Report Says CIA Discussed Capturing or Killing Julian Assange, Pompeo Responded

JonChristopher Collins – OCTOBER 3, 2021

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discussed and planned to capture or kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a Sept. 26 Yahoo News report; former CIA Director Mike Pompeo responded to the story.

The report states that this was the case in 2017; at the time, Assange was entering his fifth year in the Ecuadorian embassy. This reporting done by Yahoo News is rooted in “interviews with 30 former U.S. intelligence and national security officials” who knew of the U.S. government’s “efforts against WikiLeaks.” Pompeo has commented on the reporting of Yahoo News.

“I can’t say much about this other than whoever those 30 people who allegedly spoke to one of these [Yahoo News] reporters — they should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency,” Pompeo said on Megyn Kelly’s podcast. The report cites a former senior counterintelligence official as saying that the talk of capturing or killing the WikiLeaks founder occurred within the “highest levels” and added that there “seemed to be no boundaries.”

Pompeo also said that “pieces” of the report by Yahoo News are true. The report states that this would include the “existence of an aggressive CIA campaign to target WikiLeaks.” That campaign followed WikiLeaks publishing the Vault 7 documents which disclosed some of the CIA’s “hacking tools and methods.” When Pompeo first answered Kelly, he said it makes for “pretty good fiction” but as previously stated he later conceded that parts of the report by Yahoo News are truthful. WikiLeaks was called “a non-state hostile intelligence service” by Pompeo in 2017.

Yahoo News states that their investigation “reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks.” Despite the planning, the article states that “no indication” was given “that the most extreme measures targeting Assange were ever approved” partly resulting from objections raised by lawyers from the White House. Yahoo News adds that some people within the administration were worried to the point of “quietly” reaching out “to staffers and members of Congress on the House and Senate intelligence committees to alert them to what Pompeo was suggesting.” The operation’s legality was debated.

Aside from capture and assassination, the CIA had plans in case of Assange trying to flee to Moscow. According to the article, plans to stop Assange included “potential gun battles with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London, crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange and then grabbing him, and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow.”

WikiLeaks is viewed as a journalism service by some. Still by others, like Pompeo, WikiLeaks is viewed as a hostile intelligence service. The reports by Yahoo News regarding the uncovered plan and Pompeo’s response to Yahoo News reporting it can be read on their website.

COVID-19 and the Disability Community: Disabled, out of Pocket and Wounded in the Pandemic

While safety measures and shutdowns are active during the pandemic, some people with disabilities are negatively impacted by them.

JonChristopher Collins – May 28, 2021

Precautions like masking, shutdowns and virtual care are present to provide safety and more convenient care, but for some with disabilities, more difficulty can arise because of these safety measures.

This is the second article in this series on COVID-19 and the disability community. The previous article focused on the technology used by people with disabilities and the providers of that technology.

Whitney Malloy is a 35-year-old Missouri resident who uses a wheelchair and is an incomplete C5 C6 quadriplegic. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center’s Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance 2020 SCI Data Sheet, “a recent estimate showed that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) is approximately 54 cases per one million people in the United States, or about 17,810 new SCI cases each year.”

The same data sheet also states that the average age at injury “increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 43 since 2015.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has a post on their website from 2013. They acknowledge that a spinal cord injury might leave individuals with injuries needing assistive technology and caregivers.

Malloy has had this injury for 16 years; the injury was the result of a car accident. Malloy’s medical care was impacted by the pandemic. It affected her medical care staff too. “A lot of my staff would quarantine or left for COVID time. So, it made things difficult,” Malloy said. 

Malloy said some solutions to that mostly involved training people who did not know how to do certain things; she said she had to train new people to assist her. In addition, Malloy has been affected financially by the pandemic. It has made her need to hire and train new medical care staff harder. Prior to the pandemic, about three to four people made up Malloy’s medical care staff; now people help her out, but she really only has one staff member. “People have just been helping out, but I really only have like one.”

She said when she had a full staff, it was with a company. Malloy gave the name of the company for the purpose of this article. Though Malloy needs to switch companies for medical care, the companies she has looked at have no staff. “They didn’t have staff, so I haven’t been able to find a company yet. So, I’ve been having to find staff and pay them out of pocket,” Malloy said.

When she normally finds a company, it is a government program; however, as Malloy said, the companies she has looked at have no staff. Malloy lives in Missouri. “Pretty much all the companies in Springfield said no pretty much because they didn’t have the staff availability.” Malloy said this has made it more difficult.

Malloy said her service coordinator made contact with all of these provider companies; all of these companies could not help Malloy. An attempt was made to speak with Malloy’s service coordinator for this report regarding the discussions with these companies. The service coordinator could not comment because they could “probably” lose their job as a result.

Malloy added that the hardest thing for her through this time has been wearing a mask. “I don’t have full use of my diaphragm anyway, so it made it a little harder to breathe.”

Staying home and “mostly not going anywhere” has been one of Malloy’s solutions for that. Malloy said that phone conferences have been helpful to her in this time as a disabled individual.

Malloy said that she wore a mask because one was required to ride the Access Express bus. “You had to or else they wouldn’t let you on the bus.” She added that she did not know it was possible to get a medical exemption for masks.

Regarding what can be improved medically, Malloy touched on training and education on spinal cord injuries among other related issues. “People need to be trained or more educated in dealing with spinal cord injuries, bladder and bowel,”

Malloy unpacked some of her reasons for saying that. “I have a wound by my urostomy, and I can’t get homecare to come out here because they are not educated in urostomies, so they won’t come out here and treat my wound.” She added that this is because they do not really know of anything in her area of residence for urostomies. Malloy said the medical field has been ill-equipped to deal with something like that for years. Urostomies aid the passage of urine.

The effects of COVID-19 have made the issue of the wound near Malloy’s urostomy more difficult to take care of. “I think that’s one of the reasons why the majority of the companies said no is because they were trying to limit how many of their staff they had going out to peoples’ houses. Every company said no, that they wouldn’t, and I was like I don’t know if it’s because of the location, or they don’t have the experience with it or if it was mostly because of COVID. Because I’ve had a wound before and companies have always came out and took care of it, so I didn’t understand why this was any different.” Malloy added that she has still not been able to have her wound cared for and that she has reached out to every single company and they have all said no to her request.

Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) Craig Moulden said he is not surprised by these companies declining to provide service. He has had over 20 years of experience in the industry of Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT); Moulden provided communication he had with home health professionals. In these communications, one professional admitted to there being a shortage and said that nobody has enough nurses now. Another professional stated that there is a problem with finding staff right now and mentioned that people are drawing upon unemployment instead of working.

Delia McDowell is Malloy’s mother. McDowell confirmed that her daughter has not been able to receive the care she needs. “They [Malloy’s previous company] told her [Malloy] that they were not going to be her provider anymore, and so they tried to find another company, and of course she’s been told that nobody has any workers available,” McDowell said. Now McDowell has been doing Malloy’s care protocol.

McDowell said her daughter has a meeting in the next week or so. “Hopefully they’ll find somebody. If not, we’re in a pickle; we’ve been having to pay out of pocket for people that she has found to come over with different shifts.” McDowell also confirmed that her daughter’s staff normally consists of about four people when it is through the government program.

“They really need the care; they’re the ones that really need this,” McDowell said when commenting on those who need care not being able to get it due to short staffing among these companies. McDowell also confirmed that Malloy has not obtained the care she needs for her wound.

“Oh we can’t touch that [the wound],” McDowell said the company told her daughter Malloy. Because of that, McDowell came over to care for Malloy’s wound a couple of times. McDowell said one employee that was with the company “didn’t mind changing it and she didn’t tell anybody or tell the company.”

Had the urostomy been properly taken care of, McDowell said she does not think Malloy would have the wound she has. “They let it go on to where it got really bad,” she said. McDowell said she does not know if they are not trained to see things like that, adding that caring for the urostomy is “not that hard” and that she thinks everyone should at least learn to do that.

McDowell said witnessing her daughter Malloy go through this has changed her whole life. “I’m not the person that I used to be. It’s changed my whole life. I’m depressed. I want her to live a good life and be taken care of, not by me because I want to have my own life. But she can’t seem to get people to take care of her right.” McDowell also said it will be “a cold day in Hell” before she sends Malloy to a nursing home. “She doesn’t belong in a nursing home; she’s only 35.”

McDowell said it has been a struggle to watch her daughter’s situation through this pandemic and that Malloy has been really upset. “I don’t understand why they’re having trouble finding people. I don’t know if it’s a fear of going in the home, or if it’s this thing where they can stay home and draw money [unemployment].” As of May 28, Malloy said she has “not really” made progress on receiving care and that the companies still have no available staffing.

COVID-19 and the Disability Community: The Technology

With all the talk of COVID-19, what about the disability community and the necessary tech?

JonChristopher Collins – FEBRUARY 20, 2021

COVID-19 has affected nearly every person, group, community and industry in some manner; the disability community, the people, industries and organizations that interact with them are not exempt from those effects.

This is the first article in this series on COVID-19 and the disability community. Before digging any deeper into this article, a proper understanding of terms is necessary. Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) is the umbrella under which assistive technology, something used by many in the disability community, sits.

According to The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) CRT is, “medically necessary, individually configured devices that require evaluation, configuration, fitting, adjustment or programming. These products and services are designed to meet the specific and unique medical, physical, and functional needs of an individual with a primary diagnosis resulting from a congenital disorder, progressive or degenerative neuromuscular disease, or from certain types of injury or trauma.”

According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association, “Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.”

Durable Medical Equipment (DME), according to Craig Moulden, generally refers to walkers, canes and hospital beds. Among other DME items that might be eligible for coverage, Healthcare.gov includes oxygen equipment, wheelchairs, crutches and blood testing strips for diabetics.

Moulden is an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP). Moulden has held the position of ATP for about five years; however, he has been in the industry of Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) for over 20 years.

“I basically have two aspects of my job. One aspect is calling on my referral sources which are mainly doctors, therapy groups and home health agencies to make sure that they don’t need anything from me for their clients.” Moulden said. Moulden said a lot of that responsibility is taken care of with emails and phone calls due to COVID-19, but he will visit these people in person when he can.

