Mean Girls’ Jonathan Bennett to star in Hallmark’s first gay Christmas film

Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett is set to star in Hallmark’s first ever gay Christmas movie, and we are already waiting patiently under the mistletoe in anticipation.

Bennett, who played Cady Heron’s dreamy love interest Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, will star in The Christmas House, which will debut on the Hallmark channel on Sunday, 22 November.

The actor, who is openly gay, will play Brandon Mitchell, while his husband Jake will be played by Brad Harder.

The Christmas House will follow Mitchell family matriarch Phylis (played by Sharon Lawrence) and father Bill (played by Treat Williams) as they summon their grown-up sons home for the festive season to help recreate the magic of Christmas past.

Bennett plays one of the adult sons, who returns to his family home with his husband for the Christmas season.

Jonathan Bennett said he is ‘so proud’ to be a part of Hallmark’s first gay Christmas film.

The film will follow the couple as they anxiously await a phone call about their plans to become first-time dads by adopting a child together.

Sharing the news on Instagram stories, Jonathan Bennett said he was “so proud” to be part of the “amazing project”.

The Hallmark Channel has a stellar reputation among Christmas lovers for its enormous line-up of original festive films each year.

The films are so widely loved that they have spawned countless memes, as each year, people across the world tune in to watch the predictable but addictive line-up.

However, LGBT+ fans have long been crying out for a queer festive film – and this year, they have finally been granted their grown-up Christmas wish.

Hallmark confirmed details of the film on Wednesday (23 September) following months of speculation that the channel would introduce its first queer Christmas film in 2020.

“For more than a decade, Hallmark holiday movies have represented the gold standard that many aspire to replicate,” said Wonya Lucas, CEO of Hallmark’s parent company Crown Media.

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“What we bring to the table and what truly sets us apart is an immersive holiday experience that has become a pop culture phenomenon for millions of fans.”

The company previously said they would release an LGBT+ themed film this year.

Michelle Vicary of Crown Media added: “Our holiday table is bigger and more welcoming than ever. This year’s movies reflect our most diverse representation of talent, narratives, and families, including The Christmas House, featuring a storyline about a gay couple looking to adopt their first child.

“Our movies are rooted in warmth and positivity, meaningful connections, family gatherings, and seasonal traditions – a winning formula we hope will bring our millions of viewers much needed levity and holiday cheer at the end of a tough year.”

In July, queer Hallmark Christmas fans were sent into a frenzy when the company confirmed that LGBT+ Christmas films were on the way.

The company had initially faced backlash when it announced details of 18 new Christmas films – all of which focused on straight characters.

However, Crown Media spokesperson George Zaralidis later said: “I can confirm that we will include LGBT+ storylines, characters and actors. We are in active negotiations and look forward to announcing more details when we can.”

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The Death of RBG Vindicates My Vote for Trump

Many Republicans, like myself, did not at first jump on the Trump bandwagon in 2015 and 2016. We feared, and not without reason, that Trump would lead the GOP to perdition — and, what’s almost as bad, defeat. A vote for Trump would thus help elect Hillary Clinton.

Not for the first or last time, I was wrong in 2016. I gradually came to realize this. I warmed to Trump, and in the end I voted for him — proudly and without a moment’s hesitation. Many Republicans took the same journey as me.

Why did I plunk for Trump? I did so not because I thought he would win any awards for congeniality. We are all aware that Trump is, to say the least, mortal. He has character flaws. He makes mistakes. He doesn’t always understand the niceties of conventional politics.

Above all, though, I and millions of Americans like me voted for Trump for one simple reason: the barbarians were at the gates, and only Trump could save us, and America, from their ravages.

Liberals — you are the barbarians in this little analogy. Try to keep up.

Simply put, had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, she would have chosen the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The balance on the Court would have shifted decisively to the left. The Supreme Court, therefore, which Republicans already view warily, even with a “conservative” majority, would have become far more activist, far more aggressive, and far more beholden to left-wing ideology.

Any conservative can tell you that a Republican-appointed judge or justice is only occasionally a reliable supporter of conservative, constitutionalist principles. A Democrat-appointed judge or justice, on the other hand, is a supporter of “progressive” causes, and the narrow interests of the Democratic Party, 100 percent of the time.

