Thursday, May 31, 2007

More TB Talk, Raw Politics, Secret Earmarks, NJ Teen Dies In Africa, Fred Thompson, New Orleans Update, And A Spelling Bee (Wednesday's Show)

Hi guys. I'm just going to combine the two hours since I'm blogging them both at the same time anyway. We begin tonight with the tuberculosis scare and Anderson brings us up to date with what we know so far. He tells us that the man with the TB is an Atlanta lawyer who knew he had drug resistant TB and even though his doctors told him not to travel, he did anyway. Then he was told to get treatment in Rome, but he refused. Okay, already I have issues here. First of all, yesterday we were told that the man didn't know he had the extreme form of drug resistant TB until he was "halfway through his trip to Europe." Also, the way they're wording it kind of makes it sound like he didn't want to get treatment, when really he just didn't want to get treatment in Rome. And as far as what his doctors (or even the CDC) told him, some of the messages seemed to be a little mixed. I'm not defending this guy, but someone needs to play devil's advocate because already the tone is way one sided.

Next up we're joined by Sanjay Gupta and Anderson asks if this whole thing is overblown. Sanjay tells us this is potentially a big problem, but for only a small number of people. We also learn that the World Health Organization has no record of cases ever being transfered on a plane. Anderson wants to know why the man is in isolation then. Sanjay explains "it's one of these things in medicine where you -- you -- you hope for the best, and you prepare for the worst." He also notes that to spread TB a person needs to be coughing and so far this guy isn't symptomatic like that. Anderson then reveals he's going to be paranoid about his flights now. Dude, he practically lives on a plane. If he hasn't caught the plague yet I think he's good to go. If anything, he should be worrying about deep vein thrombosis. Move those legs, Anderson! Sanjay tells us that to take precautions against picking up something on a plane we should ask the pilot to turn on the air pack for extra circulation, stay hydrated, and wash our hands. Sounds simple enough.

Moving on now to a Rusty Dornin piece that kind of lays out the whole TB story. Right now the man is under armed guard at Grady Memorial in Atlanta. We're told that he was warned not to travel, "but he insisted his marriage and honeymoon plans were non-negotiable, saying he would wear a mask while flying." Okay, but I don't think the mask was his idea. I'm pretty sure officials told him if he did travel he should wear a mask and that's a huge mixed message right there. Also, he told a reporter of the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" that he didn't turn himself in in Rome because "he was very concerned that this would make it impossible for him to have some cutting-edge treatment in Denver that was planned. And -- and he -- he said he feared for his life." So it's not as black and white as saying he refused treatment.

For the legal questions of the case we're next joined by Jeffrey Toobin. Anderson asks if the CDC got this right regarding the public's right to know vs. patient privacy. Toobin doesn't think they did get it right and believes they should have named the man. I totally disagree (and I realize at this point he's already been named). That's a slippery slope I don't want to be walking on. As a friend noted, if we do stuff like that, why don't we have a public database of everyone who has HIV/AIDS? It's hard to tell where that line is, but it's not like we're in the movie Outbreak or anything. Also, Toobin states that he thinks the guy consciously flew to Montreal and then drove to Atlanta in order to avoid the law. And you know, he's probably right, but at this point can we please wait for all the facts to come in before saying something like that? As for the legal aspects, Toobin says there could be manslaughter charges if someone were to die from catching TB from this guy. However, suing the CDC would be much more difficult. Anderson then brings up a very good question: "Aren't people less likely to come forward if they feel that the government is then going to print their picture in the paper and say, this person has this dangerous disease?" Exactly.

Okay, so I'm a little surprised at how slanted 360's coverage was of this whole story. I'm missing tons of angles here. Yeah, this guy was really stupid not to listen to what his doctor told him. But here's the thing; there will always be that guy. You know, the guy that doesn't listen or doesn't read the directions or is selfish and does what he wants get the picture. But shouldn't a functioning government expect and be able to handle that guy with no problems? Is it just me or does anyone else kind of get the feeling that the CDC and other officials were caught with their pants down? I don't even have a clear picture yet of exactly what happened. Does anybody? This should freak us all out because lest we forget, the adminstration is more than happy to remind us every five minutes there are people out there that want to do us harm. They want to do us harm with maybe an engineered supervirus. You get my drift. Why are we not more prepared for this stuff?! And regarding 360, why isn't the bulk of this coverage focused on that? What's the plan? What resources are in place? How are we communicating with the international community? And so on and so on. C'mon guys.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up we learn that Clinton has landed her the endorsement of LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While telling us this, Tom uses the phrases "saddle up" and "in the corral." Um...Next we learn that application fees for immigrants are doubling, but Bush also wants to double the money for AIDS relief in Africa. Damn, he's doing something good. Record the moment, people! We also learn that Giuliani celebrated his 63rd birthday by asking for lots of money and finally, Cheney just gets scarier and scarier. "Newly released legal documents show that Vice President Cheney wants to keep all records of anyone who visits his home strictly confidential." So he does believe in civil liberties-just, you know, only for him.

Erica with the headlines now and she ends with news on those wayward whales. This gets Anderson talking about some scene in "Broadcast News" that even though I saw the movie, I cannot remember at all. Dang, that's going to bug me. Damn you Cooper! In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we learn that some poor Wendy's manager got shot because he wasn't giving out enough chili sauce. What the hell? "How much chili sauce do you need?" asks Anderson. Seriously. Erica thinks it had to be about more than chili sauce. Oh, naive Erica. Spend a few years in retail and then get back to me. We once had to call the cops due to a mini brawl that broke out over a shopping cart. People are stupid, what can I say?

Transitioning to a repeat Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on earmarks. This is followed by a new Drew piece on an earmark that was slipped into the intelligence bill by democrat John Murtha. The earmark was for the National Drug Intelligence Center that basically does the same stuff that the DEA and FBI are already doing, so it's a waste of money, but brings jobs to Murtha's district. That's how it works, folks. A republican congressman proposed shutting it down, but then Murtha went all Sopranos on him and threatened to eliminate earmarks in his district. After being called out on his tactics, Murtha apologized. Okay, I always love it when those in power are "kept honest" (even the democrats-and Murtha has a reputation for this kind of stuff), but I've got me some "backseat bloggers" who are really ticked about this piece. The argument being that yes, the democrats are in power now, but where is the context in regards to how horrible the republicans were with pork? My backseaters have a good point. It's great 360 is on the ball now, but for the longest time the republicans got a total free pass (from the majority of all media) and some context would be nice.

Moving on now to a Randi Kaye piece on high schooler Felicia Moore's school trip to Ghana. She never made it home alive and now the question is, what happened? Her body was found in the hotel pool the day after she arrived, but there was no pruning of her skin, meaning she probably wasn't in the pool overnight. We're shown a video of the kids at the pool the night they arrived and it's noted that Phylicia left the pool area alone to go to her room, but never made it there. The kids say there was no alcohol or drugs on the trip, but they think the chaperoning was lax and the roommate didn't even report her missing. Apparently there were no bed checks or anything. Ghana's ambassador to the U.S. is working on the mystery, so I guess we'll see. I've been both a student on a trip and a chaperone and the thing that sticks out to me is the roommate not reporting her gone. That doesn't seem right. Also, no bed checks?! You've gotta have bed checks because kids are always up to something. Trust me, I was a kid who was up to something. After the piece we have Randi live and Anderson is really upset. He notes that they continued with the trip after she died. What?! That's messed up. Randi tells us, "They wanted to continue the mission in Phylicia's honor." "Oh c'mon!" says Anderson. Seriously.

Next up we have a preview of the David Mattingly special that airs Thursday. The Shot tonight is a firefighter coming headfirst out of window of a burning building and then kind of sliding down a ladder. Whoa. Okay, so we're at the halftime point now and this hour kicks off with a Candy Crowley piece on a possible presidential run for Fred Thompson. She begins with, "It's taking on the feel of a political striptease, inch by inch he's getting there and the audience cheers him on." Um, ew. You know, some of us have a snack at the top of the hour and could do without that image. Anyway, Thompson is running third in the polls-even though he's not technically running yet. This is most likely due to conservatives not being happy with McCain, Giuliani, or Romney. After the piece we have discussion with Candy and John King, but I'm going to skip that to try to shorten this up. Next we've got repeat TB coverage.

Transitioning now to some NOLA coverage (Yay!) and we're live with Susan Roesgen for the latest on a recent Mayor Nagin speech. We're told he touted some progress and then blamed the feds and the state. However, the hook here is that then he went off script and suddenly seemed to cast himself as the Robin William's character in a warped version of the climax from "Good Will Hunting", telling New Orleans over and over, "It's not our fault!" Is New Orleans going to cry now? Oh wait, they've been crying for 21 months. Susan has the reality check for us: they're still at less than half of pre-Katrina population, 40,000 still live in FEMA trailers (down from 90,000), 20,000 out of 140,000 applicants have gotten Road Home money, four out of eight hospital have reopened with the number of beds down by two-thirds, they're down 400 officers, and murder is up-78 so far. Unbelievable.

Next up we're joined by Julia Reed, New Orlean's resident and senior writer for "Vogue". She tells us the whole speech was just a bunch of exaggeration and optimism and she notes that any good things he touted didn't come from his office. Anderson asks if the state is turning its back on the city. Julia says yes and she points out that there's a $3 billion surplus in Baton Rouge that could be used to help the city, but they seem to have forgotten. Anderson brings up how all the progress he sees seems to come from individuals stepping up. Julia agrees and then talks about how Nagin is never in the city. She also says his speech was like a "tent revival meeting" and though the hurricane wasn't NOLA's fault, it exposed problems that were already there. Finally, Julia says the only way the speech would have been great is if Nagin would have resigned. Heh, yeah, keep dreaming. Guys like him don't resign. They cling on, Alberto Gonzales-style.

