Supreme Court to discuss same-sex wedding, contraceptives, electoral college, 2nd Amendment and Iran cases

Washington (CNN)Supreme Court justices are meeting behind closed doors on Friday to discuss several cases on high-profile issues including religious freedom and a same-sex wedding flower arrangement, assault weapons limits, access to contraceptives, and so-called “faithless electors” in presidential elections.

It comes ahead of what will be a momentous Supreme Court session in the midst of the presidential election. Already, justices are poised to rule on the future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. And they’ll hear cases in March on President Donald Trump’s efforts to block the release of his financial information to congressional and New York investigators.
The court will likely announce as soon as Monday which cases it will and won’t consider.
    Here are some of the top cases on Friday’s list:

    Arlene’s Flowers and same-sex wedding

    Justice will again consider whether to hear the case of a Washington state florist who declined to make an arrangement for the wedding of a same-sex couple, a move that could eventually result in a broader ruling on religious freedom.
    Last June, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled against Arlene’s Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, who refused in 2013 to make a floral arrangement for client Robert Ingersoll’s same-sex wedding, citing religious views that are at odds with the wedding.
    That decision came after the US Supreme Court on appeal sent the case back down to the state in 2018 to be considered in light of its Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, in which a 7-2 court sided that same year with a Colorado baker who declined to make a cake for a same-sex couple in a ruling carefully tailored to the case at hand.
    “Absent this Court’s review, government officials will keep dragging ‘reasonable and sincere people’ of faith like Barronelle through the courts … imposing ruinous judgments, and barring them from their professions simply because they hold disfavored views about marriage,” Stutzman’s lawyers wrote to the high court last September.
    “Only this Court can resolve the numerous First Amendment conflicts these issues have created … and set precedent that will protect people across the political spectrum in present and future cultural debates.”
    CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck said this week that the case could give the court an opportunity to issue an opinion on the broader issues it “dodged” two years ago in Masterpiece Cakeshop.
    “In its narrow holding, the justices dodged a broader decision about when the religious beliefs of the owners of a secular business require an exemption from local and state anti-discrimination laws, such as laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
    “But this case is one of many in the pipeline asking the Court to take up and resolve that issue — especially now that Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh has replaced Justice (Anthony) Kennedy, which may portend a majority that’s more inclined to side with the business owners in these disputes,” Vladeck added.
    Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is representing the state in the case, told CNN the issue is “well settled in courts all across our country at every level.”
    “You cannot violate a civil rights statue under the guise of religious liberty,” he said in an interview. “The Supreme Court could take it if they want to, but it’s not like there’s some big dispute going on out there.”
    Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, the group representing Stutzman, said the court “has an opportunity to resolve many important legal issues left unanswered” following Masterpiece Cakeshop.
    “A denial will finalize a flawed Washington court ruling that strips away Americans’ right to live and work according to our deepest beliefs,” she told CNN. “That hurts Americans no matter their religious beliefs.”

    ‘Faithless electors’

    Three presidential electors in Washington state who voted for Colin Powell in 2016 rather than Hillary Clinton and were fined under state law want the US Supreme Court to take up their appeal and decide whether a state can bind an elector to vote for the state’s popular vote winner.
    “The issue is undeniably important: presidential elections in the Electoral College will be increasingly close, and could literally turn upon whether electors have a constitutionally protected discretion,” Lawrence Lessig, a lawyer for the so-called “faithless electors,” told the justices in court papers.
    Overall, 10 of the 538 presidential electors in 2016 voted or attempted to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, Lessig noted.
    In May, the Washington state Supreme Court held that the state could regulate the vote of an elector either directly or indirectly. But in August, a federal appeals court ruled that a similar Colorado law was unconstitutional.
    “There is nothing in the federal Constitution” that allows a state to remove an elector or nullify his vote, a three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals held. “The states may not interfere with the electors’ exercise of discretion in voting for the President and Vice President.”
    Most states currently require some kind of a pledge from an elector to vote for the party’s candidate.
    The Washington state challenge is brought by Peter Bret Chiafalo, Levi Jennet Guerra and Esther Virginia John, who were nominated as presidential electors for the Washington Democratic Party for the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine received the most popular votes in the state for president and vice president, respectively.
    The three electors voted for Powell for president. For vice president, Guerra voted for Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, John voted for Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Chiafalo voted for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

      What is the Electoral College?

