Category Archives: Politics

Marvel’s Ike Perlmutter is Joining Trump’s Veterans Affairs Team?!

isaac-perlmutter_416x416The New York Post is reporting that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter will be joining President Elect Donald Trump‘s Veterans Affairs team. In what specific role is unknown.

Generally a recluse, Perlmutter has stepped out more in public since Trump’s election having been photographed recently (the last photo was from about 30 years ago). Perlmutter was the owner of Marvel before its purchase by Disney, which Perlmutter now has a large stake in as part of the deal.

According to the report, the 74-year-old executive has become a “key adviser on veterans’ health care.” This higher profile will force Perlmutter to come even more out of the shadows. It’s unknown how this will impact his role at Marvel or with Disney though it’s not uncommon for CEOs and high ranking executives to serve on advisory boards. According to the report, Perlmutter met with the CEOs of university-associated hospitals last week.

Perlmutter himself is a veteran having served as a soldier in Israel’s Six-Day War back in 1967.

Perlmutter’s wife, Laura, is on the presidential inaugural committee and are large donors to Republican candidates and causes.

We’re attempting to find out what type of healthcare packages have been provided to Marvel staff before the purchase by Disney though the comic industry as a whole has a poor record when it comes to providing healthcare to its freelancers.

CBLDF Signs On with the NCAC to Support Simon & Schuster and Milo Yiannopoulos

CBLDF_LOGOThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has come under fire for signing onto a letter with the National Coalition Against Censorship to defend Simon & Schuster‘s plan to publish a book by controversial alt-right/hate personality Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is reportedly being paid $250,000 for the deal which will see the book published under the Threshold Editions which specializes in conservative personalities/books.

The NCAC joint letter/statement described Yiannopoulos as “a self-described “super-villain”, is notorious for comments and views that are deeply offensive to many.” A nice sanitized description of a ringleader and “voice” behind online harassment campaigns aimed primarily at women, minorities, and those of the liberal persuasion and language that many describe as “hate speech.”

It should also be noted the Yiannopoulos’ self-published book of poetry contained plagiarized lyrics unattributed to musician Tori Amos.

The announcement goes further to state:

NCAC’s statement supports the right to boycott a book or a company for any reason. It underlines, however, the chilling effect the response will have on authors and publishers who want to tackle topics and ideas that some may find disfavorable. The statement argues that “the suppression of noxious ideas does not defeat them; only vigorous disagreement can counter toxic speech effectively.

The CBLDF is joined by the American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

The announcement by the CBLDF of the support has led to a backlash with individuals questioning the need for the CBLDF to get involved in the first place, the focus on equating boycotts with censorship, and the lack of recognition that Yiannopoulos and his ilk are an actual threat to the lives of marginalized individuals. There’s also irony since the alt-right and their affiliated movements like GamerGate regularly coordinate in attacks to censor the left or anything they disagree with. The

The comic industry recently saw that in a dust-up concerning writer Chelsea Cain and the Marvel series Mockingbird. These same organizations were silent during that not issuing a statement of support. In fact the CBLDF has been silent towards the attacks on and sustained harassment women and marginalized communities in the comic industry in an attempt to drive them out.

The backlash to the CBLDF’s decision was bad enough that they felt the need to further clarify their support again conflating a boycott with censorship. They are not one and the same since a boycott occurs after something is released and has a goal to drive further decisions through the manipulation of the free market and capitalism. A boycott of South Africa was not a censorship of Apartheid as an example.

Read the “clarification” below or directly on Twitter.

cbldf-simon-and-shuster

The response was not positive as many noted this is more akin to the hate speech that actually threatens lives, stirs hatred, and advocates for the stripping of rights and protections from groups. They also remind the CBLDF by paying money and publishing a book, that is an endorsement of the ideas within the book and a debatably worse reality of profiting from hate. You become an enabler to the hate speech giving it a platform. There’s also a valid questioning that since censorship is not happening, again a boycott is not censorship, of why the CBLDF didn’t sit this one out.

As a donor to the CBLDF, I do question where dollars are being spent in this case (UPDATE: No money has been spent on this). One Tweet said it best, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Haawiyat, a FREE Comic for Syrian Refugee Kids

The year-long Syrian conflict has displaced millions. From the horrors of Aleppo to the sheer struggle of the journey to safety, Syrians everywhere are fighting to survive, and the sheer numbers of children affected by this are catastrophic. A new hardship begins when a child makes it to their new home. Strange environments, foreign people, and often a new language make fitting in incredibly traumatic.

This was the origin of the Syrian comic, Haawiyat. The comic will be 8 pages with a full-color cover and published in Arabic. Filled with well-known Syrian folktales this comic will bring children something that brings comfort, a taste of home, and will be something they can hold in their hands and say most unequivocally is their own.

The comic was the idea of A. David Lewis. As he explained in the press announcement:

If I was a doctor, I would pick up my medic bag. If I was a soldier, I would pick up a weapon. I am a professor, a comic writer, and a father.  I am helping where I can, how I can. Children are scared, disoriented, and feeling lost. We have to give them hope. This is phase one of a grand plan. We want to reach more kids in more places with phase two.

An incredible team of creators and translators have volunteered to donate their time to create the title. Ka-blam Digital Printing will be creating the book gratis, Comicraft is donating a font, and Nadia Alawa’s renowned NuDay Syria will graciously distribute the book overseas as well as report on its effect. There are tentative plans to expand on this idea and their participation will be crucial.

The stories to be included are The King’s Daughter’s Earring, The Miller and The Two Djinn, and The Story Of The Five Cakes. Each tale was specifically chosen for their trigger free nature and relevance to current issues children are most likely dealing with.

Creators include Rob Croonenborghs, Jim Shaw, Joseba Morales, Mexi Gremillion, and Ursula Murray Husted. Taylor Hastings will be lettering and Farrah Hamza is translating. Initial drop sites for the comic include Northern Syria and Turkey. Shipping will begin in February. Are you a creator interested in participating in phase two? Email captionbox@gmail.com.

haawiyat

Matt Pizzolo’s Young Terrorists Books Playlist

by Matt Pizzolo

The germ of the idea behind Young Terrorists came when I was blackballed by a Washington lobbyist for distributing a documentary about animal rights activists who were serving time in federal prison as terrorists. It’s kind’ve a long story, and I go into it a bit in the backmatter of Young Terrorists #1. The point is… we all talk about “the system” and how it works or it doesn’t work, but it’s not until the system turns directly on you, til an insider who really knows how to work the machine identifies you as an individual to be targeted and starts grinding the gears around you, that’s when you get an inkling of the scale of it all… It feels kinda like when the eye of Sauron catches sight of Frodo — some omnipotent power has just noticed you and suddenly you’re very very fucked.

This all happened a while back, when the GW Bush Administration passed a law called The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which made it so any activism against a business that exploits animals is classified as terrorism and punishable under the PATRIOT Act. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a law that was brought to you by (wait for it) lobbyists who (you guessed it) work for businesses that exploit animals.

I only got the tiniest smidge of the lobbyist’s fury, and it was enough to rattle me. And I’m kind’ve not that easy to rattle, which is sort’ve how I wound up in that situation in the first place.

There’s no shortage of people abusing power across America and around the world. I love comics about superheroes who fights mutants and Nazis and various flavors of dudes-in-pajamas, but in this case I was inspired to create a team of superheroes who fight back against an abusive power structure. The power structure we all call home.

Issue 2 came out last week. Technically it’s over a year late. But… looking around at the world we’re living in right now, kinda feels like it came out right on time. Honestly, it’s pretty upsetting when you write dystopia fiction and people start calling your body of work prescient.

If you’re interested in some of the ideas beneath the surface of Young Terrorists, here are a few of the books I was reading when I wrote it. In several cases they directly impacted the actions on the page, in other cases they’re just sources I relied on to remind me why I’m always so pissed off all the time.

EATING ANIMALS

By Jonathan Safran Foer

This isn’t the book that turned me vegan when I was 17 years old, that was John Robbins’ DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA. But I’d heard good things about EATING ANIMALS and I wanted to re-acclimate before writing Cesar, since I’d lapsed into being a lazy vegetarian over the decades. And yeah, everything’s just as awful as I’d remembered it. Foer has a sincere, every-new-dad approach that makes the whole thing less polemic and more palatable, but it was a healthy shot of rage with specificity and if you read it you’ll note detailed descriptions of some of the treatment of animals that Cesar ponders in issue 1. EATING ANIMALS didn’t inspire the issue 4 illustration of cows being driven into a shredding machine and forcefed to their brothers and sisters though, that image has been burned into my brain since I read DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA.

eating-animals

THE DIVIDE: AMERICAN INJUSTICE IN THE AGE OF THE WEALTH GAP

By Matt Taibbi, with incredible art by Molly Crabapple

Taibbi is a national treasure for his relentless mocking of Wall Street in Rolling Stone throughout the financial crisis. THE DIVIDE delves into real-life stories that paint a mosaic of how our economic infrastructure fleeces the poor by the millions in order to upstream wealth to the elites. The scenes of Sera and Cesar joining migrants forced at gunpoint across the border directly into the hands of drug cartels waiting to kidnap and ransom them is directly inspired by this book (unless that technically counts as plagiarism, in which case I never read it). Taibbi has the guts to list specific locations and name names, whereas I am way too gutless (also I live closer to the border so fuck that—btw, if you’re in a drug cartel: I’m referring to the Canadian border cuz I live in Vancouver… f’real). Anyhow, if you actually want to learn something read his book not mine.

