Thursday, December 10, 2015

"The New Normal: Security vs. Freedom" continues the "Your Voice Your Future" series


WJLA News Channel 8 in Washington DC (or Arlington VA, Rosslyn) continued its own (probably trademarked) “Your Voice Your Future” franchised series, produced by Scott Thuman, “The New Normal: Security vs. Freedom”.  Curiously, WJLA doesn’t have the link but another station does, link here.  The appropriate Twitter hashtag is “#YourVoiceYourFuture”.

The biggest legislative development is a bill in the House that would strengthen visa requirements even from western countries that don’t require one now (as for those with existing residency permits).

Ashton Carter took back President Obama’s previous claim that “ISIS is contained”.

US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Congressman Scott Perry (R-VA) spoke about the lack of information overseas to properly vet persons coming to the US (including those seeking asylum).
The Iman Johari Andul-Malik spoke for the assimilated Muslim community in the US.

Amanda Berman spoke for the Lawfare Project.

One issue seriously considered was that there is no “due process” for placing people on the No Fly list (which Obama wants to extend as a list to prohibit weapons purchase).  People are put on the list because they have the same name as a real terrorist, and it is very difficult to get off the list once on, or even to get an explanation as to why.  Tremendous personal sacrifice can come to some persons because of this problem.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a page on what to do if on a TSA No-Fly list, here.  As the ACLU notes, the procedure is slow and not too reassuring. You do have a 14th-Amendment right to return home.

Recently News Channel 8’s “Your Voice Your Future TownHall” series has not invited an audience as in the past.  Let’s hope there are more forums with audiences.

Picture: Tyson's, from the Silver Line Metro.  The National Counterterrorism Center (which works closely with the NSA) is somewhere in the complex, not marked.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

"Your Voice Your Future" continues with "War on Terror: Securing Europe"


The series “Your Voice Your Future” now seems to be trademarked syndicated series for town hall stations on news affiliates (maybe all ABC) around the country.

WJLA in Washington held one this evening for its second “War on Terror” roundtable, this one “Securing Europe”.  but the main website for it seems to be a station in Reno, link here.

Scott Thuman reported from Brussels, the Molenbeek area, on why young men even growing up in Belgium and France are alienated. 10% of all jihadists who went to Syria come from Belgium.
In Washington, Congressman Rob Wittman, Clifford May, Adbal Latif Bennett, and Zainab Chaudary, and Brooke Goldstein spoke.

There was a note on Obama’s “Junior Varsity” comment, and a general agreement that the US has been completely blindsided by the development of ISIS.  There was a general agree that the greatest danger in the US was lone wolf actors in low tech events.

Picture: Brussels Railway station, which I visited in May 2001, having taken the Chunnel, photo by Saber 68, under Creative Commons Share-Alike 2.5.

I'm hoping WJLA restores all these forums to the web (label "recorded forum events") since revamping its website.  No video of this session was available yet. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CNN: "Targeting Terror: Inside the Intelligence War": current coverage of France and Belgium, as well as the encryption debate, the potential damage of cyber-terror, and use of spy satellites


CNN has just aired for the first time its new documentary “Targeting Terror: Inside the Intelligence War”, video link here.  I think a very similar documentary has been aired before, but this one is fully updated because of the Paris attacks.

The film begins by summarizing the events of Friday, November 13, 2015, suggesting that some establishments were targeted because they are popular with the affluent and young.  They film briefly covered the brutality of the attacks, and the way the attacks were seemed directed at civilians as individuals.  This is very difficult to process.  Were this to happen to me, I don’t think I would want to survive it.  I personally process this in combination with my previous experience with the US military draft during the Vietnam era.  Because of some advantages, I got out of much of the exposure to “sacrifice” that others faced.   The vocabulary for young men then was “casualty”, not “victim”.  I do think this loops back into the way we need to look at resilience as a personal moral issue, a concept that is very double-faced in libertarian circles.



But then the film shifted gears, and focused on the possibility of cyberterror.  This part of the documentary briefly followed the points of Ted Koppel’s recent book “Lights Out” (Book reviews, Nov. 10, 2015).  It mentioned the August 2003 blackout in the Northeast caused by cascading software problems after a fallen tree in Ohio (not by terror).  The documentary seemed to suggest that Russia, China, and North Korea probably have more capability to do cyber damage than Islamic terrorists. (It did not get into the area of EMP devices, but probably not have.)  But the question remains if critical infrastructure components are unnecessarily connected to the Internet.

The film showed the operations of the National Counterterrorism Center in Tysons Corner, VA (an employee. Sean Green was mysteriously murdered in Prince Georges County MD in 2008 in a cold case, resembling another case of Kanika Powell, link). It then went back to the problem of how terrorists can use end-to-end encryption on devices and go dark.  The previous demonstrations, inspired by Edward Snowden, were showed. Richard Ledgett at the NSA hinted that there might be limited tools to get around them.  Then the documentary focused on satellite surveillance, as monitored by the National Reconnaissance Office near White Sands NM (I was in the area the weekend that I moved from NYC to Texas in January 1979).  Betty Sapp, and an Air Force LT Col spoke.  The documentary showed virtual reality simulations of enemy targets based on satellite surveillance, including the habitat of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in 2011.

The documentary covered the quantity of young people becoming radicalized in Europe, and showed how the grooming is done  It works for ISIS because a lot of people don’t process behavior with consequences the way we do in the West, as they are not raised in environments that value individual choices.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PBS Frontline: "ISIS in Afghanistan"; "Hunting the Taliban"


PBS Frontline on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 aired two short films about Islamic extremism in the far middle East.

The first was “ISIS in Afghanistan”.  The official site is here. The film showed an area in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. In a remote village, a relatively young male teaches weaponry to boys, showing them how to use a pistol, along with logs of religious exhortations.  Although his voice is calm, the effect is quite chilling. Fifteen miles away is a village controlled by the Taliban, which expects to be challenged by ISIS.



The two brothers, 13 and 17, relate their training to become suicide bombers.

A local village chief says that the villagers must defend themselves with weapons they purchase; the government doesn’t protect them.

The second film was “Hunting the Taliban”, which follows Pakastani police at night in a raid on a Taliban cell in a slum in Karachi.  The film also shows how officials are targeted and gunned down in heavy traffic with little notice by police.