    Little Sisters of the Poor back at the Court

    The court could also consider case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious order for women, petitioning the court to affirm religious exemptions under the Affordable Care Act’s long controversial requirement that employer-provided health insurance plans cover birth control as a preventive service.
    The petition asks the court to consider whether the group can bring the case, as well as the broader question of whether the federal government can legally provide religious exemptions to the contraceptive mandate. It cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which was designed to prohibit the federal government from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion.
    The petition continues a long-standing battle between the nuns — bolstered by friendly policies from the Trump administration — and proponents of the contraceptive mandate previously in the federal government and now in the states.
    The Little Sisters challenged the mandate before the court in March 2016, seeking an exemption similar to what has been provided to houses of worship such as churches. Although the Obama administration offered them an accommodation meant to respect their religious objections, they and other groups said it was not good enough because it would still make them complicit in providing the coverage.
    The court later issued an order asking both sides to consider an alternative and address the question of whether “contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners employees, through petitioner’s insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners.” Both the Obama administration and religious groups, including the Little Sisters, said they were open to a compromise, and that May, the court issued a unanimous ruling not to decide the case on the merits, but instead sent the case back down to the lower courts for opposing parties to work out.
    But the landscape has changed under the Trump administration, which issued two final rules in 2018, including providing an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to such coverage based on religious beliefs. In January, Pennsylvania and California went to court to challenge the new rules, with federal judges in both states then halting them from going into effect.
    After the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the federal level ruling against the Little Sisters in July, the nuns are now looking for the Supreme Court to affirm their exception.
    The Third Circuit’s “decision and the resulting patch-work of injunctions and counter-injunctions cries out for this Court’s review,” the petition reads. “Religious liberty is too important for it to be accommodated only as a last resort.”
    Mark Rienzi, a lawyer representing the Little Sisters, told CNN that the justices have “made it pretty clear that they do think this is a big, substantive, important thing to get resolved.”
    “The shocking thing here is that the parties did come to a deal (in 2016), and yet now states are suing, saying that the federal government can’t give this exemption,” Rienzi said.
    “If they don’t take it now, it’s just going to fester and continue, and I don’t think that’s in anybody interest or the court’s interest,” he continued, adding that he thought all nine justices would look favorably on the petition “because they all take the First Amendment and religious liberties seriously.”
    Jacklin Rhoads, a spokesperson for the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, told CNN in a statement that “two federal courts have blocked the Trump Administration’s rules because they would allow virtually any employer to deny women access to contraception for any reason—including the belief that women should not be in the workforce.”
    “Both courts made clear that their rulings will have no impact on the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have a separate court-ordered injunction exempting them from the contraceptive mandate,” she added. “Any suggestion to the contrary is false and we have no reason to believe the Supreme Court will rule differently.”
    The court has opted to turn down the Little Sisters before. In June, the court declined to take up a case brought by the Little Sisters challenging lower court opinions that blocked the administration’s efforts to weaken the mandate.

    Iran terrorism judgment lawsuit

    In the final days of 2018, Congress once again sided with the families of US Marines killed in the 1983 Beirut bombings, passing a bill that made explicit that courts were permitted to seize assets outside of the United States.
    Shortly after Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law on December 20, the Justice Department filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to erase a decision made by the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals, effectively stripping the precedent from the books so that other future cases would be unable to rely on it to seize assets outside the United States.
    “It now would be appropriate to grant the certiorari petitions, vacate the judgment below, and remand to the court of appeals for further consideration in light of the NDAA,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote.
    The families of Marines killed in the attacks — for which the US has faulted Iran — have spent more than a decade trying to collect a judgment they won against Iran in 2007. But seizing the assets to fulfill the judgment has been difficult.
    In the middle of the bond dispute is Clearstream Banking, a Luxembourg-based clearinghouse that has served as an intermediary for sovereign bonds held by Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank, with offices in New York.
    The US government — in particular the State Department — has a long history of resisting the ability of civil litigants to seize money from sovereign governments, even those like Iran. But the law passed by Trump effectively makes clear that courts have the power to seize assets for judgments inside and outside of the United States.
    In their rebuttal, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that despite the change in the law by Congress late last year, it does not in any way impair the Second Circuit’s decision, and that the Supreme Court should deny the government’s petition.
    “This Court should reject the new suggestion of the United States. The legislation does not in any way call into question the correctness of the decision below; instead, it provides an independent ground for affirming its judgment,” the attorneys wrote in a brief.
    Ultimately, the court can make one of three decisions: 1) Dismiss the petition, 2) Deny the US government’s petition or 3) Send the case back to the lower court to erase the precedent.

    ‘Copycat’ assault weapons ban

    The court is already faced with a major 2nd Amendment case concerning a New York gun law that regulates where licensed handgun owners can take a locked and unloaded handgun. In that case, the law has been changed since the justices agreed to hear the challenge, and they are now considering whether or not to render the case moot.
    The new case it could take up concerns a Massachusetts provision that prohibits the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity feeding devices except by a law enforcement officer or law enforcement retiree who is “not otherwise prohibited from receiving such a weapon or feeding device from such agency upon retirement.”
    Following a 2016 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, state Attorney General Maura Healey issued a notice to gun manufacturers and retailers in the state that her office “is stepping up enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban, including a crackdown on the sale of copycat weapons,” which are assault weapons with minor design differences. Despite being covered under the ban, 10,000 such weapons were sold in the state in 2015, her office said. In response to the notice, four gun owners, two retailers and a firearms advocacy group filed suit challenging Healey’s enforcement of the ban.
    The challenge was rejected last year by a federal appeals court, which sided with a previous ruling that dismissed the lawsuit. “This case concerns an issue of paramount importance,” the appeals court wrote in its decision. “In the wake of increasingly frequent acts of mass violence committed with semiautomatic assault weapons and LCMs, the interests of state and local governments in regulating the possession and use of such weapons are entitled to great weight.”
    But in their writ of certiorari asking the court to hear the case, lawyers for the petitioners wrote that the state’s “bans are inconsistent with the Second Amendment’s text, history, and tradition and must be overturned.”
    The National Rifle Association argued the court should review the case, saying that its “intervention is imperative” because the state’s provision deprives citizens “of their constitutional right to keep and bear protected arms.”
      In a brief submitted last year, Massachusetts urged the court not to agree to hear the case, touting the decision of the appeals court.
      “Massachusetts has permissibly chosen to prohibit a narrowly defined group of weapons used disproportionally in (mass shootings), while at the same time ensuring that law-abiding residents have access to a host of other firearms for self-defense and other lawful activities,” the brief states.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/10/politics/supreme-court-arlenes-flowers-firearms-contraceptives-electoral-college/index.html

      Colton Underwood Is Writing A Book & You Already Know The Title | Betches

      Ernest Hemingway. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Virginia Woolf. All influential authors who you probably studied in high school. And now, you can add a new name to this list of greats: Colton Underwood. That’s right, everyone’s second favorite virgin Bachelor is writing a book coming out March 31. And before you have to ask, yes, the title is of course a reference to his virginity. Imagine being a professional athlete, the lead on a hit reality TV show, and still having your defining characteristic to the American public be reduced to your sexuality? *Looks in the mirror to confirm I am still, in fact, a woman* hahahah right, I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be judged solely on who I choose to have sex with or not!

