Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brutal Killing, Iraq Talk, Obama/Clinton Spar, Abuse At MS Jail, And Selling Illegal Animals In China (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. I caught the end of Larry King before 360 came on, so I begin the show with my eyes about to roll out of my head. Seriously, somebody please tell me that a couple of months from now we won't be watching a post-prison Lindsey Lohan special hour. Because I don't think I can take that. And, frankly, I think it might make Anderson Cooper's head explode. But we are thankfully not kicking if off with Lindsey tonight. Instead we're leading with the brutal murder of three members of a Connecticut family. Oh...true crime. Okay, so it's not an enormous improvement over Lindsey Lohan, but an improvement nonetheless. At first I actually thought this was an update on the brutal murder that occurred about a month ago in a sleepy little town that doesn't lock their doors. But no, turns out this was a different family in a different sleepy little town that doesn't lock its doors. And about that? Hey, how about everybody start locking your doors, okay? So anyway, apparently two guys invaded this home and tied up the parents and two daughters. Then in the morning one of the suspects drove the wife to the bank, info was relayed to the teller, and the teller told police. Unfortunately, by the time the police got there the house was on fire and everyone was dead except for the husband. No motive is known yet, so who knows?

Next up Anderson tells us that, surprisingly, it seems the Pentagon is planning for a long stay in Iraq. I really wish you guys could see my shocked face right now. The Joint Campaign Plan, reported on today by "The New York Times" is going to keep us in Iraq for at least two years. And believe me, there's an emphasis on the "at least." So no big change in September, you ask? We know what's going to happen here: September will roll around and people will ask, where's the big change? And the administration will say, September? Nobody ever said anything about September. And we'll say, yes you did. And then Tony Snow will tell us how retarded we are and how we so obviously didn't understand what they meant in the first place. Then he'll make up a whole bunch of BS, claiming he explained this all before, but really he never did. And we'll say, you're making that up. But he won't care. And then The Daily Show will find the stuff the administration said a long time ago about September and play that together with the BS that Tony made up and then Jon Stewart will make one of his faces and we'll all laugh. Because it's better than crying. Or, you know, Bush will just try to convince us that September isn't actually a month.

For discussion, we're joined by Michael Gordon live in Baghdad. Anderson asks how big a shift this plan is from others. Michael thinks not so much with regards to the plan put out in January (I'm guessing that's the surge?), but as far as previous plans it's a big shift. Well, I've been watching this pretty closely and besides the soldiers living out in more vulnerable areas now, it all looks the same to me. Anderson notes the administration is still trotting out that "when the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down" slogan and wonders how important the security forces are. Michael explains that the whole surge plan is to establish a little order so then they can really focus on the Iraqi forces and bring them "up to snuff." But haven't they been trying to bring them up to snuff since the beginning? And aren't most loyal to militias and that's the problem? So how would order help that? And it just occurs to me that, hey, why is Anderson not asking these questions? C'mon reporter dude.

Then Anderson asks a question that sort of begins talking about September, but ends on this new plan, so, yeah, I don't know. But Michael answers by talking about timelines and the disconnect between the ground and Washington. Next Anderson points out how we're always told there's no military solution in Iraq. But Michael thinks that there is to a degree because the plan is to control the violence enough that the politicians can actually have discussions. Again though, isn't the Iraqi government just a bunch of factions? If the country suddenly became peaceful for a week, would it really matter in terms of coming together as a unity government? Anderson's final question for Michael is what has surprised him. He says he's most surprised by the differing perceptions in Baghdad and Washington. "I think, in a funny way, the military here has a much more realistic assessment of the challenges than I think a lot of the politicians do in Washington," Michael says. And I'd say that's not funny at all. Sounds like business as usual.

Moving on now to Tom Foreman live to tell us about a post-debate dust-up between Obama and Clinton. (Hey, did Tom get Lasix? Where are the glasses? Inquiring minds and all.) Okay, so during the debate it was mostly a lot of loving, but no more! One of the debate questions was whether or not the candidate would pledge to meet with our enemies (such as Ahmadinejad, Chavez...). Obama was totally into meeting with the evildoers, but Clinton was all, hold up. She said she wasn't promising anything because she would want to make sure she wasn't being used. Today she used the opportunity to paint Obama as inexperienced, calling his answer "irresponsible" and "naive." Ouch. For his part, Obama responded (in an audio clip we can almost hear) by flipping it around to her Iraq vote. Children, children. Can you not play nice? How many more months do we have of this, again?

