Friday, January 29, 2016

Trump undermines Iowa GOP debate by holding his own event at the same time


Well, this time, everybody knows.  Donald Trump was a no-show at the GOP debate in Iowa, sponsored by Fox News and Google;  He held his own event, a “Veterans Benefit”, on CNN , and got all the Nielsen ratings.  Relatively few people watched the “real” debate  between Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Kasich, and Rand Paul. The “also rans” (Huckabee, Florina, Santorum and Gilmore) seemed to be hanging around the Trump event, especially Santorum and Huckabee (appearing on Don Lemon’s 10 PM program).



Relatively little that is new was said last night by anyone.  I watched them both simultaneously, while doing a blog post on my music, some of which was composed while I lived in New Jersey in 1974 – and I thought, Chris Christie would be pleased (when I said so in the post).  Cruz is said to have had a rough night, without Trump right there to answer to (Washington Post account by Jonathan Hohmann).  Rubio sounded a little more moderate, at least on immigration.  I didn’t catch a remark on marriage equality denial.   Apparently Cruz’s Canadian birth didn’t come up – except that Trump said he can run for Prime Minister of Canada. and even called Cruz an "anchor baby for Canada".  “Risk is interesting.” And Cruz called his party fellows "stupid, fat, and ugly"?  What?  Rubio is actually cute! "

Rehka Basu, columnist, is reporting on CNN that those without press credentials (i.e. "amateur" bloggers) were not admitted to Trump's event.  That's interesting.

Check Jonathan Chait's piece in New York Magazine, "The Trump Party v. The Republican Party".

And on Slate, Jordan Weissman writes "Cruz to the Sick: Drop Dead".

Wikipedia attribution link for FEMA picture of Des Moines during the 1993 floods (p.d.).  I visited the area lot when I lived in Minneapolis 1997-2003.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

CBS "Limitless" series based on the movie seems a bit lame


I sampled a series on CBS, “Limitless”, where Jake McDorman plays Brian Finch, an “average” 28 year old who develops superhuman mental skills when taking a drug NZT.  The abilities sound like hyperthymesia.  In the Pilot, he had to clear himself of a crime committed by someone else on the drug.  On January 26, CBS repeated the Nov. 3 Episode 7, “Brian Finch’s Black Ops”, where he is kidnapped by the CIA for an undercover mission and “trained” somewhere in remote areas of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountains. It looks like spring time.
  
The training gets real, with real casualties.


The series is based on a 2011 film with Bradley Cooper (as a gifted "writer") reviewed on the Movies blog March 24, 2011.  But the television series seems a bit lame now when we have a film on the “inborn” genetic trait of having hyperthymesia, “The Dark Place”, a film where an appealing gay character has the “gift” (Movies, Dec. 2, 2014).

The CBS site for the is here

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"The Secret Life of G.I. Joe" on CNN: apparently, a tragic police suicide near Chicago


CNN aired another investigative documentary of police problems last night:  “The Secret Life of GI Joe”.  Michael Martinez describes the story on CNN’s best link for the film here. The story is narrated by Pamela Brown.



The original reports for the incident in Fox Lake, IL were that three men, one black and two while, had shot Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, whose body was found Sept. 1, 2015.  But eventually investigation would show a suicide.  The gunshot pierced his pulmonary artery, which meant it took longer to expire.  The report would go on to depict the hidden, troubled life of the police officer, “hero to a new low” with serious character flaws.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Steve Harvey show presents the chronicle of a misbehaving substitute teacher, and her husband's forgiveness of her and his subsequent ministry


Steve Harvey today (January 26, 2016) presented a guest (Christine Scarlett) with a startling story and admission of illegal conduct with a student when she was working as a substitute teacher, apparently in Ohio.  The basic link is here.   The story sounds more appropriate for Dr. Phil than for Harvey, who seems to deal with frivolous topics in the world of heterosexual dating in many of his syndicated (NBC) daytime shows (which replaced a show by Nate Berkus).

