Monday, July 24, 2017

CNN: "After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed": a screenwriting lesson?


On Saturday, July 22, CNN aired a special report, “After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed”, link here.  (Odd that MSN carries it).



Screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny had apparently hired Mark Fuhtman as a consultant when writing a screenplay and novel about female police officers. An odd thing for a screenwriter to do. 

CNN carried O.J/'s parole hearing from Nevada, and it seems it took a predictable course. "I've done my time," he insisted. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"The Russian Spies Living Next Door" starts CNN's "Declassified" Season 2; the photo of Mikhail Semenko


CNN’s series “Declassified” resumed with Season 2 July 2, with “The Russian Spies Living Next Door”, with a presentation, with Leon Panetta, of how Russians placed ordinary people, often young adults, speaking fluent English in American society as spies.  Many were (traditionally) married couples.  The basic link is here.  Some of these cases built the Fox-Amblin-Dreamworks series “The Americans” set in the 1980s.



One particular spy who caught my eye was Mikhail Semenko.  He was a student at Seton Hall University in E Orange NJ and then worked as a travel agent in Arlington VA until his arrest in the summer of 2010.  I think I recall seeing him, as he is quite striking.  Here’s one story in Arlington Now and the Houston Chronicle has the story with beach picture..   Semenko would be caught making a drop in a northern Virginia park. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ABC Nightline: "Gay Purges" in Chechnya


ABC Nightline, in the after midnight show early 7/20/2017, reported on “Gay Purges” in Chechnya.
     
The broadcast visited a safehouse in the outskirts of Moscow, where vigilante violence has increased since 2013 throughout much of Russia, but most of all in Chechnya. 

“Militias” that seemed connected to the government, according to one person in the safehouse. There were stories of torture and electrocution. 

The president of the region denied the existence of gays in this Muslim autonomous area.  He said families should take matters into their own hands.

27 of the over 100 people in the safe house have been able to leave Russia.

Vladimir Putin seems to deny the problem, and his attitude over the Magnitsky Act could be a contributing factor.


The Tsarnaev brothers came from Chechnya.  

Nightline did not have a link the story yet. 

Update: The link resolves if you forward it to Twitter, here

Monday, July 17, 2017

CNN: "The 90s" and Bubba Bill Clinton


CNN has started its series “The 90s” with the same theme music suggesting historical sweep. The main link is here.

The best part of the Pilot was the scenes showing excerpts from David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, as it showed how television changed in the 1990s.  In 1992, George H. W. Bush tried to put down “The Simpsons” as he was losing the White House to the post-Persian Gulf War recession.

Bill Clinton, Bubba himself, the comeback kid, became the subject of the second episode. The episode brushed off his attempt to lift the ban on gays in the military, which became a major story right after he took office in 1993, facing the outcry from Colin Powell, Sam Nunn, and Charles Moskos, who would come up with “don’t ask don’t tell”.



But the episode veered off into the Whitewater scandal, and makes Clinton look as feckless as Trump today. Clinton would lose the midterms in 1004, but then preside over a booming economy in the second half of the decade as it approached Y2K, with the dot-com boom and bust.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

NBC Today show presents problem of gifted teens developing schizophrenia



NBC Today Show Sunday morning had an important report on middle illness among gifted kids, with the story of Joey Hudy, who earned a visit with President Obama with a science fair invention at age 14.

The main link for the video (no embed) is here.


Other videos on YouTube show his earlier science fair awards.  Science fair awards have been important for other young adults often discussed in these blogs, so this is a very disturbing story. 

The report was probably shown in part because of GOP threats to cut mental health care coverage in many policies, especially bare bones, in the current health care debate.

But the report also highlights that the ages 17-25 or so are a period where some young adults, even very gifted ones, develop schizophrenia, for unknown reasons, possibly related to the final phase of the brain maturation and “pruning” which can lead to “ wiring” problems (as connections are “dropped” incorrectly) in the brain given certain genetics.  

Here are some more references on early adulthood schizophrenia: NIH, nbcdfw, Psychcentral, and Washington Post.

It sounds plausible that kids  who are involved in several diversified "real-world" activities (not just before screens) would have more resistance to this problem, given any genetic setup. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

CNN: "The First Son: The Life of Donald Trump, Jr."; the role of the Magnitsky Act??


On Friday, July 14, CNN aired “The First Son: The Life of Donald Trump, Jr.”  At 39, he looks very youthful.

Curiously, CNN does not have a good link on its own show yet.  But here is CNN’s latest on the whole matter of meetings with the Russians during the campaign to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, as if they needed to find more.

Donald Trump Jr. was a bit of a troublemaker sometimes in college.  As an adult, he has drawn controversy, or sometimes praise, on liking to “hunt and fish”.  I guess my own admiration goes to the Canadian zoologist who “whispered” an alpha male lion who let the man join the pride to film it. Higher mammals really are much like us in too many ways.



Donald Jr. seems to be in charge of the international businesses, while Eric runs the domestic.  And, no, this is not fake news.



Update: July 16 

Bill Browder, of Capital Hermitage Management, told Fareed Zakaria 9/16 that Putin wanted Trump in office to have a better change of overturning US laws seizing assets of individual Russians guilty of human rights abuses,  This in turn can destabilize Putin's hold on power in Russia. This concerns the Magnitsky Act, explained on Fox here

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fox airs MLB All Star Game from funky Marlins Park: essentially, its Astros 2, Nats 1


Last night, Fox carried the All Star Game for Major League Baseball, and it turned out to be a low scoring game, where power pitchers, each in for only an inning or two, could dominate power hitters.

