Colorado ‘Psychic Kay’ killer files murder case appeal

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‘Psychic Kay’ killer files appeal claiming attorneys failed to inform him of plea offer


Sady Swanson


Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 11:25 PM EST Jan 31, 2020
John Marks Jr. (right) is serving 48 years to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of murdering his wife of 20 years, Kathy Adams, 57, in 2010.
Fort Collins Coloradoan archive

The man sentenced to prison for the murder of the 57-year-old Fort Collins woman known as “Psychic Kay” has filed an appeal claiming his attorneys failed to properly advise him of potential plea agreements.

John Marks Jr., now 57, was found guilty of second-degree murder and sexual assault in the 2010 death of his wife, Kathy Adams, known as “Psychic Kay.” He was sentenced to 48 years to life in 2012 and is currently serving his sentence at the Fremont Correctional Facility in Canon City. 

Adams’ body was recovered from a ravine off U.S. Highway 36 near the Boulder-Larimer County line in October 2010, according to Coloradoan archives. Marks was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder about two weeks after her body was found. Initial arrest documents indicated that Marks was abusive and Adams had planned to escape to Atlanta and live with family before she was killed.

Marks pleaded not guilty in his initial case and has maintained his innocence, according to his previous defense attorney. 

Online court records indicate documents were filed to reopen the case in 2015, and the first petition was filed May 2017. The appeal was filed under Colorado criminal procedure that allows for a request for post-conviction relief if attorneys provided ineffective counsel during a criminal case. If approved, the judge could order a new trial or a modified sentence. 

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On Friday afternoon, Marks appeared in a Larimer County courtroom, where his attorney argued to 20th Judicial District Judge Nancy Salomone that Marks’ criminal defense attorneys failed to properly inform him of an offered plea agreement during his 2012 trial.

During Friday’s hearing, the defense attorneys and prosecutors from the 2012 trial denied the assertion that a midtrial plea offer — or that any formal plea offer — was made in the case. 

Defense attorney Derek Samuelson was appointed to be Marks’ attorney about a year into the case — in fall 2011 — after the public defender’s office removed themselves due to a conflict of interest, Samuelson testified Friday. 

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After his appointment, Samuelson said he reached out to now Second Assistant District Attorney Emily Humphrey, the lead prosecutor on Marks’ case, to suggest a potential plea offer of manslaughter instead of second-degree murder. Humphrey refused the suggestion, Samuelson said.

Shortly after that exchange, Samuelson said he met Humphrey and now Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel, Humphrey’s supervisor at the time, at a coffee shop in September 2011 to discuss the potential for a plea offer.

An email sent after that meeting from Samuelson to another defense attorney assisting with the case — Lisabeth Castle — said the district attorney suggested they may be open to an offer involving Marks’ pleading guilty to second-degree murder in a heat of passion, which could have led to a lesser sentence.

The discussion was not an official offer, Samuelson said.

Per the district attorney’s office policy, according to testimony by Humphrey and Riedel on Friday, to minimize harm to the victims or the family in a sexual assault or murder case, prosecutors might tell a defense attorney what they might consider a fair plea offer first. Then, if the defendant comes back with interest in taking a plea offer similar to what they discussed, that’s when the prosecution would bring the idea of a plea agreement to the victim or the victim’s family, not before that point. 

“There was absolutely no formal offer made to (Samuelson),” Humphrey testified Friday.

After having the initial discussion with Humphrey and Riedel, Samuelson said he went to the Larimer County Jail to speak with Marks. Because pleading guilty to second-degree murder in a heat of passion would still likely mean decades in prison, Samuelson said Marks declined to move further with it.

“What he told me was motivating him was innocence,” Samuelson said.

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Castle also testified that no midtrial offer was conveyed to her, and she was not aware of one being conveyed to Samuelson or directly to Marks. 

“And (if we did receive a midtrial offer) I think that’s something we would’ve encouraged him to take,” Castle testified.