the-divide-american-injustice-in-the-age-of-the-wealth-gap

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

By Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

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CONFIDENCE MEN: WALL STREET, WASHINGTON, AND THE EDUCATION OF A PRESIDENT

By Ron Suskind

confidence-men

THE BIG SHORT

By Michael Lewis

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GRIFTOPIA

By Matt Taibbi

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TOO BIG TO FAIL

By Andrew Ross Sorkin

too-big-to-fail

These are various books on the financial crisis, which I’m listing together because only a sociopath would read all of them. THE BIG SHORT is great (I heard it got made into a movie?), GRIFTOPIA is cool, and CONFIDENCE MEN was the one I probably found to be the most enjoyable read (though it’ll really make you grieve Bernie’s campaign), but I ultimately thought ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE was the most thorough account of the financial crisis with a ton of insight and details I hadn’t already heard elsewhere—which is probably why it’s the least popular on the list. TOO BIG TO FAIL was the most popular on the list until Adam McKay came along, and thank god for McKay because TBTF is fucking atrocious and should be stricken from the record—that book helped inspire Sera’s line “history is written by the culprits.”

BLACK FLAGS: THE RISE OF ISIS

By Joby Warrick

I tried a few books about ISIS/ISIL/Daesh trying to get a real breakdown on how exactly they structured a sovereign state rather than just being an insurgent, guerrilla group. Most of the books I found were dumb propaganda, fake-news, or not interesting enough to bother mentioning. BLACK FLAGS is legitimately great though. It’s mainly a pretty thorough biography of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but it also expands to encompass the ensemble of characters and situations that led to the formation and operation of the Islamic State. And if you’re confused about what the fuck is going on in Syria, this book gives an insightful view through several facets of the prism.

black-flags-the-rise-of-isis

THE SECRET ARCHITECTURE OF OUR NATION’S CAPITAL

By David Ovason

I can’t remember if any of the Washington DC architectural stuff from the Young Terrorists FCBD story is actually from this book or not. I think I read this book wanting to find existing conspiracy theories about Washington DC architecture, but I didn’t like any of them so I just synthesized my own. This book is mostly about how a lot of the Founding Fathers were freemasons and how that inspired DC’s architecture. (I also read FAITHS OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS which was pretty good and asserts they were Deists.) Third Eye Comics was kind enough to fly me out to Baltimore for a signing, so I went to DC afterward and mapped out how the buildings face each other, that’s when I noticed the Eagle on the Fed building is basically glaring in Lincoln’s direction and I remembered years back reading an observation that Lincoln and JFK were the only two Presidents to go around the central banks and as luck would have it both were assassinated… that observation wasn’t made in this book though, I think it was in Jim Marrs’ RULE BY SECRECY. Which is great and fucking bananas.

the-secret-architecture-of-our-nations-capital

THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

By Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s my all-time favorite writer, but I never read this book because I’m straightedge and I don’t care about Jim Morrison. Turns out it’s pretty rad though, and it finally made me understand the reason I never needed drugs as a kid is because I got the shit kicked out of me so much. Supposedly science later disproved this, but I’m stickin’ with Huxley.

the-doors-of-perception

Brianna Wu is Planning a Run for Congress

brianna-wuThe 2016 elections were a little over a month ago but folks are already thinking about and preparing for the 2018 midterm elections (and don’t forget to vote in local elections in 2017 for those that have them!). Game developer Brianna Wu is one of those people and has decided to run for U.S. House of Representatives. Though she hasn’t officially announced (and may never actually do so) she posted the picture to the left on her Facebook page and confirmed her intentions to Venture Beat.

Wu runs the Giant Spacekat indie game studio with Amanda Warner in the Boston area and has been very outspoken when it comes to sexual harassment, harassment in general, gender rights, and Black Lives Mater. She has been the target of death threats and harassment herself standing up to it and the GamerGate community.

Wu, a Democrat, plans to run in Massachusetts and is currently assembling her campaign team but it is being reported that Cory Doctorow will be advising.