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA satellite image of Karachi, here.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

More videos out there, conflating solar storms and EMP threats


I am indeed reading Ted Koppel’s book “Lights Out”, and book reviews take a while.  In the meantime, I thought I’d find a couple more videos on the possibility of very long-term power or Internet outages to major parts of the country.

I found a 28-minute lecture “What Happens Immediately After an EMP Atack?” by Evangelist Anita Fuentes (site).  This could be watched and compared to Judge Jeanine’s video reviewed here Aug. 6, 2014.



Fuentes gives two big examples in history:  The Carrington Solar Coronal Mass Ejection in 1857 (well before the western world was committed to electricity) and then the damage in Hawaii in 1962 from a nuclear weapons test in the Pacific 900 miles away.  She conflates a manmade EMP with a solar storm.

But a solar storm (which is more than just the “solar flare” of a Smallville episode), a natural and unpredictable event in space weather, is a very different beast from an EMP pulse from a man-made, enemy (whether a state or terror group’s) nuclear weapon.  The higher the altitude of the blast, the wider the area affected.  Localized non-nuclear flux gun devices exist (the military has them, like at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and has used them in Iraq and Afghanistan) and could do local damage. A solar storm probably would not damage car electronics, but an EMP definitely can.

She mentions the "week long" power outage in DC after the June 29, 2012 derecho (she says July 2), but more my neighborhood it was three days, and I have a generator.  She doesn't mention the close call we had (missing it by a week) with a possibly Carrington-sized solar storm in late July 2012.
 
 A rogue state or terror group could carry out an attack like in the book “One Second After” (which Fuentes mentions, and reviewed in my Books blog July 20, 2012) but NORAD and coastal defenses should intercept the missiles before they detonate.  Koppel fears a cyber attack the most – and I tend to disagree on what I’ve seen so far, but will take this up later when reviewing the book.

Feuntas gets into religious matter (the end of times, making comparisons to the Rapture when planes fall out of the sky, as in Lahaye’s popular “Left Behind” books and movies) in the latter part of the video.  Of course, I know where she is coming from.  I think that the biggest benefit in discussing the threat is in making policy changes to prevent it.   The power industry has made a lot of improvements in the past ten years.

I am 72 years old, with no children and parents gone; and I think I’m useful in an advanced society that is based on law and order.  But in an anarchist one thrown back to the 19th century by an enemy’s indignation, my own life would be shameful.  Indeed, our current political situation, with partisan polarization and a tendency for most citizens to be interested only in issues that affect them short-term, makes us more vulnerable.  In a world like that of NBC's "Revolution", I wouldn’t want to survive, or be saved.  The terms of life would be totally different from what they are now:  social combat.  I have no capacity to function in such a world, or give it another generation to follow me.

I do believe in karma and that an afterlife exists, and it wouldn’t be pretty if this (EMP-wipe) happened first.  But I don’t experience the creator in a personalized way.  There is indeed a moral paradox in “turning everything over to him” – the ultimate upward affiliation.  (When you think about WWII, it seems that Alan Turing was a savior, and look at what then happened.) How could I nurture someone else’s life under such circumstances?  Of course, my confessing something like this only makes us more tempting targets to those who want to replace civilization with some other “religious” order.  The threat today seems even more profound than what was posed by Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.  Resilience is itself part of moral compass, something we didn’t grasp until after 9/11. But for me surviving EMP would be like surviving nuclear war itself, and I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis as a "patient" at NIH.

 I’ll mention another video “How To Fix Your Vehicle After an EMP” by FrugalPrepper.
   He talks about a metal garbage can as a “Faraday cage”, and makes it sounds like tinkering, to replace modern electronics with older stuff, and distilling your own ethanol fuel, could get you moving again in a Mad Max world.

Monday, October 26, 2015

CNN: "Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq" hosted by Fareed Zakaria


Fareed Zakaria, host of Global Public Square on CNN, hosted the one hour documentary “Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq” Monday October 26, 2015, link here .

Zakarai started out recapitulating 9/11, and saying that on that very evening, President Bush and his advisers (Cheney at another location) had a meeting in the White House bunker deciding to go after Saddam Hussein, believing Hussein could be involved in 9/11 (when already it was apparent that Osama bin Laden was responsible, as CBS had reported that morning on its “What We Saw” (a DVD of 9/11) even before noon.



At a riveting presentation by Colin Powell in February 2003, supposed evidence of Saddam’s likely development of weapons of mass destruction was presented.  (Bush used the word "mushroom cloud" in a public speech at least once.)  The US began its “shock and awe” in March 2003 (televised at the Byrant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis right after an IPF meeting, when I was there to watch) and Saddam was deposed in April and eventually captured and executed by the new government.

The War in Iraq became protracted, with multiple tours of duty as part of a “Stop-Loss” policy, itself the subject of a major movie in 2008. It even got into soap operas.  It led to some scandals like Abu-Ghraib.

Yet, we never found evidence that Saddam really had WMD's (there was one report around 2006 that eventually got suppressed where Marines did report finding some sort of cache near the coast). Why was Saddam willing to let us believe it?  Saddam was indeed a villain but not the right suspect.  Zakaria admits that in the early days he supported the war and was somewhat fooled by the appearances rather than hard facts.
 
But after the US withdrew under Obama, the government and military of Iraq quickly weakened, resulting in overrunning of northern parts of the country by ISIS (including Mosul, where a Christian relative of a past coworker of mine lived -- one degree of separation), which Zakaria called the most dangerous and ruthless gang of thugs in history.

The US did put together a good team of contractors to provide security in Iraq, even involving other Arab “allies” like Saudi Arabia, but this fell apart after the US left.

Now Donald Trump says he wants to put "boots on the ground" in Iraq again to fight ISIS.

Picture: Mine, Paw-paw tunnel in Maryland on C-O Canal. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

"The Space Between": a flight attendant takes care of a Muslim boy on 9/11 when the boy's father was killed in the WTC


The Space Between” (2010)  is a fictional drama of some of the possible personal consequences of 9/11, directed by Travis Fine, shown at Tribeca and then aired on the USA Network on 9/11/2011.
    
