Saturday, March 2, 2024

Champion of Working Men and Women?

Trump’s track record with unions isn’t as simple as he’d like to paint it. Though he spent much of the 2016 campaign railing against free trade deals and neoliberal economic policies that contributed to the decline of the American manufacturing sector and the outsourcing of blue-collar jobs, that’s just about the limit of his union-friendly perspective. As president, he sided with capital and managerial interests over labor at nearly every turn, appointing corporate-friendly lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board, supporting right-to-work laws that limited union organizing and dues collections in Republican states, and promising to veto the PRO Act, a bill that would override those state laws and boost labor organizing rights. Even at his rally, he talked up the tax cuts he passed in 2017, without mentioning that they disproportionately benefited corporations and corporate leaders.

- Christian Paz, Vox, September 28, 2023

Donald Trump likes to portray himself as a champion of the working class, and an astute businessman.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  However, Trump's supporters don't care about the facts.  They support him out of raw emotion, fueled by fear.  The facts do not resonate with those who have been fed a steady diet of lies from Fox News, although moderate Republicans and independents may be persuaded not to vote for Trump.

A 15,000-word New York Times report contradicted Trump's portrayal of himself as self-made billionaire who built up his fortune from a $1 million loan from his father, Fred Trump.  According to the 2018 Times report,  Trump and his father evaded gift and inheritance taxes by establishing a sham corporation and undervaluing assets.  In other words, they committed outright fraud.

According to The New York Times, ex-President Donald Trump procured at least $413 million from his father through the years, much of it from tax dodges.  The Times' information on the Trump finances was obtained  from over 100,000 pages of financial documents, including private tax returns.

If you think Trump is a clever businessman, think again!  Trump has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times for his companies.  This has been fact-checked buy The Washington Post.  During the 1980s, Trump was considered to be a dashing real estate investor.  When the state of New Jersey legalized gambling, Trump made a huge bet that Atlantic City would enjoy prosperity.  Accordingly, he obtained possession of three casinos, The Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Castle, which by 1991 couldn't pay their debts.  By 1992, they had all declared bankruptcy.  

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows companies to restructure or wipe out much their debt to other companies, creditors and shareholders while remaining in business under the management of a bankruptcy court.
Trump's debt was restructured, not liquidated.  

In November of 1992, A fourth property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, also declared bankruptcy after accumulating millions in debt.  A 49 per cent stake in the luxury hotel was given to Citibank and five other lenders.  Trump remained chief executive, but without being paid.  His role in the everyday operations of the hotel was taken away.  

Trump married his second wife, Marla Maples, at the swank property, overlooking Manhattan's Central Park.  According to Newsweek, Trump officially relinquished ownership of the Plaza Hotel in 1995.  He sold it for $325 million, losing around $83 million in the change of ownership;

Trump's three casino bankruptcies occurred during the recession of the early 1990s and the Gulf War, which further exacerbated the difficulties in Atlantic City's gambling industry.  After 1992, Trump placed his casino holdings into a new company called Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.  It went bankrupt in 2004, after amassing $1.8 billion in debt.  Trump Entertainment Resorts, the company that emerged from that restructuring declared bankruptcy in 2009 after being hit by the 2008 recession.  

Trump has never filed personal bankruptcy, only corporate bankruptcy associated with his business dealings.  He claims that he has never gone bankrupt, which is probably a half-truth.  However, the way his current legal woes are mounting, he may be forced to declare personal bankruptcy as he struggles to pay the $454 million he owes from his New York fraud trial.

It is a total fallacy that Donald Trump is a champion of working men and women.  Would a champion of the working man support tax breaks for billionaires?  During the recent autoworkers strike, it was President Joe Biden who stood alongside the picketers.  Biden became the first sitting president of the United States to join a picket line.  


- Joanne

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Number 16 Oscars Quiz 2024

The 96hh Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 10, 2024.  The live show will start at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. on ABC and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  It will also be live-streamed on the ABC app, which requires a cable subscription.  Streaming services such as Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Stream, FuboTV, Sling TV and DirectTV Stream will also provide access to the event through ABC on their platforms.  This year's Oscars will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.  As you prepare for the big night, why not challenge yourself and try Number 16's 12th annual Oscars quiz. There are 11 questions. Good luck!

