Secret Service

Photo Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

After years of horrendous spoof films such as “Scary Movie 5” and “A Haunted House,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service” serves as an exhilarating, hilarious revitalization for the genre. The film’s stunning action, witty humor and enjoyable performances make it an early candidate for most enjoyable picture of the year.  

After a tough street kid named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is caught joyriding, he gets bailed out by a mysterious and well-dressed man who claims to have known Eggsy’s deceased father. The mystery man, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), sees potential in Eggsy and reveals he worked with Eggsy’s father as an agent for the Kingsmen — an espionage group dedicated to stopping anyone who threatens the world. Deciding he has nothing to lose, Eggsy begins his training as a Kingsman. Meanwhile, Harry investigates the activities of tech tycoon Richman Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his assistant Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). As Eggsy fits into his role as a Kingsman agent, he and Harry must thwart Richman’s plan to unleash chaos upon the world.

Director Matthew Vaughn, who directed the ultra-violent superhero satire “Kick-Ass,” returns with more grisly mayhem. The violence is indeed bloody, but the humor in Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s script evens out the ridiculous body count. The film’s wit can make the goriest scenes funny, including a sequence where the heads of several dignitaries under Richman’s control explode in synchronized fashion. Though he includes several graphic scenes, it never feels like the director takes the violence too far.

Another of the film’s more enjoyable aspects is its creativity. It’s clear the gadgets in the film take inspirations from the wonderful toys that James Bond uses in his war on crime. From exploding cigarette lighters to bulletproof umbrellas, the technology pay homage to classic spy technology while also giving the film a special touch. Of course, the Kingsman agents, who prove that it’s possible to fight crime while impeccably dressed, are a deeply amusing part of the movie. Although inspired by other fictional espionage groups, the Kingsmen feel fully fleshed out.  

The action is beautifully choreographed and expertly shot. Unlike quickly-edited fights in mediocre action flicks, it’s incredibly easy to absorb the frantic motions in every brawl. Every punch is shot for maximum clarity. Vaughn possesses a sixth sense for organizing shootouts, so the audience sees every bullet hit its mark. The greatest example of his mastery involves a scene where Firth decimates waves of crazed people in a church, using everything from knives to a pipe organ.

Egerton turns in a solid performance as Eggsy, whose transformation from street thug to suave Kingsman agent is well-paced and investing. Firth shows off his comedic edge as the cultured yet deadly Harry. There’s something amusing about an esteemed Oscar winner knocking out teeth and breaking arms. The villains are just as cleverly written and entertaining as the heroes. Jackson is charming and hilarious as the scheming Valentine, all while speaking with a lisp that would make Mike Tyson proud. Boutella gives a breakout performance as a deadly femme fatale with bionic legs.

“Kingsman” is simply a brilliant comedic film that uses Vaughn’s successful formula of mixing violence with wry humor. It offers memorable characters who never have a boring moment. The action is remarkably fluid and serves as an example of how excellent directing can make tense moments even more exhilarating. A love-letter to both spy and parody films, “Kingsman” serves as one of the most creative and enjoyable films of the year so far.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

In the weeks leading up to the Civil Rights Summit, city and campus police have worked closely with each other and the Secret Service to plan security procedures for every moment of the presidents’ trip to UT.

The summit, which will be held in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, will feature 46 panelists and speeches by Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

Bob Harkins, who serves as associate vice president for campus safety and security, said security preparation began immediately after the event was announced about a month ago.

“It’s the type of thing where you always say, ‘I wish we’d had more time,’” Harkins said. “But you do what you’ve got to do in the time limits you’re given.”

Harkins said UTPD will use all available resources over the course of the three-day summit.

“We’ve got to cover the entire event for three days, so everyone is participating,” Harkins said. “Other law enforcement agencies around, for example the Capitol Police Department and DPS, will help us with traffic control.”

The Secret Service met with University and LBJ Library officials and will be coordinating up until the start of the summit, according to Harkins.

“Between the University of Texas personnel and the LBJ Library, there are maybe 35 to 40 people involved in various aspects of the planning and preparation, and that’ll go almost up to the last minute,” Harkins said.