The appeal hearing was initially scheduled to finish Friday afternoon, but attorneys and the judge agreed that a second day of testimony is necessary. Because of scheduling conflicts, a date for the second day of the hearing has not yet been scheduled. 

Samuelson, who was not able to finish testifying Friday afternoon, will resume his testimony at that hearing.

Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at sswanson@coloradoan.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.

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In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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Don’t let Church failings distance you from God ― Pope Francis

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Pope Francis led the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics into Christmas on Tuesday, urging them not to let the Church’s failings lead them away from accepting God’s love.

Francis celebrated a solemn Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for thousands of people as hundreds of others watched on large screens outside.

As is customary on Christmas Eve, the 83-year-old pope weaved his sermon around the spiritual and personal significance of the night that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

“Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us,” Francis, presiding at the seventh Christmas season of his pontificate, said in his sermon.

“You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you. How often do we think that God is good if we are good and punishes us if we are bad. Yet that is not how he is.”

ALSO READ: Pope Francis urges change in pastoral mentality

Without mentioning them specifically, Francis also referred to recent Church troubles, including its attempts to come to grips with continuing sexual abuse scandals around the world and financial irregularities closer to home at the Vatican.

“Let us contemplate the Child and let ourselves be caught up in his tender love. Then we have no further excuse for not letting ourselves be loved by him,” Francis said.

“Whatever goes wrong in our lives, whatever doesn’t work in the Church, whatever problems there are in the world, will no longer serve as an excuse. It will become secondary, for faced with Jesus’ extravagant love, a love of utter meekness and closeness, we have no excuse,” he said.

In his latest attempt to confront a sexual abuse scandal, Francis last week announced sweeping changes to the way the Church deals with them, abolishing the rule of “pontifical secrecy” that previously covered them.

Advocates for the victims of a scandal that has rocked the Church for nearly two decades applauded the move.

On Wednesday, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message and blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to thousands of people in the square below.

Unlike that on Christmas Eve, the Christmas day message is typically more about the significance of the Christmas message amidst the wars and conflicts of contemporary society.

[Reuters]

The post Don’t let Church failings distance you from God ― Pope Francis appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Proponents of death penalty for Hate Speech are real harbinger of hate speech -Gani Adams — Daily Times Nigeria

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The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Adams, has described those behind the controversial hate speech bill as pretenders.

Speaking during the 2019 edition of Ajagunmale Festival in Lekki, Lagos, Adams said though the National Assembly had bowed to pressures from Nigerians to remove the death clause for violators of hate speech, there is need for public enlightenment and education in order to change the narrative on the issue.

The Aareonakakanfo admitted also that many Nigerians are ignorant of issues relating to media information gathering and literacy, insisting that the law must be flexible to accommodate other people’s interests.

“It is a cheering news that the National Assembly and proponents of death penalty for violators of hate speech has bowed to pressures from Nigerians, but in a gathering like this, it is not out of place to raise and discuss issues that affect us holistically.

“The political game that had been playing out on the issue of hate speech and a death penalty for violators needed to be considered with utmost importance.

“I must confess truly, that I have been monitoring the reactions of eminent Nigerians on the issue, and I think those reactions are commendable. Those that spoke said death penalty for a violator of hate speech was barbaric and unacceptable.

“Actually hate speech can incite violence and damage relationships in a society, but we need to understand and protect the individuals’ rights to express their opinions freely and peacefully. It is also a fact that freedom of speech is an integral component of a free society. Therefore, imposing death penalty on violators is uncultured, barbaric, and not acceptable in our society,” he explained.

The Yoruba generalissimo flayed those behind the bill, saying politicians that are also the chief promoters of this bill are the harbinger of hate speech, describing them as products of hate speech, especially, during campaigns.

“Many of our politicians today are pretenders. During their campaigns, they promised you heaven on earth, and shortly after they are elected, you hear a different story entirely. I feel sad sometimes whenever I look back and see how Nigeria has drifted from its original ideals of our forefathers, but I always take solace in the belief that  one day, whether now or in the nearest future, we shall find our feet and get back on the right track”

In his remarks, Executive Chairman, Lekki Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Ogidan Mukadasi, said his administration will continue to support the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and the Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) on  ideas and projects that can launch the community positively to the world, adding that the huge attendance of guests at this year’s edition of Ajagunmale festival has really helped in boosting the tourism potentials of the community.

