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TWA Flight 800 Exposé Takes Off at Stony Brook Film Festival

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York In the opening minutes of Kristina Borjesson’s devastating new documentary on the fate of TWA Flight 800, one of the eyewitnesses who saw the crash unfold points to the horizon and tells the camera, “All of a sudden I see something rise up from those trees over there!”As many Long Islanders will never forget, the sun had barely set that perfect July day and the twilight sky was clear. The jet airliner had just taken off from JFK International Airport with 230 people on board headed for Paris when it suddenly exploded 10 miles off East Moriches.Now, on the 17th anniversary of the July 17, 1996 tragedy, one of America’s most controversial aviation investigations takes the spotlight at the Stony Brook Film Festival.“With the festival being less than 20 miles from the memorial site [on Fire Island at Smith Point], I felt we were the perfect venue for this film,” says Alan Inkles, founder and director of the film festival now in its 18th year. He saw an early version of TWA Flight 800 in the spring, calling it both personal and universal at the same time. “I was extremely taken by both the subject matter and its exceptional work as a film,” he says.“We feel that this is very much a Long Island story,” says Borjesson, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, who wrote, directed and co-produced the film. “There are a lot of eyewitnesses who live on Long Island, and we felt it was appropriate to have a screening where everybody there could see it, and it would get attention.”As she tells the Long Island Press, almost a hundred people, all unrelated and in different locations along the South Shore, saw the entire incident, from the moment streaks of light shot from the surface and intersected the jetliner to when the plane burst into a fireball and plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean.The government’s official explanation is that one of the fuel tanks onboard caught fire when an electrical wire supposedly short-circuited. But as six former members of the investigation’s team who finally broke their silence to appear in public reveal in this emotionally riveting film, that explanation just doesn’t fly—and they hope it never will again.This documentary premieres July 17 on the EPIX cable network, a joint venture of Viacom, MGM and Lionsgate, available through Verizon FiOS and the DISH Network. It will get its Festival premiere screening on July 20 at 3 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Borjesson and Tom Stalcup, a physicist in Massachusetts who devoted his life to unlocking the truth about what happened after seeing an animation of the crash that the CIA had produced which he found unscientific and unbelievable. Jeff Sagansky, a former president of CBS Broadcasting, where Borjesson once worked, is executive producer.After TWA Flight 800 exploded off Fire Island, investigators collected its damaged parts from the ocean floor and reassembled the Boeing 747 in a hangar at Calverton Airport in Riverhead. (Photos courtesy EPIX)“This is the first documentary on TWA Flight 800 that deals strictly with firsthand sources, people who handled the evidence, with the exception of Tom,” she says. Among the key members of the original investigation team who came forward to speak in this documentary are Hank Hughes, senior accident investigator for TWA now retired; Bob Young, chief accident investigator for TWA now retired; and James Speer, the Air Line Pilot Association’s representative/investigator, also retired. “They’re experts and they know what they’re talking about,” Borjesson says.EVIDENCE TAMPERINGAs reports of this documentary’s forensic assertions started to trickle out to the media in the weeks leading up to the premiere, James Kallstrom, the retired head of the FBI’s New York office, and others have started pushing back, hard.Kallstrom had become the public face of the 1996 inquiry once the FBI declared it a “criminal investigation” and took it over from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which routinely handles domestic aviation accidents. In the documentary, the civilian investigators say they found holes in parts of the fuselage that FBI agents wouldn’t let them photograph as well as traces of nitrates on parts of the plane that the bureau wouldn’t let them test independently. They reported agents were hammering parts of the plane flat and changing evidence tags on debris. Just as tellingly, Speer found that an underwater video taken of the recovery effort was expurgated and he was rebuffed when he asked to see the original version, which would have helped investigators reconstruct the timeline of the crash.Now back in the media glare, Kallstrom has tried a multi-pronged approach. He said the evidence cited in the documentary was recycled and discredited—a false claim as the documentary makes unmistakably clear—and he questioned the investigators’ motives.