Photo Courtesy Cinedigm
I know many people are always looking for something different or under the radar to see as a great alternative to the summer blockbusters (sometimes, it s more fun and pleasing to sit in an empty theater than packed in with 300 people who won t stop checking their phones and need to repeat every line of dialogue). Whatever you say about it, Violet & Daisy is an alternative.
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are two teen ladies who love pop stars and fashion, but you have to earn your pay to afford all of that stuff, and they earn their money as skilled, in demand assassins. They might not want the latest job, but Violet ad Daisy need the cash, so they agree to hunt down a mysterious guy (James Gandolfini) who ripped off their gangster boss.
Of course, nothing really goes according to plan once they try to execute the man.
Violet & Daisy is a quirky movie touching on several genres, but never really excelling at the storytelling.
Writer/director Geoffrey Fletcher seems to be putting together a showcase reel to prove he has versatility, but it doesn t serve the movie well to be all over the map.
At times, the movie has a Pulp Fiction kind of vibe that is very funny, but then it also veers into artsy, surrealist territory that doesn t help us understand the characters or story much, especially as the movie moves into a more dramatic territory that doesn t have the emotional impact needed.
Violet & Daisy does feature some strong performances from Ronan and Bledel.
Bledel adds an edge to Violet that takes the young actress beyond her normal whiny, whimpering little girl persona, while Ronan adds the naivet to make us and the rest of the characters in the movie question whether or not these two ladies can handle the business.
It has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years, but Violet & Daisy deserves some attention.
Violet & Daisy is rated R for violence, disturbing behavior, and language.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Military leaders said Tuesday that sexual assault in the ranks is “like a cancer” that could destroy the force, but they expressed serious concerns about far-reaching congressional efforts to strip commanders of some authority in meting out justice.
In an unusual joint appearance, Army Gen . Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the head of each branch of the military testified on what is widely viewed as an epidemic of sexual assault plaguing the services.
Outraged by high-profile cases and overwhelming statistics, lawmakers have moved aggressively on legislation to address the scourge of sexual assault.
Sen . Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the problem of sexual assault “is of such a scope and magnitude that it has become a stain on our military.”
Congress has acted in prior years to ensure the aggressive investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults, Levin said, but more needs to be done .
The committee is considering seven bills to deal with sexual assault.
As important as additional protections would be, Levin said, the problem won’t be addressed successfully without a cultural change throughout the military . And that starts at the top of the chain of command.
“The military services are hierarchal organizations: The tone is set from the top of that chain, the message comes from the top, and accountability rests at the top,” said Levin, who has not endorsed any of the bills.
The military leaders offered no disagreement about the impact on the services.
“Sexual assault and harassment are like a cancer within the force — a cancer that left untreated will destroy the fabric of our force,” said Army Gen . Ray Odierno. “It’s imperative that we take a comprehensive approach to prevent attacks, to protect our people, and where appropriate, to prosecute wrongdoing and hold people accountable.”
While acknowledging the problem and accepting that legislation is inevitable, military leaders insisted that commanders keep their authority to handle sexual assault cases.
“Reducing command responsibility could adversely affect the ability of the commander to enforce professional standards and ultimately, to accomplish the mission,” Dempsey told the committee.
Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the committee, is a proponent of ambitious legislation that would remove commanders from the process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual misconduct cases, go to trial . That judgment would rest with seasoned trial counsels who have prosecutorial experience and hold the rank of colonel or above.
The Pentagon estimated in a recent report that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, up from an estimated 19,000 assaults in 2012, based on an anonymous survey of military personnel . While the number of sexual assaults that members of the military actually reported rose 6 percent to 3,374 in 2012, thousands of victims were still unwilling to come forward despite new oversight and assistance programs aimed at curbing the crimes, the report said.
Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., a co-sponsor of the Gillibrand bill and chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the legislation “bold” and “out of the box.” She dismissed concerns that it goes too far in overhauling the military justice system, saying it’s time to try a new approach to solving a problem that has persisted for years.
“I think 26,000 sexual assaults is going too far,” Mikulski said. “And now there is even a criminal investigation of the football team at the Naval Academy, where we are training the next best.”
“This is a problem for the military,” Sen . Claire McCaskill said on CBS’ “This Morning” Tuesday.
The Missouri Democrat said, “You know, they’re like 20 years behind . They thought they could train their way out of this problem.”
A steady drumbeat of high-profile cases combined with the most recent statistics from the Pentagon have spurred Congress to move aggressively on legislation to deal with sexual assault in the military.