The National league (the visiting team) won in 10 innings, 2-1, on a homer by Seattle’s Robinson Cano to right in the top of the frame (MLB report).


The Fox broadcast interviewed two outfielders, Brantley of the Astros and Bryce Harper of the Nationals, by mike as they stood in the outfield as innings began.  Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who won the “homerama” contest (and hit four balls over 500 feet) was interviewed.

Bryce Harper made a great catch of a blooper in right field.  Max Scherzer pitched a stellar first inning.  Strasburg, hit by a line drive Saturday but apparently OK, did not pitch.   Harper wore his uniform a bit open, to be "revealed" during the game. 

Nevertheless, the end result could be viewed as Astros 2, Nats 1. 

Wikipedia attribution link under CCSA 2.0  of Marlins Park “Bermuda Triangle” picture by Lundberg.

Friday, July 07, 2017

"Dying to Be Famous: The Versace Murders" of 1997, on ABC 20-20: about spree killer Andrew Cunanan


Tonight ABC 20-20 aired the retrospective report “Dying to Be Famous: the Versace Murders”, best link here.

The disturbing story concerns spree killer Andrew Cunanan, who killed two former lovers in Minneapolis in the spring of 1997, then another elderly sugar daddy in Chicago in May, and then drove to Miami Beach (through Philadelphia and New Jersey, where he killed a cemetery attendant to steal a car) and killed Gianni Versace, shooting him on the front door of his home in broad daylight.

 Cunanan would commit suicide in a houseboat when collared by police.
 


Cunanan had a high “IQ”, but also narcissistic personality disorder.  His is one of the most disturbing ever in the gay community, and this is very unusual.  Cunanan’s nihilism seemed to be like that of James Holmes in 2012.
 
John Walsh narrated the episode.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Dateline: "Into the Wild": a teenage pilot survives getting lost, a crash in the Big Horn Mountains


NBC Dateline presented “Into the Wild” on Sunday, a story of how McKenzie Morgan, a teenage girl (17) and private pilot survived losing her way in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, crashed, and survived.

A hiker with a lame horse happened to see her, by fortuitous coincidence.  They eventually got down back to civilization to a sheriff’s car.



She had misread a reading and gone the wrong way, finding the plane climbing higher (over 13000 feet) than it is designed to fly.

The flash link for the episode is here.

The episode showed spectacular canyon country as well as bare peaks with no human traffic.

I visited the area in 1994.

Big Horn alpine scene, Wikipedia, John David Stutts, CCSA 3.0

Friday, June 30, 2017

CNN: AC360 hosts documentary "The Pulse of Orlando"


Anderson Cooper hosted the one hour documentary “The Pulse of Orlando” tonight.

The Orlando Sentinel has a story here and CNN has a major link here.

The broadcast focused on naming the victims and telling the stories of the survivors. One female said she was not proud of being a survivor.  Anderson became emotional during the readings and interviews.

There was some coverage of the outdoor area during the incident with the police cars.



Andersom interviewed the owner Barbara Poma.

Anderson also visited a large conservative church in Orlando, whose pastor said he had had little contact with the gay community before the attack.

Anderson also visited a local Metropolitan Community Church.

I visited the Pulse on Saturday, July 11, 2015 and left shortly before 2 AM, after being at a downtown outdoor festival.  So this could have happened to me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CNN: "The Russian Connection: Inside the Attack on Democracy"


Tonight, CNN aired a special report, “The Russian Connection: Inside the Attack on Democracy”, best link here.

The documentary started with an enactment of the cyber attack on Estonia in 2007, which forced Estonia to cut off all outside web traffic for some time.

The attack on the Democratic National Committee seems to have been launched largely by spear phishing, with an attack asking a Democratic National Committee to change a password, purportedly from gmail.



The eventual outcome was the leak of emails, and eventually also the leak of some of Hillary Clinton’s private email server content, which had started out as simply bad workplace judgement, something familiar to me from my own IT career.

The fake news attack favoring Trump was another beast.
 
James Clapper often spoke.

Friday, June 23, 2017

ABC 20-20: "What Happened to Otto?": We don't know, as there is no proof he did anything; tensions with North Korea at all time high


ABC 20-20 on Friday June 23 aired “What Happened to Otto”, a documentary with Bob Wodruff examining the life and death of Otto Warmbier, after he was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016 and, according to the best evidence, experienced some sort of suffocation shortly after imprisonment and lapsed into a coma.  The best link seems to be this.

Warmbier had toured the world after reaching his junior year at the University of Virginia.  While in China, he learned about a group Pioneer Tours that does guided tours to North Korea.

To its credit, it must be said that the tours are structured and pass through various places quickly. Pyongyang is made to look modern and inviting and tourists are put into a particular high-rise on an island.  The company will no longer accept tourists from the U.S. because of the tense political situation.
 


The fifth floor is blocked off, and is where the DPRK maintains surveillance on guests.  News people had gotten photos of the secret floor (rather out of “Being John Malkovich”). The North Koreans had a grainy photo of a somewhat tall person who had snuck down to the floor non stairs and removed a poster. But it is not possible to prove that the person is Warmbier, and it is possible that Warmbier’s tearful confession as coerced, according to ABC's broadcast.

