The most interesting tactics to prevent looting

According to CNN, Honduras officials have taken the most unusual steps to stop potential looting.

The Brazilian request for a Security Council meeting came after the Honduran government isolated the embassy by cutting water, power and phone lines to the building, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed to reporters Tuesday.

Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, called the action a “very serious” move that violated international law.

Police said that utilities were turned off in the area surrounding the embassy to discourage looting after supporters of Zelaya converged in front of the building Tuesday.

So if you are like me, you have to wonder how cutting the water, electricity, or phone would prevent looting.  If someone is breaking in to my place, being able to call the police would be useful.  If undesirables are gathering, being able to shine lights on them and see them would be useful, so keep the electricity on.  Water?  Maybe that could help defend by turning the hose on.

I really can’t see how cutting any of these utilities would help prevent forest fires looting.  So I am going to have to side with the Brazilians on this, it is retailation for having overthrown President Zelaya in the embassy.

-Josh

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Question of the Day – September 24, 2009

What does Sarah Palin consider the $1305 check she will receive from the Alaska Permanent Fund for just living in the state?  Welfare?  Socialism?  Or her right as a resident of Alaska?

-Josh

Renewing the expiring portions of the Patriot Act

So some provisions of the Patriot Act are expiring this year, so to renew, we get hearings in Congress to make the case to renew them.

Thankfully we have two US Senators, Al Franken (D-MN) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), who are questioning the case for renewal.  Senator Al Franken asked David Kris from the Dept of Justice about the 4th amendment as reported in the Washington Independent.

Noting that he [Al Franken] received a copy of the Constitution when he was sworn in as a senator, he proceeded to read it to Kris, emphasizing this part:  “no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

“That’s pretty explicit language,” noted Franken, asking Kris how the “roving wiretap” provision of the Patriot Act can meet that requirement if it doesn’t require the government to name its target.

Kris looked flustered and mumbled that “this is surreal,” apparently referring to having to respond to Franken’s question. “I would defer to the other branch of government,” he said, referring to the courts, prompting Franken to interject: “I know what that is.”

Kris explained that the courts have held that the law’s requirements that the person be described, though not named, is sufficient to meet the demands of the Constitution. That did not appear to completely satisfy Franken’s concerns.

Meanwhile, Senator Russ Feingold asked about sneak and peak provision in the Patriot Act, from the Huffington Post.

In the debate over the PATRIOT Act, the Bush White House insisted it needed the authority to search people’s homes without their permission or knowledge so that terrorists wouldn’t be tipped off that they’re under investigation.

Now that the authority is law, how has the Department of Justice used the new power? To go after drug dealers.

Only three of the 763 “sneak-and-peek” requests in fiscal year 2008 involved terrorism cases, according to a July 2009 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sixty-five percent were drug cases.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) quizzed Assistant Attorney General David Kris about the discrepancy at a hearing on the PATRIOT Act Wednesday. One might expect Kris to argue that there is a connection between drug trafficking and terrorism or that the administration is otherwise justified to use the authority by virtue of some other connection to terrorism.

He didn’t even try. “This authority here on the sneak-and-peek side, on the criminal side, is not meant for intelligence. It’s for criminal cases. So I guess it’s not surprising to me that it applies in drug cases,” Kris said.

“As I recall it was in something called the USA PATRIOT Act,” Feingold quipped, “which was passed in a rush after an attack on 9/11 that had to do with terrorism it didn’t have to do with regular, run-of-the-mill criminal cases. Let me tell you why I’m concerned about these numbers: That’s not how this was sold to the American people. It was sold as stated on DoJ’s website in 2005 as being necessary – quote – to conduct investigations without tipping off terrorists.”

The irony is that two of the most liberal Senators, Franken and Feingold, are the one’s challenging Barack Obama’s Department of Justice on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and how one provision is rarely used to protect us from terrorists (0.4% of sneak and peeks), but to prosecute drug dealers.  And thankfully Russ Feingold is no longer alone in the Senate on this issue.

It would be nice if those right wing folks over at Fox or the teabaggers would acknowledge, that liberals and progressives, are fighting to check expanded government powers, to protect our civil liberties.

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie eight, A Shine of Rainbows

So on my third day at TIFF my middle movie was A Shine of Rainbow.  I was drawn to this movie because it is about adoption, and I work in the adoption field.  The movie stars Aidan Quinn as Alec the prospective adoptive father, Connie Nielsen as Maire the prospective adoptive mother, and John Bell as Tomas the orphan who may find a family with Alec and Marie.

The movie is based on a novel by Lillian Beckwith the first chapter is available here.  I am not familiar with the book, and had not known that it was based on a book until the openning credits rolled.  The setting is Ireland in the 1960s for the movie, which we learned during Q&A where we also learned he felt it was set in earlier maybe 40s or 50s.

