Serving you since 1998
April 2008 :   2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

April 17, 2008 

U.S.-led Afghan forces kill 13 Taliban: officials
GHAZNI, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan and U.S.-led forces killed 13 Taliban insurgents on Thursday in two separate clashes southwest of the capital, Kabul, officials said.

Pentagon records detail prisoner abuse by US military
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 17, 2:26 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Military interrogators assaulted Afghan detainees in 2003, using investigation methods they learned during self-defense training, Pentagon documents released Wednesday show.

Afghan parliament committee drafts Taliban-style moral law
Wed Apr 16, 1:25 PM ET
KABUL (AFP) - An Afghan legislative committee has drafted a bill seeking to introduce Taliban-style Islamic morality codes banning women from wearing make-up in public and forbidding young boys from wearing female fashions.

NATO force in Afghanistan drops ammo into wrong hands: statement
Thu Apr 17, 6:37 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - NATO admitted on Thursday that a helicopter mistakenly dropped military supplies in the wrong place in southern Afghanistan and that they had subsequently disappeared.

Liberals demand Bernier resign over Afghan gaffe
Updated Thu. Apr. 17 2008 - The Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- Opposition parties are slowly roasting Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier over his diplomatic blunder on Afghanistan.

Trip to Afghanistan a step in the healing process
Dead soldiers' families tour Canadian base to see mission up close
Ottawa Citizen, Canada Ryan Cormier
The Edmonton Journal  Thursday, April 17, 2008
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -Shortly before he went to Afghanistan, Trooper Darryl Caswell invited his mother to CFB Petawawa and insisted she buy a pair of military-issue hiking boots just like the ones he would wear overseas.

UN envoy: Training of police is priority for Afghanistan
Xinhua, China www.chinaview.cn 2008-04-17
BRUSSELS-The training of Afghan police is a priority for the international community, said Kai Eide, UN's new envoy to Afghanistan, on Wednesday.

Election delay is 'against constitution', MPs say
www.quqnoos.com Written by Hamed Haidary Wednesday, 16 April 2008
MPs accuse commission of breaking constitution by delaying elections
MEMBERS of Parliament and political analysts have accused the Independent Election Commission of breaking the constitution by delaying next year’s presidential elections.

Ex-Taliban ambassador hints at peace talks
www.quqnoos.com Written by Mujahid Kakar Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Zaeef says foreigners must leave before Taliban negotiates with government
THE FORMER Taliban ambassador to Pakistan has hinted at a major shift in the Taliban’s policy towards opening peace talks with President Karzai’s government.

Morgan Spurlock in hot pursuit in 'Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?'
The documentary filmmaker explores America's culture of fear as he travels the globe for a sense of understanding.
Los Angeles Times, CA By Tom Roston Special to The Times April 17, 2008
NEW YORK -"THERE were so many expectations," Morgan Spurlock says about his new documentary, "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?," which opens in Los Angeles on Friday. "I'm flattered that people had so much faith in me

Back to Top
U.S.-led Afghan forces kill 13 Taliban: officials
GHAZNI, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan and U.S.-led forces killed 13 Taliban insurgents on Thursday in two separate clashes southwest of the capital, Kabul, officials said.

After the traditional winter lull, violence has increased in recent weeks in Afghanistan.

Ten of the insurgents died after a botched ambush against a joint Afghan and U.S.-led convoy on a highway in Ghazni province, a provincial official said.

In another clash in the same province, the Afghan National Army killed three more Taliban guerrillas, the defense ministry said in a statement.

There were no casualties among Afghan and foreign forces in either encounter, Afghan officials said. The Taliban could not be contacted immediately for comment.

Removed from power in 2001, the Taliban Islamic movement leads an insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign troops.

The al Qaeda-backed militant group has vowed to topple the government and drive out foreign troops under the command of the U.S. military and NATO.

Violence has killed more than 11,000 people in the past two years, the bloodiest period since Taliban's ouster.

It happens despite the presence of more than 55,000 foreign troops and some 140,000 national forces.

(Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Alex Richardson)
Back to Top

Back to Top
Pentagon records detail prisoner abuse by US military
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 17, 2:26 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Military interrogators assaulted Afghan detainees in 2003, using investigation methods they learned during self-defense training, Pentagon documents released Wednesday show.