“If they were so committed…why did they wait until they retired?” he asked news outlets.“They didn’t wait,” counters Borjesson adamantly. “They spoke up. And Jim Speer…almost got himself kicked off the investigation twice…. After TWA Flight 800, Hank was relegated to [investigating] minor accidents. He was punished for what he did. Kallstrom doesn’t mention that!”Ironically, the night of the crash, Borjesson, whose husband is French, had gone to bed early after sending her 11-year-old son off on an Air France flight to Paris to see his relatives. She’d just finished wrapping up a show for CBS Reports on Fidel Castro and went home exhausted.She was woken up out of a deep sleep by a phone call at 9 p.m.“My neighbor says, ‘Was that your son’s plane that just went down?’” Borjesson recalls. “And for a minute, I felt what those victims’ family members were feeling. I will never forget that feeling.”Her son’s plane had departed five minutes behind Flight 800. The next day when she went to work, she was assigned to cover the TWA crash, launching her on the long, turbulent journey that will bring her to Stony Brook later this month to reveal what her years of investigative journalism have found.In one scene of the new documentary, shot inside the Cradle of Aviation Museum, two retired aviation accident investigators join physicist Tom Stalcup to air their doubts.Once the FBI took over the inquiry, they wouldn’t let the NTSB investigators interview the eyewitnesses as they normally would have in a typical airline crash follow-up. And the media, from the New York Times to NBC News, swallowed what officials were pushing: that the witnesses “were not credible.”“You have high-ranking sources [in the government] giving you the inside scoop,” Borjesson says of her former colleagues in the Fourth Estate. “But the inside scoop is bullet points of their agenda…. All these high-level people are just telling you what they want you to think because they already have an outcome in mind.”For her film, which cost about $500,000 to make, Borjesson wanted to question William Perry, who was Secretary of Defense in 1996, because “we think the Secretary of Defense has knowledge that is pertinent to this event.” He declined to participate, as did the man who appointed him to the post, President Bill Clinton.Over the years some people have speculated that what the witnesses saw were missiles possibly fired by Navy vessels. The documentary will not go there.Borjesson said her collaborator, Tom Stalcup, “doesn’t want to go one millimeter further than the evidence, the math and the facts will take him.”And that’s why she would not use the word “missile” in her documentary.“We call them ‘objects’ for a reason,” Borjesson says. “We want the official investigation reopened so they can be identified.”With that goal in mind, the investigators cited in the film have filed a petition for reconsideration with the NTSB, as well as another lawsuit against the CIA. Stalcup had obtained heavily redacted documents from the CIA in his lawsuit filed several years ago, which shows CIA analysts taking the eyewitness reports and apparently concocting a scenario to explain that hundreds of people on Long Island did not see what they said they saw.Now everyone can judge for themselves—something the NTSB may be dreading.The Stony Brook Film Festival will show a mix of new independent features, documentaries and short films at the Staller Center from July 18 to July 27. Besides TWA Flight 800, other domestic and foreign films will be premiered and indie filmmaker Christine Vachon, whose feature Boys Don’t Cry won an Academy Award for actress Hilary Swank, will be presented with a career achievement award. Vachon has recently joined the Stony Brook Southampton Arts faculty. For more info, call 631-632-2787 or visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.last_img read more

