Archive for June, 2019

Every Marvel superhero movie, definitively ranked (including ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’) – USA TODAY

June 30th, 2019

The new “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer catches up with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in a world needing new heroes after “Avengers: Endgame.” USA TODAY

With 23 blockbuster movies and counting since 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created a cosmos of big stars, from the misfit crew of “Guardians of the Galaxy” to the high-profile African superhero of “Black Panther.” Just imagine a pop culture without these films: Iron Man wouldn’t be a household name like Batman or Superman, Ultron would just sound like a bathroom cleaner and certainly nobody would know what the heck “I am Groot” is supposed to mean.

The newest effort “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (officially opening Tuesday) is the second solo adventure for Tom Holland’s teen web-slinger, but how does it fit into this seemingly never-ending superhero saga? Here’s the definitive ranking of all the Marvel movies so far:

Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ swings Spidey into a post-‘Endgame’ world

Et tu, X-Men? Do the mutant heroes belong in the MCU after ‘Dark Phoenix’?

23. ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)

Let’s accentuate the positive: The sequel gave us Scarlett Johansson’s sleek secret agent Black Widow and put Don Cheadle in the War Machine armor. Everything else was a scattershot mess with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) taking on the wholly underwhelming villain Whiplash (Mickey Rourke).

22. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (2008)

Before ultimately being replaced in other movies by Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton starred as scientist Bruce Banner in this odd duck from the nascent MCU. This mostly forgettable affair exists to serve as a reminder that we still deserve a good solo Hulk film one day.

21. ‘Iron Man 3’ (2013)

The results are only so-so as Tony Stark tussles with PTSD, criminally underused antagonist Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and yawn-worthy villain Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). The threequel also proved that, yes, too many armored suits are a bad thing – heck, even Gwyneth Paltrow gets one.

20. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (2013)

Chris Hemsworth’s thunder god has a sequel that’s a blender of familiar fantasy tropes as Thor and love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) have to deal with a dark elf with an Infinity Stone. Tom Hiddleston’s iconic trickster Loki is in fine form and the film’s highlight in every way.

19. ‘Thor’ (2011)

Not Marvel’s greatest solo movie, but certainly one that takes some admirable swings. A quasi-family drama that boots Thor from the realm of Asgard to Earth in fish-out-of-water fashion so he can be worthy of his mystical hammer, Mjølnir.

18. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015)

Bursting with a packed ensemble, it’s lacking the superteam mojo of the first “Avengers.” Only when we see Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and his secret home life do we get that great Joss Whedon touch. Also: Bless James Spader’s heart for being the world’s snarkiest killer robot.

17. ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019)

Brie Larson’s photon-blasting space warrior debuts in a 1990s nostalgia-fest that’s part “Guardians of the Galaxy” and part “Memento”: Carol Danvers has to figure out her own mysterious human identity while also warding off an alien menace to Earth. Larson’s OK but you’ll really dig the sweet relationship between youngish Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Goose the cat.

16. ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ (2018)

The satisfying sequel doubles down on all the aspects that made the original “Ant-Man” joyful with one big (or, small, depending on how you look at it) addition: Evangeline Lilly debuts her winged and awesomely rough-and-tumble Wasp on an adventure that takes its size-changing heroes from San Francisco to the Quantum Realm.

15. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017)

Thor and Hulk make a dynamic duo in the best “Thor” solo film (and funniest Marvel project), and anything with the two of them is magic. It’s just too bad the larger narrative featuring a hostile takeover by goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett) takes a backseat to the various shenanigans. 

14. ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)

Benedict Cumberbatch gets a fantastically weird and trippy introduction to the MCU as a sorcerer supreme who goes from rich jerk to humbled hero. It’s a magical version of Iron Man’s origin and some gags are overly goofy, yet the filmmaking wizardry and effects are second to none.

13. ‘Ant-Man’ (2015)

The heist comedy with a super-shrinking dude was a bigger risk than “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are great together, though, and Marvel gave us something we hadn’t seen yet: a hero who’s also an ex-con dad.

12. ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Puppy love and summer flings abound when Holland’s Peter Parker goes on a European vacation to spend quality time with his crush MJ (Zendaya) and instead gets thrown into a few international incidents. High-school high jinks keep it lighthearted, while Jake Gyllenhaal makes an over-the-top splash as the enigmatic Mysterio.

