SPLIT *Movie Review*


SPLIT stars James McAvoy as Kevin who has dissociative identity disorder, better known as multiple personality syndrome.  One of his personalities kidnaps three young women, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula, and takes them to his home.  The three try to figure out where they are and make an escape.  Kevin’s therapist Dr Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, can tell something is going on with him and tries to piece together the mystery as well.  SPLIT was written and directed by M Night Shyamalan who is known for his twist endings.  It was produced by Jason Blum who is behind the production company Blumhouse and movies such as WHIPLASH.

James McAvoy is fantastic creating what seem to be fully realized characters for each of the personalities.  It’s obvious he has shifted characters before he even opens his mouth.

Pay attention one of the early lines in the movie that’s said by Haley Lu Richardson, who plays Claire.  She declares “I’m not a monster” as a set up to everything that comes next.

For more details about themes in SPLIT, along with some product placement notes and eagle eye details to watch for with M Night Shyamalan’s style of filmmaking, take a look below:

Looking for the direct link to the video?  Click here.

New apps help people avoid unwanted encounters


Trying to avoid an awkward encounter with an ex? Fearful of an embarrassing meeting after an argument? New apps can help people avoid bumping into others and provide escape routes if they do.

By logging on to Facebook and other social networking sites, users can choose people they do not want to see.

“Everybody has somebody they want to avoid,” said Udi Dagan, chief executive officer of Israel-based technology company Split. “For some people, it's their exes; for others, it's their bosses or even relatives that they don't feel like bumping into during their free time.”

With Split, a free app for iOS and Android devices, users log on to Facebook and select people from their social network they do not want to meet. The app sends an alert when they are nearby and shows a route on a map to avoid them.

The Cloak app for iOS works in a similar way through Foursquare or Instagram, sending a notification if the person comes from within half a block to 2 miles away.

“You can tap on someone and flag them,” said Brian Moore, co-founder of Cloak, a New York-based company. “That means you'll get background notifications whenever they come close to you.”

The creators of the apps, which are available worldwide, said all the information was already publicly available and that they were simply aggregating it into one place.

Split and Cloak gather location data from social network updates and check-ins. Photo-sharing network Instagram includes location data whenever a photo is uploaded. Both apps gather data from Foursquare and Instagram, and Split gets additional data from Facebook and Twitter.

The information is as accurate as a person's last update or check-in that contained his or her location.

Split also collects data from people using their app, and allows them to hide their location so others cannot see where they are.

Some people may consider the apps anti-social, but Moore does not.

“Anti-social is when you never want to see anybody,” he said. “In reality, everyone has a side where they just want to be alone.”

Craig Palli, chief strategy office at Boston-based mobile marketing company Fiksu, said the apps were an inevitable progression in the industry.

“So much of our lives have become open and public,” he said.” It's the first sign of a trend that people want to break from that.”

Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Von Ahn

Obamacare’s heated day at Supreme Court: Kagan, Ginsburg attempt to aid defense of the law


The Supreme Court appeared closely divided along ideological lines during tense arguments over President Barack Obama’s healthcare law on Tuesday, with conservative justices vigorously questioning the Obama administration’s lawyer on whether Congress had the power to require people to buy medical insurance.

During two dramatic hours, pivotal justices on the nine-member court suggested they would uphold this so-called individual mandate – to obtain insurance or pay a penalty – only if they believed they were not giving Congress broad new powers over people’s lives.

The justices were combative with the lawyers on both sides, at times firing off hard-hitting questions about the limits of the federal government’s power and whether it could even extend to requiring eating broccoli and buying gym memberships or cars.

While conservative justices took aim at the insurance mandate, liberal justices defended it.

The session was far more intense than Monday’s opening arguments during which the justices appeared willing to overcome questions about whether tax law prevented them from considering the case for several years.

The court will hear a third and final day of arguments on Wednesday in a case in which 26 of the 50 states and a small-business trade group are challenging a law that represents Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement but is reviled but U.S. conservatives.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, two conservatives who could join the four liberal justices to uphold the law, pressed the Obama administration’s lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, to say where the limits would be on federal power if people opposed to insurance were forced to buy coverage.

