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STEPHEN PLETKO "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)

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The Brain: The Story of You
The Brain: The Story of You
by David Eagleman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.55
23 used & new from CDN$ 20.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a "brain" to understand the brain, April 23 2016

“In writing [this book], I wanted to get away from a textbook model in favor of illuminating a deeper level of enquiry: how we decide, how we perceive reality, who we are, how are lives are steered, why we need other people, and where we’re heading as a species that’s just beginning to grab its own reins.

This [book] attempts to bridge the gap between the academic literature and the lives we lead as brain owners. The approach I take here diverges from the academic journal articles I write and even from my other neuroscience books.

This [book] is meant for a different kind of audience. It doesn’t presuppose any specialized knowledge, only curiosity and an appetite for self-exploration.”

The above comes from the introduction of this well-written, easy-to-read book (a companion to the PBS series of the same name) by David Eagleman. He is a neuroscientist (or nervous system scientist) who specializes in brain plasticity, time perception, synesthesia, and the intersection of science with social policy. {Plasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt by creating new or modifying existing neural connections. Synesthesia is the condition in which a sensory experience normally associated with one sense modality (like vision) occurs when another sense modality (like hearing) is stimulated. For example, particular sounds producing particular colour sensations.}

We are given a tour of our brain or “inner cosmos” with Eagleman as our guide. Through our journey, we encounter such things as the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and even the search for immortality.

Each chapter begins with an introduction that serves as a teaser for what is to come in that particular chapter. Here is the introduction to the first chapter:

“All the experiences in your life—from single conversations to your broader culture—shape the microscopic details of your brain. [Neurologically] speaking, who you are depends on where you’ve been. Your brain is a relentless shape-shifter, constantly rewriting its own circuitry—and because your experiences are unique, so are the vast, detailed patterns in your neural networks. Because they continue to change your whole life, your identity is a moving target, it never reaches an endpoint.”

And here is the introduction to the final chapter:

“The human body is a masterpiece of complexity and beauty—a symphony of forty trillion cells working in concert. However, it has its limitations. Your senses set boundaries on what you can experience. Your body sets limits on what you can do. But what if the brain could understand new kinds of inputs and control new kinds of limbs—expanding the reality we inhabit? We’re at a moment in human history when the marriage of our biology and our technology will transcend the brain’s limitations. We can hack our own hardware and steer a course into the future. This is poised to fundamentally change what it will mean to be a human.”

Throughout the book are pages with a blue background that zero-in on a particular topic. My favourite blue background page is entitled “The Vest.” This is an actual wearable vest that Eagleman and a graduate student built to provide sensory substitution for the deaf that allows them to “hear.” (Sensory substitution is an approach to compensate for an impaired sense in which sensory information is fed into the brain through unusual sensory channels.)

Also, throughout the book are illustrations (pictures, diagrams, etc.). I found these aided the narrative substantially. As well, there is a brief glossary at the end of the book.

Finally, I had some problems with this book. There is no index. A wealth of information (some of it cutting-edge) is presented but there is no easy access to it. As well, I feel that the glossary could have been expanded.

In conclusion, this is an excellent book on a difficult subject that gives you “a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos.”

(First published 2015; introduction; 6 chapters; acknowledgements; endnotes; glossary; image credits)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


NOVA: Invisible Universe Revealed
NOVA: Invisible Universe Revealed
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 26.98
16 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Humankind's window on the Universe: The story of the telescope that has brought the Universe to the citizens of planet Earth!!, April 16 2016

“It may be the boldest experiment ever undertaken in astronomy—with a legacy that will endure for centuries. This single tool—the HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE—has revealed [such things as] the size and age of the Universe, the birthplace of stars, and the existence of black holes. It’s helped us find planets like our own in far-off solar systems and a mysterious force--dark energy—that makes up about seventy percent of the Universe.

The story of Hubble is the story of discovery. It’s also the story of one of the biggest blunders in the history of science. And of the genius and courage that saved the day.

