Wednesday, February 21, 2018

CNN holds Town Hall of Stoneman Douglas students



CNN is hosting the Town Hall in Sunrise, Florida with students and parents from Parkland Hospital, at 9 PM.   Jake Tapper moderated and Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio were there.  Florida governor Rick Scott was not present.

Senator Marco Rubio was present and made sense.  He said that a Clinton-style assault weapons ban by itself will not work because if you take off the plastic gunstock the weapon is legal. Almost any rifle can be made into a an assault weapon, so it is difficult to pass a law that respects the 2nd Amendment and doesn’t have holes.  


Later, Rubio said he would consider regulations on clip size on a question from a senior joining the Army at graduation.

Student Cameron Kasky asked Rubio if he would not accept a donation from the NRA.

A teacher asked about arming teachers (which Trump said today he supports), and Rubio said that it is a bad idea because swat teams cannot tell who is armed.

Rubio also tried to explain how influence groups like the NRA work.

Trump heard an emotional appeal today in the White House from parents of victims, here is a CPAN tweet link
  
A Facebook friend who fought the military gay ban wrote a Facebook post explaining how military personnel must register their personnel weapons, here.
   
An AP history teacher asked the NRA representative to explain “well regulated militia”.  Her answer was that it is every lawfully qualified adult citizen (as in the DC case in the Supreme Court), different from what Justice Berger had said.
  
CNN reported on student protests all around the country, which school systems said were illegal. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

CNN continues the story of the radicalization of Patty Hearst



CNN continued “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” with Jeffrey Toobin’s (executive producer) narration on Sunday, February 18, 2018, with parts 3 and 4.

I hadn’t mentioned the cyanide-tipped bullets in the arsenal.  Patty is allowed to go free but chooses to stay, an shocks her mother with telephone messages, about wearing the black dress.

The SLA movies to LA, tries some burglaries, and while Patty is in Disneyland, there is a shootout at a safehouse, one with some of the largest count of rounds used in US history.  Six SLA members die in the burning house.


Patty seems to have become fully radicalized during the entire episode. Along the way they attached themselves to a radical athletic coach Jack Scott, who eventually leaves “Tania” on her own in Las Vegas.  In Sacramento, Patty meets Steve Soliah and “falls in love”.  They even want to go to Cuba.

The son of Myrna Opsahl, whose mother was murdered in a bank robbery, appears.
  
The CNN link this week is “Radical: The Double Life of Patty Hearst. 
   
Patty Hearst and her family refused to be interviewed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

PBS Frontline: "The Gang Crackdown", and the history of MS-13; documentary focuses on Long Island, NY



On Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, PBS Frontline aired “The Gang Crackdown”, subtitled “How the U.S. Fueled the Rise of MS-13”, major link here
    
 Indeed, this seems to pre-date Donald Trump, with wars in El Salvador pursued by Bill Clinton, and then Bush and Obama (who was quite aggressive). Trump is wrong to complain that earlier presidents didn’t do anything.
  
The film focuses on police intelligence particularly in Long Island, which involves local police departments and county sheriffs  more than the FBI.   In some circles, teens are effectively “conscripted”.
  
   
The New York Times has a factual article by Liz Robbins from January 31 tracing the problem back to the 1980s in El Salvador, here
  
Miriam Valderde has a similar article on Politifact 
    
 The article refers to the problem of unaccompanied minors from south of Mexico (not Mexico itself) which predates Trump.   Much of it has to do with how the asylum seeking process works, which has been controversial with recent changes (“last in, first out”).  It does not appear that this would affect an appropriate resolution of the DACA problem.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cunanan and Versace, Ep. 5, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"



American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” continued tonight, S2. E5 presented the backstory of the first victim of Andrew Cunanan in an episode called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
   
Cunanan flies to Minneapolis in order to sponge off Trail and Madsen.  The episode then goes into the backstory of Trail as a Navy officer on a ship, intervening in a fragging of a gay sailor.  These incidents were relatively uncommon under Clinton’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” but could happen. Later superior officers suspect Trail of being gay. He is asked to read the DOD regulation from February 1994 which looks like a graphic novel.
  