Thus, a liberal majority on the Supreme Court would have guaranteed, in this hyper-partisan era, that conservatives would never again receive a sympathetic hearing there. Anything that the Left wanted would have been approved by judicial fiat. Even the integrity of future elections, which Republicans and conservatives might or might not win, would have been jeopardized, because a liberal Court would simply throw out results that didn’t accord with their wishes.

This, then, was the judicial apocalypse that we conservative patriots believed we were facing in 2016. As it turned out, only one man could save us, and our beloved Constitution, from the coming cataclysm: Donald Trump.

I therefore voted for Trump, in the fervent hope that he would win. I hoped, if he won, that he would build the Wall, fight for trade fairness, reduce regulation, keep us out of pointless regime change wars, and much more. I hoped for these things, but I knew that Trump would appoint new justices to the Supreme Court that would be a thousand times better than the reliable progressives and social justice warriors that Hillary would surely name to the bench.

And so he has.

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh might not vote all the time the way conservatives would like them to, but they have not corrupted our democracy, they have not shamed the judiciary with legal sophistry, and they have not legislated from the bench.

What’s more, if Democrats cheat in the 2020 election, or in the counting of votes that follows, we can safely assume that a mostly conservative Court will hold them accountable for it. That gives a conservative like me peace of mind.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, therefore, confirms that my choice to vote for Donald Trump in 2016 was right — even righter than I realized at the time.

For, not only will President Trump hold left-wing judicial activism at bay; he is in a position to tilt SCOTUS even further to the right, further perhaps than at any time in the last century.

For those of us who believe that liberal justices have already taken us much too far down the path of “reimagining” our Constitution, the opportunity to return to first principles, to limit the growth of federal power, to curb judicial activism, and to return many rights and powers to the states and to the people, is like a dream come true.

President Trump, therefore, has exceeded the expectations of many of us who voted for him. That will sound incredible to progressives, but it is the truth.

Democrats and liberals, you see a president and a Senate preparing to dash your dream of a judicially-mandated forced march to the sunlit uplands of a neo-Marxist utopia. We Republicans and conservatives see a president and a Senate about to reverse much of the damage you’ve already done to the country we so love, and about to reaffirm the Constitution, rather your wild fantasies and rigid ideology, as the law of the land.

Thank you, President Trump, for doing what We the People elected you to do.

I look forward to your nomination of an outstanding new Justice of the Supreme Court.

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District chairman sentences 2 hippos to death

Amuru
The wild animals have been causing mayhem in an 8km stretch of Unyama river from Pabo to Atiak sub county.

Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Time is finally out for two hippopotamuses that have have continued to destroy food crops and even kill domestic animals for two years ever since they invaded Gaya parish in Pabo sub county of Amuru district.

Following persistent cries from the people of Amuru and apparent failure by Uganda Wildlife Authority to control the two hippos, the district chairperson Michael Lakony has pronounced himself on the matter. The hippos are to be killed as soon as possible.

The death sentence has apparently been welcomed by most residents. To Silvester Odong,  LCI chairperson of Pukwany village, the two hippos have so far killed 4 cows, 10 goats and destroyed over 20 acres of food crops along River Unyama banks. Odong’s recollection of the hippos rampaging activities date back to May 2019.

According to Odong, they are now advising locals of the area to keep watch of their animals to avoid being attacked and killed by the wild animals.

To Christine Apio, a resident of Pukwany, the order to kill the hippos is music to the ears. She says she lost 5 acres of rice to the stray hippos last year and again lost another 5 acres to them this year. Apio is now worried about where she is going to get money for her family having invested over 1.5 million shillings in the past two years.

Michael Lakony, the Amuru district LCV chairperson says they have written several letters to Uganda Wildlife Authority to come to the rescue of the people but all in vain.

According to Lakony, the wild animals have been causing mayhem in an 8km stretch of Unyama river from Pabo to Atiak sub county. That is why the community has been called upon to hunt and kill the animals since “UWA has failed to come to the rescue of the local people”.

Lakony observes that the biggest challenge is that the affected community members can’t get compensation for their destroyed crops and animals.