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story on the incident here. NBC news ran an AP account of the story here.

Harvey said that in the past year, 781 teachers, many female, had been charged with inappropriate conduct.



Christine, now about 50, appeared with her forgiving husband, a former Marine and corporate CEO. In 2003, she had a quick “affair” with a male two months before his 18th birthday.  (Ohio’s age of consent is 16, but regards contact with a subordinate student in high school or below as an offense;  a few states like California and Virginia still have an AOC of 18).  When she had her second child, she realized that the student must have been the father shortly after the birth.  She confided in the husband. She did not give details, but wound up being charged with an offense, serving 3 days in jail and six months of home detention, and was forced to register as a sex offender and move.  The husband had a severe, nearly fatal case of food poisoning in the meantime.

But as an end result, the husband became a pastor and went to work in Liberia, and was able to help Ebola victims.  He did mention this as a “crusade”.

The narrative in this case is complex, unusual, and would seem to deserve a documentary film, especially from the husband’s viewpoint.

When I was substitute teaching in 2005 in Virginia, there was an episode related to a fictitious screenplay that I had written and posted online (my main “BillBoushka” blog, July 27, 2007).

It is significant that many states (including Virginia) do not require substitute teachers to have teaching licenses.  I don't know about Ohio (in the story today) specifically. See the Issues blog, Dec. 5, 2015.
     
Picture: Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians, my visit, 2012 (replaces old Municipal Stadium, where I attended some games as a boy).


Update:  January 29, 2016

Today, Steve Harvey covered the problem of "sexting" with a narrative of a teenage girl who might have faced 37 counts of child pornography charges (state unspecified).  Psychotherapist Tiffany Davis Henry spoke.  She advised parents use apps that report all their kids' social media activity to them.  The law has not kept up with technology in many states, and the letter of the law can be quite harsh. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

CNN hosts pre-caucus Democratic Presidential Town Hall, and Sanders gets the lead-off attention


CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall tonight, pre-Iowa caucus, in Des Moines, was hosted by attorney Chris Cuomo, and let the three candidates have the stage “hands separately” to field questions from the audience.  So the Town Hall varied from the more common debate formats. CNN’s main link is here.

Bernie Sanders batted first, and had to explain what he means by “democratic socialism”.  He said that people have fundamental economic rights as well as fundamental personal or behavioral rights. He did defend “Medicare for all” and wants to pay for it with taxes on Wall Street speculation. He sees free public college education today as fundamental as free public high school education in the past.

Martin O’Malley went second, and fielded a question about marriage equality. Cuomo asked him whom he would support if he didn’t get enough percentage points to stay in.

Hillary Clinton was dressed like Miss Scarlet in Cluedo.  One audience member while she didn't seem to have the following of young adults that Sanders does.



Sanders supporters claim that CNN has been deleting pro-Sanders comments from its news stories.
 
Earlier today, a commentator on AC360 referred to” Barack Obama’s Second Coming”.  Chapter 3 of my first DADT book is titled “My Second Coming”.  Maybe the phrase stuck in someone’s mind.

Wikipedia attribution link for aerial photo of Des Moines, by Joe Mabel, under CC-SA 3.0 license. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

CNN's "The Person Who Changed My Life"


CNN has been running specials of “The Person Who Changed My Life

Chris Cuomo gave a moving segment as identifying that person as Mario, his son, named after Chris’s father, former New York State Democratic governor.  Becoming a father of a son approaching and entering adolescence himself changed who he is (and one thinks of the movie “Boyhood”).  The report showed a segment with them sailing and fishing together off Long Island.

But Anderson Cooper identified that person as his own father, who would pass away at 50.  Anderson is now 48.  Anderson said that he learned a sense of moral compass from his father.



Poppy Harlow said that person was another female friend, Maria, who got her to focus less on her “selfie” attitude, especially in relationships.

