decades before John Hughes movies were being re-evaluated for not aging well and Green Book, a film about a gay Black pianist touring the 1960s Deep South, was instantly being called problematic, or at least dated, upon its release, albeit on its way to winning Best Picture at the Oscars.

Still, don’t give 1986 too much credit. Four weeks after Soul Man’s premiere came a re-release of Song of the South, long considered Disney’s most racist movie and one of the most infamously offensive films of all time. Its re-release grossed over $17 million at the U.S. box office.

A California Construction Worker Asked a Speeding Motorist to Slow Down. He Was Shot Seven Times In Response.

The family of a California Black construction worker wants answers after their loved one was shot several times in what is now being looked at as a potential hate crime.

Bobby Gayle is still recovering, KCRA reported this week, after being shot seven times asics shoes this month in the town in California’s Central Valley. The incident took place on Oct. 8 while the 45-year-old man was on the job at a north Stockton restaurant.

Bobby Gayle (left), Michael Hayes (right) Credit: Family photo/Stockton Police Department
Bobby Gayle (left), Michael Hayes (right) Credit.

Bobby’s brother, Marlon Gayle, told the outlet that his brother had just finished the job when the shooting occurred. Marlon claims that Bobby saw a man driving at high speed through the parking lot and yelled for him to slow down.

The brother said the man, identified as Michael Hayes, 31, stopped his truck, got out and started shooting and spouting racial slurs. Marlon told the outlet he believes “it was a hate crime.”

He added, “The guy doesn’t know my brother. My brother doesn’t know him. Out of nowhere, he started calling him the N-word and started shooting him.”

On Friday, Hayes was charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Marlon Gayle said he learned of his brother’s nike sneakers shooting through several voicemails the father of five left on his phone. The shooter missed several major arteries, but Bobby was ultimately hit in his throat, upper arm, shoulder and two times in the face.

The brother says they “don’t know if he’ll be able to work at the same capacity.” He added, “The doctors are letting us know. Our first thing … is being able to see that he is breathing right. He’s talking right.”

Prior to Hayes’ arrest, Stockton Police shared photos of the man and his truck on Facebook. There was also a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Stockton Police Assistant Chief Jim Chraska said that the department was “working with reporting to the California Department of Justice as well as the FBI. We have an officer on the FBI task force. So it’s important to us to make sure we get the community’s help.”

After the arrest, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones thanked the “anonymous tipster and the hard work of our detectives for bringing a quick resolution to this case for the victim and his family.”

Democrats seek new tax on America’s richest while scaling down other hikes

Tucked into the House Democrats’ tax plan to raise $2.2 trillion in tax revenue is a new tax on the country’s wealthiest Americans — but other, earlier proposals that target the rich have been scaled down or eliminated altogether.

The proposal from the House Ways and Means Committee includes a 3% surtax on individuals with an adjusted gross income of more than $5 million, something not included in President Joe Biden’s initial plan.

“[That] is significant,” Howard Gleckman, nike store senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, told Yahoo Money. “I suspect it’s going to be a surtax on taxable income… there’s still lots of ways for high-income people to reduce their taxable income.”

The 3% tax will be imposed on individuals, trusts, and estates and is expected to raise $127 billion over 10 years, according to the draft proposal. It is yet unclear whether the surcharge would apply only to ordinary income or would include capital gains, too, according to Gleckman.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attend a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pelosi and fellow House Democrats introduced a package of sweeping reforms aimed at curbing presidential abuse of power. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(L-R) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attend a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

‘Avoid the higher capital gains tax’

The new tax comes as the Democrats scale down the increase to the top long-term capital gains and qualified dividends tax rate to 25% from 20%, which would generate $123 billion over a decade.

Biden initially proposed a top rate of 39.6% for those earning over $1 million.

“The capital gains rate increase is obviously much more modest than what Biden proposed,” Gleckman said, “A 25% rate is just not that much of a change.”

Another tax hike Democrats left out was Biden’s proposed change on how assets are taxed when passed onto heirs.

Under Biden’s proposal, gains over $1 million for single filers ($2.5 million for joint filers when keen shoes combined with existing real estate exemptions) would be taxed based on the asset’s value when it was initially acquired — rather than the value when it was inherited.