Our efforts to contact Hanji Bashir, the UWA communications manager were futile as his phone went unanswered.

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URN

WhatsApp

The post District chairman sentences 2 hippos to death appeared first on The Independent Uganda:.

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Learning from Death: How We Change When Losing a Loved One

There is no easy way to write about death that doesn’t risk trivializing it or being overwhelmed by it. Fortunately, I have never suffered a tragedy, such as the loss of a child or spouse or family member before their natural time.

You don’t have to lose someone or face your own death to learn from it.

I have spent a lot of time personally and professionally with people who have had to grapple with the questions that none of us have answers:   

Why did this happen? 

What did I do wrong? 

How can I make this pain go away? 

If I could only have… 

With all the pain of loss and grief, I do like one aspect of what death does to those left behind: it pushes out all the extraneous noise of our lives and forces us to deal with only that which really matters. Most often, someone who has been shattered by a loss is very, very real. It’s almost like you’re speaking to someone on a drug when what comes out is pure, true, and undefended. 

I find such experience deeply grounding, and I enjoy being in an atmosphere of such truth. It is at such times that I understand what might draw someone to work in hospice care. The opportunity to work in an environment where everything is on the line, where there is no point in pretense, where life is stripped down to the bare essentials: it seems to me it’s like a spiritual backpack trip. You have only what you really need to survive; everything else is extra baggage you don’t want to carry. You are reminded of how little you really need, and how simple and pure life can be.

 Sometimes when I’m working with a couple, and they’re sniping at each other over the “he said/she said” of married life, I cut through the static with the following intervention:   

I have them sit across from each other and fill in the blank to the sentence – “If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, what I would want you to know today is…” 

That gets their attention. They immediately drop out of the argument and say things like “I love you” or “I’m sorry I wasn’t a better husband/wife.” 

Why does this happen? 

I think most of the time, most of the day, our ego is running the show. We are concerned first and foremost with the survival of the “I” of the ego. This can take countless forms, but just a few examples to help you know what I mean would include:  

Worrying about what I get out of this situation

How I look to others or wanting to hurt someone who hurt me

Wanting to fend off possible criticism

Needing to be right  

All of the above actions are about the importance of Ego.  

We don’t know what happens when we die. 

Although most of us have beliefs about it. Here’s one of the things I feel relatively sure about: the ego dies with the body.

If any part of us survives our physical death, I cannot believe it is that aspect of us which worries how we look, if only because I see how that drops away in those who have just lost someone. 

Letting death be our teacher, through making us aware of what truly matters, is one of the best ways I know to be truly alive.  

If you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do differently today?

If you’re struggling with loss, grief, and death, we’re here to help with Imago  and . We also have Online Couples Therapy and Online Couples Workshops right now!  

 Josh GresselThis blog post was written by Josh Gressel, a clinical psychologist and certified Imago therapist in practice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He is the author of  (University of America Press, 2014) and “Disposable Diapers, Envy, and the Kibbutz: What Happens to an Emotion Based on Difference in a Society Based on Equality?” in Envy at Work and in Organizations (Oxford University Press, 2017).  He has just completed a book on masculinity.  

Check out Josh’s website: joshgressel.com

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Facebook non-partisan, politically neutral: India chief Ajit Mohan

Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan has defended the handling of alleged hate speeches by members of the ruling BJP, saying the platform has remained true to its design of being neutral and non-partisan and acted based on inputs from various teams.

In an interview with PTI, Mohan rejected charges of Facebook India’s decisions being influenced by political leanings of individuals, saying the process followed at the platform is designed to ensure no one person can influence outcomes, let alone take any unilateral decisions.

“The content policy of team that is at the centre of all the enforcement decisions (on hate speeches) is separate and independent in India from the public policy team (that handles government relations),” he said. “It’s designed for independence.”

And the content management team is guided by only community standards. “And enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one,” he asserted.

Individuals can have “points of views” or “leanings”, the “system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes,” he said.

“And so the answer is yes,” he said replying to a question on whether Facebook is a non-partisan and politically neutral entity.

The comments come amid a political storm over a report published in the Wall Street Journal last month, alleging the social media giant ignored extremist posts by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to protect its business interests in India.

