November 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Danny Boyle has gone to the slums of Mumbai for this picture about the lives and fortunes of three orphans struggling to survive and escape the terrible reality of life in an Indian slum. The story involves three children, two bothers Jamal and Salim, and Latika a girl, from the ages of five or six until adult hood. Boyle pulls no punches in depicting the realities of their lives and the lives of other children caught in similar circumstances. One of the other orphans who has a good singing voice is deliberately blinded to increase his revenue from begging by a Fagin like character.

Boyle’s film is based on a novel by Vikas Swarup.

The writer has encapsulated Jamal’s story in flashbacks while he is a contestant on the Indian version of “Do You Want to Be a Millionaire”? Improbably, he is able to answer difficult questions by remembering his life experiences on the streets of India. This format and the fact it is coupled with his quest to find and rescue Latika, who in the end has turned into a beautiful young woman sold in to prostitution by the Fagin like character. All this creates a narrative tension and romantic quest in the film and along with the superb acting by the children and other characters makes the film worth watching. The actors are unknowns in this country so it is a story driven film.

Had this film not been done skillfully by Boyle it would have been notable but not commercially viable in today’s market. It would have been another fine Indie film unable to secure a theatrical release or perhaps not even a DVD one, doomed to the backwaters of our, action, adventure, celebrity, cartoon film culture of “tales full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

As it stands now it is not in the top twenty earners probably because of the gritty realism and limited release in selected theaters.

This film makes a strong statement against the injustice of poverty particularly on children in Mumbai and in the third world countries of the world.

The story is engrossing and one never finds he is losing interest or wishing the story would end prematurely. The cinematography is in color, is excellent and cut to keep you visually on the edge of your seat. All in all it is on the level of films that are considered for an Academy Award and will be a classic as time goes on if it is not already.



November 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Bush is softening up the public with teaser pardons of low profile people convicted of various Federal offenses. In this way he will provide some cover as being egalitarian when he pardons the big fish out of necessity.

Here are the some of the little fish he pardoned or had their sentences commuted recently as reported by the Associated Press:

– Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo. Collier, convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
– Milton Kirk Cordes of Rapid City, S.D. : convicted of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits importation into the country of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws.
– Richard Micheal Culpepper of Mahomet, Ill.: making false statements to the federal government.
– Brenda Jean Dolenz-Helmer of Fort Worth, Texas : medical insurance fraud.
– Andrew Foster Harley of Falls Church, Va. Harley: convicted of wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine.
– Obie Gene Helton of Rossville, Ga: unauthorized acquisition of food stamps.
– Carey C. Hice Sr. of Travelers Rest, S.C. : income tax evasion.
– Geneva Yvonne Hogg of Jacksonville, Fla.: bank embezzlement.
– William Hoyle McCright Jr. of Midland, Texas: bank fraud.
– Paul Julian McCurdy of Sulphur, Okla.: misapplication of bank funds.
– Robert Earl Mohon Jr. of Grant, Ala.: conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
_Ronald Alan Mohrhoff of Los Angeles: unlawful use of a telephone in a narcotics felony.
– Daniel Figh Pue III of Conroe, Texas: illegal treatment, storage and disposal of a hazardous waste.
– Orion Lynn Vick of White Hall, Ark. : convicted of aiding and abetting the theft of government property.
Bush also commuted the prison sentences of John Edward Forte of North Brunswick, N.J., and James Russell Harris of Detroit, Mich. Both were convicted of cocaine offenses.

As you can see these are run of the mill people convicted of run of the mill offenses. Some appear to be the victim of circumstance. None involves a public official convicted of felonies committed while holding public office.

This is just the lead up to the round of pardons of the big names like Michael Milken, Conrad Black, Lewis Libby and Randy Duke Cunningham to name a few of the people already convicted of crimes.

We still don’t know what will come in the next round of pardons the Associated Press speculates:

“One hot topic of discussion related to pardons is whether Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.
If Bush were to pardon anyone involved, it would provide protection against criminal charges, particularly for people who were following orders or trying to protect the nation with their actions. But it would also be highly controversial.”

