Category Archives: Deep Mind
Deep cultural shifts required: open letter from 500 legal women calls for reform of way judges are appointed and disciplined – UNSW Newsroom
In an open letter to Attorney-General Christian Porter, about 500 women working in the law from across Australia have sought changes to the way judges are disciplined and appointed.
The letter comes after former High Court judge Dyson Heydon was found by an independent investigation to have sexually harassed young female associates of the court, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The letter was also sent to Susan Kiefel, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, along with another letter to thank her
for her strong, decisive and compassionate responses to the complaints in the Heydon matter, and ask her to work with the government to see these reforms implemented in a way sensitive to the protection of judicial integrity and independence.
The full text of the two letters are below.
We are writing following the publication of the High Courts response to the complaints about the conduct of Mr Dyson Heydon AC QC during his time as a judge on the Court. As women working across the legal profession, we have welcomed the Chief Justices strong response to the independent inquirys recommendations about providing better protections to associates during their time employed at the Court, recognising their particularly vulnerable professional position.
We believe the abuse the allegations raise provides an important opportunity to implement wider reforms to address the high incidence of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct in the legal profession. Deep cultural shifts in how men treat women in the law are required, as well as reforms to prevent the manifestations of what many fear may be institutionalised sexism that has allowed this culture to continue. We must reach a position where all people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, age, race, ethnicity, or disability are treated with equal professional dignity. Of course, no single reform can achieve these shifts, and we understand many different forms of change must be pursued.
We are writing to urge you to implement two types of judicial institution reform the establishment of an independent complaints body and the introduction of a transparent appointments process. We believe these will prove to be important systemic contributions towards deeper cultural shifts.
To ensure these reforms are introduced and designed with appropriate levels of respect for the independence of the judiciary, we ask you to develop them with the cooperation and input of the judges. We encourage you to work with the Chief Justice of the High Court, to whom we have provided a copy of this letter, and the Council of Chief Justices of Australia and New Zealand to see them implemented. The Council of Chief Justices also offers an opportunity for these reforms to be considered at a national level to operate not just for the federal judiciary, but potentially across the federation.
First, we encourage the creation of an independent complaints body, with a standing jurisdiction to receive complaints against federal judges, investigate any complaints and provide appropriate responses to them. This institutional reform would ensure there is an established body to which future complainants may turn, whether they be court employees, members of the profession, the judiciary or members of the public. It would provide an independent avenue for individuals to seek redress with some guarantees of privacy and protection against recrimination, such as defamation actions.
An oversight institution such as this must be carefully designed so as to meet expectations of accountability for judicial misconduct, while protecting judges from unfounded allegations and not placing the judiciary in a subordinate position to any other branch of government. We underscore the necessity of any institution to respect judicial independence, and the requirements of Chapter III of the Constitution. If well designed with these considerations in mind, we believe such an institution could enhance public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
In respect of its design, any institution should be informed by best practice and the standards that apply to complaint handling, such as ISO 10002:2004: Quality Management Customer Satisfaction Guidelines for Complaint Handling in Organizations. It should also be informed, although not limited, by the design of institutions that are already operating in many jurisdictions, including the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, the Judicial Conduct Commissioner of South Australia, the Judicial Commission Victoria, the ACT Judicial Council and most recently, the Judicial Commission of the Northern Territory.
Informed by such standards and the experience of these jurisdictions, we propose the following principles for the design of a national judicial complaints institution:
there must be clear, publicly available standards against which appropriate judicial behaviour is assessed. These standards must be developed by the judiciary to ensure independence from the political branches. The Guide to Judicial Conduct, adopted by the Council of Chief Justices, provides an important starting point as to the types of conduct that are unacceptable in judicial office. However, these standards need to go beyond aspirational statements and set down enforceable standards of appropriate conduct, including examples of behaviour and the consequences that might follow from such behaviour. Further, these standards should specify that workplace harassment and bullying, including sexual harassment, constitute judicial misconduct; conduct which is currently not mentioned in the Guide
the body should be a standing body, separate and independent from the political branches of government. It should be appointed by the judiciary, to maintain judicial independence, but it must be separate from the ordinary judicial hierarchy and process
the body may include former judicial officers, and there should be diversity in its membership
the body must adopt a robust, fair and transparent process. It must have appropriate investigative powers and ensure procedural fairness is accorded to complainants and the respondent. It must also protect the privacy of complainants and provide them with guarantees against recrimination, including defamation proceedings
should the body determine that a complaint has been made out, it must have an appropriate suite of avenues for redress available to it. These might include: referral to Parliament for possible removal; referral to prosecutors in relation to possible criminal conduct; as well as intermediate forms of redress, such as public reprimand, orders for compensation, and recommendations for pastoral care and advice (eg mentoring). While there are concerns that such responses might undermine public confidence in the judiciary, we believe the revelation of misconduct without a mechanism for appropriate redress also poses a high risk of such damage.
the body must have jurisdiction that extends to the investigation of retired judges and chief justices. Its jurisdiction must include conduct on the bench, notwithstanding that a judge has subsequently resigned. Second, we urge systemic reforms to the process of judicial appointments to increase transparency and promote the independence, quality and diversity of the judiciary. These reforms must be targeted to select candidates that will bring not just excellent legal skills to the office, but also the highest personal integrity, and contribute to greater diversity in the senior ranks of the profession.
In respect of its design, we proposed the following principles:
the government should appoint an independent body, composed of a diverse range of members, appointed by the judiciary and the government through a transparent process, to advise the government in its role in judicial appointments
the bodys function should be to advertise widely for judicial vacancies, and to shortlist candidates who are suitable for appointment, from whom among the government may select.
shortlisting must occur against criteria that are set out in a public statement, and must include legal knowledge, skill and expertise in addition to essential personal qualities (eg integrity and good character). The value of diversity in judicial appointments should also be respected. The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administrations Suggested Criteria for Judicial Appointments provides an example of such a statement
the body must consult widely, with relevant professional bodies and officeholders, including those representing women and other minority stakeholders, before shortlisting candidates
The bodys processes must be transparent.
We hope government will seize the opportunity these shocking revelations have provided to implement these, and other, reforms that will contribute to making the law a safer profession for women into the future.
See all signatories here.
Dear Chief Justice,
We are writing following the publication of the High Courts response to the complaints about the conduct of Mr Dyson Heydon AC QC during his time as a judge on the Court. We thank you and the Courts Principal Registrar, Ms Philippa Lynch, in particular for the decisive action taken to ensure the complaints were thoroughly investigated by an independent process. We are grateful that you took this matter so seriously and treated the complainants with dignity, compassion and respect. We welcome your response to the inquirys recommendations as to how to provide better protections to associates during their time employed at the Court, recognising their particularly vulnerable professional position.
Today, we have sent a letter to the Commonwealth Attorney-General urging him to seize this moment as an opportunity to implement reforms to address the high incidence of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct in the law. We have asked that he take action to implement two types of institutional reforms an independent complaints body and a transparent judicial appointments process. While no single reform will achieve the necessary cultural shifts in how women are treated in the law, we believe, if properly designed, these will prove to be important systemic contributions towards deeper change.
We are very conscious that these reforms must be developed through close cooperation between the government, through the Attorney-Generals portfolio, and the judiciary. In particular, the creation of an independent complaint-handling body with a standing jurisdiction to receive complaints against federal judges, investigate any complaints and provide appropriate responses to them, must be designed with care. It must meet expectations of accountability for judicial misconduct while protecting judges from unfounded allegations and not compromising judicial independence by placing the judiciary in a subordinate position to any other branch of government.
With these considerations in mind, we have asked the Attorney-General to work with you and the Council of Chief Justices of Australia and New Zealand as an important forum for input from the Australian judiciary into the design of these reforms. We applaud your initial response to this issue. The changes you and Ms Lynch have made will form a significant legacy and will make the law a safer profession for women.
See all signatories here.
Gabrielle Appleby, Professor, UNSW Law School, UNSW
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
This is your reminder to take a deep breath and try to remember all the good in the world. If no one has told you, you are loved and supported, so give yourself a break from the world around you because you deserve peace of mind.
"Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset" - Saint Francis
Mental health days are so important. Thats especially true for anyone associated with the military because it is such a stressful lifestyle and it can be so hard to remember to take a second when you're dealing with the constant stress and pressure that many soldiers and spouses are under.
If you're reading this, how are you? Have you checked in with yourself recently? What about your spouse, kids, or family?
Take this as a sign to listen to your body and what you need for your mental health. Drink some water, watch your favorite movie or pig out on your favorite foods; don't be afraid to treat yourself, because you're the most deserving of your kindness.
Sometimes things can get very overwhelming, especially with the setting of 2020. The narrative of this year has been far too negative, and I've been seeing a lot more people wound up than usual.
A lot of people are fighting for what they think is right and just trying to hold on to the smallest bit of control or normalcy as possible. And with that I must ask: How tired are you? Have you given yourself a break or a time away from social media to recoup?
You should allow yourself some time to process without your mind going a mile a minute trying to figure everything out at once. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and its OK to give yourself time and patience.
If you have not been giving yourself or your family the best of you unwound, you should give it a try and let life's problems roll off your shoulders for a bit. Life gets tough, and for most of us among the younger generations, this is the first time in our lives seeing a global pandemic, economic crisis, a powerful movement for equality and all the other heaviness that this year has brought to our table.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yourself during these times of high stress. Take care of you. If you dont agree with someone, walk away and wish them peace, apply words of affirmations to your everyday life and do your best to be the light in someone else's life. Most importantly, take the time necessary to rest your body, soul and mind. No one is perfect, and were all living a new version of ourselves every day, slowly processing and learning as we go, so give yourself and others the virtue of patience.
This is your reminder to take a deep breath and try to remember all the good in the world. If no one has told you, you are loved and supported, so give yourself a break from the world around you because you deserve peace of mind.
Columnist Lauren Creamer can be reached at email@example.com.
Scientists are still not sure what tells salmon to return en masse to the same breeding ground every year, or how monarch butterflies know to migrate north from Mexico to Canada the length of the journey means no individual butterfly will reach its destination, but the group as a whole will survive.
And so it is with real estate investors. It is hard to pinpoint an exact trigger, but a couple of weeks ago, the London real estate investment market began to thaw out after a period of pandemic-induced hibernation. And the emergence is starting to spread beyond the capital.
There is both anecdote and evidence to highlight the phenomenon an uptick in properties officially registered for sale, owners kicking off sales processes for chunky assets and deals that were dropped during the early days of the pandemic starting to be picked back up. What changed to bring deal flow back? There is littleconcrete, but those in the market point to an increase in confidence among both buyers and sellers, as well as the economic and psychological imperatives thatfuel the circle of life that is real estate investment.