SPOILERS

The movie starts with Tomas in an orphanage.  He sees a pigeon trapped between a window shade and the window.  He opens the window and frees the bird, which draws the wrath of the bullies who say he let their bird go and he has to fetch it for them.  Fortunately he is saved in a most miraculous way, Maire had been watching him through a one way window, and selects him to be her son.  Her husband Alec did not accompany her on the trip to the orphanage, using the excuse of not liking the main land, meaning the larger island that is Ireland.

Maire takes Tomas by ferry to their island to begin his new life with his new family.  Tomas is rudely greeted by a neighbor boy, which Tomas takes as mean spirited teasing, fortunately his sister is also there and is always supportive of Tomas.  When Tomas gets to his new home with Alec, he discovers that Alec is still dealing with his loss and grief from their infertility issues, and was hoping for a bigger boy, not the “runt of the litter.”

The lack of interest from Alec does not go unnoticed, even to the point of Tomas hiding from Alec.  However, Maire continues to draw Tomas out as a child and a son.  At one point, gushing tears moment for me, he asks if it would be okay to call her mom.

Later in the movie, he discovers an abandoned seal pup on the beach.  He takes on the task, with the help of Alec, of feeding the seal pup.  He sees his role as needing to take care of this seal who happens to be an orphan like he was, until the seal’s mother shows up.

During the movie we also learn that Maire has signed the adoption papers, but Alec has not, and his signature is required to adopt Tomas.  Tomas is aware of this and it continues to strain his relationship with Alec.

End of Spoilers

I didn’t give away everything, trust me there are some other issues in the movies, and you will need tissues.  That being said, it did remind me of issues in adoption, when one parent has different wants or expectations than the other, that can strain the relationship.  Or when a parent doesn’t attach to the child, one-that happens, and two-the kids know, they aren’t stupid.  My friend who works with an attachment team, thought this could be therpeutic tool for the families they work with, and it just might.

I talked with the producer afterwards, hoping that we maybe able to show it at our conference in the future, and learned that the expected North American release will be March or April 2010.

Here is the picture at Q&A

A Shine of Rainbows

Here is the trailer:

I highly recommend this movie, but come prepared to cry.

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie seven, Cracks

So on my third day of TIFF my first movie was Cracks.  This was my second day in a row of starting with a British movie about girls in a private school after yesterday’s An Education.

However, the two movies are really different movies.  An Education is really about Jenny and her search for life experiences and a meaning in life.  While Cracks has that element the search for the exotic and interesting, it is as much about the needs of people and the dynamics of a boarding school team.

My friend Chris saw the movie on Friday, he was a bit perplexed about the description from the Programme Guide (link above).  He checked it, and they leave some big parts of the movie and plot line out of it.  So if you read the description, don’t expect to know everything that is going to happen.  Yes, Fiamma disrupts the social order of the team she joins, and also has a huge impact on Miss G, played by Eva Green’s, life.  But there is much more to this movie than just that.

This is a picture of director Jordan Scott:

Jordan Scott

I highly recommend it, although I would go see An Education first, but I am not sure when you would get to see it as IMDB only lists it as coming out in the UK on December 4, and France December 30.  If it truely going to get an Oscar push from US studios, it will probably be out in Los Angeles and New York before the New Year to be considered and out in wide release in either late December or January.

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie six, Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch

To close out my second day at TIFF I saw Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch or Vølvens Forbandelse in Danish.  This was my first Sprockets Family Zone movie, in other words a kid and family friendly movie.  I have to say, that it was a family friendly movie, and it was weird seeing kids in the audience, as everything else that isn’t Sprockets, is only 18 and up as films are unrated.

SPOILERS

The movie is about a Valdemar and Lille who are brother and sister.  Valdemar has some friends, but isn’t really applying himself.  Lille is younger and smarter, but she really doesn’t have any friends (maybe like a Lisa Simpson).  We get a Risky Business like situation, the parents are out of town, and Valdemar takes out the new car, picks up his friends and crash it.  Not only does he damage a new car, but he doesn’t have a license.

A far less adultion situation (no prostitutes) solution presents itself to Valdemar’s need for money to repair the car.  He meets Benedict, an physicists who has solved time travel and is immortal.  Benedict was made immortal by a Viking Witch who loved him, and he loved also.  The spell which she cast to cure his mortal wounds separated the crucifix from Christ, if they are ever reunited he will become mortal.  Because Benedict existed in the past, he can’t go back in time.  Benedict has money which Valdemar needs, so he agrees to go back in time to solve Benedict’s problem by recovering the crucifix as he still has the Christ part.  Lille follows him and ends up back in time with Valdemar searching for the crucifix.

