Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Missing Soldiers, Improvement in Al Anbar, Raw Politics, And Scientology!!! (Monday's First Hour)

Hi everyone. Happy new week! We begin with the very disturbing news that three soldiers went missing during an ambush on Saturday in which four other troops died. This is all fleshed out for us in a piece from new guy (to me anyway) Hugh Riminton. Apparently they were taken by either al Qaeda or an al Qaeda affiliated group, which means nothing but bad things. The US military is all over it, but already an insurgent website is warning that if they search for them the soldiers will be killed. Ordinary Iraqis are giving tips to help out, but unforunately with these groups there's really no hope in negotiating for their release. I can't even imagine what the families are going through, assuming they know. Sometimes the unknown is almost worst. Who knows what's happening to those soldiers? Oh, and speaking of missing soldiers, whatever happened to that one from last fall? You know, the one that the US military was searching for, but then had to lift the blockades because Maliki was being pressured by al Sadr. Is he still missing?

Next up we're joined by Peter Bergen and Anderson notes that it seems like al Qaeda kidnappings have dropped lately, but maybe that's just due to less coverage. Peter thinks that's true...and I don't know which part of Anderson's statement he's referring to. However, he does reinterate that this kidnapping is all about politics. Anderson wonders how strong al Qaeda is now since lately there have been reports of Sunni groups turning against them. Peter says they're keeping a lower profile now and they're trying to keep it all about Iraq, even though the leaders aren't Iraqi. He also tells us that reports estimate that al Qaeda in Iraq is now 90% Iraqi, but also adds that reports about the Sunnis rising up against al Qaeda are hard to discern as true. Then Anderson asks how good the intelligence is right now about the organization and wants to know how they know the soldiers are being held by a terrorist group. Peter tells us that the group has released statements and they've done so in the past too, which turned out to be credible. So...we don't actually have intelligence then. That's just known as paying attention.

Moving on now to a Nic Robertson on how Al Anbar could become the model for taking down the insurgency. No, really. I know, I was shocked too. I still remember Nic fleeing his live shot in Ramadi during the December 2005 elections due to gun fire. Okay, so obviously there's been a huge change from last year. What changed? Well, what changed was tribal sheiks got hella fed up with all the intimidation and murder and they turned on al Qaeda. Awesome. That's actual good news. Perhaps we should pause and revel for a moment. So anyway, attacks against the marines are way down and they'e opening schools and health clinics, thus bringing economic growth and stability to the area.

After his piece we're joined by Nic and Peter. Anderson wonders if it was one event that caused the sheiks to snap or what. Nic says that over a period of time the sheiks felt their power was being undermined by al Qaeda. Oh, and we've got other good news tonight too. Remember Mullah Dadullah, a top Taliban commander in Afghanistan? Well, he's dead! When I first heard the news earlier in the day I immediately thought what I always think: I want proof-preferably a body. And actually we are shown the body next hour, though we are spared a creepy gold framed picture a la Zarqawi. Anyway, Peter then explains what a bad dude this Dadullah guy was, noting he even beheaded somebody he knew. Nic points out that Dadullah was seen as a radical even within the Taliban and now with him gone there might be more of an opportunity for talks. Let's hope.

Up next we've got "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up we learn that Clinton has picked up some big endorsements: the New York governor and...her husband. Hmm, and here I thought Bill would have gone with Kucinich. Next Tom tells us that it's unlikely Fred Thompson will be on Law & Order next year, which is leading to speculation he's running. Or maybe NBC is just being retarded. After all, they did just cancel Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Grrr!!! Then we learn that in a recent poll New Yorkers favor Mayor Bloomberg over Giuliani for Prez, except Bloomberg isn't running. Yet. And Giuliani's got other problems too. No, not his stance on abortion or gay rights. No, not all his marriages. No, not that video of him in a dress. What's bugging Giuliani is ferrets. Yep, ferrets. When he was mayor, the department of health banned ferrets and he very much supported the measure, which lead to an interesting radio conversation with a ferret lover. So now the ferrets have united to form Ferrets For Freedom (you knew it was coming) and let me tell you, that's one 527 you don't want to mess with.

Big transition now to a Randi Kaye piece on scientology. Well, actually, yelling about scientology. Okay, I'm not exactly sure what went down here, but from what I can tell, BBC reporter John Sweeney had been investigating Scientologists for a documentary and they ended up following him everywhere. After attending an industry of Death exhibition where "members of the church showed disturbing video and blamed the Holocaust on psychiatry," (What?!) Sweeney lost it. He completely rips into Scientology guy in an almost comical fashion. I didn't know people from the BBC could yell that loud. Maybe he used to work at Fox News. Anyway, the tape ends up on YouTube and later Sweeney apologizes in the documentary for losing it and it's all, well, stupid quite frankly. The point of this piece? Best I can come up with is because some dude yelled really loud. It's not like a reporter has never become part of the story before. Hell, our own Anderson Cooper has done that.