Nevertheless some people have written that Warmbier was arrogant in believing he could flout the values of another culture, however authoritarian, and however venial is act.  But we aren’t sure he did anything.

The Trump administration did put more pressure on North Korea to release Warmbier than had Obama’s.  Does the death of ab American (three more right now are in prison) increase the tension between the US and North Korea?  The US has to consider the grisly possibility of a conventional or possibly WMD attack on South Korea in retaliation.  (That might include an EMP strike.)  The US can put more pressure on China and companies in China that do business with North Korea.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

CNN's Anthony Bourdain visits Antarctica, where ice sheets are melting


Anrhony Bourdain visited Antarctic and stayed in the McMurdo camp as his “Parts Unknown” episode Saturday night, link here.

The camp is one of the cleanest, most litter-communities on Earth, even better than Singapore.



He also visited the dry valleys near McMurdo.

He then flew over the volcano Mount Erebus, and later visited a compound on the South Pole.

He visited a study of penguins.  But the biggest concern is the thickness of ice sheets given climate change.

The sociology of the scientists who live together for months at a time in a closed environment is interesting, quasi-military.

Wikipedia dry valley picture

By NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team - NASA Image of the Day, Public Domain, Link

Friday, June 16, 2017

ABC Nightline interviews Chelsea Manning after her release from Leavenworth, based on Obama's commutation


ABC Nightline interviewed Chelsea Manning, 29, late Thursday night, best link here.

Juju Chang consistently referred to Manning as female, only later mentioning that she had grown up in Oklahoma as Bradley and entered the Army as male, and then demanding treatment for her transition to female while in military prison.

She says she thinks she did the right thing.  NSA officials say there were legitimate channels for her to play whistleblower.



Yet, her 40 minute leak to Wikileaks became the film “Collateral Murder”, which I posted myself in April 2010.  No one has complained about my linking to this film, which is still available on YouTube.

Chelsea insisted, “I’m just me” and that she took life one day at a time.  She also called herself “a subject matter expert”.

She had a contact at Wikileaks named Nathaniel.
By Americasroof - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CNN airs from Congressional game at Nats Park while the real Nats beat the Mets in NYC


CNN broadcast AC360 tonight from Nationals Park where, in a 7-inning game, the Democrats, batting first as the visiting team with the Republicans in office everywhere, won 11-2.
Here’s a report on the game.   In the meantime, the Nationals were beating the Mets 8-3 at Citi Field in Queens, NYC.



CNN has some footage as well as a discussion between Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi here.

I don’t know if there were any homers or hard hit balls.  It would be interesting for Hollywood to have a game with actors.  Typically, fit younger men with the ability to act in demanding film would have the strength to hit “hanging” pitches over major league fences 330-400 feet or so.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Comey hearings


The Comey hearings go on right now on CNN and all major networks.



Last night, on CNN, Jeffrey Toobin and Alan Dershowitz had a disagreement as to whether Trump’s behavior with Comey amounts to criminal obstruction of justice.  Dershowitz says that Trump’s behavior was within his powers, but Congress can still try to impeach.  Toobin said this resembles Nixon.  There is confusion as to what is impeachable and what could lead to later criminal prosecution.

Comey called the president a liar several times.

Comey was criticized by Trump's attorney for "leaking" official information to a third party, a Columbia University Professor, after Comey saw Trump's speculative tweet about having tapes.

Here's the CNN link.

Many Senators this morning expressed dismay that Russians had so brazenly interfered with our elections.

Monday, June 05, 2017

"Live With Megyn Kelly": interview with Putin, an opioid company whistleblower, a woman who stops elephant poachers in Africa


Live With Megyn Kelly” premiered on NBC Sunday night at 7 PM, best link.

She interviewed Vladimir Putin, and the broadcast showed beautiful shots of St. Petersburg, Russia.  Putin denied interfering with the US, said he doesn’t care who is president, and says the US NSA interferes with other countries.
 


She then interviewed a whistleblower who uncovered “fraud” in the company that sells Fentanyl, an opioid that can be delivered under the tongue, but that is potentially fatal from accidental exposure, even to the skin.

She also interviewed a woman pursuing poaching of elephants in Kenya.  She showed a safari on a dirt road that became almost impassable, even to four-wheel drives, after an average thunderstorm. She also showed the sociable nature of the animals and the way they raise their young.  Elephants are the most intelligent animal that does not eat meat, and can recognize themselves as individuals in mirrors  Their intelligence is similar to that of carnivores (dogs, cats) or even superior, perhaps more like that of cetaceans.

Wikipedia attribution link for St. Petersburg at Christmas, by Alexander Savin frm Finland, under CCSA 2.0. My novel manuscript (“Angel’s Brother”) has an early sequence where a lead character visits St. Petersburg, then Lagoda, and “escapes” through Finland prompting an international incident.  Something like this could really happen.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

ABC Nightline shows police body cam footage from Orlando Pulse shooting


ABC Nightline Special: “Inside the Pulse Nightclub Terror”, link aired June 1 at 12:35 AM. It would be nice if it aired earlier.  Some of it had been previewed on ABC World News Tonight.

These are excerpt from “hours of body cam footage from Orlando nightclub shooting” on June 13, 2016, with Brian Ross.



The shots started right after last call.