“What you’re doing is you’re essentially signaling investors to hold on to an unproductive asset to avoid the higher capital gains tax,” Gleckman said. “If you have unrealized gains at death, a lot of that incentive would go away.”

Biden’s proposal to increase the top individual income tax rate made it into the Democrats’ plan.

Both propose to revert the top individual income tax rate back to 39.6% for taxable income above $400,000. That rate is currently 37%, established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 passed during the Trump administration. The provision is expected to raise $170 billion over 10 years.

US President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus protections in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, DC, September 10, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus protections in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, DC, September 10, 2021.

Overall, the House Democrats tax plan is estimated to raise $2.2 trillion over a decade, with $1 trillion coming from tax hikes on high-income individuals, $900 billion from corporate and international tax reform, and additional revenue from increased tax compliance. The majority of the changes would be effective after December 31, 2021.

The tax proposals may change as brooks shoes Democrats finalize the bill that they hope to pass in the coming weeks through reconciliation without any Republican support.

“That’s a fairly ambitious [proposal],” Gleckman said. “I don’t think they’re going to get that much, but that’s a very ambitious start.”

Biden said US would ‘hunt’ down Kabul airport attackers. A day later, a drone strike killed two ISIS-K targets.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden warned those behind a deadly terrorist attack that killed and wounded American service members and Afghan civilians in Kabul on Thursday that the U.S. would “hunt you down and make you pay.”

A day later, he followed through on that threat.

A military drone strike on Friday killed two “high-profile” members of ISIS-K and wounded a third, the first American attack on the terrorist group following a bomb attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Pentagon said Saturday.

The Pentagon’s initial brooks shoes announcement of the strike said one ISIS-K member had been killed. Military officials updated the death toll on Saturday.

Those killed were ISIS-K “planners and facilitators,” said Army Maj. Gen. William D. “Hank” Taylor, joint staff deputy director for regional operations. Their names were not made public.

Biden met with his national security team at the White House on Saturday and, afterward, warned that another attack is likely in the coming days.

“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” he said in a statement. “Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection.”

Biden vowed to avenge any additional attacks. “Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond,” he said. “That will never be in doubt.”

Thirteen U.S. service members – 11 Marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army soldier – and at least 169 Afghan people died in Thursday’s airport bombing, which unfolded as American and allied forces were scrambling to evacuate people from Afghanistan.

The attack – one of America’s deadliest days in the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan – drew fierce censure from Republicans, stoked fears about the final days of America’s evacuation mission and threatened to define Biden’s still-young presidency as one of chaos instead of the competence skechers uk he promised on the campaign trail.

The bombing came five days before next Tuesday’s deadline that Biden set for withdrawing U.S. troops and amid warnings that more terrorist strikes could come soon.

Wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after an attack on the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26.
Wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after an attack on the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26.

Even before the bombing, Biden was facing harsh criticism over his strategy for winding down the war that started in 2001 when the United States invaded Afghanistan, which sheltered the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Just hours after the attack Thursday, a somber Biden called the American service members killed “heroes” and promised to exact revenge on those behind the strike.

“We will not forgive,” he said at the White House. “We will not forget.”

After the tragedy of the Kabul bombing,hey dude shoes Republican lawmakers universally rushed to condemn Biden’s handling of Afghanistan while demanding his administration keep troops in the increasingly unstable country past Tuesday’s deadline to ensure the safe evacuation of all remaining Americans

Taylor would not provide details of Friday’s drone strike, but the Pentagon has said it occurred in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan.

Military officials believe the ISIS-K officials targeted were involved in planning future attacks. A U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the attack said Friday one of the targets was killed while traveling in a vehicle with an associate. It was not immediately clear whether the associate was the second target killed.

“The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the earth, that’s a good thing,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Officials know of no civilian casualties in the strike, Taylor said.

ISIS-K leadership generally operates in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces in Afghanistan.

ISIS-K considers the Taliban, the Islamic militant group that is noted for its brutality and now controls Afghanistan, to be insufficiently devout in its adherence to Islam. The two militant groups have attacked each other.

Around the same time as the drone strike against the ISIS-K targets, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a fresh warning urging Americans waiting at four airport gates to “leave immediately” because of security threats.