“It is our duty and responsibility to sustain this laudable programme, therefore, as a government, we will continue to play our role. We will continue to support the Olokun Festival Foundation to ensure that this festival becomes one of the most celebrated festivals in the state,” he said.

The Guest lecturer, Associate Professor Adams Kolade, from the Lagos state University (LASU) Ojo, spoke on the need to embrace the core values, culture and tradition of the Yoruba race.

He noted that Yoruba race is a gifted race with potentials to be the best, declaring that efforts should be made to sustain and promote the Yoruba cultural identity through festivals like this. He applauded the Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land for the courage to sustain the laudable ideal of the organisation.

 “Language is an integral part of our culture. All over the world, the Yoruba tradition and heritage are next to none. As a race that have been so blessed with all these potentials, there is need for us to sustain all these and one of the best ways to sustain our cultural identities is to cultivate a new habit which will be directed at promoting what is truly ours,” he said.

The Onilekki of Lekki, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, expressed delight at the success of the event, saying Ajagunmale Festival has come to stay in the area.

 He charged all members of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress not to relent in their efforts, declaring that the traditional institution across the South West will continue to support the foundation.

Meanwhile, Iba Gani Adams, said with the celebration of Ajagunmale Festival, Lekki will soon become a top investment destination in Lagos State.

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Eyes Wide Shut review – chilling secrecy, quaintly soft-porn sex | Film | The Guardian

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Eyes Wide Shut, now on rerelease, is fascinating, flawed late Stanley Kubrick, his final film before his death in 1999 at the age of 70. It was adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle, or Dream Story, published in 1926 and originally set in Vienna. The film is a tale of sexual obsession among modern-day Manhattan’s wealthy and powerful classes and I originally valued it for its satirical potency, formal control and dreamlike self-possession, all of which are bound up in a certain kind of deadpan absurdity and soft-porn seriousness.

Tom Cruise plays Bill Harford, a well-off New York doctor with a fashionable clientele and a magnificent apartment in Central Park West, happily married to beautiful Alice (Nicole Kidman) a former art gallery director, now a stay-at-home mum to their young daughter. (In the book, they are Jewish, an important part of the doctor’s alienation. Not here.) Unsettled by each other’s flirtatious behaviour at a swell party given by a wealthy patient, Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), and by a consumption of champagne and weed, they later have a furious row in which Alice defiantly confesses her lustful thoughts for a certain other man in her past, and Bill then finds himself on a nighttime odyssey, searching for extramarital adventure and gatecrashing a sinister masked orgy, to which he gains admittance by murmuring the (ironic) password “Fidelio”.




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This revival comes with a brief documentary short about the film, Never Just a Dream, with interviewees including his longtime collaborator, executive producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan — but not his widow Christiane, and not his most important collaborator, screenwriter Frederic Raphael. It might be time to reissue Raphael’s 1999 memoir of working with Kubrick, Eyes Wide Open, in which Raphael amusingly hints that the tense mood of Cruise’s cab ride out to the creepy orgy mansion was inspired by his own minicab journeys from St Albans railway station to the famed seclusion of Kubrick’s Hertfordshire country home for script discussions.

The title, Eyes Wide Shut, was Kubrick’s, and in my original piece, I wondered whether it related to the idea of imaginary sexual transgression being as potent as real, waking transgressions. In dreams you see and know things clearly, with your eyes wide shut. It’s only now that I can see another comparison that was always under my nose: Malcolm McDowell’s eyes being clipped wide open in A Clockwork Orange, being forced to watch something horrible. There are other visual echoes, such as the eerie emptiness of the elevator lobbies like those in The Shining – which are part of the film’s artificiality and theatricality, mocked a little by the film’s denigrators at the time, but a part of the hallucinatory effect. Then there is the party scene at the beginning, like something from The Shining, where Alice meets her predatory Hungarian suitor (Sky du Mont) who could almost be a ghost. Kubrick’s use of Stravinsky’s Waltz from his Jazz Suite shows his sweet tooth for mainstream classical-music themes, and his predilection for softcore female nudity is a characteristic thought a bit dated in 1999.