11. ‘Iron Man’ (2008)

The beginning, the kickoff, the OG. A crew of Avengers was probably still a pipe dream for fans and most of Hollywood when Robert Downey Jr. first put on the Iron Man suit, but from the start, the signature swagger, attitude and swig of humility he gave Tony Stark set the tone for everything that was to come.

10. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017)

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can – and when you’re the newest version of the teen hero, you also deal with balancing extracurriculars, getting a date for the big homecoming dance, trying to impress Tony Stark and fighting the Vulture in an epic young-adult adventure.

9. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (2011)

Marvel nailed the origin story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), the little guy whose heart was bigger than his biceps until a super-soldier serum pumped him up. It offered a great World War II aesthetic, two-fisted adventure and a moral code that created an intriguing thread for his next two movies.

8. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)

They had us at “Kurt Russell plays a living planet.” The gravy is everything else: adorable Baby Groot dancing in the middle of a space battle, Dave Bautista’s Drax being the buff, oddball voice of reason, and Michael Rooker’s space outlaw Yondu stealing the show.

7. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)

The third “Avengers” film is the all-night buffet of superhero fare, with a slew of folks rallying to fend off Thanos, a dude bent on destroying half the universe. It’s all pretty tasty, though, with great one-liners, a narrative where good people make some bad decisions, and a stupendous cliffhanger that you’ll love to hate.

6. ‘Black Panther’ (2018)

From hanging in 1990s Oakland to flying through futuristic present-day Africa, the first solo film for Chadwick Boseman’s warrior king is a magnificent journey with awesome set pieces (including a car chase through South Korea that’ll leave you breathless) and a near-perfect villain in Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. Wakanda forever!

5. ‘The Avengers’ (2012)

Joss Whedon’s jam-packed ensemble completely lived up to its giant-size expectations. While the heroes-batting-each-other trope is starting to get played out, the excitement is palpable and fanboy hearts melt when hammers and shield fly as Iron Man, Cap and Thor meet.

4. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)

Personal and political stakes are at play as Cap chooses his best friend (and brainwashed assassin) over Iron Man, blowing up the Avengers dynamic. Plus, it has the an awesome superhero battle and memorable intros for Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland).

3. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019)

Marvel’s greatest-hits compilation is also a secret handshake of sorts for long-invested fans, with three hours of rousing storytelling starring Earth’s mightiest heroes that pays off everything that came before it with callbacks and cameos. The climactic battle will knock your socks off, though you’ll need a couple of hankies by the uplifting yet heartbreaking finale.

2. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)

Fantastic tunes, a strange cast of characters that inexplicably works, and a story where you’re hooked on a bunch of feelings, from the emotions of young Peter Quill crying over his dying mother to the hilarity of grown-up Peter (Chris Pratt) explaining Footloose to new pal Gamora (Zoe Saldana). We are Groot, indeed.

1. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014)

More political thriller than superhero blockbuster, Captain America’s second solo film – and the best Marvel jam of them all – taps into timely themes of privacy concerns, an enemy growing from within, and military might used in ethically questionable ways. Come for the timeliness, stay for Cap wrecking a bunch of guys in an elevator.


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Lil Nas X Seemingly Comes Out as Gay on the Last Day of Pride Month – The Blast

June 30th, 2019

“Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X seemed to come out as gay on Sunday, the final day of Pride Month 2019.

In a series of tweets, the rapper began by saying, “some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure.”

He followed it up with a tweet of the cover of his EP, showing that one the buildings in the background had rainbow coloring. He captioned the pic, “deada– thought i made it obvious.”

The song Lil Nas X is referring to in the tweet is called “Closure” and contains lyrics that include:

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow.
No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go.
Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take ahold.
This is what I gotta do, can’t be regrettin’ when I’m old.


Hong Kong marks handover to China anniversary as protests rage close by – Global News

June 30th, 2019

The Hong Kong government marked the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China on Monday, as police faced off with protesters outside the venue.

READ MORE: Hong Kong protesters block roads before China handover anniversary ceremony

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A flag-raising ceremony, in which the Chinese and Hong Kong flags are raised together, was held under unusually high security. Police used riot shields and pepper spray to push back helmeted protesters who tried to advance down closed streets toward the venue.

Hong Kong leaders, mainland China representatives and invited guests watched the ceremony inside the city’s cavernous convention center instead of outside as they normally do. The government cited inclement weather after light rain fell earlier in the morning.

