Captain

More atrocious details from the Guinean junta's recent crackdown on protesters—of women knifed, whipped, and raped repeatedly by soldiers—surfaced in the Times yesterday. Until recently, the former French colony of approximately 10 million had a reputation for being among the most stable of its West African neighbors. Stable yes, but democratic no: until December 2008, two strongman military figures had dominated the country since independence in 1958.

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One could now accurately write that headline more than once a day, unfortunately. But this one stands out for me, mostly because he came from roughly where I grew up, and also because he was an acquaintance of someone close to me.

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Jones v. McCain

Jim Jones's stern words for General McChrystal on the Sunday shows have gotten plenty of attention, but less noticed were Jones's comments about John McCain, who'd accused Jones of not "want[ing] to alienate the left base of the Democrat Party” on Afghanistan: “Sen. McCain knows me very well,” Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “I worked for Senator McCain when he was a captain. I’ve known him for many, many years. And he knows that I don’t play politics with national – I don’t play politics.

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In interesting GOP 2010 news, The Hill reports that the GOP tried to recruit everybody’s favorite Miracle on the Hudson pilot Captain Sully to run for a House seat in California. The NRCC sent in fellow Air Force veteran Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) to lead the charge.

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I am not a Trekkie. It’s important that this be clearly established before we move on. Yes, as a boy I was a fan of the original “Star Trek,” to the point where I could distinguish a Saladin-class Destroyer from a Ptolemy-class tug--an admission I’d be loath to make if my wife weren’t already bound to me by marital vows, two children, and a large puppy. But I never cottoned to the subsequent Trek series and bailed out on the movie adaptations shortly after the Enterprise started rescuing whales in the mid-80s. I am not, in other words, someone who approached director J. J.

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Lights On

Baghdad, Iraq In December 2007, the Alpha Company of the 4-64 Armor Battalion of the Fourth Brigade, Third Infantry Division, arrived in the neighborhood of Saidiyah in southwest Baghdad. More than half of the onceupscale, religiously mixed neighborhood's 60,000 residents had fled to Jordan, Syria, or other parts of Iraq. Those who stayed rarely ventured out of their homes. Up until a few months earlier, human corpses had littered the street, where stray dogs feasted on them.

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Early last spring, outside a guesthouse in Kabul where I was staying, an injured Afghan man limped up to the locked gate. He wore a blazer with suede elbow patches and leaned on crutches. Because a suicide bomber had attacked the building not long before, a guard blocked the entrance of the unannounced supplicant. The fact that the man refused to give his name didn't help his case.

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Wasteland

Captain Ty Wiltz normally oversees the narcotics division of the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office. But, since Katrina hit, he has been leading a search and rescue team deep into the parish bayou, which begins just south of New Orleans and runs nearly 100 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Space Saver

Serenity, writer/director Joss Whedon's exuberant space opera, opens with one nod to the power of love and closes with another, the first concerning a brother's affection for his sister and the second, a captain's for his spaceship.

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Love Hurts

One of the most emotionally affecting moments of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow comes, unfortunately, during the closing credits, when jazz vocalist Jane Monheit sings "Over the Rainbow." It's a wistful, haunting rendition that plays beautifully off Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz version, becoming at once old and new, an homage and an original. It's this challenge, of simultaneously conjuring the classics and offering something fresh and vital, that largely eludes Sky Captain, released on video today.

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