Thursday, June 22, 2006

DECODING THE PAST: Prophecies Of Israel

The Tanakh of the Jews is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible, equivalent to the Old Testament to Christians.

Within the 24 books of the Tanakh (or Mikra as it was called during the period of its recording) are astounding predictions of the future. Many of the prophets who wrote or appeared in the scriptures prophesied about the fate of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

We'll examine the prophecies and chronicle the birth, death, recent resurrection, and possible future of Israel.

Supported by archival footage and dramatic recreations, on-camera experts representing the three major religions, and secular perspectives, we explore the most significant of these ancient prophecies.

Are the prophecies real? Are they unfolding before our eyes? Who believes, who doesn't, and why?

SAS Warrior

How did a shy grocer's son from Northern Ireland help change the course of World War II? SAS Warrior tells the story of Lt. Col. Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, an unlikely hero whose tactical genius and extraordinary courage helped influence the way modern warfare is fought.

Half a century after his death, the most decorated allied soldier of World War II is still regarded as one of the greatest, most controversial people in the history of military special operations. Among his many feats, the handsome and daring soldier pioneered tactics still used today by the organisation he helped to form, the SAS.

Blair Mayne was one of a family of seven children and at a young age proved to be an extraordinary sportsman - by the age of 13 he could drive a golf ball further than most adults and before long representing Ulster, and then Ireland and Britain in Rugby. At Queens University he was named all-Ireland Universities Heavyweight Boxing Champion; and by 22 was chosen to tour with the British Lions to South Africa where he impressed even the opposition with his strength and stamina.

Archive material and special re-enactments tell the story of Mayne's early war years - from joining the 11th Scottish Commandos in 1939 where he earned the nickname Paddy and proved himself a skilful soldier and leader, through to his time as legendary commander of the SAS. It wasn't an easy path by any means. Mayne might even have ended up back home with a dishonourable discharge if it wasn't for the intervention of one Lieutenant David Stirling.

It was after a particularly brutal raid in Lebanon in 1941 that Mayne reacted violently against the ineptness of his Commanding Officer - a man he considered inexperienced, arrogant and insincere. Mayne hit him and was awaiting court-marshal and certain dismissal when he received the life changing visit.

Stirling had heard of Mayne's skill as a leader and fighter and sought him out to offer a fresh start. Mayne was to help lead and train a new and radical group of soldiers. They were to be called the SAS.

High profile military historian and SAS expert Anthony Kemp provides a psychological profile, giving an insight into Mayne's motivation and character. What drove a shy man to become deadly warrior? What made him excel as a leader and what frustrations drove him to terrible tempers? Why did Mayne never marry?

Through a series of letters from the Front to his family, Mayne reveals his thoughts and feelings about the war and about the fledgling SAS.

Mayne's toughness, his thoroughness and bravery made him a popular leader, his amazing deeds proving his worth as a soldier who should rank alongside history's greatest warriors.

In one of many incidents Mayne disabled a German fighter plane by pulling out the control panel with his bare hands; and on another occasion showed audacity by returning to enemy territory to count the tally of destroys from the previous night, just to settle a bet with Stirling.

Mayne's life after the war seemed to lose direction. A back injury forced him to retire from an expedition to the Antarctic while any adventures back home usually involved alcohol-fuelled escapades that sometimes got out of hand. An eventful and dramatic life filled with achievement, adventure and success came to a sudden and sad end in a car crash at the age of 40.

Late one night in 1955, a car was driving down a quiet Newtownards Road when it spun out of control and crashed, killing a living legend at the age of forty. After miraculously surviving six years in the thick of war, Blair Mayne could not survive the peace.

UNDER FIRE: Jungle Ambush

Vietnam, August 23rd, 1968: Sergeant Pat Watkins, was a member of SOG, a special unit of the Green Berets.

During a classified mission in Da Nang, three Vietcong companies attack a SOG outpost; vastly outnumbered the SOG team miraculously repels the invasion, but not without the loss of 17 Special Forces soldiers, the most ever killed in a single incident.

Many more might have died if not for the heroic efforts of Watkins and the others.

Race To The Moon - Failure Is Not An Option

No one lived the adventure of America's manned space programme more firsthand than Gene Kranz, the Mission Control flight director known to moviegoers from Ed Harris's portrayal of Kranz in APOLLO 13. Based on his best-selling book, this is an insider's view of 30 years in the Space Race, revealing how apparently seamless missions to the moon were, in fact, a series of terrifying near misses.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


The Hoover Dam is a concrete gravity-arch dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between Arizona and Nevada.

The dam, located 30 miles from Las Vegas, is named after Herbert Hoover, who played an instrumental role in its construction, first as Secretary of Commerce and then later as President of the United States.