Police could not help the victims at first until they knew where Mateen was. They could not

The broadcast replays Mateen’s invocation of the Islamic State and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. .

The broadcast does chronicle the risky conclusion of the rescue ending with Mateen’s death.

The broadcast mentioned another nightclub shooting the night before in Orlando.

I had visited the Pulse myself on a trip to Orlando in July 2015.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bryce Harper loses his temper in a brawl after HBP, could cost the Nats later


It’s on MLB TV and I can’t get the MLB embed code to come up, but here is the link for Harper’s brawl in the Nat’s game in San Francisco today.

There is a video on YouTube.



I wonder if superfan Richard Harmon (“The 100”, “Crypto”) was at the game.

Bryce Harper will probably get a suspension of several games, which is not good for the Nats.  That hurrs a position player and his team more than a pitcher.

Harper had broadcast his own Superbowl party on Facebook Live from his new home (I think in Las Vegas).

Update:  May 31

Harper's suspension was reduced to 3 games but starts tonight, and runs through Saturday in Oakland. The Nats will miss him in a designated-hitter lineup in an AL Park. The Nats can use only 24 players for those 3 games. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Twin Peaks: The Darkness of Futures Past" licks off the 2017 renewal


Twin Peaks”, as directed by David Lynch and written by David Frost, returned with a bang on Showtime Sunday night May 21 (site).

The two-hour pilot (“The Darkness of Futures Past”) was divided into two nearly hour-long parts.

The show visits the town in Washington State 25 annees after Laura Palma was murdered and Kyle MacLaughlan (Dale Cooper) invited himself there to investigate the “wood spirits”.

Much of the material revisits the film prequel “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”, especially the salon scenes with the zigzag floors and red d├ęcor, where this time a disembodied blog on a stick says “I am the arm”.  This place seems to be in an alternate universe reached through a wormhole.



But the most interesting and shocking sequence happens in Part 1, where a computer nerd (apparently Ben Rosenfeld) monitors a bizarre organic computer with a portal.  When a girl friend visits him, they disrobe, revealing his absolutely hairless chest and perfect musculature, and in their passions, a golem comes from the portal and kills them, decapitating the girl.

The next day, another character is arrested, but he turns into a golem in jail and evaporates.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Digital Addiction" on ABC 20-20, affects some people a lot more than others


ABC 20-20 tonight covered “Digital Addiction” and digital obsession, covering three families with addiction to media and especially gaming.  Elizabeth Vargas reported.

A Michigan teenager, Josh, built his own computer but then became addicted to gaming and dropped out of school.  His parents sent him to a 10-week wilderness camp in Utah.  The Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor did MRI’s and examined the teen’s brain, and found brain activity improved after media was removed.  The teen comes home to a new home and is actually greeted by the cat.  The best link is here.

Yet, normally a teen capable of building a computer from scratch would be well grounded in reality.  Various other teens have gone on to, well, create Facebook.  So the effect of media exposure must be quite variable.



A 35-year-old father of four agreed to have his games taken out of his house to get over his addiction.
A teenage girl also went into a treatment program in California.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Within Reach" on ABC Nightline: Hollywood producer gets revolutionary hand transplant after mysterious and destructive illness


ABC Nightline on Thursday, May 18 (but after midnight into Friday) presented a report “Within Reach”, about film producer Jonathan Koch, who would have a successful hand transplant at UCLA. LA Magazine has a detailed story.  (The ABC video here will show only without https.)

Koch became suddenly ill in January 2015 before he was supposed to go to Washington. He still flew to Dulles, but soon was hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital with what seemed to be profound septic shock. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septic_shock   This could happen from antibiotic resistant super bacteria, or sometimes from some strains of meningitis. He was actually tested for Ebola. But in his case the cause appears to have been a reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, which usually causes mononucleosis. (It may be associated with Hodgkin’s Disease and with some non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, maybe the explosive kind that Maryland governor Larry Hogan recovered from,)  Such reactivation is very rare, but might be compared to Shingles and Chicken Pox, and theoretically a vaccine could be designed to prevent it.   The “infection” had some aspects of lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy. The report makes no mention of HIV, but it would be logical if it could me more likely with HIV infection.  Vaccine development might reduce the incidence of some lymphomas.

The episode documents the loyalty of his girlfriend.


Koch was put into medically induced coma and had a NDE experience, where he was told that recovery would be grueling, he reports.  He had severe gangrene, resulting in partial amputations and opportunity for transplant.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AC360 tonight finds Yates interview, and Sanders-Kasich town hall overrun by Comey Letter


CNN tonight offered two big events (not “blessed events” indeed), as Anderson Cooper’s AC360 interview  with former deputy attorney general Sally Yates was interrupted by more breaking news, that Congress was preparing subpoenas around the “Comey Memo”.

Yates says that the Russians had leverage over Flynn.  She describes attempting to stay on under Trump and do her job for the DOJ.  On the way to the airport on Jan. 27, she got a text about the first Trump travel ban.  When she decided she could not defend it in court Monday, she soon got a note at the door firing her.



Earlier there was discussion of whether Donald Trump’s behavior constitutes obstruction of justice. Jeffrey Toobin says yes, Alan Dershowitz says maybe not.  Here is a New York Times analysis.

