Petition at Change.ORG: Demand that the employees on duty at McDonald’s be held responsible in the beating of a trans woman

After an unidentified transgender woman tried to use the bathroom at a Baltimore McDonald’s, two patrons started attacking her in full view of other customers and employees. These employees can be heard on the video shouting words of encouragement to the attackers. It’s time we DEMAND that justice be served and that EVERY McDonald’s employee involved in this brutal hate crime be held accountable.

The April 18 assault took place at a McDonald’s location in the 6300 block of  Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb, according to the Baltimore County Police Department. A 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile in connection with the assault, charges are still pending against an 18-year-old woman. “The incident remains under investigation and the State’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case,” added investigators.

Not surprisingly, McDonald’s lacks standard policies for protecting transgender individuals, despite a decent record of workplace discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. And while the company has pledged to “take appropriate action” against all employees involved in this heinous event, just one has been punished.

This is not enough! If McDonald’s employees stood by and encouraged this attack, they should be fired. Please sign this petition in hopes that justice can and will prevail for this transgender woman.

Also please contact the Maryland States Attorney’s Office —  Violent Crimes Division at 410-887-6610 and express your concerns about this matter.
Read Petition Letter

Please Sign this Petition

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Chrissy Lee Polis, transsexual woman attacked at Baltimore McDonald’s, calls assault a ‘hate crime’

From The New York Daily News:

By Michael Sheridan

The transsexual victim of a brutal beat-down at a Maryland McDonald’s broke her silence to call the attack a “hate crime,” and says it’s not the first time she’s been assaulted.

Chrissy Lee Polis told the Baltimore Sun on Saturday the incident, which was captured on video and posted online, has left her “afraid to go outside.”

“I want to cry, but I need to hold my head up,” she said, adding that she’s been beaten and sexually assaulted in the past because of her sexual identity.

The 22-year-old said she entered the McDonald’s in Rosedale, a suburb of Baltimore, to use the bathroom on April 18. When she came out, she claims one of the women who attacked her accused her of trying to talk to “her man.”

“The other girl came up and spit in my face,” Polis said in a video interview posted on the Baltimore Sun website. “They started ripping my hair, throwing me on the floor, kicking me in my face.”

The online video captures the brutal assault. It also shows a McDonald’s employee coming to Polis’ aid, but the women eventually set upon their victim again.

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New York City: Bill would bag phony-purse buyers

From The New York Post:

April 26, 2011

Pretty soon, it could be more than just the fashion police who have a problem with your shoddy knockoff bag, like this bogus Louis Vuitton.

Buyers could face a year in jail or a $,1000 fine under a proposed bill by a city councilwoman fed up with cheapskate tourists and Big Apple residents flooding her district in search of fake designer merchandise.

“We don’t want to be known as the place to come to get counterfeit goods,” said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose Chinatown district is ground zero for counterfeiters.

Under Chin’s bill, which is being introduced Thursday, shoppers caught buying any counterfeit product could be jailed or slapped with a fine of $1,000 — a little less than the price of Marc Jacobs’ frequently copied Baroque Quilting Mini Stam bag, which retails for $1,250.

“It’s a very big problem,” Chin said of the counterfeit market. “People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand.”

Several of Chin’s colleagues have expressed support for the bill, and she already has five co-sponsors.

The punishment might seem draconian, but it’s necessary to curb the growing problem, she said.

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Appeals court orders new sentencing hearing for Mumia Abu-Jamal

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that high profile death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal should get a new sentencing hearing.

Tue Apr 26, 2011

Abu-Jamal, convicted of shooting and killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981, was sentenced to death and has since become subject of wide debate over his guilt and conviction.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the sentencing form the jury used in 1982, as well as instructions it received, could have inaccurately led jurors to believe they needed to be unanimous in deciding if there were mitigating circumstances that would spare Abu-Jamal’s life.

The court let stand the first degree murder verdict.

Abu-Jamal’s supporters argue he did not get a fair trial and say the evidence does not support his conviction. Those who maintain his guilt also have been vocal, and a major Philadelphia boulevard is named in Faulkner’s honor.

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Goodbye… Singer and Punk Pioneer Poly Styrene Dies

From The LA Weekly:

By Liz Ohanesian,
Tue., Apr. 26 2011

Early this morning, NME confirmed that Poly Styrene, also known as Marian Joan Elliott-Said, has died. Shortly thereafter, the following message was sent via the singer’s Twitter.