Transitioning now to a big fat EXCLUSIVE "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Kathleen Koch. In fact, it's so big 360 needs three segments to bring it to us. The story Kathleen tells us is about the Harrison County Jail in Biloxi, Mississippi and the abuses that have been occurring there. This place sounds massively shady. Okay, first up, this is a county jail, so most inmates haven't been convicted of anything and they're usually only staying one night. But since 2002 there have been at least four inmates that have died unnaturally and last year a man was beaten to death in the booking room while cameras rolled. They even tasered him so badly that there were holes were burnt in his flesh. It seems the guards got away with this kind of thing by writing false incident reports. The lawyer for the beating victim says it wasn't about race or anything, but rather power. And one of the former jailers says senior officials knew and condoned the behavior. Sounds kind of like Abu Ghraib.

In the second segment of the piece, Kasey Alves, another beating victim, tells us of the devil's chair, and how they strapped him into it, put a tight sheet around his head, and then poured water on him. Holy crap, that either is water boarding or really similar. He also got massive welts from the chair straps, which we're shown. Anyway, after the guy was beaten to death the jail claimed to have undergone all these changes, but in reality they didn't, because there was to be another death. Lee Damond Smith was a 21 year old arrested for shooting another man (he claimed innocence) and was in the jail when his family got strange calls from family of the other inmates, telling them that people had seen a white sheet put over Smith's body. Well, obviously, this upset Smith's family a lot and they called, but were told everything was fine. Then they went to the jail and still the jail denied everything, but then finally they were told the truth: Smith was dead.

The jail claimed the death was due to a blood clot in the lungs, but the family was suspicious and raised money for an independent autopsy, which found that Smith was strangled. And as for the blood clot? Apparently you have to dissect the lung to know that, something the jail didn't do. Although they claim they did and I'm wondering how they can just claim that. I'm guessing the lung was still intact when the independent guy got to it, so...CNN then got a third autopsy guy who this time just looked at pictures and read the prior reports. He sided with independent guy's conclusion. So, wow. What a messed up jail. After the piece Anderson tells us the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now investigating and we have Jeffrey Toobin for the legal perspective. Toobin explains that back in 1995 the DOJ came in and was supposed to provide some supervision, but I guess not. Also, with all these lawsuits the situation in post-Katrina Mississippi is becoming an economic issue as well. And...that's pretty much it for Toobin. Aw, all gussied up for only two minutes?

Next up we're continuing with our "Planet in Peril" series and tonight we have a piece from Sanjay Gupta in China. BTW, not too long ago 360 finally acknowledged that they've been hoarding footage for a big special to air in the fall. Now, I understand why they didn't tell us. I'm guessing they wanted to announce everything at once and were still in talks with Discovery or whatever. But here's a tip for you, 360: If you want to keep something like this on the down low, don't show us pictures from things that you never air. And don't let your anchor mention things he's done that then never air. Just saying. Okay, so in this piece, Sanjay and crew go to check out an illegal market where people are trading animals. And the people are not happy to see them. Yeah, they basically scatter. But Sanjay shows us some baby civet cats and before you say aw, know that they were probably the source of the SARS outbreak. Sanjay then takes us to a legal market and we see turtles galore! Seriously, that's a lot of turtles. Unfortunately, some are illegal, but we're told the police don't really make it a priority, so there they are, right in the open.

The Shot tonight is a thieving seagull in Scotland. The little jerk walks into a shop, steals what looks to be a bag of chips, and then high tails it out of there. Now he and his seagull friends are probably going to smoke a joint behind the alley. Seagulls man, I'm telling you. The show was good tonight. Weird choice of lead in my book, but whatever. I hope Kathleen's story will put some pressure on the jail and the DOJ to actually do something. B+


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