Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are you like, a 1st ammendment girl? the Onion imbroglio

CNN: Did 'The Onion' take satire too far?

John King USA|Added on September 29, 2011
CNN's Candy Crowley and panel members discuss a fake tweet about a hostage incident released by "The Onion." I think if you take satire too far you lose your Satire License.

L.A. Times, "Onion story on Capitol Hill hostages sparks probe"

And finally, the link in question:

Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage: 'We Need $12 Trillion Or All These Kids Die'

Jonathan Turley, via John Caruso:

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama's personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

Slate, Does Southwest Airlines Overpolice Its Passengers?

Jonathan Cook, Counterpunch, "The Dangerous Cult of the Guardian"

Two from Salon:

Thomas Rogers, "The theft of the American pension"

and Glenn Greenwald, The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot:
Are there so few actual Terrorists that the FBI has to recruit them into manufactured attacks?

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade -- much of it valid -- but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out -- only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.

William Cavanaugh, Only Christianity can save economics

The financial crisis was not driven by materialism so much as by a desire to transcend material constraints.

To put it another way, far deeper than the desire for more "stuff" is the desire to overcome the limitations of the material world, of the human body and of death, and thus to be free from the scarcity and risk and dependence of a life that is materially based.

Maybe I'm missing something here. I don't understand what the difference is between materialism and trying to "transcend material constraints." I may write a bit more about this essay later.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

28 September 2011 Oliver Sacks etc

via Skeptical Eye.

Matt Brownell, The Street, "The Most Corrupt Members of Congress"
09/26/11 - 01:10 PM EDT

Two from the Boston Review:

Jeanne Mansfield, "Why I Was Maced at the Wall Street Protests"

Alexander B. Downes, "Regime Change Doesn’t Work"

Pepe Escobar, "The collapse of neoliberal capitalism"

The murder of Valerie Percy

NYT obit of her father, Charles Percy of Illinois, who died recently. Percy was one of the last liberal republicans, and Eisenhower's protegé. His daughter's 1966 murder is still unsolved.[via]

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sharing the Secret Sharer

Apparently somebody decided to narrate Conrad's novella on Youtube, in a William Shatnery sort of way. You can read along while listening, if you've got an hour and 42 minutes. But don't do it at work! They'll catch you, and punish you, by making you read it out of a book. To your co-workers. Whether they want to hear it or not. While they're doing your work. Conrad comes to your cubicle? Not good. I would say doubleplusungood, but Conrad's ghost would start moaning, and we don't want that.

Brings new meaning to "I'll wait for the video." Watch it, listen to it, or read it? Why choose?

(Incidentally, I found this at YT while trying to find a snippet of a famous scene in Chinatown, the one where Huston talks to Nicholson about wanting to buy the future. I fail to see how this is connected, but what do I know.)

Cross-posted at "Hugo Zoom," 'cause sharing is fun.(except when it's not.)


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Here comes the invisible tank

[Yahoo link]

I heard about this a few years ago when Joe bageant discussed this technology, or something very similar, in his essay "The Simulacran Republic". It's from December 2005 but it's still worthwhile, and you should go read it if you haven't. Unlike war Joe was with us for only a short time, and of course war is still here.

see also

Sudhir Venkatesh, Slate: Could Riots Happen Here?
Violent unrest has swept Europe and the Middle East. Is America next?

CNN: Global energy use to jump 53%

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Mister Goat ate some berries, bid his guests goodnight, and went to bed

This video is courtesy Rob Payne, from the comments.

rob payne said,

Just to settle the goat issue, goats really climb trees. You have to see this video.[above]

micah holmquist said,

Thanks for the link. I have a feeling my world will never be the same.
September 26, 2011 5:54 PM

rob payne said,

Hi Micah,
Yes, knowledge can be a terrible thing. The goat issue has ruined my life entirely.

September 26, 2011 6:05 PM

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Pictures of goats in trees

Yahoo and the goats in the trees

update below
According to Yahoo:

In Morocco, the native Tamri goats are so enticed by the berries of Argan trees that they have become adept at climbing the branches to reach their food. Even stranger still, the goats' droppings contain seed kernels which local farmers then grind into an oil that is used in cooking and cosmetics.

I'm skeptical. Maybe the Morocco Export Council is thinking, "Oh, those stupid Americans. Surely if we post some pictures of native Tamri goats in trees, we will be able to sell more berries. They will never for a moment suspect we know how to use the photoshop because they think we don't understand these things. Ha ha ha ha!" Or maybe somebody else is thinking this.