  
Trail gives an anonymous interview with the press about the Clinton policy and then leaves the service five years after graduating from the Naval Academy without incident.
  
The episode shows scenes in Minneapolis gay bar that resembled the Gay Nineties. The Saloon is my own favorite. 
    
Cunanan is very manipulative when he first meets Trail.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

"The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" starts on CNN



The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” aired its first two segments Sunday night, Feb. 11, typical link. Victim, or terrorist?  Or both simultaneously. 
  
Jeffrey Toobin (author of a 2016 book “American Heiress”) offers commentary.  He focuses on the very radical approach of the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army which believed it was waging war on capitalism.  Former SLA member Bill Harris narrates.  The film actually starts with an aged Steven Weed (her boyfriend at the time) narrating. 


Toobin characterizes the Hearst incident as the only major political kidnapping on US soil in US history. (The Getty event in 1973 happened in Italy.)   Toobin somewhat dismisses the deepest moral irony of the existence of a “vanguard Army”.

The SLA had not thought of its demands when it kidnapped Patty Hearst on Feb. 4, 1974, after shooting Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster in November 1973.

It then issued demands that the Hearst Family make huge donations to feed the poor in Oakland (the “People in Need” program).  Volunteers had to be recruited to actually do the work.  A crime leads to the generation of a social service agency.  

Governor Reagan criticized the people who accepted the food on terrorist terms.

The SLA looked at itself as following the Geneva Convention and following prisoner of war rules.  Gradually, Patty started to believe the revolutionary ideology as giving her own life meaning.
The SLA actually thought Hearst had more money than he did (sort of the Getty problem in “All the Money in the World”).  
  
The transformation of Patty into a “revolutionary” seems to happen in weeks.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Cunanan and Versace on FX: House by the Lake (Ep. 4)




The FX “American Crime Story: the Assassination of Daniel Versace” continued on Wednesday February 7 with an 80 minute (minus commercials) epsisode “House by the Lake” as the series tells the story in reverse (link).

Cunanan (Darren Criss) brings Jeffrey Trail (Finn Wittrock) to architect David Madson’s loft apartment in the East Bank of Minneapolis.  I think I may have been on the property in 2002 with IFP-MSP when it was casting a short film.

Cunanan stabs Trail in front of Madson and his dog and then kidnaps him and forces Madson on the run, finally shooting him at Rush Lake along I-94 when Madson tries to escape to what looks like his father’s cabin. Cunanan wants to frame Madson for the murder and the super finds the body, the police first think Madson did it.  There is an early bathroom scene which is shocking in its intimacy, where Cunanan’s washes blood off Madson’s smooth body in a shower.


The episode has flashbacks of Madson’s childhood and relationship with his father, and his father’s ambivalent reaction when a grown Madson tells dad he is gay after winning an award as a young man.  
  
Criss’s acting shows Cunanan as a typical psychopath, manipulative and charming, resentful of the “elite” whom he believes should be brought low like him.  Such psychopathy is rare in the gay community. 

Picture: Near Brainerd MN, my visit, June, 2011.  This is very similar to the last scene in the episode, which happened at the end of April 1997. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

One America News and cable television; Would OANN take up covering the EMP issue that major networks seem to be sleeping on?



On February 10, 2015 I attended a “Your Voice Your Future” forum at WJLA (owned by Sinclair) in the station’s Rosslyn, Arlington VA auditorium, with a topic about free speech being threatened by terrorists (cf blog, that date).  On that evening I met Trey Yingst (now about 24), at the time was a student at American University and had helped found “News2Share”.  He had been “arrested” covering the riots in Ferguson.  He would soon cover the riots in Baltimore in 205. In time, he would join One America News and become the White HouseCorrespondent, typical story on Poynter here.       

