Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Goin' Fishing

Hi everybody. This post is to let my regular readers know that I'm about to go on an honest to God vacation that involves a plane and leaving the state and everything. Yay! But don't think I'm leaving you high and dry--Eliza has lined up a blogsitter. Previous guest poster Arachnae will be holding down the fort for me. She's promised to keep you all entertained and informed while I'm away. And no funny business, children. Just because she's a sub, Arachnae will not hesitate to send you to detention. Or make you run laps. Now, spit out that gum!

While I am leaving on a jet plane, I do in fact know when I'll be back again, and expect to resume the reviews next Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm not sure how much time I'll have at a computer when I'm away, so if you email it might be a while before you get a reply.

On an unrelated note, aw, sorry about the layoffs, 360. That sucks. But, um, stop lying about being partially live into the second hour.

California Fires, 2008 Talk, Gap Sweatshop, Genarlow Wilson Freed, Beef Recall, Raw Politics, And Sweet Jesus! (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Well, it looks like Anderson Cooper has skipped out on us, but never fear, we've got John King holding it all down. Things kick off with an update on those horrible California fires and it looks like things are much more under control. Now the focus is on finding the arsonist. For more we go to Ted Rowlands live. Well, sort of. Oh, he's there and talking, but technical difficulties leave us without a picture. B-roll to the rescue! Anyway, Ted tells us that authorities are interested in seeing video that people shot around the fires because it's possible the arsonist was caught on film.

Next up, we have a Kathleen Koch piece that explores whether or not people should live in areas that are prone to disasters. We learn that after the flood of 93 the the government bought out homes in flood prone areas. There's talk of doing the same thing now in New Orleans. But, um, it's been two years! You'd think they would have thought of that a little sooner. What's interesting is that when it comes to fire prone areas the government usually doesn't do buyouts because most people have fire insurance, whereas not everyone has flood insurance. And then there are those people that actually have the insurance, but the company still won't pay.

Back to John now, and he tells us about an adorable little game that FEMA played with the press. You might remember a bit of nastiness directed at FEMA regarding their response to Katrina. Well, one would guess they didn't like that very much, and everyone needs a pat on the back every once and a while, so what did they do? They patted their own back in the form of a staged press conference with FEMA employees asking the very soft ball questions. That, children, is a no no. But here's the shocking thing: Did John Philbin, the man who oversaw the press conference, get awarded the Medal of Freedom? No he did not. He lost the intelligence job he was supposed to take over. So, basically, someone in this administration screwed up, and he was held accountable. That never happens! I mean, seriously, when I heard that earlier, I literally gasped. Are we making our way to the real world? Please say we are! Oh, also? I'm pretty sure John said it was unclear whether Philbin resigned or was fired, but it's neither, right? He was denied the job, which I guess is more like getting fired.

Transitioning now to some political talk with Paul Begala, Gloria Borger, and Amy Holmes. They begin by talking about the Iowa caucus and how Obama and Clinton are neck and neck. That leaves Edwards in third and Gloria thinks that might be because Obama has been spending more time and money in the state lately. They then move onto the recent topic of Obama leaking his new "get tough" strategy to the "New York Times." Amy notes he needed to do that to have a sharper campaign because the press was starting to "write him off." Yeah, see, I said the same thing. The press already chose Clinton. Although Gloria believes that it's more the fundraisers that want "fighting Obama" and not the press. Oh, the press want a fight too. I think they're bored.

Paul then gets in on this and he thinks it's nutty Obama leaked his strategy first instead of just implementing it. He thought that kind of thing died with Bob Shrum's career. That line then gets a laugh because, oh, they're just all super-cool beltway insiders, aren't they? And they say the press is out of touch with normal Americans. Okay, and then Paul just...gets weird. He talks about wooing his wife and how he didn't tell her he was going to blow in her ear; he just did it. "No, you just blow in the girl's ear, Barack," Paul says. I bet that's a line you never thought you'd hear on CNN. Gloria asks Paul if he ever planted a story and he says not about strategy. "He left that to Carville, " says John. Ha! But again with the wonkery. The discussion moves onto the republicans now. Nothing interesting really. They got less time than the democrats. See how fair I am? I even point out when the republicans get shafted.

Moving on now to an Alina Cho piece on how the Gap has added some evil to their nauseating preppiness. It seems they've got themselves a little sweatshop issue in India. We see pictures of kids working in horrible conditions. Oh, that's lovely. For their part, the Gap is horrified. Horrified! They say all clothes from the shop have been destroyed and this occurred because their Indian vendor sub contracted out to someone not approved by the company. You gotta love outsourcing. Anyway, this is of course horrible, but really not surprising. And now I'm totally thinking of that Rage Against the Machine video. Psst, maybe a "Keeping Them Honest" on the sweatshops of the Northern Marianas Islands?

Transitioning now to John talking to Rick Sanchez, who talked to Genarlow Wilson. That almost made me dizzy. You might remember Genarlow as the guy who went to prison under some stupid law after he had consensual oral sex with a 15 year old while he was 17. Rick tells us he could have taken a plea, but he didn't want to be branded a sex offender because then he couldn't be around his sister. I can see that. Rick is also quite boggled that Genarlow is not bitter about the situation even though he tried to "dig deep" and "get some emotion from him." Yes, because I always like the interviewees to be manipulated. As for the bitter thing? It's really admirable, but give him time. Mr. Davis from New Orleans was singing the same tune after he got beat by those cops, but I believe since that time he's done some suing. Totally his right, though. I'm just saying.

On now to a Randi Kaye "Keeping Them Honest" piece on Topps frozen hamburgers and how they totally tried to poison us with e coli. Okay, not on purpose. The real kicker here is it took the USDA forever to get the beef recalled. The family that initially sounded the alarm bought the hamburgers from Wal-Mart (and I'm disturbed that Wal-Mart even sells hamburgers) and though the company took them off of their shelves immediately, they didn't warn people who had already bought them. Awesome. It almost makes a person want to swear off beef. But you didn't hear that from me. It was Oprah! Oprah, I tell you!

Tom Foreman has our nightly "Raw Politics" and he begins by totally pimping CNN's YouTube debate. Hey! Save it for the promos. We learn that the new Attorney General nominee is having a rough go of it (as I told you in my "NYMHM" post) and apparently going as Hillary Clinton for Halloween is scarier than Giuliani. Just don't show up on my doorstep as Bush and you'll be okay. But speaking of scary, Cheney went hunting this past weekend. Um, is everybody okay? Faces intact? Do you all know where your grandpas are? Oh, and the graphic for that was hilarious. Finally, we learn that president Ford thought the republicans should have gotten rid of Cheney last election. Is Cheney someone you can just get rid of? It seems like even if he's kicked to the curb, he's still going to be there, lurking in the bushes.

The Shot tonight is a football game and there's lots of lateral passes and...I don't know...something. I don't actually understand what I just watched. And you know Anderson would have said the same damn thing. Heh.

Finally tonight we end with Jesus! Yummy, chocolately, Jesus. In a Gary Tuchman piece we learn that Cosimo Cavallaro is back and he's again created the son of God in sacrilicious form. This latest Jesus is again anatomically correct and without a loincloth. Oh my! If you're wondering about the first Jesus, well, it got nibbled on by rodents. Ew. Okay, so once again, the catholics are mad, but it doesn't seem like they're as mad as the first time because this time it's not around Easter. So whatever. I certainly don't understand the art, but as a Christian I'm not offend either. More bemused, really. I mean, seriously, if you get your outrage on regarding chocolate Jesus here, you must be in, like, a perpetual state of outrage because this is on the low end of the spectrum of stuff that makes the blood boil. And dammit, now I'm hungry.

The broadcast ends with some blog comments regarding what people would do if they were president. One commenter totally sucks up by appointing our PiP three musketeers to their cabinet. Hm, I can remember when Anderson was nominated for Secretary of Take No Shit. Of course that was back when we wanted Ray Nagin for president. Things have changed a bit. Anyway, another commenter wants to do away with the IRS and yeah, okay, whatever, but what gets me is people agreeing with that on the account that it would make drug dealers pay their fair share. I am in no way defending drug dealers, but everyone realizes we lose much more tax money to corporations and the rich cheating the system, right? You never hear the same level of outrage about that.

The show was pretty good. B.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

News You Might Have Missed

Hi everyone. Welcome back to my weekly attempt to bring you the news that you might have missed. With 360 being all fire and PiP, there was a lot to cover. I think I probably missed some stuff myself, so speak up if you saw/heard an important story that's not here.