Note also the reference to Abbas' speech at the UN. The speech urging the UN to recognize Palestine as a state is harmful or not harmful to the peace process. Leaving aside the questions of what exactly the peace process is, i.e. whether it can only occur under US-sanctioned auspices or at least with US approval of the process, the blurb on Yahoo's front page functions as a barrier, positing "helpful or harmful" to the peace process, as opposed to many other possible questions:

Why the P.A. taking is the initiative, why they would want to, or feel they have to, or of the US losing its primacy in the Middle East, and if so, why do others see the US's influence as less useful or relevant than before, or simply whether or not its the best course of action for the Palestinians to take, to further their interests. No, its important for Americans to regard other people as children, and therefore, ironically, important for the press to treat Americans as children to help perpetuate this.

Do people actually buy this, and look at things, and avoid looking at other things, the way this approach dictates? Undoubtedly some do. I suppose the stereotype of Palestinians dancing in the streets probably helps, reinforcing the image of those hot-headed, passionate desert peoples, etc.

Reuters,"Abbas stakes Palestinian claim to state at U.N."(the Yahoo news link above)

"Obama sold Israel bunker-buster bombs"(also here)

"Israel on alert for possible Hamas attack"

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an army spokeswoman, says there is "concrete intelligence" that Hamas and maybe other militant groups are trying to infiltrate the border.

She says an attack might be timed to torpedo the Palestinian statehood bid at the U.N., an effort being led by Hamas' chief rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel has more to benefit from an attack by Hamas at this point than Hamas does, in terms of the propaganda value of being able to point to it as yet another proof of the brutishness of the Palestinians, and Hamas has a lot to lose if they attack Israel, especially now, in terms of credibility and goodwill. That doesn't automatically make the assertion of "concrete intelligence" so much hogwash, but it still reminds me of the goats in the trees.

Cross-posted here at Hugo Zoom.

update: Rob Payne kindly references this goaty discussion, here. Also, he mentions this by Philip Giraldi:"Biggest Losers in Palestine Veto? The American People" as well as a recent Counterpunch piece by Uri Avnery. All three are worthwhile.

I wonder if US and Israeli politicians are feeling boxed in now, as if they have no choice but to be even more recalcitrant. Maybe they feel this in part because of how the political zeitgeist has shifted so far to the right in both countries, which of course is something they had a hand in creating. Or maybe they blame it on the Palestinians, for not co-operating in the the continual confirming and reconfirming of their own agreeable powerlessness, and committing the crime of embarrassing the two countries.

But they're not boxed in. All they have to do is acknowledge Palestine's claim as legitimate, as opposed to continuing the fictional peace process that fools fewer people each day. If they actually did this it could even lead to a nonfictional peace process. Could you imagine that?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pat Boone vs Tony Bennett

above: Tony Bennett and Howard Stern, via Youtube and The Atlantic(!)

and below: "Singer Pat Boone insists Obama born in Kenya"
By Laura Donovan - The Daily Caller

From Wikipedia's entry on the Twilight Zone:

Throughout the 1950s, Rod Serling had established himself as one of the hottest names in television, equally famous for his success in writing televised drama as he was for criticizing the medium's limitations. His most vocal complaints concerned the censorship frequently practiced by sponsors and networks. "I was not permitted to have my senators discuss any current or pressing problem," he said of his 1957 production The Arena, intended to be an involving look into contemporary politics. "To talk of tariff was to align oneself with the Republicans; to talk of labor was to suggest control by the Democrats. To say a single thing germane to the current political scene was absolutely prohibited."

Well, that was then. Naturally we have no idea what GWB said to Tony Bennett, but the idea that he would have deliberately told him he was wrong about invading Iraq, knowing Bennett's political disposition, seems pretty plausible. It is reminiscent of the feeding of seamy scuttlebutt to J. H. Hatfield, what with his checkered past and money problems, that he would write Fortunate Son so it could be subsequently yanked and discredited, as opposed to allowing lingering questions to linger. It probably helps that Bennett's 80 plus, although he sounds pretty lucid to me.


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Helle yeah

Photo: Mogens Engelund

This is from Friday's Wikipedia news feed:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt (pictured) is designated to become the first female Prime Minister of Denmark after a centre-left opposition coalition wins the Danish parliamentary election.

At the US Open tennis tournament, Novak Djokovic wins the men's singles and Samantha Stosur wins the women's singles.