      Congrats to Colton for going the way of book-writing, rather than simply relying on sponsored Instagrams to keep him afloat. A more noble endeavor, for sure. Colton Underwood’s book is going to be titled The First Time, and yes, upon learning that my eyes rolled all the way back into my head, where they are temporarily stuck. Mostly I just hate how determined anyone connected to The Bachelor franchise is to taking the one defining characteristic that ABC predetermines for them and then bludgeoning the public over the head with it for the next 3-5 years. Like, you know that after this, Peter is going to come out with a book called like, Gone With The Windmill. Damn, that’s actually good. I should sell that to Peter. Brb.

      Anyway, according to Gallery Books, in The First Time, “Underwood tells his compelling life story, which is at times unpredictable, humorous, and inspiring. As the Bachelor of the hit show’s 23rd season, Underwood reveals the highs and lows that have made him who he is today: growing up in Indiana, struggling with self-image and bullying, two time all American and three years in the NFL, and of course, his journey to find love.” Which is all well and good, but how is that any different from the numerous montages and scenes we got about Colton’s life and upbringing as a contestant on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, and finally, the lead on The Bachelor? If this is just a rehashing of the sh*t I’ve already seen, I’m going to be upset and demand my money back. (Who am I kidding, I’m not spending money on this.)

      Gallery also insists, “behind the spectacle is a human being, one who will candidly share the memories of his quest for the love of his life– and the aftermath of making it work.” I think I speak for all of us when I say that if Colton doesn’t give us the details on his relationship with Cassie and how that’s going, and explicitly spell out in plain English (no euphemisms) if he is a virgin or not, I don’t want this book. No? I’m the only one who still cares about his virginity? You’re lying. We’ve all been classically conditioned like slightly perverted Pavlovian dogs to be overly concerned with this. I just want it all to end. As I’m sure Colton does as well, so he can move on with his life. Someone, please, release us from this prison!

      For all of my mostly exaggerated outrage, who even f*cking cares. I would be surprised if Colton actually put fingers to keyboard and wrote this whole book himself and didn’t just have a ghostwriter, so like, whatever. I’m sure the book will be fine. Don’t get me wrong, Colton seems like a cool guy and he has his moments of humor on Twitter and stuff, but that’s a far cry from writing a whole-ass book. Just ask my mom, who still doesn’t grasp the concept that just because I write some dumb thoughts on social media, it doesn’t make me a novelist. But, I’m hopeful that Colton will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andi Dorfman and actually reveal some sh*t about what went down behind the scenes on The Bachelor. I expect no less than one whole chapter on the fence, and an entire section about Tia. (I actually totally forgot about Colton’s relationship with Tia until this very sentence and had a That’s So Raven-esque flashback to how miserable that narrative made everybody. Okay, you’re right, ABC, I’ll take the virginity one instead. I won’t complain anymore!)

      If nothing else, if you preorder The First Time now, Colton will buy you a coffee.

      Does this mean I can say I went on a coffee date with The Bachelor? Probably not, I’m going to say it anyway.

      Read more: https://betches.com/?p=76803

      How to Feel Sexy by Amine Salhi

      Book Summary:

      Want to wield your sexy mindset and confidence to your advantage?

      Gone are the days where you can be sexy by the way you dress and groom. Today, sexiness is more than what you see. It has something more to do with a je ne sais quoionly a few people have. Real sexiness can’t be manufactured. Those who have dynamic attractiveness draw people in even without making an effort.

      Sexiness is a state of mind that starts deep within yourself. It is more than the physical and superficial concepts that others tend to prioritize. When it comes to manifesting one’s sexual energy, most people start on the wrong footing.

      Bring your sexy back one page at a time with Amine Salhi’s How to Feel Sexy: The Art and Science of Feeling Sexy and Being Confident!

      Discover the simple yet effective ways on how to express your sexuality. Channel your sexual energy without relying on material objects. Amine Salhi’smanual delves deeper into the authentic meaning of one’s confidence and allure as a mindset.

      The universal concepts discussed in this book applies to everyone. Captivate anyone’s attention at will. Use the book’s wisdom to form good and healthy habits and effective techniques on how to flirt using verbal and nonverbal cues.

      Visualize your desires and let this book pave the path for you to find the best version of yourself. Develop a positive ambiance and redefine your romantic and social life while being guided by an expert.

      In this eBook, you’ll encounter:

      ✅Self-care strategies and cues for affirmations and visualization

      ✅Flirting techniques for all ages and gender

      ✅Tips on stress management and body language

      ✅ Helpful guidelines for diet, exercise and sleep

      Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2TE1rr8

      Amazon Reviews:

       

      “Quick and concise read with some very useful tips on how to feel better and more confident.