Poly Styrene Twitter.png

Poly Styrene, whose work with X-Ray Spex made her a punk rock legend, was 53 years old. She had been battling cancer.

From E-on-line:

Punk Pioneer Poly Styrene Dead at 53

by Josh Grossberg

She lived the punk ethos every day of her life and in doing so changed the face of music.

Poly Styrene, aka Marianne Elliot Said, the British punk rock icon whose dissonant rebellious yelp as the lead singer of ’70s outfit X-Ray Spex cut through an era of conformity and influenced countless musicians, has died. She was 53.

According to a statement on the Spex website, Styrene passed away peacefully in her sleep after a battle with breast cancer on Monday evening.

Born on July 3, 1957, in the London borough of Bromley to a British legal secretary and a Somali-born aristocrat, this biracial girl ran away from home at age 15 and hitchhiked around various music festivals.

After stumbling upon an early gig by the Sex Pistols, she formed the punk band X-Ray Spex, which released its first album, Germ Free Adolescents, in November 1978 to critical acclaim. Fans hailed Poly for her brash, distinctive voice, trademark braces and Day-Glo clothes, which rejected any attempt to mold her into a sex symbol and instead fashioned her as a feminist punk pioneer.

With anthems like “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” the Spex tackled anticonsumer and anticapitalist themes as well as the subject of racism, all with a wit that won them many admirers. They also helped spark the underground feminist movement in the U.S. known as Riot Grrrl, which gave the world such bands as Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill. But after a three-year run that included numerous festival performances and a residency at New York’s CBGB’s, the group split up after a fight over money and Poly went solo.

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From In The Life: Injustice at Every Turn

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‘The Stonewall Uprising’

From The New York Daily News:

PBS documentary ‘The Stonewall Uprising’ chronicles public’s discrimination against 1960s gay scene

David Hinckley
Monday, April 25th 2011

A near-perfect documentary always has a couple of near-perfect moments.

In “The Stonewall Uprising,” which revisits the seminal 1969 showdown between New York police and the gay community over a raid on a gay bar, a veteran of the 1960s gay scene talks about the legal ban on “Masquerading.”

This law was not the worst attempt to suppress gays, but it was one of the meanest and silliest, because it forbade anyone from dressing up in public without at least three articles of “gender-appropriate” clothing.

“Socks didn’t count,” this veteran explains, pausing for emphasis. “So you had underwear and an undershirt – and that third item ruined the outfit.”

It’s a marvelous moment, funny and sad and most of all triumphant, because it conquers the foolishness of law by tucking it into the more timeless business of fashion.

It also reflects the understatement that helps make “The Stonewall Uprising” such an exceptional look at an event that helped trigger the modern American gay revolution.

It never feels like it has to shout. It trusts its story and its narrators, meaning it also trusts its audience.

Along the way, interestingly, it spends more time on the conditions and social climate that made the Stonewall Uprising necessary and inevitable than on the event itself.

It’s almost impossible to watch the first half of this documentary without shaking your head.

Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner start by digging out “educational” films that reflect the conventional wisdom of the day. Gays in these films are insidious, promiscuous and predatory, out only to seduce innocent young boys.

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Christo-Fascist Robertson: Left Backs Abortion Rights To Make Straight Women More Like Lesbians

From People for the American Way: Right Wing Watch:

Submitted by Brian
April 25, 2011

Pat Robertson has figured out why President Obama supports the funding of Planned Parenthood and believes in a woman’s right to choose: because progressives want women to have abortions as a way to achieve equality for lesbians. While speaking with co-host Terry Meeuwsen of The 700 Club about the recent debate over Planned Parenthood’s funding, Robertson attempted to use “psychological stuff” to rationalize why progressives back Planned Parenthood and “this culture of death.” According to Robertson, progressives want straight women to “abortion their babies” to “put [lesbians] on a level playing field.”

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Affordable rental housing scarce in U.S., study finds

From The Washington Post:

By Dina ElBoghdady,
Tuesday, April 26

The share of renters who spend more than half their income on housing is at its highest level in half a century and it’s no longer just low-income tenants who are feeling the pain, according to a Harvard University study scheduled for release Tuesday.

About 26 percent of renters — or 10.1 million people — spent more than half their pre-tax household income on rent and utilities in 2009. That’s because incomes slipped dramatically from their peak at the start of the decade even as rents kept rising.

The study offers the latest in a series of grim statistics about the scarcity of rental housing, especially for the working poor. The supply has not kept up with demand in part because of a shortage of apartments, a key source of new rentals. Developers cut back on such projects when the economy deteriorated in 2009, which drove down vacancies and boosted rents. Analysts say they expect rents to keep climbing as developers try to ramp up new projects and catch up with demand.

In many areas, the demand is driven by families who lost their homes to foreclosure during the housing bust and ended up searching for rentals. Meanwhile, as the job market recovers, more newly employed young adults appear to be seeking their own apartments instead of living with their parents, putting even more upward pressure on rental rates, according to one of the study’s researchers.

Ideally, renters should not spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the study said. Low-income tenants have struggled during the past decade to stay within that limit. And increasingly so have renters with moderate incomes, defined as making between two and three times the minimum wage. By 2009, 7.5 percent of moderate-income renters spent more than half their income on rent, twice as many as in 2001.

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Texas may strip away transgender marriage rights

Fuck Perry and all Republi-Nazis…

From Dallas News.Com:

Associated Press
Apr 25, 11

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two years after Texas became one of the last states to allow transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license, Republican lawmakers are trying to roll back the clock.

Advocates for the transgendered say a proposal to bar transgendered people from getting married smacks of discrimination and would put their legally granted marriages in danger of being nullified if challenged in court.

One of the Republican sponsors of the legislation said he’s simply trying to clean up the 2009 law in a state that bans same-sex marriage under the constitution.

“The Texas Constitution,” Sen. Tommy Williams said, “clearly defines marriage between one man and one woman.”

The legislation by Williams, of Houston, and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, of Brenham, would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married, effectively requiring the state to recognize a 1999 state appeals court decision that said in cases of marriage, gender is assigned at birth and sticks with a person throughout their life even if they have a sex change.

Most states allow transgendered people to get married using a court order that also allows them to change their driver’s license, experts said. Some advocates for the transgendered say the Texas proposal would not only prevent future transgendered marriages but also open up the possibility that any current marriage could be nullified.

“It appears the goal is to try to enshrine a really horrifying ruling and making it law in the state of Texas,” said John Nechman, a Houston attorney whose law firm does work for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

Gov. Rick Perry’s spokesman Mark Miner said the governor never intended to allow transgendered people to get married. He said the three-word sex change provision was sneaked through on a larger piece of legislation Perry signed two years ago regarding marriage licensing rules for county and district clerks. Perry, a Republican, supports efforts to “clarify the unintended consequences” of that law, Miner said.

“The governor has always believed and advocated that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Miner said.

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Dallas County adds trans protections

From The Dallas Voice:

26 Apr 2011

After listening to more than 30 minutes of public comments in favor of the proposal, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday to add transgender protections to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy.

About a dozen people from the LGBT community addressed the Commissioners Court prior to the vote, which came five weeks after the court voted unanimously to add sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression to the policy covering the county’s 7,000 workers. Despite rumors over the last few days, no one spoke against the proposal.

Commissioner John Wiley Price provided the third and decisive vote in favor of transgender protections, joining fellow Democrats County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia. Republican Commissioners Maurine Dickey and Mike Cantrell voted against the transgender protections.

LGBT advocates who attended Tuesday’s meeting erupted in applause after the dramatic vote, and they gathered on the steps of the county administration building for an impromptu celebration moments later.

“The community’s participation is what made this happen — the letters, the phone calls, the people who showed up here,” said Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell, who coordinated the community’s advocacy on the issue. “The fact that this was done in five weeks is what really surprises me. Five weeks is the blink of an eye in government time.”

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Phoebe Snow, singer of 1970s hit ‘Poetry Man,’ dies at 60

From The Los Angeles Times:,0,5216521.story

Phoebe Snow received wide acclaim for her self-titled album, which showed off her multi-octave range and musical versatility. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010.

By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2011, 8:27 a.m.Phoebe Snow, a singer and songwriter who gained fame with her 1974 self-titled album that featured the hit single “Poetry Man,”has died. She was 60.Snow died Tuesday in Edison, N.J., her longtime friend and public relations representative, Rick Miramontez, said. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010.

The album “Phoebe Snow” turned the singer, blessed with multi-octave range, into a star. She made the cover of Rolling Stone, appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

“Phoebe Snow has made it,” Stephen Holden wrote in a 1975 review for Rolling Stone. “On a musical level she shows the potential of becoming a great jazz singer. Among confessional pop songwriters she immediately ranks with the finest.”