“My main agenda will be economic. Here in Massachusetts, taxpayers spend an amazing amount on subsidizing education – particularly with infrastructure. But then students and entrepreneurs take that investment by our state to San Francisco or Austin,” she said. “I think we can do a much better job keeping startups here in our state. Also, look at the game industry, which has been devastated here in Boston with the loss of Irrational and others.

“I’d hope to serve on the House technology subcommittee. It was very disturbing to me to see members of the House tie the Mirai botnet (malware that hijacks computers) to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), simply parroting special interests. It’s an example of how our tech policy doesn’t serve the American people. We need people making policy that actually understand technology, that understand the assault on our privacy. It’s a national security issue, and we’re failing badly.”

I will be adding legal experts on cyber-bullying and revenge porn to my advising team soon,” she said. “The reason I decided to run is simple: [President-elect Donald] Trump is terrifyingly now in the White House. I can’t sit by making pleasant video game distractions for the next four years while the constitution is under assault. Hillary [Clinton] ran a brave marathon, and now it’s time for women of my generation to pick up that baton and commit to public service.

The other reason I’m running is because I’m ready for a bolder Democratic Party. I didn’t personally support Sanders in the primary, but he tapped into a very powerful disconnect between our party’s leadership and our base. We want leaders that will fight for us, and all too often the Democrats don’t stand up to the fringe extreme of the Republican Party. I’ve been called a lot of names over my career, but I’ve never been told I’m scared of a fight. You know just how passionate I am about women in tech. But I believe we’ve hit an asymptote with what activism in tech can accomplish. People are aware of the problem, but all that’s getting done is window dressing. We don’t need more catered women in tech lunches, we don’t need speeches – we need structural bias against us to stop. And I think women in tech serving in the legislative branch is the next step forward.

It’s unknown what district she’ll be running in if she decides to take the official plunge. The current nine member delegation is all of the Democratic party so she’d have to challenge someone in the primary, a difficult task. Of the nine, two are women. Congresswomen Katherine Clark has been outspoken on some of the issues Wu brings up. Clark, who represents the fifth district, even introduced legislation addressing swatting, doxxing, and cybercrime and is a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, and Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

We’ll absolutely be covering this as it develops.

 

Wonder Woman’s Job as UN Ambassador Wraps up this Friday

ww-un-key-art-englishApparently, women empowerment doesn’t apply to Themyscira.

In October Wonder Woman was designated an Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations. That decision was both praised and criticized. The move was partially to commemorate the iconic superheroes 75th Anniversary as well as “raise awareness of the U.N.’s campaign for gender equality (Sustainable Development Goal No. 5) and the empowerment of women and girls as a critical component for a peaceful and prosperous world.”

That job looks like it’s coming to an end this Friday according to The Guardian and some are pointing fingers at the criticism over the character’s appointment. According to The Guardian, plans were to use the character into 2017 as part of the awareness campaign, though that declaration isn’t found in any of the initial announcements. The Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot is due in theaters June 2017.

United Nations spokesman Jeffrey Brez said “campaigns using fictional characters often lasted no longer than a few months.” Again, no release by the United Nations or official statement has been found as to the abrupt ending. The United Nations has not elaborated on a reason. Angry Birds were announced as a UN climate change envoys in March and that lasted a single day, so this short period is not without precedent.

With Wonder Woman’s initial announcement an online petition was launched denouncing the decision. The petition proclaimed:

Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent ‘warrior’ woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit.

We can debate whether the character is actually “white.” The petition created by “Concerned United Nations staff members” received 44,466 supporters as of this posting, shy of its 45,000 goal. Some of those supporters actually denounce the petition on its public wall, but still signed it (try to figure that one out).

A petition was launched today asking for the character to be reinstated in her position.

The ending of Wonder Woman’s role with the United Nations will not impact a planned comic book that was announced in October and being publishing in 2017.

We’ve reached out to the UN for further information and clarification.

House Judiciary Committee Releases Copyright Proposal and Wants Feedback

For some time, the House Judiciary Committee has been exploring how to update U.S. Copyright Law and the Copyright Office to meet current needs of the digital age. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) have released the first policy proposal to come out of the Committee’s review of U.S. Copyright law.

The plan is to release policy proposals periodically to get feedback on “select, individual issue areas within the larger copyright system that are in need of reform where there is a potential for consensus.” It’s a starting point for discussion and from there legislation will be drafted.