The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, the first civilian nuclear power facility in the Middle East, officially begins operating in Iran.

Please forgive the punny title, but now it's out of my system and I feel better. I know next to nothing about Mrs Thorning-Schmidt, although this Reuters item is tentatively encouraging about her views. In the US we've become accustomed to our prettier distaff politicians espousing all sorts of irresponsible varmintry, so I hope the Danes will be luckier both in her words and her deeds.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Ides of September: Dickensian blogging for Yahoos

Okla Castle Yahoo Sep 2011

update below

Look, even the OKC neurosurgeon and his wife are selling their Oklacastle at a loss, so that means everybody's hurting. OK?

No, Yahoo doesn't actually say that. I'm kidding, OK? I'm such a kidder. And to be fair, maybe I've been excessively critical of Yahoo on occasion(also here). I imagine they're not substantially better or worse than average as far as corporate new media go. For all I know the people updating their front page actually put these kinds of items in stark opposition deliberately, to obliquely comment.

A Medieval-Style Castle in Oklahoma
By Rob Bear, Curbed September 13, 2011

"...they've put their Oklahoma City travel alternative up for sale at a loss, despite having filled the place with glamorous European light fixtures and furnishings. The castle was first listed for $4M in early 2011 and took a quick $500K price cut in May.
At 9,600 square foot, "[i]t's a big home and everything suits it," the owner says. "The chandeliers and the big door handles. Everything is more perfect than I could pick out in a million years." Yet the six-bedroom manse, a hodge-podge of faux finishes and architectural styles, might be one of the most muddled designs we've come across.

Yahoo Finance/AP: Mortgage default warnings surged in August
Report: Mortgage default warnings spiked in August, signaling potential new foreclosure wave
(also here, and here)


Rob Payne of Halcyon Days adds some useful information, in the comments:

I assume it’s part of the bailout, the subsidizing of banks who are holding onto foreclosures. It’s a really bad situation, the banks won’t loan because often the foreclosures have serious problems, damage, termites, sometimes the people who lost their home damage the property but the bottom line is they are often in terrible condition. And the question is, if the bank loans on a decrepit home, who fixes it? Who pays for it? You can bet the banks don’t want to.

I’ve read that the banks are holding onto properties to keep the number of homes for sale down so that it doesn’t further drive prices down. If they dump them on the market prices would no doubt plummet again depending on the geographical area. Rich neighborhoods are by and large not affected nearly as much as working class neighborhoods. For the wealthy prices have only dropped slightly and in some cases not at all. That’s the advantage of the wealthy and upper middle classes...

-the rest is in the third comment.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

18 August 1988: Silver and Gold

via "iconic"; BBC discussion of the above.

update below

Overheard elsewhere:

Tony Loudermilk: In 1971 I believe that Russia USSR had an enormous amount of silver overhanging the market. Perhaps after the indictments came down and Hunt was locked down from trading they were persuaded by Smiley's People to dump some of it onto the market???

2 hours ago ·
Lord McCracken:
Might very well be. The unstated secret of the precious metals market is that AT ANY TIME they want, the world's major economies can crash them simply by dropping a couple of percents (even 1% with gold) of their own holdings onto them. (In the case of gold, the private market (the place where they get to price of gold from) only has 1% of the world's gold. The rest is held by governments. If those government were to decide to drop even 1% of their holdings into that market, it would DOUBLE the amount of gold there, and the market would IMMEDIATELY crash.)

Are any of these things true? How would I know? Still, it makes sense to be a bit skeptical of people flogging the collapse meme, especially when they also collect ad revenue for their web site from people selling silver and gold, or they themselves are touting a newsletter, or what have you.

All I know is, if Gorn had me cornered I'd fight back. Not because I think I'm as cool as Captain Kirk, I'm not, but because I don't think I could outrun Gorn after years of eating so much yummy processed food. Besides, America is where I keep all my stuff, and I don't trust that smooth talking Picard.

update: A kindly anonymous commenter shares this Wiki link regarding the world's gold reserves, wherein it states that governments hold approximately 18% of the world's gold.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grief Porn

update below

If I assume the overwhelming majority of people watching football on television this weekend aren't doing so because they're coping with 9.11, but just because that's what they like to do on Sunday afternoons in September, I suppose I must be hating somebody, somewhere, for their freedom. Did the government and the news people make this kind of a fuss on December 7th, 1951? I'm not old enough to remember, and of course Yahoo! wasn't around in '51 to drape a black banner across their masthead, but my guess is no.