Wolf Blitzer’s mentor was Bernie Shaw.  Blitzer started working for CNN in 1990, a two months before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, so much of his early career was taken by the Persian Gulf War. Shaw helped him learn to work in a visual medium.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Law and Order": "A Misunderstanding" explores accusation by young women of "rape" after supposedly consensual encounters


Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”  (or “Law & Order: SVU”) aired an episode “A Misunderstanding” last night, directed by Mariska Hargitay. Two male high school students (Danile Covin and Sean Grandillo , one an honor student expected a football scholarship, are accused of “rape” after heterosexual intimacy with teenage girls, who seem to be under legal age.

Both refuse plea deals that would place them on a sex offender registry. It seems as though Romeo and Juliet laws don’t apply.  Then the episode focuses to a jury trial on one of the cases.



The teenage girl had texted back to the boy that everything was fine.  But then she accused him of “rape” anyway.  He would finally be convicted of a misdemeanor.  But his reputation is sundered forever, especially online (and he could be denied the right to have online access when on parole or probation later).  The US has no “right to be forgotten” laws.

This veteran series on NBC still brings up key social issues intersecting with the law.  Heterosexual college boys are always saying that being accused of "rape" is always a danger in seemingly consensual situations. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CNN airs "Who Killed Freddie Gray?"


Tonight, CNN aired the one hour documentary film “Who Killed Freddie Gray?” about the death of an African-American man in police custody on Sunday morning, April 12, 2015.  As a result, a tremendous uproar would occur, including riots and looting, and a week-long curfew in the city, which seriously affected night business in all sections of the City.

The best link for the documentary is the op-ed page by Todd Oppenheim, “Freddie Gray case Is Band-Aid for Baltimore’s Problem

The documentary did disclose Freddie’s long rap sheet for small offenses, but it also said that Gray had gotten lead poisoning (which would cause learning difficulties) from growing up in Sandtown  and never finished 10th Grade.  A friend said, “He did what he had to do.”



A police van stopped several times after chaining Gray in the back of the van, without a seat belt.  When one of the defendants opened the van and asked him if he needed medical attention. Gray said that he did. But medical attention was never given. He would essentially die of a broken neck somehow incurred by a fall in the back of the van.

Gray was apparently taken in for running from police.  But the police report is disingenuous on police knew he had a knife (that is, had probable cause).

Two major reporters from the Baltimore Sun contributed to the report.

Six police officers are charged, with the most serious being "depraved Second Degree murder".  One case has resulted in a hung jury and will be retried.  Given the volatile situation, fair trials would look impossible.
 
I visited the Sandtown area on April 29 during the afternoon. I walked to it from Penn Station along North Ave (US 1).  It is about one mile from Penn Station and the Charles Street area. One reporter from American University in Washington was caught for a while in a dangerous situation near the riots on April 30.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Democratic Debate on NBC; popular young vlogger appears with a question


I caught some of the Democratic debate (which repeats on MSNBC at 11 PM), between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, again from “S.C.” (memories of Fort Jackson).
 
NBC News has its own blog of the debate here.

But the biggest issue seemed to be Bernie Sanders’s “modest proposal” to put in a single payer system for healthcare, replacing the ACA ("Obamacare"), with an extra 2.2% tax on every household, and much higher tax rates for the richest Americans.  http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/bernie-sanders-announces-health-care-plan-ahead-debate   Sanders would replace the entire private health care industry.
Sanders also spoke heavily about campaign finance reform, and said that health care is particularly beholden to lobbying.

Harold Pollack of Vox explains why putting in single-payer health care is so particularly difficult in the US.

Hillary said, "No band is too big to fail, no person is too powerful for jail."

Hillary said she would not raise taxes on middle class families. But the better off should pay for family leave.
 
Bernie was asked if people could change their lifestyles for climate change. Changing away from fossil fuel will lower oil prices and stock prices even more!

O'Malley wants a 100% green electric grid by 2050, and seemed to hint we need to address systematic security for the grids, something candidates don't talk about enough.

