Thursday, October 04, 2007

California Sinkhole, South African Trapped Miners, Questionable Guatemalan Adoptions, Airport Death Update, And More Burma Coverage (Wednesday's Show)

Hello all. Tonight Larry King continues his tradition of the amusingly awkward handoff by informing us that he and Anderson Cooper sat across the dining room from each other earlier. So what, did they just stare at each other? Inquiring minds want to know! Anyhoo, we kick off the broadcast with the BREAKING NEWS that the ground is eating California homes. Massive sinkhole and landslide. We get some pretty amazing pictures of the scene and Kara Finnstrom joins us live with the latest. Apparently people have known there was a stability problem for a while. In fact, last night, consultants advised four of the homeowners not to sleep in their homes. And, hey, guess what homes have been destroyed in this incident? Yup, those four. I think those consultants have earned their money. Kara also explains that the problem is that all these houses were built into the side of the mountain, by way of what's called "cutting" and "filling." It's not the best way to put up a bunch of expensive houses.

Next up, we have some scary craziness from South Africa. Robyn Curnow joins us live from the scene to report that 3200 miners have been trapped underground for about 18 hours. (Note: at the time of this blogging they have all been rescued--yay!) I'm completely boggled by the number. 3200?! Do we even have mines in the US that would hold that many people? Maybe we do; I really know nothing about mining. Also, (and allow me to go all PR on you for a second) this story illustrates one of things I like about CNN. They've got people all over the world ready for when news breaks. But one wishes they would also use these people more when news isn't necessarily breaking (and not just on CNNi). I know, I know. God forbid they take up the Britney-OJ-Paris-Anna-Nicole time. BTW, I wonder if Robyn is Jeff Koinange's replacement or if that spot is still unfilled.

Transitioning now to a "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Harris Whitbeck and producer Rose Arce that Anderson says "may shock" us. Again, with the shocking. Okay, so this is all about some possibly shady goings-on with Guatemalan adoptions. Lawyers for American agency Casa Quivira have been charged with child abduction. The belief is that mothers are having kids just to give them up for the money and other mothers are being coerced into the adoptions. Essentially baby trafficking. Casa Quivira, of course, denies the charges, but the US government has asked Americans to stop adopting from Guatemala.

Harris and crew search for the mother of one particular baby we met earlier in the piece to see why she gave her up for adoption. But the address given to them by Casa Quivira doesn't seem to exist. Then the agency produces the mother, who sits down for an interview, accompanied by a woman she says is her translator. According to Harris, the woman doesn't seem to recognize the baby and then after she says she gave the girl up because she was too poor, her "translator" coaxes her to say she took no money and wants the baby back with Casa Quivira. Uh huh. For now, all the babies from the agency are in a foster home. That's sad. Also? The new shorter commercials ensure that pieces like this get chopped in two. That's annoying.

Continuing with this story (or should I say, giving it a 360?), we're joined by Casa Quivira director Cliff Phillips. Anderson immediately starts by calling him on the bogus address and stuff they gave Harris and crew. In regards to the address, he passes the buck onto the family court. But Anderson ain't having it. He points out that it's the agency's lawyers that find the women, so they should know where they live. Cliff disputes this, saying the mothers come to them with documents generated by the Guatemalan government. Anderson then tries to get him to confirm that there is no government oversight, but no dice. Anderson next points out the differences between Guatemala and China adoptions (China? Oversight. Guatemala? Much faster). Cliff then gets his privatization-advocacy on, saying adoptions shouldn't be under state control and Guatemala is more efficient, and hey, the country is broke and can't take care of their own people. Um, if a country's wealth was an indicator of how well it takes care of its people, New Orleans ninth ward wouldn't be rotting right now. Anderson points out that there are international standards for adoptions, but I doubt Cliff is a fan of those.

Moving on, we have an interview with Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan Donaldson Adoption Institute. Adam is a strong supporter of government oversight. He notes that international adoption is a system filled with money that only now is being looked at more closely after years of not paying attention. And money plus neglect equals shady stuff going down. Anderson feels bad for the parents who want to adopt (they've been emailing him), but Adam notes that the true victims are the children. He points out that there are children in Guatemala who need homes and now with this controversy they're suffering. Man, money corrupts everything.

Transitioning now to a Joe Johns piece that updates us on the case of the woman that died at the Phoenix airport. Okay, if you were like me and wondering how the hell someone strangles themselves with handcuffs, well, you can scratch all that because we have ourselves a new theory: positional asphyxia. This can result from getting tackled and having your hands cuffed behind your back . . .which is pretty much exactly what those two witnesses described from last night's broadcast. It's pretty horrible, actually. The person can't breath, so they push up and then the cop thinks they're resisting and pushes down harder. Me thinks this is not over.

Tom Foreman has our "Raw Politics" as usual, but nothing caught my eye, so let's move on to the Burma coverage, shall we? In an Anderson piece we get a little Burma 101. Okay, so the people in power today have ruled since 1988. That year there was a peaceful uprising that was brutally clamped down and 3,000 people died. A year later they changed the country name from Burma to Myanmar, but the US and others refuse to recognize the change. A general named Than Shwe leads the regime and he has control of 400,000 troops. Burma is one of the poorest countries in Asia, but that didn't stop Than Shwe from throwing a fancy wedding for his daughter. In 1990, Burma held free elections, but when the junta lost to pro-democracy activist Aung Sung Suu Kyi, she was imprisoned and has been under house arrest ever since. I think they need to look up the meaning of "free elections."

So anyway, great piece. We need more of this kind of stuff. But did we have to wait until now? What was happening in Burma was in the news for a long time before 360 covered it. I even had it in my "News You Might Have Missed" post before 360 jumped on board. I know there were no pictures then. Television is a visual medium and you need pictures, but hell, think outside the box. They could have done a piece like this weeks ago and used Anderson's 1988 footage for b-roll (labeled of course) if it came to that. Just saying. After Anderson's piece, he talks to Shari Villarosa, acting U.N. ambassador to Burma, by phone. We learn that things are horrible and horribly creepy. People are being taken away in the middle of the night--possibly thousands. Anderson wants to know what we can do. Shari then talks a long time, but doesn't really give us anything actionable. He notes the news cycles, so I guess our job is to just keep the story alive.

Gary Tuchman has our headlines tonight and people are already talking about Christmas! Gah. "I'm not sure I'm ready," says Anderson. Ditto. The headline was that some popular toys might be sold out weeks before the holiday. Oh, and now I'm having Tickle Me Elmo flashbacks. Working retail at Christmas is like Dante's Seventh Circle of Hell. But I don't do that anymore, so, deep breath, all is well. The Shot tonight is video of Princess Diana on the night she was killed. Oh, kinda creepy and sad. That was a creepy/sad Shot. The show was good. Nice investigation into the adoptions. B


Anonymous USpace said...

Thanks for helping! FREE Burma!!!

Bush slammed the UN and the rulers of Myanmar in his UN speech last week. The only country that has any influence over Myanmar is China, and they can't and won't push too hard. There is too much Oil & Gas there that they need.

The UN must do something, but they never use military force to fight.
That is a huge problem.

Illegal drug and ruby fortunes are a BIG part of this too.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
complete narco states

criminals in power
loving the corrupt drug war

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
shoot peaceful protesters

calling for democracy
which you must never allow

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
keep trying communism

you can never KILL too much
pursuing Utopia...


2:00 AM  

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