“The other aspect of course,” Moulden continued, “is visiting the clients in the homes to address whatever need they have whether that is to fit them for a new piece of equipment, modify an existing piece of equipment based on any kind of medical changes that they may have had. Or of course if this is a new evaluation for a new piece of equipment for a new diagnosis whether [if] somebody had an accident.” Moulden does a lot of work with children and said that when they come home and need equipment the process will start for them.

Assistive technology, as defined earlier, includes a wide array of items. While that is true, Moulden said a majority of the work ATPs do is specialized in seating and positioning. He said his job is to provide equipment that will accommodate, correct or maintain the bodies of clients with their present condition. “Power chairs are a big deal because that’s where a lot of the technology is with power-tilt and recline, and seat elevator and the different seating systems that they have.”

Moulden said various pieces of equipment are available for clients who are children because they have to have gait trainers and standers. He said any technology that somebody needs for their independence would be CRT.

Numotion is a nationwide company with locations spanning the continental United States. He said that gives clients the ability to get service from the same company wherever the client goes. Moulden worked for Numotion from 2010 until 2021. “We’re really advancing right now and changing the industry with remote technology. So, if a client calls in and needs something, we [Numotion] have a team of remote technicians that can with the increased technology that’s available, at least with power chairs, have a remote technician link into that chair of that person wherever they are and read error codes,” he said.

That allows problems with the equipment to be diagnosed from wherever they are in the country. “That’s kind of a game changer because, most of the time in the past, a client called with an issue, we’d have to schedule an appointment to come out and see them,” Moulden said. He said that could take a couple of days to the next week depending on the availability of the client or the professional from Numotion.

“That’s just to put eyeballs on the situation, to identify it and say, yep this is broken, we need to put in an order for that. Then we have to initiate the process of getting the quote and writing up the order. So, this really cuts all of that down. We can get an order started for that person’s repairs on the initial phone call of them calling in and stating that they’ve got a service issue.” As the nation’s largest supplier of medical supplies, Numotion can discover medical supply needs, do home modifications and vehicle adaptations as well. The company partners with other companies to do home modifications.

Moulden said it is a fair assessment to say that some people do not understand the complexity of this work. Speaking to how his experience working within the disability community has impacted him, Moulden said it has opened his eyes to the amount of people that have mobility needs. “Before I was in the industry, you may only see somebody in a wheelchair or something every once in a while.” He said being in this specific industry constantly places him around those with mobility needs.

“Going to Wal-Mart and seeing somebody parked in a handicap spot that doesn’t have a handicap sticker, that probably burns me a lot more now than it did before.” Moulden also said going somewhere in public that does not have a curb cut out is something he is aware of.

COVID-19 has made an impact on this industry. Moulden said all of his in-person evaluations were drastically reduced. “Once COVID hit in the very beginning and doctors’ offices were shut down and therapy clinics were shutdown, that pretty much for a short period of time shut us down.” He said that is because so many insurance companies require a face-to-face appointment with a doctor prior to them paying for anything. Moulden added that people were either afraid to go to the doctor because they did not want to get out and the doctors’ offices and clinics were shut down for a time. He said a lot of people were putting those activities off. Once protocols were put in place for people to come in for face-to-face appointments or facilities were equipped to handle their business virtually, Moulden said it started rolling a little bit.

“The other hurdle was in addition to the face-to-face, a lot of insurance companies require a therapy evaluation. That was another hurdle because home health agencies that have therapists that come to the house, and then therapy clinics and hospitals weren’t sending their therapists out in the very beginning because of the spread. That was the second hurdle.”

In response to that hurdle, Numotion has partnered with some companies that allow them to do any evaluation with anybody virtually. This is for anyone who does not want to go out in public whether they are high risk or not.

LESSONS FROM FICTION: WONDER WOMAN 1984

Sacrifice, dreams, wishes and why I am glad this wish is not granted.

JonChristopher Collins – JANUARY 25, 2021

Wonder Woman 1984 entered theaters as 2020 exited. This sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman is more than a glitzy superhero flick; the Amazonian princess, armed with the Lasso of Truth, speaks to hearts.

As mentioned in the first article in this series, for some people superhero fiction, whether it be delivered and enjoyed via comic books, graphic novels or films, is simply entertainment. For others however, these works of fiction provide inspiration, administer strength, encourage and enable and call audiences to be content and face the truth. Amazonian warrior Princess Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, also known as Diana Prince, leapt to life on comic book pages in October 1941. The character is known to possess a desire for diplomacy and peace as much as she is willing to fight. She exudes confidence as equally as she does grace. Throughout the character’s lifespan, fans have seen her portrayed as a sometimes naïve but planted idealist, a fierce, powerful but graceful warrior, as well as an elegant and classy presence when needed. Each incarnation of the beloved character from the comic books to films, from Lynda Carter to Gal Gadot, preserves the character’s core, staying true to her identity. Her humanity despite her divinity, her compassion and empathy despite her strength and unwavering ideals paired with her commitment to truth are not invisible. Wonder Woman 1984 shows viewers the character’s struggle to face the truth and be content as she grapples with her dreams, wishes as well as the reality of sacrifice in her life; dreams and wishes are fine, but when they are not granted the truth must be accepted so contentment can take hold.