Perhaps what we felt was contrived was that orgy scene, although it is disquieting and strange in the Hammer-horror way that originally impressed me. But by 1999, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho had upped the ante on these ideas of Manhattan super-wealth and depravity, and in comparison, Eyes Wide Shut seemed a tad quaint. Yet now, in the age of Epstein, we can see that it was not so far-fetched to imagine elaborate clubs in which the rich and powerful can disport themselves and exploit the vulnerable. What comes across even more strongly about Eyes Wide Shut now is its chilling emphasis on ruling-class secrecy. This film inspired Jonathan Glazer’s Birth (2004), itself underappreciated at the time.

Cruise and Kidman heartfelt and fervent performances (although the flickering black-and-white moments showing her imagined sexual indulgence don’t work). There are tears, and Cruise in particular lays himself open in that fiercely committed way that he tries everything as an actor. Did their actual marital disputes resemble what happen in this film? Maybe. They were divorced two years after this came out, with much gossip about whether the film had accentuated their discontents. Pollack’s performance as Ziegler is thrillingly cynical and disillusioned.

Eyes Wide Shut is released in the UK on 29 November.

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Death Penalty For Hate Speech Draconian — Ozekhome, Others

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Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has knocked National Assembly over attempt to pass a bill said to contain prescription of the death penalty for makers of hate speech.

He said the bill is an ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, ill-digested and ill-part, dictatorial and absolutist piece of nonsensical legislation waiting to consume all of us
“An obnoxious law such as this will further drive underground and into hiding, the opposition and genuine social critics who speak truth to power and criticise serial opaque, anti-people, corrupt and high-handed polices of government.

“This government has been tested and known to be very allergic to constructive criticisms. Its skin is very negatively thin against criticisms as regards citizens’ genuine concerns.It is a government that listens to itself,, sets its own examination questions, marks them by itself and award marks to itself. Citizens’ opinion does not matter”, he said.

Ozekhome questioning the rationale behind the move to pass the bill asked following questions: “What is hate speech, by the way, and who defines it? What is the true test of determining it? Is the test of a government in power? Or that of the traumatised people? Or, that of the NASS? Or that of the courts? Or, that of the Executive? Just who? I have not yet had the opportunity to read the bill and so do not yet have the details of this unusual bill that has allegedly passed the first reading, seeking the death penalty (by hanging) on alleged hate speech”
He urged that the bill should be deleted, saying: “I pray this provision is not true. I pray it is a mere moonlight tale, the type described as a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

“The bill should immediately be aborted and killed as a malformed embryo at its second reading gestation stage before it is allowed to be delivered as a societal monster”, he added.
Ozekhome alleged that government couldn’t be trusted by any sane person to fairly operate such a draconian piece of legislation introduced under a law that carries the death penalty for alleged hate speech. When has merely making a speech under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution,which guarantees freedom of expression becomes not just treasonable felony (life imprisonment) ,but treason itself, that is punishable with death?

“Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,,recieve and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Rights activist and lawyer, Kunle Adegoke said the penalty is definitely in excess of the gravity of the offence.

He noted that while hate speech is condemnable in all its purport and essence, recommending death sentence for hate speech is too grave a punishment.

“A term of imprisonment, giving the opportunity to the offender to learn and be reformed, is sufficiently condign. In this age when the rest of the world is reducing the number of offences punishable by death, Nigeria will he off the mark to be prescribing death sentence for an offence sufficiently punishable by a less prescription”, Adegoke stated.