He often does get called on by Sarah Sanders (and was often able to get two or three questions a session out of Sean Spicer, whatever fun was made of Sean later on SNL).  But all of this makes me look into who One America News Network, in San Diego, is.


First, my own impression from looking at the content is that it is not necessarily more conservative than Fox, and it is no “Breitbart” and no “Milo’s Dangerous”.  There’s no flame throwing at individual people. But the video says it is “just the facts, no opinions, no editorials”. 
  
I note that the network says it is available 21 hours a day on Direct TV outlets, but it seems unable to get a foothold with large cable telecom providers, including Comcast and Cox.   The Direct TV appears to have two special shows:  The Daily Ledger” and “Tipping Point” (which do sound like they would be commentary shows) as well as news feeds.  

I went ahead and contacted Cox on Twitter by message and got an answer to the effect that they would consider adding it.  CoxHelp actually started following me on Twitter (including all my own provocative news link tweets, including about Trump).   But nothing has happened yet with OANN on Cox.

I have become interested in encouraging a network to follow particularly the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) risk on the continental US in detail.  As I’ve noted on my Wordpress blogs, the conservative media outlets cover this issue much more often than the “mainstream” or other major networks.  I do think a major fact-finding project on this matter is important to do.  That is, get all the military information, and all the science and engineering information from reputable sources and present it to the public. My own gumshoeing about this since about 2013 (including materials from Oak Ridge from a trip there and National Academy of Sciences) suggests that this is a real threat, and not a right wing “fake news” fantasy fed by the Russians.   It’s important to note that there are several different kinds of threats (E1 to E3) that can come from different kinds of events (including extreme solar storms, and we may have dodge a huge solar flare and CME in July 2012).  And the networks have waffled on giving serious attention to whether North Korea could pose this kind of a threat even now (without reaching the US with ground blasts from ICBM’s), as from satellites, if the US keeps tightening the noose (starting right after the Winter Olympics).  

One problem, though, is that if you presented the facts, you’d have to get scientists and policy people to interpret the facts, which means commentary and opinion, which OANN’s own video says it wants to avoid.   But you do need the facts first, which the major networks seem to be sleeping on .  I make the challenge. I have accumulated a lot on this problem myself.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

"The Good Doctor": Shaun is blunt with a transgender patient, and then we see some visual paradox


The Good Doctor” ventured into the subject of gender identity last night in an episode called “She” (ABC link). That, by the way, was the name of a sci-fi film set in Egypt made in the 60s. 

The new episode, directed by Seth Gordon, introduces a teen girl whom Shaun examines and then blurts out (like me at Fort Eustis), “She is not a girl. He is a boy”.

Shaun quickly diagnoses testicular cancer. At the same time, the girl’s grandparents want to remove her from the parents because the parents are too supportive of her new gender identity.


Shaun, you think, could become more supportive with her, since he is different with autism. Toward the end of the episode, he is much kinder to her  The hospital debates whether to remove both testicles since she wants a gender reassignment anyway.  Then there is the ridiculous argument that she will never provide sperm for her own future natural children.

We also learn she was taking medication to delay puberty. She says she doesn’t ever want to have body hair, but Shaun makes the odd comment, “I have some body hair.”  But you can never see it. It’s all too easy for him to scrub his forearms for surgery.  Shaun also announces that he is not a good swimmer (ironically).

In the meantime, there is another male patient who has gotten into trouble by taking left-over antibiotics and become resistant to all of them. They do an appendectomy (even laparoscopically) confounding Jack Andraka’s 2016 “IV crticic” tweet at Stanford when he said online that he needed one (and seemed to be back to normal two days later, which is about right for normal full recovery).  

 But this patient (in the episode) gets sepsis and soon they are proposing a colostomy, for a man 40 years old.

A new female surgeon joins the staff, and she announces she sees the world as a zero-sum game. Soon she will taunt Shaun in future episodes.
  

