Jonathan Demme was one of our most empathetic directors. These 5 films explain why. – Todd VanDerWerff Apr 26, 2017, 7:10pm EDT


From The Silence of the Lambs to Rachel Getting Married, these movies cemented the director’s cinematic legacy.

Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award–winning director who died Wednesday, April 26, at the age of 73, is probably best known for The Silence of the Lambs, which won him his Oscar.

And yet the director wasn’t known for making horror films or even thrillers. For the most part, he made his name directing gentle comedies and music documentaries (along with the women’s prison film Caged Heat — his debut film!), and then spent the latter half of his career (most everything after Silence) creating movies exploring some of the ways America had let down many who professed to believe in its ideals.

He was, in a word, humane: a deeply humanist director who was always interested in the different ways people react to crisis or conflict, with a warm, loving eye for all of the characters his lens fell across. Every entry in his filmography has some worth, but if you just want to watch a handful, we’ve narrowed it down to the five movies that best capture his multifaceted talent.

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Why the FCC’s Plans to Gut Net Neutrality Just Might Fail – KLINT FINLEY 04.26.17. 6:23 PM


Members Of The House Are Briefed On North Korea By Top Trump Administration Officials
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks at an internet regulation event at the Newseum on April 26, 2017 in Washington, DC.Eric Thayer/Getty Images

It’s official: the country’s top regulator of the internet wants to end net neutrality. Specifically, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai plans to repeal changes that gave the agency the authority to enforce net neutrality protections—that is, rules requiring internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally. But he won’t likely be able to do so without a big legal fight.

During a speech today in Washington, Pai announced his intention to undo one of the Obama-era FCC’s signature achievements. Although he was light on specifics (he plans to release the full text of his proposal tomorrow), Pai made clear that he would seek to reverse an FCC decision to classify broadband internet access providers as “Title II” common carriers, putting them in the same category as traditional telephone companies. The re-classification gave the FCC authority to impose net neutrality requirements on both wireless and home broadband providers, preventing them from, for example, charging specific sites or companies fees for sending traffic over their networks or slowing down competitors’ streaming video offerings.

“Going forward, we cannot stick with regulations from the Great Depression meant to micromanage Ma Bell,” Pai said.

The FCC will vote on—and given its Republican majority, likely pass—the proposal during an open meeting May 18. But that will only start what promises to be a lengthy battle for the future of net neutrality. To truly torpedo the requirements, Pai will have to make the case that he’s doing so for good reason.

A 1946 law called the Administrative Procedures Act bans federal agencies making “capricious” decisions. The law is meant, in part, to keep regulations from yo-yoing back and forth every time a new party gained control of the White House. The FCC successfully argued in favor of Title II reclassification in federal court just last summer. That effort means Pai might have to make the case that things had changed enough since then to justify a complete reversal in policy.

“That’s a pretty dramatic reversal,” says Marc Martin, chair of communications law at Perkins Coie. “Presuming there’s an appeal, a court may find that arbitrary.”

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Duterte’s Dance With China – By Richard Javad Heydarian April 26, 2017


Why the Philippines Won’t Abandon Washington

Even as he has sparred with the United States, Duterte has worked to normalize the Philippines’ relations with China, which had frayed under his predecessor. He has pursued defense cooperation with Russia and praised President Vladimir Putin as his “favorite hero.” And during a high-profile visit to Beijing last October, Duterte—who has dubiously claimed to have Chinese ancestry—announced his “separation from the United States” while declaring his intention to join Beijing’s “ideological flow,” forming an alliance with China and Russia “against the world.”

Indeed, Duterte has made a series of significant concessions in order to improve relations with China. He has scaled back joint military exercises with the United States, barred U.S. warships from using Filipino bases to conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, and effectively soft-pedaled the Philippines’ South China Sea arbitration victory over China by not raising it in international fora.

Such behavior and rhetoric would appear to suggest a radical reconfiguration of the Philippines’ strategic thinking. Duterte is often seen from the outside as a charismatic strongman in the mold of Putin or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—a quasi-dictator powerful enough to transform his country’s relations with the West. At the same time, however, the Philippines’ public statements on foreign policy have been erratic. Despite Duterte’s conflict-avoidance regarding the South China Sea, Filipino diplomats often raise the issue in regional organizations such as ASEAN, and the country’s military has maintained full-spectrum security cooperation with Washington. The mercurial Duterte has added to the confusion by oscillating between patriotic bravado to appease his domestic base, on the one hand, and accommodating rhetoric toward China, on the other.

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White House Touts ‘Historic’ 28 Laws Signed By POTUS, But What Are They? – Tamara Keith April 27, 20176:00 AM ET


President Trump speaks after signing the NASA Transition Authorization Act in the Oval Office on March 21, one of 28 bills that Trump has signed into law.

Getty Images

Even though President Trump calls the 100-days measure “ridiculous,” the White House is still touting what one press release called the president’s “historic accomplishments” — including 28 laws he has signed since taking office.

But when it comes to legislation, political scientists say it is better to measure significance than to simply add up the number of bills. It is better, they argue, to ask whether a law changes the status quo or introduces a new policy idea.

By that measure, there is not as much to show legislation-wise for Trump’s first 100 days.

Of the 28 new laws signed by Trump, two name Veterans Affairs clinics in honor of people, one adds National Vietnam War Veterans Day to the list of days people and businesses are encouraged to fly American flags, five are related to personnel matters (including the waiver allowing James Mattis to become secretary of defense), and one extends an Obama-era policy allowing veterans in some circumstances to get health care outside of the VA system.

“Congress passes laws all the time, naming post offices after people, doing minor things that they can get through,” said Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary in the Obama administration and as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Panetta doesn’t see any major legislation in this administration’s first 100 days.

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North Korea: Washington and Seoul pledge ‘swift punitive measures’ – Spencer Ackerman in New York, Ben Jacobs in Washington and agencies Thursday 27 April 2017 04.01 EDT


Senators who attended White House briefing say no military option was presented as US prioritises sanctions and strongarm diplomacy

North Korea has accelerated its long-range missile development programme and is expected to further test its nuclear capabilities. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

The US has signalled sanctions and diplomatic pressure are its priorities for dealing with North Korea as senators who attended a White House briefing said they had not been presented with “a specific military option”.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are already inflamed before an anticipated sixth nuclear test from Pyongyang, which has accelerated its long-range missile development programme.

A statement on Thursday from the South Korean president’s office said Seoul and Washington had agreed “to swiftly take punitive measures” against North Korea in the event of more provocation, following a telephone conversation between the US national security adviser, HR McMaster, and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin.

“The two sides pledged that in the event of additional strategic provocation by the North to swiftly take punitive measures, including a new UN security council resolution, that are unbearable for the North,” the statement said.

It followed Wedensday’s joint statement from the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, secretary of defence James Mattis, and director of national intelligence Dan Coats, that said President Trump would pressure Pyongyang “by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners” – an approach adopted by the past three US administrations.

It also said past efforts had failed to stop the advance of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

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