They are able to track the crucifix over time, traveling back multiple times trying to retrieve it.  Unfortunatley the immortality spell managed to cover the Witch who the kids encounter through time and she manages to thrawt their attempts to recover the crucifix.

END OF SPOILERS

I liked the movie, it was enjoyable and well suited to kids.  I am not sure about having kids watch a subtitled movie, but my friend Atixhe pointed out that the the words were fairly simple, that a younger child should be able to read them without to much difficulty.

Here is a trailer in Danish without subtitles:

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie five, Jennifer’s Body

So on my second day at TIFF, my second movie was Jennifer’s Body.  This movie is being released September 18, 2009, so I saw it less than week before it’s release date.  You may have seen the commericals for it, and I will have a trailer at the end.

If you have seen or heard anything about this movie, you know that it is about Jennifer’s Body, and Jennifer is played by Megan Fox.  You may also recognize Amanda Seyfried from Mean Girls or Big Love, she plays Jennifer’s BFF Needy.  The commercials would have you think that this is all about Jennifer, who is the central character of this story, but it is really about Needy.

SPOILERS

Basically Jennifer convinces Needy to come to a concert by Low Shoulder at local place.  A fire starts during the concert, basically killing most of the people there, the band escapes, including lead singer, Nikolai played by Adam Brody of The OC fame, plus Jennifer and Needy.  Jennifer seems in shock and gets in a van with the Low Shoulder band.  They take her and sacrifice her to satan so they can be a successful independent band (that is a later scene with flashback).  They think that Jennifer is a virgin, but because she isn’t she becomes a demon that needs to feed on human flesh.

The rest of the story shows her killing to feed her inner demon, Needy realizing things are seriously wrong with her BFF, and Needy finally confronting Jennifer.

Now I am leaving out some details and some great funny lines, because if you don’t know them, they will still bring you some surprises.  I found many of the lines to be quite funny.  The one you probably have seen is about Jennifer being really evil, not just high school evil.  I suspect this is due to Diablo Cody’s writing, but because I haven’t seen Juno, I can’t really confirm that it is her wit coming through during the movie.

My friend Dave was worried that the movie would be a bust because of the heavy advertising before I left for TIFF.  I don’t know that I would classify this a great horror flick, or spoof horror flick, but it was a very fun movie and I have no regrets about seeing it.

The programmer for the Midnight Madness (this is the first of three Midnight Madness films, the others being The Loved Ones and Bitch Slap) highlighted the fact that this was a movie written by a woman and directed by a woman, Karyn Kusama.  He hoped their would be more in the future.  Here is Karyn during Q&A.

Karyn Kusama

And the trailer:

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie four, An Education

My second day of TIFF started out with an amazing movie, An Education.  I am not going to go into a ton of details about the movie, because you need to see this movie, it is an enjoyable ride.

Basically Jenny, played by Carey Mulligan, is a 16 year old school girl who is working towards entrance into Oxford.  She is a very bright student with much promise.  She lives with her parents, her father is played by Alfred Molina, who you may remember as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2.  Unfortunately for Jenny, her father’s every move is geared to maximizing her chances at getting into Oxford.  There is no room for fun, everything must be calculated to enhance her efforts to get into Oxford.  Into her life comes David, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who is twice her age.  David is quite the charmer, not only charming Jenny with fun things, things she dreamed of doing after escaping the calculating clutches of her father, but her parents as well.  But the fun things that David shares with Jenny are not necessarily working towards the goal of getting accepted into Oxford.

The movie is set in the early 60s in Britain.  I am not sure how faithful the costume and sets are to the period, but stylistically the outfits and hairdos on the women were quite an enjoyable addition to the movies great story.

So far of the six movies I have seen, this is my favorite.  The acting was excellent, the chemistry between Carey and Peter was perfect.  The rest of the actors were very talented and added to the movie, from Carey’s parents, to her girlfriends in school, to the teacher and headmistress, and David’s friends, not a single role was done subpar.

Clearly the star is Carey Mulligan as Jenny, in fact Oscar buzz has already started for her.

There’s already Oscar talk surrounding Mulligan’s performance as a 16-year-old schoolgirl who is seduced by a charming and mysterious older man (Sarsgaard).

“It’s all positive,” Mulligan said of the buzz, which is akin to the glowing reception Anne Hathaway received at last year’s festival for “Rachel Getting Married” (she was ultimately nominated for an Oscar).

For those in attendance this morning, we got Q&A not only from director Lone Scherfig , but also from Carey, Peter, and Alfred who are pictured below.

An Education, Alfred Molina, Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard

You can see a trailer of it here:

It opens to limited release in the US on October 9th, 2009.  I highly recommend you see it.  It will likely garner at least one, if not multiple Oscar nominations.  On of the great things about TIFF is that it is often considered the kick off of Oscar season.