  • The Wild West gets a little less wild. Private security companies no longer have immunity from prosecution by Iraq.
  • Apparently terror convictions are the new terror alert. Former Gitmo prosecutor Morris Davis says that one of the reasons for his recent resignation was that he was being pressured by the Pentagon to convict high-profile detainees before the 2008 elections.
  • Maybe he should try it and then he could decide for himself. Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey was supposed to have an uncontroversial confirmation, but that all changed when he would not acknowledge that waterboarding is torture.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Horrible Fires And Our Planet In Peril Part II (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Welcome to your second schizophrenic blog posting. As I reminded you in my last post, due to the special and then the continuous breaking news, I'm foregoing my usual recap and review. But perk up because there's more pictures! I'm going to start again with the fires. It's great that the winds are dying down, but the fact that some of this destruction is apparently due to arson is just infuriating. Why? I've said it once and I'm sure I'll say it again: people suck. Anyway, to be honest, since I'm not recapping I haven't been watching the fire coverage super closely, but I've been watching close enough to be annoyed by the comparison of the response efforts between this disaster and Katrina. Look, I am in no way defending Blanco and Nagin, and by all surface appearances, the Governator seems to be rockin it. But you can't compare the response to the two disasters. New Orleans was 80 percent under water. It was scorching hot. People couldn't leave. There were bodies in the streets. The president was off strumming a guitar in another state. You can't compare the two. And that's not to take away from what the people of southern California are going though. Because lives are being destroyed just like during Katrina, so some comparisons are apt (and I'll be making some in my next paragraph). But as far as the response effort or how well behaved everyone was at Qualcomm, they can't be compared and I really wish people would stop trying.

On a lighter note--well a little lighter note, I couldn't help shaking my head at Anderson Cooper when he mentioned that maybe they should be wearing masks due to the smoky air. Okay, lungs filled with smoke particles are in no way funny, but he said almost the same thing during Katrina after getting that nasty water kicked up in his face. Shouldn't a mask be standard protocol for Anderson's (and everyone else's) travel bag at this point? You know: clothes, razer (gotta stay smooth for the high-def!), toothbrush and . . .mask! Is it any wonder he has so many chemicals in him? Anyhoo, I'm going ahead for a second to Thursdays' coverage. You know, just to confuse you. I have to say, seeing Anderson wearing what has been dubbed the "field shirt" (black tee, we miss you so!) and picking up the remains of people's houses was kind of freaky similar to the Katrina coverage. I had a little moment of, God, is this what it's always going to be like? There have always been disasters, sure, but over the past two years the phrase "largest peacetime movement of Americans since the Civil War" has been used twice. That has to tell us something. Oh, but Bush visited California on Thursday and promised not to forget them. They're saved! Over the crackling fire you can almost hear the laughter from New Orleans . . . or is that crying?

I'm going to transition now to part II of "Planet in Peril." This half begins in Greenland with Anderson and Jeff Corwin and the focus is the controversy-inducing subject of global warming. Greenland is losing 100 billion tons of ice each year and sea levels would rise by 23 feet if the whole sheet were to melt. That's worst case scenario, but even a little rising can devastate populations. To me, the most fascinating part of this segment is when they explore the moulin, which is a narrow hole that's been created by surface water that then carries that surface water far down to the base. Then when the water gets under the sheet it makes the whole thing much easier to move. Oh, and the rappelling to the moulin was rather amusing. Poor Anderson. And you know Jeff teased him mercilessly. And how awesome would it be to discover an island? It's sad that it exists because of global warming, but still. I also liked seeing the researchers' pad (shigloo!). It was something regular viewers hadn't seen before and helped round out the piece.

From Greenland we're off to Alaska with Jeff where he and the other experts catch a momma polar bear and her adorable cubs to perform some research. I think regular viewers have seen most of this, though admittedly I missed a good deal of this segment. So we're going to go hang with Sanjay Gupta now on the Carteret Islands, which are only five feet above sea level at their highest point. About 2,000 people live on the islands and they're literally losing part of their home every year to the sea. In time it will be completely under water and already they are at a point where they have to rely on support from the Papua New Guinea government. This support only comes twice a year, which seems unbelievable. How strange it must be to know that soon the only land you've ever lived on is going to be under water. Oh, and we also get to check out scuba diving Sanjay discovering some, unfortunately, bleaching reefs.

We then stick with Sanjay, but travel to central Africa where Lake Chad is disappearing--it's literally shrunk by 90 percent. Again climate change is being fingered as the likely culprit, which is sadly ironic, given that Africa is the lowest carbon emitter in the world. On his way to the source of the lake, Sanjay and crew get stranded when their vehicle gets stuck in the hot dry terrain. I love the good doctor, but I would advise against going on trips with Sanjay. He has a habit of getting stuck . . . and he doesn't help push!

At this point in the program, we come to the part where our PiPers (look at me coining things!) take the global warming controversy head-on (applied directly to the forehead--sorry, I couldn't help it) and attempt to quell their critics. They don't have an agenda. I know this because I've heard them say it 50 bazillion times. Who says cable peeps can't have talking points? I do actually believe them, but the whole "we don't have an agenda" thing is rather pointless to say. Because the people that they're speaking to will never believe them. Ever. So anyway, this is when the "other side" gets a turn. Unleash the crazies! Okay, the one guy who talks about adaption doesn't seem crazy, he's just wrong. Heh. But what's a global warming debate without Senator James Inhofe? This is a man who's compared global warming to the big lie, you know, the one associated with the murder of six million Jews. And apparent "An Inconvenient Truth" is Mein Kampf. No, I'm not kidding. And I'm sure this fun-to-watch craziness has nothing to do with the energy and natural resource companies that fund him. No siree.

You know, honestly, I don't even understand why there' s a debate. Okay, so let's say that we cut emissions and really change our lives to try to combat global warming and it all turns out to be a hoax. Is that so completely terrible? And don't talk to me about economics, because companies are starting to "go green" now because it benefits them financially. Anyway, if we go with the global warming believers and they're wrong, all we've done is make our air a little cleaner for nothing. But if we go with the deniers and they're wrong, well, that's pretty much total chaos and destruction and the eventual end of us. The choice seems pretty clear. But that's just me.

Back to our travels, we head to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil with Felix and Oscar, er, I mean Jeff and Anderson. We see them go out with Ibama to catch illegal loggers, but I have to say that the most compelling part of this segment was the story of Sister Dorthy. The nun was fearlessly dedicated to helping protect land and this made her some powerful enemies. Sister Dorothy was ultimately murdered by a hitman paid $25,000 by ranchers and we're shown horrible pictures of her body. But rather than solving their problem, Sister Dorthy's death made things worse for the ranchers because it rallied the people. A good ending to a very sad story. During the Brazil visit, Jeff and Anderson also hang out with the Kraho Indians and this is where they get their famous (infamous?) tribal markings. It must have been cool to get them, but man, I think I heard Anderson's stayed on for a month and Jeff's longer (somebody apparently needs to shower more). I don't even like it when I get stamped at a show and can't get it off by the next day.

Like last night, we again end at home--this time in Houston where an energetic six year old has been diagnosed with cancer. His family lives in what has been dubbed the "stinky neighborhood" due to the smell from the nearby Houston Ship Channel, which emits chemicals such as Benzene. No one can say for certain that's what caused the cancer, but it seems a likely target. Of note is that the neighborhood is mostly Hispanic and in fact, it seems that it's often the case that it's the poor and minority neighborhoods that suffer from the most pollution. Some have dubbed this environmental racism. Morja Carter talks about this issue and I actually recognized her from this PBS piece done by NOW. It's definitely an issue that needs more coverage.

"Planet in Peril" ends with a most excellent sum up. After following their process from the beginning, it's great to see the final product. Admittedly, when they first started this PiP stuff I and many others thought the coverage was shallow. You just have to go back and read my reviews and reader comments when they were live in Brazil to know that. It soon became clear they were hording material and it's great to finally see it all come together. No more criticisms of shallowness from me. Actually, my only real criticism has to do with something the PiPers probably don't even control: the ads. I mean, c'mon, car and energy companies? Hello! As I said last night, our 360 people really made something to be proud of. Gold star, A+, you get a cookie!

Photo of the moulin from http://mmcconeghy.com/glaciers/glaciers.html and the rest credited to CNN Worldwide – All Rights Reserved 2007©

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Horrible Fires And Our Planet In Peril (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everyone. Welcome to the first of two or three majorly schizophrenic blog posts. I actually wasn't expecting any live 360 at all, so wow, four hours of Anderson Cooper. Who can argue with that? Though really, I'm sure the people of California wish there was nothing of note to report. Anyway, as stated before, no review tonight because I wanted to enjoy the special without taking notes and I don't recap continuous breaking news. But, uh, I've brought you a consolation prize in the form of posted pictures, so please continue to love me.