City leader Carrie Lam said a series of protests that have attracted hundreds of thousands of students and other participants have taught her that she needs to listen better to the youth and people in general. Lam has come under withering criticism for pushing legislation that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to the mainland to face trial.

WATCH: Pro-China supporters rally ahead of Hong Kong handover anniversary

“This has made me fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately,” she said in a five-minute speech to the gathering.

She insisted the government has good intentions, but said “I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community.”

Security guards pushed a pro-democracy lawmaker out of the room as she shouted at Lam to resign.

READ MORE: Hong Kong extradition law opponents plan another protest

A march planned for Monday afternoon is expected to be larger than usual because the extradition bill has awakened broader fears that China is eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms. Two earlier marches against the legislation drew more than a million people, according to organizer estimates.

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NASA’s TESS spacecraft discovers its smallest exoplanet to date – Engadget

June 30th, 2019

NASA’s TESS spacecraft discovers its smallest exoplanet to date  Engadget

NASA’s TESS spacecraft is continuing to find ever-smaller planets — and that now includes planets smaller than the human homeworld. The vessel has found a …

Microsoft, software

Dave Bautista On If He’d Do A Fast & Furious Movie: “I’d Rather Do Good Films” – GameSpot

June 30th, 2019

Don’t expect action movie actor Dave Bautista to join the Fast & Furious franchise anytime soon. The Guardians of the Galaxy and James Bond actor said on Twitter, probably jokingly to some extent, that he would “rather do good films.”

His comment came in reply to someone on Twitter (via IndieWire) suggesting that Bautista would make for a good villain in a Fast & Furious spin-off starring The Rock and John Cena. The Rock and Cena, after all, are appearing together in Fast & Furious 9. Of course, Bautista’s replies were flooded with messages about “bad” movies that he made in the past.

For what it’s worth, Bautista admits to appearing in some films that were less than great, but he said he did so to help advance his career. He also pointed out that he had the experience of working with Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone in the Escape Plan series.

Bautista’s next big role is in the action-comedy Stuber, which he stars in alongside his MCU colleague Karen Gillan, as well as Kumail Nanjiani. Some of his other upcoming roles include parts in Escape Plan 3, My Spy, Dune, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Army of the Dead.

In other news about Dave Bautista, the actor has said he wants to play Marcus Fenix in the Gears of War movie. However, no casting announcements have been made.


10 dead after small plane crashes into Addison Airport hangar – Dallas News

June 30th, 2019

Dallas County is helping the city of Addison set up a family assistance center for people affected by the crash, Judge Clay Jenkins said.

“It’s a very sad day for Dallas County,” he said. “My prayers are with the families we’re notifying about this tragedy.”

The mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, also expressed his condolences.

“We are waiting on local officials in … [Texas] to release victim info,” he wrote on Facebook. “My thoughts are with the families of the deceased.”

David Snell, who said he was getting ready to fly from the airport, told KDFW-TV (Channel 4) he’d watched as the plane took off with what appeared to be reduced power.

“The plane started to veer to the left, and you could tell it couldn’t climb,” he said, adding that he could tell the plane was going to crash.

“That was really a horrific thing to see because somebody’s life, lives, family’s lives were forever changed. It’s awful,” Snell said.

Staff writers María Méndez and Sara Coello contributed to this report.

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Japan resumes commercial whaling for first time in 31 years – Global News

June 30th, 2019

Japan has resumed commercial whaling after 31 years, meeting a long-cherished goal of traditionalists that’s seen as a largely lost cause.

READ MORE: Japan’s ‘cruel assault on whales’ in the spotlight as G20 summit opens

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Whaling boats embarked Monday on their first commercial hunts since 1988, when Japan switched to so-called research whaling, but will stay within the country’s exclusive economic waters. Japan’s six-month notice to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission took effect Sunday.

The Fisheries Agency said the catch quota through the end of this year is set at 227 whales, fewer than the 333 Japan hunted in the Antarctic in recent years. The quota for this season’s catch, planned for release in late June, was postponed apparently to avoid criticism during the Group of 20 summit that concluded over the weekend in Osaka.

As the boats left port, whalers, their families and local officials in two major whaling towns, Shimonoseki in southwestern Japan, which is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s electoral constituency, and Kushiro in the north, celebrated the fresh start, hoping for a safe return and a good harvest.

WATCH: Japan will resume commercial whaling again for first time in 30 years

While the resumption of commercial whaling is condemned by many conservation groups, others see it as a face-saving way to let the government’s embattled and expensive whaling program gradually succumb to changing times and tastes.