NUMBER 16 OSCARS QUIZ


1.  A new category will be added to the Academy Awards beginning in 2026.  What is the category?

A.  Best Box Office Success

B.  Best Musical

C.  Achievement in Casting

D.  Best Historical Documentary Film

E.   None of the Above


2.  Which film earned Steven Spielberg his first Academy Award for best director?

Steven Spielberg

A,  Schindler's List

B.  E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial

C.  Saving Private Ryan

Jaws

E.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind


3.  Steven Spielberg was one of the producers of  film that was nominated for Best Picture in 2024.  Name that film.

A.  The Fabelman's

B.  Maestro

C.  The Holdovers

D.  Anatomy of a Fall

E.  Oppenheimer


4.  In which year were the Academy Awards first broadcast internationally?

A.  1966

B.  1959

C.  1965

D.  1969

E.  1970


5.  How many Academy Awards has Clint Eastwood won?

Clint Eastwood

A.  3

B.  4

C.  2

D.  1

E.   None


6.  Paul Giomatti has been nominated in 2024 for a Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Holdovers.  Has Giomatti ever won a Oscar?\

Paul Giomatti

A.  Yes, he won an Oscar on 2006 for  Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Cinderella Man.

B.  Yes, he won an Oscar in 2005 for Best Leading Actor in Sideways.

C.  Yes, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Illusionist in 2007.

D.  Yes, he won a Best Leading Actor Oscar for Best Leading Actor for American Splendor in 2004.

E.  No, Paul Giomatti has never won an Osccar.


7.  In 2024, Ryan Gosling was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ken in the film Barbie.  Where was Ryan Gosling born?

Ryan Gosling

A.  Chicago, Illinois, USA

B.  Los Angeles, California, USA.

C.  London, England, UK

D.  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

E.  London, Ontario, Canada


8.  Did Hollywood star Ginger Rogers ever win an Academy Award?

Ginger Rogers
A.

B.

C.  Yes, she won an Oscar for Best Actress for the leading role the 1940 film Kitty Foyle.

D.

E.  No, she never won an Oscar.


9.  Who was the first woman to host the Oscars solo?

A.  Jane Fonda

B.  Whoopi Goldberg

C.  Liza Minnelli

D.  Goldie Hawn

E.  Shirley MacLaine


10.  For what film did Whoopi Goldberg win an Academy Award?

A. The Color Purple

B.  Sister Act

C.  Ghost

D.  None of the Above

E.  She has never won an Oscar.

11.  How many Spanish-born actors have won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading or Supporting Role.

A. None

B.  3

C.  2

D.  1

E.  4



ANSWERS

1.  C

Achievement in Casting is the new category.  It will begin in 2026, for films released in 2025.  This is the first new category created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science since 2002 for Best Animated Feature Film, which was won by Shrek.  

With this new category, casting directors will finally get the recognition they deserve.  The Casting Directors Branch, formed in 2013, has almost 160 members.


2.  A

Steven Spielberg has received eight Academy Award nominations for Best Director, including two wins.  He won his first Oscar in 1994 as director for the 1993 film Schindler's List.  In 1999, he won his second Academy Award for Best Director for the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan.  Spielberg received Best Director nominations for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, West Side Story, Lincoln, and Munich.


3.  B

Spielberg was one of the producers of the film Maestro, which is based on the life of conductor Leonard Bernstein.  Spielberg was originally set to direct Maestro, but he decided to let Bradley Cooper, who plays 


4.  D

The  Academy Awards were first broadcast internationally in 1969.


5.  B


Clint Eastwood has won four Oscars.  He has received Academy Awards for Best Director  for Unforgiven in 1993, Best Picture for Unforgiven in 1993., Best Director for Million Dollar Baby in 2005 and Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby in 2005.


6,  E  

No, Paul Giomatti has never won an Oscar.  His nomination for the Holdovers is his second nomination.  In 2006, Giomatti was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Cinderella Man.


7.  E

Ryan Gosling was born in London, Ontario, Canada on November 12, 1980.  His nomination for Barbie is his third Oscar nomination.  He was previously nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Half Nelson in 2007 and La La Land in 2017.


8. C

Ginger and James Stewart with Oscars in 1941

Ginger Roges won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1941 for her performance in the 1940 film Kitty Foyle.


9.  B

Whoopi hosting the Oscars in 1994.

Whoopi Goldberg was the first woman to host the Oscars solo in 1994.  Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Shirley MacLean and Liza Minnelli all served as co-hosts.  Goldberg hosted again in 1996, 1999 and 2002.


10.  C

In 1991, Whoopi Goldberg won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the 1990 film Ghost.  In 1986, She was nominated for a Best Actress in a Leading Role for the 1985 film The Color Purple, but did not win.


11.  D 

Javier Bardem

Only one Spanish-born actor has one the Best Actor in a Leading Role.  In 2008, Javier Bardem, born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for his performance for the film No Country for Old Men (2007).  


- Joanne

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Mona Parsons: The Hero that Few People Know About

Mona Parsons

We Canadians are a modest bunch, much given to self-deprecation.  We do not celebrate our heroes enough, particularly our female heroes.  That is why I have chosen to write about a woman who was a hero in every sense of the word.  To be honest, I had never heard of Mona Parsons until I saw her image on a Canadian postage stamp recently.  I don't remember her ever being mentioned in any of my studies at school.  Mona's story is largely unknown in her own country, despite the fact that she was the only Canadian non-military woman to be imprisoned by the German army during World War II.