Now on Hubble’s 25th anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable tale of how this magnificent machine was built, how it solved some of our most enduring mysteries, and how it is showing us a Universe as beautiful as it is astounding.”

The above is said by the narrator at the beginning of the magnificent documentary about the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

This film does a fantastic job of tracing the history of NASA’s HST from its conception (in 1946!), telling us about the astronomer it’s named after, Edwin Hubble (1889 to 1953), and introducing us to the “mother of the Hubble.”

We then see its deployment in low Earth orbit on April, 1990 and the discovery that the HST needed glasses to see properly! Then we eavesdrop on the 1993 servicing space mission that actually put the new glasses on it and the resultant drama to see if they actually worked.

The last part of this documentary is absolutely stunning as we’re told of some of the key questions Hubble has answered. For example:

(1) How old is the Universe?
(2) How many stars are in the Universe?
(3) How do galaxies (a gravitationally bound system of stars) actually form?

Finally, the images shown throughout are mind-boggling and the animation is instructive. Brief comments are provided by experts.

In conclusion, there are not enough words to describe the magnificence of this wonderful documentary!!!

(2015; 53 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 6 scenes; NOVA-PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO. London, Ontario, Canada>>


Darkman (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Darkman (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Liam Neeson
Price: CDN$ 12.95
37 used & new from CDN$ 1.83

5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm everyone...and no one...everywhere...nowhere. Call me DARKMAN", April 9 2016

“What is it about the dark? What secret does it hold?”

The above comes from this intriguing and different superhero action film that was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi.

This movie is based on a short story Raimi wrote to pay homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s.

Briefly, Liam Neeson stars as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is attacked and left for dead by ruthless mobster, Robert G. Durant (Larry Drake), after his girlfriend (Frances McDormand) runs afoul of a corrupt developer (Colin Friels). Westlake, now as Darkman, seeks revenge.

Clearly, this would be a routine revenge movie were it not for the good acting of the key players, especially Neeson and Drake. Then you have the thrilling visual effects. Finally, there is witty dialogue.

Here is one of my favourite pieces of dialogue:

First thug: Bum leg?
Second thug: [Knocking on his wooden leg] No leg.
First thug: I was engaged to a girl once with a wooden leg.
Second thug: Yeah? What happened?
First thug: Had to break it off.

This movie is kind of like a “Phantom of the Opera” (but high-tech) as well as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

I was impressed that Darkman is fully explored moving through the entire range of emotions, from timid romance to rage and despair.

The movie itself has a quirky scientific logic.

I also enjoyed the background music. It adds to each scene.

This movie is not for everyone. It is a fantasy movie that although violent provides interest and escapism. Above all, it is a highly original movie that seems to draw you in. I can see why it has become a cult favourite.

Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 1998) has three extras. This movie has earned back about three times its operating budget.

In conclusion, for those who want to treat themselves to a truly, original superhero film, this is definitely the movie to see. By the end of this movie, you’ll probably agree that “crime has a new enemy and justice has a brand new face.”

(1990; 1 hr, 30 min. excluding end credits; 16 scenes; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
by Alex Epstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.74
25 used & new from CDN$ 17.13

1.0 out of 5 stars Have you hugged the people who work in the fossil-fuel (oil, coal, natural gas) industry lately?? If you haven't, you should!!, April 3 2016

"'Here, in a sentence, is the moral case for fossil fuels, the single thought that can empower the world: Mankind's [sic] use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous because human life is the standard of value, and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life."'

The above comes at the very end of this slickly written book by Alex Epstein. From this book's inside back flap, we're told that he started the 'Center for Industrial Progress' and that 'he has publicly debated leading environmentalists.' Oddly, we are not given any indication of his credentials. Through my own research, I found that Epstein's only credential is a philosophy degree. (That's right, a philosophy degree!)

Let me state from the onset that this book has many, many flaws that are too numerous to explain. It even has a science fiction feel to it in some sections. Such a book (for me anyway) is very difficult to review. What I'm going to do is highlight some of the obvious problems with it.