Moving on now to a repeat of the Gary Tuchman piece on the murder of Irene Garza. Judging from the searches to this blog, this piece was pretty popular, so I guess that's why the rerun. Afterwards we've got blog comments. Then we're on to a Tom Foreman piece on Samir Patel and his last shot at Spelling Bee Champ glory. See, Samir's been trying for five years now to bring home the trophy, but never comes in first. This is his last shot, so let's hope he makes it. Although I'm kind of disturbed a 13 year old can spell so much better than me. You know what I blame? Spell check. It made us all go soft. Afterwards Anderson tells us, "You should see a documentary called "Spellbound," if you're interested. It's a great documentary about what it's like to be in the spelling bee." Wow, full service news. Recommendations and everything. And thank you, Anderson, for reminding me I wanted to rent that.

Erica with the headlines again...except...oh noes! There's a problem with taped Erica. "Whoa. Whoa. Let's bring her back. Where did Erica Hill go? What happened there? A little technical snafu. A little late at night technical snafu. Nothing better than that for live television," says Anderson. Well, it does keep it interesting for us. And now I'm imagining Erica sitting at home going, "hey!" Anyway, Anderson doesn't end up having to stall for three minutes because they fix it...and they're still talking about that pig. Which, BTW, doesn't that thing look like it belongs on the tv show "Lost"? Okay show tonight. I think they could have done the TB stuff better. Oh, and where was the Greenland stuff that Anderson promised in his blog post in which he recounts the unhygienic time he spent there? And if anyone wants to let me in on what not brushing your teeth has to do with being cold, I'd be much obliged. Boys are so gross sometimes. He's lucky he's cute. Or, er, I meant he's lucky he's an amazing journalist. Ahem. B-

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TB Scare, Iran Talk, Refugees In Chad, Immigrant Killed, Polygamy Update, Celeb Rehab, And CNN Heroes (Tuesday's Second Hour)

Hi guys. The hour kicks off with an Anderson piece on a man that has been placed in isolation by the CDC because he has a new strand of potentially fatal tuberculosis. However, the twist here is that the man recently flew from Atlanta to Paris and then Prague to Montreal (with others in between I think), driving back home to Atlanta. So basically he's shared a plane with a fair amount of people on long flights and that's not good. The CDC said they didn't know he was leaving the country and as of right now there is no evidence the man is infectious. Is that supposed to make us feel better? You don't mess around with TB. During my short-lived stint as a daycare teacher I had to be tested for it every so often and I think it's that way for a lot of professions.

For discussion of the TB scare we're joined by Sanjay Gupta, who works at Grady Memorial Hospital and that just happens to be the exact place the man is being held in isolation. Well from a news standpoint that worked out quite nicely, didn't it? Anderson notes this is the first time in four decades that someone has been quarantined like this and he wonders why this case is so special. Sanjay tells us this strain of TB is drug resistant, though no more contagious than the regular kind. Anderson asks how the guy got it, but Sanjay's not sure. The thing is, it could have been in his body for a long time. So he might have infected even more people than just on the planes? Anderson then brings up the plane travel and asks if there's something about traveling that makes this all more dangerous. Sanjay explains that since TB is airborne, it's more easily transferred in confined spaces. So basically, don't get in an elevator with him either. Sanjay also lets us know that apparently while the man was traveling, further tests came back that showed this new TB strand, thus the reason for this big freakout.

Transitioning to repeat coverage of John Burns and then on to an interview with Reza Aslan. Yay! I love Reza. Someday 360 needs to have Reza and Michael Ware on together to discuss Iraq with each other. That would be a great conversation. Okay, but we're talking about Iran right now because there's been official diplomatic relations with the US. Finally! That hasn't happpened since 1980. Anderson asks about the significance of the development. With regards to the security of Iraq, Reza isn't sure, but he thinks it could be leading the groundwork for talks on the nuclear issue. Anderson points out that Iran is still supplying weapons to Iraq militias though. Reza doesn't think it's so black and white. He agrees Iran is definitely supplying weapons, but who in Iran is the question. Reza believes there's a possibility the revolutionary guard is going beyond the Supreme leader. Anderson seems a bit skeptical, but Reza explains there's been a lot of anger at the Supreme leader and the Iranians fear their country is becoming too militarized. Anderson then mentions how Ahmadinejad doesn't really have any power, which is then reinterated by Reza. You know, the news needs to say this all the time because seriously, I don't think most Americans know that. And it's kind of a big thing.

Next up we learn from Anderson that the US is putting new economic sanctions against the Darfur government. Yay!! Of course critics say it's not enough and they're probably right, but for once I'm going glass half full. We then get a repeat of a Sanjay piece from when he was in Chad during 360's big trip to the region. I'm guessing they're running this piece because they're probably not allowed to run anything anymore from Jeff Koinange now that he's no longer with CNN (google it). And that really, really sucks because that's a lot of lost hard-to-get footage there. Maybe they can edit him out and redo the voiceovers on some of it-I don't know. But anyway, good for them for reairing Sanjay's piece. Anything for more awareness. After that we have a Randi Kaye piece on a homeless immigrant that was killed. Officers are being investigated.

Moving on to a repeat Gary Tuchman piece about a man excommunicated from Warren Jeffs' church and then had his wife and child taken. Following the piece we have Gary live in studio with an update. Apparently a few days after the piece originally aired the man was asked to fly back to FDLS headquarters and was able to see him family. But hold off on those happy dances, folks. The wife ended up being really cold to him, saying the kid isn't even his because they're only married in the eyes of the church and he should stop harrassing the prophet. Man. That is uncool. So of course the poor guy is devastated. And I have to say, this whole thing sure sounds like cult-like behavior to me. In any regards, that guy has a right to see his kid.

After Gary, Lindsay Lohan's sad little life is used to intro us into a repeat Brooke Anderson piece on celebrity rehab. Then we move on to "CNN Heroes," with this segment focusing on Ken Noguchi, a mountain climber from Japan who has been doing some cleaning. Apparently Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji are just covered in trash every year, so Ken has taken it upon himself to remedy this problem. With volunteers helping he's been able to clean up tons of trash. So, yay Ken! Erica then joins us for the headlines and an update on that kid who allegedly killed that huge pig. He's sticking by his story. Hmmm. Erica tells us they plan on making boar sausage out of it. "'I'd like to get me some of that boar sausage. I'd like to try that," says Anderson. Andesron Cooper, boar sausage fan. Who knew? Okay folks, that'll do it. Wednesday's review will be up Thursday evening.

Iraq Talk, American Al Qaeda, Raw Politics, A Cold Case Gets Hot, And Lindsay Lohan Spirals Down (Tuesday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. We've got Anderson Cooper back in New York tonight and I bet he's digging the warmer temp. There really wasn't much shown with regards to their Greenland trip, was there? So anyway, at this point it's pretty obvious they're hoarding footage for a special or whatnot later. Why they don't just tell the viewers that I do not know. What's up with that, 360? Maybe they want to keep it on the down low so MSNBC/Fox News doesn't find out, but whatever. We begin tonight with Anderson telling us the sucky news that we just lost 10 soldiers in Iraq in a single day. He then recaps all the other soul crushing numbers that go along with just a normal day in Iraq and then we're joined by John Burns of the "New York Times." Anderson starts off by noting that things seem to be even more deadly lately and he wonders what's going on. John says it's because of the extra troops we added (the surge) and I would guess it's also because they're living out more in the open now with the Iraqi troops. Anderson asks if there's been any political progress lately, but John says very little. In fact, he tells us diplomats and commanders seem to be lowering the bar.

Anderson points out that in the US there is a sense of urgency about Iraq and he wonders if that's the case in country. Basically John thinks the Iraqi politicians are looking past what happens with the US and are dragging their heels because they know it's going to come down to a force of arms for the country's spoils. Anderson brings up the popular narrative that after we leave there will be a huge bloodbath and he asks what the Iraqis think about that. John says they agree and some American officials are stating there could be a million Iraqis lost. And these are probably the same officials who would discredit the Lancet study if you asked them about it, so there's that. They then end the conversation by talking about how the Iraqi forces often collude or are a part of the sectarian militias. And thus endeth the most depressing part of your newscast.

Next up we have a Deborah Feyerick piece on the American al Qaeda Adam Gadahn's new tape. Yeah, that guy again. He's baaaaack. On the tape he makes all sorts of threats and even brings up the Virginia Tech shooting and yada, yada, yada. I'm totally shaking in my boots, y'all. Seriously, this guy looks like he's playing dress up or something. I'm sure he's hella dangerous and all, but he expects us to watch that tape and take his threats seriously? Pshaw. Anyway, in the piece we're told that the "tape is really a way for al Qaeda to make unreasonable demands, then justify any possible actions by claiming it gave the United States fair warning." How nice of them to think of us like that. After the piece we have Deborah in studio and she tells us he's a translator and also a video producer. We should look for his next collaboration with Justin Timberlake come fall. Or, you know, not.

From there we're also joined on the phone by counterterrorism expert Laura Mansfield. Anderson notes that Gadahn comes off like a "pompous bore" and like someone you wouldn't want to sit next to. Because he's a pompous bore or because he's a terrorist? Laura points out that he's throwing more current info at us so that we know he's up to date and he's also making unrealistic demands that act as a warning because under Islamic law you have to give a warning and opporunity to convert before you can attack. Anderson then brings up the technology al Qaeda has and its level of sophistication. Laura says no one knows how big the video arm of al Qaeda is, but it comes down to the skill of the person doing the tapes.

Erica then joins us with the headlines and tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" involves a Dutch channel that's going to feature three patients all competing for an organ transplant. I believe the words you're looking for are, "What the hell?!" Or, uh, something harsher. There's no mirror handy, but I'm pretty sure my face looks the same as Erica and Anderson's right now. That's just disgusting. And I thought reality tv here was bad. Moving on to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and we begin with the news that Obama has just introduced his universal health care plan. Yay! Anyone want to take bets on when the smears will begin? Also, Newt Gingrich is running around burning all of his republican bridges. Apparently the "Newtster" has said the administration is living in "fantasy land" over immigration and he's called Karl Rove "maniacally dumb." I don't know Newt, I wouldn't mess with a man made of teflon. Finally, we learn that the Secret Service is going to have so many candidates to guard they're going to have to take people from immigration and airport security. Uh huh. Because that makes sense. Tom tells us it's "so all the candidates can safely tell us how much safer we will be when they quit campaigning and all those guys go back to work." God bless America!