      I appreciate the easy to read format and gleaned much helpful information from this.

      The book doesn’t attempt to sell you anything or make you spend money on external things like clothes and jewelry but instead asks you to look inwards, and as with healing, feeling sexy and being confident starts in the mind. No amount of brand new clothes or whatever else will make you feel sexy. You have to want it.

      A good and useful read for singles and couples alike. I will recommend to my shy best friend.”

      “This is a great book if you lost or just want to feel sexier. Does a great job giving helpful detailed strategies to accomplish in feeling sexy. Easy to read and understand. Even easier to get to the point of sexiness you desire.”

      Crazy Wedding Story Of The Week: Do My Entire Wedding For Free | Betches

      Whether you hate the wedding-industrial complex, are a bride planning a wedding and want to feel better about your own demands, or just need something to read, we’re doing a new series where we share the craziest, most out-of-touch wedding story we found on the internet that week. Submit your own crazy wedding stories to [email protected] with the subject line Crazy Wedding Story, and we just might feature yours. And make sure to follow @BetchesBrides on Instagram and subscribe to our podcast, Betches Brides.

      You guys know how livid I get when people suggest you do something for “exposure”. You know why? It’s never the legit companies and brands that will actually give you good exposure that pull this sh*t. They understand the value of work and talent. It’s always no-name brands that will offer to “expose” you to their 12 followers. Take it from someone who’s been there—any job worth the exposure would actually pay you. This upcoming story, though, is somehow even worse than your regular, run-of-the-mill, cheap-ass unknown brand looking for free work. Because it’s a cheap-ass unknown person who thinks YOU should pay for literally everything in her entire wedding. I know what you’re thinking, and no, she’s not even an influencer!!

      The Set-Up

      Today’s story comes from Reddit’s /choosingbeggars subreddit, where a total douche-monkey of a human posted the most asinine Facebook post ever. WHO is friends with this trash anyway to see this post, I ask you? It starts off like this:

      Ah yes, a brutal reminder of why I hate the South. “Hi y’all!”—it’s like she’s already gearing up to pyramid scheme all of us. Why do I already want to punch this chick in the face? “I can lol I deserve it”! All I can think of is this:

      Also what the f*ck is with all the typos? “Afe getribg”? Girl, with that kind of proofreading, you should be writing for BuzzFeed (ba-dum ching). All I can do with this so far is feel really badly for Mr. David. But of course we’re just getting started.

      Mrs. David goes on to tell us that she got a free historic wedding venue because Mr. David’s godmother owns it. Cool, good for you, Glen Coco. She even says, “This means my wedding will be historical! Lol!” Oh yes, I’m so sure that one day children will study the dream wedding of Mrs. David in their history books. Lol.

      The Entitlement

      So because the estate is far away and they’re having their honeymoon in Dubai, Mrs. David reasons that she shouldn’t have to pay for a damn thing in her own wedding. Sure, sure. She already has a free venue but why should she pay for travel costs?

      Or a photographer?

      Or a caterer?

      Or a dress?

      Or music? Flowers? Seating? And BTW, it must be an orchestra, because “this will be classy”.

      But don’t worry everyone! Because, and I kid you not, Mrs. David is starting AN INSTAGRAM SOON! So you will be, and again, I quote, “begging [them] for the opportunity” to work for exposure! Because obviously, Mrs. David will be an instant Instagram hit, making millions and paying you back for feeding probably 200 people in exposure!

      I honestly wish I was kidding:

      I’m not actually convinced this isn’t satire.

      My favorite part is how Mrs. David demands that everyone be a professional (“not a hobby but getting PAID AS A JOB”) even though she isn’t willing to pay them at all. Does she not see the irony? Let me tell you, if anyone is willing to work for free for absolutely no reason, it means they can’t charge for their work. Meaning they aren’t paid for the work. Meaning they are not a professional, which by definition means being paid for said work.

      Also, here’s what I don’t understand. They can afford a honeymoon in Dubai, but didn’t plan even a minor budget for a wedding? Don’t get me wrong, I can get behind the idea—I’d much rather go to Dubai then have a wedding—but then just… don’t have the wedding? They’re not even paying for a venue, or a dress, like I don’t understand how Mrs. David thought she’d have an entire wedding for free? Paid for by whom? Like, all of these people would have to pay out of their own pockets for these services, so that Mrs. David and her seven followers will give them exposure? I cannot comprehend this at all.

      The Closing

      Mrs. David then wraps it up:

      Yeah, I’m sure everyone is just gonna jump right on that. While I’m so grateful to the Redditor who posted this, I’m a little salty that they included no comments. Like, the comments have to be absolutely amazing, right? What do you even say to something like this? I’ve got to acknowledge that this story seems fake, like that other viral wedding story that turned out to be a marketing ploy, but it’s more fun for me to act as if it’s real. I mean, people do suck, so you really never know.

      All I can say is good luck to Mrs. David and her free dream wedding, and to Mr. David, I only have three words: Witness Protection Program.

      Images: Fernanda Prado / Unsplash; Reddit; Tenor

      Read more: https://betches.com/crazy-wedding-story-of-the-week-do-my-entire-wedding-for-free/

      The War of the Roses at 30: still one of the nastiest comedies of all time

      The brutal 1989 hit took a much-loved onscreen pairing, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and tore them to pieces

      Its easy to forget just how consistently, bracingly nasty The War of the Roses is, thanks in great part to the extravagant, and festive, studio packaging it arrived in, unwrapped in cinemas 30 years ago this month. It was fast-paced, glossy, Christmassy and, deceptively, it starred one of the most beloved onscreen couples of the 80s: Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Audiences were accustomed to seeing them bicker in the hit adventures Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile but their sparring was only ever of the screwball variety, a string of lighthearted quips signposting a Billy Ocean-soundtracked happy ending on the horizon.