Prior to examining the topics of dreams, wishes, truth, sacrifice and contentment as shown in the film and the lessons the movie holds, it is only fitting that I discuss my own experience with those topics. Wonder Woman 1984 is beyond a superhero/superheroine action film for me. The truth is that it is a mirror in front of me. I do not mean to imply that I possess Wonder Woman’s power; I actually once dealt with her struggle. Everyone does to some degree or another, but I only speak for myself in this regard. Diana’s realization of her need to acknowledge the truth and be content, sacrificing her dreams and wishes resonates deep within me. An explanation is in order.

From as earlier in my childhood as is humanly possible to recall, I knew I was different. While those around me walked, ran, jogged and jumped, I did not. While those around me climbed and hiked, I did not. While most of the children my age had no idea what a disability is, I did. While children who had never seen a walker or wheelchair stared in confusion as they saw individuals using one, I never did. I never did because I was born with a disability and used both walkers and wheelchairs early on. For a considerable period of time, I knew I was different, but it did not truly bother me.

I was and often still am called an old soul. Perhaps to the surprise of some, I knew what that meant. While my peers enjoyed the playground, I developed and honed what I now understand as a gifting to write and speak on what others have called an exceptional, uncanny level. While my friends slid down slides I enjoyed and partook in deep conversations, I wrote stories and connected deeply with others. I dreamed about the future and seriously thought about my career. I did all of this as early as elementary school. Others my age at that point in time may have found that boring; however, it was invigorating to me.

It was normal and I knew no different, and like I said, it did not truly bother me. That fizzled and vanished with the experience that accompanies age. It was not too long before the difference in me ate at me. Bullying became an all too well-known phenomenon by my middle school/junior high days. It would reappear in high school as well. Because of that, I had thick skin and although it was hurtful, I stood my ground with my wit and verbal ability. Although these individuals prized and relied on physical strength, I knew intelligence and wit could be equally powerful. That is not to say bullies are not intelligent; I simply mean they prize and abuse something they were given.

Friends would stick by me and up for me and I moved on. I was often too busy with career plans and moves to be concerned with the obvious and weak methods of the bullies to gain attention and mask their own insecurities. They were not aware, but they only fed my already strong sense of justice and desire to be a voice of truth and justice against the corrupt and powerful and any and all who abuse their power. Strength is power, but so is intelligence and communication skills. I learned from childhood on that those with strength may abuse it, but I intended to use what I had been gifted properly.

Overtime one grows tired of persevering in the face of adversity. Prejudice and the discrimination it can foment can become too heavy for even the most perseverant. My desire to be normal, to fit in, existed early in my life but grew over time. At a point, I no longer wanted to hear that I inspired others; it only seemed like an empty compliment. I grew tired of people saying they did not see my wheelchair but only me. Such comments might be said with good, intentions but it was disingenuous to me. In a few words, I grew tired of being able to connect with and empathize with others only for them to be either unwilling or unable to do so with me.

In Wonder Woman 1984, the title character is in a new era. After being a fish out of water in the first film, she is adjusted and living among people, most of which are unlike her. She is using her gifts, helping and inspiring others. However, no one can truly return the favor for her. Diana does not complain but perseveres. Her boyfriend Steve Trevor died in the first film during World War I; she still feels that pain but keeps moving, using her gifts to help others.

A flashback in the film’s beginning shows Diana as a child partaking in an Amazonian athletic competition while on Themyscira. Although she is young, Diana makes great progress, and it appears she will win. She becomes distracted and loses ground. The young protagonist takes a short cut, through which she makes up ground. When it looks as though Diana will win, she is stopped and given a lesson on cheating and the truth.

“You took the short path. You cheated, Diana. That is the truth. That is the only truth, and truth is all there is…You cannot be the winner, because you are not ready to win, and there is no shame in that. Only in knowing the truth in your heart and not accepting it. No true hero is born from lies,” Diana is told.

She is then told that their greatest warrior became what she is through patience, diligence, and the courage to face the truth. That lesson from this part of the movie echoes throughout its runtime. Almost immediately following that lesson, viewers get their first look at one of the movie’s villains, Maxwell Lord. “Life is good, but it can be better,” he said on his TV commercial. He appears as a charismatic businessman. Behind the mask he is insecure and hungry for success and power. His message is essentially this: Why be content with what you have when you can have everything you have always wished for?

The audience faces Diana’s loneliness with her as she gazes at an airplane traveling through the night sky. The plane of course reminds her of Steve. This sets the groundwork for what comes next. Viewers meet the Dreamstone, the ancient, mystical artifact at the Smithsonian Institution. When the stone is first used, it is passed off as coincidence after a wish for coffee is comically and instantaneously granted. Diana utters that she knows what she would wish for while talking to Dr. Barbara Minerva, a chain reaction follows.

It is later revealed that Diana’s wish was granted; Steve Trevor is alive but in someone else’s body. That is telling because viewers learn that a wish granted comes at a high price, the price being sacrifice. In this case, someone else died for Steve to live. That is not all, however.

Before going forward, I do not want to gloss over this question. The question posed to viewers is this. What would you wish for? It is a question for everyone. For me, at one point in my life it would have been to not have this disability. That point will be revisited later in this article.

So, Diana’s wish is granted. She has her guy back. Other characters make wishes as well, but I will be focusing in on her experience. This idea of if you can dream it you can have it shows its true colors. Diana might not feel isolated any longer, but she is losing her strength. Having Steve back cost Diana her strength.

It turns out that wishing does not just affect the individual but can affect the world. Maxwell Lord wished to become the Dreamstone itself. As a result, he granted wishes for others and took what he wanted.

One might wonder what this plot could teach anyone. That will be discussed shortly. At one point, Diana says that every magical weapon is powered by something. Her lasso is powered by truth and this stone is powered by lies. “There are universal elements in this world, and when they’re imbued into something, they can become very, very powerful. Like my Lasso of Truth. The truth is what powers it, not me. The truth is bigger than all of us,” she said.

Lord sharing his so-called secret of the wish brought chaos to and destabilized not just the Middle East but nearly the entire world. While in reality wishing upon a star will not do that, it is a thought-provoking idea. Imagine what would happen if everyone got all they ever wanted. Does everyone truly know what that means? Does everyone truly need all they want? One can think about this in terms of geopolitics but also on an individual level. Diana said if the God of Lies empowered the Dreamstone there must be a trick.

“Wishes with a trick. “The Monkey’s Paw.” Beware what you wish for. It grants your wish, but takes your most valued possession,” Diana said. Following the aforementioned quote, it is acknowledged that Diana’s powers are draining because of her wish. The key to regaining what has been lost is to renounce the wish. The following is an excerpt from dialogue between Diana and Steve; it is raw and human.

“I give everything I have, every day. And I’m happy to. But this one thing…You’re all that I’ve wanted for so long. You’re the only joy I’ve had or even asked for,” Diana said. She goes on to say that she has a choice and will not give him up.

This entire movie and specifically the quote above resonates with me like I did not expect. There was a time when I felt that way about my situation. I wanted it to change somehow. Years ago, I learned contentment and recently that contentment and courage to face the truth was emboldened. I have not looked back in a long time. It is said in the film that nothing good is born from lies. That is oh so true. Everything evil, corrupt, unethical, immoral and hurtful is born of a lie either believed or perpetuated. In my specific circumstance, I believed I needed my circumstance changed to reach true contentment. What I believed was a lie.

I realized the truth and went through a time of being open to whatever happens. I was open to either continuing to use a wheelchair or walker or be freed from them forever. Now, I never thought I would ever be able to say this. I went through something that changed my outlook on this forever. Now I would never give my present situation up as long as I have it. I would not want my life any other way.

Interesting questions are asked throughout the movie, but I want to zero in on the ending. After Diana heartbreakingly but bravely says goodbye to Steve, she renounces her wish and leaps into action. Maxwell Lord says the answer is always more. In the movie’s ending, he encourages the entire world to make a wish as he broadcasts. The result is chaos, destruction and selfish gain. People lose themselves and the world reaches the brink of what looks like cataclysmic war.

In what one might consider the final battle, Diana enters the scene finding Maxwell on a power drunk euphoria. After asking him if he has enough, Maxwell’s response is predictable given his character. “Why not more? Why not wish for more?”

Before concluding this editorial, I present the speech Diana Prince/Wonder Woman gave in the end.

I’ve never wanted anything more. But he’s gone… and that’s the truth. And everything has a price. One I’m not willing to pay. Not anymore. This world was a beautiful place just as it was… and you cannot have it all. You can only have the truth. And the truth is enough. The truth is beautiful. So look at this world… and look at what your wish is costing it. You must be the hero. Only you can save the day. Renounce your wish if you want to save this world. Because you’re not the only one who has suffered. Who wants more. Who wants them back. Who doesn’t want to be afraid anymore. Or alone. Or frightened. Or powerless. Cause you’re not the only one who imagined a world where everything was different. Better. Finally. A world where they were loved and seen, and appreciated. Finally. But what is it costing you? Do you see the truth?

To conclude this editorial and wrap it up with a bow, I cannot leave this unsaid. I understand film to be story driven first and message second. I also understand that all involved in bringing this film to life may not have intended for this movie to speak the way that it did to me. I believe the message it spoke to me is a message for everyone in some sense. This movie did not teach me a lesson that I had not learned prior to seeing it but merely confirmed it. I have a disability and that is the truth. It is also true that for everything it has taken from me, I have strengths, skills and abilities that make up for it 100 percent.

I very well may have not had any of those or had them to the extent that I have them now without this disability. Although the feeling of differentness and isolation has played a role in my life, that experience has ultimately been a positive for me. Adversity via this disability has gifted me the opportunity to build grit and a powerful capacity for communicating truth. My disability does not stop me. It does not own me, I own it.

I once saw this as a weakness and now I see it as a strength. In this weakness, I have been given great abilities, great skills, great talents and a great voice. I do not say this to boast. I am thankful for my disability! Many years ago, that would have been scary to say, unthinkable even. My disability will not stop me. It may slow me down walking, but it will not slow down the words that I write and the words that I say. I am a journalist. I may not be an acrobat, but I am a verbal acrobat.

I am not an athlete, but I am athletic with words. I am not saying that my disability makes me all that I am. I am so much more than my disability, but it is a part of me. I am grateful for this opportunity. I have to ask myself what I would be giving up if I did not have this or somehow had it taken away. I have to ask what it would cost me. Again, it is not to say that I would be completely different, but I would definitely not be all that I am now without this experience.

I have gone from wanting nothing more than to be freed from my situation, to being content with whatever happens, to now being content to the point of not wanting to imagine or wanting my life any other way in terms of having a disability. I would not have the experience, persistence and strength I have without it. I have gone from seeing it as a curse to a blessing. I have gone from seeing it as a limitation on my walking ability to seeing it as something that has freed my mind of limitations.

I see what I would be giving up, and I see the cost despite the many attractive aspects of not having this disability. However, I renounce my wish. Having this disability is one of the many gifts I have been gifted. Do not be deceived. I am not saying living with a disability is always easy, but the truth is I have one. I choose to face the truth. I am a voice for truth, facts, evidence, proof and justice; this disability will not stop me from being all I am meant to be.

In conclusion, the lesson from this fiction is quite simple but quite profound. In Wonder Woman 1984, sacrifice, dreams, wishes, contentment and truth are present in both dialogue and action. My personal experience is one I thought would aid in pulling these lessons out of the film. Wishes are fine but they ought not to cloud the truth. The film shows the dangers of wishes; they have a cost. They come with a price tag; some prices are not worth paying. The truth is always worth it. Only in knowing and facing the truth can one have contentment.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 REVIEW: GREATNESS IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK

Wondering about Wonder Woman 1984?

JonChristopher Collins – JANUARY 8, 2021

Wonder Woman 1984, the superheroine sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, landed in theaters with Amazonian fashion this past Christmas. Like a Christmas gift, the Amazonian princess’ latest cinematic adventure waits to be unwrapped.

There will be those who find the wrapping paper shinier than the actual gift, some might even be ungrateful for what was the best cinematic gift of 2020; others overhype their gift, calling it the best ever. Wonder Woman 1984 follows neither of those scenarios. Instead, it was good, great even. In the movie, Maxwell Lord says life is good, but it can be better; that applies here as well. It is a great film, but it can be better. Wonder Woman 1984 is an eight out of ten stars cinematic treat of a film.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this sequel film owes its screenplay to Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham. The source material, as acknowledged in the film’s beginning, is the Wonder Woman comic book by William Moulton Marston. At the start of the film, audiences are treated to a flashback that echoes a lesson to be built upon throughout the film. Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman, played by returning actress Gal Gadot, meets viewers as they are then transported to the eighties. It is from this point on that moviegoers learn that when Diana is not stopping crime as Wonder Woman in her powerful, graceful and showstopping manner she lives in D.C. where she works at the Smithsonian Institution. It is not too long before viewers meet the socially awkward, insecure but sweet Dr. Barbara Minerva played by Kristen Wiig. Minerva as Cheetah and Maxwell Lord or Max Lord played by Pedro Pascal make up the film’s baddies.

The revelation of Wonder Woman’s occupation with the Smithsonian Institution provides setup for the mystical elements of the movie. The Dreamstone is the ancient creation of the God of Lies who Diana reveals as “a very bad God” later in the film. The Dreamstone grants any wish but there is always a catch. The stone takes its share as payment for granting the user’s wish; wishing proves itself costly, especially as the story progresses.

Some viewers might see the Dreamstone artifact as weak writing and the great thing is, everybody is entitled to their film opinions. However, the artifact is used to drive home a point in the end. In the end, it works. When the Dreamstone is first used, its comical and written off as coincidence when the wish is granted. Sooner rather than later, viewers see that the stone is not powerless once Chris Pine enters the scene reprising his role as Steve Trevor.

It is a great, some might argue predictable reveal when Trevor is revived. Perhaps it is both of those things. His reveal is not so surprising for the following reason. Prior to this, Diana is portrayed as a valiant, responsible, honorable but lonely heroine. She missed her boyfriend and that is not easily overlooked. So, with that in mind, viewers are able to cheer for Diana Prince and Steve Trevor when they are reunited at a Smithsonian hosted gala. The romantic element is introduced and sparks fly.

Sparks do not fly with class or quite the emotional release between Dr. Barbara Minerva and Maxwell Lord. Earlier in the storyline, Lord is depicted as a successful, vibrant, charismatic businessman. He oozes charisma and success but underneath he is shown to be a deceptive, struggling businessman who comes off like a cookie cutter televangelist. Not only that but his romancing skills are also dramatic and showy; they hide his ulterior motives.

The scene presenting Lord’s romantic display is the cringiest, slimiest, most uncomfortable moment in the film’s entirety. It is obvious that Lord uses and manipulates Minerva to get what he wants. He plays on her desire for love in a dastardly way. He is sleazy and abusive in that regard. Dr. Minerva got what she wanted from the stone as well. She wanted in a few words to be like Diana and it was granted to her.