At the very beginning of this book we're told that Epstein agrees that fossil fuels cause climate change, that they cause pollution, and that they are non-renewable.

Epstein states that the power or energy derived from fossil fuels is cheap, plentiful, reliable, and scalable. I agree. But fossil fuels have been recently (within the past thirty years or so) discovered to have a tragic flaw. They release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when combusted or 'burned.' This has led to climate change which, as I said above, Epstein agrees with. But despite this, he says that we should be burning MORE fossil fuels.

This is like taking a drug for a medical condition, discovering that it has serious side effects, but continuing to take it and even taking more of it.

How is it possible that Epstein can arrive at such a silly conclusion?

Answer: He claims that climate change is not a 'serious problem.' He comes to this conclusion through the typical methods used by climate-change deniers and other truthers: cherry-picked data, misinterpretation, and by berating scientists who he accuses of 'deliberately misleading the public, which inevitably leads to uninformed, dangerous decision-making.'

In one chapter with many graphs, Epstein constantly confuses correlation with causation. For example, in one graph there is a correlation between fossil fuels and increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He concludes that fossil fuels cause GDP to increase. But he gives no explanation of exactly how fossil fuels causes GDP to increase.

In another chapter, Epstein tells us that 'life-expectancy' is a leading indicator 'of human flourishing.' This idea leads back to climate change (which in this chapter he calls 'catastrophic climate change') where more people should be dying due to the climate. But the selected graphs he analyses show the opposite: 'more fossil fuel use, fewer drought-related deaths;' 'more fossil fuel use, fewer storm-related deaths.'

This is misleading because climate change predicts only that the climate will become more unstable and unpredictable NOT that there will be more deaths. If he would have analysed the proper graphs, he would have found that more fossil fuel use causes more droughts and storms.

This book will have you pausing to think: 'Did he really say that?' My favourite 'pause' moment occurs when he states that 'there is no inherent reason to think that the EXTINCTION of any given plant or animal is bad for humans.' (Epstein tells us that he doesn't like wolves and bears so let's eliminate them.)

Here's some more of what Epstein says or implies:

(1) You can't rely on climate models.
(2) Scientists in the 1970s predicted global cooling, so what do they know?
(3) Nuclear energy via nuclear fission is safe. (Ask those who experienced the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan about how safe nuclear energy is)
(4) Fracking is safe. (Ask anyone who lives close to a fracking site about how safe fracking is)
(5) Extracting oil from the tar sands is safe. (Ask the Aboriginal people who live close to the tar sands how safe such extraction is)
(6) Humans are 'masters of climate.' (I think Epstein obtained this phrase from the sci-fi cartoon series 'Masters of the Universe')
(7) There are only three renewable energy sources: solar, wind, and biomass.

Epstein celebrates that 'fossil fuels are instrumental in purifying the air we breathe and the water we drink.' But what was the cause of the pollution in the first place?

He puts down renewables saying that they're inferior to fossil fuels. However, contrary to what he says, the technology exists for the American economy to achieve 80% reliance on carbon-free solar, wind, and other renewables sources by 2050. If that sounds like wishful-thinking, take note that both Germany and Denmark are well on their way.

There is absolutely nothing said in this book about ocean water acidification (caused by absorption of excess carbon dioxide) thus putting all marine life in danger or the disappearance of glaciers that are used by millions of people as a fresh water drinking source. And how about acid rain. Remember that? Apparently Epstein doesn't.

Finally, at the end of the day and this book, Epstein needs to ask himself what is moral about bequeathing an overheated, environmentally-degraded planet to future generations.

In conclusion, there is no 'moral case for fossil fuels' just as there was no 'moral case for slavery' in the mid-1800s. The fact is that fossil fuels have never been about morality but they (especially oil) have always been about MONEY.

Here's another fact:

We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last generation that can do something about it.