Transitioning now to a Gary Tuchman piece that involves a killer priest and a beauty queen. Ooh, all future Lifetime Movie bases covered! Okay, so this is a semi-complicated two-parter, so let's see if I can not screw this up. In 1960, 25 year old schoolteacher Irene Garza disappeared in Texas. Five days later her body was found in a canal with evidence of rape. This may be a cold case, but the head of the cold case squad thinks he knows just who committed this murder: former priest John Feit. One major piece of evidence connecting Feit to Garza is a Kodak slide viewer that was owned by him and found by her body. Gary tells us, "the family believes the district attorney back then and the one now protected Feit in order to protect the church." Ugh, what is with the whole protecting the church thing? Thou shalt not murder. It's pretty clear. However, I don't recall learning anything about thou shalt keep a murder on the down low if it thou could damage the church. And yes, God would totally use the phrase "down low." Because He's cool like that.

ANYway, Feit has always been the prime suspect because after the murder he told police that he took Garza into the church rectory to discuss problems the night before and then later another priest noticed Feit's hands were injured. It was also found that another woman had been attacked the month before and she fought back by biting her attacker. Interestingly enough, the next day the church secretary had to bandage Feit's finger. Uh huh. So basically a whole bunch of people thought he did it. He then went to trial, but it was declared a mistrial and the next trial he made a deal that allowed him to stay in a monastery whle waiting to see if murder charges would be filed. While there, Feit confessed to a monk and then after that he was "sent on a most unusual field trip, to churches in other cities, to see if he could go out in society and not attack women." What the hell? This does not instill confidence in the church.

Flash forward to more present day and the monk and a priest are coming forward about what they know Feit did. This made the case active again, however, the DA deemed these witnesses uncredible. Oh, c'mon! The case did end up going to the grand jury, but it was all watered down and there was no witness testimony, so no indictments were made. Ridiculous. Oh, and I should note that in the piece we've got clips of Gary actually talking to Feit himself. At first I was all happy for Gary because the guy actually talked to him (unlike, say, polygamists!), but, yeah, don't get too excited. He gets blown off later with Feit saying all the accusations are lies. Although I think my favorite exchange is when Gary asks him if he committed the murder and Feit says that's an "interesting question." What? After the piece we have Gary live in studio and Anderson notes, "The question you asked him is the million-dollar question. Why would all these people be lying? Why would there be this conspiracy against him by a priest and a monk and all these other people?" Gary tells us the police would press charges today if they could, but they need another district attorney. Sigh. Those guys are apparently way too powerful.

Now on to the junk food portion of your news diet. Apparently Lindsay Lohan has been partying again, oh and look, there's pictures. With much eyebrow raising, Anderson recaps the sordid affair before introing us into an interview with Drew Pinsky. Anderson notes we've basically all watched her grown up doing this. Drew thinks she's acting out her disease and it's very hard to get a 20 year old in treatment. Anderson wonders if maybe she doesn't have a disease and is just being irresponsible. I think that gets my vote. Drew then talks a bit about family history and whatnot. I should probably note that during this segment they're showing pictures of Lindsay passed out and looking like crap, because that's helpful I'm sure. Seriously, what are we doing here? Are we mocking her? Because if we are what's Dr. Drew doing here? Or are we actually all concerned? Because if we are why is this girl being dissected on the national news while pictures of her passed out are being shown on the split screen? Yeah, she's an over privileged, irresponsible, idiot...who's only 20 years old and doesn't seem like she has the support system to deal with what the media is doing to her right now. Are we looking for another Anna Nicole?

Moving on now to Donald Trump's opinion on The View because...well, if anyone knows, you tell me. According to The Donald, Rosie is self-destructive, Barbara fails to make it look good, Elizabeth is not the brightest bulb on the planet, and Joy has absolutely no talent. Got that? Oh, and he hates your mother too, in case you were wondering. "So Joy, Elisabeth, Rosie and Barbara, I think we pretty much got them all.," says Anderson. Yup. Then he pimps out an interview Larry did with The Donald, which, oh, would be the reason we have to watch this. The pimping them continues with the podcast: "Whoosh, zoom. Whoosh, whoosh. You can download it at -- no," You got so enthralled in your whooshing you almost gave us the wrong address, didn't you? Silly anchor.

The Shot tonight is poor Miss USA first slipping and falling and then getting booed, though the latter I think was due to international politics. That whole falling thing would totally happen to me, though I have to give her credit for a fairly graceful fall. I mean, she could have landed right on her face. But Erica and Anderson have had enough of pageantry, so they whip out the good stuff: Dog show pictures! Oh, and those poor dogs are being primped to death by their owners. They do not look happy, people. "I love a dog show, but I have to tell you, really, I'm a mutt kind of gal," says Erica. Me too! Mutts are the bestest. Tonight's show was pretty good, but there was a lot of repeat stuff in the second hour. Plus the whole Lindsay Lohan stuff was kind of messed up. B

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Investigating Earmarks, "The Road Home" Program, Monica Goodling, Immigration, CNN Heroes, And Friday's Greenland Coverage (Thursday's Second Hour)

Hi everybody. We kick off the hour with repeat coverage of the Iraq war bill and then we're on to a Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on all the pork our lovely Congress likes to churn out. Have you spent any time at the Biltmore Hotel in Florida lately? No? Well you should since you spent $96,000 for renovations. That's just one example of many of how Congress is totally wasting your money-with two wars on and a limping city in the gulf, no less. See, when the democrats took over as the majority party they promised to make the earmarks more transparent. So how's that working? Eh, not so much. Apparently Dave Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, isn't really down with the whole telling you where your money is going thing. This makes republican senator Tom Coburn get his outrage on. On the other hand, democratic senator Robert Byrd is okay with it. And this hurts a blogger's head because Coburn sucks at basically everything except this. He rocks when it comes to pork issues. And Byrd? Love him, but he totally sucks when it comes to pork issues. You know what we need? Build-A-Senator kits. Seriously, wouldn't it be awesome if we could take all the good qualities of our elected officials and mesh them into one person? So anyway, Drew our investigator also checks out the $2 million that we spent on Rice Lake Regional Airport, a place that is conveniently placed for corporate executives. During his four hours there Drew spots seven aircraft. But don't worry, he got to catch up on his paper reading. Yeah, that was money well spent. But hey, it's not like we have over 30 million people in poverty or anything. Oh, wait.

Next up we have another "Keeping Them Honest," this time with Susan Roesgen and she's tackling the apparently really crappy "The Road Home" program. If you can believe it (and at this point I know you can), Katrina victims are still having trouble getting money from the federal government. The Road Home program was supposed to, well, help people get back home. Instead, many of the applicants seem to be waiting in limbo, paying mortgages on their damaged homes AND rent on where they're actually living. Nearly 140,000 people have applied for the money, but only 20,000 have gotten any. And this is 21 months after the hurricane, people. The state hired the private company ICF International to run the program and, surprise, surprise, their top people all just got big bonuses. Okay, did we learn nothing from Iraq? Hiring all the private companies to reconstruct has been a complete disaster over there. I'd be interested to know who from the state made the decision to hire them and whether or not they have any connections to ICF. There's a follow up for you. So anyway, Senator Mary Landrieu is leading an investigation into the matter. Let the excuses begin...or actually, continue. After the piece John says, "Stunning and depressing." Yes and yes.

Transitioning now to a Joe John's piece on the testimony of Monica Goodling, former justice department White House liason, on her role in attorney-gate. And hey, now we actually get another picture of her! It's like the woman had previously only been photographed once in her life. So okay, Goodling pleaded the fifth, yet she still admitted that the firings were political. So, uh, oops. And this on top of the increasingly-amnesiac Alberto Gonzales. The people at Justice must be crying themselves to sleep at night. The other story here is that Goodling wasn't even qualified for the job she held and Justice always previously attracted the best. Goodling came from Pat Robertsons' Regent University and it seems her hiring had more to do with politics than merit. You know, this is the same damn thing with Iraq. Again. Right after the invasion they took a bunch of young inexperienced republican operatives and gave them the keys to the country. It's criminal. After the piece we have Jeffrey Toobin to talk about Goodling's experience. He tells us that you don't have to come from Harvard to work at Justice, but Regent is strange in that it is explicitly conservative. Toobin deems it very rare for her to be hired with no prior experience. He also points out that people from Regent and other religious schools seem to have disproportionate influence on the White House. Yep, and that's scary.

Moving on to a repeat of "Raw Politics" (hm, that's weird) and then a repeat of Anderson on the phone. From there we've got Jeff live in Greenland again and he's cold because it's about 15 below Celsius there. "Bloody cold." Poor Jeff tells us his lips have stopped working, though they do seem to be moving. According to Jeff, "What you have to remember is that nearly 700,000 square miles of Greenland's 840,000 square miles of terra firma is made up of ice, 10 percent of the world's fresh water is locked up in this ice and now this ice is starting to melt to a tune of about 100 million tons -- 100 billion tons -- 100 billion tons every year. And that's been happening only for about a decade." Yikes. Stay warm, Jeff.

Next up we have a Thelma Gutierrez piece on Ed Murray, republican mayor of Lindsay, California. Murray is a Rush Limbaugh-listening kind of republican and this piece is about his stance on immigration, but that stance might shock you. Remember how some people have said that immigrants do the jobs that Americans won't? Well, apparently that statement is true-at least in Lindsay, California. Lindsay's economy is all agricultural and a large workforce, both illegal and legal is its lifeblood. Of course there are many that don't like Murray's attitude, but he says he's placed ads offering benefits and such with no takers from Americans. His view is that immigration issues lie with the feds. Interesting. I wonder if he'd feel that way if his economy wasn't agriculture. Doubtful. You know, the world would probably be a better place if everybody had to walk in everybody elses shoes for a little while.

