Signs and Wonders
Kimberly McCarthy
Associated Press/Texas Department of Criminal Justice (file)
Kimberly McCarthy

Signs and Wonders: Death penalty milestone in Texas

Newsworthy

Don’t mess with Texas. Unless there’s a last-minute delay or reprieve, Texas will execute Kimberly McCarthy, 52, today. The execution will be the 500th since the state resumed capital punishment in the 1970s. Currently, 34 states allow the death penalty, but Texas is by far the most likely to use it. A distant second is Virginia, with 110 executions since 1976. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty “cruel and unusual punishment” in 1972. It was restored four years later.

Vladimir speaks. I haven’t made up my mind yet about Edward Snowden, the former National Security Administration contractor who has leaked sensitive information. I have, on the other hand, made up my mind about Russian President Vladimir Putin. As a friend who works for the CIA often says to me: “Once KGB, always KGB.” That said, I have to give the devil his due for providing one of the best quotes of the week. When Snowden “unexpectedly” ended up in Moscow, supposedly on his way to Cuba or Iceland or Finland or who knows where, Putin said he wished the situation would go away. He then added that the situation was akin to shearing a pig: “A lot of squealing, but not a lot of wool.”

SCOTUS-watch. We here at WORLD, especially our intrepid reporter Emily Belz, have been on SCOTUS-watch for the past couple of weeks. We’ve already gotten several decisions, but the big ones—on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act—are expected today. Either way, San Francisco will have its 43rd annual “pride march,” this year expected to attract 1.4 million Dykes on Bikes, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and a like-minded miscellany of others. “We’re expecting the largest crowd ever,” said Earl Plante, CEO of San Francisco Pride, the organization that puts the event together. The parade marks the anniversary of the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969, an event widely recognized as the beginning of the homosexual rights movement. Not so widely recognized, but well documented in Randy Shilts’ book And The Band Played On, is the role gay rights activists played in the early spread of AIDS, a disease that has now killed more than 25 million people.

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Hollywood accounting. I’ve often heard over the years that Hollywood doesn’t have an agenda other than to make money. When it produces raunchy movies, that’s only because it’s what people want. If that’s true, it’s hard to explain numbers released this week by the National Association of Theater Owners. The study says the 177 Hollywood-produced R-rated movies averaged only $16.8 million at the box office. On the other hand, the 119 PG-13 movies generated nearly three times that much: $47.3 million per movie. PG and G movies also generated much more per movie than R movies. If that’s so, why so many R movies? They are often (though not always) cheaper to produce, since they are driven more by script and character. Most of the expensive, special effects-heavy movies are PG-13. Demographics also play a role. Teens are the most significant movie-going demographic, and most of them can’t (or aren’t supposed to) attend R movies. Whatever the reasons, America is speaking clearly on this issue. We’ll have to check coming attractions to see if Hollywood is listening.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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