Acceptance Speeches at Screen Actors’ Guild Awards Turn Political

The Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on January 29, 2017, wrapped the show with numerous surprises and snubs. The most memorable moments of the night included witty acceptance speeches against much debated U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

An event which marks the excellence of Actors for their contribution cinema and television, transformed into a political platform as numerous celebrities began to voice their displeasure over President Trump’s ban of refugees and immigrants from six Muslim countries. Each winner had a say about the ban and Trump’s unorthodox political stance in their acceptance speeches.

Star of the show Two and a Half Men, Ashton Kutcher, in his opening speech, said “everyone in airports that belong in my America.” He also added, “You are a part of the fabric of who we are. And we love you, and we welcome you.”

Even during the red carpet, celebrities like Simon Helberg, of The Big Bang Theory walked holding a placard which read “Refugees Welcome” and his wife had written “Let Them In” on her chest. Kerry Washington spoke directly to the camera showing her displeasure over the entire debacle as well.

There were celebrities who also pulled a ‘Meryl Streep’ and dedicated their entire acceptance speeches to the Immigration ban. David Harbour, who spoke for the cast of Stranger Things said, “This is unreal. I’d just like to say that with all that’s going on tonight, it’s hard to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things, “We are united in that we are all human beings and we’re all here together on this painful and mysterious ride that is being alive. “We will repel bullies, we will shelter freaks and outcasts, we will hunt monsters, and when we are lost, we will punch some people in the face, and we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.”

While Harbour was giving his speech, most could not take their eyes off Winona Ryder’s expressions as she stood beside him. Trending with numerous meme on the internet, Ryder’s bizarre expressions ranged from grimaces to surprise and no one knew why. Stranger Things winning the Best Ensemble in a Drama Series was a surprise since it didn’t win any individual awards.

Denzel Washington won his first SAG Award where he took home Best Male Actor in a Leading Role for Fences while Emma Stone won the Best Female Actor in a Leading Role for her performance in La La Land. She beat Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt for the same category. Another big surprise came from ‘Hidden Figures,’ which won the Best Picture beating La La Land. La La Land failed to secure a spot in the Best Picture category despite its 14 Oscar nominations. Mahershah Ali won the Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in Moonlight and Viola Davis won the same in the female category for the film Fences.

Claire Foy Was awarded Best Female Actor in a Drama Series for The Crown after John Lithgow won his Best Actor role in the same series.

Julia Louise Dreyfus, not a stranger to winning SAG awards, won the Best Actress for Comedy Series for Veep. “I’m an American patriot. And I love this country, and because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes, and this immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American,” she said.

William H Macy won the best actor in a comedy series for Shameless. Orange is the New Black won the award for the best comedy series.

Lily Tomlin took home the 53rd SAG Lifetime Achievement Award not only for her outstanding performance in the acting field but also for her wit. In a humorous speech, she said, “You are kind of anti-climactic. Did you hear? The doomsday clock has been moved to two and a half minutes to midnight and this award came just in time.”

Sources:  The Guardian NY Times

Obama promises action against Russia for hacking

In a recent interview, given to National Public Radio, to be aired on Friday morning, Barack Obama, the US President said that there will be action taken against Russia for attempting to hack the elections, which was an attempt for “impacting the integrity of” the American Presidential elections.

He mentioned that he was waiting for the final report he had ordered into the range of the hacking attacks by Russia, but guaranteed that proper action will be taken against the country.

According to a CIA assessment, which has been reported by various news agencies in America, Russia aimed to help Donald Trump win the elections by this act, but Obama has refrained from commenting on this claim.

Although in his interview, Obama did hint that the hack proved to be more problematic for Clinton’s campaign rather than Trump, saying, “ in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign”, reported the TOI.

The hackers working for Russia broke into both the Democratic (party) National Committee’s (DNC) computer network as well as Hillary Clinton’s top advisor John Podesta’s private email account, as reported by various American intelligence officials.

In light of all these events, the intelligence agencies have been ordered by Obama to conduct a complete review of the cyber attacks before the beginning of Trump’s tenure.

Sources – TOI ,Washington Post

Image Source: AFP

US Elections 101: How does it all work?

With the long and sprawling road to the United States Presidential Elections barely two months away (November 8), the race to the White House is anything but a straightforward pursuit. Let us now find out how the world’s most powerful nation gets its new leader.

Who can run for President?

A ‘natural born’ US citizen, who is at least 35 years old, also having been a resident of the nation for 14 years, is eligible to run for the post. However, every President since 1933 has either been a governor, a senator or a military general. If the current Republican candidate and business tycoon Donald Trump gets elected, he would be the first such President to not have any experience in American politics.

Further, no person would be elected to the office of the President more than two terms.

