Saturday, December 31, 2016

ABC 20-20 honors Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

ABC 20-20 Friday night covered the mother-daughter relationship between Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, as with this link.

Carrie Fisher had a cardiac arrest on a flight to Los Angeles from London, 15 minutes before landing. Nearby passengers tried to do CPR, which presumably flight attendants know how to do.  It’s a good point to wonder, how many of us are prepared to do this if called upon suddenly.

Reynolds went into a fatal stroke the day after her daughter’s death.  Stress hormones in her cardiovascular system from grief probably caused the stroke.

I probably saw “Singin’ in the Rain” as a child, but I actually remember “The Tender Trap” (with its now outmoded idea of heterosexual romance and of women) and particularly “Susan Slept Here”.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Exodus": stunning documentary tracing the lives of migrants into Europe on PBS Frontline

Tonight, PBS Frontline aired “Exodus”, a 2-hour film by James Bluemel (best link ).

The film tracks many migrants from Syria, other areas of Africa, through Greece or Italy (after crossing the Mediterranean in rafts), into France, the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Finland.

The film often shows maps of Europe with moving dots showing the diaspora.

The film focuses on a few characters, like Hassan (Syria) and Saddiq (Afghaninstan).

One of the most harrowing journeys is from Gambia across Niger and then across the Sahara desert.
Many migrants wind up at a camp in Calais (“the Jungle”), from which they try to escape to the UL through the Chunnel with fake papers.
Adagez, Niger, start of one of the most striking journeys: Wikipedia: By Dan Lundberg - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bill Weir's "Wonder List" visits Amsterdam, and interviews controversial politician Geert Wilders

Bill Weir’s “The Wonder List” presented Amsterdam Sunday night, with a startling interview with the “Dutch Donald Trump”, “right wing” Dutch parliament representative Geert Wilders.

Wilders answers Weir’s “good question” by saying “we have started to become tolerance of intolerance as well.”

Weir notes how the Dutch filled in the below sea-level marshes with mud, protected it dikes, and built the most cosmopolitan city in Europe 500 years ago.

Weir presented a city where everyone travels by bike (there are trams but no subway), and where the interest in renewable energy sources is obsessive, as there is almost no dependence on fossil fuels.

 Some homes are 3D-printed.

There is also some discussion of the limits of legal marijuana and the various pot cafes.

 The “trials” of Geert Wilders are important to know about.

I have visited Amsterdam twice, in 1999 and 2001.

I’ve reviewed “Fitna” on my “cf” blog today.

Wikipedia attribution link for depiction of Amsterdam in wood cut in 1538, p.d.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"The Fight for Melissa" on CBS "48 Hours", apparently wrongful conviction of a day care worker in Illinois

CBS “48 Hours” aired “The Fight for Melissa” Saturday night (Dec. 17), the narrative of former Illinois day care worker Melissa Calusinsku, serving 31 years in prison for the supposed murder of a child in her care with a skull fracture.  CBS has the main story link here with a lot of detail.

The narrative is complicated by an apparently coerced confession, and the evidence of a supposed skull fracture.  But the defense had maintained that the boy already had an earlier injury.

She confessed six hours into the confession, after 79 denials.
There seems to be a real vulnerability for day care or other caregiver workers, often at the bottom of the economic scale.

Here’s a link where documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks (“Unlocking the Truth” on MTV) explains how our legal system is broken.  Prosecutors are under enormous political pressure, to say the least.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"The Murder of JonBenet" in 1996 in Boulder, CO, special documentary on CNN

Tonight, CNN aired a one hour special, “The Murder of JonBenet”.  Here is a CNN list of “fast facts” on the case.  The documentary occurs 20 years after the original kidnapping and murder.

The show summarized what is available in much more detail on Wikipedia here.  The kidnapping was unusual in the delay until the ransom note, the amount asked, and then the discovery of the body the day after Christmas, 1996, in the Boulder CO home.  CNN covers the period when family members were considered suspects.

Wikipedia discusses the large amount of defamation litigation surrounding case, especially from the family.  In one case, a web surfer was sued merely for two comments in a discussion forum by another person whom he apparently implicated.  (Section 230 would protect the forum site itself, but there are concerns that under Trump this could get undone.)

Doctor Phil interviewed the brother Burke some time back, link.

Huffington Post has a list of safety tips to prevent child abduction, here.

The Survivalist Blog has a good post on tips for adults to follow to deal with kidnapping.  One tip is not to stand out in crowds in situations that could be targets (like at banks)

Wikipedia attribution link for winter picture of Boulder, by Eddyl, CCSA 3.0

Update: Dec 28

The brother of JonBenet, now 29, has filed a defamation suit against CBS for $750 million, nbcbnews story here

Sunday, December 11, 2016

CNN Heroes 2016: People with disabilities, refugees, foster care, and sports all covered

Jeison Aristizabal from Colombia won the vote as the “CNN Hero of 2016” at the broadcast from the Museum of Natural History in New York City tonight, as hosted by Anderson Cooper. 
Jeison’s link is here.  He oversaw a service for youth living with disabilities.
There were ten candidates.

I thought he story of Jordanian refugee (and Muslim) Luma Mufleh who, in Clarktson, GA (suburb of Atlanta) forming “Fugee Family” which includes a school, for one of the largest concentrations of refugees (outside of Michigan) in the U.S.  , link here

Other interesting heroes include Georgie Smith, who helps foster kids emerging into young adulthood, and semi-pro bicycle racer Craig Dodson, who works with low-income kids in Richmond getting them into cycling. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

ABC 20-20 shows how contaminated DNA evidence probably led to a wrongful conviction in North Carolina

Tonight, ABC 20-20 aired “Actual Innocence”, about the conviction of an illiterate man, Mark Carver, whose hands had been crippled by carpal tunnel after decades of factory work.