Last week, the Pentagon said the U.S .
Naval Academy is investigating allegations that three football team members sexually assaulted a female midshipman at an off-campus house more than a year ago . A lawyer for the woman says she was “ostracized” on campus after she reported it.
In recent weeks, a soldier at the U.S . Military Academy was charged with secretly photographing women, including in a bathroom .
The Air Force officer who led the service’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit was arrested on charges of groping a woman . And the manager of the Army’s sexual assault response program at Fort Campbell, Ky., was relieved of his post after his arrest in a domestic dispute with his ex-wife.
Oklahoma Sen . James Inhofe, top Republican on the committee, said he was wary of proposals to restrict the authority of commanders to discipline their
“To take the commander out of the process will invite failure,” Inhofe said in a speech on the Senate floor Monday. “These commanders have to make decisions to send our brave troops into battle . How ludicrous is it that we would say to our commanders, `You’ve got to make a decision to send one of our kids into battle where they may end up losing their life, but you can’t participate in the justice system of the troops.’ It doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Gilibrand’s legislation has 18 co-sponsors, including four Republicans.
In the House, Reps . Michael Turner, R-Ohio, and Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., have crafted legislation that would establish dismissal or dishonorable discharge as the mandatory minimum sentence under military law for service members found guilty of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or an attempt to commit those offenses .
Commanders also would be barred from reducing or commuting the minimum sentence except in situations in which the accused substantially aided the government in the investigation or prosecution of another assailant.
Their bill, however, stops short of taking those cases outside the military chain of command.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KTLA) Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called on the federal government to crack down on sexual assault in the military.
Boxer announced plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to deal with the issue on Friday during a news conference in Los Angeles.
The senator was joined by Stacey Thompson, a Marine Corps veteran from Southern California, who said she was sexually assaulted.
More than 26,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in the military just last year, according to the Department of Defense.
It was graduation day at West Point.
One thousand cadets got their diplomas.
Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel addressed the growing sexual abuse problem in the military, calling it a scourge and a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred truths.
Hagel urged the graduating cadets to help build a culture of respect and dignity in the armed forces.
(CNN) A rash of sexual assaults in the armed forces undermines Americans confidence in the military, President Barack Obama told newly commissioned officers at the U.S . Naval Academy Friday.
Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong, Obama told the graduates, who were commissioned as Naval ensigns and Marine Corps second lieutenants.
That s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes . Because they have no place in the greatest military on Earth, Obama continued.
The president s remarks came amid mounting outrage over sexual abuse cases in the armed forces .
Figures show the rate of assaults in the armed forced increasing, and some top officers are under fire for condoning such acts.
At least two officers responsible for preventing sexual assault are under investigation for allegedly committing the types of act they were tasked with stopping.
Those factors have led to calls for major changes in how the armed forces handle sexual assaults . Obama has demanded his top military brass leave no stone overturned in their quest to prevent abuse, and members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make it easier for victims to get justice.
In his commencement address Friday, Obama characterized the U.S . military as one of the few institutions Americans still trust, but said incidents like sexual assaults, as well as other delinquency by servicemen in the field, could erode that faith.
Even in our military, we ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide .
In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace, Obama told the Naval Academy graduates, 206 of whom were women.
Earlier this month, the Department of Defense released figures estimating 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2012, a 35% jump from 2010 . Those cases ranged from groping to rape.
The vast majority of those incidents went unreported as crimes, the study showed.
Meanwhile, officers at bases across the country are under investigation for allegedly committing sexual assaults.
An Army sergeant first class assigned to the sexual assault prevention unit at Fort Hood, Texas, came under investigation in early May for alleged sexual assault, pandering, abusive sexual contact and maltreatment of subordinates . The military said he s been relieved of duty while investigators look in to the allegations.
Also in May, an Air Force officer who managed an assault prevention unit was charged with sexual battery and removed from duty .
He is accused of grabbing a woman and groping her buttocks and breasts in an Arlington County parking lot not far from his Washington office.
And this week, the Army said it had suspended Brig . Gen . Bryan Roberts, the top general at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, due to allegations of adultery and assault.
Fort Jackson is where most new Army recruits go through basic training, which includes training about sexual assault prevention.
The president traditionally delivers the commencement address at one of the military service academies every year .
In 2012 he spoke at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs . The last time he delivered the commencement in Annapolis was 2009.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke last weekend at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut . Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will speak Saturday at the U.S .
Military Academy at West Point, and also will address sexual assaults, according to a U.S . official.