“She” apparently comes out of trouble, and the episode concludes in Shaun’s apartment where a male neighbor comes over to watch TV.  You wonder if the (very cis male) neighbor (a new apartment super?) is gay. Shaun asks the neighbor to admit him to the heated pool (it’s winter and normally closed).  We see Shaun floating and meditating, upright, but his body is absolutely hairless. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Justin Timberlake returns to his glory days at the half-time show at the Super Bowl


The Philadelphia Eagles pulled a 41-33 upset in the NFL Super Bowl Sunday night at the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, with two controversial touchdown catches, broadcast on NBC.  But Justin Timberlake, now 37, stole the show with his halftime show where he seemed to go through a “white tunnel” to get to the stage.

Timberlake had performed in 2004 when he encountered Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”.
    
Timberlake had been the centerpiece of the boy band ‘Nsync, which had performed in the old Metrodome, ironically, on Pride Sunday June 24, 2001). In those days, Timberlake, at 20, looked rather like a stud.  But in time he waxed and tattooed his bod (as has Jake Gyllenhaal) for quirky roles like “Alpha Dog” and “Southland Tales”.


Last night, he wore a camouflage shirt that looked like a tattoo. 

He sung "I would die for you" with an image of Prince on stage. when downtown Minneapolis lit up in purple (GIF) . 
  
Here’s AOL’s account.  EON notes the accidental introduction of tween Ryan McKenna, who looks mature for his age.  Is “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Flashdance

I acted as an extra in "Major League 3" at the Metrodome in Nov. 1997, holding my book in the stands for 1/4 second.  

Sunday, February 04, 2018

NBC "Taken" episode involving "nuclear football" seems particularly timely now


Taken” is a series on NBC based on the film trilogy, with a complicated plot setup. Bryan Mills, played by Clive Standen.  The series starts with Mill’s sister being killed in a train shootout, with enemies that include a drug lord Mejia.  Other characters include a Director of National Intelligence Hart (Jennifer Beals) and a DEA undercover agent Mike Hall.


I first checked into the series Friday night Feb. 2, “OPSEC”.  A man carrying the nuclear “football” (briefcase) is kidnapped, and a child is bargained for.  The episode seems timely because there is a lot of concern now about president Donald Trump’s access to the “football” especially given the situation he has gotten himself into with respect to North Korea.
  
NBC’s own link for the show is here

Saturday, February 03, 2018

"Slender Man: Out of the Woods" on ABC 20-20


ABC 20-20 offered an hour long documentary on the “Slender Man: Out of the Woods” case in Wisconsin in 2014, best link.'

The documentary summarized the events in the stabbing of a pre-teen girl in Waukesha WI in May 2014 by two twelve-year old female friends who thought they were pleasing a comic book character popular on the Internet, Slender Man, which will soon be a film from Screen Gems.


The victim was found by a cyclist and miraculously survived.

What is surprising is that both girls were found to have mental disease, one of them schizophrenia. 
  Both are now sentenced to decades in a mental hospital, after being tried as adults.

Schizophrenia at his age is unusual;  it usually appears in young adulthood.

The narrative also reminds us that some unstable minors are indeed harmed by what they find on the Internet --- this goes back to the COPA case. 



Here's a somewhat related case: near Pittsburgh, teen girls are charged with intentionally exposing a student whom they knew was allergic to pineapple (I've never heard of that) to the fruit 

Friday, February 02, 2018

Cunanan-Versace pn FX: Episode 3


In Episode 3 of “American Crime Story: the Assassination of Gianni Versace” on FX, “Random Killing”, Cunanan, as the series works backward, Cunanan visits who seems to be like a former sugar daddy, architect Lee Miglin, in Chicago. (Other accounts say Miglin was random ).

Cunanan pampers him over plans to build the tallest building in the US (“I know what you’re doing”) with the charm of a psychopath. Then he goads him into the garage, and to start an SM session ties him up with duct tape before beating him with boards and then stabbing multiple times.



He then drives a stolen car to a graveyard in New Jersey, where he follows the grounds person to a little house to carjack him, orders him downstairs, and shoots him from behind in cold blood.