The fear-mongering from the GOP debates was relatively little mentioned.

The debates fielded a question from Connor Franta (Wisconsin), one of the most successful video bloggers, on how to get the young adult vote. He seems to have a book, which looks interesting to investigate.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Plot Twist" on NBC Dateline shows an actor plotting a double murder, framing someone else, unusually troubling story


NBC Dateline’s “Plot Twist” episode Friday night (Jan. 15) presented a bizarre case where a stage actor used his “talents” to carry out a 2010 double murder and try to frame someone else.  The Orange County register summarizes the facts.  (Look also at the secondary link, "Inside the Snitch Tank".)

Daniel Wozniak,  now 31, has received the death penalty from a jury in Orange County, CA.

Wozniak has planned to marry Rachel Buffett, now 28.  Broke and needing cash to start married life after a wedding, he lured Army combat veteran Samuel Herr to a clandestine location near the Los Alamitos training base and shot him, planning just to rob originally.  He later dismembered the body and then that same evening played the lead role in the musical “Nine” (by Maury Yeston) in the Hunger Artists Theater in Fullerton. The Dateline episode presented the acting performance of girl friend Rachel that evening as motivated by knowledge of the event.

Wozniak would subsequently use Herr’s cellphone to lure Juri Kibuishi and kill her in an attempt to “frame” Herr.  But he would be arrested at his bachelor party on his “last night of freedom” (literally) before the wedding.  Buffett has pleaded not guilty to charges of acting as an accessory. Dr. Phil had a show about her situation.  All of this sounds like the actions of a psychopath.


NBC Dateline has a link to the entire episode story (as a "preview") here.   The embed offered goes to the wrong news story (which is a consistent and annoying problem with embeds offered on NBC's site); I wish NBC would fix this problem.

The episode is noteworthy in that, in the past  two decades (after publishing my first book) I have met numerous actors and show and movie people and never encountered anything remotely like this.
This crime episode is surely one of the most troubling Dateline has ever aired.


Update: March  5, 2016

ABC 20-20 covered the same case as "Mystery in Apartment 410", one hour, on March 4, press release here.  The jury recommended the death penalty.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

GOP debate from N. Charleston: the streaming was a bit of a fiasco


To all appearances, the GOP presidential debate in N. Charleston SC tonight was not covered on any regular channels, but was streamed live on “foxbusiness.com”.  There were many commercial breaks where the channel went silent.

I watched a portion of it, and seemed to lose sound.  Maybe I messed up with the controls.  But I found it being streamed on YouTube, until Fox suddenly had YouTube (under the DMCA Safe Harbor) stop the streaming with a copyright claim.  This seems silly.

Here is a typical Fox account.

Trump actually sounded a little less abrasive than in the past, and rose to praise New York for the way it recovered from 9/11.  That was in response to a particularly offensive remark by Ted Cruz about "New York Values", which Cruz equated to gay marriage, abortion, liberal media, and money culture.  Cruz, when an apology was demanded by Di Basio, would "apologize" only for New York's liberal government.



There was a lot of discussion of a liberal “threat” of a European-style VAT.

The candidates, esp. Gov, Christie, indicated that they thought Obama doesn’t respect law enforcement.  Christie criticize Obama for not always enforcing laws against marijuana.  Cruz mentioned same-sex marriage once derisively.

On the Second Amendment, it sounds as if most of the candidates believe that personal and familial self-defense is not only a right, it is a duty

Check out Dan Batz in the Washington Post "The Take: Can Donald Trump really be the Republican Nominee?"  Donald hasn't forgotten his favorite people:  Troy McClain, Omarosa, and Rosie O'Donnell.  And he hasn't forgotten "how to get rich."

Dara Lind of Vox explains why Cruz's "natural born citizen" debate is a non-issue.

Jimmy Fallon had Hillary Clinton on his show the same night (Nov. 15) on NBC in New York.  Fallon also had fun with the Academy Award nominations ("not one black actor").

