Friday, March 27, 2009

Day Three Of Live Coverage From El Paso, Fargo Flooding, And Obama's Plan For Afghanistan/Pakistan

Hi everybody. I'm kinda tired tonight, so I think I'm just going to do a semi bare bones version of a review. Just call it Slacker Friday. We kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS that Fargo, North Dakota, is having a bummer of a time lately. The Red River is set to crest maybe in as little as a few hours and the sandbags and dikes holding the water back are straining under the pressure. We go live to Reynolds Wolf, who appears to be standing in the water and he explains that people are still sandbagging their little hearts out, trying to save the city. Good luck, Fargo.

We're back to Anderson Cooper's live shot in El Paso now, though he appears to have chosen a different location than the last couple days. He does a little of his fast-talking thing and then throws us to more of that interview that he did with the mid level drug cartel dude, who I have named "CD." Most of this is stuff we saw yesterday, but I don't remember CD telling us that a $10,000 bribe is usually enough to corrupt a cop. Of course, that doesn't mean that Mexican cops are just all about money because as CD points out, "if they don't accept the money, then they will accept a bullet in their head."

Moving on now to an Anderson piece that is all about those in Mexico who are simply disappeared--and there are many. The 6500 number of those who have been killed corresponds only to the bodies they've been able to find. For example, there's one guy who claims to have dissolved 300 bodies in acid, which, just...God. Anderson goes to the outskirts of Juarez where shallow graves were found recently when excavators saw a foot sticking up from the ground. The victims were never identified, and apparently, that's pretty common.

Juarez mayor Jose Reyes says that about half of the bodies found in the city last year were never claimed, and therefore buried in mass graves. Anderson takes us to where the unclaimed lie. "There are no tombstones, no names, just these metal grave markers with serial numbers indicating how many people are buried in each plot," he tells us. It's sad because you know they can't all be hardened drug criminals--there are innocent people in there. The piece ends with Anderson telling us that dozens of more communal graves have already been anticipation of what's to come.

Transitioning back to Reynolds Wolf now and he intros us into a piece in which we learn that thousands are evacuating. We also get to see a lot of people working together to protect their homes. I hope they succeed. Hey Fargo, at least you guys stayed out of the sub prime mess, right? Silver lining and all? Yeah, I know, Mother Nature sucks sometimes.

Moving on to a clip of President Obama talking about his plan to defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan (more troops and civilian advisers). Anderson then explains further and we go to Peter Bergen for analysis. Peter thinks the plan for Afghanistan is "excellent," but he's skeptical about Pakistan because Pakistan itself doesn't even have a strategy. That's a problem given that Pakistan is pretty much the most important factor here. Anderson then notes the more troops and asks, "how does this not become a quagmire?" I have to say, when I heard him ask that I made an audible shocked noise. Holy leading question, Batman! But anyway, Peter explains that this is no Vietnam because the Afghan people actually still like us pretty much. Eh, give them time. Kidding.

Coming back from commercial break, we're played a Mexican song, and as I'm wondering if 360 has lost their damn minds, Anderson explains that it's about drug traffickers and very popular in Mexico. Oh. Okay then. After that, Anderson gives us a little tour of the fence near them. This one is different than last night, in that it's actually easy to climb. It's also apparently easy to cut, because we're shown a section that border control has had to re-weld. Geez, there has to be a better way.

Tom Foreman at his wall now, educating us on the cartels. Then we're back to the interview with CD talking about where the cartels operate and violence spilling across the border. After that, we have Tom again, this time showing us a map of all the active cartel cells in the U.S. I couldn't tell for sure, but it looks like my city has one. Yay? This was actually pretty interesting. It seems the cartels don't do the dealing themselves, but instead act as wholesalers and leave the street selling to U.S. gangs. Also, meth isn't as prevalent in the northeast because the Colombian cartels still control that area and want to push their own products, i.e. cocaine/heroin. That's craziness. I knew illegal drugs were a business, but man.

On now to discussion with FBI special agent David Cuthbertson and counterterrorism analyst Fred Burton. They talk violence and I think I'm going to skip most of this, though I found David's story about the Santa hat (they put it on a body) particularly disturbing.

As we come back from commercial, we're assaulted with what can only be described as an insane graphic. They've been using versions of it throughout, but that We've been talking about drugs; I hope no one high was watching--they're probably cowering in fear right about now. Anyway, up next is a John Zarrella piece, which can be filed under "sadly ironic." See, this guy Felix Batista went missing from a Mexican restaurant this past December. What does Felix do for a living? Kidnapping consultant. In fact, he was in Mexico to attend a seminar on how not to get kidnapped. My head really wants to explode right now. There's video of Felix getting into a car, but his family is convinced he did so under duress. Hopefully they'll find him alive.

The final piece of the night is from Randi Kaye. Yes, it's a piece, 360. They're calling it the "shot" like we're not going to notice they just ran a whole fluffy package on some movie producer's unbelievably expensive house. Oh, those kids. Anyhoo, not much to see here. Candy Spelling, wife of the deceased Aaron, is "downsizing" from her $150 million dollar home to a more, ahem, modest $47 million condo. All I can think about is how much it must cost to heat that thing.

That about wraps it up. Goodbye and good luck to Ashley Corum, who I think worked in the control room, and who is apparently leaving the show. The second hour tonight was a Money Summit. I didn't watch, but my guest blogger Arachnae did. You might remember she's (both of us, really) had some, uh, issues with CNN's economic coverage. But according to her, the special was, "really quite good." So hey, there ya go. These last few days have actually been, "really quite good." Tonight was probably the weakest of the three, but it's Friday. Whaddaya gonna do? I'm not sure they were even initially going to do a live show tonight. So anyway, I hope they go home, rest up, warm up (Anderson was sporting a wee bit of a Rudolph nose), and hit us on Monday with some more quality. Fingers crossed.


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