I agree that capital markets in London have opened up, and I think it has coincided with the easing of the lockdowns, Savills Head of Global Cross Border Investment Rasheed Hassan said. In a period like this you have investors who are risk-averse and wont do a deal under any circumstance, those who want to take advantage of a difficult market and look for distress, then a big group in the middle who might be buyers or sellers because they have different motivations driving them and they will more or less follow market pricing.
The number of properties listed for sale rose to 632 in June,37%up fromMay, according to CoStar. That figure is still well below the 900-plus listed in March, but is heading back toward the long-run average of 800 after falling to about 400 in April.
Thesecond quarter hadLondons third-lowest quarterly investment volume in 20 years, according to CBRE.
In London, new sales have been kicked off in recent weeks, and old sales revived. Landsec is selling a quartet of assets with a total value of 850M, in response to inbound investment enquiries,according to reports in Bloomberg and React News.
Numbers 1 and 2 New Ludgate on the western edge of the City, totalling 380K SF, could fetch as much as 600M, a 4% yield. In the West End, the 138K SF 40 Strand could be sold for 180M, and the 62K SF 7 Soho Square could sell for 75M.
As unlikely as it seems, some investors that have bought well and improved properties in recent years are now taking the opportunity to take a profit. Henderson Park bought the vacant 174K SF Athene Place in the City for 120M in 2018, and having leased the building,is now selling it for 260M.
Elsewhere in the City, DTZ Investors last week launched the sale of 47 and 50 Mark Lane, two assets totalling 132K SF, for 103M.
Deals that had fallen out of bed are now close to getting across the finish line, too. In March,Blackstone pulled out of a deal to buy The Cabot in Canary Wharf from Hines for 380M, but last month Link REIT, Hong Kongs largest listed property company, went under offer to buy the 453K SF building for about the same price.
Courtesy of Landsec
Landsec's New Ludgate scheme
AGC Equity Partners is in talks to buy 1 London Wall Place from Brookfield for around 500M, React News reported. A deal to sell the building to Korean investor Samsung alongside DTZ Investors fell apartearlier this year. And React saidBrookfield is still on course to complete the acquisition of Plantation Place for 700M.
There is an increasing amount of activity going on outside of London as well. Prologis launching the sale of a 435M UK logistics portfolio is big but perhaps unsurprising, given how well the industrial sector has performed even during the lockdown.
Of greater note is the sale of Aeons 240K SF Edinburgh HQ to Hyundai Asset Management for 167M, one of the first significant UK deals by a Korean investor outside of London.
Hassan said that on the buy side, investors had in recent weeks managed to look beyond the current uncertainty, and the imperative to spend that existed before the lockdown has not gone away. If youre a company with 100M of capital that you need to deploy, you might get 4M of income from real estate, but youre getting nothing if that moneysits in the bank: Investors seethat as 4M lost, he said.
If you buy real estate with long income that with a good covenant and your plan is to hold long term, the likelihood is that yields will go up and down during that time and there will be events over that period that we cannot predict today. However, if the real estate is good and the tenant can afford to keep paying the rent, then you feel secure.
Perhaps more interesting is the attitude of sellers after all, if no one is willing to sell, there is no market to be made. Hassan said the increasing pressure building up among buyers is giving sellers comfort they can achieve their pricing ambitions.
There are a large number of investors of all different types who have done very few or no transactions over the last six months now. There comes a point where some start needing to find a way to deploy capital, he said. In an environment where there is very little to buy, potential sellers are starting to get the confidence that they are going to get a lot of interest and a good reception if they do release something to the market. And if they dont get the price they want, they dont have to sell.
Real estate does not have the hive mind that controls fish or insects: Within the wider species of investors, there are myriad motivations guiding an individuals actions. But it can have the same result: Investors in London are on the move.
Read the original here:
Suddenly, The Investment Market Comes Out Of The Deep Freeze - Bisnow
The Emmy race has begun! Vulture is taking a close look at the contenders until nomination-round voting closes on July 13.
Photo: Dana Scruggs
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As outspoken as Thandie Newton has been throughout her career, there are still stories shes been holding off on telling. Not because shes shy, but because shes waiting for the right moment. So careful what you do, everybody, she says. Because you might find yourself fucking over a little brown girl at the beginning of a career, when no one knows who she is and no one gives a fuck. She might turn out to be Thandie Newton. At 47, Newton feels shes more powerful than ever, which manifests in our Zoom conversations as a kind of stunning vulnerability. Its rare for an actress whose 30-plus-year career has ranged from odd art-house films with Bernardo Bertolucci to blockbusters like Mission: Impossible 2 to, well, Norbit to speak so plainly. Shes unsparing about her own career choices and yet maintains the wisdom and compassion to forgive herself. We got to press on, havent we, my love?
Are you in your bedroom right now?I am. Its very hard to find a quiet spot. We currently have my family in isolation. My son, whos 6, my 15-year-old daughter, and my 19-year-old daughter, whose girlfriend is living with us too.
What were you doing when lockdown first started?I was in Montana doing a movie, Gods Country. Its one of the most inspiring projects. I was loving it, but also willing its end because it was that demanding. And Id come off 12 months of pretty intense work with Westworld.
In Westworld, your performance is so poignant, both ferocious and beautiful. Do you have conversations with the showrunners around the arc of the season or where you would like your character to go?I like to stay sane about my position, which is that I am being employed to tell someone elses story. Where I do have a degree of choice is in taking the role, but once Im in, Im a team player. I do have frustrations with Maeve, but thats part of her story line.
What are some of those frustrations?Well, season one, the evolution of this robot who then has the revelation that shes not human, and that she had a past that involved a child, and the betrayal of that, and then using information to empower herself it was such a powerful story. Im not surprised that it hooked people in. And then the second and third season has Maeve with a different directive, but its not her own. Shes following other peoples leads, by and large. In the first season, she was driving, dominating, pretty straightforward. I think Maeve is a metaphor for the dispossessed in the world, and shes become that kind of leader, but shes not had a chance to lead, and I dont think she necessarily should. She certainly doesnt want to.
When you were a kid, you said you didnt feel like you were beautiful, but I think people consider you beautiful. When did things shift?I think its hugely to do with my ethnicity. When I set out in the adult world, I was pretty young 16 was when I started working in movies. I had no sense of myself. One of the reasons why is because I was not considered anything. There was a lot that people could have been interested in in me when I was young. They didnt want to express it, because they didnt want to praise the Black girl.
I had this dance teacher, cause ballet was my thing. I came from a very small town. We didnt have capoeira and this and that. Not even like jazz or fucking modern that would have been way too ghetto. Year after year, I was a star student. Id always be given the solo to make the school look good. So at the end of every year, thered be this big performance wed all do in this dance school. The dance teacher and I dont mean her any ill, Im not slagging her off, but its the truth at the end of every year, shed give prizes. She would give this ceramic ballet dancer, like a little kind of Oscar. It was screamingly obvious that I should have been given prizes. She never did. Not once.
I didnt even think about it. Because, look, this all instilled in me a work ethic and perfectionism. Its not pride in my work or pride in the perfectionism. Its If I dont do this, no ones going to let me do anything else again, ever. It was out of survival. The last year I was in her school, I remember I didnt get the prize, and my mom had obviously realized I wasnt going to get it. We didnt have much money, but when I got home, she had bought me this beautiful figurine of two dancers. Because she was so proud of me, she wanted to compensate.
We didnt talk about it at the time, but the damage was so done. It just made me super-vulnerable to predators. Thats the truth. Because theres so much about not having a sense of my value. I suffered quite badly for a couple of years from anorexia, and it all feeds into this. Just wanting to disappear. What happened for me was I had a very complicated relationship with I never chose. I let other people do the choosing for me. That saddens me.
What were you going to say? That you had a complicated relationship with ?With sexual relationships. It was like I had to give something back for being noticed. You get predators and sexual abusers, they can smell it a mile off. Its like a shark smelling blood in the water. All you need is one of those to really drive you into the dust. In a way, an eating disorder was just like, Okay, I need to finish myself off. I need to get fully rid of myself now. Unfortunately, that was while I was in an industry where a woman is utterly objectified. But a really key point, which began when I was like 21 and I met Eve Ensler
You saw The Vagina Monologues and then you talked to her afterward.She was performing in a pub in Islington in North London. Afterward, I saw her as she came into the pub and we chatted. I found myself telling her my story about being sexually abused. She didnt look at me with pity. For her, it was like, And youre here. It was the moment I turned from being a victim to a survivor. She just pointed out I was moving through it.
When youve talked about what happened in the past getting groomed and sexually abused as a teenager by the director John Duigan on the set of Flirting I noticed the language used by some journalists writing about it was quite odd. Some would call it an affair.Yes. For years. I would talk about it a lot in the press, as you know. I think its because I was traumatized. If someone brought it up and of course theyre going to bring it up in a fucking interview, man if they spoke about it in a way thats not sympathetic or they called it an affair, it was insult to injury. Its like re-abuse. I think the reason I talked about it a lot, too, is Im trying to find someone who understands. Im looking for help. Its so fucking obvious to me. What is the point if we dont expose what needs to be exposed?
When I look at my career and see how affected it was by my speaking out about sexual abuse in the industry, it was massively affected in two ways. One, because I was dealing with my trauma, and talk about being in a triggering environment, right? Also, Id come across people that were doing the same shit, and so I would challenge them, or want to get out of it, or not want to work with people. One of the biggest movies I didnt end up doing was because the director said to me, I cant wait for this. The first shot is going to be Youre going to think its like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize its the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass its going to look like tarmac. I was like, Oh, I dont think were going to go down this road together.
Then the head of the studio I had a meeting with her, and she said, Look, I dont mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like weve got to make sure that its believable. I was like, What do you mean? What changes would you have to make? Shes like, Well, you know, the character, as written, shes been to university and is educated. Im like, Ive been to university. I went to Cambridge. She went, Yeah, but youre different. Shes like, Maybe there could be a scene where youre in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty. Shes basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character. Everything she said, I was like, Nah, I wouldnt do that. Shes like, Yeah, but youre different. Youre different. That was Amy Pascal. Thats not really a surprise, is it? Lets face it: I didnt do the movie as a result.
What was the movie?Charlies Angels. It was a big deal for me. Vogue had called to ask us to be on the cover, the three of us. But I just couldnt do it. I felt scared. Did I feel scared? Thats not true. Look, no one was ever going to sexually abuse me again. But I didnt want to be put in a position where I was objectified. That just didnt feel good. This is a long time ago anyway, and all those girls are brilliant. But if that was me now, Id want to disrupt rather than run away. I think thats probably the change in me.