At 10 PM CNN;s Jake Tapper hosted a one hour town hall debate with Bernie Sanders and Ohio governor Josh Kasich, who did not support Trump. Instead of talking about tax reform and health care, they had to talk about the current crisis, and were pretty much in agreement.

Trump goes on a nine-day road trip to visit all three major faiths

Sunday, May 14, 2017

CNN's Axelrod interviews California governor Jerry Brown


David Axelrod interviewed Democratic California governor Jerry Brown Saturday night on the Axelrod files, in the governor’s office in Sacramento.  CNN link is here.

Axelrod spent a lot of time seeking Brown’s comments on Donald Trump and the Comey firing.



Brown, a lifelong bachelor (like Senator Lindsey Graham, R-C) attracted attention with his austere lifestyle when governor back in the late 1970s.  In earlier times he had, like Jimmy Carter, preached frugality and the inevitability of change away from materialism.

In the interview last night he described his upbringing as a Jesuit.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

ABC 20-20 and John McAfee's saga in Belize


ABC 20-20 last night covered the saga of John McAfee, founder of McAfee Security (no longer part of the company) and a “person of interest” in a mysterious murder in a coastal community in Belize in 2012.  The best link seems to be here.  One of the scenes shows a man running through a field a night, a memory of the cornfield scene in the first episode of “Smallville”.

The episode explains that Belize is notoriously weak on getting criminal convictions.


McAfee would eventually “escape” to Guatemala, have a fake heart attack, and get deported to the US.  He now lives in Tennessee and was picked up one time for DUI.  McAfee would become a Libertarian Party candidate for president in 2016.

But I can remember the McAfee of the 1990s, whose mission in life was to eliminate all computer viruses.  That’s especially relevant on this “Day After” WannaCry worm.  Other companies have become much more credible in the anti-virus market (Kaspersky, which is in Russia, and Trend).

A church youth group which I know does missions in Belize every June, at Double Head Cabbage, about 20 miles away from where the rich people like McAfee have their beach resorts. (See Drana blog, Nov. 4, 2012).

 There is some short film video of the place that the group has taken that really ought to be entered into film festivals (like DC Shorts). Much happier stuff than McAfee.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Riverdale" somewhat reminds me of "Twin Peaks": Archie's world more than Jughead's


I caught the last episode of “Riverdale” on CWTV tonight, produced in part by Greg Berlanti, who had given us “Everwood”.
 
I’m not a fan of the Archie Comics series of teen characters (trying to survive their reckless adult folks) in what looks like an upper midwestern town, maybe in Wisconsin (like the two angels Matt and Ben in “Dogma” in 1999). Actually, it looks pretty normal.   Somehow I think of “Twin Peaks”.



The last episode is “The Sweet Hereafter” (Chapter 13), and it showed the very likeable musician Archie (New Zealand actor K.J. Apa) saving a teen girl from drowning in a frozen pond.  Then in the final scene, it seems that he is there for his dad after dad gets shot in a home invasion of his office or warehouse or diner.

Apparently the show emphasizes Archie as much as narrator Jughead (Cole Sprouse).  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Did Sinclair make Washington's WJLA ABC affiliate "conservative" in its news coverage?


In the Washington Post Style section, Tuesday, May 10, 2017. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post, analyzing the behavior of the Sinclair Broadcast Group in Hunt Valley, near Baltimore, as it contemplates buying Tribune Media.  Fahri writes that when Sinclair bought Washington DC affiliate WJLA, it moved the station’s news coverage to the right. The article is here.

Fahri insists that Sinclair forced WJLA to cover Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities (the email scandal) during the 2016 election, but not to give corresponding attention to Trump’s.

I cannot say that I had noticed this.  However, I’ve noticed that WJLA has been more aggressive in reporting arrests (before convictions) of sex-related offenses (like child pornography possession, or teacher misconduct).  But what is more interesting is the coverage of Sinclair last summer of possible threats to the power grid, which I wrote about on Wordpress around July 6 (link)  Sinclair sponsored a “Your Voice Your Future” forum on the issue from a station in Green Bay WI  Aug. 8, which WJLA advertised but then did not run; visitors had to find it online themselves.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

PBS Frontline: "Poverty, Politics and Profit" looks at how the billions we spend on homelessness falls short


Poverty, Politics, and Profit” on PBS Frontline on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 looks at why the billions we spend on housing the homeless leaves so many in the streets.  The link is here.   Laura Sullivan investigates. The film is written and produced by Rick Young,

The broadcast starts with a curious prelude in a ritzy enclave in Costa Rica,

It says that the 2008 financial crisis threw people out of homes and added to the number of people competing to rent apartments.



It speaks of Section 8 as a “housing lottery”.

It then looks at some section 8 recipients in Dallas.  Section 8 recipients have 90 days to find a landlord who will take their voucher.

The documentary looks at an apartment complex being built in Frisco, TX north of McKinney, Plano and Dallas. The city didn’t want to allow Section 8.

The film  looked and the earlier idea of housing projects which failed, and was replaced by vouchers for poor people to move to more affluent communities with tax credits and section 8.

The documentary then explains the “tax credit industry”.

The documentary moves on to Miami and traces kickbacks and corruption (and shell companies) that lead back to Costa Rica.  One of the companies was named after a taxi driver, indeed an abuse of “reputation”.  One developer who had accepted kickbacks had to do community service with the homeless in person as a condition of probation.

The film returns to the difficult of people with vouchers actually finding apartments that accept them.