According to the report, Facebook deleted anti-Muslim posts by BJP’s Telangana MLA T Raja Singh and three other Hindu nationalists only after being questioned by the paper. Facebook’s head of public policy Ankhi Das, the report said citing company employees, had opposed the deletion of the posts despite being flagged internally as breaching standards.

Facebook earlier this month banned the 42-year-old Telangana MLA, categorising him as a “dangerous individual”.

Mohan said there are no limits to respectable standard for free speech within and outside the company.

While there are people from multiple political leanings and backgrounds in the company, Facebook values people of experience in government or in public service.

“But at the same time, I think it is important to call out to you that the content policy of a team that is at the centre of all of these enforcement decisions is separate and independent in India from the public policy team here. It’s designed for independence. So the public policy team that engages with government, for example, central and state governments, is a part of my team. That is separate from the content policy team which is part of the global team,” he said.

“So, I think the point is while people can have points of view, they can have leanings, the system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes, let alone have any unilateral decision making power on this aspect. The separation in India context tells you how design is meant for independence,” he said.

Mohan said the content moderation is largely done through automated systems and human reviewers.

In dealing with complex issues such as designating individuals, especially elected officials, the content policy team comes into play.

“The public policy team does seek inputs from multiple functions and disciplines and teams including public policy team in India. That is not interference. That is the process, that is being designed to have enough local context from the local team,” he said. “But finally the decision that is taken is not taken by the public policy team.”

“So you have the opportunity in certain cases like designation, from multiple local and international teams, to provide a point of view that is by design. But it is not for them to take any unilateral decision. That still goes through the content policy team,” he said.

Facebook has over 300 million users in India, while its associate WhatsApp is the leader in messaging with over 400 million users.

In April this year, Facebook invested USD 5.7 billion to buy a 9.9 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of energy-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Mohan said Facebook has an impartial approach to dealing with content and that this is governed strongly by its community standards. These policies are enforced globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural beliefs, he emphasised.

“That is the basis and enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one. It goes to the heart of something all of us embrace, that we have to be neutral, we have to be non-partisan,” he added.

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The Supreme Court Vacancy After Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death: Live Updates – The New York Times

Mr. Trump, who rolled out a new list of possible Supreme Court picks last week before there was a vacancy, seized the political initiative early Saturday, issuing a thinly veiled warning to any Republicans thinking about delaying a vote until after the November election.

The president rejected suggestions that he should wait to let the winner of the Nov. 3 contest fill the vacancy, much as Mr. McConnell insisted four years ago in blocking President Barack Obama from filling an election-year vacancy on the court.

“We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s not the next president. Hopefully, I’ll be the next president. But we’re here now, right now, we’re here, and we have an obligation to the voters, all of the people, the millions of people who put us here.”

For the Biden team, the death of Justice Ginsburg represents a challenge of a different sort.

As Shane Goldmacher, Katie Glueck and Thomas Kaplan report, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has spent months condemning President Trump as a failed steward of the nation’s well-being, relentlessly framing the 2020 election as a referendum on the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, confronted with a moment that many believe will upend the 2020 election, the Biden campaign is sticking to what it believes is a winning strategy. Campaign aides said on Saturday they would seek to link the Supreme Court vacancy to the health emergency gripping the country and the future of health care in America.

While confirmation fights have long centered on hot-button cultural divides like guns and especially abortion, the Biden campaign, at least at the start, plans to focus chiefly on protecting the Affordable Care Act and its popular guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement on Friday night. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

The more moderate Republican senators are a small group, and it is not clear whether they could control enough votes to block Mr. Trump’s nominee. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate to the Democrats’ 47, and Vice President Mike Pence is allowed to break any ties.

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Detective Agencies, Film Noir and Society’s Relationship to the Elderly: Maite Alberdi on Her Doc, The Mole Agent | Filmmaker Magazine

ChileThe Mole Agent

Responding to a help-wanted ad, 85-year-old Sergio Chamy agrees to infiltrate a Santiago nursing home as a “mole agent” to find out if a client’s mother is being abused. As a “spy” he uncovers a hidden world of frustration and loneliness. 

Maite Alberdi’s documentary borrows from film noir before evolving into an unsettling look at the lives of the elderly. It was developed with the help of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Tribeca Film Institute. The Mole Agent screened at Sundance, and is available on demand starting September 1.

Filmmaker spoke with Alberdi from her office in Santiago.

Filmmaker: How did you start on this project?

Maite Alberdi: I wanted to make a documentary about private detectives. I’m a super fan of film noir and pulp fiction, and I realized that I never saw a documentary that centered around a detective agency. That was my starting point. I researched agencies, which is how I met Romulo, a retired police officer who had his own shop. He handled several “mole” cases. I worked with him a couple of times, and one of the cases involved the retirement home. I realized I wanted to shoot there.

Filmmaker: What did you do for Romulo?

Alberdi: I followed people. I would meet with clients, interview them, take notes. Then I had cases where parents wanted to follow their children, or I followed couples. A lot of things.

Romulo usually worked with the same mole, but he broke his hip and had to be replaced when we were ready to start shooting. Romulo put an ad in the paper to find and train a new mole.

Filmmaker: So in effect Romulo cast Sergio.

Alberdi: No, he wasn’t going to pick Sergio. I had to convince him. Romulo wanted someone else, someone I didn’t think was empathetic. The one Romulo liked was accompanied by his wife during the interview. And Romulo being super-machismo, I could say, “Maybe the wife will be there all the time. She could be a problem. That won’t happen with Sergio.”

Filmmaker: You were like a private eye yourself, investigating the investigators.

Alberdi: Exactly. I feel Sergio’s job is super-similar to my job as documentary filmmaker. Because when I’m shooting, I spend a lot of time, waiting, waiting, until I have the scene. Documentary filmmaking requires a lot of patience. Some days I never press “rec” because nothing interesting is happening. For Sergio it’s the same, he’s waiting, following people, waiting, waiting until he takes the pictures or until he gets the proof that he needs. 

I’m always spying on people. They know I’m there, that’s the big difference. I observe people without participating.

Filmmaker: How did you persuade the nursing home to agree to filming?

Alberdi: We said that I want to make a film about old age. I had previously released a film in Chile about older people, so it wasn’t weird that I wanted to shoot there. We said we would shoot both the good things and the bad things that happen there. So if we see something bad, we will show it. They signed an agreement to that effect. Then we said, if someone new arrives we want to focus on their experiences. That they allowed too. We introduced ourselves to the staff, and we started to shoot inside the retirement home for three weeks before Sergio arrives. When he came, we acted as if we didn’t know each other.

There was a real client, a real case that Sergio was working on. It was a family problem, someone wanted to prove to her brothers and sisters that their mom wasn’t okay there. Of course I started to realize that the nursing home was a good place, and then I felt super-guilty about lying to them. 

When we finished the film, they were the first people we showed it to. I said, “I lied to you, it was a film about a mole.” When they saw it, they loved it. They cried a lot. Now they are the best promoters of the film.

Filmmaker: One of the saddest aspects of The Mole Agent is that it shows how even with a good environment and a caring staff, the elderly have trouble dealing with isolation.

Alberdi: We always put the blame on the institution. Like with school, and my kids, it’s always the teacher’s fault. But I’m the one who’s not building a community there.

With retirement homes it’s the same. We put our old people there and forget them. We don’t work to make it a good place, a community. You can correct the problem by connecting them with families, integrating them into society. In Latin America it’s really common to isolate older people. It was the same with my previous film [The Grown-Ups, 2016], which was about people with Down Syndrome. Their parents put them in a special needs school, and fifty years later they’re still there.

Filmmaker: Your visual style is arresting. The Mole Agent settles into the rhythms of the elderly, and the imagery that reflects their feelings.  Can you talk about collaborating with cinematographer Pablo Valdés?

Alberdi: I have been working with Pablo for 10 years, we’ve made, I think, five films together. Here I really wanted to make a film noir, I wanted to shoot angles like a fiction film. We had some style references, but we ended up using the same techniques we always use.