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Man found dead

first_imgPolice identified him as 22-year-old John Mark Villarosa of Manapla town, an employee of a freight company.Villarosa was found lifeless lying on his bed around 6 a.m. on May 7, a police report showed.His body was brought to a local mortuary for a “post-mortem” examination.As of this writing, officers of the Pulupandan municipal police station have yet to rule out foul play in the incident./PN BACOLOD City – He was found dead inside the sleeping quarters of a building where he was working in Barangay Ubay, Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.last_img

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Barbados Reverses No Visa Requirements for Haitian Nationals

first_imgBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The Barbados government is defending their recent decision to reverse the no-visa requirement for Haitians, saying that they did not have a choice because of the large influx of immigrants that enter the country.Large influx of HaitiansThe island’s Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, said Bridgetown was forced to reverse its decision to allow free movement of Haitian nationals into the country without a visa because of the “large influx of persons” of Haitian nationality coming from Panama and Chile who were not entitled to work here.Haitians are mistaken He said that this was compounded because “no one in Haiti had really explained to them the principles of this free movement program, and the vast majority of them were coming with this mistaken idea that they could simply come to Barbados to work and live, with many of them becoming stranded in Barbados.“We derived no pleasure from having to move away from the full visa-free regime, but we felt that we didn’t have a choice, and we communicated that to the Haitian Government and they understand that Barbados’ heart is with them, but we were compelled to make the change,” Comissiong said as he discussed the last week’s CARICOM summit in St. Lucia.“You will recall that when Barbados removed the visa requirements, almost simultaneously, through the Barbados Tourism Authority, COPA airlines started two flights a week out of Panama, and the two things just happened to coincide.“Those flights out of Panama then became available to Haitians – Haitians coming from Haiti itself, and also Haitians coming from Chile, where there is a large Haitian diaspora and those two weekly flights into Barbados came to be dominated by Haitian travelers,” Comissiong said.The diplomat said that the situation was becoming untenable, and a decision was made after extensive consultations with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Immigration Department, the Ministries of Tourism, and Home Affairs, the airlines and the Grantley Adams International Airport.“We looked at every possible way in which we could solve the problem because what had started to happen is that you started to get a negative backlash from the Barbadian people because of Haitians being stranded here, and that was the last thing we wanted.“We did not want an initiative which was supposed to be a positive and constructive regional integration initiative descending into instability and chaos, and then generating a negative response from the Barbadian people,” he added.Comissiong said that although Haitians were not coming “with any devious intention”, they could only work and live in Barbados if they qualified under the CARICOM Skilled Nationals program or the Right of Establishment program.Maintain legal responsibility to admit HaitiansHe admitted that Barbados had a legal responsibility to admit Haitians on the same basis as any other CARICOM citizen, noting that Barbados’ Immigration Department would “accommodate any Haitian who legitimately wishes to come to Barbados”.“I can tell you any Haitian who legitimately needs to come to Barbados will have no problem with getting a visa, or getting permission or even getting permission to come into Barbados and to be granted a visa at the airport, so we will seek to accommodate our Haitian brothers and sisters as much as possible,” Comissiong said.Most, if not all, CARICOM countries have imposed visa restrictions on Haitians, even though the French-speaking country is a part of the 15-member grouping.last_img read more

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David Luiz vows to abstain from sex until marriage

first_imgPSG  defender David Luiz has revealed he will abstain from sex following his recent ‘baptism’The former Chelsea man was baptised in the swimming pool of club team-mate Maxwell, and is now a member of the Pentecostal Hillsong Church.And since the holy blessing, Luiz has vowed to abstain from sex with his girlfriend Sara Madeira until they are married.The Brazil international posted a photo of the ceremony onto his Instagram account, stating that he has ‘chosen to wait’, followed by a Bible verse from Corinthians.”I have chosen to wait,” the 28-year-old Brazilian said.Luiz was baptised in the swimming pool of PSG teammate Maxwell on Friday and he took to Instagram to devote his life to God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV),” Luiz wrote.”How wonderful to live with you Lord, thank You for loving me so much and taking care of me!”My life is yours, and I am your servant! You’re always in the center of all my decisions! I love my God! Amen”.The defender met his girlfriend Sara, 23, when they were teenagers and he now says they have decided to wait until they are wed.Luiz is not the first footballer to take the vow of celibacy with former Real Madrid man Kaka previously claiming that he was a virgin until marriage. –last_img read more