Melissa Leo plays Montine McLeod, a flight attendant with some interpersonal problems.  She gets put on probation for chewing out a passenger for complaining about baby noise and leg room.  On 9/11, she is grounded in Longview, TX, on the day that all planes were grounded for four days.  Her job situation, somewhat unbelievably, requires her to take temporary guardianship of a particular minor passenger, Omar.  Soon, she learns that Omar’s dad worked in New York.  She embarks on a road trip, by bus (where they kicked off when Omar prays on the bus) and then a “used car lot” purchase to take Omar back to New York, and eventually to a school in Los Angeles.  In New York, she learns that Omar's dad  had been in the WTC when it fell.  On her trip back to help him get to school in LA, she learns she has been fired from her job anyway. 

Along the way, Omar encounters angry behavior from people over his appearance, and Omar points out that he is Pakistani and not Arab.

The script also makes reference to April 19, 1995, when apparently Melissa lost her husband in the OKC attack.

There is a discussion of “man’s free will” and the fact that some things happen are beyond the control of our choices.


I recall that on 9/11, when I was working in Minneapolis, a coworker flew from DC and did not learn of the attacks until landing in Minneapolis around the same time as the Pentagon attack.  He rented a car to return home.  I saw the film “L.I.E.” at the Lagoon Theater that evening, and met director Michael Cuesta, who was also stuck in the city until Friday.  People lined up at gas stations for one evening, too.
  
The distribution and production company is “Inception”, oddly coincidental with the name of Christopher Nolan’s famous film.

There is a review of the 2013 film "Drones" by Rick Rosenthal on my main Movies blog Oct. 2.  It does present some 9/11 theories and speculations about thwarted attacks in the US. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

"Castle" episode rerun hits hard the "financial domino theory"


I’ve covered ABC’s “Castle” on my TV Blog (see the label) as a show where a best-selling suspense novelist works with a police officer (of the opposite sex) using “imagination” to solve mysteries and, more importantly, prevent terror attacks before they happen.  We often say that 9/11 represented a “failure of imagination”. There is also the dangerous idea that terrorists or criminals could get “ideas” from fiction and feel that it is cool to carry these plots out in real life.  My own mother used to say that.

Saturday night (or Sunday morning) ABC station WJLA happened to air Season 4, Episode 4 (from February 2012), called “Linchpin”, which ABC summarizes here or here.  This refers to a CIA plot called “Pandora” which had been described in the previous episode (described  here ).  The “linchpin” happens to a be a young woman in China whose father influences Chinese policy in the US. The idea is that if something happens to her or to dad, China will make some move that destroys the US dollar as a reserve currency and brings about a currency crisis predicted by Porter Stansberry (as well as Ron Paul now).

But there is also a pattern of economic “dominoes” that have led to past world wars.  The next world war, according to newspaper clipping cutouts in an apartment, will start in 2017, after the worldwide currency collapse. 

There is also the idea that future cataclysmic events can be predicted from opening variations chosen in international chess tournaments, particularly controversial lines (like the Sicilian Sveshnikov). The appearance of a refutation of a particular gambit in an opening could be a sign that some sort of event will occur.

In my own novel manuscript ("Angel's Brother"), and "alien" encounter is preceded by the appearance of a mystery virus.  In the novel, a CIA agent discovers the partially published writings of a character (somewhat comparable to Castle) reasonably, but not completely, predict what actually happens. 

  

Here’s another exercise. Try watching the news footage on the morning of 9/11, widely available on YouTube.  It took as long as six minutes (including the usual commercials), until 9:52 AM EDT, for some networks (like CBS) to start covering the event. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Volcano under the City" (Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Congo)


PBS Nova has a film “Volcano under the City”, documenting the risk to the town of Goma in the eastern Congo from Mount Nyiragongo (11,340 feet).  The website is here


The volcano had erupted in January 2002.

There have been incidents where villagers near small ponds or lakes have been suffocated by carbon dioxide accumulating on the ground. CO2 is heavier than air so it can sit on the ground. This might even explain deaths of the first born during the Passover.

The volcano poses local risks in various areas as carbon dioxide sometimes accumulates on the ground near fissures, which natives, especially children, don’t see.

The film documents the technical aspects of the climb by Italian and French volcanologists, but also shows residents rebuilding in the path of likely lava flows.  Up to 2 million people could be displaced by another eruption.

But a major eruption could be one of the largest on Earth, comparable to Krakatoa or even Yellowstone.  Of course, better known cities at risk from massive volcanic eruptions are Seattle (Rainier, as in History Channel’s “American Volcano”, June 24, 2008) or Naples (Vesuvius).  
  
Wikipedia attribution link for aerial picture of Nyriagongo by Neil Wetmore, under Creative Commons Share-Alike Generic 2.0 license.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

"America: State of Affairs": forum from "Your Voice Your Future" series by WJLA News Channel *


WJLA News Channel 8 broadcast (7 PM EDT July 23) another “Your Voice Your Future” called “America: State of Affairs”. The best link so far is here.  Generally WJLA posts the entire hour-long broadcast soon. Scott Thuman moderated.  I didn't see a studio audience. 
     
The main focus of the episode was America’s “deal” with Iran, which must be ratified by Congress.  The question is whether Obama’s deal really will slow Iran from making nuclear (or EMP) weapons it could use against Israel or even western countries, and whether there may be a more moderate government in 15 years.
  
James Woolsey, former CIA director, questioned the because “Iran lies to ‘infidels’”.
  
Kamal Nawash said, “you need trust”, and that Iran won’t be able to cheat the IAEA.
  
Clifford May noted that undeclared facilities can’t be inspected.
  
Amanda Berman noted that it was easier to “deal” with the Soviets after the Berlin Wall fell.

Col MacGregor (remote) noted that while it would be possible for Iran to cheat and make a crude bomb undetected, Iran is not making ballistic missiles (or scuds) and they are not easy to mount undetected. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

CNN Situation Room: Wolf Blitzer does harrowing interview with FBI director James Comey on the asymmetric threat from ISIS over the Internet


Wolf Blitzer gave FBI director James Comey and interview today (Thursday, July 23, 2015) at 5 PM EDT on his “Situation Room” in which Comey described how ISIS “crowd sources” terrorism.  The best video link seems to be here

Comey described the process as an inversion of the way Al Qaeda used to work.  At a certain point in making a contact, the recruiters overseas (probably in Syria) use strongly encrypted communications.

  
The FBI says it will have trouble breaking this encryption even with a warrant and court order.  So the interview would not seem to bear on the overall problem of warrantless snooping, as pointed out by Snowden, EFF, Glenn Greenwald, and others.  Still, once a warrant is secured properly, law enforcement would need to be able to break the encryption, possibly with the help of tech companies. 
 