Verrilli emphasized that Congress was trying to address the troubling problem of shifting costs from those who are uninsured to those who purchase coverage, arguing “the system does not work” and Congress was addressing “a grave problem.”

Roberts and Kennedy were also piercing in their questions to the two lawyers challenging the individual mandate about the government’s contention that Congress is validly regulating people who already are in the market because virtually everyone is going to need healthcare at some point.

“That’s my concern in the case,” Kennedy said, noting that young, uninsured people affect the overall market by not paying into it and ultimately receiving care over the long term.

The court’s ruling on the insurance requirement, which takes effect in 2014, could decide the fate of the massive multi-part healthcare overhaul meant to improve access to medical care and extend insurance to more than 30 million people.

COURT REFLECTS COUNTRY’S DIVISION

Views of Obama’s healthcare law that have long divided Democrats and Republicans across the country played out also in the ornate courtroom.

The four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, all indicated that they believed the mandate valid under the U.S. Constitution. Two conservatives, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, were vocal in their skepticism about the requirement.

Scalia in particular seemed concerned that Congress and the federal government would have unlimited powers if the law was upheld. “What is left? What else can it not do?”

The ninth justice, conservative Clarence Thomas who is expected to vote against the law, asked no questions. Thomas last asked a question from the bench more than six years ago.

At the end of day’s arguments, it looked to be close. After a third day of arguments on other issues, the justices would continue discussions behind closed doors as they draft their opinions, likely to be released in late June.

The ruling’s timing will come as Obama gears up his campaign for re-election on Nov. 6. The Republican candidates competing for their party’s nomination to challenge Obama in November all denounce the law.

Outside the white marble courthouse, a crowd of supporters and protesters filled the wide sidewalk, marching, chanting and carrying signs. A motorcycle shop manager from Massachusetts, Michael Wade, called the healthcare law a “power grab” by Obama. Supporters of the law marched and chanted: “We love Obamacare.”

No past rulings are completely on point and many observers have speculated about how the ideologically divided justices will decide the limits of congressional power to address society’s most intractable problems. Not since 1936 has the Supreme Court struck down a major piece of federal economic legislation as exceeding congressional power.

Kennedy, who often casts the decisive vote on the court, expressed concern about changing the relationship between government and the people governed by it “in a very fundamental way.”

“Do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authority under the Constitution?” he asked Verrilli.

Roberts also offered some support to those who opposed the insurance requirement. He voiced worries about regulating those who opt out of a commercial transaction. Once you say Congress can regulate a market, “pretty much all bets are off,” he added.

At stake on Tuesday was Congress’ power to intervene in one of U.S. society’s most difficult problems – soaring healthcare costs and access to medical care. Annual U.S. healthcare spending totals $2.6 trillion, about 18 percent of the annual gross domestic product, or $8,402 per person.

Shares of health insurers and hospital companies were trading modestly lower at mid-day after the arguments. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor index of insurers was down 0.8 percent, while the broader stock market was little changed.

Large insurers UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint were off 0.5 percent and 1.2 percent respectively, while shares of hospital chain Community Health Systems was down 0.7 percent and those of rival Tenet Healthcare were off 1.4 percent.

TOP LAWYERS

Taking up the challenge of fighting for and against the insurance mandate were three of the country’s top appellate lawyers, including Verrilli for the administration and Paul Clement, one of his predecessors as the government’s top courtroom lawyer during the Bush administration.

Verrilli took a low-key approach in his arguments and at times the liberal justices, notably Kagan and Ginsburg, tried to bolster his points and counter a barrage of skeptical questions from the conservatives.

Coming to Verrilli’s aid at one point, Ginsburg stressed that healthcare was more about timing, that healthy people pay in now and take it out when needed. “That’s how insurance works.”

Clement, arguing on behalf of the states challenging the law, said Congress went too far and that the individual mandate “represents an unprecedented effort” that has no limiting principles.