A Lagos based lawyer, Ige Asimudara, in his own reaction stated: “These are terrible legislators! How can a legislator propose the death penalty for hate speech? This is the beginning of the death of press freedom. It is intended to gag free speech. Who defines a hate speech? It is a bill that must not see the light of the day. It is unconstitutional to attempt to limit the freedom of expression and the press granted by the Constitution by an unpopular bill”.

According to him, government is too intolerant of criticism. He held that Nigeria’s politicians were just a terrible set of people. “We have not had this bill passed, you see what they are doing to Yele Sowore, Agba Jalingo or Adeyanju. See their atrocities everywhere”, he said.

Former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, Dave Ajetumibi, said the penalty was too harsh, but supported any law to check reckless use of social media.
” I support any law to check the reckless use of social media to create chaos and hate. We need such law. I read that Sowore met Kanu in New York and they agreed to liberate Nigeria, meanwhile Sowore is still in detention in Nigeria”, he said.

The post Death Penalty For Hate Speech Draconian — Ozekhome, Others appeared first on TheNigerialawyer.

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Who Is Alexandra Grant? – Meet Keanu Reeves’ Artist Girlfriend

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For the first time in over a decade, Keanu Reeves made a major red carpet debut with a date. Reeves took Alexandra Grant to the LACMA Art + Film Gala on November 2. They walked the red carpet holding hands, sparking romance rumors. Neither Reeves nor his rep have confirmed whether or not the actor is dating Grant yet.

Stefanie KeenanGetty Images

Grant isn’t a new presence in Reeves’ life though; she’s been there for years. And this isn’t the first time he held her hand on a red carpet either this year.

Here, what to know about Reeves’ rumored new girlfriend.

Reeves and Grant have been friends since at least 2011.

Their first project together was published then. Grant illustrated Reeves’ book Ode to Happiness.

Grant is a 46-year-old artist who has worked with Reeves on multiple projects.

People notes that Grant illustrated two books that Reeves wrote: his 2011 book Ode to Happiness and his 2016 book Shadows. They also founded a publishing company together, X Artists’ Books in 2017.

According to the company’s site, “XAB is a small publisher of thoughtful, high-quality, artist-centered books that fit within and between genres. Our books are works of art; portals to imagined worlds; treasured companions; the fabric of a community. We love the same things about our books as we do about our friends: generosity, open-heartedness, intelligence, mystery, style. They bring sustenance and shift realities. They may occasionally break your heart.”

Grant and Reeves have gone to multiple red carpet events this year.

In June, the two attended Saint Laurent’s fashion show together, and they held hands(!!):

Neilson BarnardGetty Images

In May, they attended the MOCA Benefit:

Rachel LunaGetty Images

The two made their event debut as friends in 2016.

Reeves and Grant were first photographed together at the UNAIDS Galaat Design Miami/Basel in Switzerland.

David M. BenettGetty Images

Reeves and Grant were photographed out on a possible dinner date in October.

According to People, the two were photographed at Giorgio Baldi last month. They “arrived together in Reeve’s Porsche and spent three hours inside the restaurant conversing and sharing a meal.” They left together.

Grant can officiate weddings.

As People pointed out, the artist shared photos of her Instagram showing herself presiding over her friend’s ceremony in Brooklyn.

A post shared by Alexandra Grant (@grantalexandra) on

A post shared by Alexandra Grant (@grantalexandra) on

Grant is based in Los Angeles but has lived in four different countries.

On her artist site’s bio, Grant wrote that her living abroad in Mexico, France, and Spain in her childhood and adolescence has strongly inspired her language-based work. Per her bio, “Some of the basic questions that fuel her practice are: How do the languages we speak and the images we see form how we think and exchange ideas? How can artists and writers work to create and influence culture in an increasingly technology-driven world?”

She told LA Weekly in May, of why she lives in that city, “I grew up in part in Mexico City, Washington, DC, and Paris, moving between languages and cultures. Los Angeles felt like home from the moment I first arrived in 1995, especially the diversity of people, idioms, foods, and plants (like jacaranda and bougainvillea). There’s an incredible work ethic here—many people are creative and entrepreneurial. Having friends who are working hard practicing their crafts—whether it’s set design, publishing, or acting—is very inspiring.”

