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Frontline: The Choice 2008

With just two weeks left until election day in the U.S., the race is no longer heating up: it's at a steady boil. Early voting has begun, a full eight national tracking polls are cranking out numbers daily, and the campaigns are on the ground nationwide Getting Out the Vote. If you haven't voted yet (or if you just can't get enough political coverage), I urge you to check out Frontline's The Choice 2008 program online. You can watch the whole thing for free -- and I think you'll find it worthwhile.

The Choice is a Frontline staple going back to 1988, taking a detailed look at both candidates, including extensive interviews with primary sources close to the candidates. The interviews are surprisingly revealing: these people aren't stage-managed politicos spouting talking points (presumably those bits have been edited out). Instead the interviewees offer honest, candid assessments of the candidates, their campaigns, and their personal biographies. It has been a long road to this election for both candidates, and The Choice is the definitive documentary about that journey. Here's part of the film's summary:

With the race narrowed to two men -- one whose life was focused by his military service and his years as a POW in Hanoi, the other a black child raised by his white family who found identity in grassroots organizing and politics in the African American community of Chicago -- America is truly at a crossroads: historic lows in the public's confidence in our country's future; a battered incumbent overseeing an unpopular war in Iraq; an economy in deep trouble as the world's financial crisis plays out.

"This is a moment where people are both terrified and also hopeful," says Kirk. "They have a choice between two extraordinary candidacies, two men who are trying to embody change in a time where many Americans seem to believe partisan dysfunction has curtailed the ability of our political parties to lead."

As journalist Matt Bai concludes, "Both of them, in what they convey to voters -- one in a long career spanning decades, the other in a lightning flash of a career spanning what seems like minutes -- [is] a sense of breaking with the status quo, a sense of change, a sense that things need to be done differently than they've been done before. And the question I think a lot of voters will have to ask themselves is, who's actually going to deliver?"

To watch the program, visit The Choice 2008 home page and click "Watch the Full Program" in the middle. Alternately, you can download the whole show from iTunes (also for free, through November) to watch it on the go. Finally, you can watch it on YouTube if you can stand the tiny little window.

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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iStock

Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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