A New York Times/CBS News poll showed that a narrow majority of Americans oppose the individual mandate, 51 percent to 45 percent, but strongly supported other provisions of the law covering pre-existing medical conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

On its website the Supreme Court posted the audio of the oral argument as well as a transcript: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_audio_detail.aspx?argument=11-398-Tuesday.

The Supreme Court cases are National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, No. 11-398; and Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 11-400.

With additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Ian Simpson in Washington and Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Howard Goller and Will Dunham

Passage of Prop. 8 reveals rift between denominations


Three days after California narrowly passed Proposition 8, the statewide ban on same-sex marriage, congregants of Beth Chayim Chadashim gathered in their Pico Boulevard sanctuary for a Friday night Shabbat service marked by solidarity and grief.

“This week of all weeks we need Shabbat,” Rabbi Lisa Edwards told members of the predominantly gay and lesbian synagogue, as many clutched prayer books and one another’s hands.

In the tumultuous first week after voters approved the controversial ballot measure that would cast the legality of 18,000 marriages into doubt and halt further unions, supporters rejoiced and opponents took to the streets in emotional protests across the state.

Jewish voices had joined both sides of the bitter and costly Proposition 8 debate leading up to Election Day. Reform and Conservative leaders largely condemned the stripping of civil rights from a fellow minority population, while Orthodox officials praised constitutional protection for the biblical definition of marriage.

The ideological rift has sharpened tensions between traditional and progressive sects in Los Angeles and raised the question of how Jews, as a people, should respond.

“We Jews have been the brunt of a lot of discrimination throughout our history,” said Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector at American Jewish University (AJU). “To vote now that another group should be discriminated against is not at all respectful of what freedom has meant for us as Jews.”

Minority rights carry special resonance for the Jewish nation, said many Proposition 8 critics — especially in light of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht last week.

“Jews understand what it means to eliminate rights — that’s what happened to us in Germany,” said Rabbi Denise Eger, spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood.

An overwhelming 78 percent of Jewish voters in Los Angeles opposed the same-sex marriage ban, while just 8 percent supported it, according to an exit poll by the Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. In the weeks before the election, more than 250 rabbis — a majority in the state — joined a coalition of progressive Jewish organizations opposing Proposition 8.

Eger, who has performed 50 wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples since a California Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage on June 16, said the separation of church and state has been a critical tenet of mainstream Judaism in the United States.

“This issue is not about religion — it is about civil rights,” she said. “This is about the separation of synagogue and state. As long as marriage is a civil issue, the Torah has nothing to say about it.”

But that’s not how many in the Orthodox community see it. Rabbi Elazar Muskin, leader of Young Israel of Century City, said the ban on same-sex marriage does not amount to a removal of rights, because the traditional definition of marriage never extended to homosexual couples.

“We’re not talking about rights; we’re talking about the sanctity of marriage,” Muskin said. “It’s a traditional moral, Jewish perspective that marriage is between a husband and a wife. It’s basic to the Bible — it’s as ancient as man.”

Muskin said he supports domestic partnerships for same-sex couples but believes allowing them to wed would send a sacred institution down a slippery slope toward other behaviors the Bible deems immoral.

“[Gays and lesbians] should have the same government benefits that anyone has,” he said. “The issue is the definition of marriage and how we’re going to impart that to the next generation. What about incestuous marriage — are we then going to permit that?”

Advertisements sponsored by the Rabbinical Council of California and the Orthodox Union have called heterosexual marriage “a central pillar of our faith” that is “crucial for the sake of our families, for our children and our society.”

But social justice is also a central pillar of Jewish faith, said Joel Kushner, director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

“This goes against everything we believe in. We were strangers in Egypt — we should treat others fairly because we know what it’s like being a stranger,” said Kushner, who married his partner in a civil ceremony last month. “There is a perception that it’s only the religious right who has something to say about this. Progressive people of faith also know what the Bible says, and we support marriage equality.”

In 1992, the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism passed a national resolution calling for full civil equality for gays and lesbians, the AJU’s Dorff said. He called the Orthodox movement’s support of the same-sex marriage ban “a mistake.”