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‘I can last more than 40 seconds’ – Nollywood actor, Mandinga woos Tonto Dikeh

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Fast-rising Nollywood actor Perikles Mandinga was born in Guinea-Bissau and has been in the entertainment industry for many years. He attended college in Lisbon, Portugal before moving to the USA.

He started as a fashion model, and has featured on runways, magazines, billboards and television. Mandinga won “Rip the Runway”, a P Diddy produced reality show aired on BET Network.

He has extensive film and theatre credits both within the US and internationally. His theatre credits include Tower of Babel, Insanity and Properly Plucked. He has also featured in popular Nollywood movies including Omoge, Adaora, Kiss and Tell including some others.

In an interview, Madinga revealed his plans to gain strong network in the Nollywood industry and make a name for himself. He also talked about his crazy fantasy and how he would like to date one of Nigeria’s most controversial actress, Tonto Dikeh.

Who is Perikles Mandinga?

I am a simple person who lived in two different countries (Portugal & USA) from an early age. I like to travel, and I still play sports. I like meeting new people.

What actually informed your decision to go full-time into acting? And how far do you think you can go?

From an early age, I knew acting was something that I love to do but coming from a traditional African family, I knew it was going to be a hard task because my dad wouldn’t accept the idea. He was very hard on me and my siblings. After finishing my studies in Lisbon, I had the opportunity to come to the USA to model. I knew that acting was going to be my full-time devotion, not modelling because it was my life’s purpose.

What are those unique skills you are bringing to play that may possibly stand you out or better still that may give you recognition among all the big stars we have in industry?

Starting out in a poor African country moving to a European capital and then in NYC I have seen things that maybe the other big stars have not experienced.

What kind of roles do you prefer?

I like to play characters that can be genuinely kind, nice guys or bad guy roles- those make me work harder at their motivation. I like characters that have flaws that can be exploited. Because I have a good sense of humour, I can build characters that have two sides to their personality.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What are your personal goals?

In 5 years from now I see myself doing amazing work with actors that inspired me to get into this business.

Which are the films you have acted in?

Kiss and Tell, Omoge, Adaora, Yes I Do. All of these are Nollywood produced.

By all standards, what comparison can you do between Hollywood and Nollywood- which is more relevant to Africans?

Well from my perspective, I see Hollywood as something that has been there for so long, and now there’s a new kid on the block- Nollywood. It is fresh, with new ideas and it’s growing so fast that nothing will be standing in its way. It has a natural and large market eager for new films that it can relate to.

In your opinion, what do you think should be done in terms of sourcing for fund and maintaining world-class movie productions?

In time, as Nollywood grows, it will be able to finance its growth, similar in history to Hollywood. An important thing is to ensure that new, young and upcoming individuals shouldn’t be shut out from participating.

These days, what have you been up to or which project(s) have you been embarking on?

So many things are happening all at the same time, so my hands are full with projects from movies, theatre and other ventures. It is very exciting.

You are quite handsome, you probably would be getting admiration and glances from the female folks. How well do you relate with them?

Thank you for the compliment. I have a big sister who always kept me in line. She and mom taught me to respect everyone. As a result, I have been fortunate to have many female friends who I trust and have deep friendships with.

Currently in the movie industry, who is your female crush?

That should be Tonto Dikeh. I like her so much and she has a very unique personality. Crazy though but I wouldn’t mind going into a serious relationship with her. After all, I can last more than 40 seconds.

What has fame robbed you of and what doors has it opened for you?

You think I have fame? So far nothing has changed me and likely never will. I am no different than anyone else. I am the same person who gets up each morning to see what the day will offer.

Describe a typical day?

My typical day contains jogging, working out or yoga meditation. I have theatre work with my coach and go on many auditions. I like going for walks and playing sports. Nothing makes me happier than reading books. I especially like autobiographies lately.

Name one luxury product you wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for?