On now to the new segment "Running Mates" and this time we're meeting Mitt Romney's wife, Ann. We learn that she suffers from MS, but is against embryonic stem cell research. Also, she doesn't always agree with Mitt. Hey, me either! Moving on to some "CNN Heroes", Matt and Jessica Flannery, founders of This is actually extremely cool. What they've set up is a way for ordinary people to loan money to entrepreneurs in the developing world in order to help alleviate world poverty. I am totally doing this. You can donate however much you can spare and the great part is you (most likely) get it back, all the while helping tackle world poverty. I know a lot of people like to donate to charites, but hate that they can't see exactly where their money is going. Now you can.

That was the end of Thursday's second hour and now I'm going to do a little blogging of Friday's show for you. My new policy is to skip Fridays, but we've got Anderson and Jeff in Greenland and let's just say I know my "base." I'm all about avoiding the reader wrath. Heh. But before we get to what I've deemed "Planet in Peril: The Brrrr Edition," I'd like to comment on the "What Were They Thinking?" Tonight we learn that some guy in England stayed up for 11 days straight in order to set a world record. Okay, I totally don't believe that. Or, actually, to go Bill Clinton on you, I guess it depends on your definition of "awake." Because most people are going to start having dreams after a while, whether they're "awake" or not. That means that dude from England was probably tripping out a bit. The kicker is that Erica tells us the "Guinness Book of World Records" doesn't even acknowledge that feat because of health risks. You think he would have maybe looked into that, you know, before. John jokes that the guy was practicing to go into cable news and Erica says, "But he can't beat the John King record, can he?" John tells us he falls behind Wolf Blitzer. Oh John, everybody knows robots don't need to sleep-just recharge.

Transitioning now to a report starring a very bundled up Anderson Cooper. It's cold! Anderson then talks to us on the helicopter as they fly to Warming Island and I'm getting deja vu. Besides the extra clothing, (and terrain obviously) it's the same shot almost as when he went to the Amazon. Anyway, this island was discovered by Dennis Schmidt back in 2005 and we learn that no one has ever been there before. Man, how awesome is that? They get to walk around a place no one has been before. As Anderson walks on the ice he notes that you have to be careful of the hidden crevices, "which you can really fall into, and that would be the end of you." Yes, please be careful. I've seen those movies. Also, someone must be doing the cardio, because how he's walking through all that and talking to us without, well, dropping dead, is beyond me.

After his piece, Anderson joins us live, as does Jeff Corwin, who is so bundled up I don't even recognize him at first. Anderson tells us that " This is about as remote a place you can possibly get for -- for a live shot." Well, you're coming in nicely. Yay, technology! "...the upside of this, this is just absolutely tropical," says Jeff. In case it isn't clear, he's frickin cold, people. From Anderson we learn that over the last 30 years the "average temperature here in Greenland has risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit." And from Jeff we learn Greenland is, "actually losing ice at about 100 billion tons a year." Anderson tells us they'll be there for a couple more days, so I guess this is it for the live stuff. I don't know. He also states, "And you've heard about the land of the midnight sun." Actually no, but I have heard about the house of the rising sun. Heh. But Anderson isn't in New Orleans and what he's getting at is that the sun is up in Greenland 24 hours a day there, which is very disorienting.

Anyway, I'd tell them to stay warm, but Anderson and Jeff mentioned they were staying in tents, so that's so not happening. Don't fall in a crevice! They then throw back to John, who thanks producer Charlie Moore and the rest of the crew. Aw, that's right. Behind the sceners need props too. You go Charlie and other crew people (Neal?)! The Shot tonight is this huge wild pig this kid says he killed, but John and Erica are skeptical. Then John says, "But real or cleverly concocted, we want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it at We'll put some of your best clips -- make them convincing -- on the air." What? Nooooo! Don't encourage truthiness, man! Well, Stephen Colbert would be proud anyway. That'll do it, folks.

Screencaps by bcfraggle.

Friday, May 25, 2007

War Funding Bill Passes, Not Enough Soldiers, Raw Politics, Live From Greenland, And "60 Minutes" Story On Hospital Dumping (Thursday's First Hour)

Hi guys. Apparently I was wrong when I joked the other day that Anderson Cooper doesn't do cold because after I said that he jetted off to Greenland. Brrr! We've got John King holding down the fort while Anderson gets himself situated and we begin tonight with the BREAKING NEWS that both the House and Senate have passed that war funding bill sans timetables. So the democrats rolled over. Thanks for nothing, guys. Dana Bash then joins us with all the apparent drama that went down and she takes forever to inform us that both Obama and Clinton voted no. Wow. I actually wouldn't have guessed that of Clinton. I guess she's getting scared of the anti-war base. Of course if she thinks this will change everyone's mind she's got another thing coming. Anyway, Dana had to do some waiting herself because both Obama and Clinton waited until literally the very last moment to cast their votes and they didn't say which way they were voting beforehand. Doesn't really make you feel like they were sure of their votes, does it?

Next up we have a John King piece in which we learn Bush is painting this as a victory. However, he better hurry and party it up now because there's a September report from his top general looming. Also, some are already calling the surge a failure and even Bush himself is talking about restructuring what they're doing. In the piece Jon tells us "By that, Mr. Bush means less direct U.S. involvement in the sectarian violence in and around Baghdad, something the Iraq Study Group and other outside experts have long recommended." Oh, so now he wants to listen to the ISG. How long ago was that? No, here's a better question: how many of our troops have died since he ignored that report? Bush is apparently still all about Iraq though and in recent appearances he "mentioned Osama bin Laden 14 times, and al Qaeda at least 60 times." Hm, in any of those 14 times did he happen to mention where he is and when we'd be getting him? Bush also says that the US will pack up and leave as soon as the Iraqi government asks us to and I'm guessing they'll do that...right after we tell them they can.

Moving on to some discussion with democratic strategist Paul Begala and republican strategist Ed Rollins. John says it looks like Bush's celebrating won't last long and Ed agrees, but he's pleased with the bill. Paul thinks Bush looks tired. Wants him take a Vitamin or something apparently. Oh, and also he things he's not grounded in reality. Okay, perhaps wants him to take something a little stronger than a Vitamin. John then wants to know if the democrats blinked and for a republican strategist, Ed actually doesn't seem to play by the Rovian tactic of crushing your opponents into little pieces. He thinks the democrats made a statement and that's what they said they'd do. Lastly, John brings up how long it took Clinton and Obama to vote and he wonders if that was a very presidential move. Paul says no and thinks it might anger the anti-war crowd, which I'm guessing are the people they're trying to court with their no vote. What can I say, guys? Politics is hard. Get a helmet.

Transitioning now to a Jason Carroll "Keeping Them Honest" piece about how we don't have enough freaking troops! Okay, we all know about the recent missing soldiers, but you might not remember that last year there was also a search for soldiers that disappeared after an attack in the same area. The charge is that lessons are not being learned and if there were more troops in Iraq, especially in areas like the Triangle of Death, these kinds of things wouldn't happen. Recently audio depositions have been released that reveal soldiers complaining about the lack of people. They say they constantly asked for reinforcements, but got nothing. But, you know, they must be lying because Bush listens to the guys on the ground, remember? Okay, to be fair to Bush (and man do I hate doing that) it's possible this is the fault of the commanders and if that's the case, they need to be fired immediately because they don't have the integrity or courage to lead people who are giving their lives. All of this is so unbelieveably inexcusable there isn't even any more to say.

Next up we have some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman, but oh noes, he's frozen! Frozen in a hilarious pose I might add. Bwah! Sometimes technical difficulties are quite amusing. Luckily we've got Erica to the rescue and she brings us the latest installment of "What Were They Thinking?" Tonight's subject is the owner of a liquor store in Atlanta that just got busted for sellng cups of ice to go in his liquor store drive-thru. And if you think that's messed up, check out his quote: "When they come to the liquor store, buy a cup of ice, get a cup, most people -- I'm not saying all of them -- and, before they -- before they get home, they're going to drink and drive. They're going to do it the American way." The American way? What the hell? John then gives us a spelling lesson, calling the situation, "S-T-U-P-I-D." I'm pretty sure CNN is okay with that word, John.

Okay, now we're really on to "Raw Politics" with the recently unfrozen Tom Foreman. First up we learn a leaked memo says that Clinton is doing poorly in Iowa and should bail out. Yikes. And I bet she's also wondering who leaked that memo. Hey, remember in the republican debates when Giuliani called out Ron Paul for trying to explain the complexities of why the terrorists hate us? Well apparently Paul thinks Giuliani needs to do some learning on the subject and has recommended a book list. Yeah, Giuliani is going to get right on that...never. Tom also tells us that the recovering Jon Corzine has filmed a PSA about buckling up. I actually saw the whole thing and it's pretty powerful. Seriously people, if you're not wearing your seatbelt you're just being stupid. Or as John King would say, S-T-U-P-I-D. I know my seatbelt coupled with an airbag and my big puffy coat may very well have saved my life. Finally, Tom brings us more talk about a possible Fred Thompson run. And you know, this is serious stuff, so we're going to the magic Raw Politics eight-ball to see if the Law & Order star will go for it . All signs point to..."to be continued." Oh noes! It's a cliff hanger. Duh-duh!

Moving on now to Jeff Corwin live from Greenland, Swiss Camp specifically. He's standing on ice that's 3,000 feet thick, but that doesn't make what he's learning any less alarming. Because that ice is melting, people. At a dramatic rate. After Jeff we then flip to the eastern coast of Greenland, where Anderson is on the phone at Constable Point. It is unclear if this was the plan or if there were technical difficulites with a live shot. Anderson pretty much goes through a lot of the same stuff that Jeff did and notes that the maps of Greenland keep having to be redrawn because of the loss of ice. In fact, two years ago a whole island popped up, which they ironically now refer to as Warming Island. Anderson plans to go there next and hopefully we will actually be able to see him. Because otherwise he could totally be filing this stuff from his house and we'd never be the wiser.