Monday, May 08, 2017

CBS 48 Hours details Nebraska murders committed by a fired medical resident out of revenge


On Saturday, May 6, CBS “48 Hours” aired an investigation of the double murders committed in in 2008 and then in 2013, that turned out to be committed by a former medical resident at Creighton University, Anthony Garica, link here.
 
The perpetrator had come from an immigrant family in California and completed medical school but gone off the rails and performed poorly as a medical resident, and been fired from jobs in Utica NY and Creighton.  As with James Holmes, he seems to developed some sort of violent mental illness, unusual and disturbing for someone with that background.  The motive seems to be revenge.


 
Firings of residents aren’t real common, but the work has long shifts and is very exacting.  But a firing can end one’s career in medicine.

I do have some familiarity with the University of Nebraska, which is in Lincoln, indirectly from my time at KU in Lawrence in the 1960s.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Anthony Bourdain visits Basque country, especially San Sebastian


Anthony Bourdain visited one of my personal favorties on his CNN “Parts Unknown” Sunday night, San Sebastian-Donostia Spain (eatery writeup).

It’s on the Eurailpass train, but Bilbao, sixty miles to the west, is not.  You take a bus, or at least I did in May 2001.   Bourdain did not visit Bilbao, went over into French Basque country, and also went into the mountain interior.  .



Bourdain says that San Sebastian, in the Basque NE corner of Spain, has the best food in Europe – a lot of sea delicacies like pates based on squid or shrimp and various garnishes and eggs.  I remember this in Bilbao, where I visited the Guggenheim.



San Sebastian has a famous circle beach, a film festival, and the city looks rich when you walk along the canal.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Concha Bay

Thursday, May 04, 2017

ABC Nightline: Famine in Somalia


ABC Nightline reported Tuesday night from Somaliland (in Somalia) about the famine associated with drought and climate change, link 70% of the livestock has died.  April is supposed to be the wettest month but there has been no rain.   There is also famine in South Sudan, northern Nigeria, and Yemen.

David Muir reports.



Save the Children is the charity involved in providing the relief.  Save the Children gives out mobile phones with credit for buying food in some areas.  The charity works there despite terrorism and violence and offshore piracy.  Carolyn Miles head of the charity, did speak about Trump’s priorities.
The seven minute film is quite graphic.   Three other unspecified nations are involved.

Muir visits a hospital in Burao.

Wikipedia attribution link for Burao picture, CCSA 1.0

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Jimmy Kimmel cries over son's surgery as Shaun White appears on his show; more debate on pre-existing conditions in health care


Olympic snowboarder Shaun White, now 30, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel last night, to relate his own experience of growing up after two or three surgeries for Tetralogy of Fallot, after Jimmy opened his show May 1 on ABC in tears describing his newborn son’s open heart surgery.



The event has already focused more attention on the health care debate in the Trump administration and in Congress, as in this Post Dispatch article.

Kimmel might be able to pay higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, but an ordinary person could not, without public funded support.  Today, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN he would favor covering excess expenses for pre-existing conditions with public funds (probably reinsurance).

White did not remove his shirt during the broadcast, but pictures before indicate that the scars from surgery, just below the nipple, are practically invisible.

Kimmel has often been silly, saying he wants to be president (maybe have a baseball player like Kris Bryant as his running mate) or at least be vice president.  Would he run in 2020?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Is the hack of "Orange Is the New Black" just plain silly?


A hacker has demanded “ransom” from Netflix for its series “Orange Is the New Black”, Season 5, and Netflix has refused.  Forbes has ridiculed the idea in an article here
     
I’ve watched an episode and reviewed it before, and frankly I don’t have time to follow many series, given the number of independent films I review. 

As clever as the idea for the series is, it would be harder to write for it than to write scripts for independent films based on the same ideas.


The hacker has threatened other series to upend the “world order” of cable and subscriber television.  Since I am able to, I always watch these things legally (I have Comcast-Xfinity, and also Netflix).  

 I’ll pay to watch an independent film on Amazon rather than hunt it down at one theater in the area, although I try to make it to festivals. 

But I suppose some people would do illegal downloads to watch Orange or other series. Maybe that's even a legal peril for Airbnb hosts. 
  

The other thing is that I’m usually not upended by “knowing the ending” in advance.  Although for some series (“The Event”, “Flash Forward”) the ending really matters. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Career sportswriters dooced by ESPN


It must come as a shock to be laid off from a network as a writer, especially as a sportswriter for ESPN.  Fox News has a story about the layoff told in tweets from those affected, some of whom were informd very suddenly, even while on vacation.



ESPN is finding its business contract as consumers find other ways to watch sports as well as cable.  And it seems that the content streams from MLB. NFL, etc are very expensive indeed.

But there are some comments that the progressive measures of ,major sports leagues have driven away some viewed.

It would be fun to comment on Bryce Harper’s homers, or on who gets to be the Nationals’s closer. I have my own ideas.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Writers (the professional kind) could strike and send you to watching repeats (or going indie)


There could be a vote for a writers’ strike in Hollywood soon.  The LA Times story is here.

Any strike would be most likely to affect some late night comedy, and some miniseries, especially those not already started.  There are real problems, with exclusivity contracts and dwindling revenues from reruns of existing shows. Entertainment Weekly has a list of specific shows that could be affected here.