Bearing in mind that Steve Trevor died during World War I, his reaction to the eighties is as endearing as Diana’s was when she left Themyscira for the first time. It is fun as a viewer to see Diana and Steve reverse roles from the first film. She was a stranger to the world in the first film while Steve is a stranger to the time period in this film.

This is not a plot summary but a review and there is more ground to cover outside of the plot. Before journeying beyond discussing the plot, the action or lack of depending on how one sees it, demands attention. The first film showed fans just what Diana, Amazonian Princess of Themyscira, Wonder Woman is capable of with pow boom wham bam comic book fashion. She easily obliterated enemies and weapons of war in the first movie. The action she unloads in this sequel is not entirely disappointing, but it did not display all that the character can do. Of course, that is due to the consequences of what the screenplay calls for Diana to do. Understandably, it alters the plot and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as a character.

The big finale ending gushes the most action in the entire film. Comic book films of this kind are no stranger to doomsday scenarios and this movie is no different in that respect. Death, destruction and chaos are all accounted for in the film’s big finish. A moving speech with a powerful message brings the themes and messages from the beginning and throughout the story full circle.

The performances executed in Wonder Woman 1984 were well done. Gal Gadot renders a performance just as powerful, classy, graceful and bold as her last one. Pedro Pascal plays a character that sympathy might follow. Pascal’s performance nails the villain one hurts for; he is a man with struggles, desperately trying to transcend them only to hurt himself and those he loves. Pascal also provides a comedic flair, often commanding laughs with the over-the-top character.

It is understandable if some find his character hard to accept because he does not fight like other villains. Like this movie is different to others of its genre, Pascal’s character is different from other villains. That is what makes his character and this film great. Kristen Wiig elicits a similar result and is hard not to enjoy watching. Chris Pine’s return is a pleasant addition to the film; he is humorous, endearing and even gets the chance to do some hand-to-hand combat.

Visually speaking, the movie is pleasing to the eyes. This is the case throughout the film and most notably during the flight through the fireworks. In addition to the ceremonial action film explosions, the movie displays a wide array of colors. Sometimes it is crisp in color and exceptionally vibrant, popping off the screen kind of bright. Other times it is darker, matching the seriousness of the moment but never so dark that viewers experience dullness of color.

Finally, and perhaps supremely appreciated is the utilization of Hans Zimmer for the movie’s music. Zimmer did not score the first film. Having scored Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Dark Knight Trilogy, Zimmer is by no means a newcomer to this film genre. The music is quite enjoyable, as per usual with his work.

As with any movie, there is good and bad. Some movies are worse than others while some are better than others. This film received undue, disproportionate hate. Again, people have opinions and that is obviously not an issue. At the same time, even those who dislike or even strongly dislike it have found good about it. It might not be a favorite among some viewers but to say it is the worst film one has seen seems excessive. 

Wonder Woman 1984 may not be everyone’s favorite film or even one they would consider good or great. Anticipation and hype play large roles in anything to be consumed. For some, that is what this movie is. A lot of anticipation and hype only to deliver a letdown. For others it was a great gift after drudging through 2020; it is a movie that means something. As mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman 1984 is an eight out of ten stars cinematic treat of a film. It loses two stars for awkward, cringy moments, although the reasoning behind them is understood it was not convincingly executed, as well as lack of action compared to the first film. It is said in the film that greatness is not what you think. That applies to the movie; Wonder Woman 1984 is great but just not what moviegoers, whether watching from home or in the theater, might think.

Note: I hope you enjoyed my review of Wonder Woman 1984. I asked you to submit your thoughts on the film and you did. I know I mentioned undue hate in my review, that did not come from you. Those of you who submitted critical input articulated your issues with the film clearly. Thank you for your submissions! Read the thoughts submitted below!

Your submissions

Loved the score. Disliked that there was less action than the first one. Liked it. Big tonal shift from the first movie. I liked the first one more, but still enjoyed this one. Overall a pretty good movie that stands on its own pretty well.

– Josiah

I can’t even explain how bad Wonder Woman was for me…OOOoof. Where to start. Decent beginning but then 45 minutes of nothing happening in the middle of the movie. Not a single paper cut for almost an hour. Just way too long of a film. Elementary story writing. Nothing surprising in the end at all. The premise was basically DC’s Aladdin to a T. Chris Pine was back again just to look pretty and then fade away.

It wasn’t a total Trainwreck I guess. Haha obviously the visuals and special effects went a long way with the money they spent. I did like the nostalgia play on the 80s and the soundtrack pretty well. Gal Gadot is a good actress as well, just didn’t care for the creative choices as far as plot and some messaging. Being content with your life and what you have was a positive message I think they brought forth at the end.

-Tyler

I thought it was ok. Story was so so.

-Luke

LESSONS FROM FICTION: THE WILL TO ACT

Why do so many people lack the will to do what is necessary?

JonChristopher Collins – DECEMBER 28, 2020

For years, superheroes have captured the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. To some, they are mere entertainment vehicles, but to others, they stand for much more.