      At the end of the decade, they reunited to show us that happily ever afters are as fantastical as treasure maps and that early romance will more likely give way to seething resentment and sadistic violence. The film was a cruel R-rated footnote to their era of PG-13 flirting and it both shocked and compelled me as a child whose family was in the thick of a divorce at the same time. I didnt see it upon release I was five at the time but as it tore its way to the small screen, it became an early object of obsession. Each rewatch was met with a certain amount of parental displeasure, an understandable concern that I would blur the lines between what happened on screen and what was happening in real life

      The War of the Roses unfolds as a cautionary tale, shared by the lawyer Gavin DAmato (Danny DeVito, the reliable third wheel in Douglas and Turners previous two capers and also playing director here) with a client seeking a divorce. Urging him to consider his options, he tells the story of the Roses, a couple whose marital bliss ended in disaster. They met great. They agreed on that, he says, while were taken back to a charming meet-cute as Barbara (Turner) and Oliver (Douglas) compete at an auction in Nantucket. The film leaps forward from the auction to the bedroom to their first apartment to their first house, the couple gliding from one rite of passage to the next, ticking every box that society has taught them to tick. Barbara becomes the perfect housewife, Oliver goes from associate to senior partner at his law firm and they have two cute kids, one boy and one girl.

      Everything was working for the Roses, Gavin says. Let me restate that. The Roses were working for everything.

      Because in Michael J Leesons exuberantly cynical script, based on the book by Warren Adler, hard work only gets you so far. The Roses were doing everything they thought they needed to do to be happy but it wasnt enough. Those cute kids grow up to be overweight and insolent. That grandiose house ends up feeling empty and alienating. Their relationship goes from fun and frisky to stale and stuffy. The cracks that start to show are initially relatable the annoying way your partner laughs, the rambling way they tell a story, the endless fucking snoring and the escalation is believably restrained. For a while. But the potholes they encounter culminate in more of a sinkhole, those niggling issues no longer fixable with just a brave face.

      Barbara asks for a divorce. Oliver says no. Barbara wants the house. So does Oliver. Both stand their ground, refusing to abandon their much-loved home, and the competitive edge that brought them together on that rainy Nantucket day soon becomes the same thing that starts tearing them apart. Its the cruel irony of so many breakups and the film revels in this. As their beautiful house becomes a war zone, the ornament they playfully fought over years ago is brought back to be used as a cruel reminder of what they once had. Its the last straw that forces them into their final physical duel, which leads to their deaths.

      undefined
      Photograph: taken from picture library

      In this years wonderful, Oscar-tipped drama Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach similarly shows how divorce can bring out the worst in a couple, especially in one virtuosic show-stopping argument, but he also shows how humanity can still be maintained and, in a gut-wrenching final scene, how tenderness remains. In The War of the Roses, theres no such relief. As the crumpled-up couple lie dying on a broken chandelier, one thats crashed to the ground, Oliver reaches to touch Barbara, music swelling, but she pushes him off, a final, brutal rejection that remains one of the coldest endings I can remember in studio cinema.

      Critics at the time were unsure what to make of it, unsure exactly how to enjoy watching a sprightly holiday comedy involving two big stars inflicting verbal and physical abuse on each other. In a mostly positive review, Roger Ebert nonetheless remarked: There are times when its ferocity threatens to break through the boundaries of comedy to become so unremitting we find we cannot laugh, while Janet Maslin praised its outstanding nastiness but worried that the ending took things too far.

      It was rare in 1989 and arguably rarer now to see a film of this scale have the courage of its convictions, maintaining its dour worldview right up until the bitter and bloody end. Dark studio comedies tend to end with light in fear of scaring off the wider crowd needed to justify a hefty budget, but global audiences embraced The War of the Roses in all its filthy glory. It was a box office smash, making $160m worldwide (with inflation, that number doubles). And whats most revealing about its success is that it outgrossed both Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, a happy ending for a film so keen to avoid one.

      But for all its critical and commercial wins at the time, it has not had the afterlife one might expect. In the years since, its cultural impact has been surprisingly slight and despite talk of adapting Adlers rather mediocre follow-up novel, The Children of the Roses, its the rare 80s hit not to receive a sequel, remake or reboot a blessing, Id argue. Its DNA can be felt, though, mostly in Gillian Flynns cynical marital thriller Gone Girl and its faithful big-screen adaptation, with the author herself naming Adlers source novel as one of her favourites. Whats fascinating, on my umpteenth rewatch this year, is just how cruel it still is, 30 years on, at a time when its much harder to shock. Its less the behaviour of the couple and more how it found its way into a film of this scale and gloss, uncensored, played for laughs.

      As a child, I think I found something cathartic in its garish excess. It gave me the chance to laugh at a situation that was humourless in real life. As an adult, Im far removed from that experience, of witnessing my parents divorce, but closer to my own romantic history and theres something similarly fulfilling about witnessing the fall of the Roses. They act in ways that I would never but their relentless spite, right up until the finale, is oddly satisfying, a dogged commitment to not forgiving, forgetting or pretending that wounds have healed.