The best story and video link is here.
The victim, UNC Charlotte student Irina Yarmolenko, was founded in a crashed car with a noose in the Catawba river in NC in August, 2008.

Carver had been nearby that day and would eventually be coerced by police.  DNA was found around the car (but not on the ligatures).  The 20-20 broadcast develops the idea that the DNA could have come from cross-contamination by law enforcement.  This sort of thing has happened before, as in another case in California.

At the trial, the Defense didn’t call witnesses, believing that the prosecutor had not presented convincing evidence.  Yet the jury convicted very quickly.

Another prison inmate wrote a fake confession for the crime, seeking publicity.

This case sounds like a good one for Andrew Jenks and his "Unlocking the Truth" series on MTV.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

"The Legacy of Barack Obama" on CNN with Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria narrates the special documentary “The Legacy of Barack Obama” on Wednesday. Dec. 7, 2016 at 9 PM EST.

Early in the documentary Zakaria shows the GOP meeting, almost on inauguration day 2009, to plot Obama's undoing by obstuctionism in Congress.  The bailout passed merely along party lines, even though the financial crisis had developed under Bush.

The pivot for the entire documentary seems to be Obama’s opposition to Bush’s plans for war in Iraq with Saddam Hussein in 2002, when Hillary Clinton supported Bush’s plans to topple Saddam Hussein. When Bush’s war in Iraq seemed undermined by no finding of WMD’s, by 2008, Obama had some advantage in the Democratic primaries against Clinton, significant for his becoming president and the first African American.

Obama changed policy from large Armies to an “Obama’s War” of drones and kill lists of terrorists. The included his taking down of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.  But he kept a campaign promise to withdraw most troops from Iraq, a war that had made it to “Days of our Lives” under Bush.

However, Iraq’s government splintered into Shiite-Sunni sectarianism, with the Sunni’s binding with ISIS arising out of the quagmire in Syria.  The power “low pressure system” would wind up with northern Syria and Iraq being overrun, and with a new existential threat to free speech in the way the Internet could be back-leveraged to get “lost souls” in the west to target ordinary civilians.

Zakaria also covers the passage of Obamacare, which Obama got Congress to write, and Obama’s handling of climate change, after a narrative of the disappearance of an island village in Alaska.

It also covered the controversial deal with Iran.

Zakaria did not cover the debt ceiling crises.

Zakaria did cover the way Donald Trump leveraged the “populism” of middle class people left out of globalization and modernization, and the way such people tend to turn to authoritarianism.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Van Jones: "The Messy Truth" about the gulf between Trump and Clinton voters

Tuesday night, December 6, CNN aired a special by Van Jones, “The Messy Truth” (from Meridian Pictures), “about the gap between Trump and Clinton voters” (CNN link).

Jones interviewed some voters in Michigan. The y were quite blunt, they just wanted to keep their jobs, and they didn’t really care about Trump’s behavior with women or his eratic behavior.

Rick Santorum appeared and was rather equivocal in supporting Trumps’ trade policy, as well as his morals.

Later filmmaker Michale Moore from Michigan appeared and said, “I told you so.”  He said he feared that Clinton was losing “the breakfast states” even before he did his own little film from Worthington, Ohio (Oct. 22, Movies).

Friday, December 02, 2016

"One on One" on 20-20: California bizarre kidnapping case, of Sherri Papini

Tonight, ABC 20-20 aired “One-on-One”,  “Inside the California Mom’s mysterious disappearance and search for her alleged abductors”, basic link. ABC's Matt Guttman interviews the husband in this bizarre kidnapping case where the wife was returned battered.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Keith Papini came home from work at a Best Buy to his rural home near Redding CA and found an empty house.  His wife, Sherri Papini, left her cellphone near their rural mailbox a mile away.  Keith took a picture of it and called 911.

Sherri was found by another motorist before dawn Thanksgiving morning 140 miles to the south on I-5.

During the investigation, Keith took a polygraph test, and a private investigator and international kidnapping consultant Cameron Gable offered  a ransom.  There was also a GoFundMe effort, and many friends helped with the searches.

The two suspects were female, apparently Latino, and Sherri was branded during the torture.  Law enforcement won’t say if this was targeted or random, but another consultant said this sounded like cult activity.

It is common for sex offenders to live in an area like this.

I doubt I could survive anything like this, and I would not want my life to be bargained for if ever singled out.  It is wise, when in places like banks, to be mixed in with the crowd so as not to be singled out.

Wikipedia attribution link for Mt. Shasta picture by Daniel Schwen, CCSA 2.5   I visited the area in 1975 and 1978 (Susanville).

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Trump's "raucous" prime-time rally in Cincinnati: take care of your own first

Donald Trump’s speech in Cincinnati tonight did say one thing that resonated a bit with me. Most people care about real life, and their local lives:  family, community, sports team, and country, and not about the world as an abstraction and other planets.   

But that can mean subservience to others in your own tribe that you don’t choose to be around. 
He also insisted that the US has the no way to verify the safety of letting in any people from certain countries.  Europe didn’t seem to have a choice.

So he makes “taking care of your own first” a moral necessity.  Your country, your immediate neighbors will come before “the others”.  If you're weak, you fit into other people's social hierarchies, whether you would want to or not. 

He did promise big infrastructure projects and that he would not countenance bigotry, as an abstraction.

Here is Stephen Collinson’s account of the “raucous” thank-you rally on CNN.