Despite the massive attention and tax money and political support from ruling party lawmakers, whaling in Japan involved only a few hundred people and accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of total meat consumption in fiscal 2017, according to the latest government data on food sufficiency.

Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962. But whale was quickly replaced by other meats. Whale meat consumption was down to 6,000 tons in 1986, a year before the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC.

READ MORE: Japan’s decision to resume whaling in 2019 prompts international criticism

Under the research hunts, which was criticized as a cover for commercial hunts as the meat was sold on the market, Japan at its peak caught as many as 1,200 whales but has drastically cut back on its catch in recent years after international protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.

Today, about 4,000-5,000 tons are supplied to Japan annually, or 30-40 grams of whale meat consumed per person a year, Fisheries Agency officials say.

The research whaling program lost money for years — 1.6 billion yen ($15 million) in the last year alone.

WATCH: Japan to withdraw from International Whaling Commission

Japan will stick to a very strict catch quota with respect to the IWC findings, and will continue conducting research, said Hideki Moronuki, a Fisheries Agency official and a chief negotiator at the IWC. He said Japan’s commercial whaling will never harm its stock.

The commercial whaling will be carried out by two groups. The mother boat Nisshin-maru and two support boats that used to go to the Antarctic will travel as far as the 200 nautical mile EEZ to catch minke, Bryde’s and sei whales. Five other smaller ships will stay closer to the coast but also hunt minkes, in addition to Baird’s beaked whales and dolphins that they used to catch under an IWC loophole.

Whales caught in coastal waters are expected to be brought back for fresh local consumption at any of six local whaling hubs that are mainly in northern Japan but include Taiji, the home constituency of ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai. The town is also known for dolphin hunts because of the documentary film The Cove.

READ MORE: Anti-whalers say Icelandic hunters killed protected blue whale

Whale meat caught further off the coast will be frozen and distributed for wider consumption.

Moronuki says the fate of commercial whaling depends on whether whale meat is widely accepted by consumers since it won’t be getting as much subsidies as it used to get. Moronuki said he hoped whale meat would be reasonably priced so that it will gain popularity in the long-term instead of becoming an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele.

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‘Euphoria’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 3 — ‘Made You Look’ – TVLine

June 30th, 2019

Kat gets a thorough introduction to cryptocurrency, humiliation kink and embracing her sexuality in this week’s Euphoria. And in the beaten-down teen psyche landscape that is this show, that’s a major win… even if she has to come face-to-fly-area with a micropeen in order to make it happen.

Rue, though. This kid makes me ache. She is FICTIONAL, and yet I am SO WORRIED for her. But maybe, just maybe, she learns how to latch onto an ally at the end of this week’s episode? (Upspeak entirely intentional; I have no idea whether this glimmer of 12-step hope is going to last longer than it takes those pancakes to cook.)

Read on for the highlights of “Made You Look.”

AN ARCHIVE OF HER OWN | The summer Kat was 11, Rue’s voiceover tells us, her family went to Jamaica. We watch a flashback to that trip, during which Kat got stung by a jellyfish and learned she loved virgin piña coladas. In fact, she drank 72 of them over the course of that week. “She was in heaven,” Rue says. “And then she got home.” Poor Kat realized she’d gained 20 lbs. from all that creamy, coconutty goodness. And that led her boyfriend Daniel, who’d heretofore seemed like the dreamiest thing on Earth, to break up with her during fourth period of the first day of school.

A very sad Kat turned to fictional romances for comfort, finding solace in watching Luke and Lorelai on Gilmore Girls, Bill and Sookie on True Blood and Fitz and Olivia on Scandal. “That’s real love, and those were real men,” Rue says. All of the TV-viewing led Kate to start writing fan fiction in the summer before high school, and she soon became one of the most prolific — and smuttiest — authors on Tumblr. To wit: We watch an animated recreation of her NC-17-rated story about One Direction’s Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, and it’s hilarious.

euphoria-recap-season-1-episode-3That story earned Kat a huge online following, which bore no resemblance to her real life as a lonely high school student. She dreamed about telling her followers to storm the school; in a fantasy sequence, we watch that play out as her minions, dressed like extras from Vikings, create carnage in the cafeteria. But when one hunky follower realizes that Kat (also attired in khaleesi chic) doesn’t match up to the image he had of her online, he calls her an imposter and attacks.