I guess I'll start off with the fires. The horrible, horrible fires. We had Anderson live in front of Qualcomm Stadium for the hours both before and after the special. It's nice of CNN to finally realize the people of California might want live news on the situation past 8 PM. At this point, nearly one million people have been evacuated, which is pretty staggering. And the poor firefighters and other first responders are just exhausted because they're working round-the-clock. I could get into the whole our-National-Guard-should-be-here-and-not-Iraq issue, but I'll let the politicians battle that out this time. For tonight, anyway. The saddest story to me was that poor woman that watched her home burn on tv. I can't even imagine.

On a lighter, and some may say more shallow note, it looks like CNN is totally onto our tight black t-shirt love. The shirts are spreading among reporters! I'm imagining a memo going out. Oh, but John King did not adhere to said memo. C'mon John, be a team player! Also? Why do people suddenly go retarded when there's a camera in their vicinity? I was watching the people behind Anderson as much as I was watching the anchor himself. Waving. Making faces. I mean, what the hell? There's a fire! One dude I'm pretty sure was reading the teleprompter to himself. But my favorite was the girl who just before they threw to the special, pointed at Anderson and mouthed the words "he's hot." Once again, can't argue.

I'm going to transition now to the "Planet in Peril" special. First of all, I really wish I had HDTV because even without it the shots are beautiful, so I can't imagine what it looks like in high definition. Also, regular readers may have noticed I complain about the graphics on 360 a lot. I basically hate all cable news graphics because they're so over-the-top and tacky, but the ones for this special were awesome. Very nice and kudos to whoever is responsible. There have been a lot of write-ups on the special that some of you have probably seen. But for those that were wowed by the pictures taken of the shoot, you might want to check out this article on Getty Images Photographer Jeff Hutchens. I'm always a fan of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Oh, and Jeff is one of the guys that took one for the team--he picked up a nasty parasite in Brazil. Ick. But the man is quite resourceful with a hammock.

The special begins in Thailand with a focus on the illegal animal trade and one stat that really stood out to me was that 90 percent of smuggled illegal animals die before reaching their final destination. That's kind of astounding. Many of those animals are being smuggled into the US and China and I have to wonder if the American people knew more about this if they would still continue to buy the animals as pets. I suspect some would. Even with documentaries like this one putting the issue out there, it's still too far removed for some people. It's like shopping at Wal-Mart. I know lots of people who will freely admit that the company represents things they're against, but the consequences of shopping there are too far removed to give them any motivation to stop.

From Thailand, the special takes us to Madagascar where Jeff Corwin shows us many of the exotic species that live there. I would love to go to Madagascar. Isn't it beautiful? But sigh, right now I'm just working on seeing New York. From Africa we then transition back home where we join Anderson in staking out the gray wolves at Yellowstone (first picture). The wolves have been reintegrated into the park and we learn how just one species can affect every living thing around. Everything really is connected. It kind of makes me want to buy the world a Coke.

From the US, we travel with Jeff and Anderson to Cambodia and regular viewers will notice that the footage of the tigers is completely new to us. Our men in black go out with the experts and come across a poacher's camp, which they then destroy. All around them are snares meant for tigers that they then purposefully trigger. And this finally answers the question I've had in my head since watching the "Planet in Peril" music video: Why did Anderson Cooper punch the ground for no apparent reason? Well, there was a reason--he was snaring himself to save the tigers. And here I thought the ground was just giving him a hard time. Oh, Cambodia is also where Jeff almost gets his arm ripped off by an elephant. Um, ouch.

After that we tag-a-long with our final musketeer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on a trip to China. Dirty, dirty, China. (There weren't any pictures of Sanjay in China--I'll make up for it in part II.) This is probably the part that disturbed me the most. We talk about climate change and Kyoto and all that, but then you look over at China and you wonder how on earth we are going to fix the world's environmental problems. They're like this huge red elephant in the room. Because, okay, everyone knows that the US will most likely be moving substantially forward on climate change issues in 2009, as soon as we get the idiots out of the White House (even if God forbid we elect another republican). But we're not going to make even a dent in the problem unless we take China with us and get them to massively reform. Obviously we should try. Obviously we should do everything we can. But it's not going to be easy and it's going to take a long time--time that some places don't have. Oh, and another thing, bear bile? OMG, that was horrible. The poor bears! Sometimes humans really suck.

The first part of "Planet in Peril" ends at home with Anderson getting a body burden test to assess the chemicals in his body. Blood is taken and then later he goes back for the results. I had actually read some write-ups on this, so I already knew the results (and I think he mentioned it with Jeff and Sanjay last night), but I was not expecting him to look so nervous and then upset when he got the results. Aw. Anyway, he's got all sorts of toxic crap in him. Some of the worst stuff is most likely attributed to eating fish and to the make-up he wears for the show. The make-up toxins can cause infertility, so dude, that's got to stop. You look fine without it, Anderson!

I'm just saying, it's not fair that Kevin Federline drops like a bazillion kids on the planet and Anderson Cooper's make-up might be making him infertile. (And yes, people, I know. There's more than one way to have a kid.) So anyway, when they first ran part of this piece before, I was interested in how toxic I might be, so I took to the Google to learn about the test. But man, way expensive! So while I normally like to take the knowledge is power route, for now I will have to subscribe to ignorance is bliss. With all the stuff Anderson tested positive for I figured I'm pretty toxic myself, but then I remembered, the dude's been, like, everywhere. So hopefully I have a little less. But I'll never know anyway. In the reviews of the special, this was the part that was most panned, but producer Charlie Moore stated that they wanted each night to end at home, thus getting people thinking about how they individually fit into all of this. And on that note, I'd say they succeeded. Anyway, so far I really like what I've seen and you know I pull no punches. Our little 360 peoples should be proud of themselves. I look forward to part II.

Images credited to CNN Worldwide – All Rights Reserved 2007©

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Massive California Fires, Atlanta Drought, Planet In Peril Previews, And Raw Politics (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody. You might have noticed that my blog is lacking a "News You Might Have Missed" post. No, it's not because 360 told you absolutely everything that happened last week; I just got busy. Such is life. Anyway, we're kicking things off tonight with the hot and smoky BREAKING NEWS that California is on fire. Like, a lot. Anderson Cooper informs us that at least 13 wildfires are burning in the southern part of the state. The pictures are amazing. Anderson thinks it looks like lava and it really does. Man, wouldn't it be incredibly sadly ironic if "Planet in Peril" gets preempted tomorrow because these fires get even worse? We're looking at part of our planet very acutely in peril right now.

For more, we go to Dan Simon live in San Diego, where a mandatory evacuation is in effect for 250,000 people. Dan tells us he's seen 12 homes burn to the ground and the situation there for residents is chaotic. There's nowhere to get a hotel and Qualcomm Stadium is being used as a shelter, bringing back memories of New Orleans and the Superdome. So far the Governator has declared a state of emergency in seven counties.

Next up, Anderson has a piece on how this whole mess got started and from there we go to a Ted Rowlands piece that hits on the lack of resources for fighting the fire, as well as the complicated and treacherous task of evacuating. After his piece, we get Ted live in Malibu where it is very very windy--a fact that is partly reported by his hair. As you might imagine, the whole wind thing really isn't mixing well with the fires.

Moving on now to Chad Myers playing the role of bearer of bad news. He tells us this situation isn't going to get any better until Wednesday, so that's a lot of time for people to lose everything. Chad is amazed that he can actually see the smoke on radar. Apparently it's so thick that the radar thinks it's raining. Freaky. Anderson asks why the fires are so bad this year, but best I could tell, Chad really didn't give an answer.

At this point, we go to commercial. Sort of. We don't actually get commercials--just beeping and a blank screen. Then we're back live with Anderson. And just as I'm chuckling over how ticked the ad people are going to be that they just got screwed--we're back to commercials, leaving Anderson, I guess, talking to himself in the studio. After our second stab at a commercial break ends, suddenly there's Rusty Dornin talking about how Atlanta is running out of water. Obviously we've missed something. But if you've been reading my "News You Might Have Missed" posts, you've known about this story for over a week now. Anyway, Alabama is complaining too. It sounds like there's about to be some water wars.

For further discussion, we're next joined by Vicki Arroyo of the Pew Center of Global Climate Change. She thinks the fires are related to climate change in that the snow is melting earlier and causing the summers to be drier. Anderson wonders what can be done to slow down the process. Vicki then starts talking policy and Anderson is like, dude, that's going to take forever with those people. He was thinking more immediate. Vicki says that in the meantime we can do fire supression, which means allowing smaller fires to burn, so that they will supress larger ones.