Thats not the only thing that happened. Theres the disgusting thing that happened with the casting couch. Just this grossness. Ive got my little black book, which will be published on my deathbed.
Of names?Oh, of everything. Got to leave something behind, love. Im not doing it when Im alive. I dont want to deal with all the fallout and everyone getting their side of the story. There is no side of the story when youre sexually abused. You give that up.
Im also a Black girl, and I absolutely [felt like I was] being passed around. Being Black is important. Because certainly at the beginning of my career, when it was just, like, me and Halle Berry in our age group going up for every role: Oh, this is novel. This is a little quick flash in the pan. Well let you come in for a minute.
Its interesting how you two were positioned by the industry.Shes so cool, man. Im sure she has all her own things. Were very different. Quite interesting that we both have one white parent. Id like to just look at that. All these Black people in the public eye who are Black, and you dont think about their white parents. Like on my Instagram, its always my mum. I dont put my dad up much, and thats because I want Black people to feel they can trust me and feel safe with me that Im not a representative of this Establishment that degrades people of color. All my fucking career, I felt like, to Black people, Im not a legitimate Black person.
What I am evidence of is: You can dismiss a Black person. If youre a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no ones going to fucking care. You can tell whoever the fuck you want, and theyll call it an affair. Until people start taking this seriously, I cant fully heal. There are so many problems to feeling disenfranchised. But I keep finding myself alone. There is now an appetite for listening to women, but theres women and then, right at the bottom of the pile, is women of color. So careful what you do, everybody, because you might find yourself fucking over a little brown girl at the beginning of a career, when no one knows who she is and no one gives a fuck. She might turn out to be Thandie Newton winning Emmys.
How do you feel about the movie Flirting? People sometimes bring up how its an underrated gem.I think its lovely. Its beautiful.
Is it complicated for you at all?I havent watched it again. I dont really want to talk about it. It doesnt make me feel good to think about it, really. Just in that moment, my stomach went a bit weird. Because of my loyalty to the film, to the people in it, to my performance in it, it feels a little bit like I approve of what happened to me during it, and its simply not true. It would be so much easier if the film was shit. Im good, though. What a shame I wasnt a shit actress. But it had Nicole [Kidman] in it as well and Naomi Watts.
There are definitely movies I regret, particularly the films I continued to do with the director I first worked with. Because I never really wanted to do any of them. He would bully me into them. He would shame me into doing them. I was in my early 20s, but when I read The Journey of August King all respect to John Ehle, who wrote it, all respect to everyone who got involved I remember saying to him, I just feel like its very simplistic. He criticized me for having an opinion. And I immediately felt like a little girl. Because, you know, when youre abused, its mental abuse as well. And we werent even together at the time Id finally managed to leave, and I still wasnt on the other side of judgment. I just thought I was fucked up; I didnt think that hed fucked me up. And thats not to say I did my best. I tried to do well. I wanted to give that character as much intelligence, humanity. Oh, and then I did another movie that his sister wrote. Oh!
Wait, what was that?Its called The Leading Man. Well, it gave me a down payment on my first flat. First ever. But that was fucking gross. And then there was one particular time where I mean, this is what Im talking about, where he lied about what parts of my body were being seen in the shot.
That was him?Yeah. And, like, this was supposed to be someone that loved you. And not just that, personally, as in a relationship, but also youve helped make his career. Hed be nowhere without me. For a number of years, there was a grain of hope that that person would atone, become someone on International Womens Day whos out there campaigning for women. Like, of course, you hope people will change, right?
So what changed? How were you able to say no and break free?Oh, by literally extricating myself physically and mentally from that individual. But I realize its not just an individual; its a system. Thats why I dont particularly like talking about the individual, because it makes that person more special. Its a whole fucking system of abuse, exploitation. Thats why watching [Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich], I couldnt even get through the first episode. I was just so undone by that. Just in terms of grooming, thats the closest to what I experienced. And its like, Oh my God, its so textbook.
Im curious about some other early roles, like Jefferson in Paris. How do you think about that now with the years gone by?I love James Ivory. He has his quirks, but I really enjoyed his kind of old-school gentleman director. I would definitely approach that film in a completely different way now. I would push for the film to be more about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. And I think that had the DNA tests been done before the movie, they would have definitely wanted to make it more about that. But it would have turned out to be a horror film, because you cant not have scenes of the two of them sexually, because obviously, lets face it, thats the main reason for that relationship. It wasnt like he was marrying her or even making his children free. His children would wait on tables and people would be like, Whoa, that looks like Thomas Jefferson. So I would want to try and focus on that if I were me now in that 21-year-old body and mind. Whereas when we made the movie, the DNA stuff was still controversial. Do you know that Sally Hemings was Jeffersons wifes half-sister?
Yes. Her dad was Jeffersons father-in-law. She wouldve looked a bit like his dead wife. Her children were his father-in-laws grandchildren, right? Or his nieces and nephews? Theyre all fucking related. I mean, she was his slave. It was rape.
It was my first big film. I dont want to name names and put words in peoples mouths, but any number of African-Americans take a shot at me for that one. Do it. Im here.
You mean they have or they should?Well, I dont think its paranoia. Spike Lee and I had a little moment. Were always respectful when we see each other. But he wasnt exactly knocking on my door asking me to work with him. I cant put words in his mouth of what he thought of it.
I know the nature of this business has had me play roles that Im embarrassed I played. Its had me misrepresent African-Americans. Because I didnt know. I have not been of great service in my career. I guess its been of service in one respect, because theres a person of color in a movie, but that can do more harm than good lets face it. Anyway, sorry. God, wow. Ive never cried in an interview before.
Im trying to understand the box that people put you in in those early years, and if you felt that colorism was a part of that.Oh, yeah. Crikey. I mean, I was perceived in so many different ways, and it was always about the individual who was perceiving. It was very much on the spectrum of Is she Black enough, or is she too Black? And the number of times I would put on a fake tan or take it down or up
When would you do that?Like the Sally Hemings story, with that movie, she had to be super-pale. With Beloved, they wanted me to be a lot darker. Jonathan Demme directed it. If he had been an African-American guy, would he have Oprah, I think she was concerned about me being light-skinned.
Did you ever talk to Oprah about it?No. When we were making the movie, we were all, Woo! We were in. I was Beloved to all of them. They deeply appreciated how far I went. Once I started croaking like a demon and made scenes that we were doing And Jonathan was extraordinary, how he created the context for your work. Nothing like it. No rehearsal. You came ready and open.
I remember another time it came up really strongly. I did this movie, Half of a Yellow Sun,which is one of my favorite characters Ive played. That, Beloved, and Maeve in the first season of Westworld. Half of a Yellow Sun is based on the book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a stunning book. I was talking to Chimamanda about it because, again, Im on the paler side. I think there had been mutterings online when they found out I was being considered: Oh, shes so light-skinned. Chimamanda and I became friends very easily. Shes from Lagos, Nigeria, and she showed me a picture of her family. Her siblings ranged from pale like me to darker than Chimamanda. She just said, when she realized and looked to her own family, Why cant Olanna be me, be this color?
Nowadays, there is regret for me. I recognize how painful it is for dark-skinned women, particularly, to have to deal with being substituted or overlooked. For example, you watch Queen & Slim. I look at Jodie [Turner-Smith]. Or, you look at Lupita [Nyongo]. To see a woman of color, to see that dark skin, that beautiful chocolate skin, my mothers skin, onscreen Its holy. I do see so clearly why theres been so much deep disappointment.
Did the reaction to Beloved disappoint you? It was supposed to be such a major movie, an Oscar contender.We were on the floor. I was like, Oh God, Im so depressed. It had had some good reviews, but it hadnt done well at the box office. And Jonathan was like, Shame on you for not witnessing all the people for whom this movie meant so much. Thats so Jonathan. And Oprah took to her bed and just ate mac and cheese. It was hard because we put everything into that movie. Id love to see it again. Jonathan was fortunate in that he was working in a time when budgets went into the art. There were no actors there being paid extortionate figures. It all ended up on-camera.
Ill never forget Oprah saying to me She was the cover of Vogue. And apparently, she said, they had 20 meetings to decide whether she should be on the cover. Twenty. I was like, Thats disgusting. What is the issue? And Oprah, her response was, Thandie, these things take time.
To switch gears slightly, I wanted to talk about Crash.Crash. Thats got a chapter in my black book, Im afraid, babe.
How the sexual-assault scene got shot sounded dodgy, to say the least, and it was not clear to me what happened. I wanted to ask you what happened.I wouldnt say it was dodgy. It was certainly not from Paul Haggiss point of view. Everything that he did was right on. The irony is that in the script, it wasnt specific what his hand was doing inside her skirt. It was just, His hand goes up her skirt, and thats it. And then in the later scene, when shes screaming at her husband, she says, You just let him finger-fuck your wife. I thought she was being ironic. I thought she was saying the worst thing she could imagine because she was trying to make a point to her husband. Because frankly, if Id been finger-fucked by a cop, I wouldnt even be able to talk. But wed shot the argument scene already. So weeks later, we came to shoot the scene, the last scene for me, the scene with the cop. At the beginning of that night, oh God, Paul Haggis got me and Matt [Dillon] together, and in front of Matt, he said to me, Are you wearing protective underwear? And theyre both like looking at their feet. Im like, I mean, Im just wearing under yeah. Why? Because I really want this to be as real as, you know I really want to go there. Im like, What do you mean? Because I just want Matt to feel like he can And I realized what he was saying. I wasnt even thinking about the [earlier] scene that Id said finger-fuck. It wasnt until I saw the fucking movie, Im like, Oh, fucking hell!
I went into the makeup trailer and burst into tears. I was really worried, and I was upset. Not that I had to do the scene, but I was upset that I had no idea that thats what we were going to be conveying in the movie. Because as far as I was concerned, to insinuate that a cop would hand-rape a woman in the streets, and in a racially charged way, too, I felt this fear that I didnt want to be part of putting that out in the world, because I thought it couldnt possibly be true. Here I am now working with Kimberl Crenshaw for the African American Policy Forum, her amazing Say Her Name, which is basically a whole campaign trying to raise awareness of the fact that, yes, Black men are being killed by the police and its horrific, but the numbers of Black women who are sexually abused by the police, it is actually a phenomenon. There are so many cases, but you dont hear about them. But thats how much Ive grown. You could say that Paul Haggis knew a thing or two more than I did.
The movie has been very polarizing since its release. I dont know if youve read Ta-Nehisi Coatess piece about it. He really hated the movie.Maybe thats why he doesnt respond to me on Twitter. Im not kidding.