Obama s remarks came the day after a much-anticipated speech in which the president spelled out a new phase of America s war on terror . He told the new officers Friday they are entering a military vastly changed from four years ago.
Just as you have changed in the past four years, so too have the challenges facing our military, he said, noting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still being engaged when Friday s graduates entered the academy.
Even as we move beyond deploying our large ground armies abroad, we need to conduct precise targeted strikes against terrorists before they kill our citizens, Obama said .
Even as we stay vigilant in the face of terrorism, and stay true to our Constitution and values, we need to stay ready for the full range of threats.
A woman is suing The Salvation Army, claiming the organization moved a minister from Oahu to Maui after she reported he sexually abused her in the 1950s . Nancy Spencer’s lawsuit filed on Maui this week claims she was 11 when Maj . Richard Taba molested her .
She says her mother told The Salvation Army what happened and believed he had been terminated . But Spencer read in Taba’s obituary last year that he continued to serve as the Salvation Army’s chaplain on Maui for 40 years . A spokeswoman for The Salvation Army in California said Thursday the organization will try its best to investigate the allegations .
The lawsuit is possible because of a 2012 state law that suspends the statute of limitations for sex abuse cases until April 2014.
The words homeschool uniforms can evoke strong emotions in some people. I m not writing to convince or to un-convince you to use a uniform in the home eduction of your children. However, I would like to offer are a few observations and our personal experience, in hopes that you will neither dismiss the idea nor fully embrace it without further thought and prayer.
Some may feel that, by dressing in uniform with the other members of the family, they are downplaying their individual uniqueness.
I prefer to think that using a uniform, either during school hours or all the time, allows uniqueness of personality to shine without the clothing distractions. Could your children s talents and abilities shine brighter if the sibling playing field were leveled a little? Would uniforms do that at your house?
Maybe, maybe not.
In the secular world there are uniforms everywhere: sports teams, girl and boy scouts, clubs, work uniforms, and so on. You are identified as part of the team because of what you wear. And yet in our families, where we should be striving for teamwork and togetherness, it seems that no one wants to be recognized as belonging to one another.
Would your family feel more like a team if they dressed the part?
On dressing for success:
Along that line, we usually dress for what we are about to do: sports clothing and accessories to go play soccer or basketball, a uniform for work, a dress code and instruments to participate in an orchestra concert, jeans and a t-shirt to cut grass or milk cows. Similarly we would not don a swimsuit for a day of snow skiing. I think you get the point.
Somewhere deep down inside of us we know that dressing suitably to the task at hand aids in our success. I would submit that education is not an exception to that rule. How could dressing for school change your approach to home education or your child s attitude about his studies?
Some perhaps would find the cost of uniforms prohibitive.
Perhaps. But consider that if you choose a simple yet classic uniform for your home school, you will need approximately 3 sets per child per week. And the clothing can be handed down from one child to the next.
The child then only needs two to three play outfits and one dress up outfit to complete his day to day wardrobe. It might not cost as much as you think. Have you ever compared costs of uniforms vs.
everyday clothing for your children?
On logistics and modesty:
Using uniforms could cut down considerably on laundry, the work of putting clothes away, and on closet space. The uniforms could be made (if you are or know a seamstress) to your specifications. Uniforms could at least make school shopping easier and faster.
Could uniforms simplify school shopping, chores, or routines at your house? Could it be part of the answer to the modesty question for your girls?
We have chosen to use school uniforms, at least for the time being for several reasons:
1. We live in a Mexico, where schools (both public and private) all have uniforms, and where home education is not yet well known.
Having a uniform for our homeschool allows our children to be less of an oddity in our society, and also avoids lots of questions if we should need to take them with us on an errand during school hours.
2. We use khaki pants (for boys) and khaki skirts (for girls) with a unisex polo shirt of a solid dark color. This is cost effective for us because the children can pass the shirts down from one to the next regardless of sex, and it cuts down on shopping time as we can get all the shirts in one stop.
It s a classic look and the dark color polo is kind to the inevitable food and marker stains. We also chose to get ours embroidered with our homeschool name to make it more formal and uniform looking.
3. Our children are third-culture kids, and they already feel like they don t belong in lots of areas.
They don t look like their darker skinned friends. They speak two languages naturally, while their friends here speak one and their cousins in the US speak another. They don t go to public schools, and the list goes on and on.
Because of this we chose to name our homeschool and design our own logo, which we get embroidered on the shirts and use on their school folders and other things. This gives them a sense of identity, something to be a part of and be proud of, and it has been a healthy choice for our family.
4. Our children were struggling to keep their closets and rooms neat.
But when we decided to cut down the wardrobe to their school clothes and three or four other outfits, their clothes became manageable and not so much of a frustration or daily battle to keep the area tidy. It also cut down on our laundry considerably, and it took away the What do I wear today? angst that one of our children in particular was struggling with.
If it s a school day, we get up and put school clothes on. No decision necessary.
5. Modesty is something that we strive for.
But especially in the area where we live, finding clothing for a girl that is loose and long and modest is a special challenge. The uniform helped in this area as well, in that I could decide the length of the girls uniform and wasn t subjected to culture s whims in that regard. And have you ever held up a boys polo shirt to a girls polo of the same size?
Even for the small elementary girls the shirts are cut with huge body hugging curves, teaching them subconsciously that tight is normal from the time they re young. By choosing to use polo shirts I can buy them all in the boys department and dress my girls more modestly. When they are wearing them, no one can tell if I bought them in the girls or boys department.
As my girls get older, I am anticipating less of a clothing struggle with them because we have laid this foundation and set the expectation for long and loose modesty from their younger years.
If you have a homeschool uniform, you (and your children) should know why you have one. And if you don t, you should be willing to consider it, until you can rule it out as something that definitely would not help you reach your homeschooling goals. And while I m not sure we will always use them, I do know that for now, in our family, the homeschool uniform has been a great blessing.
I know many may have strong opinions about this topic.
I d be interested in hearing your comments for or against homeschool uniforms.
Just remember to keep the conversation edifying.
BILOXI — Tech. Sgt. Bobby Bass sat in silence for a few seconds, then glanced at his wife, who was in tears, as the jury read his sentence — six months in a military jail, the loss of one rank and his pay docked $1,000 a month for three months.
Bass avoided a dishonorable discharge Wednesday at his court-martial for abuse, assault and cruelty as an Air Force basic training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in 2009.
The jury convicted him Tuesday on 31 of 35 counts that included abusive sexual contact for ordering two young trainees to put Icy Hot on their genitals.
The jury deliberated for 4 hours before deciding his fate in a case that is connected with the 2012 sex scandal at Lackland, where the Air Force conducts its basic training.
In that scandal, most of the cases were male instructors and female trainees. With Bass’, all the trainees were male.
The senior defense attorney for Bass, Capt. Antoinette Quinn, said she didn’t believe he should go to jail at all, but that avoiding a dishonorable discharge “could be considered a win.”
Polly Kenny, who has
handled the media coverage of the Lackland sex scandal, said there is “no winner in a situation such as this,” but said she felt the jury did its job.
Based on the charges he was convicted of, Bass faced up to 33 years in prison. The prosecution asked for at least two.
In order to get a sentence, six of the eight jurors had to concur. The jury interrupted sentencing deliberations Wednesday morning to express a concern Bass would be required to register as a sex offender.
But an official with local law enforcement who deals with sex offender registration in Mississippi told the Sun Herald that Bass would have to do so only if the court-martial specifically required him to do so as part of his sentence.
Bass’ court-martial was held at Keesler Air Force Base because that’s where he is stationed.
It is the only Lackland scandal trial that has been held somewhere other than Lackland.
Lt. Victoria Porto, a spokeswoman for Keesler, said Bass would begin his sentence at Keesler. The Air Force corrections system would determine if he is to be transferred to another military jail.
She said at the completion of his sentence, Bass is expected to return to duty at Keesler, which “may or may not initiate administrative discharge based upon his court-martial conviction.”
During the week-long trial, 14 trainees from one of Bass’ basic training groups testified that 50 to 60 trainees were ordered to strip naked and crowd into a shower stall meant for 12, “vote out” one of their own who had complained of mistreatment and mock their trainee leaders doing pushups in their underwear.
One was ordered to shave his body hair in front of other trainees. Others told of being slammed or kicked.
Bass was found guilty of all 11 counts of dereliction of duty and failure to obey a lawful order, 13 of 16 counts of cruelty and maltreatment, both counts of abusive sexual contact and all four counts of assault. He was convicted of one count of having an unprofessional relationship with a man under his supervision while deployed overseas in 2007.
For his court-martial, Bass chose to have a jury mix of officers and enlisted personnel and chose the option of having the jury decide his sentence.
After screening by the prosecution and defense, the jury was made up of two officers and six enlisted men and women.
His defense team included two members of Keesler’s Area Defense Counsel — Capt.
Rachel Van Maasdam and Capt.