CNN ran trailers across the bottom of the screen about this interview Thursday evening while covering the incident at a theater in Lafayette, LA July 23, a developing story.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"The Whispers": a somewhat sinister idea of an alien attack


I had reviewed the Pilot of “The Whispers” on ABC on June 14 on the TV blog.
  
This time, there is indeed an intriguing premise for how an alien invasion could happen.  The being is stores as an electromagnetic entity, who communicates telepathically with children (calling itself “Drill” as like an imaginary playmate) to get them to do what it wants.  It has apparently arrived from a star system 200 light years away.

And there is an Air Force Pilot, who supposedly crashes in the Arctic but he winds up in the Sahara, near a fossilized “pickled” unusual rock, reformed into an underground pillar of salt that acts as a communications beacon.
    
In this episode, the government tries to destroy the beacon with an EMP device. 
    
The officer, related to a female FBI agent who happens to specialize in crimes against children, has also seen visions induced by the entity (as described in Episode 7, “Whatever It Takes”), in which all the children of the world are simply taken and disappear at once, leaving mankind with no lineage.
     
Now, the idea that man could stop reproducing and having children has been explored in film before, as in “Children of Men” (2006) by Alfonso Cuaron.



Stephen Hawking has warned that an encounter between man and aliens might not work out well for us, just as a parallel narrative did not work out well for native Americans in the 17th Century.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"12 Term Congressman Ron Paul's Warning to Americans about the Coming Currency Crisis" appears this spring


Ron Paul, a former Texas Congressman and an early GOP candidate for president in 2012, has been warning of massive currency crisis, following in the manner or Porter Stansberry, about the loss of the use of the dollar as reserve currency.
  
BuzzFeed News has a story here.  The reports started breaking in April 2015.

The 54-minute interview "film" appears on YouTube (dated April 15, 2015).  
  
Paul predicts that ATM’s will freeze and that commerce as we know it will break down suddenly.
Ron Paul’s libertarianism was welcome in 2012 by many, and his recent predictions could complicate his son’s run for president.
  
The Wall Street Journal has a similar story by Janet Hook here.

One chilling observation is that Ron Paul predicted the housing crash way back in 2003 and said we were in a bubble.  Is he right again?  He says this crash will dwarf 2008.

His ad has appeared on CNN recently, as in “The 70s”.

The most likely trigger for an event like Stansberry would be China's dumping our debt.  (News Channel 8 in Washington DC  discussed this idea on June 27.)
   
It won’t be so bad, or will it? Or, "I had to tell somebody". 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

CNN: "ISIS: What Should the U.S. Do Now?" with Wolf Blitzer


Tonight, at 9 PM, Wolf Blitzer hosted a special report for his Situation Room, “ISIS: What Should the U.S. Do Now?”  with about seven US military general-grade officers, link here. Phil Mudd also appeared.

There was a lot of comparison to Vietnam, noting that Saigon fell in 1975, so Baghdad might not be too big to fall eventually.  Most insisted that this in the final analysis was the battle for the people and not for large ground troops from the West.  Most were against working with Assad in Syria.
   
  
Fareed Zakaria has suggested that Iraq as a country isn’t viable anymore, and that the area should be broken into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite states, that would have the own internal political loyalty to defend their own areas and tribes from external violent aggression. That sounds like the best idea.
The program also considered the problem of the ISIS soldier “fighting to die” whereas the Iraqi “fights to live.”  But that was roughly true during the war in Vietnam. In fact, during the Vietnam era, some considered the deployment of conventional ground US forces, even supported by a draft, as a deterrent to possible nuclear war eventually.  Now the opposite may be true.

The show also summarized the biography of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. 

Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Ramadi, Iraq from air by USMC, public domain 

 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"San Andreas": The worst possible case for the Big One in California


As for the megadisaster theory in the 3-D summer popcorn flick “San Andreas” (directed by Brad Peyton), it’s pretty grim. As the film opens, a girl is rescued from a new canyon as it opens up beneath her when she is driving a desert mountain road. At Cal Tech, Dr.  Lawrence  (Paul Giamatti) lectures about the overdue aspect of the San Andreas fault.  He then is visiting Hoover Dam (which I visited in December 1997) when it crumbles underneath him with a 7.1 quake.  Barely having escaped, he learns that this was a pre-quake for the Really Big One, not just one quake in LA, but a “swarm” of 9.5 quakes that will run from Los Angeles to San Francisco and destroy both cities. 
  
Twice the film shows wave-like motion in the ground, and then downtown buildings not just pancake, they topple.  In San Francisco, the same will happen (the hero pilot Ray, Dwayne Johnson, is trying to rescue his daughter, Carla Gugino, and traverses the distance, stealing a truck in the process).  At one point, the story lands literally at second base in ATT Park – and it’s a good thing the Giants are on the road, because it will be leveled soon. In San Francisco, there will also occur an 80-foot tsunami, which will tear apart the Gold Gate Bridge.  All is lost.

In an early lecture, Giamatti explains the 9.2 Alaska quake in 1964, as well as the earlier 9.5 in Chile, which created an 85-foot tsunami which destroyed Hilo, Hawaii (which I actually visited in 1980). It is possible for a landslide associated with the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands to create a tsunami which could hit the US East Coast with a 100+ tsunami.

The movie occasionally shows extensive media coverage, which probably could not continue from the downtown areas if this really happened.  The film trivializes the effect such an event would have on the economy of the whole country.  Many people would have to start over with nothing, whatever their station in life before. It sounds horrific, but in a sense this natural disaster is an “equalizer”, unlike Hurricane Katrina.  One of the characters says he hasn’t “bothered” to have children because he is too “busy” building the tallest residence in San Francisco.

Expert geologists say that there really is no possibility of a San Andreas earthquake in the 9.0+ range, and that kind of tsunami for San Francisco wouldn't happen.  But they warn that this is possible further north, from Seattle up to Alaska, and that the supervolcano caldera under Yellowstone can create substantial risk of catastrophe.  Furthermore, of the the San Andreas created a canyon of is own, there would no longer be friction to sustain an earthquake. The Hoover Dam is not as vulnerable as the movie makes it look (an irony in drought).


The official site is here  (New Line and Village Roadshow).