Kat had always thought that people online wouldn’t like her if they knew what she really looked like, Rue tells us… until the sex tape hit the Internet. And in the present-day, Kat dons black lingerie and a cat mask and dances for her live cam like everyone’s watching.

A CLEAN START | Throughout the episode, we see Rue speaking at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting where she gets her 60-days-sober chip. But the thing is, she admits via voiceover, she’s only really been clean for two weeks, since the night of the Fentanyl disaster. We flash back to that evening, as Rue is coming down from the drug in Jules’ bed and Jules is begging her to stop using drugs, because “I’m not trying to become best friends” with someone who’s suicidal, the blonde tells her. “I don’t want to be around you if you don’t stop using drugs.” So Rue tearfully agrees, and after asking Jules to pee in a pill bottle for her, she goes home.

Rue’s mom is understandably mad and worried when her daughter rolls in at 5:30 in the morning after being MIA via text and phone all night. But Rue passes her drug test, thanks to Jules’ urine, and tells us that she “decided to stay clean. And I have been, for a while.” Yay, right? Well, there’s something else that’s complicating matters. “I didn’t know it at the time,” Rue says, “but Jules was falling in love.” Yeah, about that…

euphoria-recap-season-1-episode-3-RUE RELAPSES | Jules is in deep with ShyGuy118, whom we know is Nate. And I’m pretty sure HE knows who SHE really is, but she definitely has no clue that her text-boyfriend is one of her classmates. She thinks his name is Tyler, that he goes to St. Mary’s and that he lives with only his mother. In a cool split-screen bit, we watch both of them go about their days with their phones glued to their hands, their sweetly intimate conversation unfolding at home, in school, in bed.

When a starry-eyed Jules tells Rue, she immediately dismisses him as a “f—kboi.” Jules immediately recognizes that her friend is jealous, but Rue maintains that she’s not. So they act like they’ve moved past it. There’s a funny interlude after “Tyler” sends Jules a photo of his junk (in an aside, Rue gives a tutorial on the different types of d–k pics) but then Jules asks Rue for help taking some artful semi-nude selfies, and Rue has a hard time keeping her cool. Couple that with the fact that Jules — whether or not she’s aware of the feelings Rue has caught for her — is incredibly physically affectionate, especially when she realizes that Rue has been clean for two weeks? Yeah, it’s no surprise when Rue (unbeknownst to Jules) grabs some prescription pills off Jules’ kitchen counter and then abruptly leaves. Outside she pops some of the meds in her mouth and then hops on her bike.

ENTER ALI | Rue rides to a NA meeting, and that’s when we realize that the meeting where she spoke is this one: She was on drugs while talking about being off of them. Outside, a man named Ali starts asking her questions about her sister and about whether she thinks Jia’s finding her will mess the younger girl up for life. Ali also completely knows that Rue lied about being clean. “Let me know when you want to stop trying to kill yourself,” he says, giving her his number.

euphoria-recap-season-1-episode-3-At home, Rue finds Jia watching My So-Called Life in her room and curls up alongside her. “Please promise me you will never fall for a Jordan Catalano,” Rue deadpans. “But he’s so cute!” Jia says, giggling. Aww.

But that moment of peace and calm is fleeting. The next day at school, Jules is excited because Tyler wants to meet her that night after the carnival. Rue doesn’t think this is a safe proposition. And the more she’s against it, the more Jules feels like her bestie is letting her down. It ends badly, so Rue goes to Jules’ after school to tearfully explain that she just doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Jules’ anger dissipates, and soon they’re hugging with their foreheads touching. There’s definitely a MOMENT, but when Rue seizes it and kisses Jules, the surprised blonde pulls away and Rue immediately panics, cries and leaves.

She makes a beeline for Fezco’s, where she bangs on the door and begs for him to sell her some Oxycontin, but he won’t let her in. “I’m not gonna help you kill yourself, Rue,” he tells her through the door. This sparks an angry tirade in which she calls him out on his hypocrisy: He was happy to help her get hooked on the stuff, and now he’s growing a conscience about it? “You f–king ruined my life,” she sobs on his doorstep. “The least you could do is open the goddamn door and fix it.” He’s clearly torn up, but he won’t grant her wish. (Side note: Wow Zendaya is so good in this episode, no?)

