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Not A Date Movie

March 26, 2006 at 2:08am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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The Road to Guantanamo. Just saw this one. This has been in general distribution through Europe in various mediums and available on the internets (legally and illegally) recently, and it was announced just last week that there will be a U.S. theatrical release too. There aren’t any spoilers here. It’s based on the nightmarish experiences of the “Tipton Three” - three young Brits who got rounded up by Afghan forces during the war and ultimately ended up in Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta. These guys were treated like dogs. At the movie’s conclusion, the filmmakers ask a good question: Why is it that hundreds of people still in detention have yet to be charged?

Good Podcasts?

March 24, 2006 at 1:58am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Since I have taken to driving to Omaha/Council Bluffs often due to a current work project, listening to good podcasts has really helped make all that highway time go by faster. A few I really like currently are:

Inside Europe by Deutsche-Welle Radio. This is a weekly episode usually about 50 or so minutes long. They tend to cover about 4-5 or so different topics per show “at length.” Recent topics they have examined include the EU’s response to the Hamas election win, the legacy of Slobodan Milosevic, and the Russia/Ukraine gas dispute. Their current episode features a story on the French student riots. The topics they cover are all on current political affairs, and are in-depth enough to provide listeners with a general overview of the topic, but not so detailed that you feel lost if you don’t have previous knowledge about the issue they are examining.   

The twice a week Cinecast is made by two young, fast-talking Chicago guys who review both current movies and examine older ones, both well known commercial successes and others that didn’t garner the same level of attention. I haven’t been listening to this podcast that long and haven’t figured out who exactly these guys are, but they obviously watch a lot of movies closely. And they always have some interesting commentary on Keanu Reeves. The discussion is usually in-depth and critical in a thoughtful way, as opposed to being trite or derogatory. In their current episode, they review “V for Vendetta” and offer a preview of their Top 5 dystopian movies. At times however, they tend to talk a little TOO fast.

KQED’s Pacific Time is a short (25 minutes or so) weekly podcast that covers issues pertinent to both East Asia and the US. As opposed to Inside Europe, their content tends to be less political and more the kind of softer “human interest” stories that usually compose the final segment of the evening network news shows. The latest podcast focuses on young, ethnic Cambodians who were raised in the US but deported back to Cambodia for committing felonies state-side because they didn’t have citizen status, and how they are coping with living back in Cambodia - a nation they are unfamiliar with. For more of a political podcast (in English), the Asia-Pacific podcast from Australia is a good one (available as a daily or as a weekly review of major stories).

KCRW’s Politics of Culture can be a total hit or a total miss depending on your interests. They focus on a single topic per issue, and you’re either into it or you’re not. The “Wilshire Blvd” (the history of LA’s Wilshire Blvd and urban sprawl in LA) and “Story Corps” (a current oral history project) episodes I really enjoyed, so much that I forwarded both episodes on to friends. Can’t say the same for the “American Vertigo” episode (interview with a French intellectual about perceptions of the US) or “The Getty Villa.” The “Politics of Culture” label is a bit misleading in my opinion. Its not really a critical examination of how culture and politics interact, but it is an enjoyable listen most of the time, again, depending on your taste and interests.     

Anyone have other podcasts to recommend (besides The Onion)?

Hussein v. The United Kingdom: Inadmissible

March 15, 2006 at 12:37am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

As a follow-up to a somewhat high-profile yet legally trivial development that came about last summer, today the European Court of Human Rights announced that Saddam Hussein’s case against Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom – all members of the Council of Europe and parties to the European Convention on Human Rights – was inadmissible.

Basically, his argument rested on two doctrines of ECHR case law: 1) Occupying European powers of a foreign nation have convention obligations to uphold human rights in areas they control (although there is debate on whether the occupied area must be within Europe or can be outside of Europe); and 2) European powers in custody of a prisoner bear responsibility for transferring him to a non-European jurisdiction where he may be subject to torture, inhuman treatment or the death penalty. As applied to this case, Hussein was arguing that Iraq was basically under occupation of European Convention signatories who were about to deliver him to Iraqi jurisdiction after a “show trial” that would issue his execution. The legal argument makes sense, but his obvious problem is that it doesn’t fit the factual scenario: He was captured and detained by US troops, not European ones, and the CPA was effectively a US occupation, and not a European one. You can read the entire decision here – its only a few paragraphs.

Interestingly, in its discussion of the legal issues, the Court cited two cases in which it found that the ECHR applies extraterritorially only within Europe – Loizidou v. Turkey and Cyprus v. Turkey (Turkish occupation of Cyprus) – and two cases in which the Convention applied outside of Europe – Ocalan v. Turkey (Turkish abduction of Kurdish leader in Kenya) and Issa v. Turkey (Turkish military incursion against Kurds into Iraq). This seems to suggest that a division may remain within the Court as to whether or not European nations have Convention obligations to uphold human rights outside of Europe.   

Movie Thoughts

March 11, 2006 at 2:23pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Besides Miami Vice, a few other movies coming out later that I am looking forward to include Flags of Our Fathers and its counterpart - Red Sun, Black Sand. The latter two are depictions of the Iwo Jima battle from the US and Japanese sides. It will be interesting to see how Clint will pull this off and if these will be as good as some of his other works created as a director.

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Feel Bad Feel Good TV

March 10, 2006 at 1:51am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

This morning there was something on CNN about the upcoming “Black.White.” show on FX - discussion of which has been burning up forums on the internets for a few weeks now. Basically, this is a reality TV series about racism in contemporary society where a white family “switches races” through the miracle of make-up and a black family does the same to see what its like to be another race. I don’t have FX and won’t have the, uh, benefit of watching this hard-hitting and breath-taking sociological experiment on a regular basis. But I do have a feeling that with the presence of cameras and lights wherever the families go, its bound to be a very realistic depiction of race relations in America. Expert similar themes in new shows this fall season now that “Crash” won the Oscar.

Our Congress in all its Glory

March 10, 2006 at 12:28am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

So looks like Dubai finally gave up on the port security deal today. What a wreck of a situation, and one of the few times where I agreed with one of Bush’s stances. Now I wonder what Lou Dobbs (supreme leader of the resistance and millionaire-spokesperson for blue collar America) or Chuck Schumer will have to talk about now that the deal is dead? I also have an additional question: Can Lou or Chuck name a country in the world (or for that matter a state in THIS country) where there aren’t five or ten guys who want to blow things up in the US?

Crash? Come On…

March 6, 2006 at 5:57pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

I really am surprised that “Crash” won. It really wasn’t that great of a movie at all. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. There was like only one or two scenes that I thought were good (one of them was the Tony Danza scene). A lot of the rest I felt was overly engineered writing with a very minimal “oomph” effect for a movie that was focusing on racism. Gee who’d have known that some LAPD cops are racists? And Ludacris’ script (and acting performace) was ludicrous. “History of Violence” was better than “Crash” in my opinion, but wasnt nominated. Some of the academy’s decisions are just strange…

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