      Its an untamed assault, a frantic, shameless race to, as Oliver puts it, the deepest layer of prehistoric frog shit at the bottom of a New Jersey scum swamp and, ultimately, a horribly convincing argument against matrimony. I remain unmarried.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/dec/05/the-war-of-the-roses-at-30-still-one-of-the-nastiest-comedies-of-all-time

      Goodbye Homeboy by Steve Mariotti

      Book Summary:

      One sunny afternoon in 1982, a young businessman experienced a terrifying mugging in New York City that shook him to his core.

      Tortured by nightmares about the teens who roughed him up, Steve Mariotti sought counseling. When his therapist suggested that he face his fears, Mariotti closed his small import-export business and became a teacher at the city’s most notorious public school–Boys and Girls High in Bed-Stuy.

      Although his nightmares promptly ceased, Mariotti’s out-of-control students rapidly drove him to despair.

      One day, Mariotti stepped out of the classroom so his students wouldn’t see him cry. In a desperate move to save his job, he took off his watch and marched back in with an impromptu sales pitch for it. To his astonishment, his students were riveted. He was able to successfully lead a math lesson for the first time.

      Mariotti realized his students felt trapped in soul-crushing poverty. They saw zero connection between school and improving their lives. Whenever Mariotti connected their lessons to entrepreneurship, though, even his most disruptive students got excited about learning.

      School administrators disapproved of Mariotti discussing money in the classroom, however. He was repeatedly fired before receiving one last-ditch assignment: an offsite program for special-ed students expelled from the public schools for violent crimes.

      The success Mariotti had with these forgotten children—including coverage in the Daily News, The New York Times, and World News Tonight—inspired him to found the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth.

      By turns tragic and hilarious, Goodbye Homeboy shares Mariotti’s flaws and missteps as he connects deeply with his troubled students, and woos the most influential people in the world into helping them–saving himself in the process.

      Today, Mariotti is widely recognized as the world’s leading advocate for entrepreneurship education. More than one million young people from Chicago to China have graduated from NFTE programs, and NFTE counts Sean Combs, Chelsea Clinton, Diana Davis Spencer, and many more business, entertainment, and community leaders among its staunchest supporters.

      As Goodbye Homeboy powerfully illustrates, a spark of hope really can empower us to overcome life’s greatest hardships.

      Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2T2ibbH

      Reviews:

      “Steve Mariotti’s moving memoir is a call to action for anyone who dares to dream, and dream big! Steve’s entrepreneurial spirit led him from calming his contentious classroom and nurturing his students’ ‘street smarts’ to becoming the founder of a booming nonprofit. Goodbye Homeboy powerfully illustrates how Steve went from reaching one student to reaching millions with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).”

      —Erin Gruwell, teacher and author of The Freedom Writers Diary

      “Goodbye Homeboy truly captures Steve Mariotti’s amazing journey as a teacher and an innovator. It’s engaging, heartbreaking, hopeful, and ultimately triumphant. This is the story behind the entrepreneurship-education revolution!”

      —Jimmy “Mac” McNeal, founder of Bulldog Bikes Worldwide

      “Steve Mariotti is one of the great teachers of our time. In this deeply personal memoir, he describes how a bunch of high-school dropouts in the South Bronx helped him discover the power of entrepreneurship education. Goodbye Homeboy is a page turner—once you open this book, you won’t be able to put it down.”

      —Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up and founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organization

      About the Author:

      Steve Mariotti is the founder and former CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), and an advocate for entrepreneurs worldwide. His previous books include the Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business and An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto, which makes a convincing case for the power of entrepreneurship education to combat poverty, terrorism and totalitarianism. Mariotti is also the author of award-winning junior, high-school and college textbooks on entrepreneurship and small business management. He is a popular Huffington Post blogger.

      In 1982, Mariotti left a successful business career to become a public high-school teacher in tough New York City neighborhoods like East New York, Bed-Study, and Fort Apache in the South Bronx. Frustrated at first by his rowdy classrooms, Mariotti discovered he could motivate even his most challenging students by teaching them how to run a small business. This experience inspired him to create NFTE in 1987 to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth, and empower them to create pathways out of poverty. Today, NFTE is widely considered the leading provider of entrepreneurship education to low-income youth worldwide.

      Debra Devi is an award-winning author, journalist and musician based in Jersey City NJ. She has co-authored numerous books with Steve Mariotti, including The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business, How to Start and Operate a Small Business, winner of the Golden Lamp Award for excellence in educational publishing, and An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto. Devi’s book The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu (foreword by Dr. John) received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. As a journalist, Devi has written for Investor’s Daily, American Banker, Crain’s New York, The Village Voice, RollingStone.com, Guitar World and more. An accomplished guitarist and singer, Devi performs internationally and received a proclamation from Jersey City for her contribution to the arts.

      Barbara Taylor Bradford writing prequel to A Woman of Substance

      Novelist says she returned to the story that made her name 40 years ago as she struggled to cope after her husbands death

      Barbara Taylor Bradfords husband, Robert Bradford, always told her: Keep writing if anything happens to me, its your solace as well as your career. So when he died of a stroke this summer, it was natural for her to pick up her pen. But after 55 years of marriage, Bradford was surprised to find herself returning to the blockbuster novel that made her name in 1979: A Woman of Substance.

      A prequel, Blackie and Emma, is due to be published next year, taking readers back before the start of her rags-to-riches bestseller with the story of Blackie ONeill, the closest friend of Bradfords most famous heroine, Emma Harte.

