Archive for the ‘Interesting’ Category

More on the al-Marri case from Jane Mayer.  A federal grand jury has indicted Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri for supporting Al Qaeda.  Attorney General, Eric Holder announced his position on handling this case.

“This indictment shows our resolve to protect the American people and prosecute alleged terrorists to the full extent of the law… In this administration, we will hold accountable anyone who attempts to do harm to Americans, and we will do so in a manner consistent with our values.”

Marri will be transferred from the military bring in South Carolina, as soon as Attorney General Holder directs the Secretary of Defense to move him.  Marri’s defense lawyers are concerned the brig has become more preferable to the conditions in an ordinary prison.  As Mayor reported, Marri has been isolated in a separate wing of the brig with access to exercise equipment, a 32-inch television, and a library.

The Obama Administration filed a motion to dismiss the Supreme Court’s hearing on whether the Bush Administration’s actions on Marri’s case was legal.  Marri’s lead defense counsel, Jonathan Hafetz, intends to argue in front of the Supreme Court anyway.


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Oy vey!  The Obama Administration has some very complicated decisions to make.  Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri is the last “enemy combatant” being detained in America.  He is being held at the U.S. Navel Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.   He has never stood trial and has been in isolation for more than five years.  In December of 2001, Marri was arrested in connection to the 9/11 attacks and was about to stand on trial, when President George W. Bush,  ordered the military to seize Marri and hold him until the “war on terror” was over.  Jane Mayer wrote, “The Bush Administration contended that America was in a full-fledged war against terrorists,  and the President could therefore invoke extraordinary executive powers to detain Marri until the end of hostilities, on the basis of still secret evidence.”

Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the constitutionality of Marri’s case.  A lower court ruled the government has the right to detain Marri indefinitely, yet after several appeals, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in April. The Obama Administration is required to file a reply to the challenge by March 23rd.  Hafetz hopes “Obama will withdraw Bush’s executive order labelling Marri an enemy combatant, and issue a new one classifying him as a civilian.”  This allows Marri either to be charged with crimes or to be released.

Marri has spoken through his lawyers and said, “I am not asking to be taken at my word an to be released, although I very much want to go home to my family.  All I am asking for is to be treated like every other person in the United States who is accused of a crime, including terrorism, and to be given a fair trail in an American court.”

Attorney General Eric Holder is reviewing Marri’s case with an “eye toward finding alternative ways to deal with him.”  In the meantime  Marri is the sole prisoner in wing of the brig.  He has three cells, with a personal library, access to a treadmill, a computer, and watches his favorite programs, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, on a 32-inch flat screen television.  However, Marri was on the verge of insanity after he was initially confined in extreme conditions.

The Bush White House also agreed, when transferring Marri to the brig, he could not be charged again with the same crimes  under “double jeopardy.”  Therefore, the Obama Administration will have to use a different set of charges, if they decide to charge Marri in the criminal system.

What an interesting case.   We’ll see how the Obama Administration handles this case.  Much is at stake.  Read Jane Mayer’s article, The Hard Cases.

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It’s a sure bet Slumdog Millionaire will get the Best Picture Oscar.  So what’s so great about this movie?  Well, I can say it’s wonderfully shot and rich.  The movie sort of slams you in the face.  It’s so loud and lively.  It’s about a boy from the slums of Mumbai, India who made it big on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”  The movie constantly cuts back and forth from the boy on the shows ‘hot seat’ to the boy getting interrogated by the police.  The questions on the show are somehow related to the boys past and the police suspect he is cheating.  What a crazy premise for a film.

Anyway, the film is just full of gritty lively scenes.  The opening sequence shows just how massive these slums on the outskirts of Mumbai are.  It makes you wonder just how crowded are these poor places?  It was unbelievable to see people live in those conditions.  The lifestyle looked so real and authentic almost to the point that it was distracting.  I guess that’s the point.  Getting a bit of a culture shock, although I’m sure Indian audiences wouldn’t agree.  But, I’ll admit the cinematography was incredible.  And, for me, the highlight of the film is the music.  A.R. Rahman is new to me, but he has sold more than 100 million albums and has composed music for over 130 films in India.  The film’s music is a blend of classical Bollywood Indian styles with modern electronic fast-paced beats.  The music is moving and loud and puts you on edge.   In all, the movie was a joy to watch.  Although it wasn’t a very beautiful setting, you can see a lot of work was put into this film.  Such as, the huge dance number during the credits of the film.  And yes, it’s during the credits, not during the actual film.  I thought, there would be a few Bollywood dance numbers in the film, but not so much.  Just the one.  It was an incredible shot, filled with extras, but I wish you were able to see the dance.  There were a lot of annoying cuts and it took away from the choreography.  Anyway, we’ll see if all of that hard work filming in India gets them the big prize on Sunday.

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I just saw the movie and wow, what an exciting movie.  I know, sounds weird.  What’s so exciting about a series of interviews?  But, to me, this movie was like watching a good boxing match.  Would the flashy, lightweight, underdog Frost pack a punch to the sly, experienced and dominating Nixon? It seemed that Frost was no match to beat the heavyweight champion. It was interesting to see how these interviews came about.  We get to see just how much the both of them were invested in these interviews.  And they had a lot at stake.
The best scene of  the film was the late night phone call a drunken Nixon made to Frost’s hotel room.  Nixon belittles Frost and tells him how people of higher class tried to bring him down.

“That’s our tragedy, you and I Mr. Frost. No matter how high we get, they still look down at us…No matter how many awards or column inches are written about you, or how high the elected office is, it’s still not enough. We still feel like the little man. The loser.”