Mona Louise Parsons was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia on February 17, 1901, the youngest (and only daughter) of the three children born to Colonel Norval Parsons, and his wife, Mary.  When Mona was ten years old, the family moved to Wolfville, Nova Scotia. a move precipitated by the loss of her father's business in a fire.  Mona's father, a commanding officer during World War I, eventually became a successful businessman.  He owned and operated Parsons and Elliott Home Furnishing, located on Commercial Street in Wolfville.

While in her teens, Mona enrolled in the Acadia Ladies' Seminary.in Wolfville, where she excelled in artistic pursuits.  After graduating in 1920, Mona attended the prestigious Currie School of Expression in Boston, after which she taught elocution for two years.at the Conway Central College in Conway, Arkansas.  She then returned to Wolfville, where she attended Acadia University and involved herself in campus drama activities.  

As an aspiring actress, Mona Parson's dream was to become a star on Broadway.  In the 1920s, she moved to New York City and appeared as a chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Follies.  However, she was unable land the kind of dramatic roles she coveted, and her stage career failed to gain traction.  In 1927, when her mother become ill, Mona went home too Nova Scotia to tend to her.

After her mother's death in 1930, Mona returned to New York City to study nursing  After graduation, she secured a position as a private nurse in the Park Avenue offices of a specialist from Nova Scotia.  Mona was an independent career woman in the Big Apple during the Great Depression, but by the late 1930s, her life would take a dramatic turn.  

In 1937, Mona's brother Ross introduced her to a debonair business associate named Willem Leonhardt.  Willem was a wealthy Dutch entrepreneur based in Amsterdam.  He and Mona were married on September 1, 1937, after a five-month romance.  In 1938, the couple built a sprawling estate in Laren, about a half hour drive from Amsterdam.  They called their estate "Ingleside." and they lived a quiet and privileged life there until May of 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands  

Since September of 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany, Willem had been been greatly concerned about Mona's status as a Canadian citizen and a British subject.  He felt she would be more vulnerable than he, should the Netherlands come under Nazi rule.  However, in the spring of 1940, when the Germans occupied Holland, a defiant Willem staunchly refused to leave his home  He and Mona decided to just go on with their lives.

Willem and Mona joined the Dutch Resistance.  Their private estate, with its long driveway and extensive grounds. became an ideal hiding place for Allied airmen being smuggled out of the Netherlands.  Mona and her husband built a secret apartment in the attic of their home where they could safely harbour British airmen who had survived being shot down over Holland.  Unfortunately, a Nazi informer betrayed them to the Gestapo in 1941.  Willem went underground, assuming that the Nazis would leave Mona alone because she was a woman.  He was wrong.  Within days, Mona was captured and jailed.  On September 29, 1941, she was sent to Weteringchans Prison in Amsterdam.

On December 22, 1941, Mon Parsons was found guilty of treason by a Nazi tribunal in Amsterdam.  She was sentenced to death by firing squad.  Yet, despite the harsh sentence, Mona did not sob and plead for mercy,  As she started to leave the courtroom, the judge congratulated her on her composure.  He was so impressed by her dignified manner, that he suggested that she appeal her sentence and that he would recommend it.  In 1942, Mona's sentence was commuted to life in prison with hard labour.  She worked on an assembly line where she often became ill and lost a great deal of weight.

In February of 1945, Mona was sent to Vechta Prison, a former reform school, where she was put to work peeling potatoes, knitting socks and repairing uniforms.  She was locked in a tiny cell with four other inmates who slept on a bed of straw.

It was at Vechta that Mona met 22-year-old Baroness Wendellien van Boetzelaer, whom she would later describe as her "companion and guardian angel in a memorable flight for freedom."  The two women plotted s daring escape plan, and they were faced with a sudden opportunity to put it into action.  On March 24, 1945, Vechta was bombed by the Allies.  The men's prison took a direct hit and none of the occupants survived.  Meanwhile, the women were taken outside.  The warden, who was the former principal of the school, allowed them to choose between Allied bombs and German bullets.  

Mona and van Boetzelaer made a run for it through the open gates.  For three weeks, the two women walked 125 kilometres (almost 78 miles) through Germany before becoming separated at the Dutch border.  The pair posed as refugees from Dusseldorf, with 44-year-old Mona using her acting skills as she played the role of  Wendellien's mentally challenged aunt.  Wendellien spoke German fluently, but Mona feigned a speech impediment to conceal her accented German

In the final months of the war in Europe, an emaciated Mona meandered about Nazi Germany ss a fugitive.  With the assistance of a Dutch farmer, Mona eventually reached the safety of a Canadian battalion from her home province - the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.  She was provided with food and medical attention.at the Canadian Army Rear Headquarters in Oldenburg, Germany.  By the end of May, 1945, Mona was able to return to her home in the Netherlands by way of the Canadian General Hospital in the Dutch port city of Nijmegen.

