The Scales of Justice: Public Sentiment Tipping the Balance

By D. Hsu A month ago, federal authorities arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with what he thought was 1,000 pounds of explosives. Luckily for New York City denizens, the bomb was actually a dud prepared by federal authorities and the NYPD, given to Nafis in an undercover anti-terrorism investigation. Reports have described Nafis more as a bumbling paper tiger than a terrorist mastermind. The ambitious 21-year-old Bangledeshi man came to the U.S. on a student visa with the sole purpose of waging jihad, but soon caught the FBI’s attention when he unwittingly approached an FBI informant to be his accomplice. As the FBI tracked Nafis in the months that followed, it became clear that Nafis lacked both the resources and wit required to carry out a terrorist attack. Although Nafis supported Al Qaeda ideology, he had no


Can't Get Enough

By S. Edwards This country can’t get enough of a good sex scandal when it involves high level politicians and who can blame us really they make for great stories. The latest man to have been caught in the delicious media web being spun around his personal life is Gen. David Petraeus former director of the CIA. Last week the story broke about his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell and the rest was history. The FBI, suspecting a possible security breach, investigated the affair after a woman complained of receiving harassing emails from Broadwell and shortly after the story broke Gen. Petraeus resigned from his position as CIA director. A man lauded for his dedication and patriotism stepped down after over 37 years of public service after admitting to having an extramarital affair. The story never just ends there. It goes on with countless articles written about Broadwell, her background,


The Media's Highs and Lows

By Joel Seidemann The media has its own highs and lows in reporting on high profile cases. A responsible media must accurately report what has transpired.  But it must do more than that. As the Supreme Court said  “The press does not simply publish information about trials but guards against miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism.” The Supreme Court recognized another side of the media: that often the media consists of “circulation-conscious editors catering to the insatiable interest of the American public in the bizarre.” On November 21, 2012, Investigation Discovery aired a documentary entitled “My Brother the Serial Killer”, examining the story that serial killer Glen Rogers had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and not OJ Simpson. Glen Rogers is a Florida death row inmate charged with killing five women in different states. Glen Rogers’ brother


“Argo” & The Iran Hostage Crisis: How Much Has Changed?

By Alex Farber Last weekend, I saw Ben Affleck’s new film, “Argo.” The movie tells the story of the CIA operation behind the capture and rescue of the six American diplomats rescued from Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980. The first scenes of the movie detail the modern-day history of the Iranian region – the rise and eventual fall of a series of governments, the United State’s offer of asylum to the Shah, and the subsequent backlash in Iran over the refusal of the United States to return the leader to his home country for trial and justice. Iranian protestors take to the streets in protest and, eventually, break through the barriers to the American embassy and seize control of the building and the American diplomats inside, in what would go down in history as the Iran Hostage Crisis. All together, it is a rather terrifying scene – chaos


The Hurricane and Its Silver Lining

By Matthew Hunter Platt There is probably not a single person in the northeast who has not, nor knows someone who has not been affected by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, the aptly named “Frankenstorm.” Much of Sandy’s intense strength came from the battle between hot and cold air masses as she transformed from a Tropical storm into an Extra-Tropical storm. She flooded subway systems, closed airports, shut down highways, and forcibly evacuated thousands of New Yorkers. Hundreds of thousands lost electricity, water, sanitary conditions or worse. Even now, a number of weeks after Sandy first arrived, millions are experiencing gasoline shortages. Yet, Sandy demonstrates the humanity and unity that America is capable of. Americans reached into their pockets to contribute to the NBC “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together” benefit for the Red Cross, raising $23 million dollars for victims of Sandy. Locally, New Yorkers, those spared and afflicted alike, helped


Detachment: Assessing the Strength of Human Emotion

By: Kris S. I recently stumbled upon a film that swept by unnoticed by most, unfortunately, the fate of many movies that don’t aim to prove their worth solely on the basis of box office numbers. Having figured this out a while ago, I’ve been catching up on some great movies that weren’t hyped before being released. This weekend that movie was Detachment, starring Adrien Brody. Brody stars as a substitute teacher who, with memories of his negative childhood still fresh in his mind, wanders from school to school taking up short substituting gigs. Having lost much of his faith in humanity based on his childhood experiences, he believes these short stints conveniently save him from establishing an emotional attachment to his students. However, this substituting gig turns out to be different. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but Brody’s experiences this time around finally begin to change his


Isaiah Sheffer – Rest in Peace

By Erin Bundra Isaiah Sheffer, Founding Artistic Director of Symphony Space, passed away last week at the age of 76.  Apart from the significant legacy he left through his work at Symphony Space and his numerous artistic contributions to the New York community, he was one of the judges for the inaugural Forum Short Film Competition this year. Reading through the many memories left on his Symphony Space page, it is clear that he will be fondly remembered and deeply missed.  Whether the story is from someone who knew him for years or someone who just caught a portion of his readings, his compassion, kindness, and enjoyment of life are echoed throughout. Given the thousands of cultural events Isaiah had a hand in producing, writing, directing, and hosting, the Forum is greatly honored that judging the FOLCS Awards for the Short Film Competition was the last NYC cultural event in


Too Much Tolerance

By S.R. This past September, the UN had its general assembly and invited Ahmadinejad to speak as it always does, and we allowed him to speak as we always do. The day he spoke was September 26, 2012. That day also happened to be Yom Kippur; the holiest day for the Jews. At that time, the Internet was abuzz with why we would allow such a man to speak on such a day. On the flip side, the Internet was also abuzz with why it matters to the rest of the world what day it is. If the Jewish People hold this day in such high accord, it doesn’t mean everyone else has to as well. I must say that I agree with the latter. As a Jew myself, Yom Kippur is important to me because it’s a day of repentance when I am cleansed of my sins. What Ahmadinejad


Marijuana Legalization: A Victory For Civil Rights?

By Thomas Raccuia Eugene Jarecki’s powerful documentary The House I Live In is surely still fresh in the minds of many Forum fans.  For those who were unable to attend the screening last month during the Forum Film Festival, the The House I Live In explores the many failures of this country’s War on Drugs, argues that the human cost of criminalizing innocuous substances like marijuana is unacceptable, and concludes that the war must be abandoned or rethought (I am not quite doing Jarecki justice here. The House I Live In is currently playing at Cinema Village on East 12th Street—go see it.). I am not writing to discuss The House I Live In, but the film is relevant to what I am about to discuss.  I am here instead to highlight something which may have gone overlooked in the post-election media frenzy.  President Obama’s reelection has predictably dominated the


The “47 Percent Mentality”: Trampling on Human Rights and American Values

Among the various gaffes by presidential candidates, few were more damaging than Governor Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comments. Romney claimed that 47 percent of Americans do not pay income tax, “depend on” the government, and “believe that they are victims” who are “entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”  He added that his “job is not to worry about those people” since he will never convince them to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”  The media criticized Romney because the President’s job is to represent the whole country’s citizenry and not a fraction of them.  While the comment served as a basis for political quips, it is important to consider the merits and underlying bases of Romney’s “47 percent mentality” (“the mentality”), which—by focusing on short-term economics and neglecting due consideration of the policy’s social ramifications—tramples on human rights and American values. The Declaration of