He called it the worst movie of the decade.I assumed because its Ta-Nehisi Coates that [his piece] would be pithy and interesting, but it was pretty ineffectual. It felt, to me, like the movie wasnt that bad really, because if it had been he would have taken more time and effort to defang the movie. I think hes an extraordinary thinker and writer, and Ive been deeply comforted and changed by his work. I dont take things personally if someone doesnt like the work Ive done. I blame the movie. The movie made him write a shitty piece.
One of the main criticisms of the film has been that it gives Matt Dillons character this redemption arc just because he saved you from a burning car.Yeah. Thats something even at the time I didnt buy into. There was a moment I remember, being taken away from the car, and I had to turn around and look at him. I had a sense that that look was supposed to be a look of connection, like, You saved me, but for me, the look to him was, Oh, okay. It turns out I got saved by the worst person in the world. Like, My trauma does not end here. Thats for sure. I didnt feel that it was redemptive. Certainly, not from my characters point of view. Its complicated.
Part of why its complicated to me is that, not to gas you up too much, but you are really good in the movie.Im quite good.
You are.Yeah. Weird.
It is weird because I think the movie does have this very deep white liberalism its trying to protect. Your character gets kind of swept up in that narrative, which is, to me, Matt Dillons redemption narrative.I completely agree with you. Even with Ludacris and Larenz Tate, when theyre annoyed about being treated as stereotypes, but then it turns out that they are carjackers. I feel like that was just for one joke. It was literally for that one joke, which is like, Ooh! Wow! Youre going to put that label on these guys for one joke?
The movie was clever and witty, but it basically stopped the judgment. It neutralized the very real rage that African-American people feel.
Post-Crash, I feel like you should have been in prestige vehicles. What happened after, in that period up until Westworld?Ive had a number of breakdowns, I guess. I remember going to the audition for the new Bond movie, the first one with Daniel Craig. Id just done Crash, and yes, I was really hot, and it was my moment. And I remember going into that audition, and I was so thin and so messed up. It doesnt have as much to do with the business as you might think. It was stuff going on in my life that was way more important and difficult than whether I was going to work. Its interesting to think of what I did do at that time.
Is that how Norbit happened?Norbit was in that time, yeah. The only movie my kids have seen that Im in.
No! Really?Yeah. Isnt that terrible? Oh my God. Eddie Murphy. They made me jump through hoops for it, too. Can you really be funny? People love Norbit, though.
Do you?I havent seen it for a very, very long time. I mean, its so offensive that its not offensive, I guess? Because I remember when we first did it, the background to Eddie writing the script was that he found himself watching these online home movies where really large women, African-American women, would beat up their tiny husbands. There was just this spate of stuff online. Eddie found them hilarious. Thats what the movie was born out of. When I went to talk about the project, the first draft I read was way darker. It was about this woman fucking abusing this guy. I think it was always supposed to be a comedy, but you can imagine how twisted that would be. Thats why I wanted to do it. And then it just got very I dont know how to describe it Its like it turned into a kind of Baskin-Robbins commercial. Eddie was hardly ever there, which was really sad. He has the best stand-ins youve ever seen. Literally, from five feet away, you would think they were Eddie. I think I probably did most of the movie with his stand-ins.
What was one of the first decisions you felt you made where you were in control?Oh, thats such a lovely question. Oh, lets try and think of a good one. I was doing a show and I feel sad saying this because I really loved the writer it was going to be something for British TV, and then it didnt happen, and then it got picked up in America, and we were so excited about it, but then a producer and showrunner was just sexist. I refused to do a scene where Id have to take my top off. I just thought, Its not that kind of sex scene. It was the first sex scene in the whole series. I was the lead in this new TV show.
Rogue?Yeah. And I didnt want to do it. It didnt make sense for the story with the two characters playing husband and wife who are kind of estranged. I was like, It just doesnt make any sense to take it off. He goes, Listen, kid. Thandie Newton. Top off. Ratings. And I laughed. I was actually really grateful for the honesty. And Im like, Well, listen. Then definitely fucking not. But he still got the other actor to pull my top down in the scene. And thats whats there.
Thats really fucked up.And then we were shooting in Canada. I guess its hard getting extras, people of color. And it was supposed to be set in Oakland, and Im continually saying, Weve got to populate this cast with more people of color. It doesnt make any sense. You cant get more fucking African-American than Oakland. He said, But we cast you. So we took care of that. This is the producer. That was in the second season. I thought, I cant do this. I just cant. We had this sort of sexist, casually racist idiot, you know? I had an agreement at the beginning of the second season because I was pregnant with my last baby. I was going to be in my third trimester when I made the show. And I said, Look, if you want me to do another season, I want to be released from my long-term, six-year contract if I come back. He refused to put it in writing but agreed.
And you know what happened. They got picked up for season three, and I said, I want to go, and then, of course, theyre like, You cant. He had a gentlemans agreement with my agent, and it was all very respectful, apparently. And I went through fucking hell because he hadnt told my dear friend, who was the writer of the show. So I ended up losing his friendship too, because he assumed I was just going, I dont want to do it. Obviously, I did get out of it. I just had to do a few episodes, which wasnt easy. Everyone hated me for leaving, but no one knew of the agreement a year before. It was extremely painful. I actually thought I might retire then, because I had my baby and my husbands career was doing great.
Then Westworld was sent to me. And if it hadnt been for Rogue, I wouldnt have wanted Westworld so much. But Ill tell you, this was so hideous. On the last days of doing Rogue I got killed miserably. I get dumped in a laundry container by this nasty guy, whos a great actor. I get taken down to the bowels of the hotel, where we had this huge fight where he strangled me to death, and then I get dumped in this garbage-disposal tank, and the last shot of me is sinking down into garbage, like into sewage, babe. But listen to this: On the side of the garbage-disposal tanks, it says WESTWORLD GARBAGE DISPOSAL. They all knew I was going to go on to do Westworld because Id already signed up to do it.
Thats so petty.Isnt it? I ended up in the fetal position, weeping, sobbing.I had put two years of hard work into that show. And there I was: Westworld Garbage Disposal.
Newton in Westworld. Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Im curious if you could talk about one mistake you made that you felt like later prompted growth.Its very difficult as an actor to know. You have so little to go on. You have the script and you have the director. Theres a lot of the other way around, where I did something and then it ended up not doing what Id hoped it would do. Doing something with all the best intentions and then feeling frustrated. I felt a bit like that with W., I must say. I really thought Oliver Stone was going to stick it to the administration.
But you felt like the film didnt?Yeah, very much so. We were making it, he was like, Were going to have this post-credit sequence. They are all going to be in cages in the Hague.
Okay. A mistake that ended up being a good thing.
Or one that made you think.I did a movie with Bertolucci [Besieged, 1998]. What a privilege. Hes a filmmaker.
I was trying to watch it. I couldnt find it.No shit. Its kind of beautiful. But that was supposed to be a one-hour movie made for television, based on a short story. I wanted to work with Bertolucci. And it was really great. Went to Rome for eight weeks. Shes an African student in Rome, a medical student, very bright. And there were a couple of dream sequences where shes in Africa, and there were a lot of problems wherever she was from. We went to Kenya to shoot for a week briefly for the dream sequences.
Anyway, when it came to editing and showing, he showed a few people, and it became clear that this movie was going to be more than a TV movie. It ended up being a feature, going to festivals, highly praised. Which youd think is a good thing. And I was proud, obviously. So he used all the footage from Africa, and [the film] ended up being an hour and a half. The footage from Africa was a big old chunk. But they never specified where in Africa it was. It was a generic African country in a state of serious unrest. And I remember being on a panel in Cannes with Bernardo and the producers. A journalist said, Isnt it offensive that youve painted such a broad stroke across the whole of Africa by making this generic African state? I remember saying, If thats what you perceive, it says more about you than it does about the movie. I was just defending the movie because I was so horrified that it could be perceived that way. But the truth was I actually agreed with the journalist. You can see how it happened because it was supposed to be a one-hour movie and it was supposed to be a little poem. But its not good enough. Certainly not now. And not then either. The casual ignorance of that is damaging.
I did want to know what you thought about Paul Haggis specifically.So I heard about Paul and the whats happened so far?
I think its stuck in the legal system, but multiple women stepped forward about rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Did that surprise you?Nothing surprises me, Alex. It really doesnt. If someones a colleague, you dont want to massively think about what theyre like as a partner. I dont know. It certainly wasnt apparent to me. He wasnt saying that my jeans are going to be so tight that it would look like tarmac on the road. I told you that with Paul, he was concerned that I was going to feel comfortable in that scene. I didnt feel anything predatory about him. Heres the other thing: I was only on the movie for a few days. So the time Ive spent with Paul has not been so much, but obviously we did the press thing together. I certainly didnt know him well. I was aware of his being a Scientologist, which was surprising to me. Just any person whos really smart, I find it strange. Ive worked with Tom Cruise, and he was very generous and open about sharing Scientological stuff. Christmas gifts would be something to do with Scientology.
Like what?Like a book with the greatest hits of Scientology, a bit like a Bible kind of thing. I was curious, because its like, Wow, if its going to attract people, powerful, high-profile people, theres got to be some glue that sticks this shit together. Didnt find any.
What was your experience like on Mission: Impossible 2? And why didnt you do another one?Oh, I was never asked. I was so scared of Tom. He was a very dominant individual. He tries superhard to be a nice person. But the pressure. He takes on a lot. And I think he has this sense that only he can do everything as best as it can be done. There was one time, we were doing this night scene, there were so many extras with pyrotechnics and you name it, and it was a scene with him and me on the balcony. And I dont think it was a very well-written scene. I get angry with him. Were frustrated with each other. And were looking out over Spain. It wasnt going well. And John Woo, bless him, wasnt there. He was downstairs looking at everything on a monitor. And John had made a decision at the beginning of the movie, unbeknownst certainly to me, that he didnt speak English. Which I think was very helpful to him, but it was extremely unhelpful to the rest of us. So this scene was happening, and Tom was not happy with what I was doing because I had the shittiest lines.
And he gets so frustrated with having to try and explain that he goes, Let me just lets just go do it. Lets just rehearse on-camera. So we rehearsed and they recorded it, and then he goes, Ill be you. You be me. So we filmed the entire scene with me being him because, believe me, I knew the lines by then and him playing me. And it was the most unhelpful I cant think of anything less revealing. It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame. And bless him. And I really do mean bless him, because he was trying his damnedest.