Next up we're joined by Mike Rinder, director of the Church of Scientology International. Anderson asks if the church released the clip and Rinder says they didn't put in on YouTube. However, Anderson notes that they did make a bunch of DVDs with the clip. Rinder says this was to document what happened and then he indicates that they're trying to make more info available to the public. If that's the case then why after several articles and news stories do I still have absolutely no idea what your religion is about? Anderson wants to know if they follow reporters like Sweeney alleges. Rinder says no and when Anderson presses he still maintains that they don't. So Anderson asks who he thinks the people were that Sweeney saw following him and basically Rinder says Sweeney was lying.

After a commercial break we come back to the interview and these questions are more confrontational. Anderson notes that "it is well known, though, that certainly, in the journalism community, that if you do a story on the Church of Scientology, you are going to be hearing from attorneys, that you -- the church has a reputation of being very aggressive in going after or in protecting their public relations." Seriously? Uh, what about blogging? Please don't sue me. So I guess 360 doesn't give a crap about hearing from the attorneys. Good for them. Not that I think this coverage is all warranted. Anyway, Rinder of course denies that they're sue-happy. But then Anderson reads a quote from L. Ron Hubbard that involves always being on the attack against critics. Rinder is not thrilled. He makes a not thrilled noise and says the quote is taken out of context. Of course. Then Anderson brings up a 1991 "Time" cover story on scientology and the author of the article even notes that he himself was investigated by the church. Rinder plays it off like it was so long ago, but Anderson points out that Time Warner was sued and the lawsuit carried on until 1998. Then Rinder says, "you're glib, Anderson. You're glib." Okay, I'm lying. I think only Tom Cruise is allowed to say that.

Moving on to a Gary Tuchman piece, which I'm taking a pass on because I had a phone call and I'm almost positive this is a repeat piece that I've blogged before, but since I switched to new blogger (it made me) I'm having trouble finding things. After the piece we're joined by former scientologist Bruce Hines. Anderson notes that the church has said they're trying to be more open and he wonders if that's true. Bruce thinks maybe, but they're still going to try to control negative press. Anderson asks if they follow people and Bruce says yes. He knows this because they have an intelligence branch and hire private investigators. That is so messed up. I'm trying to imagine what an intelligence branch would look like at my church. Nope, can't do it. Anderson wants to know what's up with all the secrecy. He obviously doesn't get it either. "...I guess it involves space aliens or Zenu, and I don't want to -- I don't really know, so I don't want to denigrate it by sort of inaccurately describing it." That's the thing, you can't accurately describe it because nobody knows. Anderson wonders what Bruce saw in it and what good it gave to his life. Bruce says it just seemed to make sense at first and then he got more and more involved, while at the same time was sheltered from anything negative about the religion.

Well, I guess I don't care what they do as long as they're not hurting anybody else. So...that was a whole lot of scientology stuff just because some dude yelled, wasn't it? I'm still not sure of the point here and I didn't get any more insight into the religion from the last time they devoted half a show to scientology. Whatever. At least they started out really strong and the second hour was pretty good too. Oh, I should probably note that last time I checked, my weather people were predicting possible severe storms for Tuesday, so if I disappear it's because I've got no power or I'm hiding in my basement. Ah, spring. Tonight gets a B.


Anonymous dannie said...

Nic Robertson, Peter Bergen and Hugh Riminton, all in the same hour — it's almost enough to make up for Michael Ware's absence... almost!

I was very amused by Anderson getting Mullah Dadullah's name wrong. Someone hasn't been paying attention! But seriously, isn't that one of the most memorable names ever?

It seems the BBC has decided to modernize its interviewing methods. What happened to the soothing voice and poised demeanour its reporters were expected to possess? If I has been Scientology Guy, I would have calmly replied: "I say, steady on, old chap. No need to get your knickers in a twist."

10:03 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@dannie-Is Hugh Riminton on CNNi? I don't think I've ever seen him. I miss Michael too, but he deserves a break.

I love saying Mullah Dadullah. I remember cracking up the first time I heard it. When Anderson said it wrong I corrected him before he had a chance to correct himself. Because apparently I like to talk to my tv. Heh. Anyway, Anderson knew what it was I think; it just came out wrong.

"I say, steady on, old chap. No need to get your knickers in a twist."

LOL. Next, we're going to see some PBS guy losing it. What's the world coming to?! :)

11:23 AM  
Anonymous dannie said...

@eliza: Apparently Hugh used to be on CNNi. His bio on CNN's site makes for very interesting reading. Impressive résumé! I only saw him for the first time a couple of weeks ago and took an instant liking to him. I really don't know why, but I have a feeling his glasses may have something to do with it...

I crack up every time Peter Bergen says "Mullah Dadullah". The combination of that new-age-sounding name and his monotone voice is just hilarious! And don't worry, you're not alone in holding conversations with your TV. I'm thinking of getting a cat so I can at least talk to an animate being.

Next, we're going to see some PBS guy losing it.

Hey, stranger things have happened!

6:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com