      After Bob had died and I was alone, I was full of this idea, she said. In A Woman of Substance, Blackie is with Emma a lot, her best friend but we dont know what happens to him after he leaves Emma. So what did he do, did he have other women, did he have any scandals?

      Bradford said that her husband was in hospital for only a week, thank God, [before] he sadly died. But while she was sitting with him in the hospital, she couldnt concentrate on reading: Youre just looking at the man you love unconscious.

      She knew that writing a book would take her mind off things, but she was already under contract to write historical novel in her Falconer series, which would require substantial research.

      I was sitting, my mind wandering, and I thought Thank God Ive got a book to write because I know hes not going to make it and Im going to be on my own, Bradford said. And then I thought Oh God I dont think I can write another Falconer because of the research It didnt frighten me but it was a bit daunting. Trying to imagine a book that would require less groundwork, inspiration struck: I suddenly thought I could write about Blackie.

      Readers first met Blackie, played by Liam Neeson in the Emmy-nominated TV adaptation, as a young man of 18. At the beginning of A Woman of Substance decades before she is running a huge retail empire Emma is working as a kitchen maid at Fairley Hall in Yorkshire when she runs into Blackie on the moors.

      Blackie and Emma will open five years earlier, with a 13-year-old Blackie orphaned in County Kerry. He leaves for a better life with his mothers brother in Leeds, where he becomes a navvy. HarperCollins said that it would reveal the true Blackie ONeill his tumultuous life, the obstacles facing him, the desire he has to throw off the impotence of poverty and move up in the world. Like his friend Emma, he is ambitious, driven, disciplined, and determined to make it to the top.

      HarperCollins publishing director Lynne Drew said that when Bradford rang her and told her she was planning to write Blackies story, it gave her goosebumps. I could immediately hear the excitement in her voice, she said, and knew the fans would go wild.

      Bradford was born in Leeds in 1933 and left school at 15 to join the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post, becoming the papers first womans editor at 18 before moving to London at 20 to work as a columnist and editor on Fleet Street. A Woman of Substance took her two years to write, with the original manuscript running to 1,520 pages. Today, it has sold more than 30m copies around the world. In a foreword to the 40th anniversary edition, Fern Britton wrote that in force of nature Emma Harte, Barbara created a heroine who has inspired women for the past four decades inspired them to be courageous, break rules and follow their dreams.

      Bradford finished the outline for Blackie and Emma a week ago, just before coming to the UK to promote her 34th novel, In the Lions Den. The 86-year-old said she will sit down to write when she returns to her home in New York, but planning Blackie and Emma has already helped her cope in the wake of her husbands death.

      Bob was by my side at the beginning when I wrote A Woman of Substance, she said, and I felt compelled to tell Blackies story I rather like the idea of visiting Blackie again and inventing a life we never saw, and seeing Emma again.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/22/barbara-taylor-bradford-writing-prequel-a-woman-of-substance

      When We Were Brave by Karla M Jay

      Book Summary:

      In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk, who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller and his family, are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

      Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2RaclUH

      Reviews:

      “When We Were Brave is not a novel about suffering, although suffering certainly makes up much of it. Rather, it is a novel about perseverance, the will to survive and push back against cruelty and death… It is what makes the novel exceptional and compelling.” -Daniel Casey, San Francisco Book Review

      2019 Distinguished Favorites for New York City Big Book Award.
      Jay’s (Speaking in Tungs, 2018, etc.) account is impressively ambitious, offering a sprawling view of the wages of war from three distinct perspectives. She ingeniously braids them into a coherent narrative tapestry, and along the way, she realistically describes the human degradation experienced by prisoners in the Nazi camps… – Kirkus Reviews 2019

      Karla M. Jay’s novel When We Were Brave employs a dramatic triangle to create a highly-emotional, epic story of World War II, one that is as vivid as it is highly personal. Here is a moving, riveting tale that shows you how things once were–and how similar those times can feel to our own. Scott Lasser – Author of Say Nice Things About Detroit, Screenwriter for HBO’s True Detective Series

      Great historical fiction teaches and entertains. When We Were Brave finds three little-remembered stories that beg to be heard. Told with vivid detail and meticulous research, these stories involve complex characters who demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit set against a backdrop of evil and tragedy. – Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling author of Funny in Farsi, and Laughing Without an Accent

      When We Were Brave is a vivid, heart-wrenching portrayal of holocaust years, as innocent victims grapple with loss, loneliness, and longing while the English and American forces fight against the Nazi army…The story is told from the perspective of three protagonists whose lives become entwined. The narrative is gripping and skillfully paced, and Jay’s depiction of her characters’ inner turmoil, hopes, fears, and mental anguish stir the reader’s heart. With complex characters and intricate plotting, Jay delivers a heart-wrenching, engrossing historical read. -The Prairies Book Review

      2019 Silver Medal Winner, Readers Favorite Contest. Combining excellent historical research with a compelling storyline, the hard work of author Karla M. Jay really pays off the more deeply involved you become with the characters in her plot…As the plot threads and connections slowly come together, the conclusion marks the realities of war and sticks in your mind for a long time after. When We Were Brave is a highly recommended historical read.