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Law and Order" SVU depicts a mean home invasion


Tonight’s “Law and Order SVU”, titled “Townhouse Incident”, directed by Nick Gomez, was indeed disturbing.  Benson (Mariska Hargitay) becomes a hostage in a brutal home invasion.  A young man and his sister (both white), acting a bit like “revolutionaries” from the Patty Hearst era, target the family (apparently in Queens) of the owner of a supermarket, expecting to find a non-existent safe with cash.  Then, following the pattern of a 2007 invasion in Connecticut, they plan to force the mother to withdraw money.  
  

Truant officers, looking for one of the kids, become suspicious and tip of police, who set up a typical staged release of the kids.  The sister is talked into surrendering  Finally, Benson suddenly out-maneuvering the guy with karate, who then takes a shot.  In a later part of the episode, the perp (Jue Reegan) just said there was no ideology, he just need the money.  But he sounded like he would take everyone with him, like a terrorist. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Obama's SOTU and GOP response are measured, moderate


President Obama’s State of the Union Address on all the networks was indeed more principled and less about specifics.

The most interesting part of the speech was his criticism of hyper-partisanship.  He noted that average Americans feel they will not be heard, and must live with policies set by people and for the advantage of people with many more economic resources and much more social and political power.  He seemed to be taking a stab at conservative ideas of morality, where you have to be local “to  your own” first, before you are heard.



He also talked about science.  He mentioned Biden’s intended role in cancer research, looking for revolutionary treatments and tests.  He mentioned Sputnik in 1957, and said that nobody argued about science then the way they do now about climate change. He mentioned the idea of a “Dreamer’s science project” and the teachers who support her.  But it isn’t hard to expand this comment to noting that much of our most revolutionary technological progress seems motivated by the work of relatively few prodigies, some of them minority related or in immigrant families or otherwise minorities.   Some of the science and technology prodigies include Mark Zuckerberg, both Andraka brothers, Param Jaggi, and Taylor Wilson, to name a few.  Compare the mentality behind their work with that of Wall Street, where people use their talents just to manipulate finances.

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley provided a moderate Republican response.  She talked moderation on immigration, humility before God in the face of a violent incident in Charleston in 2015 from a right-wing terrorist, common sense in supporting the 2nd Amendment, and even reconciliation of religious freedom with individual right to marry a partner of one’s choosing.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"The Marijuana Revolution" on the History Channel


The History Channel premiered a documentary “The Marijuana Revolution” on Jan. 11, 2016, 123 minutes.

Like previous films, the documentary focused on the complex aspects of running businesses growing, packaging and retailing recreational marijuana in Colorado and now Washington State.
Recreational cannabis is also legal, within limits, in Oregon and Alaska (and the District of Columbia).

The film also showed how it is used in cooking.  Cannabis enters the body much more slowly when eaten (through the liver) so the user may not at first know how much she has consumed.

Banks still refuse to allow money made from legal pot to be deposited because of federal money laundering laws.  So it is still an all cash business, which creates enormous security problems. Some people fear arrest after traffic stops in various circumstances.  Air travel can be difficult because the odor persists on people when they go past the TSA, which is having to adjust its practices when dogs find it.



Federal laws are likely to change only if many more states legalize recreational use.
The town of Raymond, Washington, south of Tacoma and near the coast, may benefit from a large number of jobs associated with cannabis.

Wikipedia offers a map of where recreational use is somewhat legal.
World-cannabis-laws

Friday, January 08, 2016

CNN hosts Town Hall with President Obama, "Guns in America", and the sides talk past one another


Thursday night, Anderson Cooper(AC360 on CNN)  hosted a Town Hall with President Barack Obama called "Guns in America" at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

The NRA was invited, and Obama said it was just a couple miles away.  It’s maybe eight miles, where Route 50 meets Interstate 66. The NRA declined to be there.

There is really a gap on how the two sides think on this one.