Next up we have Anderson's "60 Minutes" piece on hospital dumping on Skid Row. The piece centers on a woman that was dumped by Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Hospital after being treated for a fall. She was left on Skid Row in just her hospital gown and then wandered around confused because according to hospital records, she was suffering from dementia. I wonder how they can just show us her records like that. Doesn't that violate HIPAA? Anyway, Skid Row is not a nice place and it's a no no for a hospital to just abandon a patient anywhere. In the piece Anderson takes a little trip to Skid Row and while there he tells us the police officer had to leave because "there was a stabbing a short time ago on this block. And he believes that the suspect in the stabbing is standing about 100 or 200 feet away from where I am right now." Well dude, maybe you should walk a little further down. We then learn that shelters in the area have installed "dumping cams" to catch the crimes on tape and Kaiser apologized for dumping the woman. Pshaw, whatever. Because you know what? A few months later it happened again, this time to paraplegic. The hospital claimed to be "shocked and outraged," and then blames poor communication of the staff. The hospital points out that their job is not to cure homelessness. How that gives them a pass for dumping people in the street, I do not know.

The Shot tonight is a toddler getting away from his mother and destroying beautiful sand art that Tibetan monks spend two days making at Kansas City's Union Station. Oh, bummer. But the monks are okay about it and say they'll just have to fix it. Aw, Tibetan monks are so cool. Another good show! Hmm, I don't know quite what to do with myself. I feel like I'm holding my breath just waiting for that next stupid celebrity/sensational story to break and take all the newsy goodness away. But for now...A-

Thursday, May 24, 2007

An Essay: They're Just Africans Anyway, Right? (Redux)

Hi everybody. Last night I got home later than expected and then the second hour of 360 was a special of repeat pieces anyway, so I'm a reviewer with nothing to review. I thought about living up to that whole "other newsy musings" part of my blog's purpose (at the top, people) and going in depth on Dragon Skin or something, but...I'm beat. So after watching some of the stories from Africa in the special last night, I decided to post this essay again. Hey, if 360 can run repeats, so can I! And yes, I know I literally just linked to this not even a week ago, but look at it this way-now you don't have to click. See how easy I make things for you? Anyway, I wrote the following last September:

You don’t know when it was that you first heard there was trouble in Darfur. You like to be aware of the news. You read blogs. And one day you are reading about trouble in Darfur. Suddenly you are learning new words like “janjaweed” and “Khartoum”. And then there is the not new word: "genocide". You read a summary about the bad things happening in Darfur. And one of these bad things you read about involves live babies being thrown into fires. And you let that knock around in your head. Babies thrown into fires.

You remember you read about the same thing in an intense college class that covered the Holocaust. Babies thrown into fires. But that was history. That was a time when you did not exist. Babies thrown into fires. Now. Babies being thrown into fires today. You try, but you can’t wrap your mind around these babies half a world away being thrown into fires. So you make it real to you. You think of some babies you know. American babies. And you think of these babies being ripped from these mothers you know and then being thrown into fires and it makes you want to vomit. It makes you want to scream. And now you understand that this trouble in Darfur is not far away at all.

This trouble in Darfur is right here. Right here. And you want to help. And you find a website named and that is just what you want to do. Darfur is in trouble and you want to save it. At the same time you are reading articles by Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times. And these articles say things that are just as horrible as babies being thrown into fires. And you read about these women who go to get the firewood and end up being raped. You wonder why the men don’t go instead and then you read that these women go because the men are killed, but the women are just raped. Just raped. Just.

By this time you have been emailing your representatives because you want to save Darfur. And they are emailing back about the important legislation they are passing to help. And you are hopeful. You think maybe this will help. Maybe.

Time goes on and one day you read about a congressional resolution for Darfur. A unanimously passed resolution. And you are so happy. And you think maybe this will help. Maybe. But then you hear the Bush Administration is attempting to block this unanimously passed resolution. This is when you learn that the government of Khartoum is a secret ally in The War On Terror. And suddenly you are mad. You are so mad you throw something across the room. You never get that mad.

Your life moves on and there are more emails and more legislation. And you try not to think about the babies being thrown into fires. On the television you might even hear Darfur mentioned in between the Michael Jacksons and Natalee Holloways. And you hear Nicholas Kristof say he is writing the same story over and over. And you see he is right.

You learn the Bush Administration has been taking the world lead on the conflict. Finally. Barely. But you see no results. Then one day you learn that Congress has cut the $50 million of funding needed for African Union forces. You know these forces are the only thing preventing many more babies from being thrown into fires. You think of how $50 million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the money spent on Iraq and you wonder how people could be so immoral.

Suddenly you are focused on this money. You find out there is a chance to add this money to another bill and you lobby hardcore. You send emails and make phone calls. It takes you less than 10 minutes. You think of all the worthless things people spend 10 minutes doing everyday. You even email the State Department and find that Secretary Rice is also interested in getting this money. This makes you hopeful and again you think maybe. Maybe.

But the bill comes and goes with no money to stop the babies being thrown into fires. You are not even outraged anymore. You continue to read of the raping and death and starvation. This is Darfur in 2003. This is Darfur in 2004. This is Darfur in 2005. This is Darfur in 2006. This is Darfur slowly being bled dry. A realization begins to form in the back of your mind.

You don’t give up though. You still pay attention and you learn there will be a big rally in Washington D.C. You watch it on CSPAN and wish you were there. George Clooney speaks. He and his father actually went to the region and now they are a mission. You watch him go on news shows to talk about Darfur and you are filled with admiration. But you don’t think maybe anymore. You are still hopeful, but maybe is gone.

And that realization in the back of your mind has finally broken it’s way to the front in the form of song lyrics from Devotchka: And you already know/Yet you already know/
How this will end/. And you pray you are wrong. And you pray you are wrong. And you pray you are wrong.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hurricane Predictions, Lebanon Fighting, Raw Politics, Ratting On Informants, Gas Prices, Greenland Ice, And Second Hour On Speed (Tuesday's Show)

Hi guys. We're beginning with hurricane prediction news tonight, which is broken down for us in a Susan Roesgen piece. It seems we're in for a rough season. Well, if you believe them anyway. You might remember that they said the same thing about last year and it didn't really pan out. However, we're informed that an unexpected El Nino was the cause of that and this year we won't be so lucky. After the piece Anderson asks Susan if the people of New Orleans are optimistic about the levees holding and Susan says not really. Okay, raise your hand if you disagree with them. Anybody? Bueller? Didn't think so. Next up we're joined by awesome hurricane guy Ivor Van Heerden, who was quite a fixture on our tvs during the Katrina days. Anderson asks what would happen if New Orleans got hit by a category 3 hurricane. Ivor tells us it would totally flood.

Anderson's mind is boggled about that considering all the money put into the levees. According to Ivor the money has been used to fix breaches, but the levees still aren't tall enough. He thinks New Orleans needs more like $5 to $7 billion to get the levees up to snuff. Yeah, good luck with that. Hey, maybe they can ask Pakistan. I hear we give them $1 billion a year to work really hard at...not finding bin Laden. Anderson asks if the evacuation situation is good to go and Ivor says it's better than in 2005. And really, he points out that the 80% evac rate they had with Katrina was actually pretty good. Well, they had their contraflow down better than Texas. I remember that. All I know is that New Orleans has been written off by a lot of people and if it floods again it's over.

Next up we have a Nic Robertson piece on the continuing fighting in Lebanon. It's to the point that people who were already refugees are fleeing refugee camps. They must feel like they can't go anywhere. The UN brought in supplies, but even they came under fire. What a mess. After his piece Nic joins us and Anderson asks how many militants are left. Nic's not really sure, but they started with about 150 to 200 and maybe 15 or so might have been killed. Sounds like they have a long way to go. From Nic we also learn that though the militants are in the camps, there's little support for them there from the Palestinians. He also tells us there's a risk of the violence spreading to other camps too. Sigh.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" with Candy Crowley and we begin with the extremely frustrating news that the democrats totally caved when it came to Iraq timetables for withdrawl. And here I thought I saw a spine. Must have been a shadow. Honestly, I don't even know where I stand on the timetable issue, but good Lord, if you're not going to do it, stop playing around! This calls for some Calvin Trillin: "The Senate Democrats sat mum, like Doves afraid to coo. So history will soon record, this war as their war too." In other news, people are still trying to take down Edwards-this time because he gets a speaking fee for talking about poverty. So what, he's suppose to let the venue keep the money? How does that help poverty? Candy also tells us that Mike Huckabee is sitting out a Baptist minister gathering because he's got his boxers in a twist about when former President Carter "dissed" Bush. Aw, what would Jesus pout about? Finally, Michelle Obama is getting noticed more and McCain? Still nutty.

Erica then joins us for the headlines and the lastest edition of "What Were They Thinking?" We learn about a high school in Colorado that made their yearbook a bit special. See, instead of just the normal dorky club pictures, they've scattered "pictures of students smoking pot, drinking, some of them even proudly displaying the minor-in -possession citations they have been issued." Good Lord, kids. It's not your MySpace page! As a former high school yearbook editor, I am outraged. Okay, not outraged, but I think I can muster perturbed for this. Erica tells us that "on top of it all, there was a kid we had a sound bite from earlier today on our show. He said: You know what? This is just what we do these days. This is life." This is life? Yeah, well kid, when your manager at McDonalds, which is where you're going to end up, makes you do something you don't want to, maybe they'll reply, "Hey, this is life."

Moving on now to a Kelli Arena piece on, a site I am not linking to because it's all about giving up informants. The site is run by Chris Brown and he says he only puts up the names and faces of criminals who are trying to cut a deal, but he can't even be sure they're really informants. The Justice Department is of course horrified since they rely on people that flip. They can't legally shut the site down, so now they're trying to do more things on hard paper in order to keep info off the net. The massive irony here is that when CNN interviews the site guy he insists on having his face blacked out because he doesn't want to be harrassed. But I guess it's okay for all the people he outs. After the piece we're joined by our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and your blogger is quite impressed to learn that his office prosecuted John Gotti. I did not know that. So anyway, Toobin's opinion is the guy has a right to the site, but using flippers is a huge tool, so there you go.