All this fire talk segways us very smoothly into a "Planet in Peril" promo with Jeff Corwin in Madagascar in search of lemurs. Afterwards, he and Sanjay Gupta join Anderson in the studio. Anderson asks why one species matters and Jeff explains that saving one single species can have a ripple effect on an entire ecosystem. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Sanjay then pipes up about plant's medicinal purposes. Anderson brings up deforestation in the Amazon and Jeff talks a bit about how trees store carbon, which means when they're cut down they're releasing a lot of it, thus contributing to global warming.

Back to the fires now, we have Michael Freeman, Los Angeles County Fire Chief, on the phone. He's at the command post of the Malibu fire and gives us an update.

We then return to the boys in studio and Anderson plays us a snippet of his trip to the doctor to get a body burden test. As it turns out, he tested positive for a bunch of nasty stuff, leaving him fairly alarmed. Sanjay notes that some of what they're seeing is brand new, so no one knows how dangerous some of these chemicals will turn out to be. So um, sleep tight there, Anderson. The three musketeers (they totally need some sort of group nickname--suggestions?) then talk about the Carteret Islands and the bleaching reefs.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" and we're mixing it up tonight with John King. We first learn that Huckabee took first place in this past weekend's values voters summit straw poll. I was wondering why he wasn't doing better with that group. Next, it seems there was another republican debate. Yaaawwwn. Continuing with the republicans, John tells us that Ron Paul has actually received more in contributions from military members than his fellow candidates. Paul, you might remember, is anti war. Interesting. Finally, Bush is asking for more money for Iraq. Didn't we just give him more money? Why do I feel like the college parent whose kid calls home after he blows all his rent money on beer and pizza? Anyway, this new request will put the cost of the war well over $500 billion. John reminds us that pre-invasion, Larry Lindsey estimated the war cost to be between $100 and $200 billion. Of course at the time, Rumsfeld freaked that the figure was way off and Lindsey got kicked to the curb Paul O'Neil-style. Actually, Rumsfeld was right. The figure was way off--just in the wrong direction.

Back from commercial, we get a clip of Larry Himmel from San Diego affiliate, KFMB, reporting on the total destruction of his own home. That was actually pretty sad to watch. We then get updates from Dan in San Diego and Ted in Malibu, with the coverage rounded out with some I-Report pictures. At the very end of the hour, Anderson promises more fire coverage after the break, but then they go to tape, which I find kind of unbelievable. This is actual breaking news, is it not? In all honestly, I've never been that enthralled with fire coverage, but the fact of the matter is it's only eight o'clock in California and there are no doubt people turning to CNN for information. Now they're tuning in to find tape, which they probably assume is live because the average viewer doesn't automatically look for the live bug--not to mention the fact that Anderson actually refers to "live" pictures. At least visually acknowledge that it's tape. Geez. Anyway, all that is no doubt decisions made higher than any one show; it just seems irresponsible to me on CNN's part. The show was just eh for me, but what are you going to do when California is on fire and you have to promo your special? B-

A few words about tomorrow and Wednesday, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to have for you. It won't be a review because frankly I want to enjoy the special and not worry about taking notes. I'll probably just post my thoughts and perhaps some pictures. It seems people are quite fond of those. Heh. We'll see what happens. Be sure to watch and don't forget it starts an hour earlier than normal 360!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pakistan Blast, Wacky Weather, More O.J., Raw Politics, Carteret Islands-PiP, And Hippie Museum (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. Sorry about being so late with this review. I know I gave myself some wiggle room when I included an "ish" with my promise of a Friday posting, but I think even that's gotten away from me. Anyway we're kicking things off with the horrible BREAKING NEWS of a bombing in Pakistan. Anderson Cooper informs us that the Karachi bombing was actually an assassination attempt against former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was returning from exile, and though she is safe, so far 120 others are dead (at the time of this blogging the reported death toll stands at 136). The bombing was caught on tape, which we're shown and Anderson gives us a little refresher on Pakistan: "It's infiltrated by the Taliban and al Qaeda, dotted with terrorist training camps, gripped by fundamentalist fear, run by a dictator, and armed with nuclear weapons." But they're our ally, so . . . yay?

Next up, we have some taped video of Dan Rivers that filmed at the blast site right after it happened. He tells us he can smell the explosives and there are body parts still lying around. Horrible would kind of be an understatement at this point. Dan then joins us live to talk about the security of the motorcade, which obviously wasn't that great. Apparently Bhutto got lucky in that she just happened to go down inside the bus she was riding right as the blast occurred. Otherwise she might be dead right now because she had previously been acting pretty defiant regarding minding her own security. It's great she's not scared off by those that want to harm her, but there's got to be a happy medium.

Moving on now to some discussion with Peter Bergen, Reza Aslan, and Nic Robertson. Now that is what I'm talking about. If only something didn't have to blow up for us to get an awesome panel. In terms of who did the deed, Peter tells us it could have been a number of people: al Qaeda, Ramzi Yousef, the Taliban . . .you get the idea. Bhutto has the same enemies we do. Anderson then has Reza explain a bit what Bhutto's whole deal is anyway, since if you're like me, you really have no idea (hey, I can't keep up with everything). Anyway, she's returning to Pakistan after an eight year self-imposed exile following corruption charges and her goal is to be prime minster. Apparently she's trying to work out some power sharing deal with Musharraf, though I admittedly don't understand the specifics.

Nic then talks about the stability of Pakistan or rather, the current lack thereof, given the growing strength of the radical Islamists. But remember, Pakistan is our ally and Iraq is the problem. Because Bush said so. Peter also pipes up about the new violence in the country, but then brings us the bright side (though relayed with the same intense face) that the Islamists actually aren't all that popular in Pakistan. Anderson wonders what will happen if free elections don't take place. Reza thinks it would be a disaster and then piggybacks off Peter's previous comments, stating that there's no reason to think Pakistanis would vote for the jihadists in free elections. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

On now to Anderson informing us that Bhutto's father was actually executed by the last Pakistani dictator and then that guy ended up dying under mysterious circumstances himself. Man. "Pakistan, safe to say, does not have a great retirement plan for leaders," says Anderson. Bwah! Yeah, they'd probably rather have a 401K. This intros us into a Peter Bergen piece on Bhutto, who we learn is a pro-West progressive. She's adored by a lot of people, but when she was prime minister she and her husband were accused of stealing money from the treasury. This lead to her exile, but now she's back and trying to strike a deal for power with Musharraf. The Wolfbot had her on his show recently and we're shown a clip. I actually watched this interview, though at the time I don't think I knew exactly who I was watching. Random CNN watching. Heh. After this piece, Peter rounds out this coverage with some in studio talk.

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece on the severe weather that's been hitting the country. Twisters! And unfortunately, two dead here in Missouri. After her piece, we've got Chad Myers for the latest . . .and I'm sort of in the red box again. God dammit. After we saw Chad the last time, my shutter blew off, so I'm not pleased. He then tells us about a bunch of tornado watches that are going to last all night, which sucks. "So, you're going to go to sleep. You are not going to stay up until 5:00 a.m. So, what do you need to do tonight?" asks Chad. Um, open my window so I can hear the siren? Because that's what I do. Either that, or sit in front of my tv in the middle of the night like a zombie, watching the counties scroll across the bottom of the screen. But in any regard, according to Chad, I am wrong. He then makes me feel guilty for not having a weather radio. Sigh. Chad, I feel your disapproval and I accept it.

Next up, we're joined by Lisa Bloom to talk about OJ. Hey, where's Jeffrey Toobin? Okay 360, I appreciate you positioning the OJ news at a more appropriate place in the broadcast than you sometimes do, and Lisa actually is growing on me, but if you expect me to stomach OJ crap without our crazy-yet-lovable Simpsonologist in residence, well, you've got another thing coming. Hmph. Anyway, I don't know, there's some stuff about guns and then Lisa mentions they have enough stuff to go to trial, which kind of makes me cry inside a little.

Tom Foreman brings us our usual "Raw Politics" and oh lookee here, the GOP pool of 08ers just gone smaller. Buh-bye, Brownback! Even though we hardly knew you, we're really not too sad about that. But Tom notes he won't be going home empty-handed. The "Oval Office" home game, anyone? Next, we learn that almost 50% of the country thinks we're in a recession. But are we in a recession? We are way too obsessed with polls. Tom also tells us that Bush and some republican congress critters continue to hate sick kids. Okay, there's a chance I put an editorial spin on that, but the fact of the matter is the prez vetoed SCHIP and there weren't enough votes for an override, proving once again that Bush's pro-life stance only applies to fetuses and those in vegetative states. Finally, Obama apparently believes that people give him a hard time about not having experience because he looks so young. Or, you know, it's because he doesn't have much experience. But I think at this point all we're looking for is not completely incompetent and/or criminal, so really, it's all good.

Moving on to a Sanjay Gupta "Planet in Peril" promo piece on the Carteret Islands. It's scuba diving Sanjay! He goes down 60 feet to check out the reefs, but it is not good news, people. Sigh. After Sanjay's piece we go back to Chad for more weather and he once again pimps the weather radios. Dude, Chad, you got stock in the company? Kidding. He knows we love his concern.

Our final piece of the night is from Dana Bash on a $1 million earmark for what's being dubbed a "hippie museum." The museum aims to preserve 60's memories and the earmark was requested by New York senators Clinton and Schumer, who defend it as a job creator. Even though pork is plentiful in Washington, the earmark was actually killed in a not at all usual move. Hm. You know, I'm not a fan of pork, but I don't have a huge problem with this museum. It's really not that much money compared to most stuff. And who doesn't love the 60's?

The Shot tonight is a controlled implosion in Atlantic City and then we have blog comments. Anderson also gives us a couple of program notes on stuff that got bumped. I like it when they keep us informed like that. It let's us know that they're actually paying attention. Because sometimes? That's not so clear. In regards to Friday's show, all I have to say is David Copperfield? What the hell? Anyway, the show tonight was good. B+

Friday, October 19, 2007

Men In Black

Hi everyone. Usually I don't do whole posts to pimp something, but today CNN PR sent me a couple of pictures related to the upcoming "Planet in Peril", and since I'm actually really excited about the special, what the heck? Let's get those ratings up for the good stuff and let stupid celebrity crap be a thing of the past! Yeah, that's probably wishful thinking. But anyway, the pictures:

Athlete Lance Armstrong, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper at the premiere of CNN's "Planet in Peril" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 17, 2007 in Hollywood , California .

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, senior executive producer David Doss and Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin at the premiere of CNN's "Planet in Peril" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 17, 2007 in Hollywood , California .

And since I'm already posting pictures, let's go all out, shall we? I'm going to let this be one of the rare occasions that I release the inner fangirl. You have been warned.

Anyway, CNN has been making good use of the interwebs when it comes to giving us goodies for the special. Have you seen the bloopers? Somebody is not a fan of rappelling. And I was actually excited to find this video from the behind-the-sceners. Charlie Moore speaks! You might remember Charlie as the excellent blogger and mysterious producer who sporadically turns up in the periphery of Anderson's shots.

The network has had the photographers working overtime as well. Behold the pretty. A few of my favorites:

To paraphrase presidential candidate (valid only in South Carolina) Stephen Colbert, "Planet in Peril" stars Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, Jeff Corwin, and apparently a lot of tight t-shirts. Oh, how we love the tight t-shirts. If the earth wasn't warming before, it is now. Environmentalism has never been this hot. Ba-da-bum!

Who says you can't look snazzy in the desert?

Doesn't he look perfectly mailable? I want to stick a stamp on his head and send him somewhere. And really, with the flight delays being what they are for lowly passengers, it might be a more enjoyable way to travel.

Aw, adorable. And the polar bear is cute too. (That's Charlie!)

Okay, I'm done. The fangirl is getting locked back up. Watch "Planet in Peril" onTuesday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET/PT). AC360 Review now returns you to your regularly scheduled program of snarky musings about the news, already in progress. Thursday's review will be up Friday-ish.

All pictures except the first two credited to CNN Worldwide – All Rights Reserved 2007©

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Severe Storms, Bush Presser, Airport Pork, Superbug, Meeting Resistance, Iraq Talk, Polar Bears, And Raw Politics (Wednesday's Show)

Hi all. Because I get to work at home tomorrow, you get your Wednesday review earlier than usual. Everybody wins! We're kicking things off tonight with Anderson Cooper telling us there are strong storms wreaking havoc in the center of the country. Wait a minute, I am in the center of the country. Chad Myers then joins us with more, and oh look, my city is partially in a red box. That can't be good. And here I thought it was just raining. As I contemplate whether or not I should actually be watching my local news, Chad fills us in on some tornado sightings. It seems like all this stuff should be over by now, but I probably say that this time every year.

Next up, we have Ed Henry live to report on the press conference today where Bush dropped a rhetorical bomb, which everyone is really hoping doesn't metastasize into real bombs. In regards to Iran, Bush thinks we need to stop them from getting the bomb in order to prevent "World War III." And that little turn of phrase of course made everyone go "whoa!" Although I have to say, I'm just kind of glad that when it comes to World War III, he seems to be landing on the side of anti. Because you never know these days. Anyway, this attention-getting language is all just a way for a lame-duck to stay relevant. Bush is still pledging to handle Iran diplomatically, but as Ed reminds us, that's what he said about Iraq. If we get through 2008 without another war we'll be doing good, people. Anderson then points out that Russia's Putin (and I automatically love any story where Anderson says Puddin, ahem) is mixing things up by meeting with the Iranian prez and basically taking his side on the nuclear issue. "So much for the president looking into his eyes, I guess, and seeing his soul, as he once said about Vladimir Putin." says Anderson. Oh, snap.

On now to a Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on more pesky earmarks--this time related to flight delays. If you flew this summer, well, it probably sucked for you. Flight delays galore, with Newark being the worst. And that's exactly where I'm flying in two weeks. Fabulous. So Drew, being the investigative little journalist that he is, decided to check out what the senate's doing to fix these problems. As it turns out, Massachusetts senators Kerry and Kennedy have gotten $8 million earmarks to replace control towers at tiny little airports that are important to them. How helpful. We're shown the infamous clip of Kerry windsurfing and Eliza has to take a deep breath and remind herself that it is not 2004 and it is no longer necessary to defend the senator against every little thing.

So okay, it looks like a pretty clear case of pork, especially since the FAA says the airports weren't on the priority list. Drew tries to get an interview with Kennedy or Kerry, but shockingly, no dice. Then he just kind of happens to come upon Kennedy and totally sics him in the hallway. No cameras are allowed, so the filming is done far back in a shaky fashion. It looks a little creepy, quite frankly. Kennedy claims the airports are on list, Drew says no. Oh hell. So that went nowhere. This being 360, we're going to need to cross on the other side of the partisan aisle before we're done. Hm. Now, which republican do you . . .why, it's Ted Stevens of course! That's right, everybody's favorite slightly-insane Alaskan just got $3.5 million to build an airport in Akutan, Alaska. Of course there's hardly any people there, but oh, there is Trident Seafoods, a major Stevens contributor. What a coinky-dink. So okay, this guy's done bridges to nowhere, a ferry to nowhere, and now, runways to nowhere. What is with this guy and building transportation for small amounts of people?

Transitioning now to a Jason Carroll piece on a new superbug. Dun dun dun! The deal here is that there's this mutated strain of staph infection that used to mostly be found in hospitals and clinics, but now it seems to be branching out a bit and may have caused as many as 19,000 deaths in 2005, which is more than AIDS. It's serious, but don't freak out, people. It's going to be okay. I don't get why they have to report this stuff like the world is ending (though to be fair to 360, Anderson puts it into some much need perspective with "Raw Data"). The media did the same thing initially with the Avian flu, and now even though it's still very much a threat, we don't hear a peep from them.

For discussion about the superbug, we're joined by, who else, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay tells us this bug is alarming because it doesn't respond well to antibiotics. It's characterized by a wound that doesn't get better and fever, and spread by skin contact or sharing sports equipment. Prevention seems pretty easy, just use common sense and, you know, be clean. Wash your hands kind of seems like a given, but I guess it's not for some people.

In tonight's edition of "What Were They Thinking?" Erica Hill brings us the saga of Ellen Degeneres' dog. You've probably heard about this by now, but for those who like to sleep under rocks, the normally cheerful comedian spent her show absolutely sobbing because of a dog mix up. She had adopted a dog from a rescue group, but when it didn't get along with her cats, she gave it to her hairdresser's daughters. The problem was she didn't read the fine print of the agreement and it turns out giving the dog away was a no no. So the group took the dog away from those poor kids, thus devastating Ellen, and now the group is getting threatened by crazy people. And man, Erica is visibly ticked about the dog. My take? Honestly, I think everybody needs a nap. When it comes to kids and dogs, sometimes rules are meant to be broken. The best part about this segment though is at the end when a dude totally just walks right in front of Anderson's camera. The looks on Anderson and Erica's faces are priceless. They're practically speechless. What was that guy thinking? There you go; there's the segment for tomorrow.

Moving on now to an Anderson piece on a film called "Meeting Resistance" that is currently being screened by the military. The topic is the Iraq insurgency and the goal is understanding to better know thy enemy. The Bush administration has been peddling lies about the insurgency from the beginning (dead enders, last throes), but really what it comes down to is the question of what you would do if your country was invaded and occupied. The film shows that some fight for religion and some fight for national pride, but I'm guessing none of them were fighting because they hated the freedoms of Americans living thousands of miles away. Funny how reality often can't be pigeon-holed into a talking point.

For more on the subject, we're joined by Michael Ware. Aw, no more rugby, I guess. Michael tells us that the mere presence of coalition troops has always been the primary motivating factor for the insurgency and we greatly underestimated their nationalism and feelings of being dishonored. And then of course there was that whole idiotic dismantling of the Iraqi army. Thanks Bremer! Anderson notes that it's been reported that violence is down and asks who is actually still fighting. Michael tells us the big winner is Iran and that al Qaeda might be under pressure, but they were never the big thing anyway. Oh, and that decreased violence? "We herald this in headlines, because it's only down to 30 bomb attacks a month. Can you imagine if there was 30 attacks in Israel every month or America or Australia? Yet, we still call that a victory." Well said, Michael. Well said.

Next up, we have a "Planet in Peril" promo piece from Jeff Corwin, where he and an expert sedate and study a momma polar bear and her cubs. And the cubs are not at all happy about this. Aw. Moving on to Tom Foreman with our "Raw Politics," but I'm going to skip through until the end, which is the best part. Stephen Colbert is running for president! In South Carolina only! Heh. He's got my vote. "His campaign is just for laughs, of course, but so was Tommy Thompson's," says Tom. Ouch. Anderson then notes that he "thinks" he's going to be on "The Colbert Report" on Thursday. And I'll just go ahead and play agent and say, yes, he is correct. As Stephen said on Tuesday's show, "So gentlemen, start your fanfiction now." The Shot tonight is a burning Pope and Erica raises something, but they're screwing with the commercial breaks and I left the room thinking it was over. Whoops. The show was good again. They're on a roll! B+

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Larry Craig Speaks, Political Talk, Primary Date Battle, Evicting Nuns, Raw Politics, And Our PiP Comes Home (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everyone. The broadcast opens with some Larry Craig news. It seems he's decided to get chatty. But before we get to that, Anderson Cooper gives us a little recap of the ever-amusing saga that started in a Minneapolis bathroom. Okay, so, the story begins with Senator Craig foot-tapping his way into a sex sting and then pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, all the while telling no one. When the proverbial, uh, stuff hit the fan, he said he would resign from the senate. Then he said he "intended" to resign. Then he said he'd resign if he couldn't overturn his guilty plea. And when a judge refused to do just that? Well, then he basically said, screw all y'all, I'm staying. NBC's Matt Lauer is the lander of the first post-bathroom interview, and we're played a clip. But, oh noes! Technical difficulties. Damn, and I was all ready with a "you're glib" joke.

With Matt out of commission, we're moving on to second string interviewer Mark Johnson of CNN affiliate KTVB in Boise. In his interview, we learn that Craig is not running for reelection. Gee, I wonder why. They also discuss the media frenzy surrounding the story and Craig plays a tiny little violin as he likens himself to a political hurricane. He's under the impression that "Americans aren't used to this, attack the individual, and keep attacking, and see if you can knock him down or knock her down and knock her out." Dude, what country has he been living in? Yeah, Larry, I mean, it's like that guy that went on Meet the Press and called Clinton a "nasty, bad, naughty boy." Oh, wait. That was you!

After the interview clip, we're joined by Mark, and Anderson points out that it was disingenuous of Craig to complain about the media frenzy when he himself jerked everyone around with the will-he-or-won't-he resignation game. Mark tells us that Craig says this is just all about semantics. So I guess it depends on our definition of "intend." We then get a clip of Craig's wife saying that after questioning everything, she's come to the conclusion that her husband was never unfaithful. It might be cliche, but denial isn't just a river in Egypt. Anderson then asks about public opinion in Idaho. Mark tells us that the polls "overwhelming" show the people want Craig to leave. Well, way to listen to your constituents, senator.

At this point, 360 has fixed Matt Lauer, and we go to the taped interview. Matt asks if Craig might be bisexual. But no, Craig is still holding fast to the I-am-not-in-any-way-gay thing. He is very, very not gay. So not gay. He doesn't even like rainbows. Anyway, then Matt tries to get Craig to give us a little Seinfeldian not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that, by asking if being gay would be so awful. But Craig very snottily informs us that he does not agree with the lifestyle. Actually, most of what he says is in a kind of snotty tone. You'd think a dude that got caught tapping for sex in a public bathroom might have a better attitude if he wants to keep his job.

For the political angle, we're joined by Candy Crowley and she tells us what we already know: the republicans are not pleased. Meanwhile, the democrats think Minneapolis bathrooms are like the best thing evah! What's funny, is that the republicans aren't totally freaking over this because they already suck in so many ways without Craig. Anderson brings up all the talk of ethics investigations and wonders if that's going nowhere now. Oh, Anderson. That was so never going to happen. Candy explains that any investigation gives the story new legs and the republicans just want it to fall down the memory hole. And it most likely will, but man, it's fun now.

Moving on now to a Candy Crowley piece that asks for the 387th time if Hillary Clinton is electable. She's softening her personal image, but toughing up on policy. Blah, blah, blah. We also learn that Iowa is running really close between Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Also, Thompson is peetering out (shocker!) and Giuliani is still the republican front-runner. Nothing really all that interesting here. It still feels too early to me.

For more political talk, we've got John King, Paul Begala from the left, and J.C. Watts from the right. Anderson begins by asking if a Clinton nomination is inevitable. Paul says it's likely, but still too early to say inevitable. Well, good. Because otherwise what's everybody going to do for all the time left? Anderson wonders if the GOP is excited to have a Clinton nomination, given how much their base, well, hates her. J.C. points out that Clinton actually energizes both bases. Plus, she's got Bill. After Anderson notes that Clinton is in a statistical dead heat with Giuliani, John points out that she has a problem with independents.

Then Anderson asks what Obama is doing wrong. What kind of question is that? It's not like he's tanking McCain-style. But if you think the question was bad, wait until you hear the answer. "I think the problem he's got is, he's too ethereal. He's too cerebral. You know, I -- I'm probably a pretty typical Democrat, in that I don't really like smart people very much," says Paul. What. The. Hell? This explains a lot about you, Paul. Okay, he's trying to explain that Obama needs to become more accessible, but what a stupid and insulting way to say it. Anyway, then J. C. talks about Giuliani and how he doesn't have a lock on the nomination because the moderate republicans have never done well in the general election.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" piece on what Anderson calls "a kind of calendar cold war." Okay, so this whole primary thing is totally out of control. New Hampshire is always the first primary, but this time around, no one knows exactly when that will be because it's being kept on the down low due to other states trying to cut in line. Joe and crew wonder "who appointed New Hampshire king of the presidential primary calendar anyway?" And as it turns out, New Hampshire did. Well, that's a pretty good system they got going for them. I think that's how Bush got to be king too. But the politicians love it because the state is easy to get around and practice retail politics--you know, all those diner visits. The thing is, when it comes to race and ethnicity, New Hampshire isn't exactly a snapshot of the rest of the US. This is just fine and dandy for racist, er, anti-immigration advocate, Tom Tancredo. Not too many Mexicans in those diners. After Joe's piece, there's a bit more political discussion.

Transitioning now to a "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Jason Carroll on the eviction of some elderly nuns. Yeah, you read that right. We all know about the catholic church's problem with pedophile priests. Well, now they have to pay settlements to some of the victims and in order to come up with the money, they've decided to sell some of their property. One piece of property the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is selling is the Bethany Convent in Santa Barbara, home of elderly nuns who minister to the "poorest of the poor." So to recap, in order to pay for a crime that they enabled by turning their backs for decades, the catholic church has decided to kick out elderly nuns that help poor people. That sounds too over-the-top to even be real, doesn't it? This story would be more believable as some kind of "Daily Show" skit. Unfortunately, it is real. The Archdiocese spokesman pooh poohs the situation, like the nuns are just switching houses, when really they're being reassigned. The sisters have been order not to speak to the media, so Jason and crew "went straight to the top." God?!! Okay, no. Actually they tried to get a hold of the "mother general," but she's in Guatemala and CNN couldn't reach her. Anyway, a kind of hardcore "Save Our Sisters" group has formed, but other than that, it sounds like the nuns are on their own. Unless someone would care to come through with a miracle.

It's time now for our Tom Foreman fix of "Raw Politics" and he begins by telling us that the democrats are none to pleased that hate crime charges are not being brought in the "Jena Six" case. Then there's some fundraising talk and from there we learn that Bush met with the Dalai Lama, but on the down low. Why? Because China is ticked at him for promoting freedom in Tibet. So, we need to fight for freedom in countries that explode, but we're too afraid to even be seen with leaders that fight for it in other countries? Makes sense to me. Finally, Paul Simon is getting on the SCHIP bandwagon, helping democrats push for children's health care. "There must be 50 ways to dis the president," says Tom. Ha! Oh, and David Crosby and Graham Nash think Bush is a dictator, leading Tom to say, "So what you're saying is our White House is not a very, very, very fine house." Grooan. Yep, with these clowns in the White House, it's getting hard to teach your children well. Ba da bum.

Normally I hate the graphics, but as Anderson throws to commercial, he teases the Larry Craig story and it's accompanied by "Stance and Deliver." Totally cracked me up. Anyway, moving on to a "Planet in Peril" promo piece, where we go with Anderson to the doctor for a body burden test. This requires a blood draw, which Anderson is none too thrilled about. Can't say I blame him on that one. I just had blood drawn last week, and amused my drawer by my proclamations that I was "not looking" and then a minute later, "still continuing not to look." They're taking almost a pint of Anderson's blood to check for chemical exposure and afterwards he inquires about people passing out from having so much blood drawn. He may be a small guy, but I really don't think there's any danger of that. Me on the other hand, well, after my incident years ago when I puked in the blood bank's towel, I was told not to come back. Heh. But they get Anderson some OJ (the beverage; not the murdering ratings-spiker) and he's good. In the piece we also meet a family who got tested. So, what were Anderson and the family's results? Tune in next week. Oh, it's a cliffhanger!

The Shot tonight is Anderson on Sesame Street. And yes, it's kind of adorable. It was also the shot about a year ago (there's a picture!) when he first filmed the segment. "It was a good time," says Anderson. "Even though they treated me like trash, quite frankly." Ha ha. Wow 360, the show was good again. I'm shocked and currently knocking on wood. A-

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iraq News And Al Qaeda Talk, Republican Infighting, OJ Update, Katrina Contract Corruption, Raw Politics, And PiP Amazon Coverage (Monday's Show)

Hi guys. Happy new week. We start things off with Anderson Cooper bringing us some good news out of Iraq. Um, what? Does not compute. Snark system malfunctioning. Anyway, apparently deaths are down. Great! Let's declare mission accom--well, let's just say we're done and go home. Oh, but not so fast. Jim Clancy is here live in Baghdad to totally rain on my very short-lived parade. He doesn't think we should count al Qaeda out and seeing as though he is actually in the explodey country, I think I shall believe him.

Next up we're joined by Peter Bergen, who has been away much too long. But it's not as though he's been using his time to catch up on "Desperate Housewives." Peter has a new piece in the "New Republic" titled "War of Error: How Osama Bin Laden Beat George W. Bush." And with that title, I hope he's installed a hate mail filter on his email. Because you know it's coming. Peter thinks that any kind of declaration of victory actually makes al Qaeda stronger. Dang, there goes my plan. He notes that yes, suicide attacks are down, but this is after they had increased. So, basically this is 1984 and they're messing with your chocolate rations. Double plus good! Anderson then asks whether or not we should make something of the timing of this new less-violence thing because after all, a general just came out and said the war had no end in sight. This is a most excellent question. "I'm not going to go there, Anderson," says Peter. Well! Shut that down, didn't he? No soup for you! We like them skeptical in these here parts, Peter.

On now to a piece of tape with Anderson, Peter, and "The Looming Tower" author Lawrence Wright. And they're sitting at the table! You know the one; the table that produced the awesome Michael Ware four wars interview. Seeing that table just made me very excited. I am such a geek. Anyway, Lawrence explains that al Qaeda used to want us out of Saudi Arabia, but after we left they still attacked. Basically there's no way to negotiate with them because they just want everyone to convert to Islam. And, um, sorry, we won't be doing that. Peter tells us that al Qaeda is still thinking big and are not in any way on the run. As for Bin Laden (that guy we keep not catching), Lawrence thinks he's still pretty important. After the discussion, Anderson notes that they'll be airing more of the conversation later. Yay! I know, I know, I'm a geek.

Transitioning now to John King in the studio and he intros a piece on how the Republicans are ripping each other apart. Ooh, I'll get the popcorn, you grab the drinks. Okay, so Thompson popped Giuliani over abortion. Then Giuliani fought back by crying 9-11--no wait, actually this time he cried "Reagan." Romney also got in on the Giuliani fisticuffs, but McCain decided to pretend like he was the one that got hit. Because I guess he's bored all alone on that straight-talk express--I don't know. So McCain swings at Romney and in the end they all have black eyes. After that ridiculousness, we have John and David Gergen for discussion. The Gerg explains that there are several strains of Republicans and apparently Bush just can't keep them together. Aw, and I thought he was a uniter.

In tonight's edition of "What Were They Thinking?" Tom Foreman brings us the tale of a hunchbacked almost-baby stealer. Don't ask me. I just blog what they report. Apparently this woman, with a hunchback, tried to steal a baby and other shoppers stopped her. Anyway, moving on to Anderson giving us the biggest grin ever as he introduces our "resident expert in all things Simpson." Yep, it's OJ time with Jeffrey Toobin and he tells Anderson he actually has a PhD in Simpson. Man, what a sad little degree that would be. So okay, they talk about people and things I really could care less about, but Jeffrey notes how highly ironic it would be if OJ got off for the murders (which he believes he committed) and actually was innocent of this latest charge, but got convicted. That would be some awesome, yet delayed, karma. Anderson is all disturbed because his eyes have been opened to the seedy underbelly of the memorabilia world. He wonders if it's the same way for Lucille Ball memorabilia. No, her stuff is squeaky clean, but Vivian Vance? Oh man, watch out. Toobin laughs about Anderson being a "naive guy" and is sorry to disillusion him. I'm telling you, you try to protect them from the world for as long as you can, but sooner or later, there's OJ. Sigh. Heh.

Moving on now to a "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Ed Henry on shadiness that has gone down related to Katrina. I know, try not to be shocked. People in the ninth ward still can't get help, but Bush's housing secretary, Alphonso Jackson, gave out a $400,000 no-bid contract to a golfing buddy lickety-split. Funny how that happens. The little rumble here is that he testified to the senate that he's not involved in contracts. At all. And he challenged them to prove he had been. Oh, Alphonso. Seriously, do these people not watch the news? It's going to come out. CNN tried to get to the bottom of it all, but surprisingly, people are suddenly not so chatty. But whatever happens, don't cry for Alphonso. Rumor has it he's got big opportunities in the private sector, anyway. Ain't Washington grand?

Tom Foreman has our "Raw Politics" as usual. On the docket tonight we've got Clinton talking up the girl power, Edwards landing another labor endorsement, Larry "wide stance" Craig flipping out over Romney throwing him under the bus (and then apparently backing up and running over him again), and Giuliani gets stumped by a space alien question from a kid. No, the question wasn't about Mike Gravel--but an actual space attack. Ooh, perhaps they are coming to liberate us and we shall greet them with flowers and candy. Tom then whips out a flashlight to really get us in the space attack mood. Because 360 is high tech like that. I think the last time we saw the flashlight was when Erica lost the lights in her studio.

Next up, we have an Anderson "Planet in Peril" promo piece on the Amazon Rainforest, which we learn is actually a danger to our environment. How can this be? Well, carbon is naturally stored in trees and this is released when they're cut down. The forest is a little bit smaller than the continental US and over the past 40 years, 20% has been lost to deforestation. That's a lot of carbon being released. So sad.

After his piece, Anderson pimps his appearance on Conan O'Brien, which I have already seen at the time of this blogging (I also saw Lara Logan on Leno, so I got to see two of "my" reporters making the rounds tonight). It was a great interview and . . . stay away from the plastic surgery, Anderson! That is all. The Shot tonight is the B-boy championship in London. Yeah, I don't know. Looks like break dancing to me. Anderson notes they're busting a move and then wonders if the kids today say "busting a move." Only when we're being sardonic. Or if we spent our high school or college years in the 80's. Anyway, then we've got some blog comments and. . we're out. What a great show. Now why can't they all be like that? See, I don't even mind the OJ because it was prioritized properly--short and after the hard news. A-