The president sounded reasonable enough when he told a female rape victim that nothing in his XO would stop her from owning a gun (since she would pass a background check), and that improving the background check requirement would mean that if the criminal who attacked her were released from prison, we wouldn’t want him to have a gun again so he could come after her.  Of course, a criminal with street smarts is likely to get one anyway and can come after her again.

But another female from Texas said that she was frankly offended by the idea that women can’t defend themselves.

Taya Kyle (widow of Chris Kyle, "American Sniper") grilled Obama, story.


The president also acknowledged that different people live in alternate universes.  Upper middle class people can usually think “strategically” (or “positionally” as in a chess game). People in ghettos live from minute to minute (“tactically”).  The president also said that there had been shootings near his home in Chicago.  In fact, there were 5 shootings in Chicago the day of the debate.

Why are background checks such a big deal with the Right? Part of it sounds like the Right fears that the government will have data on people and come after them at some time in the future and take away their guns.  (Australia did have a big gun turn-in.)

The Right also says that we don’t require background checks for free speech. But people, on release from prison, sometimes are not allowed to have Internet accounts (such as sex offenders).

The idea that people would be better off if armed when in theaters, shopping malls, and discos may sound ludicrous.  Indeed, practically no owners of these private businesses will knowingly allow weapons on their premises.  It sounds unworkable.  Not simply airlines or trains, but subways and busses can’t allow them.  But what about when out on the street?  It’s very believable that in a particular situation, having a weapon and being able to use it could save my life, or better yet, prevent me from being maimed and a burden on others for the rest of my life.  (I had a close call in 2013; what if I had been pushed down a Metro escalator?)  Here’s a corker.  Someone I know may have been in the Bataclan during the Paris attacks.  The person is OK now but does not talk about what happened.  It doesn’t take much for the “being armed in public” argument on the right to take hold.   In Europe, gun laws did not protect the citizens in Paris, or those in San Bernadino, CA.  But maybe this really is a national security issue.  Gun laws could not have protected Americans from the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There seems to be a divide on the way the Right and Middle-to-Left view moral compass. On the Right, taking care of your own – that is immediate family and nearby community, often within a church fellowship – is of primary moral importance.  That extends beyond just providing for the children you “chose” to have.  Young males are expected to protect women and children and younger siblings in their family and community, regardless of parentage. “Loyalty to blood” (as in a particular episode of “Jake 2.0” back in 2003) rules.  That means ability to use a weapon to depend others in the family unit is morally required, with a mentality connected to the past military draft. The Right is likely to believe that it is difficult for a grown man to continue to carry out this responsibility without getting married (traditionally) and having his own children as his own domain.

Part of the moral vision of the far Right is that one must be able to survive, in a family unit, even if the global infrastructure around crumbles (as with terror attacks).  Call this the "Doomsday Prepper" mentality. The Right is inconsistent on the importance of securing and protecting infrastructure – but give Newt Gingrich his credit.  Why don’t Donald Trump and Ted Cruz talk more about cybersecurity or the power grids?

To the Left, the expected responsibility for others becomes much more global.  It is important to reach out to underprivileged or less fortunate people anywhere in the world (especially overseas), even if one does not form one’s own family.  Unearned wealth is a no-no, although sometimes the Right is capable to coming around to this idea, too.  The Left is more likely to “bargain away” an individual’s rights in a given situation for an abstract idea of common good.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

"Law and Order SVU" episode combines catfishing with egregious abuse of minors by two high school teachers


Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” (SVU) on NBC aired an unusually disturbing episode directed by Michael Slovis Wednesday night, January 6, “Catfishing Teacher”. It featured two teachers taking advantage of high school students.

The episode starts as a young female English teacher “tricks” a member of the wrestling team into a sexual situation in a storage closet.  It seems as though the episode is going to get into the subject matter of female sex offenders.  But then another younger (15 years old) teen (Ted Sutherland) disappears.  In investigation the first incident, the detectives are a led to the possibility that the wrestling coach has abducted this other teen and taken him to a cabin in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.