Before the construction of the dam, the Colorado River Basin periodically overflowed its banks when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and drained into the river. These floods endangered downstream farming communities.

The decision was taken to dam the river to protect the communities but also to capture the water for uses in the surrounding states. The task was monumental: build the world's largest dam in the middle of the desert, and tame the river that carved the Grand Canyon - all in seven years!

Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1936, over two years ahead of schedule. Lake Mead is the reservoir created behind the dam, named after Elwood Mead who oversaw the construction of the dam.

When the Hoover Dam was completed in 1935, it was the largest dam in the world. The Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. We'll reveal how this engineering wonder of the world was conceived and built.

The World Cup 1966

Our World Cup winning boys of ’66 get back together to watch the games that led them to glory – reminiscing about the legendary campaign and offering their analysis of the famous World Cup final.

Yet the legend of the ’66 success has been mired by controversy ever since Bobby Moore first lifted the trophy. Claims that England’s third goal failed to cross the line have been debated by officials, fans and historians alike for 40 years.

However, turning the debate on its head, this programme will reveal that it was in fact Germany’s last-minute equaliser – which sent the game into extra time – that should have been disallowed after a clear hand ball was missed by referee Gottfried Dienst.

Other revelations uncovered by the England stars include Sir Geoff Hurst’s admission that his famous third goal – of "they think it’s all over" fame – was in fact simply an attempt to thump the ball into the stands

UNDER FIRE: Prison Siege

In 1987 an announcement by the U.S. Department of State triggered a massive uprising by Cuban prisoners.

Riots spilt over from the Oakdale Correctional Facility in Louisiana to Atlanta’s Maximum Security Penitentiary, and detainees took prison employees hostage for 13 tense days.

As a deranged guard-killer stalked the halls, the FBI’s elite hostage team joined forces with the top-secret Delta Force to take back control before it was too late.

MAN MOMENT MACHINE: Thomas Edison and the Electric Chair

Known as the "Wizard of Menlo Park," Thomas Edison’s name is synonymous with invention. From his electric lightbulb to the phonograph, motion picture camera and the radio, Edison held over 1,093 patents. Among the overwhelming amount of inventions and patents Edison held, none was as controversial than the first chair used for electrocution.

The youngest of seven children, Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11th 1847 in Ohio, USA. Due to childhood illness, Edison was limited to self-education in the Detroit Free Library and lessons from his mother, a former teacher.

In his youth Edison was curious about everything and built his first laboratory in his family’s basement. His curiosity later led him to create one of the deadliest killing machines – the "Electrocution Chair."

The late 1880’s saw the "War of the Currents," as two rival technologies, Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC), battled it out for dominance in the utility industry.

Edison wanted to prove that Westinghouse’s alternating current was much deadlier than his own direct current. To prove the dangers of "AC," Edison built an electric chair which was powered by Westinghouse’s AC system.

Thomas Edison’s electric chair was a machine of dark design. Electrodes were to be placed on the parts of the chair where the prisoner sat, at the lower back, the feet and arms, this was to provide maximum efficiency.

Edison believed that the placement of the electrodes in this way, would arc the current through the vital organs of the heart and lungs. An electrode skullcap was placed at the top of the lethal chair along with the head electrode which was set in place by a leather harness.

Leather straps were used to strap the prisoner’s arms, legs and waist to the chair. Once the prisoner was strapped in, the switch was flipped and 2400 Volts of electricity pass through the victim.

Axe murderer William Kemmler was the first victim of the chair on 6th August 1890. He endured an extended and horrific death. The first attempt at his execution failed, he was shocked for 17 seconds, but remained alive. After a break for the generator to charge up, they shocked him again, this time for over a minute.

Edison’s killing machine is still being used today - another example of fates fusion of Man, Moment, Machine.

The Real Jag

The JAG’s work for the largest law firm in the world, the U.S. Navy. They’ve traded the BMW’s of their civilian counterparts for humvees and the most adventurous life any attorney could imagine.

There was little or no need for lawyers in the administration of the U.S. Navy prior to the Civil War.

During the Civil War, however, Secretary Welles asked a young assistant U.S. Attorney to present the government's case in complicated courts-martial. Without any statutory authority, Secretary Welles gave him the title of "Solicitor of the Navy Department," making him the first House Counsel to the United States Navy.

By 1865, U.S. Congress had authorised the President to appoint, for service during the rebellion, an officer of the Navy Department to be called the 'Solicitor and Naval Judge Advocate General’. Congress maintained the position on a year-to-year basis.

The bill to create the position of Judge Advocate General of the Navy was signed in 1880, when Colonel Remey was able to convince Congress that the Navy Department needed a permanent uniformed Judge Advocate General as Naval law was so unique.

In 1918, the positions of Navy Bureau Chief and Judge Advocate General were elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral. In 1947, the Navy created a "law specialist" program to allow line officers restricted duty to perform legal services.

By 1967 Congress decided to establish the Judge Advocate General's Corps within the Department of the Navy. The legislation was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 8th, 1967, and ensured Navy lawyer's status as members of a distinct professional group within the Navy, similar to physicians and chaplains.

Today the JAG provides legal and policy advice to the Secretary of the Navy in all legal matters concerning military justice, administrative law, environmental law, ethics, claims, admiralty, operational and international law, litigation and legal assistance.

SHOOTOUT: Hunt For Bin Laden

You may be forgiven for thinking that the war in Afghanistan is over. However, across the country coalition forces continue to fight as they pursue Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Fighting a tenacious enemy across searing deserts and frigid mountain peaks requires strong weaponry and sound tactics.

US marine gunnery sergeant William Bodette explains how he fought off three enemy ambushes in one month and lived to tell the tale. Three American national guardsmen describe an operation to rescue two special forces snipers who were pinned down by Al Qaida gunmen.

In this ancient battlefield, famous for punishing the arrogant and swallowing the mighty, coalition forces soldier on. Hear their combat stories on Shootout!: The Hunt for Bin Laden.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Conversations with Killers

For the last 20 years, Dr. Park Dietz has been the leading forensic psychiatrist in the US. This programme goes behind the crime scenes with this larger than life figure in criminal justice.

Dietz is often the first psychiatrist the police call when a big case hits the headlines, and he has become a legend in the courtroom.

This hour will explore the world of Dr. Park Dietz and his most famous cases: Andrea Yates, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Hinckley and others who have told Dr. Dietz their darkest secrets.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub. John Hinckley tried to kill President Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster and Jeffrey Dahmer killed his lovers, then boiled their bodies and stored them in jars in his apartment. Many of us would say these people are insane, but not Dr. Park Dietz.

We'll learn how Dietz reached his controversial conclusions. And most riveting of all, what makes a killer's mind tick.

Wall Street

After taking audiences deep into the heart of combat in his Vietnam-epic "Platoon," Oliver Stone showed filmgoers a different kind of jungle in 1987's "Wall Street." Instead of bullets and guns, these warriors brandish power suits and killer smiles, but they are ruthless all the same.
The film is both a scathing social study of the forces of greed that have shaped Western culture and a brilliant consideration of the biblical question: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world at the expense of his soul?
The film opens in the year 1985 in the middle of the "biggest bull market in history." Television funnyman Charlie Sheen plays the freshly pressed Bud Fox -- an up-and-coming stockbroker who dreams of the big time.
All day he sits in his frenzied office cold-calling potential clients, but all the while he's thinking about what it would be like "to be on the other side of that phone."
But Stone and co-writer Stanley Weiser don't make Bud's fall from grace so simple. He has a loving father, Carl, played by Martin Sheen, who tries to keep young Bud grounded.
Carl represents the honest everyday working American. He has a relatively good union job with the fictional Blue Star Airlines, and counts himself blessed for what he has. Most certainly, unlike most of the piranha Bud encounters on a day-to-day basis, he doesn't judge a man "by the size of his wallet."
But even though all the signs say, slow down, Bud hastens his descent. "There's no nobility in poverty," he says matter-of-factly.
Since it has always been his dream to be at the top, Bud knows the quickest way up is by riding somebody else's coattails. And so, for months he doggedly tries to nab the biggest fish in the corporate sea -- Gordon Gekko, played by the polished Michael Douglas.
After he gets a meeting with the egomaniacal corporate raider, Bud lets slip a piece of insider information. And when that tip pays off, Gekko takes to the boy and Bud begins his descent.
Admonishing Bud with lines like, "Remember sport there are no shortcuts," Gekko cajoles the fresh-faced upstart to gain information by any means necessary.
And after he utters the words, "Alright Mr. Gekko, you've got me," there's no turning back. Bud engages in a series of unethical acts, but just as his sense of self is under attack, Bud's material life explodes. He gets a fancy new apartment and meets a beautiful interior designer, Darien Taylor, played by Darryl Hannah.
But when Blue Star finds itself in Gekko's crosshairs, Fox really has to decide what kind of man he's destined to be. Is he going to be someone who continues to "make his living off the buying and selling of others," or will this be the lighting stroke that restores young Bud?
Stone seems to answer that question, but never gives us the complete ending. That the film ends slightly ambiguously, though, in no way detracts from its powerful message. Somehow along the way, we've been corrupted by the notion that money equals happiness and success. Stone never comes right out and says this is wrong, but Bud's final denouement shows us how much we stand to lose chasing the elusive money dream.
The film is best remembered for Michael Douglas' often quoted, "Greed is good" speech, which was inspired by a commencement address given by former Wall Street hotshot Ivan Boesky. But viewed as part of Stone's oeuvre, "Wall Street" shows the work of a director who has been able to coax some wonderful performances out of his actors, while writing and directing pictures that hold a mirror up to us and show us what we are.
Michael Douglas won the film's only Oscar for Best Actor at the 60th Annual Academy Awards in 1988.

The History of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of Britain's most recognizable landmarks. Symbolizing mystery, power and endurance, no one knows what its purpose was or who built it. Lying in the heart of southern England and surrounded by the Wiltshire countryside, some speculate that the large standing stones were erected to serve as a temple made for religious worship, while others have said the assemblage of stones was used for astronomical purposes. We can't say with any degree of certainty, which theory is more likely, but for over 5,000 years visitors from around the world have come to gaze onto the majestic feat of engineering.The Construction of Stonehenge Stonehenge was constructed in several phases. In its first stage, Stonehenge was a circular excavation of earth that was surrounded by timbers, a ditch and a bank. It is thought that builders dug the ditch with tools made from animal bones and deer antlers. Underlying chalk was then loosened with picks and then shovelled away with the shoulder blades of cattle or oxen.Modern experiments on bones retrieved from the site reveal that this was the first incarnation of the Henge at about 3,100 BC. But in addition to the old bones, 56 holes were uncovered in 1666 by John Aubrey. Known as Aubrey Holes, archeologists think these holes at one time held wooden posts in the same manner that later holes were dug to hold the stone pillars visitors can see today. At around 2,100 BC, the circle was rebuilt in stone. Made up of about 80 bluestones, weighing up to four tonnes each, which came from the Preseli Mountains in southwestern Wales, the stones made the approximately 390-kilometre journey to Wiltshire through a myriad of waterways. Once these were laid down, giant sarsen stones, which form the outer circle, were brought in from Marlborough Downs and these huge formations weighed as much as 50 tonnes each. Although most of the distance is relatively flat, at Redhorn Hill, modern work-studies estimate that at least 600 men would have been required to help each stone up the incline.Each pair of stones were hauled upright and linked by stone beams along the Henge's top surface. To get the beams to stay in tact, constructors etched out joints in the top of each stone that allowed the beams to be dragged in place. Ropes were used to ensure the stones were pulled upright and kept in place by a base packed with stones. The linking of the stones vertically, through mortise-and-tenon techniques, and horizontally, by tongue and groove methods, is an imitation of contemporary woodworking.Who Built Stonehenge?No one really knows who the many men that excavated the first ditch and then brought stones from Wales and Marlborough Downs were. Although many ancient people shared in the construction of the site, archeologists suggest that the structure was initiated by people of the late Neolithic period (around 3,000 BC) and was continued by the Beaker Folk. But the legend of King Arthur provides an alternate version for the construction of Stonehenge. Twelfth century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth, King Arthur's biographer, said in his History of the Kings of Britain that Merlin, a prophesier and wizard, brought the stones to the Salisbury Plain from Ireland to satisfy the high king, Aurelius Ambrosius and his desire to erect a memorial to British noblemen slain by the treacherous Saxon leader, Hengest. As the story goes, Merlin wanted to go to Ireland to transplant the giant's Ring Stone Circle to England. And according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the stones that he hoped to ship across the Celtic Sea were originally from Africa where giants carried them.The stones Merlin wanted to move were located on "Mount Killaraus" and were used for performing rituals and for healing. Ambrosius dispatched Merlin and fifteen thousand men to retrieve the stones. The Irish heard of the expedition and King Gilloman raised his own army to stop the British, but Merlin and his men prevailed in their battle with Gilloman and proceeded to Mount Killaraus. Once there, the British were unsuccessful in their attempts to move the great stones. It is then that Merlin uses his magic arts to dismantle the stones that were then shipped back to Britain where they were erected in a great circle on the ground of the murdered noblemen. In a footnote to this tale Aurelius, and Arthur's successor, Constantine, are all eventually laid to rest at the megalithic monument.Stonehenge TodayThe modern era has not been kind to Stonehenge, despite the fact that the monument was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1986. Many of its stones have been stolen by medieval and early modern builders (there is no natural building stone within 21 kilometres of Stonehenge), and therefore several of the stones visitors see today are marred by years of weathering. There is a major highway that passes by Stonehenge and with it comes a swath of commercial businesses. But despite the degradation and encroachment of the modern world, the structure remains a breathtaking spectacle and it serves as the ultimate testament to the power and resolve of its builders.