(First published 2014; 9 chapters; main narrative 210 pages; acknowledgements; select biography; notes; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Catastrophe
Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Catastrophe
by Helen Caldicott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.87
26 used & new from CDN$ 20.23

4.0 out of 5 stars What this book tells us: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE NUCLEAR POWER, March 26 2016

'The Fukushima disaster is not over and will not end for many millennia. The radioactive fallout [or release], which has covered vast swaths of Japan, will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. It cannot simply be 'cleaned up,' and it will continue to contaminate food, humans, and animals.'

The above is found in the introduction of this eye-opening and thorough book edited by Dr. Helen Caldicott. She is a physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate. Caldicott is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, founder of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (now known as Beyond Nuclear), and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as the president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation.

For those that are unsure, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (located in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan) initiated primarily by a tsunami (tidal wave) that was triggered by an earthquake on (March 11, 2011). The damage caused by the tsunami produced equipment failures, and without this equipment, a loss-of-coolant accident followed, resulting in three nuclear meltdowns (that is, the melting of the cores of the nuclear reactors) and the release of radioactive material beginning on (March 12, 2011).

It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chornobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

This book came about from a symposium organized by Caldicott that was held on (March 11-12, 2013) at the New York Academy of Medicine. The symposium was and this book is concerned with the medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

This book is a compilation of the symposium presentations where the world's leading scientists, epidemiologists, physicists, physicians, and others presented. It contains information that has never before been seen by either the nuclear industry or the public at large.

Each chapter of this book is thus authored by a person who was at the symposium. Caldicott, besides writing the last transcribed symposium presentation/essay/chapter in this book, also wrote the excellent introduction to it.

Here are selected phrases from this book's chapter titles:

Contaminated world; radioactive cesium; effects of ionizing radiation; biological consequences; congenital malformations; radioactive waste; radioactive risks; food monitoring; epidemiologic studies; cancer risk.

There is a section at the end of the book entitled 'About the Contributors.' This section tells us about the person who wrote a particular chapter. For example, chapter 1 is authored by Herbert Abrams who we are told 'is the emeritus professor of radiology at Stanford University and member of the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) Committee of the National Academy of Sciences.' I recommend referring to this section first before reading a particular chapter.

Finally, there could have been a few things added to this book to make it more user-friendly. A glossary would have been beneficial, preferably at the end of each chapter. I feel more illustrations (diagrams, pictures, etc.) would have enhanced this book. Lastly, an index would have been handy.

In conclusion, this is the book to read for all those who care about the future of our beautiful planet in this nuclear age!!

(First published 2014; introduction; 20 chapters; main narrative 225 pages; notes; about the contributors; about the editor; publishing in the public interest)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


Nova: Lethal Seas [Import]
Nova: Lethal Seas [Import]
Price: CDN$ 31.66
13 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars CARBON DIOXIDE does it again!!, March 19 2016
This review is from: Nova: Lethal Seas [Import] (DVD)

“It covers more than two-thirds of the Earth. Its power is tremendous. Its importance to life, unquestioned. But now, something is changing in the sea, threatening some of our planet’s most spectacular treasures. And attacking the ocean’s fundamental web of life.

Scientists are in a race against time to discover the real risks and come up with solutions. Off a remote island, an amazing discovery: a spot that could hold the key to our future.

Can we crack the code of a rapidly changing ocean to understand what it means for life before it’s too late?”

The above is said by the narrator at the beginning of this extremely informative documentary.

The narrator tells us that “something is changing in the sea.” That “something” that’s changing is the water’s chemistry. What’s causing this change? Answer: the extra carbon dioxide that we’re dumbing into the Earth’s atmosphere. This extra carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans.

What does this mean for ocean life? It’s being negatively affected. And this in turn negatively affects humans.

This film explains (quite well) what’s happening to the ocean’s water chemistry. (I’ve just given a very brief summary). Then we get to follow scientists as they seek solutions to this seemingly unsolvable problem.

Finally, throughout this documentary, brief but important comments are given by experts. Besides the excellent scientific information imparted to the viewer, there is also impressive photography and film footage.