We spend a lot of time with people until they get used to the camera. I would try to figure out which ones didn’t, so we wouldn’t shoot them. The people in the home have a routine that doesn’t change very much. They have lunch at the same time, for example. It’s like my life, I don’t change that much, I know my routine. So if I know, I can predict how things are going to happen, and at what time and place.

We spend a lot of time planning the frame. And then it’s wait. For example, that’s why I don’t use a handheld camera. Because we can never wait that long holding a camera. I would love to make a film with a more mobile camera, but we can’t move. 

Filmmaker: You said in an interview that reality is cyclical, and that you discover patterns within it.

Alberdi: I don’t make films about the past. I am shooting in the present in all of my films. When I’m shooting, I trust that if I wait, the things that I saw before will happen again. I don’t know when, but they are going to happen. So as I saw the other mole cases, in my mind I knew what kind of things Romulo was going to ask Sergio. So I knew what I am going to shoot.

I’m going to give you an example from the first film where I learned that. It’s called  A Lifeguard (El salvavidas, 2011). The main character thinks that the best lifeguard is the one who never needs to go into the water — he prevents accidents from happening. But he works at the most dangerous beach in Chile, where every summer someone drowns. My concern was, okay, I have a film about the lifeguard. He has to face whether or not to go into the water. And I need that in my narrative. But how can I shoot that I’m shooting a second character, or I’m running around someplace else?

Okay, I have to study the behavior at this beach. I spent a summer trying to understand the routines there. I studied the marine statistics. I learned that all of the people drowned at the same place between five and six in the evening. I didn’t know which day it was going to happen, but I knew the time and the place. So we spent all the summer in the same place at the same time waiting. We were there when it happened, and we have it in the film.

Filmmaker: But you’re still selecting, choosing as you go along. There is a scene in The Mole Agent you couldn’t have predicted, when a frightened woman breaks down into tears in front of Sergio.

Alberdi: In some ways you can predict, because you learn the world there. There were 50 women in the home, and we choose six to follow because we knew something was going to happen to them. That woman, for example, she’s saying her son didn’t come to visit. That’s something she said to other people, something she said to me. So I knew when Sergio introduced himself, she would say something similar.

Filmmaker: That moment reaches a universal truth, the fear everyone faces about growing old. It stripped away the rest of the narrative framework for me.

Alberdi: I believe that documentary filmmaking is like being a sculptor. You have this big rock that is reality, and it is big, because that place has a lot of people. You have to chisel until a figure appears. The decision about what you are taking out is more important than what you are keeping.

Filmmaker: You had 300 hours of material. How difficult was the editing process?

Alberdi: We had a lot of versions. For example that scene you mentioned, at the time I shot it I was living with Sergio in the home. I was living the same feelings as he did. I had the same emotional commitments. And I have to deal in the editing with how to balance the original case, and my emotional experiences. 

We shot the case, the client, all the details about her. In the beginning I thought I had to explain everything, and until the end what I was shooting, the narrative plot, was the case itself. In the editing room I found my heart was not in the case. Yeah, it was rational, it advanced the story. But my emotions were what was driving me forward. It was super-difficult to realize that, to say for example, “Okay, the client is not going to appear after all.”

It took me a year to remove the client and make the movie Sergio’s journey. Or, for example, the decision to put myself in a shot. That was an editing decision. We edited in the Netherlands and showed it to a lot of Dutch people who kept asking, “Is this really a documentary?” I didn’t want people to get lost, I preferred to put that in the beginning to make it easier for you to enter into the story.

Filmmaker: What’s your next project?

Alberdi: We are very early in shooting about a young couple. The man is fifty years old, he has Alzheimer’s, and it’s a love story about how the couple deals with that. Covid has made it terrible for them, and for me too because I can no longer shoot them. But she’s started shooting, and has brought a new life to the project. 

It’s frustrating for everybody, not just me. It’s difficult after working on this for so many years to try to adapt to new forms of exhibition. My mind needs to be more open.

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Facebook wants to know how it’s shaping the 2020 elections — researchers say it’s looking too late and in the wrong places (FB)

Summary List Placement

Facebook was first warned in late 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was misusing data illicitly harvested from millions of Americans in an attempt to sway the 2016 US elections.