      “Jay demonstrates a mastery of emotion and landscape. The scenes are visceral, the dialogue is sharp and believable, and the narrators are immediately engrossing. For history enthusiasts, the level of detail, cultural accuracy, and research feels immersive. The world of the past spills out naturally, drawing readers into the relationships between these characters. When We Were Brave is a vivid portrait of a time and place with characters who are immediately recognizable.” Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★

      Combining excellent historical research with a compelling storyline, the hard work of author Karla M. Jay really pays off the more deeply involved you become with the characters in her plot. I found Wilhelm’s story to be the most compelling … as a disillusioned SS officer trying to make things right for himself, and for the world. Jay really pays attention to the emotive aspect and motivations of all her characters, making them leap off the page with reality and endearing them to readers, which is what makes their hardship all the more harrowing to read about. As the plot threads and connections slowly come together, the conclusion marks the realities of war and sticks in your mind for a long time after. When We Were Brave is a highly recommended historical read.– Readers Favorite

      Author Bio:

      Raised in Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania, Karla M. Jay has worked as a speech pathologist since 1982. When she is not home in Utah gardening or writing, she is traveling, trying to see as many countries as possible–in particular, those with good coffee, ancient history, and great beaches.

      Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

      Gift Guide Book Suggestion #6

      Got someone who loves fantasy and adventure in their life?

      Book Summary:

      Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

      So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

      In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

      A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

      Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2svFjnu

      Reviews:

      WINNER of the B.R.A.G. Medallion for Fantasy

      “Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall was rollicking good fun! Perfect for those who enjoy the Codex Alera series, the /Homas Wildus series and the Harry Potter series. Stovall is quickly becoming a name I look for.” – Seattle Book Review

      “Volke carries readers into a darkly engrossing world with a passion that makes Knightmare Arcanist satisfyingly unique and hard to put down. Readers looking for a magic-based quest fantasy will find this story compelling and nicely written, with strong characters propelling action which is often unexpected and revealing.” – Midwest Book Review

      “A spellbinding first installment of what promises to be an addictive series, Shami Stovall has produced a mesmerizing story of magic, intrigue, and true adventure.” – ManyBooks

      “Richly crafted and laced with wry humor and intriguing magic, Knightmare Arcanist is a page-turner.” – The Prairies Book Review

      Author Bio

      Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

      Aye-Aye Gets Lucky – Endangered & Misunderstood Book 1 by Terri Tatchell

      Gift Guide Book Suggestion #5

      Book Summary:

      Join endangered and misunderstood AYE-AYE on his quest to win back the hearts of the people of Madagascar after his mischievous pranks get him banned from his favorite village and labeled bad luck. Luckily for AYE-AYE, he meets a new friend who shows him first-hand how unpleasant being scared can feel. Armed with a little empathy and compassion, it doesn’t take AYE-AYE long to figure out that being kind and helpful is the best way to turn his luck around forever. On the surface “Aye-Aye Gets Lucky” is about a misunderstood lemur finding a way to win the love of the villagers, but look deeper and it’s a story about empathy, self-acceptance, community and second chances.

      Book Link – https://amzn.to/2Pdazzk

      Video Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEJ3k7zGerY&t=19s

      Review:

      Aye-Aye is a small lemur who loves to play jokes on people, but his jokes are not much fun. They are mean jokes and often really scare the people he is playing the jokes on. Aye-Aye has big yellow eyes and long, sharp, crooked fingers. He is a pretty scary looking guy for people to see. Little children might be especially afraid of him when his would sneak up and wave his creepy hands at them. Aye-Aye has an ulterior motive. When he frightens people, they often throw food at him or drop it on the ground. Aye-Aye loves to eat, so this is a perfect result for him. But his antics get to be too much for the people in the village, and they ban Aye-Aye from the village and pass a law that says he cannot come back because Aye-Ayes are bad luck. It is not much fun for Aye-Aye to be all alone outside the village with no one to play pranks on and with no good food. He tries to think of ways he can get the village to welcome him back, but all he can think of are pranks and more pranks. Then a flying fox comes on the scene and teaches Aye-Aye a lesson about how it feels to be truly scared. Aye-Aye vows to change his ways and to find a way to get the village to accept him back. But is it too late? Can he ever gain their trust?

      Author Terri Tatchell has written a truly engaging story that will keep youngsters entertained while teaching them an important lesson, but that lesson is well-hidden in a beautifully-written, rhyming text with perfect meter that will roll off the tongues of the adults reading the book aloud. There are a lot of funny touches that will have little ones giggling and keep them engaged. Aye-Aye is a fun character that kids will like and will root for as the story is read. The bright illustrations by Ivan Sulima are chock-full of delightful details that will keep youngster’s eyes on the pages searching for all the fun they can find. The charming illustrations really complete this story wonderfully. In addition, there are a couple of pages of back-matter that convey many interesting and important facts about Aye-Ayes and about Flying Foxes, which are endangered species. In addition to the facts, there are drawing lessons to allow youngsters to try their hands at drawing these two animals, and five ways to help the Aye-Aye to survive. This book is a terrific addition to any library, personal or public, and will become a favorite in a hurry.

      San Francisco Book Review

      Reviewed By: Rosi Hollinbeck

      Author Bio:

      Terri Tatchell is a Canadian writer known for her Oscar and BAFTA nominated work on ‘District 9’. Her love for animals and allegory have united in the creation of the ‘Endangered and Misunderstood’ series, giving the underdogs of endangered animals a lyrical voice filled with laughter, adventure and relatable themes.

      Inspiring love and conservation for the endangered animals you’ve never heard of.

      Endangered & Misunderstood is an ongoing series of picture books that takes a different approach to the serious subject of lesser known endangered animals, with an emphasis on laughter, adventure and relatable themes.

      Proceeds from the sale of each book go directly to help the conservation of the featured animal.