I can’t break the bank for what I want because it doesn’t exist yet. I would do everything to help my sister from dying from cancer.

Where is home at the moment?

Home is the place where you’re loved and feel comfortable. Right now I live between Lagos, Lisbon and NYC.

Who is your role model and why?

My Dad is my role model and he will always be. He was a doctor and taught me about ethics, morals and love and helping others.

Aside acting, what other things do you have passion for?

I have a strong love of our African continent. I believe in helping my brothers to achieve their full potential. Sometimes I think that is my calling. I am curious about different aspects of business around the world.

Any message for your fans out there?

Thank you!! Please keep us going by seeing our movies. You inspire us to keep going with new movies, new stories. We started from almost nothing and your attendance at our films answered our prayers. Thank you

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See is a funny TV show, but not on purpose – The Verge

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There’s a scene in See I would bet everything in my wallet (seven dollars, three old MetroCards, and five half-used coffee rewards cards) that it’ll go viral. It’s the one where Jason Momoa’s character picks up a book for the first time. Since the show is set centuries after a virus deprived humanity of sight, he has no idea what’s in his hands. He complains it smells like “dead bark” and holds it the way a toddler might hold a vegetable when they were in fact expecting a cookie. Then Alfre Woodard’s character demands he hand over what he’s found, and speaks its long-forgotten name: book.

It’s extremely funny in context, and probably debilitating out of it. It also makes See, Apple’s post-apocalyptic drama, one of my favorite kinds of shows: you could just plainly state something that happens in an episode, and everyone would swear you’re making it up. That doesn’t mean you should watch it.

Set in the ruins of our world, the people of See have adjusted to a sightless life after centuries of practice. Makeshift curtains of beads make for boundaries both audible and physical, fights involve a lot of probing contact and grappling (as does sex), and there’s a lot of finger snapping. See is extremely invested in showing you how all this stuff works, so much so that it barely delves into its characters.

Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) is a man who must take his family on the run after his adopted twins, Kofune and Haniwa, are born with sight. The trouble is, the very idea of sight is heretical — much like witchcraft in colonial America, troublesome people are accused of having the ability to see as justification for burning them alive. And there’s also an evil queen who learns of the twins, and as a religious zealot who worships the “darkness” (by, and I will testify to this in court if I have to, masturbating as she prays) she wants them brought to her for evil queen reasons.

A generous and forgiving read of See could interpret it as an attempted meditation on knowledge, ignorance, and responsibility, but See actively resists attempts to latch on to anything of substance it might have to offer. In the first three episodes made available in advance to critics, See is more interested in the logistics of its world than it is in implications.

Sometimes that leads to fun television. The third episode, the best of that initial bunch, is largely unconcerned with the season’s main arc, instead telling a story where Kofune is kidnapped by slavers and must be rescued. It’s visually striking, introducing a tribe of people that, unbeknownst to them, are living in the ruins of an amusement park. It’s got a killer fight scene, with unique choreography that clearly conveys the limitations and skills of everyone involved and depicts brutal violence with grace and skill. And it’s got personal stakes, which I won’t spoil here because it’s one of the only bits of character backstory you get in the first couple of episodes.

None of these things make See a more interesting show beyond the hour you spend watching them. It’s cotton candy, a fun confection for one moment, and just plain sugar the next.

See is clearly interested in drawing people into its elaborate and well-crafted post-apocalypse, but it’s telling that the only questions I have after watching are purely pedantic ones. Like how did a blind society make such perfect and deadly weapons, or build homes that never leak, or clothes and makeup that look so nice?

These are questions asked by jerks and spoilsports, and I wish I had better ones to ask of See. The show is strange, but fails to justify that strangeness with a compelling story, characters, or literally anything other than the list of ideas you and your stoned cousin would come up with if you wondered what it would be like if we all woke up one day totally blind, man. Maybe you’ll come up with something fun enough for posting on Twitter, but it’s not going to cut it for eight hours of television.

All Apple TV Plus shows are available to . The service costs $4.99 a month.

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