Nixon goes on to tell Frost that only one man can get the spotlight.  Only one man will win glory, while the other will lose heavily and will surely see the end of their career.  This revs up Frost and he finally realizes he’s “got to work.”  Suddenly there is a shift in gears and the final interview has dramatic change in tone.  Right before the interview Frost asks Nixon about the phone call, but Nixon responds with, “What phone call?” and suddenly  looks so nervous and on edge.  That scene also put me on edge.  I was just waiting to see the condescending Nixon fall apart on screen.  But when Nixon confessed he “let the American people down,” I actually felt sorry for him.  This man tried so hard to maintain his legacy, but  just couldn’t handle the pressure.  It was a very depressing and disappointing moment in his life.  And it showed on screen.  Although, he was a criminal President, Nixon is still human, and humans make mistakes.  Grant it, it’s no excuse for the way he abused his power, but it was an interesting take on the former President.  A great adaptation for the screen and an enjoy to watch.  Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to see the stage version it at the Ahmanson Theatre in L.A.

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There you go.  Congress has passed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Let’s hope our economy turns around.

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I’ve been catching up on my NPR podcasts — I know, I’m a nerd for having so many NPR podcasts — and in the process I listened to a really interesting interview with Frank Schaeffer, the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. He talked about his life helping his father to politicize evangelical leaders and how he became enamored with the process.

“We gradually, I think, really started to enjoy the feeling that we could not only change America and bring it back closer to God’s intention for Godly societies, whatever the agenda was, but also just the process of meeting with high powered people and being listened to.  And I think really the bottom line is that became addictive, and that addiction meant that we were increasingly telling people how to vote and not really appealing so much to conscious as to political expediency.”

It was interesting to hear his perspective on the right wing’s views towards homosexuality.  He pointed how that he never heard, growing up, that homosexuality was some special case.  Schaeffer believed the right-wing realized this “cultural political stuff” was bigger when it came to fund raising and giving them access to power, than simply “talking about Jesus” or “helping the poor.”  Schaeffer said, the evangelical right couldn’t only talk about abortion and there was a new “scandal of the week” to go after.  So, the gay movement emerging in tandem during this same period presented a good target.

“Essentially once the religious right got into the habit of playing “church lady” to the whole culture and both judging and condemning and also offering a solution, which was to put their people in power, you needed to keep cranking it up.”

He also talked about witnessing the hatred towards gay people and felt their “personal antipathy was rabid.”

I can’t wait to pick up his Crazy for God book.  His story is so interesting and enlightening and I appreciate his views on the gay community and his bravery to condemn the hatred he witnessed.  I also agree with his views on Barack Obama inviting Rick Warren to the inauguration.  Here are some excerpts from what he wrote on The Huffington Post.

“Unlike his lefty critics lamenting Obama’s ideological impurity, the President-elect is actually positioning himself to help gay rights. That is because he is going to actually govern, not stand on the sidelines complaining. As such he needs to do all he can to soothe the idiots, when it comes to the tough social/political issues that are the residue of 30 years of culture wars.”

Here’s the point for all you progressives that only talk to yourselves and haven’t a clue about the “other” America: in a country where a national evangelical leader is fired for just voting for Obama, and thinking friendly thoughts about gays, the new progressive president has his work cut out!

Progressives are too used to failing. Stop worrying about little battles, you just won a war. It’s all about real results now, not words, and not symbols. It is time to think like winners. The issue now is governance, not symbols.”

Check out the Fresh Air interview.

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The outcry over Obama’s choice of Rick Warren has been loud and clear among the media, politicians and all over the web.  The gay community is outraged, and like I said, I’m very disappointed about Obama’s decision.  I don’t respect Rick Warren’s views on his fellow gay Americans.  He clearly doesn’t understand our right to be treated as equals and has made huge efforts to stop that fight.  So, it’s hard to accept this decision.  Especially since our right to marry the one we love, has been stripped away.  An action Warren contributed heavily to make happen.  Obama hasn’t had a chance to expand legislation to help the gay community.  He hasn’t had a chance to protect our rights.  He did have a chance to give us hope and a preview to what an Obama presidency will be like for the gay community.  And so far, for most, it doesn’t look good.  Representative Barney Frank, the first openly gay Representative, had a few words on the controversy.

I am very disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to honor Reverend Rick Warren with a prominent role in his inauguration.

Religious leaders obviously have every right to speak out in opposition to anti-discrimination measures, even in the degrading terms that Rev. Warren has used with regard to same-sex marriage. But that does not confer upon them the right to a place of honor in the inauguration ceremony of a president whose stated commitment to LGBT rights won him the strong support of the great majority of those who support that cause.

It is irrelevant that Rev. Warren invited Senator Obama to address his congregation, since he extended an equal invitation to Senator McCain. Furthermore, the President-Elect has not simply invited Rev. Warren to give a speech as part of a series in which various views are presented. The selection of a member of the clergy to occupy this uniquely elevated position has always been considered a mark of respect and approval by those who are being inaugurated.

And then there is the lovely Rachel Maddow.

Now, I respect Rep. Barney Frank and Rachel Maddow, two prominent figures of the gay community. I commend their efforts to show their frustration and disappointment.   But again, it would be wrong, for me, to completely write off Obama, who hasn’t had a chance to push his civil rights agenda yet.  I’m not saying both Frank and Maddow have done that, but I have started to hear others believe Obama is anti-gay.  I think we should still express our disappointment and frustration, and spark debate and discussion.  However, we should be careful to not look so hateful doing so, and give Obama the benefit of the doubt.  Like the San Francisco mayor said, in the second video, we should engage and not spread angry bitter hate.

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