Generally, television writing is more rigorous than movie screenwriting because it has to fit exact show segment lengths between commercials.  Imagine making a living writing for a soap opera.



Some big studio films might be affected (the comedy market), but probably not the independent market.
 
I’ve developed my own screenplays out of my own material, so far, so I am totally independent and unfunded (except by myself and maybe inheritance).  But I get lots of silly emails with paid screenwriting leads.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

John Kasich gives AC360 a Town Hall on CNN


John Kasich gave a Town Hall Monday night at 10 PM EDT hosted by Anderson Cooper, with this as the best link. The interview coincides with the publication of his new book “Two Paths: America Divided or United”, from Thomas Dunne Books.

Kasich would not confirm or deny that the book could presage a run for the GOP nomination in 2020, especially if Trump falters.


The tone of the GOP Ohio govenror’s interview was somewhat humble and talked about forgiveness. Kasich disagreed with Trump’s budget proposals, and supports funding the NIH, especially cancer and vaccine research. He says he supports science as a determinant of policy and seems to imply we need to take climate change seriously and have a moral responsibility to future generations.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Trump likes his own reflection on Cable TV, especially OAN (an opportunity for a young journalist from American University, Trey Yingst)


The Washington Post has an article Monday morning by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, “’Everyone tunes in: Inside Trump’s obsession with cable TV”, link  with video.

Apparently there are many TV’s in the White House, and the president moves from room to room binge watching, as he recreates his own glory days of “The Apprentice”.

The story mentions that he likes to watch OAN, One America News, a center-right-leaning news service in San Diego. I am not aware that OAN has a cable channel, but it does have Direct TV (I refuse to deal with “The Dish”).


The story also mentions the fact that Sean Spicer often calls on OAN’s White House correspondent, whom I’ve met personally at a visit to a WJLA “Your Voice Your Future” program.  This is Trey Yingst,23,  a graduate of American University, who started “News2Share”  before moving to OAN, for example . His Twitter feed is here  and his own site is here.   Trey’s questions are sometimes very blunt and challenging.  The story then says “he” watches Al Jazeera, but I’m sure who “he” is (an English language problem of not enforcing case agreement).  But Mr. Yingst comes across as someone who would have survived all the boardrooms had he been a contestant on "The Apprentice".    
Despite the popular belief that Trump doesn’t like criticism, he actually does seem to respect correspondents and bloggers who propose solutions (like on how to actually cover people in a GOP healthcare plan) and who take certain national security threats seriously, for what they are. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

CBS 48 Hours: "The Golden State Killer" and the "amateur" journalist who tried to solve the cases (and her sudden death)


On Saturday, April 22, 2017, CBS 48 Hours aired a crime episode “The Golden State Killer”, link.

The layered story concerned crime writer Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly at age 46 in her sleep, of an apparent cardiac arrest related to artery blockages and certain prescription drugs.  Her husband, Patton Oswalt, a well-known comedy performer, was interviewed on the show and related his devastation, even vomiting when finding her dead suddenly.  Oswalt has arranged for her book to be completed



She became an “amateur” journalist and sleuth, going to the locations of many of the home invasions which over time turned into murders, first in the Sacramento area and later around Los Angeles.

Wikipedia calls the perpetrator the “Original Night Stalker” with the article here.  The trail goes dead in 1986.

The history reminds me of the 2008 murders of defense-related workers in Prince Georges County MD. (January 24, 2015).
 
This is the sort of news puzzle that I could envision myself wanting to be hired to work on (to get outside my own narrative), but Patton seems to have arranged for completion of the book.  I don’t see it on Amazon yet but I’ll order it and review it when it comes out.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

CNN updates "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez"


On Friday, April 21, 2017, CNN re-aired (at 11 PM) a special report “Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez”, best link.

Hernandez is the former New England Patriots Tight End who was convicted on one murder (Odin Llyoyd( and charged and acquitted of two others.  Hernandez died in prison on April 19, which prompted CNN to update and re-air.  The death has been viewed as a probable suicide. But there is room to investigate.

The details of these cases, covered in a suspenseful manner in the CNN documentary film, are well summarized on Wikipedia, here.

The first two shootings occurred as a drive-by, where the two victims were in a car shot at by a passing vehicle. Hernandez and the victims had been in a club in Boston called the “Cure”.



The fact pattern suggests that Hernandez was very badly tempered and could carry out violent acts when insulted by minor incidents that often happen in bars.  The incident sounds like a straight bar version of Pulse, although it is much smaller and not related to terrorism.

Hernandez’s appearance was also remarkable, with body parts (especially arms) completely covered by tattoos.

He did have a nice home, from which police found many clues.

The one conviction will be reversed because it had been on appeal when he died. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

"Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life" on ABC 20-20 with Diane Sawyer


Tonight, Diane Sawyer presented, on ABC 20-20, “Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life”, also a forthcoming book.   Here is the first link.    The interview is at her home in Malibu, CA.

This broadcast follows a similar interview two years ago.  Jenner has started the sexual reassignment surgery, and says a trans person should never be “asked”.

The broadcast does show some early footage when she was Bruce Jenner, and he had started taking female hormones earlier than anyone knew.

Caitlyn says she voted for Donald Trump, and was disappointed when Sessions did not allow Obama’s interpretation of federal civil rights law to protect transgender youth in public schools to continue. But she says that more schools are coming up with innovative solutions to allow transgender kids to use the bathroom that matches their identities, outside of states trying to outlaw that (as with HB2 in North Carolina).