With the help of PA state police, NYPD tracks down the coach, rescue the boy, and soon the coach is prosecuted.  But other victims are reluctant to testify, until one of the victims from years back (who had worked as a babysitter of the teen a number of years before) takes matters into his own hand and gets personal revenge against the coach.  Now the victim faces murder charges.

Detectives were played by Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T and Dann Florek.


Update: Jan. 9

There is a news story about "catflishing" and the rape debacle at the University of Virginia in the Washington Post today, by T. Rees Shapiro.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

"American Crime" starts second season with bizarre social media case where a teen basketball player waffles at the posting of his own abuse by teammates


American Crime”, an ABC series, started its second season tonight, Jan. 6, 2016,  with a Pilot directed by John Ridley.

In Indianapolis, an attractive private school basketball player Taylor Blaine (Connor Jessup) gets a double whammy"  other boys (apparnetly) post pictures of abuse of him allegedly done by members of his team at a hazing party, on social media. He gets suspended from school for the postings (as if the school thinks he did the postings).  Legally, the postings might amount to child pornography.  His mother (Lili Taylor) challenges the school and wants to have the other boys prosecuted for rape.  The school (with headmistress played by Felicity Huffman) keeps putting the pressure on the mother and son.  Timothy Hutton, the basketball coach Dan Sullivan, gradually starts to pressure the team members to come forward.



Is this about bullying, old-fashioned hazing, or is it really about valid sexual assault?

Judging from the circumstances, there seems to be the possibility that the other students posted the pictures, but then why is Taylor punished by the school.  On the other hand, why would he have posted them?  Just to prove he was drugged and attacked?

The New York Times has an article by James Poniewozik on the second season.  Some wild courtroom drama is coming down the pike.

ABC’s official website is here.


Update: Jan. 18, 2016

ABC's "The View" discussed the premise of "American Crime" as part of a larger discussion about online reputation, school, and the workplace.  The consensus is that Taylor gets thrown out of school for postings of him (and abuse done in a hazing episode) done by others, link to the video here.


Update: Jan. 27, 2016

In Episode 4, evidence develops that Taylor and another kid might have had cell phone communications indicating a desire for intimacy and that they could both be gay.  The other boy, humiliated and wanting an athletic scholarship, attempts to poison himself and is in the hospital.  The idea of prosecution seems to be coming apart, but the school faces lawsuits. But this show is starting to resemble "The Slap".
   
Update: Feb. 10, 2016
 
Taylor's mother still can't accept his homosexuality ("it doesn't go away"), and this is beginning to look like the reason for the suit.  At the end of the episode, it looks like Taylor is going to get gay-bashed, and possibly seek revenge.

Update: Feb. 17, 2016

Taylor gets a gun at home, and when confronted by a bully, shoots and apparently kills the bully (wo had participated in beating him up for "snitching" and then said "I will kill you" just before Taylor shot him in the belly).  It looks like his mother will try to conceal the crime. But we're back to a melodrama on school shootings, and anti-gay bullying.

It's horrible because Connor Jessup looks like someone who should play a hero.  Too bad he isn't in a Blue Seraph film.

Update: Feb. 24, 2016

Taylor will be tried as an adult, but it is disclosed that a female student had given him drugs.

Update: March 2, 2016

The school is placed into receivership as the board must resign;  a girl's mother confesses the girl gave Taylor drugs.  Lawyers want to plead, perhaps voluntary manslaughter, citing bullying and extenuating circumstances (including his being beaten up the day before).
  
Update: March 9, 2016

Taylor appears ready to take a plea deal giving him a longer prison term as an adult, to avoid the shame of being a "victim".  I get his point.  This drama is getting excruciating to watch.  A school looks the other way on anti-gay bullying, with horrific consequences for so many people.  I wonder if someone is going to make a documentary film about Tyler Clementi.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

PBS Frontline: "Netanyahu at War"


Tuesday night, PB Frontline presented “Netanyahu at War”, two hours, primary link here.