I remember at the beginning of the night, seeing this slight red mark on his nose, and by the end of the night, I kid you not this is how his metabolism is so fierce he had a big whitehead where that red dot was. It would take anyone else 48 hours to manifest a zit. I saw it growing, and it was like the zit was me, just getting bigger and bigger. I remember calling Jonathan Demme. I described the night to him: A nightmare. As I was describing it, it was clear that I thought I was the big fucking problem. And Jonathan was like, Thandie, shame on you for not backing yourself. He was really sweet. And then Tom called and I thought, Oh, this is it. The apology. No, he was just like, Were going to reshoot this next week. Im like, Way brilliant. And the next time we shot it, I went in there and I just basically manifested all the because I realized what he wanted. He just wanted this alpha bitch. And I did as best as I could. Its not the best way to get the best work out of someone.
He wasnt horrible. It was just he was really stressed. I had the most extraordinary time, and you know who got me that role? Nicole Kidman. Ive never actually outright asked her, but when your husband is like, Who would you mind me pretending to shag for the next six months? You know what I mean? Its kind of nice if you can pick together. Nicole was a huge advocate for me.
It sounds like a difficult experience, but I have to say its very funny.That was more just surreal than anything. Look, creative stuff is difficult. I was so tender and sensitive. And, also, if you think about the timeline of that, it was still early in my healing, in my recovery. Id had good therapy. Id realized that I was precious. If it was me now, I would want to go in and go, Hey! Id be it. You wouldnt need to play me and I play you on that balcony. And I would have squeezed that spot. Bam!
The one story you shouldn't miss today, selected byNew York's editors.
*A version of this article appears in the July 6, 2020, issue ofNew York Magazine. Subscribe Now!
Newton auditioned for what would be her debut role after a back injury derailed her plans for a career in dance. She was 16 when she landed the female romantic lead in John Duigans Flirting (1991) alongside Noah Taylor, Nicole Kidman, and Naomi Watts. Eve Ensler, also known as V, is an award-winning playwright, performer, and activist best known for The Vagina Monologues, which premiered in 1996. In 2006, the New York Times dubbed it probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade. Newton has publicly spoken about the sexual abuse and exploitation she suffered as a young actress for years. Newton was 16 when Duigan who was 39 at the time began grooming her on the set of Flirting. I was a very shy, very sweet girl. I wasnt in control of the situation, she told InStyle in 2011. A 2006 piece in the Daily Mail called the relationship a passionate affair and quoted an anonymous source saying they had very good times together. In a statement, Pascal said she was horrified to hear Newtons description of their meeting. While I take her words seriously, I have no recollection of the events she describes, nor do any of her representatives who were present at that casting session, she said, adding, Ive long considered Thandie a friend; Im thankful that Ive had the chance to make movies with her; and I hope to work with her again in the future. In 2015, Pascal, the former head of Sony Pictures, was fired after the Sony email hack revealed numerous embarrassing emails, including exchanges with fellow mega-producer Scott Rudin where they speculated on Barack Obamas movie taste, wondering if he preferred those starring Black people, likeDjango UnchainedandThink Like a Man. Starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu (who went on to play the role Newton turned down), Charlies Angels (2000) is an action comedy directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol, also known as McG, and a reboot of the hit TV series that first aired in the 70s. When she was 18, an unnamed casting director asked her to do sexually inappropriate things. A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene, she told W magazine in an interview. Years later, a drunk producer told her that the director had been showing that audition tape to his friends and that they would all get off on it. Following Flirting (1991), Duigan directed Newton inThe Journey of August King (1995) and The Leading Man (1996). In 2016, Newton told the Guardian of a then-unnamed director who promised to frame a shot above her breasts, something that turned out to be a total fucking lie, said Newton. In 1998, a DNA test published in the scientific journal Nature found strong evidence that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child with Sally Hemings, a woman who was his slave. Based on the novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun, the 2013 film tells the story of the Biafran war through the lens of two sisters who return home to Nigeria in the late 60s as civil war breaks out. Oprah Winfrey became one of the first Black celebrities to grace the cover of American Vogue in October 1998. She lost 20 pounds after Anna Wintour suggested that she lose a little bit of weight before the shoot. Haggiss 2004 film, Crash, contains a controversial scene in which a racist police officer played by Matt Dillon sexually assaults Newtons character. Newton voiced her confusion about the scene in interviews. Scholar, lawyer, and civil rights advocate Kimberl Crenshaw is the co-founder and leader of theAfrican American Policy Forum, an intersectional think tank addressing gender and race. The forum coined the hashtags #SayHerName and #BlackGirlsMattter, which have brought attention to state violence against women of color. Newton played Condoleezza Rice to Josh Brolins George W. Bush in W., Oliver Stones dark and comic biopic about the former president. The films release came on the cusp of that years presidential election. In 2018, following a lawsuit filed by a publicist who said Haggis had raped her, the Associated Press reported that three more women came forward with sexual-misconduct allegations including another allegation of rape. He has denied the allegations and has been contesting the lawsuit.
Read more here:
In Conversation: Thandie Newton - Vulture
Its the death of irony when todays jailors condemn yesterdays jailors in the strongest possible terms; when those who are taking state repression to a whole new level, passionately condemn state repression during the Emergency; when people who have reduced the media into a state of servitude, loudly lament the treatment of the press under the Indira Gandhi regime.
This was Union home minister Amit Shahs tweet of June 25: On this day, 45 years ago one familys greed for power led to the imposition of the Emergency. Overnight the nation was turned into a prison. The press, courts, free speechall were trampled over. Atrocities were committed on the poor and downtrodden.
One cannot grudge the Union home minister and his party the moral capital handed over to the Sangh parivar by Indira Gandhi, when her police herded thousands of RSS cadres and opposition leaders into jails in the early hours of June 26, 1975. It was like handing them a blank cheque and many of them successfully cashed this cheque repeatedly over the next four decades and more.
One can, however, question the alacrity with which the Union home minister and his government have replicated many aspects of Indiras Gandhis Emergency prison model, and in the process trampled over the press, courts, free speech.
To better understand the parallels when it comes to the pacification of the media, it would be useful to go through The Wire commentary published on June 25, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the Emergency, Indias Free Press Is Still Tormented by the Laws Brought by the Emergency, which refers to the legal (but illegitimate) measures undertaken to emaciate the press. Gripping it is to read how the Defence of India Rules, 1971, were dressed up adequately to become the Defence of Internal Security of India Rules (DISIR); how censorship loomed large through a combination of external surveillance and journalistic subservience; how the Supreme Court more or less fell in line when it came to issues like passing the new censorship guidelines; how newspapers that displayed a streak of independence were punished by being deprived of government advertisements. The manner in which the ministry of information and broadcasting spearheaded this demolition of newspaper autonomy is particularly elucidative. A chart emerged that carefully classified newspapers according to whether they were friendly, hostile, neutral and then, further, whether they were positively friendly, continuously hostile, capable of shifting from neutral positive towards positive side or vice versa. It was on the basis of this calibrated calculation that the government of the day took decisions on whether to assist a particular newspaper financially or not.
Keeping this template in mind let us consider some moves that Amit Shahs government has recently made. A censor in the newsroom is so 20th century! Now we have policies tuned to censor everything, including the use of tech through the use of tech. The Wire analysis, From India to US, Forcing Proactive Policing of Online Content Is Censorship by Proxy (July 1), notes that Indian tech policy has changed rapidly and arbitrarily in its attempt to serve two conflicting goals: that of encouraging innovation and complete control of public discourse.
So if you, as a mediaperson, have a tendency to criticise the prime minister online or offline, it may not be long before the police is at your door (UP Police Books 4 for Objectionable WhatsApp Posts on PM Modi, Amit Shah, June 24; Sedition Case Filed Against Man Over Objectionable Remarks Against UP CM Adityanath, May 29; Scroll Editors Move Allahabad HC to Quash FIR Against Supriya Sharma, June 27).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Adityanath and ministers .Credit: PTI/Nand Kumar/Files
Meanwhile, laws are being designed to control the public narrative, much as they were during the days of the Emergency. The draft Press Registration Bill, now in a process of stakeholder consultation, has a new provision which could make registration of news on digital media mandatory (Draft Press Registration Bill Is Nothing But a New Collar on an Old Leash, July 1).
The chilling effect on media content during the period the Emergency, which lasted from June 1975 to May 1977, is today very much in evidence, although in a more amorphous way since there is no formal declaration of emergency. With the sledgehammer of draconian laws being used against journalists and even a pandemic being weaponised to ensure conformity (55 Indian Journalists Arrested, Booked, Threatened For Reporting on COVID-19: Report, June 15), it could be argued that the carceral threat is far more expansive today than at any time earlier. If we were to bring the Kashmir media into the frame, the full extent of Shahs trampling comes into view (Use of UAPA Against Journalists is Last Nail in Coffin for Press Freedom in Kashmir, April 26).
Coming to the fine gradations of media behaviour made during the Emergency, the Shah government has no use for such finesse. It classifies all media roughly into two categories: For Us and Against Us. Prasar Bharati was recently tasked with the responsibility of bringing the Press Trust of India (PTI) to heel (Irked by China Interviews, Govt Gets Prasar Bharati to Turn Heat on Anti-National PTI, June 27) for having the temerity to quote a statement of the Indian ambassador in Beijing that appeared to contradict Prime Minister Narendra Modis claim that no one has intruded into India in the Galwan Valley. It was intriguing indeed to come across Arvind Gunasekars tweet of June 28 alerting us to the fact that the last time this happened was during the Emergency in 1976, when All India Radio (AIR) served notice on PTI and UNI on the imminent withdrawal of subscription. Prasar Bharti, unlike AIR, is supposedly autonomous, but what of that?
We dont have an Emergency today? Re-examining this proposition may be worth our while.
Personal is political
Came across an interesting article the other day which recalled an iteration of the phrase the personal is political during second-wave feminism. An influential essay written by Carol Hanisch in 1970 by the same title, had argued that understanding how grim the situation was for women was as important as protesting it. The political here referred to any power relationship. This would necessarily include those invisibilised as domestic such as marital violence. Her argument came back to me while I was reading a recent piece on The Wire (15-20 Men in an Upscale Jaipur Restaurant Saw My Long Beard and Almost Lynched Me, July 1), a personal experience told in mind-numbing detail: It took virtually no time for friends gathered for a convivial evening, to become a lynch mob Recalling the personal illuminated the political and illuminated the deeper power-dynamics at work which is mirrored in the act of lynching.
Question of language?