I saw the film in large auditorium at the Regal Ballston Commons before a small audience Saturday afternoon.  A good comparison would be NBC's TV miniseries "10.5", where the continent splits in half. 
  
Wikipedia attribution link for iKluft photo of fault under Creative Commons 4.0 Share-Alike license. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

CNN airs Fareed Zakaria's "Blindsided" How ISIS Shook the World"



Monday, May 11, 2015, CNN presented Fareed Zakaria’s 50-minute documentary film “Blindsided: How ISIS Shook the World”, basic link here.  The film has originally been scheduled for April 27 but got put off because of events in Baltimore and other places.  “ISIS” or “ISIL” stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, wiki (for a legally unrecognized state) here.

Blindsided” is based in part on the photojournalism of Jurgen Todenhofer  filming in territory controlled by ISIS (or ISL)., starting in Mosul. AL Jazeera has a story on his work here .
   
 Todenhofer says he met many Americans as well as other Europeans among the soldiers.  “Completely brainwashed.  I have never seen people like this.” Yet, some Sunni businesses in Mosul say they are better off under ISIS than they were under the Shiite-influenced government of Iraq.

Todenhofer says ISIS wants to draw US troops into a land war in the US.  He said that, contrary to what is usually reported, he saw a lot of American recruits as well as European, and this is disturbing. "They were having the time of their lives." 
   
Zakari says you can draw a line in history from 9/11.

The documentary presents Abu Bakr A-Baghdadi, regarded as the founder and leader of ISIS. He was in American custody at Camp Bucca during the Iraq war. But he was seen as a “man who could be trusted”.  A military tribunal recommended his release in 2004, during Bush’s first term.

Then Zakaria himself explains how ISIS turned western media on its own head, producing gang-style violent videos engineered to go viral and recruit the most psychologically unstable (often, but not always, poor)young Muslim men  in the world (including western countries) to join them.


Then the documentary covers the inadequacy of US intelligence, even showing up in Obama’s complacent “Junior Varsity” remark.  One of the biggest failures was to fail to see the weakness and cowardice of Iraq’s own Army., as in 2014 ISIS captured many towns across northern Syria and Iraq, finally Mosul.  (A coworker of mine at the Minnesota Orchestra in 2002 had distant relatives living in Mosul; the degrees of separation can be small.)

Zakaria presents the story of Maajid Nawaz, who grew up in Britain, had parents of Pakastani origin, and has turned away from radicalism to run for the British Parliament. But he said, when younger, that he had no sympathy for the civilian victims of 9/11 because western countries attack so many Muslim civilians.  One example was in Bosnia.  In time, he realized some of the enemies were not from the west (like Putin’s Russia in Chechnya).  He was also repelled by the 7/7 attack in Britain.
   
Thomas Friedman, from the New York Times, wrote that ISIS offers a disenchanted young Muislim a “wife, a salary, a chance to lord it over someone” and a place to belong.
  
Is ISIS a real threat in the US?  The two perpetrators in Garland TX were mainly inspired.  ISIS, Zakaria says, is about religion but it is very much about power, somewhat like the Stalinist Soviet Union.  It hires a secular force from the former Saddam Hussein regime, and exploits existing religious conflicts between Sunni and Shiites. 

Wikipedia attribution link for map from BBC of ISIL-controlled territory in May 2015, under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-Alike license 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

CNN airs special documentary "Murder at the Marathon" while Jahar's sentencing phase continues


Tonight (Tuesday, May 5, 2015). CNN aired a special documentary “Murder at the Marathon”, about the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2015.
   
CNN does not seem to have a separate page for this documentary, but rather continuing coverage of the sentencing phase for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, link here
  
The details of that week have been well reported.  But an important part of the documentary was to fathom why the brothers went toward violence, and why Jahar came under such influence from Tamerlan.
  
  
Both brothers had immigrated under asylum.  Both were talented.  But Tamerlan became disenchanted when he was not allowed to continue his boxing career because he wasn’t a US citizen, although his own impetuousness contributed to his situation.  Tamerlan had other talents, even classical music, all of which he gave up when he reverted to radical Islam.
  
Jahar had even become a citizen, learned perfect English, and was popular, although at some point he started to go downhill, along with pot smoking. 
  
In the boat, Jahar wrote a “manifesto” (a bad word, it seems), or "screed", which gives in to the must crude idea of group religious revenge, that was common in ancient times.  This was “religious” but it wasn’t about permissive western lifestyles or about inequality (as radical Left wing radicalism is). It is particularly shocking that it seems that the pressure cooker weapons may have been placed deliberately near children. A lot of made of Jahar’s behavior during and after the bombings as on videos. 
  
The Boston Globe has an analysis of Jahar’s tweets here.  The lack of “love” remark right after the event sounds particularly provocative to me.
  
I don’t get into details about the victims.  In my mind, the experience is comparable to being drafted and then maimed in war, like Vietnam, and then having to deal with bearing the loss of other people’s wrongdoing, having someone have a relationship with “you” after this.  My own word is “casualty”. 
   
There is no way to make this all right. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

CNN Tonight airs "Free Speech v. Common Sense" forum on Garland, Texas attempted attack


CNN had intended to air the film “Blindsided” tonight, about the history of ISIS, but put if off another week, until May 11, to air an AC360 “Police Under Fire” town hall based on the Baltimore situation.
  
But on CNN Tonight, Don Lemon aired “Free Speech v. Common Sense” to analyze the attempted attack in Garland, Texas on a “cartoon drawing contest” sponsored by the “American Freedom Defense Initiative”, headed by Pamela Geller.  Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were shot by Garland police. The FBI is examining their apartment in Phoenix and overseas ties, but believes they were probably “lone wolves” inspired by ISIS ideology online but not formally trained.  CNN’s latest online story is  here.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the foiled attack, with a bellicose statement, as reported in many media outlets, here.
  
Geller’s activity certainly reminds one of Molly Norris, who had tried to encourage a cartoon-drawing day in 2010 and whom the FBI encouraged to go into hiding.


The group has been called an anti-Muslim “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Some have discussed offensive ads taken out by the group in various public places like the subways.  
   