In conclusion, this is the documentary to get if you want to know what’s happening to our oceans and what scientists are doing to understand and perhaps solve this perplexing problem!!

(2013, 2015; 52 min, 30 sec excluding end credits; wide screen; 6 chapters; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO. London, Ontario. Canada>>


DVD ~ Sylvester Stallone
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 19.93
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars There's no need to fear, Underdog is here: THE CLASSIC UNDERDOG MOVIE, March 12 2016
This review is from: Rocky (DVD)

“Would you be interested in fighting Apollo Creed for the World Heavyweight Championship?”

The above is the turning point in this tremendously uplifting sports drama film written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.

This is a rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa (Stallone), an uneducated but kind working-class Italian-American boxer working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia.

Rocky, known as the “Italian Stallone,” starts out as a small-time club boxer and as the above question indicates, gets a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

We also get to follow Rocky’s love relationship with the very shy Adrian (Talia Shire) who has a brother (Burt Young). As well, we get to see the relationship between Rocky and the cantankerous Mickey (Burgess Meredith) who has been in the boxing biz for a long time and eventually becomes Rocky’s manager and trainer.

Is this movie predictable? You bet it is. However, because of the strong performances by all the leads, this movie was a sleeper hit, becoming the highest grossing film in the year of its release. (In fact, it won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and made Stallone a major star.)

The theme music entitled “Gonna Fly Now” is in a word: fantastic. It contributes significantly to the uplifting spirit of this movie.

And the final match is unparalleled and…unforgettable!!

This movie is considered to be one of the greatest sports films ever made. In 2006, it was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

It spawned six sequels. Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), and Creed (2015).

Not surprisingly, this movie has earned to-date 11,000 percent of its shoe-string budget!!!

Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 2001) has five extras. All of them are quite interesting.

In conclusion, this is the movie to get if you want to see a story that’s tremendously uplifting!!!!

(1976; 1 hr, 57 min excluding end credits; 24 scenes; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


Glaciers: The Politics of Ice
Glaciers: The Politics of Ice
by Jorge Daniel Taillant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Glaciers are COOL!!!, March 5 2016

“This is not [only] a scientific book full of scientific facts but rather a social, cultural, and political introspection of our cryosphere (the world of ice) that brings critical complex and rather obscure scientific information about ice and glaciers into perspective…

This book is about glaciers, their beauty, their hidden mystery, and the evolving politics and social awareness that is emerging to ensure their protection and survival…

This book is an effort to bring us closer to our glaciers; the ones that make a daily difference to our lives and the lives of many. It is about a [renewable] resource [that] for many [is] a resource we know nothing about.”

The above comes from this extremely informative book by Jorge Daniel Taillant. He is the founder of the Argentina-based Center for Human Rights and Environment.

What is a glacier? Here is a basic definition:

A large mass of ice and snow that forms in areas where the rate of snowfall constantly exceeds the rate at which the snow melts: it moves slowly outward from the center of snowfall accumulation or down a high mountain. (This book deals with mountain glaciers.)

Why are glaciers important? Of central importance is that their meltwater is a vital source of freshwater, water that humans and other life-forms can actually drink. They thus play a major role in the sustainability and balance of our global ecosystem.

This is actually an interdisciplinary book:

(1) Politics: the odd-numbered chapters are a sequential story about the politics behind the passage behind of the world’s first glacier protection law. One of these chapters details the personal work the author has done to promote glacier protection.

(2) Science: the even numbered chapters are about glaciers generally. One of these chapters deals with climate change. The fact is that no book about glaciers written in this anthropomorphic era can realistically avoid this topic. The last of these chapters has the provocative title of “The Human Right…to Glaciers?”

There are black & white photos of glaciers that are peppered throughout this book. As well, there are a few diagrams included. Want to see videos and more pictures about glaciers? The author explains how you can see glaciers in places around the world (like Africa or Argentina) on your phone or tablet!!