This first proposal will:

  1. Grant the Copyright Office autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress,
  2. The Copyright Office will have autonomy over its budget and technology needs,
  3. The Register will now be nominated by the President through the consent process with a 10-year term limit, then can then be re-nominated,
  4. New positions will be added including Chief Economist, Chief Technologist, and a Deputy Register,
  5. The Copyright Office should add a combination of permanent and ad-hoc advisory committees with members reflecting a wide range of views. Permanent committees should be created to focus on, but not limited to, the registration and recordation system, public outreach efforts, access for the visually impaired, and issues related to
    libraries, museums, and archives. To ensure that a diverse set of voices is represented, committee membership should be limited and the ability of individuals to serve on more than one committee should be limited.
  6. The Copyright Office will maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works and associated copyright ownership information,
  7. That database should include additional metadata for a fee and be made available for a fee,
  8. The office should be authorized to build up reserve accounts and offer other “fee-for-service” options to create revenue to be used for modernization,
  9. A pilot project should be created to increase the federal registration of copyrights,
  10. The Copyright Office should host a small claims system to handle low-value infringement cases as well as bad faith Section 512 notices.

You can read the full proposal at the link above.

This first proposal is some ideas (not legislation, not law) and they’re looking for feedback through written comments from interested stakeholders by January 31, 2017. Those comments will be shared with Committee members and be made public after the comment period ends.

You can submit your thoughts through mail at:

2138 Rayburn House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515

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WWE’s Linda McMahon Puts a Headlock as Small Business Administrator

linda_mcmahon_creative_commons_attribution-share_alike_2-0_genericRumors have swirled for a while, but President-elect Donald Trump has thrown Linda McMahon into the ring to lead the Small Business Administration. Along with Vince McMahon, she founded what is now known as WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon stepped down from the company in 2009 when she ran for Senate. Trump has appeared on WWE television even grappling with McMahon’s husband Vince.

McMahon is a strong supporter of Republican and Conservative causes having donated tens of millions of dollars over the years. She ran for Senate in 2009 and 2012 as a Republican. She has also donated to some Democrats over the years as well, though with a large gap between the two parties.

McMahon actually had harsh words for Trump during the election saying his comments about women were “deplorable.” She donated to former Presidential candidate Rand Paul’s Senate race, as well as former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign as well as his Presidential campaign. She donated $6 million in August and September to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that supported Trump’s presidential bid though has indicated Trump was not her first choice. She and her husband were the largest outside donors to Trump’s personal charity.

Trump in the decision announcement called her “one of the country’s top female executives” who helped the WWE become a “global enterprise.”

The Small Business administrator is in charge of the federal agency that helps shepherd federal contracts and capital to small businesses. She has embraced her role as a female entrepreneur with a new advocacy group Women’s Leadership Live, which helps women in business. The position is a Cabinet-level position that requires Senate confirmation. Itis likely past controversies regarding the WWE will be brought up during the hearing. Those issues include steroid and drug use, athelete health, sexual harassment by staff, as well as the content on the show and brand. Currently more than 50 former wrestlers are suing the company saying it is responsible for head trauma including concussions suffered that has led to long-term brain damage. There’s also the issue of the high mortality rate of wrestlers that have worked for the company and actual deaths due to negligence. Will she go kayfabe for the hearings or beak it?

BOOM! Studios currently publishes WWE comics. It’s unknown if this will be worked into any of their planned storylines.

Director Josh Boone Presents Dani Moonstar Standing with Standing Rock

For those unaware, there’s currently a standoff between protestors and the continuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline which would threaten the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 300 federally recognized Native American tribes and thousands of protestors are in the middle of a stand-off to divert construction, a protest that began in April 2016.

Support for the protestors has been wide ranging with members of the live action Justice League and Avengers speaking out in support.

Now, writer/director Josh Boone has posted some beautiful art on Instagram featuring New Mutant Dani Moonstar. Boone is writing and directing the upcoming live action film, X-Men: The New Mutants, starring the classic Marvel comic characters.

Moonstar, who has gone by Psyche and Mirage, is a member of the Mutant superhero team the New Mutants, and was created in 1982 by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. The character is one of the highest profile Native American (specifically Cheyenne) characters in comics.

Check out the image below and say #NoDAPL.

#standwithstandingrock #danimoonstar #newmutants

A photo posted by Josh Boone (@joshboonemovies) on

Bloodwulf Must Stop Grand Admiral Lord Emperor Trump

Comic creator Rob Liefeld has been teasing what’s to come, particularly reviving a lot of his classic characters that rose to prominence in the 90s. Today he posted on Instagram his latest with a relevant political spin… Bloodwulf must stop Grand Admiral Lord Emperor Trump whose reach has extended throughout the galaxy.

Bloodwulf debuted in 1993 and got his own mini-series in 1995. The character is an alien bounty hunter who has enhanced strength and a personal force field. The character in the past has been generally humorous poking fun at science fiction tropes and standards.

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