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[VIDEO] #SXSW: How Activists Are Using Technology to Fight Dictators

Dissidents are using USB drives to smuggle information into authoritarian regimes.

But if you were looking for something truly disruptive at SXSW, look no further than a group of activists using tech to spread information to citizens oppressed by authoritarian regimes.

“The people out there they don’t have satellites, they don’t have internet, they have nothing,” says Abdalaziz Alhamza who escaped Syria and co-founded Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. “To be stuck with only ISIS propaganda, it will affect them.”

Alhamza and dissidents from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Cuba were brought together by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) for a panel discussion called “The Real Information Revolution.” Reason caught up with the group at the HRF booth on the convention floor, centered around a large wall of Kim Jong Un faces with USB ports for mouths. Attendees were invited to donate USB drives into the display. The drives will later be smuggled into North Korea after being wiped and filled with films and information from the outside world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smithsonian: There’s a New President Hanging in Our National Portrait Gallery


[VIDEO] 快乐光棍节“节 Kevin Spacey Wishes China a Happy Singles’ Day

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day.”

Felicia Sonmez and Gillian Wong report: Is Frank Underwood a fan of online shopping in China? We couldn’t possibly comment.

On Tuesday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rang in China’s Singles’ Day online shopping holiday with a star-studded gala at Beijing’s Water Cube. The event included a video appearance by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays the scheming politician Frank Underwood in the hit U.S. TV series “House of Cards.” The show airs online in China and is a favorite of China’s anticorruption czar – and perhaps even its top leader.

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day,” Mr. Spacey says in character in the video, which shows him seated at a presidential desk….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ


[VIDEO] Kevin Spacey Moment: ‘You Call Your Grandmother Gam-Gam?’ (2011) HD


That’s It, House of Cards. You Lost Me

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Nick Gillespienick writes: A show that was once darkly great has descended into prosaic moralism. God save us from fictional pols who are serious about jobs programs.

Is anybody else kinda-sorta done with House of Cards? Not literally but figuratively. Season three is a real letdown, but not because the Netflix series is, in the words of one reviewer, too “bleak” or negative or dark.

“House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.”

It’s the exact opposite: House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.

[Read the full text of Nick Gillespie‘s savage complaint here, at The Daily Beast]

But in just three seasons of House of Cards we’ve gone from Underwood (Kevin Spacey) not thinking twice about shoving under a train the unethical journalist he was fucking to a world where he actually takes seriously the idea of a federally funded jobs program that will—finally! seriously! emphatically!—end unemployment as we know it. He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the “country needs bold, persistent experimentation” to turn the economy around and approaches his “America Works” program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.

Do we really want the characters in House of Cards to start developing consciences and to grow into moral actors? Please, the whole kick of the show is precisely that its universe is inhabited only by ethical gargoyles. 

Even more disappointing is the devolution of First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) from a ruthless operator who puts Agrippina the Younger to shame into a latter-day Lady Macbeth filled with doubts about her and her husband’s patently unredeemable actions. “We’re murderers, Francis,” she says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

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What’s going on here might be called the “Archie Bunker Effect,” and it’s no prettier than when All in the Family’s protagonist would belch loudly after chugging a beer while sitting in his favorite living room chair. When All in the Family started in the early 1970s, its protagonist was supposed to hold up a mirror to America and depict the petty and base racism, sexism, you-name-it-ism of the working class. Bless their hearts, Hollywood big shots such as creator Norman Lear just wanted to ennoble the little people.

“He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the ‘country needs bold, persistent experimentation’ to turn the economy around and approaches his ‘America Works’ program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.”

“By giving bigotry a human face, Lear believed, his show could help liberate American TV viewers. He hoped that audiences would embrace Archie but reject his beliefs,” wrote The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum in an essay inspired by Saul Austerlitz’s 2014 book Sitcom. But as Nussbaum puts it, “‘A funny thing happened on the way to TV immortality: audiences liked Archie,’ Austerlitz writes. ‘Not in an ironic way, not in a so-racist-he’s-funny way; Archie was TV royalty because fans saw him as one of their own.’” Probably even worse for Norman Lear, in many ways the ultimate limousine liberal, was that the show’s resident liberal mouthpiece, Mike “Meathead” Stivic (brilliantly portrayed by Rob Reiner), was the show’s true laughingstock.

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“We’re murderers, Francis,” Claire Underwood says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

But if there’s something more frustrating than fans misunderstanding a character and a show’s dynamics, it’s when producers do. All in the Family quickly became increasingly less funny and more preachy until it finally transmogrified into the godawful Archie Bunker’s Place. That last, comedy-free permutation was set at a bar Archie owned and operated. He still mangled the language (gynecologist became “groinacologist,” for instance) but Archie was now a standup guy who literally took in and cared for orphans.