Don Lemon had three panel guests on the program, Alam Dershowitz, Amani Al-Khatehtbeh, and Zia Sheikh.  Dershowitz said that hate speech is constitutionally protected, and as a matter of law, is not considered “incitement” to violence, unless it directly urges people to act.  Dershowitz also said that among major religions, only Islam has a subgroup that is radical enough to encourage violence merely as to suppress speech.  But there would then be a corresponding question as to whether foreign speech trying to incite “lone wolves” crosses the legal line and is no longer protected by the First Amendment.
   
Dershowitz also took exception to a style of thinking that blames speakers for making others feel offended and then bringing violence back upon themselves or persons connected to them (family).

Again, the combative ideology of radical Islam, not tolerating certain speech or images in public against it, comports more with a group mindset common in the past, where tribes fought each other based on religious affiliation, and took group revenge, rather than directly an objection to western individualism (was we used to see with violent groups on either the radical left or radical right).  This really is war over religion, which sounds absurd to many western people, even those who have no trouble reconciling faith with modern physics. 
             
Hate speech may be constitutionally protected, but terms of service policies in social media typically ban it.  Even self-publishing companies for books do “content review” of books in part to ensure they are not hate speech.

Vox Media has an article by Max Fisher explaining that the gathering was a "hate" event, here.

May 5:

There is more from CNN on the level of participation from anyone overseas from ISIS here.  There are also accounts that the public is lucky that the policeman had not left yet and was able to hit both suspects with his handgun despite their body armor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"American Terrorist", bio of David Coleman Headley, airs on PBS Frontline


On April 21, PBS Frontline aired “American Terrorist”, about David Coleman Headley, video link here   As the documentary (90 min) starts, Headley is shown exploring Copenhagen, planning an attack against Jyllands-Posten over the cartoon controversy.  The NSA intercepted his activities and he was eventually arrested by the FBI before an attack, which eventually happened in January 2015 against Charlie Hebdo.  But Headley would confess to scouting out the attack on Mumbai, by sea and fishing boat through an obscure low-income section.  Headley, of Pakastani origin, would eventually get prison at supermax in Colorado.



Wikipedia has a detailed biography here 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

PBS Frontline airs major special on Yemen


It may be an open question as to how serious an “existential” threat terror in places like Yemen and Somalia could pose to ordinary Americans in the US, but PBS Frontline aired an important documentary “The Fight for Yemen” Tuesday night, narrated by a female journalist who had grown up in Sana’a.  The best link for what is going on seems to be here
   
  
Much of the documentary considered the effective dual political authority of Al Houthis, who maintain checkpoints and effective control of civilians in many areas, and who in one scene confront the government to be “open” about its meetings. 
  
The documentary covers the entire country, from the Saudi Arabia border (with recent Saudi military incursions) to Aden.  The country looks more developed than one would expect.
  
But the developed of AQAP and the capacity to attack the West in more methodical ways than ISIS (lone wolf propaganda) bears careful reporting. 
  
Wikipedia attribution link for map of Yemen as of 2012 by Geo Evan, under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 license.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Countdown": Roundtable on WJLA's "Your Voice, Your Future" series updates on Afghanistan, Iran (especially), and drone use


Countdown Part 1” was aired as a 31-minute roundtable by News Channel 8 of WJLA in Washington DC Tuesday night March 24, as part of the “Your Voice Your Future” series.
  
  
Scott Thuman hosted. Four panelists on location included Jamed Abdi (NIAC), Adelle Nazaria, Faheem Younous, and Clifford May.  Also, by remote Skype, appearing was Rep. Dutch Ruppersnerger (D-MD), Joce Sterman, Zainab Chaudhary, and Kanal Nawas.
  
At issue were three topics:  Obama’s troop levels in Afghanistan, especially given the presence of ISIS as maybe more dangerous than the Taliban;  how to work with Iran as a pseudo-ally against ISIS in Syria while still not giving in on its nuclear program, and what to do about commercial (or even personal) drones that could be used as terror weapons.
  
Netanyahu’s visit wasn’t talked about much, although the Maryland congressman insisted that Israel would be defended.   The biggest issue is the idea that Iran, with a nuclear weapon, could destroy Israel, as with an EMP blast, or could give it to terrorists to attack western countries.  The discussion went back to 1979 and the “death to America” of the hostage crisis.  It would have been nice to cover the situation in Yemen and the recent participation of Saudi Arabia, and possible connections between ISIS and Boko Haram.    
   
Note Ted Bolton's op-ed (from an advisor to Ted Cruz) in the New York Times today, "To stop Iran's bombs, bomb Iran", link here. Think Progress opined about this on Facebook today. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

NBC Dateline airs "Escape: Swept Away" special about the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean


NBC Dateline aired a special  (2 hrs)“Escape: Swept Away” about people surviving the tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, that would strike Thailand and many other areas around the Indian Ocean. The link is here

The documentary stresses the true stories of many families.  Particularly important is the surprise, and the way various people realized that this unusual behavior of the water in the ocean really did mean a tsunami.

One teenage boy had dreamed about an auto accident that happened, and then dreamed about the tsunami, but the family went anyway.

One family was snorkeling when the beginning of the wave started.

One man reports begging another to abandon his own family to save him, a complete stranger.

The middle portion of the film documents “the third wave”.

This documentary makes a good supplement to “The Impossible” reviewed Dec. 21, 2012 here.
  
Wikipedia attribution link for NOAA map of trusnami travel times (p.d.) 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

NBC: "The Real Blacklist" looks at the Litvinenko polonium poisoning case


Thursday night, NBC Dateline aired an episode of a new subsubseries, “The Real Blacklist”, covering the murder of former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko.  On Jan. 21, 2014 I had reviewed “Poisoned by Polonium: The Livinenko File” on my Movies blog.
  
Litvinenko was poisoned by polonium 210 in his tea at the Pine Bar in the Millennium Hotel in London in 2006. He literally burned to death from the inside.  Other people in the hotel would have been exposed to lower amounts and would face increased cancer risks.  This was essentially a mini dirty bomb in downtown London.
  
  
Much of the documentary concerned suspect Andrey Lugnovy.  He claims not to have known about the poison. He lost most of his hair himself temporarily.
  
The main link is here. Note the map of the Pine Bar and the results of detailed swabbings.
    
The report believes that a hit like this has to have come from the very top  -- Vladimir Putin.

Polonium 210 is extraordinarily expensive even for organized crime, and would normally be available only with the assistance of a nuclear state.  Putin probably thought that the cause of the death would go undetected for a long time, but Litvinenko lived and suffered much longer than usual.  