Sunday, October 14, 2007

News You Might Have Missed

Hi everyone. Welcome back to my weekly attempt to bring you the news you might have missed. Sorry about skipping Thursday's review. I, um, kind of fell asleep during the show. Whoops. Anyway, a reminder to my readers, I don't blog Fridays. Also, a couple of the following stories might have broken over the weekend:
  • Oh well, what's one more bad idea, right? U.S. military encouraging snipers to lure insurgents using "bait." (This is actually a couple of weeks old, but, well, I missed it.)
  • Freedom of the press: apparently not one of the freedoms we're bringing to Iraq. The military has returned a tape and memory card that they seized from an AP cameraman following an attack.
  • Well, this time we know it wasn't Rove. The Bush administration leaked a Bin Laden tape to the media, ruining a private security company's surveillance operation.
  • And Bill O'Reilly said he liked it. Shawn Hornbeck was forced to make a deal for his life because Michael Devlin was going to strange him to death. And that's why he didn't leave. This isn't the kind of story I would normally link to, but it's local for me and I still get hits on the subject.
  • A reminder that life continues to be unfair. This isn't really news you might have missed, but rather a plea for help. The Joseph family lost their lower ninth ward home during Katrina and had almost rebuilt, when they lost it for a second time by a fire after someone ignited a stolen car in their yard. Their Road Home money is gone. Please help. If you can't donate money, a little PR on your blog, MySpace, and all the rest would be great too.
  • When punditry and reality collide with heartbreaking and uplifting results. I make no secret that I really do not like Christopher Hitchens, but this is a must read. We've lost over 3,800 soldiers in the Iraq war so far. Mark Daily was one of them. This is his story.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cleveland School Shooting, Raw Politics, Joe Cool Sails Back Into The News Cycle, And Michael Stipe Interview On Our PiP (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everyone. We're kicking things off with the BREAKING NEWS that there's been a school shooting in Cleveland. Another school shooting. Man, remember when kids used to deal with their issues by beating the crap out of each other? Those were the days. Anyway, 14 year old Asa Coon opened fire on his teachers and classmates, shooting four, but killing no one except himself. Susan Roesgen has more for us. Hey, did you hear Susan moved from New Orleans to Chicago? I hope this doesn't mean that bureau is slowly being dismantled. Correspondents move around all the time, but it's been a while since we've gotten coverage from there. Back to the shooting, we learn that the school had roving metal detectors, but none on this day. Also, there were apparently plenty of warning signs, as there are always are, hindsight being 20/20. Oh, and we get the obligatory Marilyn Manson mention. These things are sadly becoming formulaic.

Next we get some reaction from the neighbors, who are kind of freaking out. Then we hear from local reporter Matt Stevens, who Anderson Cooper tells us has "been canvassing the neighborhood." I'm not really sure how to take that. Matt talks a lot about the criminal history of Asa's older brother. Also, Asa apparently ran with some sort of gang, but this is Cleveland, not Compton, so it's hard to know how that weighs in. After Matt, Anderson talks with Cleveland police spokesman Thomas Stacho, who either is unable to answer or unable to confirm everything that Anderson throws at him. Why they ask these guys on this early when they know they can't tell them anything, I do not know. This interview is followed by one of the 911 calls. Oh yes, we've got 911 calls already.

Before throwing out to commercial, Anderson gives us some "Raw Data" on SuccessTech, which is the name of the school where this all went down. Sort of a tongue twister. Anyway, it's a good school, so everybody's all shocked. But wasn't Columbine a good school? Everybody's always saying how they can't believe it could happen here--no matter what the school they're talking about. But man, my old high school? I could believe it. When I was there they used to hold least-amount-of-fights contests among the classes. Nobody ever won because there were too many fights. This was BEFORE shooting up your classmates became the new thing. And people wonder why our childrens ain't learning.

Anyway, then regular viewers get to watch Anderson's interview with Evan Ramsey for the 789th time. Evan's the dude who shot people thinking they'd just get back up because he based everything he knew about life and death on video games. Or so he says. I totally don't believe him. Following that, we have some discussion with Jack Levin of Northeastern University, who talks a bit about how teenagers don't understand consequences like adults do. He also notes they don't like to snitch, which Anderson predictably jumps on, because he's done all that "stop snitching" reporting. There's another 911 call and then we hear from student Michael Brown (you think he has to put up with "Brownie" jokes?) via phone. A phone that sounds like it's under a blanket. Not much of note, but it sounds like there was some confusion with their coding system. Thus endeth the school shooting coverage, which seemed to be begging to be condensed.

Transitioning now to our nightly dose of "Raw Politics" from Tom Foreman. First up, Jimmy Carter is opening up a can of whoop-ass on the White House and calling them out for their use of torture. Then Tom tells us that the draft-Gore people have themselves whipped up into a frenzy. Run Al, run! We also learn that Laura Bush is speaking out against the regime in Burma. Whoa, I agree with a Bush. Somebody better make a record of this.

On now to the return of the Joe Cool story. So those two dudes found floating on the life raft? They're getting charged with murder. This is not surprising given what we already know. But whatever. I'm over this story. Actually, I was never, um, under it.

Okay, it's time for the good stuff. Tonight 360 is debuting the REM song "Until the Day is Done," which they're using as part of "Planet in Peril." In a blog post by 360 Executive Producer David Doss, we learn that bringing REM and PiP together was not as easy as first thought. See, they'd worked with Michael Stipe before and knew he was totally down with environmental awareness, so David and PiP Executive Producer Charlie Moore decided to take this information to the suits over at Warner Music Group, and give them a pitch. They figured since Time Warner owns CNN, the synergy Gods were smiling on them and this was all going to be easy-peasy.

But as they sat in the exec's office, they soon found themselves being looked at as "rubes." It seems they had made a "total hash" of the situation because, well, Time Warner actually sold Warner Music Group in 2003. So no synergy and not so easy-peasy. Sometimes in life though, things work out, and now David, Charlie, and the rest of 360 are very "jazzed" to bring us this really nice video. Next time Charlie and David go visit the suits, perhaps they will spend a few minutes with the Google beforehand. After all, the Google is your friend.

Also, I actually knew Time Warner sold Warner Music Group. I learned it by watching the show. Back in April during the Imus debacle, Anderson made the assumption Time Warner owned Warner Music Group and he was corrected on air by guest Roland Martin. (I have no idea why I remember this stuff.) David never said when exactly they went to the execs (he just said early in the shooting), so it's very possible that all went down before April and then I guess maybe Anderson wasn't in the loop for that part of the production? Or maybe he was and he just, I don't know, suffered a head injury that day? The speculative possibilities go on and on. All I know is that if David and Charlie went to the suits after April then they could have spared themselves the embarrassment of being "rubes" by simply watching their own show. And that's hilariously ironic to me, though probably not to them. Heh. Eh, all's well that ends well, right? The footage of the documentary looks amazing.

After showing us the video, we're joined by Michael Stipe for discussion. Michael tells us he wanted to be a part of the project because he believes we're at a point of crisis and he hopes the media can focus on the subject long enough that the public will hold policy maker's feet to the fire. Anderson notes that there's an argument that there's been too much emphasis on little solutions, like light bulbs. Michael thinks that emphasis needs to be put on voting for people who will enact good environmental policies and supporting companies that are environmentally responsible. He notes the company's policy should be out of a "real" concern for the environment. I'm assuming he's referring to the fact that it's become trendy now for companies to go Green, but sometimes they're not doing as much as they could. Anyway, after a quick jaunt through the interwebs, I found this site called Support Green Companies. It's not quite as substantive as I would have hoped, but it looks like a great jumping off point to find Green information.

It is at this point in the show that the Michael interview ends, but if you watch the PiP video online (linked above), there's more Michael afterward. And dang if they didn't cut out the best part. So continuing from the online stuff, Michael talks about how the media tends to focus on something for just a while (No! Really?) and then comes up with easy ideas that really only leave people feeling frustrated. He believes we really need to consider our policies both nationally and internationally. Anderson says that one scientist they talked to believes that nothing short of a major mobilization of society is going to put a dent in CO2 emissions. Michael's not sure if the political will is there for something like that, so that's why it is up to the public and the media to keep focused and "not turn away the first time Britney does something stupid." Ha!

Well, Michael and I are definitely on the same page. And Michael is quick to point out he's not referring to Anderson. Heh. Pssst, Michael, he totally led with Britney one night. Just thought you should know. Although really, 360 has been much better than most when it comes to reporting on global warming, and that was way before PiP. No fake balance! Anyway, Michael talks about how there are a lot of people out there that practice the art of distraction, so that we're focused on stupid surface stuff and not the real meat of the issues. He wants the media to step up and cut through the crap. Me too, please. Michael is fed up with people who still refer to global warming as fake science. Many of these people I might point out, coincidentally, receive money from Exxon-Mobil. Hmm. Anderson notes that actually 90 percent of scientists agree on the global warming issue and that's a very high figure, so it's surprising to him to hear people say it's a hoax and not happening. And yet, if Anderson's last comment made air, he would be getting attacked by the Righties right now. Expect the documentary to get trashed by the usual suspects. But pay them no mind 360. It looks like this project will be something that should make them proud.

No Shot tonight. The show was just okay. I really like the PiP stuff, but the shooting coverage went on forever with not much information. C
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com