Detainees at the Gardez Detention Facility in southeastern Afghanistan reported being made to kneel outside in wet clothing and being kicked and punched in the kidneys, nose and knees if they moved, according to the documents.

A 2006 Army review concluded that the detainees were not abused but that the incident revealed "misconduct that warrants further action."

The documents, which were turned over Wednesday evening to the American Civil Liberties Union, focus on the 2003 death of Afghan detainee Jamal Nasser, who died in U.S. custody at the Gardez facility.

The documents detail interrogation techniques used on eight detainees, including Nasser, who were suspected of weapons trafficking.

The Army review found that abuse did not cause Nasser's death. But the documents include interviews with some interrogators who acknowledged slapping the detainees — a technique they learned during survival training at the Army's SERE school. SERE stands for Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape.

"You say you gave permission for (redacted) to hit detainees during interrogations; did you have a memorandum or order from your higher headquarters authorizing that?" a military criminal investigator asked one of the interrogators, according to a November 2004 transcript among the more than 300 pages of documents.

"No, I did not have a memorandum and had not seen one," the interrogator answered, according to the transcript. "I used tactics that were used in SERE."

The investigator continued: "Did you see (redacted) hit detainees during the interviews?"

"Yes, open or closed slaps, not punches," the interrogator answered.

In another interview that day, according to the documents, the Army investigator asks whether "you ever heard of a tactic of pouring cold water or a water and snow mix on persons captured?"

"They do spray cold water on prisoners," the interrogator answered, referring to SERE lessons. That interrogator was unaware, however, of men in his unit pouring cold water over the detainees, as the Afghans later complained.

ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said such interrogation techniques are taught at SERE schools only to show soldiers how to withstand them from enemy captors. She called the methods, when used together, a form of torture.

"They were intended to be defensive methods, not offensive methods," Singh said. "This raises serious questions about the interrogation methods that were being applied in Afghanistan."

SERE methods were also used on detainees by military interrogators in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Singh said.

The Pentagon and the Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening.

The 2004 criminal inquiry of Nasser's death was among a string of probes into alleged abuse of prisoners in U.S. jails in Afghanistan.

Trying to deflect the kind of scandal that followed the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan ordered a review of their secretive network of about 20 jails at bases across Afghanistan.

Nasser was among eight detainees who were held at Gardez for between 18 and 20 days. The Army concluded he died of a stomach ailment.
___
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.
Back to Top

Back to Top
Afghan parliament committee drafts Taliban-style moral law
Wed Apr 16, 1:25 PM ET
KABUL (AFP) - An Afghan legislative committee has drafted a bill seeking to introduce Taliban-style Islamic morality codes banning women from wearing make-up in public and forbidding young boys from wearing female fashions.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, needs approval by both chambers of the Islamist-dominated parliament and President Hamid Karzai signature to become a law.

"Women and girls are obliged to not wear make-up, wear suitable dresses and observe hijab (veil) while at work or classrooms," said one article of the draft.

It also aims to ban women dancers performing during concerts and other public events as well as on television.

"The mass media including television and cable networks must avoid broadcasting programmes against Islamic morals," it said without giving details.

In a similar move the parliament, which is dominated by former anti-Soviet Islamist warlords, called earlier this month for a ban on dancing and Indian soap dramas on private television networks.

Men and young boys must avoid wearing bracelets, necklaces, "feminist dresses," and hair-bands, the draft reads.

The proposals also demand an end to dog and bird-fighting, pigeon-flying, billiards and video games, all past times favoured by many Afghans.

It demands separate halls for men and women during wedding parties, while loud music is banned at such gatherings. Afghans hold big and costly get-togethers for weddings, usually in a public hall with music.

If the proposals are passed, violators could be fined 500 Afghanis (10 dollars) to 5,000, according to the draft.

The plans mirror many of the laws introduced by the extremist Taliban regime, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 with strict Islamic Sharia law.
Back to Top

Back to Top
NATO force in Afghanistan drops ammo into wrong hands: statement
Thu Apr 17, 6:37 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - NATO admitted on Thursday that a helicopter mistakenly dropped military supplies in the wrong place in southern Afghanistan and that they had subsequently disappeared.

Afghan media said the ammunition including rocket-propelled grenades as well as food and water was seized by Taliban militants, but NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not say who took the supplies.

"On March 25, a private helicopter company was contracted, on behalf of an ISAF unit, to resupply an Afghan National Police (ANP) outpost located in a remote mountain area" of Zabul provine, an ISAF statement said.

"Unfortunately, due to a human error in transcribing the latitude and longitude of the location, the load was dropped in another remote area," it added.

The "forces sent aircraft for a visual reconnaissance, however, the missing cargo could not be found," it said without elaborating on who might have seized the load.

Afghan media citing local officials and a parliamentarian from the troubled province, a hotbed of insurgent activity, have reported that the weapons were taken by the Taliban.

The Taliban were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001 and are waging an insurgency against the government and international forces based here.
Back to Top

Back to Top
Liberals demand Bernier resign over Afghan gaffe
Updated Thu. Apr. 17 2008 - The Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- Opposition parties are slowly roasting Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier over his diplomatic blunder on Afghanistan.

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae called today for Bernier to be fired, describing him as incompetent and irresponsible.

And the NDP put a motion before a Commons committee demanding the minister appear to explain why he publicly called for the removal of the governor of Kandahar.

Bernier ended his visit to the war-torn country on Monday by effectively calling for the removal of Asadullah Khalid, linking him to the rampant corruption that plagues the impoverished region.

He was quickly forced to issue a "clarification'' after the Afghan government expressed concern about foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Rae says it's just the latest in a series of embarrassing gaffes by Bernier. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he supports Bernier and has no plans to replace him.
Back to Top

Back to Top
Trip to Afghanistan a step in the healing process
Dead soldiers' families tour Canadian base to see mission up close
Ottawa Citizen, Canada Ryan Cormier
The Edmonton Journal  Thursday, April 17, 2008
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -Shortly before he went to Afghanistan, Trooper Darryl Caswell invited his mother to CFB Petawawa and insisted she buy a pair of military-issue hiking boots just like the ones he would wear overseas.

"He said the good thing was, Mom, your boots will never get to Afghanistan," said Darlene Cushman.

This week, they did.

Ms. Cushman wore the boots when she stepped off a plane at Kandahar Airfield on Tuesday and throughout her two-day tour of the mission for which her son died.

"I wanted to see what my son had dedicated and given his life to," she said. "I wanted to feel as much as I could about what Darryl felt. It's difficult, yet it's comforting. Even though he's resting in Ottawa in the military cemetery, I know that I feel him here."

Pte. Caswell, 25, of Bowmanville, Ont., was killed by a roadside bomb on June 11, 2007.
His mother and sister, Jolene Cushman, joined family members of four other soldiers who have died in Afghanistan to tour the Kandahar Airfield and see the mission's progress.

The military offers the trip to all family members of those killed in Afghanistan as a step in the healing process, said Lt.-Col. Gerry Blais, director of casualty support for the Canadian Forces. It is the second such trip, after a similar one in November. The military limits each trip to members of four or five families to sustain a close feeling among them.

Some take the military up on their offer, others don't.

When the invitation came to his Bridgewater, N.S., home, Jim Davis decided to go "in a heartbeat." His son, Cpl. Paul Davis, 28, was killed when the light-armoured vehicle he was in crashed and rolled on an Afghanistan road six weeks after he arrived.

"I always wanted to come when I heard my son was killed," said Mr. Davis, who rode in the same type of vehicle in which his son died. "I knew I had to come to Afghanistan. He sacrificed his life for what I believe was a good cause. I believe in that cause. I wanted to come and see it for myself."

For Barry Mellish, the trip from Truro, N.S., was important for two reasons. He wanted to confirm for himself that there was still progress being made in the country and to see how his son was being remembered.

As he sat next to the Canadian cenotaph, his eyes watered whenever a soldier passed and saluted the monument to fallen soldiers.

Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, 38, died during a ground offensive on Sept. 3, 2006.

The trip concluded yesterday morning with a memorial ceremony attended by family members, senior Canadian officers and members of the Afghan National Army. Each family laid a wreath at the cenotaph.
Darlene Cushman said having other family members alongside her -- strangers only a few days ago -- helped.

"I think having the families together is good healing. We look at each other and we don't have to explain how we feel. It's already there. The eyes say a lot."

Others on the tour included: Donald Poland of Brampton, Ont., father of Cpl. Brent Poland, 37, who was killed by a roadside bomb on April 8, 2007; Doreen Young of Mill Cove, N.S., who made the trip for her son, Pte. Richard Green, who was killed by friendly fire on April 18, 2002.

The families say the trip helped to approach some sort of closure, a word used often when they discussed their planned trip back home.

For Mr. Davis, he has envisioned a day when he will reach that point.

"My next step will be to come back to this country when it is at peace and on its own two feet," he said. "I'll go to the spot where Paul was killed and lay a wreath, and be welcomed by the Afghan people. That's when I'll have real closure."
Back to Top

Back to Top
UN envoy: Training of police is priority for Afghanistan
Xinhua, China www.chinaview.cn 2008-04-17
BRUSSELS-The training of Afghan police is a priority for the international community, said Kai Eide, UN's new envoy to Afghanistan, on Wednesday.

"In the overall architecture of what we are doing, this (police training) is still an area which really needs high priority and extra efforts," he told reporters after a meeting with representatives of troop contributing countries to Afghanistan.

The representatives agreed on a "clear-hold-build" approach to Afghanistan, said a NATO spokesman.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan National Army are tasked to clear the ground and the UN is responsible for building. The Afghan police has a crucial role in holding the situation, said the spokesman.

The representatives agreed that the Afghan police must be strengthened.

Eide also took as priorities preparations for the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and an international conference in Paris where an Afghan national development plan is to be presented.

Eide said the security situation in the run-up to the 2009 elections is challenging. He also asked the international community to fund the elections.

The UN and NATO agreed to improve coordination in Afghanistan. "The international community needs stronger coordination, the civilian and the military need to be better coordinated," NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said at the same press conference.

Eide said he is looking forward to "open and frank" dialogues with NATO.
Editor: Mu Xuequan
Back to Top

Back to Top
Election delay is 'against constitution', MPs say
www.quqnoos.com Written by Hamed Haidary Wednesday, 16 April 2008
MPs accuse commission of breaking constitution by delaying elections
MEMBERS of Parliament and political analysts have accused the Independent Election Commission of breaking the constitution by delaying next year’s presidential elections.

But the Independent Election Commission, which last week moved the 2009 elections from Spring to Autumn, says that any preparations for the elections would be made impossible by the winter weather if it stuck to the original date.

Khost MP Said Mohammad Gullab Zoi said yesterday (Tuesday): “If we change the law, we must ask the Lower House first. What the commission has done is against the constitution. No one can change the constitution.”

The commission made the decision to push back the elections the day after President Karzai told Parliament that the constitution would not by changed and that he would not extend his time in office.
The president must leave office on May 21 of his fifth year in power, according to Article 61 of the constitution.

Presidential elections must be held within 30 to 60 days prior to the president stepping down, the Article says.

Some political analysts also accuse the commission of acting illegally by pushing the elections back, while others say the government forced the commission to delay the elections so it could remain in power for longer.

Political analyst, Ahmad Saedi, said: “Anybody who does something against constitution is breaking the law, and must be punished.”

But the independent election commission sticks by its decision, arguing that elections during spring would be “impossible”.

Deputy head of the Independent Election Commission, Zekria Barikzi, said: “If we launched elections in the spring, it would mean that we have to make some preparations at the end of winter, which is extremely difficult in Afghanistan, and almost impossible in some parts of the country.”
Back to Top

Back to Top
Ex-Taliban ambassador hints at peace talks
www.quqnoos.com Written by Mujahid Kakar Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Zaeef says foreigners must leave before Taliban negotiates with government
THE FORMER Taliban ambassador to Pakistan has hinted at a major shift in the Taliban’s policy towards opening peace talks with President Karzai’s government.

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, one of the best known public faces of the Taliban, has said in an exclusive interview with Quqnoos.com that it was “still possible” for the Taliban and the government to start negotiating a peace deal.

“As long as foreigners are here, it will be difficult for the Taliban to negotiate. But it is still possible that the Taliban will open talks with the government and the people of Afghanistan.

“The negotiations will only work if Afghan people are making their own decisions and their own choices in the negotiations,” Zaeef told quqnoos.com.

The comments signal a significant change in Taliban policy.

In the past, the militant group has refused to open peace talks with the government, which it previously accused of being a puppet regime propped up by foreigners.

Mullah Zaeef made it clear in the interview that the Taliban would only look to broker a peace deal with the government if the international community left Afghanistan.

“The only way to solve the problems and to stop the fighting is through negotiation. The only problem is the foreigners in the country,” Zaeef said.

He also said it was possible that the country’s former president and current United Front leader, Burhanuddin Rabbani, had already opened talks with the Taliban.

“Rabbanni is an Afghan: anyone from the north, east, south or west of Afghanistan can take part in the negotiations and take part in the peace process.”

But he denied that talks between the Taliban and Karzai’s government had already taken place.

“The president has announced the issue several times through the media, but no practical steps have been taken.”

Despite this, some MPs think that Taliban-style draft laws, the recent ban on Indian soap operas and the new election date are all signs that the government is willing to appease the Taliban.

Some MPs argue that appeasing the Taliban would allow peace talks to begin, but others say Karzai is trying to at garner Taliban support before the 2009 elections.

New draft laws drawn up by the Commission for Anti-social Behaviour call for a ban on everything from women and men talking together in public to a ban on loud music and shops that sell “revealing” clothing.

In the interview, Zaeef defended the Taliban’s ideology and said that lawlessness in Afghanistan forced the group to take “such an extremist stance”.

“When the Taliban came to power, there was no discipline or regulation in Afghanistan. There was no regular army and everywhere there was fighting.

“Under the Taliban, there was no fighting, there was security, there were no killings except those according to Sharia.”

He accused NATO of killing thousands of civilians, burning down homes and collectively killing Taliban supporters.

He branded Karzai’s government “unstable” and said it should tell foreigners to leave Afghanistan.

The US army captured Zaeef in 2002 after he was refused political asylum in Pakistan.

He is no longer a member of the Taliban regime although many believe he acts as an unofficial mediator between the Karzai government and the Taliban.
Back to Top

Back to Top
Morgan Spurlock in hot pursuit in 'Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?'
The documentary filmmaker explores America's culture of fear as he travels the globe for a sense of understanding.
Los Angeles Times, CA By Tom Roston Special to The Times April 17, 2008
NEW YORK -"THERE were so many expectations," Morgan Spurlock says about his new documentary, "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?," which opens in Los Angeles on Friday. "I'm flattered that people had so much faith in me, but now audiences can just go and enjoy the movie."

Spurlock wants to get this out of the way: No, he wasn't secretly trained by a special ops unit. And no, he didn't actually find Osama bin Laden. On a sunny April morning, the director, 37, sipping a cup of coffee while sitting in the Tea Lounge around the corner from his home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is happy to dispel the more extreme Internet rumors about his latest filmmaking adventure, largely because he thinks they inhibited the audience's appreciation of the movie when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

He did, however, go to Pakistan, Afghanistan and several other nations of the Muslim world. But he went as the Average American, as if your curious, indefatigable, risk-loving brother-in-law got it in his head to try to track down the chief of Al Qaeda. Not that he really was expecting to smoke out Bin Laden; his real target was the culture of fear he saw plaguing his fellow Americans. And although there is great irony in the greatest superpower in the world's inability to track down a man supposedly hiding in caves, Spurlock's mission was not so much to criticize but to examine and explore the mystique behind America's Public Enemy No. 1.

And when he says, "Enjoy the movie," he means it, because he is the sort of documentary director who believes nonfiction filmmaking and fun can be synonymous. After all, Spurlock managed that feat very successfully in his debut, 2004's "Super Size Me," in which he put himself on a diet of only McDonald's food for a month as a way to illuminate America's addiction to unhealthful fast food.

Much has happened for Spurlock since "Super Size Me." His trademark handle-bar mustache gets him recognized often (he says when he occasionally shaves it off, he becomes invisible); and he has spun his clout into a television show on the FX network, "30 Days" (the third season airs in June), and his own documentary distribution shingle, called "Morgan Spurlock Presents," which has backed six films.

He also married Alex, his vegan girlfriend who was featured in "Super Size Me," and the couple has a 16-month-old son, Laken. Spurlock says his new status as a family man helped propel "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?," which he had already been working on for several months in early 2006. But then his impending fatherhood captured his imagination, so the tone of the film shifted to "what kind of world am I bringing a kid into?" he says.

"I knew where we would start, but I didn't know where we'd end," Spurlock adds. "What we knew was that I'd come home and hopefully everything would be fine. And we'd have a baby."

MOST of the filming occurred in late 2006, over five months; Spurlock hopped on a plane, then hit the streets and sand dunes, talking with journalists and intellectuals. But he found himself gravitating mostly toward conversations with carpet salesmen and street vendors.

"What I am trying to do post-'Super Size Me' is to really have an experiential journey," says Spurlock, who also filmed his emotional phone conversations with his pregnant wife for the movie. "So I have to show you what is impacting me. And as you see things affecting me emotionally, they'll affect you emotionally. I hope."

This methodology, which places him on screen for pretty much the entire film, comes effortlessly to Spurlock. "Morgan has to understand something before he gets it," says Alex. "He has to experience something in order to make it real for him. So what you see on the screen is not an act."

That impulse conveniently has him following in the footsteps of successful documentarians, such as Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore, to whom Spurlock gives much respect. "He blew the doors open for the rest of us," Spurlock says of Moore.

However, being a director who's also on screen, as well as a writer, producer and his own all-around gofer, makes for a frenetic lifestyle. "It's pretty ridiculous. In the last three years, if he's been in one time zone for more than three months I'd be shocked," says Jeremy Chilnick, a writer and producer on "Where in the World." "Morgan does everything."

(Chilnick notes that Spurlock's speedy pace can be highly beneficial, especially when shooting in countries such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Spurlock and his team -- a producer, a cameraman and one security advisor -- would film for 15 minutes at a time, at which point a crowd would begin to congregate, creating more of "a target." They'd then pick up and leave.)

SPURLOCK, raised in Beckley, W.Va., was the sort of kid in school who did everything -- student government, football, baseball, track and . . . ballet. Spurlock's dance classes, which he took through childhood, made him the target of teasing, but he kept at it, largely because he had two older brothers who danced, and made it "cool." (Both brothers eventually danced professionally before taking on more conventional careers.) It was all part of his parents' plan to get their children to find ways to express themselves.

Spurlock eventually applied to USC's film school. After getting rejected five times, he went to New York University.

His professional career was a series of baby steps over 10 years -- stand-up comic, production assistant, spokesman for Sony Electronics, announcer for the Sony-sponsored beach volleyball league. He began directing industrial films for corporations and created an online reality show for MTV called "I Bet You Will" (a precursor to "Fear Factor") before coming up with the idea for "Super Size Me" in 2003.
Now his sophomore effort, with its grandiose title, grand scope (shooting in 15 countries; elaborate animated sequences that include Spurlock having a full-on video-game battle with a 9-foot, bionic Bin Laden) and a far-larger budget than his previous film ("Super Size Me" cost $300,000), brings increased expectations. But the director maintains that the key to his filmmaking remains the same. It's something his mother used to always tell him: Just listen.

That dictum is apparent in the film, as he literally breaks bread with people who might see him as a threat but who seem to genuinely like him. It's also evident in how Spurlock responded to distributor Weinstein Co.'s penchant for test-marketing its films, which it did for "Where in the World" after Sundance.

Spurlock made two significant changes because of audience response: entirely cutting an elaborate, animated sequence and changing a pivotal closing song, from the goofy "Why Can't We Be Friends?" to the more thoughtful, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."

Heeding test screenings is just another form of listening, according to Spurlock. "The one thing I know is that I don't know everything," he says. "Far from it."
Back to Top


 Back to News Archirves of 2008
 
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).