Clergy members who don’t believe in marriage for gay and lesbian couples would not have been forced to officiate at their wedding ceremonies if Proposition 8 was defeated, he said. The Supreme Court’s ruling this spring handed that decision from the state to religious leaders.

“Now what we’ve done is enshrine hatred and discrimination and bigotry into the California state Constitution,” said Eger of Kol Ami. “This was an issue of the judiciary, and it was wrong [for it] to be placed on the ballot in the first place.”

The question of what’s next was on everyone’s minds the night of Nov. 7 at Beth Chayim Chadashim, where at least 44 couples have tied the knot since June.

After a Shabbat service suffused with sadness and reflection, Edwards invited an attorney from Lambda Legal to discuss the legal action gay rights supporters are taking against Proposition 8. Lambda Legal, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed one of three lawsuits challenging the ballot measure the morning after its passage.

The lawsuits argue that the gay marriage ban was too drastic an alteration of the state Constitution to be called an amendment and would actually constitute an illegal revision. Constitutional revisions must first pass the Legislature before going to the voters.

The California attorney general has said the marriages performed since June would be upheld, but some expect a legal battle on that front, too.

Robin Tyler, whose highly publicized Jewish wedding ceremony with Diane Olson was the first same-sex marriage performed in L.A. County, also filed suit against Proposition 8 through attorney Gloria Allred.

“I don’t want to be on the freedom train alone,” said Tyler, 66, of North Hills. “It’s about everyone else and future generations not being treated like second-class citizens. I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will understand that this was an improper proposition.”

If not, she said, marriage equality advocates will bring a proposition to the ballot again in another four years.

However, critics fear their actions undermine the majority of California voters.

“The people filing these lawsuits seem to feel that the popular vote is of little importance in the face of what they see as a civil rights issue,” said Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, who is based in Hancock Park. “Society has spoken, and most people want marriage to be defined the way the Bible defines it.”

That leaves people like Karen Wilson with lowered expectations for her wedding day.

Wilson had been planning to wed Caroline Bernard, her partner of 22 years, next August. The Westside couple still plans to go ahead with a religious ceremony but is setting aside their hopes of obtaining a marriage license.

“We’re feeling very betrayed and shocked,” said Wilson, 56, a doctoral candidate at UCLA. “Our ideal — our dream — was to have a religious ceremony that is also legal. But we’re not calling anything off.”

The families and friends of gay and lesbian couples aren’t backing down either, according to Steve Krantz, founder of the nonprofit Jews for Marriage Equality and regional director of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Krantz wants to continue to educate rabbis across the state about marriage equality. He has two sons — one gay, one straight.

“I love them both,” said Krantz of Sherman Oaks. “I want them both to have equal rights, and I want to dance at both of their weddings.”

‘A Split Is Hovering Over Likud’


On the eve of his most testing American visit since he becamePrime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu was humiliated, live on prime-timetelevision, last Monday by the least likely of dissidents — theblue-collar ward party bosses of the Likud central committeeconvention.

Their quarrel, as one TV commentator put it, was not over policyor principle, peace or territory, synagogue and state, but over whoowns the grocery store. Others wrote of a mutiny, of a golem turningon its creator, even of a potential split in the Likud.

The 3,000 grass-roots activists rejected Netanyahu’s nominee tochair the party convention, the loyal, plodding health minister,Yehoshua Matza. The prime minister could live with that but not withtheir raucous refusal to postpone a vote on the way the Likud choosesits candidates for the Knesset. Last-minute efforts were being madeon Tuesday to persuade them to think again, but the damage was done.

In fact, the argument was less a matter of Netanyahu versus theactivists, who still hailed him as “Bibi, king of Israel,” than ofincumbent Knesset members and ministers versus the grass roots.Netanyahu was trapped in the middle. Bear with me while I explain.