APD Sgt. Jeff Crawford said working with the Secret Service requires extra flexibility from law enforcement.

“Up until a week or two out, we may not even know what the route will be because, as you can imagine with the White House, things change daily,” Crawford said. “We’ve literally had it where they’re putting the president in the car to go to the next stop, and we get an ‘OK, route’s changing. We’re going to this location,’ and we’re having to scramble and adjust and go to a whole new location that we may not have been planning on. We have to be very adaptable.”

Crawford said, while APD will be involved in the overall security coverage for the summit, UTPD will handle most of the security surrounding the LBJ Library.

“We coordinate with UTPD and basically have a division of labor, and say ‘OK, here’s what you’re going to handle, and here’s what we’re going to handle,’” Crawford said. “That way we’re not duplicating efforts and everybody’s got their area to deal with. UTPD handles security at any venue on UT grounds, and we usually handle the route or deal with the motorcade getting him from point A to point B.”

Crawford said that, ultimately, most of the decisions pertaining to security are made by the Secret Service.

“In the end, all of us are supplementing the Secret Service,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of their show. They make the majority of the calls, but we have a good working relationship with them and they work really well with us.”

“Government is a tool fashioned when the people join together to win an objective for the greatest good of the greatest number, and which they could not achieve except through united action…” 

—Lyndon B Johnson. April 13, 1946

 

Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office as the 36th President of the United States at 2:39 p.m. Friday in the outer compartment of the airplane bearing the body of his predecessor.

He was sworn in by district judge Sarah T. Hughes, as his wife and Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy stood by his side. Only a few hours before, he had been riding behind the presidential car in the Dallas motorcade that fatefully ended just before reaching a vast highway interchange.

Johnson was surrounded by Secret Service men immediately after shots burst over the applause. He was rushed to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where John F. Kennedy died of a bullet wound in the head.

With that, Texas gained its first president — in one of the state’s blackest moments.

According to the 22nd amendment, Johnson could hold office longer than any president except Roosevelt. The amendment permits him to finish this term and makes him eligible for two more four-year terms after that.

For Johnson, it was a sorrowful means to an end he had spent a good portion of his 55 years to achieve.

When the president was carried into the emergency room, Mrs. Kennedy walked behind — parts of her clothing drenched with blood. 

Shortly after Kennedy’s death — “We never had any hope of saving his life,” said one doctor — Johnson was driven to Dallas’ Love Field where he boarded the presidential jet transport Air Force I.

The plane with Kennedy’s body aboard, arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., at 6:03 p.m.

The body will lie in state at the White House Saturday.

The funeral will be held Monday at St. Matthews Roman Catholic Cathedral, the White House announced Friday night.

The body of the slain president will lie in repose at the White House on Saturday and will lie in state in the rotunda of the Capitol on Sunday and Monday.

All who saw or sensed what was happening were stunned almost beyond belief — perhaps none so much as Lyndon B. Johnson, the native Texan who had sought the presidency in vain in 1960 and

was no in line to have it thrust upon him through tragedy.

Sent off to Washington as a 29-year-old congressman in 1937, Johnson stepped boldly into the New Deal-ism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was considered a liberal then, but oddly enough, a conservative tag almost kept him from a national ticket spot in 1960.

One of the first Solons to go into the Armed Forces in World War II, Johnson won a Silver Star for his Navy deeds.

It was then that he went back to the House of Representatives and mourned that the lesson of conflict was “too little, too late…”

His actions still carried the Roosevelt stamp until 1945, the man he was to follow 18 years later died. 

“The liberty-loving people of the world have lost their greatest leader. They have had to say farewell to their greatest friend,” Johnson said.

“President Roosevelt knew his people. He loved people and spent his life working with and for people everywhere. And all of those people — particularly those of us who knew and loved the president — have suffered a shock from which we will not soon recover…”

Johnson became President when a hidden gunman assassinated President Kennedy with a high powered rifle Friday.

THREE SHOTS

Three shots reverberated. Blood sprang from the president’s face. He fell face downward in the back seat of his car. His wife clutched his head and tried to lift it, crying, “No! No!”