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MANDELLA’S BAL A BALI & MCANALLY’S QUICK CASABLANCA HEAD FIELD OF 10 IN SUNDAY’S GRADE II, $200,000 CHARLES WHITTINGHAM STAKES AT 1 ¼ MILES ON TURF

first_imgARCADIA, Calif. (May 26, 2016)–Grass specialists Bal a Bali and Quick Casablanca head a field of 10 three year olds and up in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes, to be run at 1 ¼ miles on turf.Named for the legendary late Hall of Fame conditioner who was affectionately known as The Bald Eagle, Whittingham remains Santa Anita’s all-time leading stakes winning trainer with 204 added money triumphs to his credit. Originally run as the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap in 1969, the race, which was won a record seven times by Whittingham, was renamed in his honor following his death in April, 1999. ROYAL ALBERT HALL: A clever 1 ¼ length allowance winner over the course at a mile and a quarter two starts back on March 25, English-bred Royal Albert Hall returns to Santa Anita following a solid third place run in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland April 23. Ridden by Flavien Prat, he was beaten a length and will be reunited with Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for the allowance win on March 25. Trained by Doug O’Neill, “Albert” has been no worse than third in three starts this year and he is 7-1-3-1 over the local course. Although he has run from well off the pace in the past, he appears best suited when he can sit mid-pack early. Owned by Head of Plains, Keh, Knight and partners, Royal Albert Hall, who has two wins from 18 overall starts, seeks his first U.S. stakes win in the Whittingham. He has earnings of $219,983. THE GRADE II CHARLES WHITTINGHAM STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTSRace 8 (of 9)                                Approximate post time is 5:30 p.m. PDT Blingo–Alex Solis–121Patentar–Alonso Quinonez–121A Red Tie Day–Mario Gutierrez–121Montego Day–Drayden Van Dyke–121Bal a Bali–Flavien Prat–121Royal Albert Hall–Rafael Bejarano–121Si Sage–Mike Smith–121Play Hard to Get–Kent Desormeaux–121Finnegans Wake–Victor Espinoza–121Quick Casablanca–Tyler Baze–121First post time on Sunday is at 2 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m. For scratches, late changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.center_img QUICK CASABLANCA: Trained by Ron McAnally, who ranks second to the legendary Whittingham with four lifetime wins in the race dating back to superstar gelding John Henry’s consecutive wins in 1980 and ’81, holds a good hand with veteran Quick Casa Blanca, who comes off a facile 2 ¾ length win in the mile and three quarter turf San Juan Capistrano Stakes on April 10. Chilean-bred, Quick Casablanca is an 8-year-old full horse that has responded well to McAnally’s patient handling since arriving from New York early in 2014. Second two starts back in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles San Luis Rey Stakes on March 13, he was a close third three back in the Grade II, 1 ¼ miles turf San Marcos Stakes. Winless in eight tries at a mile and a quarter on turf, Quick Casablanca faces tougher competition in the Whittingham and his connections would welcome a fast pace which would complement his late running style. Owned by Pablo Gomez, Quick Casablanca is 28-5-8-6 overall with earnings of $749,160. He’ll be ridden for the sixth consecutive time by Tyler Baze. BAL A BALI: A Group I winner in his native Brazil in his only try going 1 ¼ miles on turf, this 6-year-old horse comes off a narrow defeat when third, beaten a neck, in the Grade III San Francisco Mile (turf) at Golden Gate Fields on April 30. Trained by Richard Mandella, Bal a Bali was off as the 9-5 favorite but just missed in a game effort. Third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths two starts back in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf) here on March 12, he has a win and two thirds over the Santa Anita turf and has been first, second or third in his last five starts at middle distances on turf, the last four in graded stakes. Ridden to victory by Flavien Prat in his U.S. debut, the Grade III, one mile turf American Stakes at Santa Anita on May 9, 2015, Pratt has been aboard in his last three starts–all third place finishes. Owned by Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farms, LLC, Bal a Bali is 20-13-1-4 overall, with earnings of $751,478.last_img read more

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