Even Saint Reagan, whom I am old enough to remember, didn't cry to the heavens in 1985 about the 10 year mark of our exit out of Vietnam, recalling those last helicopters which we threw into the ocean. I do, however, remember the fuss made in some quarters about his visiting the Bitburg cemetery on the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII, because of the SS troops buried there. Certainly it would have been more sensitive to visit a cemetery of Nazi conscripts.

I somewhat surprise myself by offering this, but in partial defense of Ronnie, maybe the general principle is correct and you are supposed to commemorate the dead of both sides in a terrible conflict. It's the decent and yes, Christian thing to do. Of course if this is true, I wonder when an American president will lay a wreath down at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or Wounded Knee.

Many people have been posting this video on Facebook today:

The comments[link] are something else.

to everyone that can see this isnt just a BEER COMMERCIAL and that its a tribute to all the victoms on the plane, police officers, firemen and countless voluteers who lost their lives and thier family's God bless you to the rest of you fuckin unpatrioticheartless basterds you SUCK, im a firefighter and i wasnt even old enough to understand the impact of this when it happend but it still hurts to think about all the fellow brothers i lost if your smat enough to understand that then FUCKIN LEAVE

Cornygirl2008, please let me know when you want to leave. I will personally buy you a one way ticket out of America with the provision that you will never return. In no way shape or form am I joking.

Two others:

They spent 100,000's of thousands of dollars to show this only once. Not for profit or company gain, but to express the sorrow they felt. As for the subhuman monsters that think 9/11 is some kind of joke, well I can't use those words here. The loss for all the faimilys of those who died that day is more than our hearts can stand. Condolences, from me and mine, to all of you. My God be with you aways.

Not only once anymore, they're showing it several times today during NFL games. They spent 100,000's of dollars because its a can't miss commercial that exploits a national tragedy to sell their product.

The general trend of the comments crystallizes what I find so creepy about the commodification of 9.11 grief. It's as if scores of people are perversely jealous that they didn't lose anybody and want the voyeuristic pleasure, to enjoy feeling like they're a part of a larger experience other people are having, and want to have "a good cry." And the government and media are all too happy to encourage this impulse for their own ends, as if they're concerned that we're not emotionally stunted enough. (I also wonder if some people who actually did lose loved ones on September 11th might prefer less of this carrying on by others, that may needlessly refresh old wounds.)

Being susceptible to this manipulation doesn't make you a bad person, but that's like saying having deficient critical reasoning skills doesn't make you a bad person. Of course neither negates the value of critical thinking. It's tempting to think that we're collectively stupider than we were 50 or 100 years ago, but this is unlikely. P.T. Barnum made a nice living off of people like this, back in the day.

But, duh, you knew that, because you're cool. Of course some people are just sentimental and easily misled, and even smart people can be suckered by the culture-media message reinforcing machine that alternately tells you to remember some things and forget others. The barrage on your sensibility is endless. How do you resist the simulacrum? Reality and pre-corporate values are a glass of tepid water, and the drink they're offering is sweet and sexy and will make your breath minty fresh, lower your taxes and help you score with chicks.

I realize that the internet and social media have had a huge impact on our conceptions of privacy. Still, wanting to 'get in on the grief' so you can demonstrate how patriotic you are and prove your capacity for depth of feeling, whether to yourself or others, strikes me as sad in an altogether different way than intended.

see also

Gonzalo Lira,"They Didn't Win, We Lost"

James S. Henry, Forbes, "The other September 11"

Doug Mataconis,"December 7, 1951 v. September 11, 2011" [via TPR]

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Susan S. And Michael J.

1. Susan Sontag, on The Day:
"The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"
And so on.
2. Now here's a great antidote to all the tired and tiresome sentimentality:


Friday, September 09, 2011

Please Watch Football this Sunday

Dear DeadHorse Denizens and Patrons,

This upcoming Sunday, September 11, is the tenth anniversary of September 11, which makes it perhaps the most solemn and hallowed day in the history of America’s calendar. It is also the first Sunday of the National Football League’s regular season.

In light of these two facts, I urge all of you to watch football on Sunday. If you cannot do that, at least turn your television to a game and do not advertize to your neighbors that you are not watching America’s Fantasy League Employees.