We can expect to see the controversial pardons on the day Bush leaves office . In the case of Libby , Valerie Plame has a civil suit pending against him, Cheney and Rove which is on appeal after it was dismissed on immunity grounds in a lower court. Will a pardon of Libby also exonerate him in the civil suit? What about a blanket pardon for Cheney, Rove and Gonzales for both criminal acts and civil liability for acts committed in office.

In the case of Gonzales he wrote the legal memos authorizing the rough interrogations and water boarding. He also was involved in the dismissal of the seven attorney’s general on political gounds.

Rove is accused of masterminding the wrongful prosecution of many public officials such as former Governor Don Seligman of Alabama and prominent attorneys who donated money to democratic candidates notably John Edwards. These campaign donations were usually treated as misdemeanors or lesser offenses punished by small fines or reprimands in the past. However under Bush and Rove they were treated as felonies with imprisonment, fines and disbarment as punishment. This was to dissuade democratic fund raising.

If water boarding is held to be torture and therefore a war crime Cheney and Gonzales and perhaps Bush and the people who actually carried the procedure out would be liable criminally and civilly after Bush leaves office. They would be subject to the Yamashita or Medina standard developed by the U.S. courts. They could be prosecuted for torture, Guantanamo and other violations not just in the United States but also at the The International Criminal Court in The Hague. There any Bush pardons would not be a defense.

This also would be an unlikely event.

The “Yamashita or Medina Standard” Or Command Responsiblity.

This precedent is based upon the rule set by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Yamashita was charged with “unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes. Medina was the Captain in charge of the soldiers involved in the My Lai massacre during the Viet Nam War. Yamashita was hung by the U.S Army under General MacArthur’s direction. Medina was found not guilty. The fact that the Japanese lost the war and the Vietnamese never had jurisdiction over Medina may have something to do with the outcome of these cases.

However the principle of law still stands and it has been applied all the way up to political leaders as in the case of Slobodan Milošević The President of the Yugoslavian Federation. Milošević was indicted in May 1999, during the Kosovo War, by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Charges of violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Croatia and Bosnia and genocide in Bosnia were added a year and a half later. Slobodan Milošević died during his trial at the Hague.

Also Charles Taylor former President of Liberia, was indicted by the United Nations in th Criminal Courts at the Hague for Crimes Against Humanity, Violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions… and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law. His trial has not been concluded.

The Nixon Pardon.

President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon after he left office for past criminal acts and civil
liability. Ford said he wanted to put an end to the divisiveness of Watergate and unite the country. The pardon saved Nixon from years of criminal and civil suits and their consequences.
Many think that Ford was not reelected because of this pardon.

Get ready for the next shoe or maybe shoes as there are a lot of people who would sleep better with a blanket pardon like Nixon’s.



November 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Sarah Palin is riding high.

The Associated Press Reports:
“Oprah wants her, and so do Letterman and Leno. Fresh from her political defeat, Sarah Palin is juggling offers to write books, appear in films and sit on dozens of interview couches at a rate that would be astonishing for most Hollywood stars, let alone a first-term governor.”

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Wm Shakespeare

It appears signing on to the presidential campaign as McCain’s last minute choice for V.P may be the defining moment in her life.

Was it fate that Joe will go back to anonymity and Sarah Palin will go on to new heights? Probably not, McCain opened Pandora’s Box and let her out and now the the American People will be subject to this ego manic’s wrongheaded thinking. How long her new career will last is anyone’s guess at the moment. With luck it will be a false dawn


Where is Joe The Plumber?

November 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Where is Joe The Plumber? The election is over and he had his fifteen minutes in the spotlight,

Now it is alleged he will publish a book by a no name publisher. I’ll believe it when I see it. He has been relegated to the junk pile of history while Sarah Palin is still a presence. Here’s what Omar says:

The moving finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,

Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

—The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

The fate of Joe and Sarah Palin intertwined with that of John McCain for a moment and now they have taken their separate paths through eternity.