Rolling Stone described her nine original compositions in “Phoebe Snow” as “light jazz torch songs” but freer in form and attitude. (Two other songs on the album were her versions of others’ material).

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Misogynistic Dick: Allen West: Liberal Women Are ‘Neutering American Men’

More wisdom from the black Nazi Iman, and right wing Uncle Tom, Allen West. Proving once again that Christo-Nazis are every bit as bad as Islamo-Fascists.

From Think Progress:

By Tanya Somanader
on Apr 25th, 2011

Last week, Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) addressed his base at a Women Impacting Nation (WIN) meeting in Boca Raton, FL. WIN’s mission is to “educate and equip women with knowledge of God’s truth” and “to support those who take a stand for those Judeo-Christian values upon which our country is founded.” West used examples of “historical fiction” to instruct attendees on the proper role for American women — namely, to make strong men.

West first weaved the ancient society of Sparta — a culture that practiced eugenics and inspired Adolf Hitler — into an example of the role of women. “What made the Spartan men strong, it was the Spartan women,” he said. “Because the Spartan women at the age of nine gave up their male sons” to train for the army. West then exulted conservative women to come forth and “lock shields” to “strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you.” Painting women’s rights advocates as “women that have been neutering American men,” West charged attendees to fight these apparent castrators who want to force male subservience:

WEST: We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you. To let these other women know on the other side — these planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow…deficits will continue to grow.

Watch it:

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The Authoritarian Agenda Behind Attacks on Contraception

From RH Reality Check:

By Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
April 24, 2011

In a recent piece for the American Prospect, Sarah Posner outlined how the fringe of the religious right increasingly dictates the larger conservative agenda, as evidenced by the bold Republican push towards open war on contraception.  Sarah writes about the reason for the attacks on Planned Parenthood:

It is not solely about shutting down Planned Parenthood’s federal funding because the organization provides abortion services (indeed federal funding of abortion is already banned by the Hyde Amendment). It’s about shutting down Planned Parenthood because it provides contraceptives. That is a target because, as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has put it, “an arrogant corrupt Washington elite” has “declared war on marriage, on families, on fertility, and on faith.”

Mike Huckabee has started to join the chorus of anti-contraception voices as well, calling Planned Parenthood “Planned Barrenhood”—basically signing off on the idea that any attempt to control fertility is wrong, no matter how you do it.  While the official argument is that this is still just about abortion, the mask slips more and more all the time, and the public is beginning to be clear about how radical the anti-choice agenda really is. And the thing is that when you drop the bloviating about fetal life and attack contraception head on, it’s much harder to distract people from how viciously misogynistic this agenda really is.

Take, for instance, the reaction of the California Catholic Daily to a new Guttmacher report demonstrating no real difference in contraception use between religious and non-religious women, even Catholics.  Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use contraception, only one percentage point less than the public at large.  Instead of viewing this as evidence that church teachings are sexist, out of date, and have no relationship to women’s actual needs and lives, California Catholic Daily lashed out at women for being disobedient to the dictates of the celibate men who are supposed to know better than women what they need for their lives:

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Social Activist, Former APA President Alfred Freedman Dead at 94

From Medscape:

Psychiatrist Instrumental in Removing Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder

Fran Lowry

April 25, 2011

Alfred M. Freedman, MD, who served as the 102nd president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from 1973 to 1974 and was instrumental in removing homosexuality from the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Second Edition) as a designated psychiatric disorder, has died in Manhattan at the age of 94 years.

In a statement released by the APA, James H. Scully Jr., medical director and chief executive officer of the APA, said Dr. Freedman “helped lead important changes for psychiatry and the APA as well as our entire society as he helped to end discrimination against gays and lesbians nearly 40 years ago.”

Dr. Freedman, who was active on the APA board as a past-president well into his 90s, became president as a petition candidate by the slimmest of margins.
Dr. Alfred Freedman. Courtesy New York Medical College

In an interview with Michael Blumenfield, MD, The Sidney E. Frank Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College, Valhalla, that appeared in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health in 2009, Dr. Freedman described the unusual circumstances that led to his election.

“The Committee of Concerned Psychiatrists approached me to be the petition candidate for the election. I declined at first, but finally, in December, feeling sure that I would be defeated, I accepted the nomination and was elected with a margin of 3 votes out of 20,000!”

Tumultuous Times

The years preceding his election were a time of social turmoil and desire for change. Two of the major issues of the day were the Vietnam War and the debate over removing homosexuality as a disease. The APA members were deeply divided about both issues.