About a month after her return to Laren, Mona was reunited with her husband, who had been liberated from a Nazi prison camp by the Americans.  Willem, however, never completely recovered from his imprisonment.  His health had greatly deteriorated and he had become a semi-invalid.  Mona nursed him until his death in 1956.

Following Willem's death, Mona learned that he had kept a mistress and that he had fathered a son, of whom she had not been aware.  One quarter of his estate was left to his mistress, and the rest to his biological son.  A legal battle ensued, which Mona lost.  She was left with no inheritance from her late husband.

In 1957, Mona returned to Canada and took up residence in Halifax.  Back in Nova Scotia, she became reacquainted with Major-General Harry Foster, a childhood friend from Wolfville who was widowed and had retired from the military.  They wed in 1959 and lived in Lobster Point, Chester, Nova Scotia until Henry passed away from cancer in 1964.  After her husband's death, Mona moved back to Wolfville, the community where she was raised.  Mona remained in Wolfville until her own passing on November 28, 1976.

Mona Parsons was 75 years old at the time of her death.  She had suffered from pneumonia and had been plagued by nightmares. When she died, the childless widow's possessions were auctioned off.  Mona's incredible story was virtually ignored until 2000 when Andria Hill-Lehr wrote her biography, Mona Parsons: From Privilege to Prison, from Nova Scotia to Nazi Europe.

On November 13, 2023, Canada Post unveiled a Remembrance Day postage stamp of a young Mona with a photograph of infantry soldiers of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders entering the Netherlands in the background.  The stamp was designed by Larry Burke and Anna Stredulinsky of Halifax's marketing boutique, Burke & Burke.



Mona's amazing story should be heard in schools, colleges and universities in Canada and around the world. It is a story of unwavering bravery and bold determination.  It is heartening that she is finally getting some recognition.

END NOTES

* A few months after the war ended in Europe, Mona Parsons received commendations from British Air Chief Marshall Lord Tedder of the Royal Air Force and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces.  The citations was given in gratitude for assisting Allied airmen in evading capture by the Nazis.

* In 2005, Historica Canada released a Heritage Minute, one of a series of 60-second public service vignettes focused on Canadian history.  The Heritage Minute about Mona depicted her arrest and eventual escape.

* A bronze stature was erected in downtown Wolfville in Mona's honour.  It is titled The joy is almost too much to bear.  It depicts Mona celebrating her and the Netherlands' liberation on May 5, 1945.  The sculpture was unveiled on the grounds of the Wolfville Post Office on May 5, 2017.


SOURCES:  The Canadian Encyclopedia; Canadian History magazine, "Remembering Mona Parsons," by Andria Hill, March 14, 2017; Historic Nova Scotia (historicnovascota.ca), "Mona Parsons (1901-1976)," by Andria Hill-Lehr with research support from the Wolfville Historical Society, Wikipedia


- Joanne

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Connor McDavid and a Million Dollars


Connor McDavid is 27 years old.  The Richmond Hill, Ontario native is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers and he is arguably the best player in the National Hockey League.  Last weekend, McDavid participated in the All-Star festivities in Toronto.  Not surprisingly, he won the revamped skills competition.  He put on quite a show for hockey fans with triumphs in the fastest skater, stick handling, shooting accuracy and obstacle course events..  

McDavid won a cool one million dollars U.S. for his victory, but does he really need a million bucks?  He's rolling in dough.  On July 5, 2017, McDavid signed an eight-year $100 million contract extension with the Oilers, which came into effect at the start of the 2018-19 season.  

When McDavid was asked what he intended to do with his skill competition winnings, he replied the he would be giving some away to his teammates and might even donate some to charity.  Oh, Connor!  Why don't you donate it all to charity?  There are so many people out there who need your support more than your teammates need it.  A million dollar can go a long way in improving this world.  It can alleviate a great deal of suffering.

I admire Connor's hockey skills, but I would admire him even more if he would use his talent and his good fortune for the betterment of society.  There are so many important causes - medical research, mental illness, addiction, homelessness . . . the list goes on.  

Some may argue that the million dollars is McDavid's money and he can do whatever he wants with it?  That may be so, but shouldn't it be put to better use?  Perhaps the winner of the NHL All-Star competition should be required to donates the money to the charity of his choice.  Why reward star athletes with money they don't need?   It just makes the NHL appear greedy, selfish and uncaring.  Nah!  That can't be true, can it?


- Joanne