For many serious fans, superheroes are an avenue from which inspiration is drawn and determination and willpower are gained. The latter show themselves to be lacking in many citizens who instead display an ungodly amount of apathy regarding the issues of the day. This is true to a greater degree when confronted with corruption or injustice. Batman and his debonair billionaire alter ego Bruce Wayne first entered the imaginations of fans through comic books in the year 1939. Since the Caped Crusader’s conception, his story has shown people that it only takes one person to stand against evil in order to make a difference. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy captured the essence of the character with the debut of Batman Begins. In that film, viewers watched the troubled vigilante explore the idea of the will to act. In order for all apathy stricken citizens to gain or regain determination and willpower, it is necessary to understand what the will to act is and how it is used versus how it should be used.

Before studying this concept as depicted in Nolan’s trilogy and in particular the depiction of it found in Batman Begins, real life examples are a good starting point. My school years contain enough material to write a book on, but I want to focus on general examples of discussions I have engaged in at various times with various people. For good reason it is thought that people become more aware the older they get, but for many, this is not true.

As a university student and even now as a graduate, I have had many political discussions with people from a plethora of backgrounds. My interactions with Christians often follow this pattern. After stating the importance of Christians and citizens overall being informed and involved when it comes to government and history, I observe that apathy’s stronghold on people can remain powerful no matter their age. The responses I receive have ranged from me being told God does not care about politics at all to God’s not waving the Republican, Democrat, or even the American flag in heaven. These statements miss the point I often articulate. I do not even remotely imply that God favors those things. The view I express was merely one of caution and warning against apathy, that whether or not one believes in God does not exclude them from the responsibility of being informed and involved.

The responses are mostly short and reveal a sense of apathy and hopelessness. They will normally agree and tell me they know it is bad to not be informed and involved, but that they really do not watch the news or anything because they just do not know who or what to believe. In short, it is too hard to try.

Because people feel helpless and hopeless, they give way to apathy, which manifests as laziness. In any event, this example serves the purpose to aid in the examination of the will to act teaching in Batman Begins.

As a young boy, Bruce Wayne’s parents are taken from him by a coldblooded murderer in a dark Gotham City alley. When Joe Chill, the man who murdered his parents, is seen next, he is making a court appearance at which he offers testimony against organized crime boss Carmine Falcone. Wayne plans to exact his revenge and kill Chill. Chill, however, is killed by a Falcone hit man. There are three displays of the will to act before the concept is directly mentioned, and they are ill, misguided and morally corrupt.

Viewers will remember the scene where Wayne confronts Falcone; Wayne is already practicing the will to act at this point. He waltzes through the entrance of Falcone’s club, a bold move given the situation. In the middle of their conversation, Falcone points a gun at Wayne showing he would have zero doubts about his ability to kill and get away with it. Both scenarios exemplify the will to act with contrast. Wayne exhibits good will with the intent to bring change, but Falcone shows his willingness to murder in the face of law officials and figuratively spits in the face of not only Wayne, but in the faces of his friends and the law too. While Falcone’s will appears to have won, he inadvertently taught Wayne a valuable lesson that motivated him even further on his journey.

In his time navigating and learning about the criminal world and mind, Wayne is sentenced to prison in Bhutan due to theft. He later explains that this theft was to keep from starving, but it also shows his will to act or survive albeit by illegal means. With that said, he was strong enough to not become a criminal or “one of them” even though he lost many assumptions about the simple nature of right and wrong, as he puts it. A mysterious figure named Henry Ducard, later revealed to be eco-terrorist Ra’s al Ghul, then reveals himself in Wayne’s prison cell and converses with him about corruption, injustice, and vigilantism. Before leaving, he informs Wayne about the League of Shadows, a secret society of assassins, and presents him with a defining challenge. His completion of the challenge proves him to be strong and allows for his training with the League of Shadows to begin. It is here that the concept of the will to act is first openly mentioned.

As his training progresses, Wayne is told “The training is nothing! Will is everything!” It is Wayne’s will that helps him complete the challenge, conquer his fear, finish his training and obtain the means to fight injustice and to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. Prior to this, however, he had already demonstrated the will to act. Coupled with his lessons, his will allows him to become Batman. When Wayne is confronted with the truth about the League of Shadows’ corrupt view of justice, he concludes his affiliation with them. Ra’s al Ghul and his disciples possess a strong will like Wayne, but it is a corrupted one leading to malicious intent. Ultimately, by the film’s conclusion, Wayne’s will overpowers that of his former mentor and his followers.

An appropriate follow-up question is, what is the lesson from this fiction? In Nolan’s Batman Begins, the will to act is everything a citizen needs to be informed and involved. The personal examples recalled above compliment the concept in the film; they highlight and magnify each other. While government and history are hard for some to study and understand, that does not mean they cannot learn, they simply need the will to do so. While current events can be confusing and overwhelmingly tedious to follow and decipher, that does not make the task impossible. All people need is the will to do so. This is important because those with the will to do good and those with the will to do evil are not only found in fiction. People and organizations that serve the purposes of good, justice and peace must not stoop to the ways of those who knowingly or unknowingly, violently or nonviolently serve the purposes of corruption, chaos, deceit, deception and injustice. Good can prevail only by good people obtaining and exercising their will via being informed and involved in the arenas of government and history and standing against such evils.