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs tweeted: “Due to security threats at the airport, we continue to advise U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates. Those at Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or New Ministry of Interior gate should leave immediately.”

A State Department spokesperson said the agency would not address intelligence matters, but noted the “dynamic and volatile security situation on the ground” in Afghanistan.

Biden promises to hunt down terrorists behind devastating Kabul attack

Speaking to the American people in the wake of a devastating terror attack at the Kabul airport that left scores dead on Thursday — including numerous U.S. troops — President Biden promised the U.S. would strike back against those responsible.

“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this — we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay,” the president said in a somber White House address.

Joe Biden
President Biden addresses the nation in the wake of the terror attack in Kabul on Thursday.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, said earlier in the day that one of the explosions was caused by at least one suicide bomber presumed to be working with the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, and that more attacks were likely. Biden also said ISIS-K was behind the attack.

A pair of explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport killed a number of people Thursday afternoon in what the U.S. described as a “complex attack.” The Pentagon said 13 U.S. service members died in the attack and an additional 15 were injured, along with numerous nike store Afghan nationals, in the single deadliest day for American forces in the country since 2011.

An Afghan official told the Associated Press that 60 Afghans were killed and 143 were wounded in the airport blast.

Biden said that he and first lady Jill Biden are “outraged, as well as heartbroken” at the news. He alluded to military parents who might be “feeling you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest,” and spoke of his late son, Beau Biden, who served tours in Iraq and Kosovo as an Army officer.

Biden emphasized that while the U.S. is assessing how and when to respond, the ongoing evacuation mission in Kabul would continue, and that remaining American citizens would be removed from the country, along with Afghans who had assisted U.S. forces.

“I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS key assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time at a place we choose in a moment of our choosing,” the president said. Biden added that the military would be given “whatever they need.”

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment
Medical personnel transport a man for treatment after he was injured in terrorist attacks outside the airport in Kabul. 

Before taking questions from reporters, Biden asked for a “moment of silence” for the fallen American personnel. In response to a question about whether he bore responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan, Biden said yes, while also noting that former President Donald Trump had negotiated the original withdrawal agreement with the Taliban.

“But here’s the deal: You know, I wish you — you know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban” Biden said.

McKenzie and other U.S. officials have warned that further attacks in Afghanistan are likely.

“We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks and we expect those attacks to continue and we’re doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks,” nike sneakers McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the U.S. had enough forces on the ground to counter enemy militants.

In public remarks and interviews since the rapid fall of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government, Biden warned against the threat of ISIS-K, a group U.S. intelligence agencies say is a sworn enemy of the Taliban.

“These troops and innocent civilians at the airport face the risk of attack from ISIS-K,” Biden said last Sunday.

The Kabul airport has been the epicenter of the rushed effort by U.S. forces to evacuate tens of thousands of Americans, Afghans and third-country nationals. Worried that any Americans and Afghans who aided U.S. forces left behind would be at risk of persecution by the new Taliban government, some current and former officials have called on the White House to extend its self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31 for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Biden has also been criticized for his prediction last month that the Taliban would not rapidly retake the country as U.S. forces left.

Congressional Republicans and a number of leading Senate Democrats have described the withdrawal as chaotic and haphazard.

Crowds of people
Crowds wait outside the airport in Kabul on Wednesday. 

“This is a full-fledged humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. government personnel, already working under extreme circumstances, must secure the airport and complete the massive evacuation of American citizens and vulnerable Afghans desperately trying to leave the country,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement Thursday.

The White House, meanwhile, has defended its efforts to evacuate the country.

“This is now on track to be the largest airlift in U.S. history,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing Wednesday when presented with criticism of the late August deadline. “So no, I would not say this is anything but a success.”

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. said it ecco shoes had facilitated the evacuation of approximately 95,700 people since Aug. 14, including about 13,400 taken out of the country overnight. At least 1,000 Americans are thought to still be in the country, according to McKenzie.

Biden spent much of Thursday in the White House Situation Room with Cabinet members including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, according to the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris joined those meetings virtually during her flight from Vietnam to Guam. Harris is set to return to Washington, D.C., on Thursday, canceling the last leg of her overseas trip to campaign for embattled California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The White House either canceled or delayed several of Biden’s public events scheduled for Thursday, including a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.