The documentary started with the assassination of Rabin in 1995, but quickly moved to cover Netanyahu’s “premierships”.  The documentary then focused on Netanyahu’s difficult relationship with President Obama, who tried to put Netanyahu in the position of giving up or backing off on his West Bank settlements if he wanted American aid.  Netanyahu would be further miffed by the president’s “deal” with Iran.



Netanyahu was depicted as arguing that his people had suffered, which was one reason they deserved collectively to keep expanding the settlements.  America doesn’t think that way, hopefully.

Wikipedia attribution link for Ariel photo of a settlement (p.d.)

Monday, January 04, 2016

"Making a Murderer": Netflix series on Wisconsin case of "pseudo double jeopardy" leads to public outcry


Making a Murderer” is a ten-part series (directed by Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi) made for Netflix (by Synthesis Films) about the conviction, exoneration, and second conviction of Steven Avery in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee.

This may be the longest series ever made about a wrongful conviction case, as most are one-episode films.



Avery was convicted in 1985 for assaulting his cousin, and served 18 years in prison.  He was released in 2003 after evidence revealed DNA from more than one person.  Avery brought a lawsuit for wrongful conviction, but at about the time the litigation was to get going, a photographer who was supposed to meet with Avery, Teresa Halbach, was murdered, and Avery was prosecuted for that crime.  Some people think that the state was retaliating for the lawsuit and framing him again. This is certainly an unusual case of a kind of pseudo double jeopardy. I don’t recall of hearing of another one like it.

The narrative suggests that sex among relatives did take place in the extended family, a history that would sound bizarre and hard for most people to believe.

The series gives a lot of attention to the additional conviction of Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey (analysis on Bustle about a possible false confession and deception by authorities; note the link comparing the case to James Patterson’s novel and movie “Kiss the Girls”(1997) ).

A lot has been written about the cases.  For example, “The Wrap” offers “5 Theories for Steven Avery’s Innocence”.  Pajiba presents “Evidence ‘Making a Murdered’ didn’t present in Steven Avery’s Case”.

Here is Netflix’s official site.

This takes a tremendous time investment for the material (most episodes are slightly over 60 minutes a piece), so I watched episodes 1 and 10.

The series seems to have tremendous popularity, and so far more than 170,000 people call for a pardon of Avery.
 
Nancy Grace has been very critical of the series on "Access Hollywood" indicating a strong likelihood that Avery is guilty of the second crime, and decrying Netflix's goading a public protest and demand for a pardon.

Picture: Lake Michigan, flying westward toward Milwaukee and Minneapolis (2011).

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Discovery Channel ponders its future as its programs recently seem more repetitive; try "Dual Survival"


The Washington Post Business Section Saturday, January 2, 2016 has a story by Drew Harwell, “Life after Honey Boo Boo: Inside Discovery’s fight to grow up”   As usual, reality shows are less expensive to produce that traditional documentaries or especially docudramas.

I know someone who has done editing work for the channel (the same person who did proofing for my books).  The palatial company headquarters are in Silver Spring, MD, not very far from the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center.  AFI has held some QA discussions in the building.



Right now, I’m checking up on it by watching “Dual Survival” with Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury. The particular episode is Lost at Sea”  and deals with how to survive in a life raft in the ocean.  One of the key advice points is to “not puke” from seasickness because that causes the body to lose all its electrolytes. Later the men, on land, take some time to recover from nausea and then have to make fires from friction just with wood or bamboo. They also need more water, as protein without water increases the rate of dehydration. They improvise a low-tech desalination device.
 
One problem with Discovery for my use is that it devotes entire days with multiple episodes of the same reality series.  Today, “Dual Rescue” broadcasts all day.  Some of the best series in the past were Ted Koppel's series on China ("The People's Republic of Capitalism") and the film "Alien Planet".