Finally, the notes for a particular chapter are found conveniently at the end of that chapter. They contain essential information also.

In conclusion, in the face of climate change and an increased need to access natural resources under a growing world population, understanding the intersection between science and society is critical. This book is a must-read in order to understand this critical intersection with respect to one of Earth’s most crucial and yet most ignored renewable, natural resources: GLACIERS.

(First published 2015; acknowledgements; how to read this book; introduction; 10 chapters; final words; main narrative 315 pages; appendix; bibliography; about the author; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


Dick Cavett's Vietnam [Import]
Dick Cavett's Vietnam [Import]
Price: CDN$ 31.66
15 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Taking a look back at a controversial chapter of American history, Feb. 27 2016

“It’s that America that is captured in the Cavett interviews. It’s the America that is wounded, scarred by this commitment in Southeast Asia and its now trying to figure out a way to get out.”

The above is said at the beginning of this extremely informative and entertaining documentary that is composed of outtakes from Dick Cavett’s first and most popular television talk show.

Cavett is an American television personality and former talk show host notable for his conversational style and in-depth discussions. He has appeared regularly on U.S. television for five decades starting in the late 1960s through the 2000s.

An older Cavett, who narrates this documentary, gives us some background at the beginning of it:

“Between 1968 and 1975, when my show aired on ABC, the Vietnam War [Nov 1955 to Apr 1975] was raging in Southeast Asia and the reaction at home [in America] was intense. While I set out to do an entertaining talk show, you could not keep [the] Vietnam [War] out of the conversation.”

This documentary corresponds with the fortieth anniversary of the Fall of Saigon (Apr 30, 1975) and the end of America’s presence in Vietnam. (Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city now officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City). It re-examines the conflict and its impact on America through interviews that are combined with archival footage, network news broadcasts, and newly filmed interviews with Cavett and other experts.

The people you’ll see in this documentary include celebrities (like Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Woody Allen who gives some good zingers), newscasters (such as Walter Cronkite), and politicians (for example: Richard Nixon, John Kerry).

Finally, what I did before viewing this documentary was read some basic information on the Vietnam War and the geography of the region. I found doing this made for a truly educational experience. (Note that you don’t have to do this.)

In conclusion, this is truly an exceptional documentary, both educational and entertaining, that examines a highly controversial period in American history.

(2015; 55 min excluding end credits; wide screen; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 26.98
17 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive documentary of how ISIS treats women and children, Feb. 20 2016
This review is from: FRONTLINE: Escaping ISIS (DVD)

“Tonight on Frontline, they live under the veil in fear. With undercover footage, Frontline shows the Islamic State’s brutal treatment of women and follows an underground network helping them escape.”

The above is what the narrator says at the beginning of this stunning documentary by “Frontline.” Frontline is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning public affairs television program that produces and broadcasts in-depth documentaries about various subjects.

This episode of Frontline was televised on July 14, 2015.

A warning message is given to the viewer before the actual film begins. It states that “tonight’s program contains graphic imagery and descriptions of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.”

In this documentary, we get to actually see the plight of women and children who belong to a religious minority (called the Yazidis). They have been targeted by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist organization) for especially brutal treatment. What ISIS is attempting to do is to impose on this religious minority its own interpretation of a pure version of Islam (the second largest religion by number in the world) which includes harsh restrictions on women.

We get to see a former Iraqi lawyer, who leads the effort to rescue both women and children taken captive by ISIS. As well, there is a young Syrian who heads another group against ISIS. Instead of smuggling out women and children, his group instead smuggles out undercover film footage. It is this footage that provides a gripping look inside the brutal reign of ISIS.

Finally, we’re told by the narrator that “the fighting in Syria and Iraq has created the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War and the Yazidis have been particularly effected.” With ISIS continuing to seize and hold territory, the situation as depicted in this documentary will only get worse.

In conclusion, this documentary provides first-hand accounts of woman and children who have escaped the capture and enslavement of ISIS!!

(2015; 53 min excluding end material and end credits; wide screen; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>


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