Next up we have a Tom Foreman piece on those ever-rising gas prices. But everyone is so comfuzzled as to why they're rising. So tell us 360! Why?! Why? Well kids, we've got ourselves a refinery problem. It seems we haven't built any in about 30 years and oil companies aren't exactly jumping to do so because that would cut into their profits. And it's our fault too because you people won't stop driving! Prices will go down and everyone will go back to normal. Then next year at this time it will be even worse. Something's got to give at some point.

Sort of related to driving, we move on to an Anderson piece about Greenland and how its lots and lots of ice is totally melting. "The reason that's happening is simple: it's getting warmer, and we're the primary cause," says Anderson. That's right! Good on you for not going for fake balance. I wonder how many emails from global warming deniers he's going to get for that. So anyway, if the ice sheet melts the sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet, which will submerge a whole lot of places, including Lower Manhattan, which is possibly where he is right now, though really I have no idea where Columbus Circle is in NYC. We'll just pretend because it works for me. After Anderson's piece we have Jeff Corwin actually in Greenland. I guess Anderson Cooper does not do cold. Aw, and even half frozen Jeff is still unbelievably enthused to be talking about melting ice.

Next 360 introduces another new segment called "Running Mates." A lot of new segments lately, though obviously this one can only be temporary since it's about the candidates' wives. There are only so many, you know? Tonight we start with Michelle Obama, who looks to have what it takes to be a First Lady. She's well educated, poised, and down to earth. Also, really pretty and that will actually matter to some people. Unfortunately. The Shot tonight is a beatboxing flute player. Interesting.

I'm not going to be around tomorrow to blog the second hour, so I'm just going to quickly go through what they covered right now. The transcript is not up yet and I'm tired anyway, so it's going to be brief. The hour begins with a repeat of the Nic Robertson piece and then Anderson talks about some recent polls on opinions of Muslim Americans. He says we're going to get all the angles and I'm thinking he's about to introduce Reza Aslan or something, when up pops Glen Beck. What the hell? Since when is he an expert on Muslims? And then we have to sit and watch Anderson asks Glen questions like he actually knows more than him on the subject. Seriously, we need Lou Dobbs to come build 360 a fence to keep this guy out. After Glen we have too actual experts. Then we're on to a Randi Kaye piece on the new kindler, gentler evangelical and how they're branching out from just gays, abortion, and school prayer. It's about time. Then we've got repeat hurricane stuff.

From there we have a follow up Drew Griffin piece on Congressional crooks getting pensions. Wait, scratch that, we have a repeat Drew Griffin piece and then a very brief update from him live. Then we have an interview with Douglas Brinkley on Reagan's diary. Quite a departure from "The Great Deluge." After the interview it's on to repeat Greenland stuff and then an edition of "CNN Heroes" where we meet a woman who set up a high security shelter in Mexico for victims of domestic abuse. The show was really good again. They must be in one of their upswings. Yay for us! With regards to tomorrow's show I'll probably miss at least the first hour since I will shockingly be at an American Idol party. I know! I can't believe it either. Apparently my attendence is required. Don't go away though. I'll come up with something to post on Thurday-maybe I'll catch the repeat. Tonight gets an A-

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Immigration Legislation Problems, Iraq Funding al Qaeda, Dragon Skin Armor, Bill Richardson, And Phil Spector (Monday's Second Hour)

Hi guys. The hour begins with more of the Lebanon stuff and there's good discussion, but I'm going to have to skip that this time. Then we're onto a Dana Bash piece that focuses on all the perceived flaws of the bipartisan immigration plan. Basically some democrats are afraid the guest worker program is going to create a permanent underclass and some republicans think this whole plan is just amnesty in disguise. It seems the republicans are talking more flak and from doing a tour of the Internets I can tell you some conservatives are practically foaming at the mouth. Not happy at all. I'm guessing this whole plan will go no where.

Next up we learn from Anderson that the "Los Angeles Times" is reporting that the CIA failed in finding bin Laden, but they did find that al Qaeda is getting a bunch of money from Iraq. For more we have a Peter Bergen piece in which he talks with former CIA officer Art Keller who worked on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Basically Keller says that Iraq has become a training ground for terrorists, which is exactly the opposite of how the War on Terror is supposed to work. Also, we pretty much already know this, but Keller says that the Iraq war is sucking up all our resources for fighting al Qaeda. After the piece Anderson asks where the money is coming from and Peter says it's a combination of kidnappings, oil smuggling, and criminal activity. We also learn the money is most likely transfered by courier. Anderson notes the US is paying $1 billion a year to Pakistan and asks if we're getting our money's worth. I'm thinking that's a no. However, Peter thinks it has been worth it on many levels, though there's definitely issues. Okay then. You're the expert.

Transitioning now to a Jamie McIntyre piece on Dragon Skin armor. Right now our troops are using Interceptor armor, but there are charges that Dragon Skin, which is banned by the army, is better. The popular phrase in this piece is "the army says" because Jamie apparently went to a briefing, took notes, and now he's telling us what they said. Lord, I can do that. I pretty much do do that. Okay, to be fair, some phone calls were made, but let me back up here. Back way up actually. For quite a while now people in the military and bloggers have been investigating the Dragon Skin controversy. The story came on my radar probably around summer last year. I wanted further investigation obviously, but I had absolutely no hope any news organization would pick the story up. I mean, I'm not saying I blame the media for falling down on their jobs to such an unbelievable level that we're now in one of the worst quagmires in our nation's history or anything, but... Oh wait, I am saying that. Let's just say that trust thing? Destroyed beyond repair.

Anyway, so I figured the story was a lost cause, but then in September, Lisa Myers of NBC (who is awesome BTW) did a story on the Israel anti-RPG system Trophy and how it could be saving some of our troops right now if only we weren't waiting for the army to build their own system. This sounded similar to the Dragon Skin controversy, so I emailed NBC and posted to Brian William's blog, urging them to look into it. On an amusing side note, I was googling around the other day to see what was being said at the time and came upon a blog post on the subject to Brian's blog. I was interested to see that someone else had brought the topic up at that time until I looked closer and noticed, oh wait, that was me! Ha! It's so weird when you randomly come across your old self on the Internets. Back on topic, I'm sure my urging had nothing to do with it, but I was thrilled to see NBC do the story, which aired on the Nightly News, Countdown, and Dateline. Basically the whole gist of the controvery is that Dragon Skin out performed Interceptor in NBC's independent tests. The army is furious and released a video that shows it failing. Because I'm going to believe a video from them. If you want to learn more I say go to NBC because all we've got here is notes from a briefing.

Next up we have a Candy Crowley piece on Bill Richardson since he just declared today. Then we're onto repeat discussion with John King, Candy, and David Gergen. Finally there's Phil Spector crap, which I don't think I'm going to do ever because I so don't care. Although actually I'm not annoyed with it tonight because it is a two hour show and they didn't spend much time on it. Plus, even more importantly, there was lots of actual news, so I didn't feel like I was missing out on the real stuff. Of course if 360 ever leads with the story or spends half a show on it, I am required to flip out. Fair warning. At about 10:57 central time Anderson throws to break, telling us there's "more of 360 after this." No there's not, Anderson Cooper, you liar. Such a tease. That'll do it, folks.

Drug Trouble, Gas Prices, Congressional Junkets, Lebanon Violence, Raw Politics, Carter Comment, And Michael Moore's "Sicko" (Monday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. And a new week begins. Tonight we kick things right off with Anderson telling us that the FDA has put out a safety alert on the type II diabetes drug Avandia because it has been found that it raises the risk of heart attack and possible death. For more, we're joined by medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. I guess Sanjay Gupta was busy with one of his other 500 jobs. Elizabeth says that people should not stop taking the drug, but should consult with their doctor. She also tells us that Glaxo makes Avandia and they say the drug is safe. Right. Sorry if I don't believe a drug company. Anderson notes that we seem to hear about this kind of thing a lot lately (Vioxx, anyone?) and wonders what the heck is going on. See, this is why I don't trust medication. Elizabeth tells us these kind of things are because drug companies only test the drugs on a much smaller percentage of overall people that take them and the charge now is that the FDA is not doing it's job in keeping track of side effects once the drugs are on the open market.

Next up Anderson tells us what anyone who has a car already knows: gas prices are out of control! This is the part where I thank God that I work at home three days a week. Because back when I was driving an hour to college each way these prices would have killed me. So anyway, the price right now is $3.18/gallon, which is a new record even for inflation. For more, we've got Joe Johns filling up his car at a gas station because, uh, we don't know what that looks like? Joe tells us that everyone is looking to Washington now, but where they should really be looking is places like Nigeria where there are refinery problems. Supply and demand, people. You can't change that. We also learn that there's evidence gas prices are causing people to spend less money at places like Wal-mart. Hey, a positive! Yeah, I hate Wal-mart. As if you didn't already know that by looking at the right side of the blog. Doesn't it feel like we're just stuck in some sort of deja vu cycle? Every year we do this. People start talking about cutting back and buying hybrids and then the prices go back down and that all goes away. We never learn.

Transitioning to a Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on how your stupid Congress is rolling around in your hard earned dough. Okay, most of us know members of Congress go on "fact finding" missions and stuff like that, but did you know they're doing it on very expensive decked out military jets? First class. Full meals. Conference areas. Movie screens. It's how your elected representatives roll. "A lot of taxpayers are going to look at this and go, what the heck?" says Drew. Well, you're close there Drew, but you can't say on CNN what a lot of taxpayers are yelling at their tvs right now. Drew's taxpayers are from the 1950's apparently. Okay, so the rules are that you have to take members of both parties on junkets, but both Eliot Engel and Barney Franks took seperate trips sans republicans. I don't know the Engel guy, but, oh Franks you disappoint me. Drew then did that whole reporter thing and actually talked to Pelosi's office, but they told him that she doesn't approve that kind of stuff. Who does? Committee chairmans. You know, like Eliot Engel and Barney Frank. Sigh. Meet the new crooks, just like the old crooks. Well, not just like the old crooks. You can't compare anybody to the true suckitude of those guys.