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie three, If I Knew What You Said

So my last movie of my first day at TIFF was If I Knew What You Said or Dinig Sana Kita.  While Shameless was very enjoyable, this was the star of the day.  Nina, played by Zoe Sandejas, is a teen that gets into trouble, but not really that much, but has an overbearing father, and is sent to a camp that attempts to bridge communication issues between hearing kids and deaf kids.  At the camp she at first fights with, and later develops a deep relationship with Kiko who is deaf and is a dancer, he is quite good.

The movie is in Tagalog, although the speaking characters sometimes speak English, and of course there is sign language.  Everything is subtitled which works very well, especially when sign language is used.

While the movie is a bit predictable at times, there are plenty of twists, and a lot of emotion.  The relationship between Nina and Kiko are the main thrust of the story, but there are also very important relationships between Dr. Mendoza the director of the camp and Kiko, Nina and her parents, Nina and her band, and Kiko with other members of his deaf community.

The story is very powerful because it deals with so many types of relationships and at times has us travelling at break neck speeds on an emotional roller coaster.

Zoe Sandejas, Nina,  is the real life daughter of director of Mike Sandejas.  Zoe really is a singer-songwriter.  Other family members of theirs were part of creating the movie.  Mike reported that it has made a huge difference in acceptance of the deaf community in the Philippines.  Kiko is played by Romalito Mallari who really is deaf and a dancer.  Romalito was not at this screening due to visa issues, but was on route during the screening.  My friend Chris should see all of them on Sunday.

It was clear during this screening there was a small group of deaf audience members who were pleased with the film.

Mike and Zoe were available for Q&A, and were very nice and approachable.  So much so, that I have this picture of me and Zoe, and the other of her father continuing to answer questions after we had to leave the theater.

Me with Zoe Sandejas

Me with Zoe Sandejas

Mike Sandejas

Mike Sandejas

I really hope this movie gets a North American distributor,  it really needs to be seen widely.  And I hope that I will see more work from this director and the actors.

Here is the trailer:

-Josh

2009 TIFF movie two, Shameless

So my second movie of the 2009 TIFF was Czech film Shameless.  After the slowly paced The Happiest Girl in the World, this movie was vast improvement.  The pacing was faster, and the story line while still a family drama, was far more humorous.

SPOILERS

So the movie introduces us to married couple Ozkar and Zuzana.  One day Oskar seems to realize that his wife Zuzana has larger than average size nose, and proceeds to fall out of love with her.  Ozkar than resorts to sleeping with their Hungarian au pair Kocicka.  He begs off a skiing trip with the family and another couple so he can have sex with Kocicka.  When bad weather in the mountians leads to his family’s talk of coming home early, he uses his position as a TV weatherman to make false predications of good weather to keep his week of sex going.

An intercepted text message about Kocicka’s turtle which she left at their place is how Zuzana learns of Oskar’s infidelity.  She proceeds to kick Oskar out of the house.  Oskar also gets fired from his job as a TV weatherman.  He continues to see Kocicka, lives in a very run down apartment, and gets a job as a safety driver (riding his gas powered bike to drivers how are too drunk to drive).

During the course of this we learn that his parent’s are not that fond of him, but  like Zuzana a lot and continue to have a good relationship with her.  Her father in law is quite funny, and a bit off, his scenes with his grandson are little unexpected gems.

Zuzana who is not shameless, meets a nice divorced single father when her son gets stuck in a slide in the park.  While worried about her nose, what drove Oskar away, her new beau says it is wonderful.  Her insecurity extends to an invitation to go swimming when she goes from wearing her robe to quickly hoping into the pool.  Not that it deters his attraction to her.

Meanwhile Oskar continues his relationship with Kocicka who doesn’t share his interest in cultural events.  In a restaurant scene she shows a new age side when she is upset that her turtle has died, inadvertantly at Oskar’s hand.  After her outburst, a national singing celebrity, Nora, asks Oskar if it was worth it, hours of arguments for 10 minutes of sex.

The relationship between Oskar and Kocicka trails off and he begins one with Nora who happens to be 25 years his senior.  While Oskar’s relationships are shifting, Zuzana’s deepens with her new beau.  Climaxing when she brings him and his daughter over to meet with her in laws.  Her mother in law sets up a situation so that they sleep together for the first time.  The funniest part of that is when he mistakenly thinks they are her parents, and when she says they aren’t he realizes they are her in laws.

Oskar continues to see Nora, even getting on TV in a duet with her.  He drinks with her sons, who are also alcoholics.   But eventually she ends the relationship at the morgue when her ex-husband dies, Oskar asks of what, and she replies “old age.”

I won’t tell you how the movie ends, but it is a bit of justice for Oskar who is truly shameless.

This movie had a lot of great comedy and was very enjoyable.  I would definitely recommend it.

-Josh

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