United States Congress:

The Parliament (Congress) of the United States has two houses:

  1. The House of Representatives
  2. The Senate

The House of Representatives is designed to give a voice for the locals in the nation, with the members of the house re-elected every two years. Each state is split into various districts, where each district votes for one representative. The number of these districts depends on the population of each state. Example: California being the most populous state has 53 districts, which translates into 53 representatives. Alaska on the other hand, has just one representative.

The candidate with the most votes in each district wins the seat in the House. Ultimately the party that wins the most amounts of seats in the house takes control.

The Senate, like in the Indian context is rightly called the Upper house. Their responsibility is to basically question and scrutinize the actions of the House of Representatives and the President.

Senators in the house, who are voted by the public, enjoy 6-year terms. However, every 2 years, a third of the senators run for re-election.

Serving as a significant difference between both the houses is the fact that each state is represented by two senators, regardless of population. The first past the post voting system applies here as well.

Nominating the Presidential candidate:

The states in the US use two systems to zero in on their presidential candidates- Primary and Caucus.

A Caucus is essentially a voting party for the nominee, which is held at a designated Public space. Any registered voter can attend a caucus where the gathering discusses the candidates, finally narrowing down on the candidates through an in-person voting process. Caucuses are funded by the political parties themselves.

A Primary is a secret ballot system of voting. There are two forms of primaries. An Open Primary is the one where the registered voter can vote for any party’s candidate (A democrat voter can vote even for a Republican candidate). In a Closed Primary, however, the candidates can vote only for the party to which they are affiliated to. Primaries are funded by the State.

Voting for POTUS

Presidential elections in the United States take place every four years. With the two main parties being Republicans and Democrats, the public vote to see their new leader emerge as the President. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The Public does not directly vote for their leader but they vote for the electors, who are affiliated to the party of their choice.

Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each Presidential election. How did they arrive at this number? The number of electors is equal to the total member voter ship of the US Congress (which roughly translates into 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and 3 electors from D.C.). Surpassing a vote bank of 270 is what a party needs to triumph.

In simple words, the number of electors in each state is equal to the number of representatives and senators.

The voting for the Presidential candidate happens through Primaries

Safe States:

They are the states that have a long history of voting for a particular party, which in other words is a party’s stronghold. Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon are the Democrats’ stronghold while Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas and Idaho are the safe states that the Republicans can count on.

Swing States:

States that have been wavering on their votes in the past cycles are Swing states. Ohio and Florida have been swing states for the past four cycles.

In most of the 50 states in the US, except Maine and Nebraska, the ‘winner takes it all’ technique is applied wherein the candidate gets all the seats in the state if he wins. (For example, if electors pledged to Donald Trump wins majority, in California, he/she acquires 55 seats)

With the rat race to the White House being a tedious process, one has to now wait and see how the game unfolds on Election Day.








Trump announces last-minute meeting with Mexican President

In a last minute decision announced on Tuesday, August 30 night, Donald Trump will be meeting Mexican President Peña Nieto on Wednesday, August 31, just hours before flying to Arizona, where he is set to deliver a high stakes speech on immigration policy. In a tweet late Tuesday night Trump confirmed that he had accepted the invitation of Nieto, and would be traveling to Mexico City to have a private meeting with the latter.

Trump’s decision comes as a surprise, considering his policy and comments against the nation. He has levelled accusations against  the Mexican government, which he claimed was knowingly sending across illegal immigrants into the USA. Trump has pledged to build a wall on the border with Mexico, which he has stated that he will make the nation pay for, something that Nieto has vehemently opposed. At a rally on Tuesday night, Trump stuck to his hardline policy, saying that “We are also going to secure our border and stop the drugs from pouring in and destroying our country….” His inflammatory comments such as, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re rapists..” have led to him being reviled by people in Mexico.

In the light of Trump’s deeply antagonistic attitude towards Mexico, both Nieto and he have engaged in a war of words, the former comparing Trump to dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. However, in recent weeks, both have shown willingness to meet each other. Nieto had extended an invitation to both Trump and Hillary Clinton to visit Mexico so as to engage in dialogue between the two nations.

Read more at: Washington Post 

Republican Debate: Trump and Bush clash over Iraq War

Saturday night’s Republican Debate saw the candidates clash one last time before South Carolina’s Primary, this weekend. Trading insults over former President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, the stage saw Jeb Bush and Donald Trump make fiery statements.

“Obviously the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right?” Trump said at the debate in South Carolina. “George Bush made a mistake, we can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty,” he added. Openly calling out Bush for lying about finding the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the 69-year -old real estate giant declared the entire claim to be false.

Florida’s former Governor Jeb Bush was quick to defend his brother over the comment. “While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe and I’m proud of what he did,” Jeb Bush replied. The pair also clashed over immigration issues in the US.

Sources: The Guardian, The New York Times