It didn’t pull the plug on the firm’s access to user data until March 2018 after reporting from The Guardian turned the breach into a global scandal.

More than two years later — and barely two months before the deadline for votes to cast their ballots in the 2020 elections — Facebook has decided it wants to know more about how it impacts democracy, announcing last week that it would partner with 17 researchers to study the impact of Facebook and Instagram on voters’ attitudes and actions.

But researchers outside of the project are conflicted. While they praised Facebook for promising to ensure more transparency and independence than it has before, they also questioned why the company waited so long and just how much this study will really bring to light.

“Isn’t this a little bit too late?” Fadi Quran, a campaign director with nonprofit research group Avaaz, told Business Insider.

“Facebook has known now for a long time that there’s election interference, that malicious actors are using the platform to influence voters,” he said. “Why is this only happening now at such a late stage?” 

Facebook said it doesn’t “expect to publish any findings until mid-2021 at the earliest.” The company did not reply to a request for comment on this story.

Since the company is leaving it to the research team to decide which questions to ask and draw their own conclusions — a good thing — we don’t yet know much about what they hope to learn. In its initial announcement, Facebook said it’s curious about: “whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote.”

Facebook executives have reportedly known the answer to that first question — that the company’s algorithms do help polarize and radicalize people — and that they knowingly shut down efforts to fix the issue or even research it more.

But even setting that aside, researchers say they’ve already identified some potential shortcomings in the study.

“A lot of the focus of this work is very much about how honest players are using these systems,” Laura Edelson, a researcher who studies political ads and misinformation at New York University, told Business Insider.

“Where I’m concerned is that they’re almost exclusively not looking at the ways that things are going wrong, and that’s where I wish this was going further,” she added.

Quran echoed that assessment, saying: “One big thing that they’re going to miss by not looking more deeply at these malicious actors, and just by the design, is the scale of content that’s been created by these actors and that’s influencing public opinion.”

A long list of research and media reports have documented Facebook’s struggles to effectively keep political misinformation off its platform — let alone misleading health claims, which despite Facebook’s more aggressive approach, still racked up four times as many views as posts from sites pushing accurate information, according to Avaaz. 

But political information is much more nuanced and constantly evolving, and even in what seem to be clear-cut cases, Facebook has, according to reports, at times incorrectly enforced its own policies or bent over backward to avoid possible political backlash.

Quran and Edelson both worried that Facebook’s election study may not capture the full impact of aspects of the platform like its algorithms, billions of fake accounts, or private groups.

“You find what you go and you look for,” Edelson said. “The great problem of elections on Facebook is not how the honest actors are working within the system.”

Quran also said, though it’s too early say this will happen for sure, that because it’s Facebook asking users directly within their apps to join the study, sometimes in exchange for payment, it risks inadvertently screening out people who are distrustful of the company to begin with.

“We’re already seeing posts on different groups that share disinformation telling people: ‘Don’t participate in the study, this is a Facebook conspiracy'” to spy on users or keep Republicans off the platform ahead of the election, he said. “What this could lead to, potentially, is that the people most impacted by disinformation are not even part of the study.”

In a best-case scenario, Edelson said the researchers could learn valuable information about how our existing understanding of elections maps onto the digital world. Quran said the study could even serve as an “information ecosystem impact assessment,” similar to environmental impact studies, that would help Facebook understand how changes it could make might impact the democratic process.

But both were skeptical that Facebook would make major changes based on this study or the 2020 elections more broadly. And Quran warned that, despite Facebook’s efforts to make the study independent, people shouldn’t take the study as definitive or allow it to become a “stamp of approval.”

It took Facebook nearly four years from when it learned about Cambridge Analytica to identify the tens of thousands of apps that were also misusing data. And though it just published the results of its first independent civil rights audit, the company has made few commitments to implement any of the auditors’ recommendations.

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Official Novena for the Birth of Mary, Blessed Virgin with Plenary Indulgence – Powerful Prayers to Share!