“For all that, we are reminded time and again—and without irony—that leaders and policymakers are constantly balancing an impossible array of interests and tradeoffs.” 

Similarly, the third season of House of Cards spends a hell of a lot of time humanizing the Underwoods and other characters. To be sure—spoiler alerts!—recovering alcoholic and chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is still capable of going on booze-and-sex benders and killing innocent people, but even he thinks twice before finally dispatching the prostitute Rachel, a loose thread whose existence threatens the president’s reelection. Read the rest of this entry »


TELEVISION: Catching Up On 2 Seasons Of ‘House Of Cards’ Depressingly Manageable

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SOMERVILLE, MA—Noting that he only needs to watch 26 full episodes of the political drama, local man Ben Atwell revealed Thursday that catching up on the previous two seasons of the Netflix show House Of Cards should be depressingly manageable. “I shouldn’t have any trouble getting through both seasons in the next few days,” said Atwell, who told reporters that he currently does not have any obligations in his life that might prevent him from maintaining a comfortable, extremely sad pace of watching six or seven of the hour-long episodes each day. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Kevin Spacey: Democracy and Power in ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ Trailer

“Ideas don’t determine who’s right. Power determines who’s right. And I have the power, so I am right.”

Activision released the trailer for the next installment of its popular game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare featuring a character similar to Kevin Spacey.

The game will release on November 4, with the trailer slated for release Sunday, but had to be posted three days earlier after it was leaked online.

 [Check out Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and other games at Amazon.com]

The character uncannily looks like Kevin Spacey and acts like his House of Cards character Francis Underwood. The character speaks like Underwood’s character and is seen giving a speech about democracy and power. Read the rest of this entry »


‘House of Cards’: Kate Mara talks The Thing That Happened to Zoe

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This isn’t really a spoiler, by this stage. It’s not new. But the interview with Kate Mara, about her character, Zoe, is definitely worth reading if you’re a House of Cards fan.


Chinese Censors Have Kept Their Hands Off ‘House of Cards’

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press Kevin Spacey as the ruthless American politician Francis Underwood with Robin Wright as his wife, Claire. Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press Kevin Spacey as the ruthless American politician Francis Underwood with Robin Wright as his wife, Claire. Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press

For the NYTimesAmy Qin and Shanshan Wang write:

“Mao is dead. And so is his China.” So says Vice President Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, to Xander Feng, the corrupt Chinese billionaire played by Terry Chen, in the newest season of “House of Cards,” the highly acclaimed Netflix political drama about the machinations of a ruthlessly ambitious American politician and his wife.

“I heard that some government officials are actually quite fond of the show,” said Mr. Zhang. “And that’s why we haven’t met with any trouble.”

It’s not often one hears a line this politically provocative on a Chinese state-regulated entertainment platform. But with more than 15 million total views on Sohu, one of China’s leading Internet portals, the latest episodes (and this line) have been played many times over since the much-anticipated release of the show’s second season last week.

The new season of “House of Cards” focuses on a host of issues that would typically be regarded as sensitive by the Chinese authorities: cyber-espionage, currency manipulation, tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea, and the extravagant and corrupt lifestyles enjoyed by the offspring of China’s revolutionary leaders.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Netizens Love the New Season of ‘House of Cards’ — Even Though it Makes Their Country Look Terrible

Fair use/Sina Weibo

Fair use/Sina Weibo

David Wertime and Han Chen  report:  “Everyone in China who works on this level pays who they need to pay.” Mild spoiler alert: These are the words of the fictitious Xander Feng, an influential Chinese billionaire on the Netflix series House of Cards, a show that follows the machinations of U.S. Representative (and later Vice President) Frank Underwood to agglomerate power and crush whoever stands in his way. The phrase is also now viral on the Chinese Internet, which has proven surprisingly hospitable to the show’s second season, which debuted on Feb. 14. Despite having its arguably Sinophobic moments — in addition to Feng-as-villain, the show depicts a Stateside Chinese businessman hiring both male and female sex workers, and a U.S. casino laundering Chinese money to fund a Congressional SuperPAC — the show has Chinese social media users applauding what they believe is a largely accurate depiction of Chinese palace politics.

The attraction of House of Cards’ second season — which has already received over 9 million views in the first weekend compared to over 24 million for the first season, released March 2013 in China — appears two-fold. First and foremost, the show engages Communist Party corruption, elite infighting, and the often-outsized influence of the moneyed class with a directness that few domestic shows dare hazard. The colorul Feng, for example, alludes to scheming with members of the Chinese government to force a more liberal financial policy, not to mention bribing high officials outright. The result is a portrait of Chinese elite skullduggery convincing enough that one user wondered aloud in jest whether the show’s screenwriters had planted an undercover agent in party ranks.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] House of Cards Season 2 Trailer [HD]

Get ready for another lost weekend, another bout of binge-viewing, here it comes…

Netflix [HD] – YouTube

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