“From the end of World War II until into the 1970s, the APA had been run by a clique; the nominating committee would present a slate with single candidates for each office who would automatically be elected. It was known as an old boy’s club and there was great resentment. That group resisted any change or reform in regards to the Vietnam War, or to sexuality, or to a number of other issues of the day,” Dr. Freedman recalled in the interview.

As soon as he took office, Dr. Freedman supported a resolution, which was drafted by psychiatrist Robert L. Spitzer, of Columbia University, to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. The resolution was passed on December 15, 1973, by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions.

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Thrifty Families and Other Lies

From Common Dreams:

Like Their Government, Americans Live on Debt

by Ted Rall
Published on Monday, April 25, 2011 by

NEW YORK–During his State of the Union address President Obama repeated this ancient canard: “We have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in,” he said. “That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.”

Republicans have used this “families balance their budgets, so should government” line for years. Now Democrats are doing it too. Everyone is jumping aboard the pseudo-austerity bandwagon. (Why pseudo? Neither party really wants to balance the federal budget because it can only be done by bringing home the troops, shrinking the Pentagon by 90 percent, ending corporate welfare, and soaking the rich–i.e. major campaign donors–with higher taxes.)

But it’s still being televised.

The family budget talking point is a fascinating meme that reflects a rarely considered national blind spot. As with other cases of mass denial (we think we’re generous do-gooders around the world, foreigners see us for the crazy mean torturers we also are), we give ourselves more credit than we deserve.

We Americans value thrift and personal responsibility. We believe we should live within our means. These cultural ideals stem from our Puritan history.

But we don’t live up to our ideals. Not even close.

Americans are up to the ears in debt.

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VIDEO: The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand

I do not hold Ayn Rand in high regard. I think she was a shitty writer, a bad polemicist with a vile and abhorrent philosophy.

I think people who adore her writing and tout her ideals are like the John Birchers I encountered back in the 1960s, pathetic losers who tend to have to pay people to have sex with them.

I know from experience…. One gave me a collection of her works… Oh the degradation of having to please a daddy by keeping that crap around my apartment, even if he was paying the rent.

From Think Progress:

By Jeff Spross
Apr 18th, 2011

A film adaptation of the 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, opened this past Friday. The release of the film has coincided with a resurgence of popularity for Rand on the American Right. The trailer for Atlas Shrugged had its world premier at this year’s CPAC conference, the Tea Party group FreedomWorks has rolled out a massive campaign to promote the film, and the story’s opening line — “Who is John Galt?” — has appeared on numerous signs at Tea Party rallies.

At the same time, some of the right’s leading political and media lights have heaped praise upon Rand. The author of the Republicans’ new budget plan to gut Medicare and Medicaid, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has said Rand is the reason he entered politics, and requires his staff to read her work. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) have both declared themselves devotees of her writing. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of Rand’s book The Fountainhead. She’s also received accolades from right-wing pundits Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, John Stossel, and Andrew Napolitano.

During her lifetime, Rand advocated “the virtue of selfishness,” declared altruism to be “evil,” opposed Medicare and all forms of government support for the middle-class and the poor, and condemned Christianity for advocating love and compassion for the less fortunate:

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From Alternet:

Ayn Rand Movie Fails in Free Market (Despite Tea Party Hype)

The reviews of “Atlas Shrugged” have been merciless. And despite a major push by Tea Party networks, Ayn Rand’s paean to ego-centrism has not drawn audiences.

By Mark Howard
April 21, 2011

The film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s soporific paean to malevolent ego-centrism, has finally been released to the throngs of slobbering Tea Baggers desperate for some cinematic validation. Sadly for these pathetic flim(flam) buffs, this flick hardly fills the void in their lost souls.

The movie is being released as “Part 1″ with the promise of two more in the unlikely event that this one turns a profit. But the circumstances of its production foretell its dreary fate. Producer John Aglialoro has stated publicly that he was forced to commence production a few days short of the expiration of his rights to the book. As a result it was hurried into production without a script or a cast. He also admitted that casting was difficult because “Talent agencies were not sending us many of their top people.” Apparently no one of note wanted to be associated with a project that had been aborted on numerous occasions. That’s why one of the most popular books of the last half century is coming to the screen with unknown TV talent in the leads. The director complained that he didn’t have the necessary time to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s almost as if the principals are preemptively making excuses for why the movie sucks so bad. And they aren’t the the only ones who think so. The reviews have been merciless:

Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal:“The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the big screen. They should have waited longer.”

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