Monday, March 02, 2015

CNN and AC360 offer special "The Rise of ISIS"


Anderson Cooper, of AC360, hosted a special report Monday night, March 2, 2015, “The Rise of ISIS” (aka “The ISIS Threat”), with many panelists.  The main link is here
  
The guests included Mark Hertling, Rob Baer, Graham Wood (author of the Atlantic article), Karime Bernoume, and a parent, Christianne Boudreau, of a Canadian who went to Syria, believing he was going on a humanitarian mission.
  
  
The concept that a radical group would hold territory was shocking in early 2014, but became logical in retrospect.  The ability of ISIS to overrun Mosul and other areas in northern Iraq comes partly from the fact that the government in Baghdad is partly Shiite, and people didn’t trust it;  that was a bigger factor than mere military failure. 

Another factor was the people in that part of the world have a Hobson’s choice when dealing with dictators; “It’s me, or the jihadists”.
  
The program covered the ransacking of artefacts in Mosul.  ISIS has a triage system by which it steals and sells objects, or it destroys them if it thinks they were “idols”. 
  
They also described life in Raqqa, which has been compared to a prison. 
  
The program lightly covered the social media recruiting (but not the latest news concerning Twitter, Ryot story here .There is another “diaspora” network which is distributed so that it is harder to monitor. 
  
They did not get into the idea that civilians in the US would eventually find themselves in the crosshairs or lone wolves or other unforeseen operations.  The concern in larger in Europe, where many more people have been radicalized. 
  
The panel was a bit like a New Channel 8 “Your Voice You Future” roundtable. 


Wikipedia attribution link for map of Syria   by UN- OCHA, under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-Alike license. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"End of the World" rather overstates the solar flare risk, which actually needs to be taken very seriously


I cover films that present the possible danger to western civilization from gigantic solar storms (and resulting coronal mass ejections), so I rented the silly SyFy channel film “End of the World”, directed by Steven R. Monroe, set in British Columbia (of course).
  
The film rather overdoes things, to say the least.  The solar storm results in ball lightning dropping like “rain” on the ground, frying anyone or anything it hits.   This would not happen.
  
Cars sporadically fail, and that probably would happen only with an electromagnetic pulse bomb, which (to affect a large area) would be a high altitude nuclear blast. 
  
The plot gimmick is that the heroes (played by Greg Grunberg and Neil Grayston) use their knowledge of apocalyptic films (also on the SyFy Channel) to figure out how to save the world.  
  
They work at “Movie Shack, Home of the Disaster”.  Dr. Walter Brown (Brad Dourif) insists on being put through to the Pentagon, because he knows how to fix it, like he was special!  The fix is to launch a nuclear warhead to land inside an open pit mine in Siberia.  I’m not sure what sense this makes, other than to break up the current cold wave, that originates from Siberia.
  
What really ought to be done, is to make a docudrama of what would happen if a Carrington-sized solar storm and CME hit the Earth today, with its advanced technological infrastructure, and vulnerable power grid.  We apparently had a narrow miss in July 2012, which we didn’t learn about until the Spring of 2014. 
  
  
The Anchor Bay press release for the film is here
  
I watched the film from a Netflix DVD. 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Blacklist" episode "The Kenyon Family" shows domestic terror by brainwashing and mind control


The Blacklist”, with James Spader (who talks like Nolan Ross in “Revenge”) presented, in “The Kenyon Family”, a somewhat believable “extreme right” cultist terror threat is proposed.  In eastern Tennessee, the Kenyons maintain a large estate that resembles David Koresh at Waco, except that they allow other criminals to store WMD’s (especially Syntex) on their property.  They also have a polygamy system (lke Colorado City, AZ), but resulting in exiling of many boys, who have formed their own terror group.  In the meantime, the cult also practices brainwashing or mind control that sends people to various locations in cars to act as suicide bombers, with massive explosions capable of obliterating whole city blocks.  The brainwashing somewhat resembles the idea of “Manchurian Candidate” programming, as well as the “brain triggering” with free sim cards in the recent movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (Movies Feb. 15).  The episode, like "Kingsman", also had a scene of a mass "suicide" at a church service. 
         
The Kenyon group also has an “end of days” theology claiming that the family will inherit the world and that Kenyon will rise to become an angel.  A real angel, if you met him, would be something else (more like a Clark Kent). 
   
The group is also shown as wanting to have a sovereign country within the southern Appalachians, threatening other property nearby, in a manner comparable to ISIL, as if this sort of "cult plus conquest" movement is possible with any religion or belief, not just Islam.  CNN has been discussing the "sovereign citizen" problem as involving up to 300000 people in the US, and they also litigate with "paper terrorism." 
    
   
The episode seems relevant given recent talk that ISIS us a “doomsday cult” within Islam, trying to set up a caliphate for Armageddon.  It also could be compared to Jim Jones and The People’s Temple, which was a far Leftist cult that committed mass suicide in 1978. 
    
I guess the other obvious mental association for me might be Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. But their activity is just demonstrations and (anti-gay hate) speech. 
    
Picture: Mid Tennessee, my trip, May 2014.  
  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"State of Affairs" episode "Deadcheck" (season finale) presents disturbing paradigm for suicide attacks


There was a concept in the season finale to NBC’s “State of Affairs”, called “Deadcheck”, that deserves honorable mention on this weblog.  (Maybe “Deadwire” or “Millstone” could have been an episode title, -- perhaps even "Bedcheck".)
  
  
The central character, CIA operative “Charlie” (Katherine Heigl) quits the CIA to go after a terrorist in the Middle East, Omar Fatah (Farshad Farahat), and at the end, she executes him, letting him suffer a moment.  The “seventh floor” (rather like the phantom floor for John Malkovich) helps her, but the whole concept is rather like replacing an entire Navy Seal team (that took out Osama bin Laden) with one woman (like in Ridley Scott’s 1997 film “G.I. Jane” with Demi Moore, from Hollywood (Disney) Pictures.
  
But it is the terror concept that is rather scary.  The terrorists have picked out cities in the United States to endure suicide bombers according to how their geographic positions map to the stars in the constellation Pegasus.  Cities that wind up on the list include Minneapolis, Houston and San Antonio. Charlie figures it out by looking at a clear sky in the mountains (in Afghanistan).
  