Why? In times like these, you can never be too careful. Just as AT&T was more than willing to help out with wireless wiretapping, I suspect the FBI will be asking Nielsen for some information on Monday. Anybody found to be engaging in suspicious activity, such as not watching the NFL, might wind up in Gitmo. You could have been plotting a terrorist attack, after all.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Michael S. Hart 1947-2011

from Yahoo News:

Michael S. Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and a pioneer in formatting print material for online use, passed away Tuesday at his home in Urbana, Illinois. A self-described "unreasonable" thinker, according to his obituary at Project Gutenberg, Hart invented the ebook in 1971.

I've had a post sitting in the drafts folder for some time, tentatively titled "Lit Blogging", which included the following article link:

Elizabeth Weingarten, Slate:"Fantastic Typing Machines"
A gallery of old typewriters that look more like sewing machines, phonographs, and torture devices.

This was published September 7th, the same day Michael Hart's obit appeared in the LA Times, and I suppose you could construe that as an irony. However it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Hart also liked typewriters and maybe even missed them. As far as I can see e-books are no more a threat to books than automobiles were to horses, although I wonder if e-books and the digitization of text will render access to three dimensional books(that you can't imperceptibly edit after the fact, a la 1984) a luxury item, per market forces. Maybe access to an undiluted historical record will also become a luxury good, like horses are in some places.

Having said that, I also imagine Hart recognized this was a genie that had to be let out of the bottle, and that corporatism and corrupt government practices were the enemy, not technology per se. For example he was against the expansion of copyright laws and the increasing commercialization of the commons, which of course are interlinked.

see also
Wired, "What kind of man wants to put the 10,000 most important books online by 2002 and make them available for free?"

(I'm not sure when this article was published, circa 1997. It refers to the pending Digital Millenium Copyright Act(DMCA), which of course became law the following year.)

via Maude Newton.

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Where's your warrant, flatfoot?

Jack Crow, KFO, this one's for you: "Make Mine Freedom", from 1948.

I found this fascinating. Yes, they gloss over a lot. Ironically some of the things that "-ism" brought to these characters like the union busting, is here today, and not because the commies took over.

Also, they'd probably have to leave the bit out about protection against cruel punishment today.(Or maybe not, the power of projection and compartmentalization being what it is.)

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Monday, September 05, 2011

William Tecumseh Obama

Happy labor day. I've commented, in my own mildly obsessive-compulsive way, about the tendency that web site tenders seem to have of giving a story one name on the link at the main page, presumably to entice lure-able you, and another at the page of the the actual item.

It's tempting to decry the people at for calling this story "Obama rallies union troops on Labor Day" on the home page, a la Fox News' frequent habit of labeling a centrist dem a republican in the graphics at the bottom of the screen, but maybe that would be taking this too seriously. Besides, it's a bit amusing. Hey Tea Partiers, hide the womenfolk, Obama's coming!

What's less amusing is not noting the mendacity of WTO BHO bragging of "cutting the payroll tax" and wanting to keep it cut, and not noting that he means cutting the revenue stream for social security. But maybe I'm just a nerd for thinking stuff like that matters.

Note the pairing of the controlled stimulus, cutting revenue for social security, with the uncontrolled stimulus of speaking to a traditional labor day get-together of union types. Months or years later, reporters and pols on both sides can point to this. If you lap it up, you must say to yourself, "What's wrong with me? Why, even union members support cutting revenue for social security!"

"Obama rallies union supporters on Labor Day"
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 5, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT

see also

Dave Weigel, Slate,"Bad Slasher Movie The Democrats' sad, stupid, doomed campaign to keep the payroll tax cut"
Politics Aug. 26, 2011

Nancy Altman, "The end of social security"[via ATR] December 7, 2010

Rob Payne,"Going After Social Security", March 2010

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Suburbanites of the World Unite; you have nothing to lose but your supposedly good credit

update below

RT: "Police Use Excessive Force Against Mentally Disabled"

via skeptical eye

and, an interview with economist Raymond Lotta, below. There is something peculiar about his affect. Maybe he's uncomfortable being interviewed, or maybe he's concerned that she thinks he's actor Ray Liotta and doesn't actually know anything about economics. Certainly the clipped, impassive quality of the interviewer's demeanor makes him seem all the more antic.

(also via S. E.)

see also BBC, "A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism"

Actually, it seems there are quite a few articles and op-eds like this one above. I recall a similar item in Marketwatch fairly recently. What do you want to call it, the Late Capitalism meme?

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Friday, September 02, 2011

CNN re Rebecca Zahau

"Dr Drew" doesn't sound very convinced of his own assertion when he says the police have convincing evidence, etc. [CNN link is here]

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