Apropos Devirupa Mitras report, Modis No Intrusion by China Claim Contradicts Indias Stand, Raises Multiple Questions (June 20), reader Kumud Boruah had some complex observations to offer. Excerpts from the mail:
Although from the structure of language point of view, it is believed that interpretation of language is key to understanding of ourselves and the world, you cannot deny the humanist perspective of both the speaker and the language as a whole. In other words, ever since its emergence, consciousness has existed in the material integument of language. Language is as old as consciousness and in reality the two categories cannot exist in isolation from each other
Moreover, in the postmodernist discourses post-structuralism claims that language can be extremely slippery and deceptive. I think PMO has a right to raise its concern in this postmodernist line of argument. But responding to such a puzzle, a distinguished literary critic was taken aback to think of famous classical paradoxes such as the Cretan paradox and its Albany solution. In the paradox the Cretan says that all Cretans lie and in this case, if this Cretans statement is true, then a question arises: does he himself simultaneously not prove that his statement is untrue? If we accept the Cretans statement as true, we must also agree at the same time that the Cretan has at least for once not lied. Interestingly, for the speaker from Albany, New York, as an outsider, the same claim would be simply true or false. Now in the case of our PMs No intrusion by China claim and PMOs clarification later, if all the speakers are Cretans, does it not require that a man from Albanys claim would also be taken into confidence to break the impasse? But in such a paradoxical situation what we really need is at least one kind of statement from a speaker from outside, that is, a man from Albany, for a possible solution.
Let us now see what the literary critic has to finally say in this regard: So if we want to say something about language, we ideally want a perspective outside language to say it. With language, however, there is no outside perspective. We can only speak about language with the use of language. No matter what we say, we are always inside. I think the critic is absolutely correct in apprehending that language and consciousness of the speaker are not only socially conditioned but are also integrally and dialectically interwoven. My own point of view is that we must find out the truth of language used from the perspective inevitably located inside where consciousness reflects reality and language designates it What we understood from the PMs speech in the first place was a perceptible material experience from language and consciousness combined; we cannot dismiss the same as an illusion of presence at a later stage. Apart from this, PMs speech was in the form of a direct statement which is quoted clearly in the third paragraph of the report by Devirupa Mitra, and we cannot treat the same as poetry for which there is hardly any room for reading in favour of complexity of meaning or aesthetic pleasure following the criteria of Practical Criticism and New Criticism.
Satellite image of the Galwan Valley from its point of confluence with the Shyok up to the 1960 Chinese claim line. Source: The Wire/Google Earth
Galwan and 3 colossal failures
Parthasarathi Majumdar, a visiting professor, School of Physical Sciences, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata, responded to The Wires coverage of the Galwan Valley incursion, which he believes represents a triplet of colossal failures, on the diplomatic, military and technical fronts, on the part of the government:
Months of diplomatic manoeuvres with their Chinese counterparts have not yielded any fruitThe culmination of these failed missions is of course the Galwan tragedy. The military failure is a repeat of the 1962 story a reconnaissance team of jawans led by a Commanding Officer, trying to destroy an apparently unmanned Chinese military camp, being ambushed by a technically and numerically superior enemyThe only way to avoid armed conflict is to wear the enemy down diplomatically, and here we have failed miserably. Jingoist rhetoric cannot win the day, we need leverage with the Chinese. Do we have any? The huge trade imbalance with China means that the balance cannot be tilted in our favour merely by cancelling a few contracts to Chinese companies. Our manufacturing and technological lacunae underlines our inherent weakness and absence of atmanirbharata on the ground. This is the price to be paid when science, technology, democracy and freedom are made institutionally subservient to pseudo-science, superstition and authoritarian dogma.
COVID-19 and distress
Several first-year medical student-readers of The Wire wrote in recently to express their anxiety over the decision of the authorities to open medical colleges in UP for classes from July 13 (only for first year students). Among the points of concern they flagged was the fact that many students are presently in confinement zones. Besides this, students living outside UP have travel-related problems as trains services have been curtailed till August.They also point to the fact that the mess, local shops, hostel rooms/washrooms are crowded and pose major health risks. Colleges have also made it clear that they will not take responsibility for students getting infected, nor will they support treatment. Opening of colleges just to rush through the syllabus will only mean a heavy stress on young people at a time of high anxiety. They request that the order be rescinded.
The piece, After COVID-19, Open Book Exam Emerges as the Latest Challenge for the Blind (July 3), looked at the dilemmas that Delhi Universitys decision to conduct an online Open Book Examination posed for visually challenged students.
Ramjatan Yadav, from the Sri Venkateswara College of Delhi University, had also written in on the issue: This pandemic has also affected visually impaired students of Delhi University in several ways, given the digital divide between visually impaired students and others. Some of them also do not have smart phone and laptop, along with good internet connectivity, as they may be living in rural areas. Even if they have these devices, they may not know how to access and operate these devices and online services. There are other challenges too like intermittent power supply. Some of these students have not been able to benefit from online classes and online materials. All the study materials are not available in accessible forms like e-text books or audio books. The other major problem is the difficulty these students have in finding scribes (to write down their answers) during this lockdown, especially in rural areas.
Social distancing is a useful strategy against the virus but it is very hard for visually impaired students to maintain social distancing, as they need support and assistance because of lack of infrastructure and mobility. Given these constraints, the University should consider promoting these students without examinations, on the basis of internal assessment and performance in the previous five semesters. If this is not possible then they should be entitled to sit for the conventional mode of examination with adequate safety measures.
Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty
John Howard, founder of an online platform, Coupon Lawn, responded to the piece, Bengali Migrant Dies By Suicide in Kerala After Train Ticket Cancelled (May 13): Very nice work! You covered some useful information about money saving and personal finance, so I strongly believe that youd also be interested in one of my studies. Recently, I had conducted a survey of 1094 Americans to research how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted their financial situation and their perspective towards saving money. You can find the link to the study here if you are interested. If you find it useful, I hope an honourable mention as a credit for my work wouldnt be too much to ask for.
The Wires coverage inadequate
Faithlina P., a reader of The Wire, writes in on police torture in Thoothikudi: Ive been following The Wire for a long time andappreciate what you do in bringing out a mighty lot of uglytruths especially at a time when media and journalists are being controlled orthreatened. But the death of the father and son sexually tortured and killed at Sattankulam, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, has not yet been covered by The Wire. While Indians have joined all of America in its fight for Justice for George Floyd, theres so much more injustice that happens in India which stays hidden. Even when it comes to the light, it isnt acknowledged enough, which leads to abusers gaining the confidence to repeat their abuse. While regional channels have covered this in painstaking detail, not much has made it into the national media, due to which this case hasnt got the attention it deserves.
I cannot but agree with the sentiments expressed in this mail. The national media, in general, was sluggish in its response to the heinous police brutality evident in this case although they were later goading into paying more attention to the case. The accusation that media based in the north are indifferent to vitally important human rights stories breaking in the south cannot be disputed.
On June 23, the family of Jayaraj and Bennix, were informed of both father and son having succumbed to police torture, yet it took three more days for the story to break into the news cycle in the rest of the country. The Wire was no exception to this. Its first report (put together by the desk) came out only on June 26 (Tamil Nadu: Social Media Outrage, Protests Over Brutal Thoothukudi Custodial Deaths) and follow-up reports were also sparse (Every Custodial Death a Reminder of Why India Must Ratify the Convention Against Torture, June 27).
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP photo via Courthouse News)
BOSTON (CN) President Trumps plummeting poll numbers have Republicans concerned, but political experts sharply disagree about whether the polls reflect a hardening verdict of the electorate or simply another temporary extreme of the wildly swinging 2020 pendulum.
Id be very, very worried if I were the president, said Thomas Schwartz, a history professor at Vanderbilt University. His poll numbers are bad, very worrisome, especially in places like Georgia and Texas.
Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, cautioned meanwhile about putting too much stock in polling four months out from the election.
Anyone who says Trump is done is living in a fools paradise, Schurin remarked in an interview.
Former Vice President Joe Biden leads Trump by almost 10 points nationally in the latest Real Clear Politicspolling average,up from a 5-point lead only a month ago. In key swing states includingFloridaPennsylvaniaandWisconsin, Bidens lead is especially significant. And the race appears very close even in traditionally Republican states such asArizona,GeorgiaandTexas.
As experts note, however, its unclear whether the electorate has made up its mind or is simply reacting to transient events and what, if anything, Trump can do to raise his numbers.
One the one hand, Schwartz said voters have made up their mind of whether their lives are better.
Trump has been around for a while, and the scale of disapproval people are expressing is different, the professor added, citinga recent NPR pollthat shows 49% of Americans strongly disapproved of the presidents job performance.
A Monmouth pollreleased Thursdayfound that 50% of registered voters were not at all likely to vote for Trump. (The figure for Biden was 39%.)
Very few people are on the fence about the president, and thus he might have trouble moving the needle back in his favor, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.
Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said flatly: President Trump is in deep trouble.
Michael Gordon, a former spokesman for the Clinton Justice Department, thinks Trumps faltering numbers are the result of real people who dont care about politics finally paying attention to the election and the need to make a choice.
In the past, polls reflected Trumps base of support, the Group Gordon principal added. He said a lot of other people always had an underlying discomfort with the president but were not highly focused on politics.
This fall, as they start to think about who they are going to vote for, Gordon said Trumps deeds are coming home to roost.
Another problem for Trump is that bad poll numbers now can cause a vicious cycle where people who would feel that they have to rally behind him if he were a sure winner may not feel that way, Schurin noted.
Never-Trumpers might be emboldened, the Vanderbilt professor added. Democratic contributors might be emboldened. Republican swing-state politicians might be lukewarm in their support and focus on their own campaigns.
But many experts said the situation is highly fluid and poll numbers this early are not set in stone.
Weve had five events in the last six months any one of which would have been earth-shattering for a normal election year, said Joel White, a Republican political strategist, pointing to the pandemic, the recession, impeachment, widespread racial unrest and the assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani. This is anything but a typical political cycle.
And even in a normal election year, most people dont start paying attention until after Labor Day, said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
Were in a dead period where we dont really have a campaign going yet, Smith continued. People care about summer vacations, not the election. Later on well see the numbers start to narrow, especially if the economy starts to get better and it cant get any worse.
Under this theory, a series of unpredictable events has shaken the country and given people a temporarily negative outlook that is reflected in attitudes toward the president, but the current situation says little about what voters will do once they have to make a choice in the fall.
Historically there have beena number of caseswhere summer polls were very different from the final election results. Hillary Clinton consistently led Donald Trump in 2016, for instance, and John McCain led Barack Obama by 5 points as late as September 2008.
In 1988, Michael Dukakis had a 17-point summer lead over George H.W. Bush before losing the election. And in 1976, Jimmy Carter had an astonishing 33-point lead over President Ford but barely won in a squeaker only three months later.
Bolstering this theory is the fact that Trump was doing relatively well before the pandemic. The State of the Union was only five months ago, along with Iowa debacle, said Gordon. He was very strong.
When the economy crashed, however, Smith noted: It doesnt matter to most people why it happened; the president gets the blame.
Thats why the Republicans are fighting so hard to get economy going again, and why the Democrats are trying not to let it, he added.
According to Republican strategist John Feehery, Trump still polls much better than Biden on the economy.
And if the economy recovers, which I think it will, the president will in a far better political position than he is now, Feehery added.
Two months ago, Whites firm conducted a poll of swing voters in 14 states and found high approval of Trumps economic response to the pandemic. It was a targeted, rapid response designed to produce a V-shaped recovery, White said of the perception of Trumps economic efforts. People of all parties like that.
Besides invigorating the economy, White would like to see Trump come up with a plan to help newly unemployed people who have lost their health insurance, for example providing subsidies for them to remain on their current plan.
Right now, the answers are Medicaid and Obamacare, White said. But the average Obamacare deductible is $4,000 and it resets when you switch plans, and with Medicaid its often hard to find services, doctors and drugs.
Trumps struggle with the public health response can be tied to his nature as a populist, he added, noting that the countrys outdated public health infrastructure and creaky bureaucracy further complicate things.
Farnsworth, who is pessimistic about Trumps chances, said Trump might try to shake things up by dumping Vice President Mike Pence from the ticket in favor of Nikki Haley, his former ambassador to the United Nations.
But Schurin said thats extremely unlikely. Pence is a hero to the religious right, he noted.
Politically, experts say Trumps biggest challenge is to draw attention to Bidens faults, which is hard because Biden is following a basement strategy designed to minimize his gaffes and vulnerabilities.
Ibelieve the best strategy for the Trump campaign is to keep the focus on Biden and take the focus off him, said Feehery. Maybe he should join Biden in the basement.
However, in a crisis people look to the president, so its hard to draw attention to Biden, said Farnsworth. Plus, Trump by his nature wants to dominate media discourse. He doesnt do modesty and reticence.
For now, Bidens strategy is paying off. Biden can say everything in a very controlled setting, with carefully crafted messages of limited duration and less gaffe potential, Farnsworth said.
Unlike Trump, Biden is not a rally campaigner, said Schurin.
The best thing Biden has done is stay in the cellar, Smith agreed. Many people high up in his campaign have told me that the less he talks, the better. And having watched him campaign in New Hampshire, once he strays off the teleprompter, its not good.
The basement strategy works for Biden because people know and like him, and he doesnt have to introduce himself to the country, said Gordon. As the campaign heats up, however, Gordon said Biden will eventually have to take a bigger spotlight.
Not everyone believes the polls showing a large Biden lead are entirely accurate. Im a little skeptical of media polls because I think most of them are done to make for headlines that put the president in an unflattering light, said Feehery.
Smith said polling quality has diminished over the last 20 years because random-digit dialing surveys the gold standard have become almost prohibitively expensive. It costs $50,000 to do a top-quality survey just in New Hampshire thats twice what it cost five years ago, he said. And even when such polls are done, fewer people are willing to respond to them.
Smith said theres also a problem with shy Trump voters mostly blue-collar men who wont admit their preference for Trump to pollsters. This was part of the polling problem in 2016 and it hasnt been fixed, he said.
Polls also dont measure enthusiasm, which was an issue in 2016 because it turned out that Trump voters were far more motivated than Hillary Clinton supporters.
Trump provides so much energy to our party, emphasized Gordon, the Democratic strategist.
Farnsworth echoed this, saying that, unlike in 2016, theres a lot of enthusiasm for voting Democratic, not Biden necessarily, but Democratic.
Scala conceded that a Biden presidency doesnt excite a lot of people, but he does appear to be a plausible president, and that may be all he needs, given Trumps unpopularity.
In addition, Biden is likable and attracts nothing like the degree of antipathy toward Hillary, said Schurin.
But Smith said that signs of Democratic enthusiasm may be misleading. In most elections the party thats out of power tends to generate enthusiasm earlier in the cycle because it has something to gain. Republicans will become more energized closer to November, he predicted.
Feehery noted that the Democratic Party is taking some pretty radical positions on policing and on properly appreciating American history, which I think will energize the GOP base and drive swing voters into the Republican column.
There are also a number of events between now and the election that could have a major impact.
The conventions this year will be unpredictable and abnormal, noted Schurin. Covid could affect the turnout. And mail-in ballots could throw a wrench into things.
White said Trump will have an advantage in the debates because hes great off-the-cuff, whereas Biden doesnt have the ability to be quick.
This makes debate format a key issue. Anything free-flowing benefits Trump, White said.
Schurin noted meanwhile that a significant segment of the public may be so disgusted by the bad circus atmosphere of politics they dont vote at all.
Its hard to find an analogy for the current election. A scenario that favors Trump, said Smith, would be 1968, when a silent majority of voters elected Richard Nixon, even though he wasnt a popular figure, out of frustration with protests and rioting.
But Schwartz pointed to 1920, when a divisive president, a pandemic and widespread race riots led to the election of Warren Harding, a traditional representative of the opposing party who promised a return to normalcy.
I know teenagers are supposed to be going through a lot, but our son has changed into a different person. He argues with us over just about everything we ask him to do. He is always out with his friends. He has told us he will be glad when he goes away to college and is away from us. Is this normal, and what should we do?
Sit down, take a few deep breaths and admit he is indeed changing. He is slowly, but definitely morphing into an adult. The journey will take time and, frankly, you will also be very happy when he goes away to school.
Let me review what I see as the major tasks of the mid- to late-teen years.
First, teens work on achieving independence. This is the eventual separation from parents. The process is unconscious and often stormy, but it will happen. You and your son will develop a new relationship.
Second, teens work on developing a moral compass. They approach moral choices with strong opinions. Over time, they come to see moral choices in their complexity, not so much black and white as gray.
Third, identity of sexual roles and behavior is very complex, often nurtured in silence and guilt. What is it like to be a man? What is the role of a woman? What if ones sexual partners differ from the norm?
Fourth, identification of life roles is a journey. What is my vocation? How do I make a meaningful path in my life? Do I want to be a father or mother? Do I wish to have a family?
This will give you a rough idea of what your son is experiencing. Be there for him. Do not hesitate to let him know how much you love him and care. He is becoming a man before your very eyes.
Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lrryllrsn@CS.com.
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It was Day 72. But clearly many more days of recovery lay ahead.
More than 11,000 people have been hospitalized in Massachusetts with severe COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Most have been discharged, amid song and applause. But its likely that few have fully resumed their previous lives. Many linger in rehab facilities and long-term-care hospitals; others are home, trying to get back on their feet despite the persistent aftereffects of a prolonged hospital stay.
Even among COVID-19 patients who didnt need hospital care, recent reports indicate that some continue to experience symptoms for weeks, and may develop a chronic illness.
Together these survivors form an undercurrent of struggle and disability that will challenge the health care system and the economy even before a possible second wave of COVID-19 crashes in.
As the number of patients admitted to acute care hospitals starts to go down, the rehab hospitals are filling up, said Dr. Robert Krug, board chairman for the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association. Weeks in an acute care hospital can lead to months of recovery, he said.
And COVID-19 adds confounding new challenges, said Dr. Ross Zafonte, Spauldings senior vice president of medical affairs, research, and education. There are some unique and individual features of COVID that we dont understand, he said. I suspect were going to have a group of people who are going to remain impaired.
Nina Coletta doesnt remember much about her early days in the hospital. She and her husband, Edmund, had both tested positive for COVID-19. But while Ed, who is 63, started to feel better, Nina spiked a fever. When her breathing became so difficult she couldnt talk on the phone, Ed called 911. It was April 12, Easter Sunday.
She was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. Several days of oxygen treatment failed to improve her breathing, and the doctors recommended a ventilator, which would involve putting a tube down her throat into her airway. It was a frightening prospect for Ed and their three children: Shed have to be kept unconscious to tolerate the breathing machine, and theyd read reports of bad outcomes for ventilated patients.
That Thursday, she started on the ventilator. It worked as hoped, immediately raising her blood-oxygen levels, but it would take 12 days until her lungs could work again on their own. Nina was discharged in early May to Spaulding, joining the stream of COVID-19 patients leaving acute care hospitals for rehab.
A prolonged bout on the breathing machine can have lasting effects on patients. Muscles atrophy from immobility and the brain absorbs the effects of sedating medications. Survivors often have trouble thinking clearly and making decisions, lack the strength to perform routine tasks, and can suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many of the sickest COVID-19 patients end up on ventilators, and they are likely to experience these syndromes, but maybe even a little worse, said Zafonte, the Spaulding vice president. COVID-19 patients tend to need more time on the ventilator weeks instead of days putting them at higher risk of aftereffects. And to make matters worse, Zafonte said, COVID-19 triggers intense inflammation that affects multiple organs.
Ed Coletta, who is press secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection, had read about what can happen after a prolonged stay in intensive care, and it worried him deeply. When Nina woke up from the medication-induced coma, she was confused and hallucinating, as often happens. The room seemed to expand and contract. At one point she thought she was on a sailboat.
But Ed was relieved when Nina recognized her family during a video chat. And within a few days, as the medication wore off, it was clear she had emerged with her mind and her go-get-em personality fully intact.
Personality wise, shes back to her full self, said her younger daughter, Gabriela. We were able to have deep conversations. She was able to tell me what she went through.
Physically, though, Nina faced big challenges. At first she could barely hold the phone in shaky, weakened hands. She couldnt stand unassisted, never mind walk. A deep pressure sore on her backside burned and throbbed.
But worst of all, her feet felt like they were gone. From the ankles down, she could feel nothing, not even the delightful spray from a shower. And except for slightly wiggling her right toes, she could not move her feet at will.
My feet, I dont know where they are, she said in a phone call with a reporter, who checked in with her from time to time during her recovery.
A nerve injury was preventing messages from traveling between her brain and her feet. Zafonte likened it to a traffic jam. The blockage may have resulted from prolonged immobility or possibly from the inflammation that often accompanies COVID-19, he said.
Other ventilator survivors have experienced similar injuries, and Zafonte said its not clear whether this type of nerve problem is more common in COVID-19 survivors. Its also unknown whether nerve function can be restored or how long that might take.
At Spaulding, Nina kept to a rigorous schedule of three hours a day of physical and occupational therapy, plus some exercises she did on her own. She practiced showering, dressing, brushing her teeth. Ive always been the caregiver, Nina remarked. So to have somebody literally help me in and out of the bathroom it was humbling. It was loving at the same time.
The hardest part was walking. Putting one foot in front of the other is no simple matter when you cant feel your feet. Her toes dropped downward; she had to watch them and take small steps.
In the gym, her physical therapist, Lisa Perkins, wrapped her in a harness attached to a track on the ceiling, to steady her. A device on her sneakers lifted her feet parallel to the floor.
Nina kept thinking of the staircase in her 1847 house, which narrows and curves at the top. Somehow, she would need to develop the strength and balance to mount those stairs.
One night in May, Nina dreamed that she was standing on a sea wall, looking down into the deep ocean. She jumped in without hesitation. It wasnt scary, she said. It was exciting.
Nina sounded chipper every time she answered phone calls during her stay, at one point declaring herself just ducky doodles. But as the conversation progressed, she often got teary.
Im up and down, she admitted during one call in May. Im happy that some of the therapists are really tough and theyre really kicking me to go farther and do more.
But Im sad that I cant see my family, she said, breaking down. Infection control rules during the pandemic barred all visitors. I just want to hold my husbands hand. That would make me feel better.
Her family suffered too. Her daughters Angela, 33, and Gabriela, 27, gathered at the house every day, with their brother, Christopher, 37, joining by FaceTime from Baltimore. Every day wed have a powwow as a family, checking in with each other, Angela said. Sometimes they ended up sobbing.
Nina and her family were reunited in person, though from a great distance, on two occasions when they gathered outside Spaulding and she waved to them from the balcony. And a longtime friend, Josephine DiPietro, who works at Spaulding, stopped by daily with well wishes and items from home.
By late May, some feeling had started to return in her right foot, a propitious sign. Nina could tell when that foot touched the floor and whether it was cold. She couldnt feel her toes, but she could wiggle them. When Perkins stimulated her nerves with electrodes, she could feel a zing.
And then, in June, the hospital started allowing visitors, one at a time, a maximum of two per day. Nina was nervous about facing her husband after their longest separation. How would she look to him haggard, lying in bed, her hair going gray? But they embraced and wept, and Ed assured her that he found her beautiful.
Even as Ninas spirits improved and physical strength grew, a new obstacle arose: Her pressure wound so painful she practiced deep breathing to cope required surgery, adding an extra two weeks to her stay.
On June 22, Nina got word that she could go home the next day. By this point, she could walk three times around the floor, with her walker. She had been at Spaulding 47 days.
I came in here on a stretcher, Nina said. Tomorrow, Im going to walk out.
And so she did, accompanied by Ed and daughter Angela, wearing a face mask embroidered with a yellow rose in honor of her Texan mother and a tiara that Ed placed in her thick, wavy hair. Wheeled outside amid cheers from the staff, Nina insisted on standing up and walking the few steps to the car.
Nina grew up in East Boston and has lived there most of her life. Since 2002 shes worked at East Boston High School, where she runs the family center and, with a team, coordinates services for homeless students sometimes even taking them into her own home.
In the days before COVID-19 got her, she was busy packing food in the school-run food pantry and helping connect families with resources. After Nina was hospitalized, Gabriela could hardly keep up with the phone calls from concerned people all over East Boston.
So Nina was probably the only one who was surprised when so many friends and relatives gathered for her homecoming, holding signs saying, We love you Nina. They burst into cheers when, honking, Ed pulled up in their red SUV. Nina rolled down the window, looked around, and put her head down, weeping.
Ni-na! Ni-na! Ni-na! they chanted.
Ed parked and brought the walker around as Nina emerged from the car. I love you all, she replied, sobbing, with Eds hands on her shoulders. Thank you so much.
At heart Nina is a dancer. She took dance classes ballet, jazz, tap, you name it from childhood through her freshman year of college. Then she graduated to throwing on a CD and just letting loose in any room that has enough room for me to move around in. At her 60th birthday party last August, Nina said, her feet were flying the minute the music struck up, and she never sat down.
Now, she looks at her feet each morning and says, OK guys, todays the day.
So far they have not complied. Nina has partial sensation in her right foot but her left continues to ghost her. Im trying to concentrate not on what I lost but what I have, she said on Thursday, nine days after returning home. I have to stop crying at some point.
Her walls are festooned with get-well cards. Shes grateful to be alive, grateful for her familys love. The pressure wound still hasnt healed, but at last the pain is next to nothing. Physical therapists and nurses visit regularly. And though she needs a spotter going up and down the scary curving staircase, she feels stronger every day and remains hopeful about the future.
Still, Nina has a message for the world: You dont want to be me right now. Please, please, wear a mask.
When Nina dreamed about home while still at Spaulding, she imagined the simplest pleasures: walking into her own living room, going through the kitchen, and out onto the back porch, where she could see her yard abloom with petunias and impatiens.
And now that shes home, thats exactly what she does. The other day, she sat on the covered porch with Ed, as heavy rain pounded the roof, such a soothing sound.
Felice J. Freyer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer
The long road back from COVID-19 - The Boston Globe
This is a moving story of human relationships, of ties of love that can bind and nurture, andsometimes, push away or stifle our dearest ones. The mightyBrahmaputra river flows by in the backdrop, nurturing the regions culture and people. This life-giving river can also bring floods and sorrow. Its duality is hinted at in beautifully-worded passages.
It is the 1980s and the state is in chaos ever since the All Assam Students Union took on the government on the issue of Bangladeshis being allowed not just to stay, but to vote.
The protests have the support of the public whodesire to fulfil what theboys had started; to make the government do its duty by expelling the illegal immigrants rather than arm them with voting and citizenship rights.
With this backdrop, the book tells the story of Rukmini who doesnt have an easy relationship with her parents, Usha and Tarun. In this charged political scenario,Rukminifalls in love with the wrong man.
A man who was not of her religion, let alone her caste, nor of her race, not from any region remotely near hers, and a man whose skin was dark... Usha predictably refuses to bless her daughter on her wedding day, whileher father and brother quietly support Rukminis marriage to Alex.
Rukmini leaves with him to her marital home in distant Bangalore. She remains a traitor to her mother for marrying an alien Malayalee.
Marriage to Alex and being in love changes Rukminis perceptions. But, the good times dont last and they part ways without acrimony.
The story turns to their daughter Loya, now 25, and with a mind of her own.
Without informing her mother, because she knows Rukmini will not give prior consent, Loya goes to Assam to pursue researchon the behaviour of wild elephants.
A deep urge drives Loya to break away from Rukmini and her post-divorce life and reconnect with the grandfather she has never known. Deliciously complex currents of love, longing, resentment, suspicion and forgiveness play out as Loya enters Taruns home unannounced.
Granddaughter and grandfather stalk each other like a pair of hungry lions, each with deep wounds needing healing. Usha has gone, leaving her legacy of coldness to Rukmini behind. Loya is moved to find every trace of Rukmini meticulously cleared from her parental home, as though she never existed. As she delves into this part of her mothers life, Loya forms a deeper understanding of Rukmini and of others who matter to her.
As the hostilities wane and glimmers of peace, love and forgiveness show, events take a tragic turn. Bombs blast and panicking crowds create havoc.
The mighty river welcomes its own into its fold. It takes away life, yet nurtures new shoots as life goes on. Rukmini returns home to her beloved river bank, to loss, sorrow, reconciliation, and perhaps, hope.
This is a story well told in a clear, confident voice. A worthwhile read, which leaves its impact long after the last page.
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Love that stifles... - Deccan Herald
A divisive mind and grieving heart are the cause of repetitive, perpetual suffering.
No human is totally immune to having a divisive mind and a grieving heart. So let us take responsibility for that, together.
To heal our divisive minds and grieving hearts, we need to explore the obscured parts of our psyche.
These parts are often obscured by extrinsic distractions, such as the state of the world.
Sometimes these parts are overlooked because we are too busy to feel and sense what is happening inside of our minds and hearts.
If we want the world to turn towards harmony, we will need to take the time to feel and sense what we are carrying inside of our minds and hearts.
Over the past two weeks, The Ripple offered some exercises to help us understand the fears we carry into our daily lives. I hope that was a humbling exercise for everyone. While it does not feel good to realize how much fear we carry, the acknowledgment of that fear brings us closer to our humanity, and reminds us that we are just like everyone else in our desires to feel safe, acknowledged, and connected.
I remember a time not so long ago when the remembrance that every person wants to feel safe, acknowledged, and connected helped me heal an aspect of my own divisive mind and grieving heart.
I was in Las Vegas for a friends wedding. We were walking back from the reception, along the strip. A man passing by, whom I had never seen before, groped me. I was wearing a pant suit, and in no way flaunting my sexuality (not that a womans attire is ever cause for assault).
I became enraged, for sexual offense was something that I had experienced many times before in my life. In fact, I had held some very angry judgments against men because of those repetitive experiences.
Those judgments were not conscious thoughts that I would think every day. I never even heard the judgments whirling around in my mind.
Instead, the judgments existed at the level of my subconscious mind and emotions. They existed at a more subtle level of feeling and sensing. Because of this, I was completely unaware that the judgments existed within me.
Many of my close friends are men, and I have always been able to shoot the breeze with men more easily than women. So I was very unaware that I carried such divisive and angry beliefs about men within my subconscious mind and within my heart.
These beliefs were also obscured by my busy life as a wellness teacher and social development advocate. They were also obscured by my strong desire for harmony in the world.
Life works in funny ways. When we are unable or unwilling to consciously acknowledge certain aspects of our psyche, situations will arise to force us to feel the emotions and beliefs hiding within us.
We get to choose healing or suffering when these situations arise.
I tried to stand up for myself against this man in Las Vegas, but he punched me in the face and knocked me unconscious. Witnesses told me he just walked away like nothing happened unconcerned whether I was dead or alive.
Blood poured from my mouth as I regained consciousness and pulled myself up from the pavement. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window. My head was swollen to about twice its usual size. I began sobbing.
I did not sob for myself however. I was feeling a pain far beyond my own. I was tapped into the psyche of my offender. I could feel his deep sense of isolation and abandonment, his frustration for feeling powerless in the world, and his fear-based need to assert power and force to feel relevant in a dog-eat-dog world in which he had never felt safe, acknowledged, nor loved.
As these feelings came rushing forth, a ripple effect of healing took place within my mind and heart. I was now able to empathize with and forgive the men of my past who had crossed my personal boundaries.
This experience allowed me to heal my divisive mind, which held the subconscious belief that all men wish to control, possess, and take from women.
This experience allowed me to heal my grieving heart, which felt oppressed in a world of male dominance.
I was now free to cultivate more wellness within myself.
I was now wiser, which pruned me to become a more powerful social development advocate.
I am now grateful for lifes knockout punches. Such wake-up calls are so easy to resist and judge. But if we prioritize the healing of our own divisive minds and grieving hearts, then we will unlock liberation and harmony often where we least expect it.
May you embrace challenges and find your wings through deep healing.
I AM with you.
To connect more intimately on this subject matter, you may email me firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram @conscious_growth_artist.
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The Ripple: Healing Divisive Minds and Grieving Hearts - Aledo Times Record