All pretty contrived stuff.  Constellations don’t really mean anything now.  (Space weather –  solar storms – sounds like a much more real threat to me.) But it sounds like an idea somebody might even try.   
 
Don;t confuse this show with "State of Play", a 2003 TV series or 2009 film (April 17, 2009 on Movies blog.) 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Fight for Freedom" Town Hall aired by (Washington DC) WJLA "News Channel 8" as part of its "Your Voice, Your Future" series; I am in the audience



ABC affiliate WJLA aired the “Town Hall: Fight for Freedom: Your Voice, Your Future” from its headquarters in the Rosslyn “downtown” area of Arlington VA, almost on the Potomac River.
 
This broadcast is the latest in a series of Roundtables (half hour, no audience) and Townhalls (one hour, with studio audience)  aired at 7 PM EST on some weeknights on News Channel 8 in Washington.  I was in the audience, on the second row, and this time the event was in the Second Floor Studio of the building, rather than in the Arisphere (which is larger and which is easier to move around in). 

There was a technical issue in that we could not hear some of the outside feeds during the show.
  
The panelists were Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy (link), Clifford May from Foundation for Defense of Democracies (link)  Jane Hall, journalism professor at American University (link), and Faheem Younus (“Muslimerican”, link) as well as, remote, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA), direct line from Harrisburg.  Jeff Barnum moderated.
  

Scott Thuman reported on several stories, including a decision by Japan not to allow its journalists to travel to Syria and Iraq, after the recent execution of another Japanese journalist by ISIS.  He also reported on a blizzard of “copythreat” threats against commercial airline flights on Twitter, which can be traced and can result in 5 years in prison.  Another clip concerns the use of flashy social media to recruit young men and women from western countries, a campaign that works mostly in Europe but that has resulted in the arrests of a few young people from the US. 

One of the audience, a Muslim woman, challenged Gaffney for his alleges support of Islamaphobia.  Later questions concerned whether the US should put “boots on the ground” in Syria.  But the most important question may have been those concerned about how journalists can continue honest reporting, when ISIS attacks them and executes them.  The honest answer was, maybe, we can’t.  Totalitarian societies go to great lengths to prevent information about what is going on to get out.
  
But the most sobering moment came when Gaffney mentioned Salman Rushdie, the target of a fatwa from Iran in the early 1980s for the book “Satanic Verses”.  True, the threat came from Shiite rather than Sunni Islam.  But it shows that the concern isn’t limited to just drawings and cartoons.  Gaffney said that European nations should have withdrawn diplomats from Iran immediately.  Instead, they told Rushdie, a British subject and definitely not a resident or subject of Iran or any other Muslim country, to hire bodyguards and that “he had a problem.”  That is when free speech in the west became jeopardized.

As for the cartoons, Younus said that not publishing images of Muhammad should be a matter of conscience, not law, but he compared the practice to using the “n” or “f” words in the US (to refer to “blacks” or “gays”). 
  
Later Younus got into a debate with the other panelists on whether there is something in Islam that condones violence against non-Muslim civilians as justified by religious scripture.  There was some discussion of the scope of Sharia law, particularly when it deals with secular interactions with non-Muslims.  Some of it got heated. There was a suggestion, from Gaffney at least, that the point of the ISIS behavior extends beyond scripture to simply a need to control others ("apostates") as part of the ideology, a religious analogue to Hitler or Stalin (or Kim Jong-Un).   
    
The audience included several Muslims, and several journalism students from American University.  I was in the queue to ask a question but time ran out.  So I asked the question of the panelists in person after the broadcast.  I was going to ask them to comment on the (Cato Institute) book “The Tyranny of Silence” by Flemming Rose from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, at the time of the Cartoon Controversy in 2005.  The book was written before the assassination of Charlie Hebdo and other journalists in Paris in January 2015.  I would have mentioned Moly Norris.  Gaffney immediately reacted to my mentioning her name, and regretted likewise not having time (in just one hour) to get to the implications of how her situation was handled by the FBI (similar to Rushdie, who did not go into hiding or change names).   I don’t think we have a word in our vocabulary for this problem, it’s a kind of “socialization-induced chilling effects” familiar in ganga and organized crime.  Alfred Hitchcock has explored this problem (as close as ever in cinema) with his two versions of “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. 
  
This forum could have used a full 90 minutes.  
Update (later 2/10):  NBC News just released a news story about hacking social media of a military spouse, here.  This is along the lines of the Town Hall, but in a critical area we didn't have enough time to cover. 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

"8:46" traces several NYC families in the hours leading up to 9/11


Jennifer Azano (also known as Jennifer Garango) has a 2011 55-minute film on Netflix, “8:46”, which depicts, in Robert Altman style, the lives of a variety of New York City families and individuals starting on Sept. 10 and leading to the crash on the North Tower at 8:46.  It first happens 16 minutes before the end of the film, from the view of a Manhattan highrise penthouse, where a young man has read his wife’s positive pregnancy test.

In one of the families, a father has gotten has gay son an internship in the World Trade Center and is pestering him about showing up on time dressed properly.  There is a lot of tension at the family dinner.

In another sequence, a boss counsels an employee on the 102nd floor about her being “distracted” on the job and tries to help her with personal issues.

There is also a sequence in a NYC firehouse, where a firefighter says he will become a father.

The film takes the morning through the first 90 minutes after 8:46, past the crash in Pennsylvania in the media.  



The official site is here (Forget Me Not and Virgil Films). 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

"Murder in Mexico": CNN reports on border incident (Falcon Lake, TX) as to whether drug wars affect ordinary Americans


Should civilian Americans, most of all those in Texas, particularly South Texas (and maybe other border states) be concerned that drug cartel violence in Mexico could endanger them? Associated with the cartels would be a form of “piracy”.
      
CNN re-aired its report “Murder in Mexico” about the murder of David Hartley, dumped in Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border at Zapata County, after the couple (with wife Tiffany Hartley) had gone boating looking for a half-submerged old church.  The story is here.
    
    
The report seemed to suggest that the cartels that use the lake have an unwritten code not to disturb uninvolved civilians.  But mistakes happen.
    
The right wing has been saying that a porous border would allow Al Qaeda terrorists to come through Mexico.
    
Landowners, especially in southern Arizona, have run into legal issues defending their property against random illegals.  That’s a whole business for law firms in Phoenix. 
  
Picture: Mine, south of San Antonio, 1985.