At the end of the episode, Rue pulls out her phone and calls Ali to see if he still wants to get “pancakes or something.”

euphoria-recap-season-1-episode-3-MADDY’S ON IT | Meanwhile, after Nate and Maddy have sex, she gets suspicious and decides to spy on his phone while he’s in the shower. She has no idea who he’s talking to — since he and Jules have been communicating through the dating app, it’s not super simple to see their conversations — but she knows something’s up when she opens the photo gallery and sees all the shots he’s taken of his Little Nate. She bails, giving him a made-up excuse for why she has to leave, and he’s none the wiser.

MEOW! | Back to Kat: Her new online audience isn’t growing at the rate she’d like, but checking out one of the guys who likes her vids leads her to glean that he’s into humiliation porn. It turns out the guy is willing to pay her to Skype with him, so she gets a quick lesson on bitcoin from Fezco and his hilarious little brother, and then she’s good to go.

Her new benefactor refers to himself as “kind of an odd duck” who has some “extreme kinks.” Chief among them: the desire for a beautiful woman to mock him for his micropenis. Which we see, of course, because that’s how this show rolls. Kat is down for it, so he has a very good time while she’s laughing and pointing, and then he suggests that he be her “cash pig” who will pay her for lots of things, including whenever she wants to “fine” him for not doing what she says.

euphoria-recap-season-1-episode-3-She uses the cash she makes to buy a new mini-wardrobe and arrives at school the next day sporting a much different look: fishnets, boots, corset-over-tee-shirt, dramatic makeup and a choker that reads “Kitty.” Sweet Ethan, who earlier in the episode bought her a grapefruit when she didn’t have enough money for lunch, gazes at her in wonder. “You look different,” he notes. “I changed,” she says airily.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!


“Old Town Road” Rapper Lil Nas X Just Celebrated the End of Pride Month by Coming Out – Slate

June 30th, 2019

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Iranians describe hardships as U.S. expands sanctions – National Post

June 30th, 2019

Iran’s news media were filled with upbeat economic reports last week. Several tankers of oil had been exported to China, and the economy minister said tax collections were up 30%. Farm-raised shrimp production had expanded by 400%.

“Summer is here!” one article exulted, and online vacation rentals in the country’s tourist spots were a potential growth market.

But on the streets of Iran’s cities, as “maximum pressure” U.S. sanctions took hold, the view was decidedly less sunny.

Farnaz, a 39-year-old clothing designer and distributor, said she was concerned about “people’s mental states” as jobs disappear and the future becomes more uncertain. With sanctions-induced inflation and the skyrocketing cost of imported goods, she closed her Tehran boutique last year, she said, because “it didn’t make sense anymore.”

“People are cutting back on red meat, because the price is too high,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a Virginia Tech professor currently in Iran to visit his 94-year-old mother. To the extent Iranians can afford protein, he said, most now get it from locally produced chicken, the price of which has merely doubled.

“Personally, I have lost hope for my life,” said Marjan, 42, a Tehran architect.

As a result of the sanctions President Donald Trump began imposing last year, “Iran is doing very poorly,” Trump said Saturday at a news conference in Japan. Iran’s government would “like to make a deal” in response to U.S. demands, Trump said, but he is in no hurry.

“I have all the time in the world.”

According to international statistics and occasional releases by the Iranian Central Bank, the sanctions have already had a profound effect on Iran’s economy. Factories and companies are closing, and unemployment is rising. The value of the rial, Iran’s currency, has plummeted, and the International Monetary Fund predicts a growth rate this year of minus-6%.

They are working harder to make ends meet. It appears they have less time to worry about politics and global affairs

“They are in desperate shape,” said Adnan Mazarei, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former deputy director at the International Monetary Fund.

There has been no systematic study of how the sanctions have affected the lives of Iranians, or whom they blame for their troubles. Americans, including journalists, rarely travel there these days. Visas are hard to get, and some U.S. citizens have been subject to arrest as alleged spies.

This article is based on interviews with a dozen Iranians of various walks of life, most of them contacted by telephone inside the country. Nearly all asked to be identified only by their first names to avoid drawing government attention to themselves.

The stories they told of dashed hopes, lost jobs and scarce goods – including medical and food supplies ostensibly exempt from sanctions – were strikingly similar, as were their descriptions of a sort of nationwide apathy after the flickers of optimism that came with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The accord, between Iran and international governments, lifted then-existing sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear program, designed to prevent development of a nuclear weapon. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement last year, saying it was too weak to achieve its aims and failed to stop other malign Iranian activities, and he put even harsher sanctions in place. New punishments were announced last week after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone.

The sanctions prohibit trade in U.S. dollars and threaten secondary measures against countries and companies that deal with Iran. They have brought Iranian oil exports down from 2.5 million barrels a day in April 2018 to as low as 300,000 barrels, by some estimates. Iron, steel, aluminum and copper exports are under sanctions, along with most of the imported parts that keep Iran’s auto and other industries functioning.

While insisting its target is the government and not the Iranian people, the Trump administration predicts that its goals cannot help but be enhanced by increased popular dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Islamic republic. U.S. government-sponsored social media bombards Iranians with reminders of government corruption and their isolation from the rest of the world.

Personally, I have lost hope for my life

An “Image of the Day” on the State Department’s Farsi Twitter account Saturday pictured Trump at the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, fist-bumping with the smiling leaders of Japan and India, prime customers of Iranian oil. The caption said purchases by both had “stopped or declined dramatically in recent months.”

The department’s tweets regularly feature words such as “Theft of Public Property” imposed over grim photographs of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other Iranian officials. Posted commentary says the “maximum pressure campaign is working.”

But reports from inside the country indicate that the number of Iranians who blame the Trump administration for the crisis is at least as high as the number who blame their own government.

“The truth is that the reason for the bad economic situation of Iranians is not only due to the sanctions, it has also to do with the way the government has run the economy,” said a German official recently in Iran. “But now they have a good excuse and blame everything on the United States. It’s like in Cuba, where they have a bad system but people blame it all on the U.S.”

Pedram, 38, an Iranian stock trader, agreed. “For 40 years, the government has been telling us that we are in a ‘crisis state,’ so people don’t get shocked or take it too seriously. I think that the government has been successful in their anti-American propaganda. So now some people blame the United States most for the current situation, while in many cases it’s weak and corrupt management that is responsible for the economic crisis.”

“The behavior of Trump is not that of someone who knows what he is doing,” said Roya, a housewife and mother of three. “First he threatens, and then he says this is not against the Iranian people. But we are the ones suffering.”

Mahdi, a Tehran resident, was 19 in 2009, when Iranians took to the streets in large numbers to protest their government, only to be repressed and silenced. More recently, he said, “I myself was worried during the nuclear negotiations that the West wasn’t putting more pressure on Iran to commit to reforms inside the country, stop arresting critics, and stop supporting proxies fighting in the region,” he said.

But “if the most powerful nation in the world is (now) begging for negotiations with us, that is making our country very powerful,” Mahdi said. “Trump doesn’t tell us what we as Iranian people could get in exchange for a new deal. So how should we know if it’s really going to be so much better for us?”

In the past, discontent with the government has led to a strengthening of Iran’s hard-liners, said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group. “It’s a historic pattern of behavior, if you look at the major uprisings in 1999, in 2009, it all happened at a time the economy was actually growing.

“During times of extreme economic duress, people are most focused on trying to make ends meet,” Vaez said. In parliamentary elections scheduled for February, “you’re likely to see a majority of the middle class refraining from going to the polls. That means hard-liners who have a loyal constituency have a really good shot at taking over the parliament,” where moderates now have significant power, “and set the stage for presidential elections in 2021.”

The middle class seems to be suffering the most from sanctions, in a country where social welfare programs ease the brunt of deprivation for the poorest, and many of the wealthiest – in and out of government – have substantial rainy-day funds and access to more-favorable exchange rates. So far, the result seems to be less actual pain and more restricted lifestyles, black humor and a listlessness toward a situation few feel they can do anything about.

Middle-class workers accustomed to taking budget package vacations to Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia at least once a year can no longer afford such trips. One Iranian American, searching for a flight for his in-laws to an annual family gathering in Europe, found that the airfare from Iran had quadrupled.

“When Trump said ‘I have just canceled a strike on Iran,’ I was joking with my friends about it. No one is taking him seriously,” said Alireza, a Tehran businessman.

Salehi-Isfahani, the Virginia Tech professor, had a similar experience in Tehran. “A couple of days ago, when people thought a war was going to break out, they were driving around” and walking in the parks. “People seem surprisingly unaware,” he said.

“In the Iran you see here, people are very concerned about their daily life, because prices are higher and some have lost jobs. They are working harder to make ends meet. It appears they have less time to worry about politics and global affairs,” he said.

“They try very hard, in terms of each other, to be happy.

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