All Saints' Day

To all faithful Christians who, in private or public, in church or in their own houses, shall keep any of the following Novenas, in preparation for the principal feasts of most holy Mary, Pope Pius VII., at the prayer of several holy persons, granted, by Rescripts issued through his Eminence the Cardinal-Vicar, Aug. 4 and Nov. 24, 1808, and Jan. 11, 1800 (all of which are kept in the Segretaria of the Vicariate) –

i. An indulgence of 300 days, daily.

ii. A plenary indulgence to all who shall assist at these Novenas every day, and who shall afterwards, either on the Feast-day itself, to which each Novena respectively has reference, or on some one day in its Octave, after Confession and Communion, pray to our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin ac cording to the pious intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

 FOR THE FEAST OF OUR LADY’S NATIVITY.



Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

TRANSLATION.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Most holy Mary, Elect One, predestined from all eternity by the Most Holy Trinity to be Mother of the only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, foretold by the Prophets, expected by the Patriarchs, desired by all nations, Sanctuary and living Temple of the Holy Ghost, Sun without stain, conceived free from original sin, Mistress of Heaven and of Earth, Queen of angels:- humbly prostrate at thy feet we give thee our homage, rejoicing that the year has brought round again the memory of thy most happy Nativity; and we pray thee with all our hearts to vouchsafe in thy goodness now to come down again and be reborn spiritually in our souls, that, led captive by thy loveliness and sweetness, they may ever live united to thy most sweet and loving heart.

i. So now whilst we say nine angelic salutations, we will direct our thoughts to the nine months which thou didst pass enclosed in thy mother’s womb; celebrating at the same time thy descent from the royal house of David, and how thou didst come forth to the light of heaven with high honour from the womb of holy Anna, thy most happy mother.
Ave Maria.

Day 2 prayer – ii. We hail thee, heavenly Babe, white Dove of purity; who in spite of the serpent wast conceived free from original sin.
Ave Maria.

Day 3 prayer – iii. We hail thee, bright Morn; who, forerunner of the Heavenly Sun of Justice, didst bring the first light to earth.
Ave Maria.

Day 4 prayer – iv. We hail thee, Elect; who, like the untarnished Sun, didst burst forth in the dark night of sin.
Ave Maria.

Day 5 prayer – v. We hail thee, beauteous Moon; who didst shed light upon a world wrapt in the darkness of idolatry.
Ave Maria.

Day 6 prayer – vi. We hail thee, dread Warrior-Queen; who, in thyself a host, didst put to flight all hell.
Ave Maria.

Day 7 prayer – vii. We hail thee, fair Soul of Mary; who from eternity wast possessed by God and God alone.
Ave Maria.

Day 8 prayer – viii. We hail thee, dear Child, and we humbly venerate thy most holy infant body, the sacred swaddling-clothes wherewith they bound thee, the sacred crib wherein they laid thee, and we bless the hour and the day when thou wast born.
Ave Maria.

Day 9 prayer – ix. We hail thee, much-loved Infant, adorned with every virtue immeasurably above all saints, and therefore worthy Mother of the Saviour of the world; who, having been made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, didst bring forth the Word Incarnate.
Ave Maria.

PRAYER

O most lovely Infant, who by thy holy birth hast comforted the world, made glad the heavens, struck terror into hell, brought help to the fallen, consolation to the sad, salvation to the weak, joy to all men living; we entreat thee, with the most fervent love and gratitude, to be spiritually reborn in our souls by means of thy most holy love; renew our spirits to thy service, rekindle in our hearts the fire of charity, bid all the virtues blossom there, that so we may find more and more favour in thy gracious eyes. Mary! be thou our Mary, and may we feel the saving power of thy sweetest name; may it ever be our comfort to call on that name in all our troubles; may it be our hope in dangers, our shield in temptation, and our last utterance in death. Sit nomen Mariae mel in ore, melos in aure, et jubilus in corde. Amen. Let the name of Mary be honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. Amen.

V. Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo.
R. Gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo.

Oremus.
Famulis tuis, quaesumus Domine, coelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut quibus Beata Virginis partus extitit salutis exordium, nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

TRANSLATION.

V. Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God.
R. Hath brought joy to the whole world.

Let us pray.
Grant to us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace; that to all those for whom the delivery of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of salvation, this her votive festival may give increase of peace. Through, &c.

Let us pray.


O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
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