Last time around, both Likud and Labor chose their candidates forprime minister and for the Knesset by American-style primaries.Previously, it was the central committee that picked the Likudrunners. To stay on the slate, Knesset members had to keep the wardbosses sweet. When the Likud was in power, as it has been for 16 ofthe last 20 years, they were repaid in the sweaty currency ofpolitics — government projects for their neighborhoods, jobs onpublic corporations, VIP guests glittering their daughters’ weddingsand sons’ bar mitzvahs.

The primaries deprived them of much of this patronage. Ministersand Knesset members could appeal over the heads of the local powerbrokers to the 200,000 registered Likud members, many of whom arenever seen from one election to the next and need not even be Likudvoters.

At the same time — and this is where the plot thickens — theuppity ministers and Knesset members insisted on demonstrating theirindependence from the party leader, who thought that direct electionof prime minister had made him omnipotent. If Netanyahu could abolishprimaries and revert to the old ways, he would, at one and the sametime, call his fractious colleagues to heal and cement his partybase.

The director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, AvigdorLieberman, is widely credited with orchestrating a campaign amongcentral committee members, the overwhelming majority of whom owetheir seats to him, to restore the old system.

At the beginning of November, however, Likud ministers joinedforces and insisted that Netanyahu stick to primaries. The primeminister, shaken by their unanimity, backed down, tactically atleast, agreeing to postpone the central committee vote for a fewmonths.

The trouble was that the convention delegates, sensing arestoration of their old power, refused to reverse themselves.Lieberman lost control. When a pale, incredulous Netanyahu appealedto them on Monday night for a coolheaded assessment of the respectivemerits of the two electoral systems, they jeered and shouted himdown. That wasn’t on their agenda.

Cheerleaders climbed onto chairs and led them in chanting, “No!no! Decide today!” They waved printed placards that called for “Powerto the central committee!” The burly leader of the insurrection,Yisrael Katz, who studied with Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi andonce worked for Ariel Sharon, loomed over the prime minister and toldhim bluntly that the convention would decide.

“They,” he reminded him, “are the ones who registered the 200,000voters, who bring them to the polls. It is due to their efforts thatthe prime minister, ministers and Knesset members are elected.”

Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz’s political correspondent, suggested that avisitor from another planet would have thought that Katz was primeminister and the wan figures at his side (Netanyahu and other Likudministers) were Katz’s cowering subordinates.

As commentator Bina Barzel wrote in the mass-circulation YediotAharonot: “This was the last thing Prime Minister Netanyahu needednow: a mutiny at the Likud convention, delegates standing updecisively to him and his leadership. These events highlightedNetanyahu’s isolation. He is isolated from ministers, who arealienated from him, and he is isolated vis-à-vis Knessetmembers and the party convention. It can no longer be concealed: Asplit is hovering over Likud.”

It may be premature to predict Netanyahu’s downfall or his party’sdemise. He has bounced back before. But these cumulative blows to hisauthority leave him limping. Neither he nor the leaders of AmericanJewry he faces in the United States can be confident that he speaksfor a united Likud, let alone for a united Israel.

Netanyahu Is Coming To Town

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to be inLos Angeles on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 17-18, for an intensive24-hour round of speeches and meetings.

Netanyahu will start out on Monday with a luncheon address to theLos Angeles World Affairs Council at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. In theafternoon, he will meet with some 250 leaders of the JewishFederation Council of Greater Los Angeles, AIPAC and Israel Bonds.

That evening, the prime minister will participate in acelebrity-studded fund-raiser for the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorahand confer the organization’s King David Award on actor Kirk Douglas.

Early Tuesday, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman willtake part in an economic forum, co-sponsored by the Milken Institute,to explore the opportunities and challenges facing Israel’s economy.

The final stop on Netanyahu’s visit, before he returns to Israel,is the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where he will tour the Museum ofTolerance.

Earlier this week, Bobby Brown, Netanyahu’s adviser on Diasporaaffairs, was in Los Angeles to nail down details of the visit.

There has been some disappointment in Jerusalem that PresidentClinton was unwilling or unable to meet with Netanyahu in Washington.However, Clinton will be in Beverly Hills on Sunday evening for aRock the Vote benefit, and there is a possibility that the Americanand Israeli chief executives might get together on Monday.