On now to a Nic Robertson piece about new violence in Lebanon. We learn that a hard-line Muslim group called Fatah al-Islam is trying to radicalize the Palestinian cause in a Palestinian refugee camp in the north of the country. The group models itself off of Al Qaeda and has been sparring with the Lebanese army. Shaker al- Absi leads the group and claims to have helped Zarqawi plan the killing of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley. So far about 50 people have been killed and it's getting pretty bad in the camp because a deal to get food and water for the needy has fallen through and the camp itself is very densely populated. Following the piece we have Nic live and Anderson asks if al Qaeda is hiding out in the refugee camps. Nic says it looks that way and it's a good place for them because the Lebanese government can't get in. Anderson wonders how long the government can sustain what's going on. Nic tells us that if the government were to accidentally kill a huge amount of civilians that would put pressure on them and also Hezbollah, even though they're not connected to Fatah al-Islam, could take political advantage. Do you think if we asked really nicely these guys will chill out until we're done with Iraq and Afghanistan? I know the US isn't involved (yet), but seriously people, take a number.

For more on this we're joined by CNN Beirut Bureau Chief Brent Sadler in studio and Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. Oh, do you guys remember Fawaz? The lover of Anderson's name. He doesn't say it that much this time, but I'll never forget that one appearance. He must have said his name every other word. Anyway, Anderson asks how big of deal the whole Lebanon thing is and Brent thinks it's a crisis, especially since Syria seems to have their hand in it. Anderson asks if it could destabilize the country. Fawaz notes the multiple fault lines in the country, such as between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah and then the Lebanese government and Syria. He fears the fighting will spread to the rest of the country and in the Palestinian camps. Anderson asks what the camps are like and Brent notes they are " laws unto themselves." However, Fawaz wants to point out just how hellish they are to live in and he's not surprise al Qaeda was able to infiltrate, but he is happy not that many Palestinians are joining up. It's always something.

Erica's got the headlines next, one of which includes the info that David Hasselhoff has gotten custody of his kids because apparently his wife is abusive. Damn. How bad do you have to be when drunk-off-his-butt Hasselhoff is the good parent? "Just when you thought the story couldn't get any sleazier," says Anderson. Seriously. Though I'm starting to learn it can always get sleazier. Today's "What Were They Thinking?" is the news that Sylvester Stallone got busted for trying to import human growth hormone into Australia. As Erica tells us this story, Anderson does a Stallone impression, which, BTW, should never happen again. Love you Anderson Cooper, but no.

Tom Foreman with the "Raw Politics" tonight and we begin on the immigration legislation. Basically a lot of people aren't happy. This will probably never end. Next Tom tells us McCain wants to promote better ethics and Clinton wants to make sure all pre-kindergarten kids get an education. "Smart kids, good government? No one's going to go for that," says Tom. No, they're not going for the easy stuff at all. We also learn that democrats are kicking republican butt when it comes to fundraising online. Those pesky "insiders" say it's because people have greater access to the Internets in urban areas that lean democratic, but maybe the progressives are just more motivated. We want our country back, dammit and we can taste it. Finally, some Obama lovers are showing their support by selling "'I love B.O.' backpacks, doggy shirts, teddy bears, even a thong." A thong?! Um, maybe it's just me, but I don't think anyone really wants the words "I love B.O." on their nether-regions.

Next up we've got some political talk with David Gergen, John King, and Candy Crowley. We begin with Jimmy Carter's recent comments that Bush has been the worst president evah. Except now he seems to be back tracking, saying he was just comparing him to Nixon. Although anyone with listening comprehension knows thats not true. Stick to your guns, Carter! The Gerg thinks Carter has decided to be all diplomatic now, but still really believes Bush is the worst. Well, don't a lot of us. Anderson notes that the White House hit back hard (big surprise there) after the comments, calling Carter "increasingly irrelevant." John doesn't think Carter's comments will have that much impact politically because he's more of a moral figure.

Hey, you know what would be crazy? Like if when someone made a comment we actually discussed what they said instead of the political impact of the person that said it. I'm out of my mind, I know. Sure it's a big deal that a former president said that, but are we going to actually talk about what he said? I guess we're not. Yeah, let's just talk around things because talking about actual issues would be too helpful. The panel then transitions to talking about McCain taking potshots at Romney and The Gerg doesn't know what's up with that. What's up with that is there's something wrong with McCain. But nobody listens to me. It's also brought up that Florida is moving up their primary, which might actually push the first primary up into 2007. In fact, yep, they just moved it. Actually it was yesterday. That's right folks, at this point you need a Delorean to vote. Anderson then brings up the fact that Richardson officially announced his candidacy today, even though, um, he was in the debate. I think he kind of got that out of order. Anderson wonders how Richardson's Hispanic pride is going to fit in. Candy thinks it plays well with democrats and that's who he's talking to. Or, some of us are looking at how messed up the world is right now and we're looking at Richardson's foreign policy experience and thinking he might be a good guy to have around. Just a thought.

The final piece tonight is from Brooke Anderson. Yeah, I know, but it's actually an okay one. Michael Moore has a new documentary coming out called "Sicko" and it's about the health care industry in the US. He thought there wouldn't be any controversy with this one because he's in it a lot less. Oh, silly Michael. You will never be able to make anything without controversy. The big thing right now is that he's under investigation because he took some 9-11 rescue workers to Cuba and you're not suppose to do that. However, he says he was on American soil because he took them to Gitmo to try to get them the same health care as the detainees. Also, Michael says he went as a journalist, which you're allowed to do. Eh, this is all just an excuse to go after him. I'm excited about this movie. Maybe it will actually start a conversation about health care in this country. Because things are HORRIBLE! Or, you know, the media will just be lazy and report all the "controversies" Michael's critics can fling at him. But health care is not republican or democrat and it's not red state or blue state. Maybe they'll surprise me.

The Shot tonight thunder, lightening. The way you love me is frightening. Okay, no, it's actually not the song "Knock on Wood," but it is a gnarly storm. The song's just what popped into my head when I saw it. Because I'm weird. In terms of variety and what was covered the show was excellent. Lots of hard news. I was a little annoyed with the Carter stuff, but honestly every news show did it that they all suck I guess. Heh. I also have some problems with the armor piece next hour, but still good show. A-

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Africa: Dispatches From The Edge (Thursday's Second Hour)

Hi everybody. In this hour Anderson and Jeff Koinange sit down to play a big game of Risk. Okay, actually they sit down to talk about Africa. You might recognize the table/setting from the conversation Anderson had with Michael Ware, which I know everyone loved. This was just as good. That table is very popular! Before we get into it I want to explain how this will work. Basically I'll just be blogging the conversation they have because the pieces that are interspersed throughout the special are all repeats, which I'll linked to. I should note, that normally I'd be annoyed with a special that had all repeat pieces, but this instance is very different. Every region they talk about in the special is either incredibly difficult or impossible to cover, so I think it's great they're using what they already have to bring more awareness. In fact, I think I even suggested (in an email) a long time ago that just because they don't have new footage they could still put another spin on it by simply having a conversation with Jeff Koinange or Nicholas Kristof-any excuse to talk about the region. So good for them for doing this.

Anderson, Jeff, and Sanjay Gupta were in Africa in October, so you might want to check out the archives of the blog for more (there's screencaps!). Also, a lot of Jeff and Anderson's conversation revolves around pieces that have been done and I've blogged, but they don't show during the special. I don't have time to link to all of them, but if anyone is interested in anything specific, let me know and I'll see if I can find it. When I started this blog back in September I posted an essay I wrote about Darfur entitled, "They're Just Africans Anyway, Right?" I basically had no readers back then, so I thought I'd bring it up again. It was also recommended as a diary on dailykos. It's kind of a departure from the voice I use on this blog, so something a little different there for you. And now on to the show...

Anderson begins by giving us a little overview of the hour and then we're right into a Jeff Koinange piece on Darfur. Afterwards Anderson asks Jeff why things are getting worse there even though the area now has the world's attention. Jeff thinks the Sudanese government is fooling the world into thinking rebels in Chad are trying to topple their government, when really the people are just victims. Anderson notes that now there's an "active rebel conflict in Chad sponsored allegedly by the Sudanese," which Jeff thinks is just a distraction. He believes Sudan president Bashir is using Darfur as an excuse because he's afraid of being toppled. Anderson then goes into how hard Darfur is to cover because while they can get pictures and stories of the aftermath, the violence itself goes unseen. You always need pictures, people. Think about what a difference they made with regards to the tsunami. Jeff points out that logistics can also make the story hard to cover because Darfur is the size of California and there are very few roads.

Anderson then transitions to talking about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and notes that three to four million people have died there over about a decade and no one seems to pay attention to it. You know, it's kind of criminal what little coverage this conflict has gotten. I know it's tough to cover, but I watch (and read) a lot of news and I don't think I knew the extent of what was going on there until I saw it on 360. So kudos to them for that. Jeff states that like Darfur, the Congo has few roads and is huge (the size of all of Western Europe). Anderson points out that the Congo is the scene of the largest peacekeeping and election operations in UN history. However, even after successful elections there's still been fighting, which is being blamed on General Laurent Nkunda, a man already wanted by the authorities. This info intros us into a piece of when Anderson and crew tracked the general down, freaking us all out a little.

After the piece Anderson notes that since they filed the report, not only has Nkunda failed to give up his weapons, he's been fighting, causing 600,000 people to be displaced. Anderson wants to know how he can just get away with all that. Jeff tells us that the UN even knows where he is, but they can't get him because he's so well armed and equiped. Sounds a little like Mullah Omar, doesn't it? Unbelievable. Anderson says that in the Congo people can literally get away with rape and murder. Sickening. Jeff tells us it's "so sad" (a phrase he uses a lot during the special and I imagine much of what he sees falls under "so sad") and these guys do it because they can. After break we're introed into a Jeff piece on rape victims in the Congo. Back at the table Anderson states that it's hard to imagine in this day an age people getting aways with rape and gang rape of children. Jeff points out that the victims have their lives pretty much ruined because there is no physical or mental therapy.

