Saturday’s Story Sequels, Plus Fight at the Oscars
Saturday’s Story Sequels, Plus Fight at the Oscars
Welcome back to our weekend feature (last week got pre-empted with the Copenhagen shootings). Here are a couple of follow-ups to stories that I found interesting this week…
Remember last summer, when the Obamas were vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard? This was the same vacation when Obama gave a brief statement on James Foley’s beheading at the hands of ISIS, and then went golfing.
Well, while on that same vacation, the Obamas attended the wedding of former White House chef Sam Kass to MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner.
What was NOT known at the time – and what Gawker has recently dug up – is that everyone’s favorite domestic terrorists, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, were ALSO guests at the Kass-Wagner wedding.
Ayers and Dohrn were likely invited due to their connection to Kass. Though the nature of their relationship with him is unclear, Kass resided for several years in Chicago, where Ayers and Dohrn live, and appear to have close mutual friends. In 2012, for example, the trio attended the same 22-guest wedding at a San Francisco art gallery.
It is difficult to say much beyond that, however, because the principals have refused to comment on the event, refusing repeated opportunities to deny that Ayers and Dohrn were present. Ayers, Dohrn, Kass, and Wagner did not acknowledge multiple requests for comment. The White House and MSNBC were similarly reticent. “It was a private event and we are not going to comment any further,” an MSNBC spokesperson told Gawker via email. White House spokesperson Jennifer Friedman declined to comment, citing the fact that the wedding was a private event—but the White House has commented on private events in the past, to the point of confirming the presence of certain guests.
1) The Secret Service follows the Obamas everywhere. They had to have vetted this guest list, and Ayers and Dohrn most certainly would have been red-flagged. Which means that someone with authority had to have said, “hey, don’t worry – it’s just a wedding! Now, hush-hush, no telling, pinky-promise!” I leave it to the reader’s imagination on who had enough authority to pull that string.
2) Will no one in the media ask Alex Wagner, a supposed journalist on MSNBC, why she had convicted domestic terrorists at her wedding?
Our second story is a testament to the technical production skills of ISIS. Experts have now examined closely the video of 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS forces in Libya, and have determined that parts of the video were definitely faked.
“The Islamic State’s manipulation of their high-production videos has become commonplace,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. The murders likely took place in a studio, and the background image shown was likely from another location, the Bay in Sirte, a part of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya, according to Khan. There are several technical mistakes in the video that show it was manipulated, she said.
The most obvious, Khan said, is the speaker, “Jihad Joseph” is much larger than the sea in both the close up and wide shots, and his head is bizarrely out of proportion, meaning he was filmed indoors and the sea added behind him, Khan said. In addition, the jihadists featured in the film look to be more than 7 feet tall, towering as much as two feet above their victims.
Hollywood horror film director Mary Lambert, who among her many film credits directed Pet Cemetery, analyzed the film for FoxNews.com and quickly concluded Khan was correct.
“The shot that seems really tampered with is the one with the really tall Jihadists and the dwarf Christians,” said Lambert, also a professor at New York University’s vaunted film school. “The close-ups of Jihadists on the beach are most likely green screen.”
Other technical giveaways: The sound of the ocean is likely a well-known audio track. Even more bizarre, the stream of blood in the ocean at the end of the video, and during the beheading of the final victim, is most likely not real. TRAC’s forensic analyst said turning the sea red is the “cheapest and easiest post-production tool” and “can even be achieved with a cell phone.” But doing it in the manner portrayed in the video is actually impossible, Khan said.
The sea turning red is obviously “FX”, Lambert agreed, with special computer effects used.
While the footage may have been manipulated and faked, experts hold out no hope that the 21 men who were named as victims are actually alive. Whether they all died in this manner will probably be a question mark forever. Jossef Gerges, a cousin to one victim (Gaber Muneer Adli, age 24), is speaking out about the devastation the families are feeling.
Jossef, who moved to Berlin just over a year ago, said the last time he had talked to his cousin was some three months ago. Gaber had assured him that everything was fine in the war-torn country, which is increasingly sliding into anarchy as militias and militants hold sway. “He said not to worry, that everything seemed normal. He said he was safe and that he was going to leave Libya as soon as he finished his job.”
But Gaber, who made a living working on construction sites and was as yet unmarried, never made it home to Egypt. Instead, he was dragged off the bus that was supposed to take him back to his family. “He managed to call his family while he was being kidnapped. He told them: We’re being kidnapped by extremists.”
Back in Egypt, his relatives made desperate last-minute attempts to save him, Jossef said, appealing to the, as he says, largely unresponsive Egyptian authorities, staging protests and praying. “I called my family every day”, apart from that, he said, there was little he could do but pray for his cousin.
But it was all to no avail: “I was in so much shock, I felt numb”, Jossef whispered, recalling last Sunday when the video was released by a group calling itself “Tripoli Province of the Islamic State.” He started watching the video, Jossef said, but, after a few seconds, had to stop. “It was just too terrible, so unimaginably cruel.” Again, he has to fight back tears: He just couldn’t watch his cousin being murdered.
Our prayers continue for the families who have suffered such incredible losses at the hands of ISIS.
And finally, who else is joining me in not watching the Oscar ceremony this year? I must confess that I have seen exactly zero of the Best Picture nominees. With four children in the house, it’s difficult to get out and spend money seeing things that aren’t rated G or PG (the last movie I saw in theaters was “The LEGO Movie” a year ago, while my husband took our two oldest to see “Big Hero 6” last November), so while “American Sniper” has been recommended many times over, I haven’t had the time to see it.
As a result, I have little emotional connection or desire to watch the Oscars, which is just Hollywood’s prom night, where they will crown a prom king and queen, wear fancy clothes, and tell each other just how wonderful and socially aware they all are, and aren’t those little people watching on TV just so lucky to have them?
However, this year the Academy is under fire for not being “diverse” enough. And no less a blowhard than Al Sharpton was complaining about the “whiteness” of Hollywood. You know, all those extreme racists who gave the movie “12 Years A Slave” best picture last year.
The biggest complaint is that the biopic “Selma” is only up for best picture, and not director or any of the acting categories. And then this week, the Hollywood Reporter ran an interview with an Academy voter, who wasn’t keen on “Selma” as a movie, and very put off by protests by the cast.
— Erin (@AutumnE46) February 19, 2015
Of course, one unnamed Academy voter didn’t like the movie, and said what she thinks:
When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?
So naturally, the entire Academy is RAAAAAACIST.
— Jeffrey Jon Smith (@jeffreyjonsmith) February 20, 2015
Possible motive for the Selma Oscar-snub: "If this t-shirt offends you, you are probably a racist."http://t.co/WHJVanQwUS
— Captain Plasma (@LigerNull) February 19, 2015
Back in January, protesters were thinking about messing with the red carpet arrivals or getting some actors to help protest inside. We will see if anything actually ends up happening. But I won’t be committing three hours of my life to watching it live.
Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone!