Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Downing Street: 4 British hostages held for 2 years by Iran-backed group in Iraq are dead; U.K & U.S. duped?; Iran protests

"...Britain's worst hostage outcome in
living memory,"
says Channel 4 presenter
Jon Snow.
That was how it was described Wednesday night
across the U.K. after news was issued about the
death of a the third and fourth hostage.

Friends of Peter Moore, lone remaining hostage,
believe the British government must admit that
mistakes were made in their handling of the
hostage situation, including, most fundamentally,
trusting Iraqi govt. officials and intermediaries.

Apparently, the U.S. was also duped by the
same group of people, as they allowed the release
of someone under their custody to effect release.
After Iranian-backed Shia militant is released
by U.S. military, U.K. was given two bodies of
dead bodyguards last month and a note saying,
oh, by the way, the other two bodyguards are
also dead.
Looks like they were killed TWO years ago.

The Guardian has the timeline here for the
events that have led us to this point,

URL: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1529573111?bclid=30548878001&bctid=31112820001

Interview with hostage negotiator Dr. James Alvarez,
who has much experience working in Iraq.


And early this morning, Sam Marsden's column over
at The Independent says it all:

Questions over Iraq collusion in Britons' kidnap


Marsden doesn't mess around with his intro,
he gets to the heart of the matter:
"Iraqi government officials may have colluded in the kidnapping of five Britons two years ago in a bid to prevent high-level corruption being exposed, it was reported today..."

Even for seen-it-all Miami, alien problems in "District 9" will be tough to resolve

Famous last words: "There are a lot of secrets in District 9."


Daily Variety
review of District 9 from
July 28th, 2009:

This official Sony website is great, with by far
the most information, best trailers and even some
p.s.a.s and games, even MNU training simulation.

You may prefer to watch the official trailer here
and click theater format:

For more information on film director Neill Blomkamp, see

How Peter Jackson Discovered District 9 Director Neill Blomkamp

By John Pavlus
July 20, 2009

See also: thompsononhollywood/peter_jackson/

and http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/
and http://www.joburg.org.za/

As is almost always the case, there's never a big story
that isn't without a South Florida angle:



Multi-National United
, Miami Division,
Police you can count on in an emergency!

Monday, July 27, 2009

French Connection & Conundrum: Mélanie Doutey, Yohanna en français; Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir

Sur ce blog, je vous parlerais
simplement de ce que j'aime,
et ce que je n'aime pas.
Among other things, j'aime
actrice Mélanie Doutey!

Latest French film sensation: Mélanie Doutey

She's so adorable et charmant in her
films, that it's almost as if she's channeling
Sophie Marceau's kid sister, whom you
recall as a bit of a pesky and tomboyish
Now, years later, you see her again and
her self-evident talent, smarts, good looks
-and sense of humor- just knock you off
your feet!
And you are smitten!

I first became aware of her enormous talent
a few years ago after seeing Claude Chabrol's
La Fleur du Mal, and she just knocked
me out cold.

It was one of the very last films that I saw
in the D.C. area in 2003 before leaving to
come back here, and rather obviously,
given the foreign language theater situation
down here, the last French film I saw
in a theater avec le popcorn.

to keep up with what this busy actress
is doing.
It's a really fabulous site that clearly
spends a lot more time and effort than
99% of the film websites you'll come
And it's well-designed with lots of good
current photos and videos.

As a bonus here, to the woman who
emailed me Thursday, asking if I knew
of a good version of Yohanna's song
Is it True en français.
Oui, s'appelle
Si tu Sais.

Like most people in Iceland
-only one of the world's MOST
literate places, after all, unlike,
well, here- Yohanna's
and has released at least a
versions of the song in
different languages.

As some of you may or may not already
know, many kids in Iceland actually learn
Danish while they're in school, and as it
happens, she was actually born in
Copenhagen, albeit to Icelandic parents.

Also, speaking of the French language,
for a sign of the times last year at
Eurovision, see this perceptive piece from
Le Monde titled La chanson française in english


"La France était représentée cette année à l'Eurovision avec une chanson... en anglais.
Les enfants de la mondialisation renoncent à l'écriture en français."

Mon dieu!
La France, can't live avec it,
can't live without it!

Les relations franco-américaines
devraient continuer à s'améliorer.
Thanks to Obama.

Obamacare precursor: Pregnant Scot with H1N1 goes to Sweden due to NHS' lack of proper facilities

So, speaking of a national health care plan...
please click Fri 24 July News at Noon Part 2,
and see the reality of the current NHS
URL: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1529573111?bclid=30437470001&bctid=30621718001

This topic starts at 4:10, following news re
Norwich North by-election won by Conservative
Chloe Smith, now the youngest MP, who received
twice as many votes as her Labour opponent,
Ostrowski, who was, himself, selected by the party
to replace popular Labour MP Ian Gibson,
who was embroiled in the Expenses scandal
as a result of letting his daughter stay at a home,
rent-free, that U.K. taxpayers were actually paying

And for good measure, substitute candidate
Ostrowski caught Swine Flu, and was unable
to campaign the last few days!
When it rains, it pours!

The bigger story is the completely inadequate number
of intensive care beds in the U.K. for victims of H1N1
-esp. units for children- and most particularly in the
SE and SW of England, as well as in the Midlands.

And the National Pandemic Flu Service website was
crashing just hours after being put up, after 100,000
people in the U.K. reported symptoms last week,
twice the number of the previous week.

If you let the segment roll on, you'll come to the
very well-produced report from the previous night,
including comparisons to the flu of 1969,
before anti-virals were available, that resulted in
30,000 deaths in the U.K.

To see their take on Obama's health care plan
and the ads using British doctors and patients
complaining about care under the NHS.

After seeing it, perhaps you'll better appreciate
why I try to watch Channel Four everyday,
or catch up on segments I missed on rainy Saturdays
like this past weekend, when I thought that I'd
be down on South Beach with some friends,
instead of staring at my computer and listening
to the Cards-Phillies game in the background,
after my friends canceled our plans.

See: http://www.channel4.com/news/

London 2012 Olympics: Three Years Left to Go

Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee shares his thoughts as the calendar strikes three years and counting today, 1096 days to be exact:

The Observe

Sebastian Coe: Golden boy with success in his sights

As an athlete in the 1980s, he was single-minded in his efforts to be first across the finishing line.
And ever since he masterminded the British 2012 Olympic bid, Sebastian Coe has been quietly but efficiently overseeing the job of bringing in the Games on time and in budget.
No also-ran? No noble failure? How terribly unBritish .
By Andrew Anthony
July 19, 2009


Video: Three years left and counting


Time-lapse video shows the exciting transformation of East London into what will be the center of excitement for the London 2012 Olympics starting

three years from
today, July 27, 2012.

Computer-generated renderings of the Olympic Stadium:

London 2012 Olympics webpage full of articles and photos:

BBC Coverage:

BBC Olympics webpage:

British Olympic Association: http://www.olympics.org.uk/home2.aspx

Official U.S. Olympic Committee website:

500 Days and counting: 5 live Breakfast chats with Sir Coe about tickets to London 2012 Olympic tickets going on sale today

Friday, July 24, 2009

Third world commuter conditions, and it's NOT South Florida but Berlin. Wie gehts?

Maybe it's because I lived for so long in
communities like Chicago and Washington, D.C.,
where taking a commuter train was both
de rigeur and common sense, but after
reading the story below about the truly
exasperating and economically brutal
transportation situation in Berlin,
all I could think of was how badly this
situation would've been portrayed on
CNN or more importantly,
CNN International, right before the
height of the South Florida tourist season
for Europeans, if this had happened here
involving an intact and thriving FEC
Corridor commuter train system along
U.S-1 that was logically connected to
both Tri-Rail and the Miami-Dade
Metro system to create the smartest
possible options for people and businesses
in South Florida.

A system that quickly and effortlessly
moved residents and tourists around
the area from airports to seaports to
hotels, museums to nightclubs to theaters
to sports arenas, from work to home and

My educated guess is that it would also
show, once again, that if South Florida
didn't have bad luck/negative stories
shown on CNN, they'd have no stories
at all.

Instead, though I'm a news junkie,
I've yet to see a single TV news story
about this situation in Berlin on any
of the American cablenets, or even
on Channel Four in Britain,
which I watch just about every day
via the Internet.

Have you?
Spiegel Online
Commuter Chaos in Berlin until December

Berlin has had to take two-thirds of its commuter trains out of service due to safety issues.It has resulted in angry locals, crowded platforms, confused tourists, near accidents, amulti-million-euro bill and political fallout. And it's going to go on until the end of the year.

See also:
Train Chaos Brings Berlin to a Standstill
By Tristana Moore in Berlin, Germany


Thursday, July 23, 2009

CBS4's Stephen Stock gives FL Stimulus Spending the I-Team Treatment tonight at 11 p.m.

July 23rd, 2009

Re my post yesterday, Et tu, Florida?: Georgia DOT
joins ProPublica's Stimulus Spot Check project
just a head's-up before you head out for the night.

Stephen Stock of the hard-charging CBS4 I-Team
wrote this morning to say that they'll be doing a story
on Florida stimulus spending tonight at 11 p.m.,
so have your VCRs/TiVos at the ready.


Above, some CBS4 Miami screenshots I did this
afternoon while I caught a promo for Stephen
Stock's report tonight.

In case you miss it, I should have the story link up
tomorrow on my blog, along some with some other
interesting articles on the stimulus spending in
Florida and the nation, and whether it's actually
working, or will even have had any consequences
before next year's primary and general election,
where a new governor and new U.S. Senator will
be chosen for The Sunshine State.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Georgia DOT joins ProPublica's Stimulus Spot Check project -will provide info about road and bridge construction projects

Et tu, Florida?

Welcome Aboard, Georgia DOT

by Amanda Michel, ProPublica

July 21, 2009 4:43 pm EDT

Photo by Judy Baxter/Flickr

[1] This is an unexpected development: The Georgia Department of Transportation has joined our Stimulus Spot Check project [2] and volunteered to provide us with information about 12 road and bridge construction projects. Officials in that department need to pull together information about the projects now for public release on their stimulus Web site in August, and they’ve offered to share it with us in advance.


Evidently the Georgia DOT took notice of our plan [3] to report on how easy it is for the general public to get basic stimulus information from the state DOTs. Now, you may ask, as you should, how can a news organization partner with a state Department of Transportation? Well, we’re asking volunteers to find out information by contacting state DOTs and then to fact-check some of that through alternative sources. Georgia DOT officials are doing in advance what we’d ask of them over the phone in coming days. Of course, we will fact-check such information, as we do for other states. Now, the question just begs to be asked: Will other DOTs follow Georgia’s lead?

For more information, see http://projects.propublica.org/spotcheck/

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On muting the message and shooting the (YouTube) messenger from Down Under

Sorry to say but I discovered over the weekend that
the very compelling p.s.a. video that was the focus of
my advertising industry-related blog post of July 10th,
TAC-SWAP -which I've gotten a lot of positive
email about, esp. from overseas visitors to
Hallandale Beach Blog- has, for now at least,
been rendered invisible on YouTube as a result of
a copyright claim by the very people in Australia
whom you'd think would want the message they
paid for to be seen by as many people as possible,
the Transportation Accident Commission.

You don't have to have read every one of world-renown

Northwestern marketing professor Philip Kotler's
many great books on marketing strategies, or sat in
on his Kellogg classes in Evanston, to know what
a very bad decision that will likely turn out to be in


evanston aerial view Pictures, Images and Photos

Looking northeast towards the main part of
Northwestern's campus and Lake Michigan.
Until you've been there, you can't imagine
how beautiful the Evanston campus is.
It's not quite in IU's class in terms of beauty,
but it's much beter than 95% of this country's
college campuses.

Here they have precisely the sort of great interest
in their awareness campaign that you'd want, and
they not only don't have a means for sharing it
from their own website, but they've actually now
clamped down on the one-and-only way most people
will ever hear about it, including similarly-situated
groups around the world, who, it might be hoped,
might get the kick-in-the-pants they need to start
being as realistic and compelling on their home
turf as this and the preceding TAC ads have been.

(To see previous Grey Melbourne advertising

and marketing campaigns, go to
http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/search/?q=Grey%20Melbourne )

Just imagine if overnight, Miami-Dade County and

Broward County governments were forced to pay for
ads on local TV this realistic, to induce citizens to
call anonymously to report govt. graft and abuse,
kick-backs, contract chicanery or ethical funny
business by elected officials or govt. employees?

That would be great to see on TV, and the sort of thing
that the Broward County Ethics Commission
really ought to be pushing hard, if you ask me.

So, with all that said, here is the only legally-sanctioned

website where you can actually see the SWAP p.s.a.,
although a few places around the world still have it up
until the Australians force them to pull it down
-like at Sostav in Moscow,
http://www.sostav.ru/news/2009/07/10/cod3/ -
albeit without the benefit of a large screen.

To see the campaign:


Kudos to the people at Grey Melbourne who made
this great ad possible, which hasn't gone un-noticed:
creative director Nigel Dawson;
executive creative director Ant Shannon;
writer Nigel Dawson;

art director Pete Becker;
agency producer Jess Smith,
account director Claudia McInerney,

TV Director Sean Meehan,
film company Soma Films;
client Emma Mulholland and John Thompson;
Media Mitchells.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tuesday's Johnson Street Redevelopment Mtg. in Hollywood; a dynamic 'change agent' named Swanson-Rivenbark

Received this email below last week from the
City of Hollywood about a new location for the
meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Bastille Day.

Just so you know, there will be no waiters or
waitresses with serving trays running through
a block-long obstacle course on the Broadwalk
or over at The ArtsPark, with musical
accompaniment, à la D.C.
But there ought to be!
Plus de la pitié!

I attended the first public outreach meeting
at Hollywood City Hall on June 16th, following
the regularly-scheduled City Commission
meeting on whether or not the City Commission
should authorize City Manager Cameron
Benson to file an application for a City Of
Hollywood Charter School, which they did.
(More on that issue here soon.)

See the Proposed Redevelopment Process

For those of you who live in the Hallandale
Beach, South Broward or NE Miami-Dade
area with some time that day, I urge you
to attend and watch the city's new Assistant
City Manager, Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark,
in action.

She's a flat-out dynamo!

She's also a Big Ten grad, from Badgerville,
up in Wisconsin's capitol and public policy
incubator of Madison, a fabulous campus
and city with a social/cultural life that,
for its size and location -and weather-
makes Fort Lauderdale and most of Miami
look quite lame by contrast, and for good
People there are good-looking AND smart,
not just, well, you know.... like here?

<span class=

For more on Bucky:

Coincidence that she's dynamic and a
Big Ten grad?
I think not!

Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson
is also a member of the Big Ten club,
via his years in Champaign-Urbana.,
a.k.a. U of I as it's known in the Midwest
to distinguish it from IU.and Iowa.

<span class=

Yes, that's why there used to be a minor
league baseball league sometimes called
the -wait for it- yes, Three-Eye League.

As it happens, Champaign-Urbana is also
where my wonderful friend from IU and
Briscoe Quad, the lovely, witty and oh-so
talented Lolita Zwettler was from.
Her folks were U of I professors, but fortunately
for me, she saw the light and came to
Bloomington, a wise decision I will always
be very grateful for, due to her friendship,
thoughfulness and incandescent smile.

Well, I'm not exactly breaking news here,
per se, but as has been said repeatedly of late
all around Hollywood City Hall and everywhere
else she's been in person since coming up from
the City of Coralk Gables, new Assistant City
Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, is like,
yes, "a breath of fresh air."

And people all over Hollywood and environs
are noticing how she manages to be several
positive things all at once: analytical and
professional but genuinely folksy, great at
making knowing references to public policy
successes and failures elsewhere and
far-sighted in vision for what this area needs
more of and less of, but also keenly aware
of the current economic malaise that's this
area's daily reality, especially in Downtown

Every time I've been in Downtown Hollywood
for the past 18 months, one of two things
inevitably happen.

I either hear people kibbitzing or speculating
about when the bottom of the local real
estate market is "REALLY going to hit
bottom" and start rebounding, while I'm
either eating, reading or writing bearby,
or, I'm being asked directly by some small
business owner whose store or restaurant
I've been patronizing, who knows me casually,
by face or even from reading the blog,
about what I think of what's happening in
Hollywood these days, and whether I believe
local residents and businesses can really
be as patient as they may need to be,
patience never being something in great
supply around here even in the best of times,
after all.

To the latter question, I can now say truthfully
that with the addition of someone of Cathy's
self-evident talent and ability, someone who
can rather effortlessly but charmingly synthesize
information and public policy in an interesting
but understandable fashion, the City of
Hollywood has one very large and dynamic
change agent in its deck of cards that the
majority of South Florida communities simply
can't beat, not least, Hallandale Beach.

When she walks into a corporate office and
is 'on message' about Hollywood's core
strengths and opportunities, she can close
the deal for Hollywood and get them coming
back for more.

That Cathy is tremendously likable, personally,
on top of her innate talent and abilities, is
something that simply can't be ignored either.
Obviously, she can use that to the city's great
benefit in the future while trying to create some
positive opportunities, even as regular South
Florida bureaucrats fumble-and-stumble
when they make their pitch about why their
own city ought to be considered for a project.

Recently at Balance Sheet Online,
co-editor Sara Case wrote about Johnson
Street's great unrealized recent potential and
mused on what ought to go up there for the

In a sidebar on the same page, after having
seeing her dynamic, bravura first appearance
before the bedazzled City Commission,
which I watched via streaming video, Sara wrote
"Having tried and failed three times to
get a up-market hotel resort built on the
property, the city is ripe for a major
reassessment and Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark
seems up to the task of guiding us through
it successfully."

Yes, a 'breath of fresh air" is a wonderful thing,
and can almost make you wonder how you made
do without it for so very, very long.
Having finally had it, how can you ever go back to
what you had before?

Having now seen Cathy in action first-hand a few
times myself, and also having seen far too many
woeful and forgettable presentations elsewhere
around South Florida's public policy world,
I can't help but think that if there were a few more
people this sharp and professional, taxpayers
and citizens could actually sleep a little more
soundly at night, and not be quite so anxious
about everything always getting worse around

From last month, before the brainstorming began
in earnest...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hollywood seeks residents' input on beach site

What to do about Johnson Street will be the subject of two meetings

By Ihosvani Rodriguez

June 11, 2009


City officials are asking residents to put on their thinking caps and come up with ideas on what to do with a city-owned property on the beach.

The first of two informal public meetings will be held next week to gather input on the long-awaited redevelopment of the city-owned Johnson Street property at A1A on Hollywood beach.

The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

A second meeting will be at the Hollywood Beach Culture and Community Center on June 18.

The city has also established an e-mail address to gather comments: johnsonstreetrfp@hollywoodfl.org.

The meetings come after a developer walked away from a plan

to build a $100 million hotel and beach resort on the property

now occupied by an aging garage and a parking lot.


See also:City seeks community input for Johnson Street property


A message for the public policy guys and gals
of Hollywood who were at that first Johnson
Street brainstorming meeting last month:

PLEASE don't say -for like the millionth time-
that "there really ought to be a Hard Rock
Casino over there..."

Please, I'm begging you.
No more!!!

It's just NOT going to happen, so please limit
your ideas and suggestions to ones actually
possible in this version of Hollywood in the
year 2009, not the one in your alternative

Tack så mycket!

#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on