Anderson then tells us the story of a women he met named Angela who had been gang-raped in front of her children. As if that wasn't enough, she was then kicked out of her house by her husband because he feared she had HIV. We learn from Jeff that the number of HIV positive cases in Africa is 25 million. And counting. Anderson asks how many of those people have access to treatment. Jeff tells us less than 10% (damn!), but at least antiretrovirals are provided free and this is done so it doesn't blow up a country's GDP. Anderson next brings up the stigma surrounding AIDS and tells us that even some government officials say HIV does not result in the disease. And of course, as Jeff notes, this results in people not taking precautions and the numbers explode. Anderson points out that AIDS is wreaking havoc on armies too and then if these armies rape women it spreads even more. They both then talk about how there's still the belief in some places that if you have sex with a virgin it will cure you of HIV. Back when Jeff was in Gambia, the president actually told him he could cure HIV. But only on Tuesdays and Thursdays because Wednesdays he's all about curing arthritis. Fridays he takes off because who wouldn't need a day off after all that fake healing? Sadly, I am not kidding.

On now to an Anderson piece when he goes to find some mountain gorillas and I'm also linking to when the baby gorilla smelled his arm pit. Just because. Back at the table, Anderson notes that Jane Goodall says you can't protect the animals without working with the local populations. Jeff notes people are digging all over the Congo because there's diamonds everywhere. This leads into the topic of blood diamonds and Anderson wonders if there's anywhere to get some diamonds that aren't evil. As a matter of fact, Jeff tells us that Botswana has been a real success story in that regard. Anderson then adds to this positive news and tells us that Africa's GDP as a whole has risen 6%. Jeff points out that the Chinese are driving everything by buying up all their oil and stuff. Okay, but that's probably not all a good thing I wouldn't imagine. I mean, forget global warming even, China is still essentially helping to fund the genocide in Darfur if they're buying oil from the Sudan government. Anderson notes that the money often doesn't filter down to the people and from Jeff we learn that "60 percent of Africa's total population still lives on less than a dollar a day." Can you imagine that? Less than $365 a year!

After a break we're introed into a Jeff piece on the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Anderson notes that one can't really get over being a child slave. Jeff tells us that he's met refugees who have been in camps for over 20 years, meaning the children have literally grown up there. Anderson then points out how scary it can be when you go to a roadblock manned by kids because they might be high or drunk and they're holding an AK-47. Yeah, no thanks. Jeff states that it's better when it's an adult because you can relate, but a child will do anything just to prove to their friends they can. Also, he tells us the armies know just how to drug and exploit these kids and he wonders how they can even be rehabilitated.

Transitioning to something more positive, we're introed into a Jeff piece about Oprah's school. Both Anderson and Jeff are pretty much in awe of what she's done. "And what Oprah did -- I mean, it was unbelievable. I saw the look on those girls' faces when she announced that they were going to be in her first class. You should have seen that room. There wasn't a dry eye in that room," says Jeff. Anderson notes that included Jeff's own eyes. Yeah, Jeff totally cried. After all the rape and death he reports on that must have been a nice story for him to cover. At the end of the special we have a weird announcer guy pimping Anderson's book. Okay then. Anyway, great special. Bring back the map table again!

Screencap by rokukitty.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Immigration Bill, Captive In Columbia, Raw Politics, And Polygamy (Thursday's First Hour)

Hey everybody. We kick off the hour with the news that House and Senate negotiators have come up with compromise legislation on our immigration problem. Anderson tells us how the plan would work: "After meeting certain criteria, millions of illegal immigrants receive temporary visas called Z visas before applying for permanent legal status. They must also pay a $5,000 fine. Each head of household would have to return to his or her country of origin within eight years. They are guaranteed admission back in." Also, border patrols would double, the border fence with Mexico would expand, and 400,000 guest-worker spots would be created. Some people, of course, are not happy with this because they think it's amnesty. For discussion we're joined by Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum and...wait for it...Lou Dobbs! As if there could be another. I was expecting Lou to be in full immigration outrage mode, but he's actually all mellow and rationally states that we need to wait to see the details of the bill. Of course the calmness might be because he knows this bill will die if the details make it look like amnesty.

While Lou is all meh on the deal, Frank is very much stoked. He doesn't think it's amnesty at all. Anderson brings up the 6,000 new border agents and 370 miles of fencing the legislation promises and asks Lou if those are good numbers. Lou tells us the compromise actually reduces the amount of fence that Duncan Hunter put into law and they've only constructed two miles of it as it is. I'm taking that as a no. Anderson notes that in between visa renewals a worker has to leave the US and he wonders if there would be a problem with that. Frank says that's the most controversial part because some workers will want to build roots in the US. This reminds me of one of the current storylines on Ugly Betty. Oh c'mon, I'm not the only one that watches. Anyway, Lou then talks about how we don't know how many illigal immigrants are here and we can't let them all become citizens because then I guess the whole country of Mexico is going to come. Or something. Frank assures us there will be a cap, but doesn't go into any details before changing the subject. Anderson notes we had legislation like this passed in 85 and now things are worse. Frank thinks this is totally different than that...even though we don't know the details yet. Uh huh. Time will tell.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece on four Americans that have been held captive in Columbia for the last four years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, (FARC), the longest Americans have been held hostage ever. You think we would have heard about this before now then. A man that had been held by FARC for nine years recently escaped and has reported that before doing so he caught a glimpse of the Americans, thus providing proof of life. We learn that the men had been "working for Defense Department contractor Northrop Grumman, surveying fields of cocoa, a key ingredient for cocaine, when their plane crashed." FARC is at war with the Columbian government and sees the men as political prisoners. However, the US sees FARC as a terrorist group and we don't negotiate with terrorists. Except, you know, when we do. Iran-contra, anyone? The mother of one of the hostages says she's emailed Bush 50-60 times about it, but only ever gets an automated reply. Um, not surprising. Anyway, the State Department says they're on it, but these are the same people who are on Darfur, so...After the piece Anderson interviews the family of one of the hostages. Maybe with this coverage their release will get closer. Hopefully.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up we learn that, oh, Wolfowitz goes down! It's about time. These guys have death grips on their jobs no matter what the scandal. So let's see, he was behind Iraq, lead the World Bank...what will he screw up next?! Speaking of death grips on their jobs, the Democrats want a no-confidence vote on Gonzales and even Republicans are getting shaky with their support. Give it up, Alberto! Isn't it disturbing how easily he lies? And he doesn't even look ashamed about it even though he totally knows we know he's lying. Argh! Anyway, we also learn that Valerie Plame is bringing a civil suit against some big wigs in the White House for outing her as a CIA agent. They say it's a vendetta, I say, you go Valerie! Because just Libby (who will probably be pardoned anyway) isn't good enough. Moving on to 2008, Tom tells us that James Dobson will not vote for or support Giuliani. Hmm, this might get interesting. Also, Al Gore is popping up all over the place again, fueling rumors of a run. There's even a draft Gore song, which Tom deems, "really, really bad." I do not disagree. Afterwards Anderson mimics the sound effect, "Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh." Oh, are you acknowledging that your graphics and sound effects are out of control or are you being a dork? Yeah, probably just being a dork. Eh, I'll take that too, I guess.

Erica with the headlines and then "What Were They Thinking?" which I guess is now a regular segment. Although since I've said that we'll probably never see it again now. Sorry. Okay, so tonight's topic is the voting off of Melinda Doolittle from American Idol, which was apparently some kind of shocker. I have a question: what the hell? I'm not 'what the helling' about Melinda, I'm talking about the whole American Idol phenomenon. Am I the only one in the country not watching this show? They're talking about it on tv, they're talking about it at my office, my mother who never watches anything but sports is talking about it, and today I just got invited to an American Idol finale party. So again, what the hell? Anyway, Erica asks Anderson if he votes and thank God he does not. Neither has Erica. Anderson then informs us that he hasn't been following as closely this season because his Tivo is broken. Oh the humanity! Then they talk a bit about past Idols and Taylor Hicks is of course brought up because of his grey hair. It's noted he hasn't done so well since Idol. "He's no Cliay Aekin," says Anderson. I don't know quite what to do with that statement. And yes, I purposely spelled his name wrong because last time I got emails from his crazy fans. The perils of having a blog. Heh.

Moving on now to some polygamy with Gary Tuchman. I probably could have phrased that better. Anyway, in a Gary piece we meet Wendell Musser, a man who was excommunicated from Warren Jeffs' church. The twist here is that they took his wife and baby and nobody will tell him where they are. He's been told they were placed with another man. Wow. Totally not cool. Poor Wendell has searched all over and no one from the church will even talk to him. After the Gary piece Anderson previews upcoming stories and tells us, "also tonight, a sicko attacks inside a church. But wait until you see the victim go Old Testament on him." Oh, good Lord. A little writing gone amuck there, but yeah, I laughed. Then we're on to an interview with Mike Watkiss of KTVK in Phoenix annd Gary Engels, investigator for Mojave County, Arizona's, attorney's office. But I'm not really into all this, so we're skipping over. I would, however, like to thank 360 for not torturing us with Warren Jeffs' singing this time. I had to hear John Ashcroft singing "Let the Eagle Soar," this week, so, you know, a girl can only take so much. Moving on to a preview of Sanjay Gupta's special about what's in our food. And I kind of don't want to know.

The Shot tonight is a tortoise versus a cat in South Africa. And the tortoise wins! The show was pretty good tonight and the special in the second hour was really good. I love the table! I'll be blogging that sometime later this weekend. As usual now, I'm not blogging Friday's show, but I watched and found it really solid-kind of surprising for a Friday. Good on 360 for airing that stoning video. Disturbing yes, but needed to be seen. And they're being all consistent with their "Giving 360" segment. Shocking. I usually do not use the word "consistent" when talking about 360. Also, Anderson and Erica doing their best valley girl impressions was amusing, but what cracked me up was thinking of that one dude who never watches CNN, but was flipping through the channels right at that moment and was all, "what the hell?" Heh. I'm really glad they played the Michael Holmes special because it was excellent and I forgot to watch it over the weekend. Actually the only thing I ever remember to watch over the weekend is "60 Minutes." Anyway, Thursday's show (and I'll go ahead and include the special) gets an A-
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from