The broadcast covered identical twin studies that show a 39% concordance on transgender-ism, and even occurs with identical twins reared separately.

It also mentioned the old idea that the world is dangerous, so it is morally reassuring it there are men and there are women.   The show briefly mentioned the idea of gender fluidity, but that is not really Caitlyn’s narrative.

Jenner was involved in a fatal car accident involving paparazzi.

Malibu painting by Granville Rredmond, p.d., Wikipedia

Friday, April 14, 2017

ABC 20-20, Nev Schulman do another iteration of "Catfish", targeting an NBA basketball player


ABC 20-20 tonight ran its own account of “Catfish”, with a handsome Nev Schulman (now 32, a new father) helping narrate.

A young woman Shelly Cartier, living in a small town of Easterville way north of Winnepeg, Manitoba, “catlished” heavily tattooed and “illustrated man” basketball star Chris “Birdman” Andersen, resulting in Colorado police suspecting him of possessing child pornography until the “identity theft” was traced to her.

Cartier, bullied at school, had lived alone with her aging mother, whom she took care of, and spent years setting up the Catfish scheme, which sometimes led to extortion.

Birdman lost two years of work and endorsements because of the false accusations but eventually got to meet president Obama in 2014 when it was all over.



In the interview, she seemed hardly to care about the damage she had done to his reputation, as she was oblivious to his world of “privilege”.

She spent 18 months in jail in Canada and could be extradited to Colorado.  But she married a man in Brooklyn whom she met through Xbox.

The New York Daily News has this version here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Manitoba picture.  Richard Harmon tweeted about being there recenlty (for "Crypto"?)


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CNN's "Finding Jesus" explains Doubting Thomas


CNN’s series “Finding Jesus” aired on Palm Sunday an episode about Thomas, that is, Doubting Thomas, who, after the resurrection, wanted to reassure himself that the risen Christ was real by seeing and palpitating the hand wound.

The episode then goes on to explain how Saint Thomas spread Christianity to India.

Several points come to mind. One is that the word “apostle” is broader than “disciple”.  There are apostles who were not part of the original twelve disciples (like Paul).

I see that I had reviewed a film called “Thomas” in the “Closer to Jesus” series back on Dec. 8, 2012.

The narrative does make the case for a faith that is connected to reason.  That looks forward to today’s issues of connecting faith to physics and cosmology (maybe the idea of intelligent design).



But there may be something else here.  Jesus provided the perfect opportunity for upward affiliation. A disciple could become concerned that somehow Jesus could disappoint them, as a human would.
I explored this in an unfinished composition, which I could say more about in my “Media Reviews” (really “Show and Tell”) blog on Wordpress (especially this post -- I need to add the "Doubting" material to this composition).

I’ll cover this later there, but here are three posts (more for my reference than anything else).

1


2



3



There is also a “Gospel of Thomas”  I don’t see a film on this book on imdb (as there is one for Judas).

“Doubting Thomas” is one of the most provocative stories, for me personally.  What happens if someone you look up to really does “lose it”?

Monday, April 10, 2017

CNN "Believer" covers an orthodox Jewish sect in Israel stricter than most Islam


Reza Aslan’s “Believer” on Sunday night about the ultra-orthdox group in Israel, the Haredim, led to his essay “Why I worry about Israel’s future”.

Aslan considers himself a secular and socially moderate Shiite Muslim, whose family fled Iran in 1979 when the revolution against the Shah turned it into a religious state and led to the 444-day hostage crisis.   Secularism tends to promote not just freedom but its own brand of accompanying inequality.



But in Israel the Haredim is growing in political influence.  It’s high birthrate has caused it to rise to 13% of the population. The men don’t work, but spend all their time studying the Torah.  Their leadership considers this their “sacrifice”.  The women work and raise all their kids.  But the group has a legal exemption from compulsory military service.  It’s rather like the old US system of student deferments during the Vietnam War (or maybe comparable to conscientious objection).

The documentary showed some Haredi-majority communities where non-Haredi are bullied for not following Haredi practices, like modesty and strict gender segregation, which ironically parallels Islam.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Chesdovi under CCSA 3.0 showing Haredi gender segregation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

"Chicago Med" shows a hospital's computers hit by a ransomware attack, endangering patients


Tonight, Thursday, April 6, 2017, “Chicago Med” on NBC ran an episode called “Cntl Alt” (directed by Valerie Weiss), which opens with nurses finding that their tablets lock, and then the logon terminals lock up with a ransomware demand.

The hospital administrator Sharon Goodwin (Epatha Merkensen) refuses to pay the ransom. It may be too much of a spoiler to reveal that one of the surgeons did, when the screens come up – to save a patient’s life.   The hospital has to go on backup and manual procedures.  MRI’s cannot be done.  Monitoring equipment fails in the OR doing an operation.


Of course, one wonders why the hospital didn’t have an image backup somewhere. Is this what would happen?

There are interesting medical cases.  A bullet in the leg travels to the heart, necessitating bypass surgery. A young woman has PSP, progressive supranuclear palsy. And there is an outbreak of a fungal infection traced (eventually by contact tracing) to a used car.

The program was interrupted briefly by Lester Holt on NBC announcing Trump’s air strikes in Syria as retaliation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons.