Investigating the deaths of children, says medical examiner Dr. Jon Thogmartin, is especially difficult, given “the emotional content that comes with them.” And for this reason, investigators must be especially careful: “You have to objectify the kid and find out what happened to them.” As the new Frontline reveals, however, in at least 20 cases, the pursuit of truth has been derailed by the faulty work of medical examiners. Premiering tonight and also available online, The Child Cases returns to the investigation of medical examiners and forensic pathology initiated in Post Mortem, this time with particular focus on prosecutions in children’s deaths. As least 20 of these cases in the U.S. and Canada, where medical examiners don’t need to be licensed, are founded on evidence later found to be unreliable. Reporter A.C. Thompson investigates the case against Ernie Lopez, in Amarillo, Texas, convicted of raping and killing a six-month-old girl, based on a medical examiner’s flawed testimony. Thompson speaks with Patrick Barnes, the doctor whose diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome” helped to convict nanny Louise Woodward in 1997. Now, he says, “There are number of medical conditions that can affect a baby’s brain… and look like child abuse,” when they are not.
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I was never one of those creative types who imagines themselves writers or artists,” says Andrei Yevgrafov, his bluetooth earpiece glowing. “And I remember when I was a little kid, my aunt had a dog and I would march around with the dog and pretend I was the Border Patrol.” Andrei sounds more perplexed than nostalgic. Over an old snapshot of his boy self with a toy gun, he sighs, “My relatives love telling that story.” It is a great story, considering that he’s now something of a raging capitalist, the wealthy owner of a Russian clothing store chain, Café Coton, specializing in French men’s shirts. “There isn’t any real competition here,” Andrei notes. His is one of five classmates’ stories in Robin Hessman’s terrific documentary, My Perestroika. Each recalls what it was like to be born into Soviet-era Communism, and now contemplates middle age in Russia’s new market economy. Through thoughtful and absorbing interviews, the film shows the perpetual disjunctions between official history and lived experiences.
Join a live chat with Hessman on 29 June at 2pm.
See PopMatters’ review.
As has probably been reported everywhere by now, Nirvana’s Nevermind is set to get the deluxe reissue treatment to commemorate the record’s twentieth anniversary. To answer the question that countless music bloggers feel compelled to ask, yes, this release will make you feel old if you date everything in your life to the first time that you heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Otherwise, I suppose we can view this “milestone” with a certain amount of guarded ambivalence. I mean, really, how many times can this band’s lean back catalogue be repackaged and resold? And how many people already own bootleg versions of these promised rarities? Finally, how revelatory can the demo version of “Teen Spirit” really be? What’s it going to sound like? “Rape Me”?
I suppose those questions are enough to get all of you talking.
Former music blogger Nick Gutterbreakz has not only made the amazing leap from music writing to music creation, he has become a top talent in a crowded electronic scene. Made on all analogue equipment, Ekoplekz shares a kinship with the tetanus-laced junk electronics of Cabaret Voltaire, if they had come about in the era of Downliners Sekt and Mordant Music. In “Uncanny Riddim”, director Jade Boyd has come up with the perfect accompaniment to a music that is simultaneously post-dubstep, post-hauntology, and pre-digital, cameras pointed at scratchy TVs scrambled to reveal starkly naked if overall quotidian moments. The audio/visual makes one feel a voyeur in someone else’s ghost box, a nonconsensual chat roulette into the past. The video was created for a performance at the Outer Church in Brighton and is otherwise unreleased, but Ekoplekz’s double album Memowrekz is available to download from Bleep and Boomkat for a nicely affordable price.
Leading a film crew through empty streets in the tiny Belarusian town of Bobr, artist and resident resistance fighter Alexander Pushkin observes, “Everyone’s gone. They all hid when they saw us. They’re afraid that they and their loved ones will be punished… If a person appears in a film, he’s persecuted.” And so Pushkin is making his stand, using Andrzej Fidyk’s documentary to express his frustration at his countrymen’s complacency and promising to “explain the nature of a Belarusian.” He uses his art—sometimes painting, often performance—to remind his neighbors of their history, that Belarus did not begin just 60 years ago on “Victory Day,” the end of German occupation. In fact, he insists in his paintings and performances, Belarus has its own language and legacy, repressed by hundreds of years of Russian and Soviet occupation. He fights back as best he can: though Lukashenko banned the Belarusian flag and instituted “Muscovite symbols,” Pushkin insists on flying a red and white flag, the camera tracking him as he scrambles over his rooftop to replace a faded version with a new one. Entertaining and perplexing, the film shows Pushkin to be a decidedly complicated figure, at once energetic and committed, but also easily distracted, narcissistic, and frequently annoying. It’s hard to tell, however, whether he’s representative or anomalous, which makes the film seem very clever, or maybe elusive… making Pushkin’s case, along with and also in spite of his own efforts.
See PopMatters’ review.