Film review: Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

This Woody Allen production that he wrote and directed has a plot that readers of this blog will be able to easily relate to. It is 1928 and Colin Firth plays a famous magician and illusionist who also has a second career as a debunker of all those who claim to be mediums who can talk to the dead or other supernatural powers. He is a total materialist and rationalist and has never failed to expose anyone who came under his investigative gaze. Think of James Randi but even more so.
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Presenting the ‘World’s Greatest Deliberative Body’

American exceptionalism is prone to making claims that the US is the greatest country on Earth in every aspect and always has been. The true believers likely think that the Garden of Eden was here and that Jesus was an American too. In this spirit, the US senate keeps boasting that it is the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body though it is telling that as far as I can tell no one other than its own members gives it that title because not only is it false, recent years have shown that calling the behavior of its members childish would be to give children a bad name.
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CIA wanted repeated reassurances that their torturing was official policy

Apologists for the torture program authorized by the Bush-Cheney regime, that was carried out in Guantanamo and at US prison sites around the world as well as in the various ‘black sites’, have argued that these practices were perfectly lawful, going directly in the face of accepted knowledge that such acts were indeed torture.
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An ‘open letter’ from Iran to the Republicans

The letter sent by 47 US senators to Iran continues to send shock waves through the political establishment. The White House has gleefully listed many US newspaper editorial boards that have roundly condemned it. About 250,000 people have signed a petition calling for the prosecution of the senators for treason. Even Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei has slammed the letter as showing the ‘disintegration’ of US politics.
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Martin O’Malley as a potential Democratic nominee for president

While the media and political pundits have all but anointed Hillary Clinton as the inevitable nominee of the party for 2016, there are two other people who I think would be much better candidates. Both of them have made moves that suggest that they will seek the nomination though neither has formally announced it. But then, neither has Clinton.
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Cracking down on serious crime

Our legal system may not have the time or the inclination to go after top bank executives who caused the financial collapse that caused so much misery for so many, or the wealthy tax cheats who hide their money in secret off-shore accounts, or companies and businesses that defraud ordinary people. But when it comes to really serious economic crimes, they will crack down and crack down hard.
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Auckland bound!

It turns out that I need to go to New Zealand and, by the purest coincidence, will be in Auckland during the final week of the cricket World Cup, when the two semi-final games and the final will be played. The first semi-final will actually be in Auckland itself and one of the teams will likely be New Zealand (my second favorite team after Sri Lanka), provided it wins its quarterfinal game against the fourth place team in group B that has yet to be determined.
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Is hypocrisy sufficient grounds for outing someone?

It should go without saying that even public figures have a right to privacy. As long as their private life does not interfere with or corrupt the carrying out of their public duties, they should be allowed to keep it shielded from public scrutiny. Even if other people have information about them, releasing that private information publicly should be condemned.
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How to cover breaking news

Conan O’Brien has a zany sense of humor and on a recent visit to Cuba he tried to figure out if he had what it takes to work at CNN during what news networks love to refer to as a ‘breaking news event’ where the host has to spend a lot of time on camera and maintain interest in the audience even though little has happened since the first event and hardly anything newsworthy is occurring.
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