Half an hour later, John F. Kennedy was dead and the United States had a new president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

The assassination occurred just as the president’s motorcade was leaving downtown Dallas at the end of a triumphal tour through the city’s streets.

His special car — with the protective bubble down — was moving down an incline into an underpass that leads to a freeway route to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was to speak.

Witnesses heard three shots. Two hit the President, one in the head and one in the neck.

The third shot wounded Gov. John B. Connally of Texas in the side, but his condition was reported not critical.

“MY GOD!”

As the gunfire rang in the street, a reporter in the caravan screamed, “MY GOD! They’re shooting at the president!”

The motorcade slowed and then sped forward at breakneck speed to Parkland Hospital near the Trade Mart.

Onlookers, terrified at the sight and sound of the assassination, dived face forward for protection onto a grassy park at the entrance of the underpass, fearing more shots. Police swarmed into the scene.

Secret Service men helped Mrs. Kennedy away from the car. Hospital attendants aided Connally and his wife.

The shots were fired at 12:30 p.m. and the president died at 1 p.m. He was 46 and the youngest man ever elected president.

Bob Jackson, a Dallas Times Herald photographer, said he looked around as he heard the shots and saw the rifle barrel disappearing into the upper floor window. He did not see the gunman.

Johnson’s political ambitions carried him to a senatorial flight with Coke Stevenson, which has gained the president more slams than votes. LBJ won by 87 votes, and, to this day, Stevenson supporters tell the story of Duval County, of people coming back from the grave to vote — and of the political machine that led Friday to the White House.

That was in 1948 — and not too many years later, Johnson was welding the Senate together as majority leader.

He followed closely the moves of his great friend, Sam Rayburn, speaker of the house.

Politically, Johnson has sometimes been a mystery, because of his middle-of-the-road policy. You might say he rode the government like a horse – with a leg on either side and sitting tall in the saddle.

A FREE MAN

“I am a free man, an American, a United States senator and a Democrat, in that order,” Johnson once said of himself.

“I am also a liberal, a conservative, a Texan, a taxpayer, a rancher, a businessman, a consumer, a parent, a voter and not as young as I used to be, nor as old as I expect to be — and I am all those things in no fixed order.”

And now he is President of these United States.

President Barack Obama at sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on Saturday, finalized a Colombian free trade and labor pact.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

CARTAGENA, Colombia — An embarrassing scandal involving prostitutes and Secret Service agents deepened Saturday as 11 agents were placed on leave, and the agency designed to protect President Barack Obama had to offer regret for the mess overshadowing his diplomatic mission to Latin America.

The controversy also expanded to the U.S. military, which announced five service members staying at the same hotel as the agents in Colombia may have been involved in misconduct as well. They were confined to their quarters in Colombia and ordered not to have contact with others.

All the alleged activities took place before Obama arrived Friday in this Colombian port city for meetings with 33 other regional leaders.

The Secret Service did not disclose the nature of the misconduct. The Associated Press confirmed on Friday that it involved prostitutes.

The 11 employees in question were special agents and Uniformed Division Officers. None were assigned to directly protect Obama. All were sent home and replaced, Morrissey said, given “the nature of the allegations” and a zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct.

Another jolt came Saturday when the U.S. Southern Command said five service members assigned to support the Secret Service violated their curfew and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct. Carney said it was part of the same incident involving the Secret Service.

The Secret Service agents at the center of the allegations had stayed at Cartagena’s five-star Hotel Caribe. Several members of the White House staff and press corps subsequently stayed at the hotel.

A hotel employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel about a week ago and said the agents left the hotel Thursday. Three waiters interviewed by the AP at the hotel described the agents as drinking heavily during their stay.

On the steamy streets of Cartagena, a resort city with a teeming prostitution trade, there was condemnation for the agents for what residents saw as abusing their station and dishonoring their country.

The Secret Service detained, questioned and released a man who had a firearm in his vehicle as he pulled up outside the north Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says the unidentified man showed up “uninvited” about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, saying he wanted to see Bush. While agents and Dallas police questioned him, the man revealed that he had a gun in his nearby vehicle.

Donovan says the man had a permit for the gun and his answers checked out, so he was released and left. Donovan declined to comment on how the man made it past the gate.