Earthquake in Haiti? War in the Middle East? Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico? No matter where the big story is breaking, Eyewitness News is there! We send reporters all over the world to bring the news to you, and while they are there, they are blogging to give you a more intimate look at what's going on.

05/06/2011

Jim Dolan reports from Pakistan on the death of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden played out his final years, not a warrior or a jihadist, not a soldier bravely facing the enemy or the infidel. Bin Laden was as far from the front as you are. No, his final days were as “The Pacer,” the CIA name given to the peculiar and pathetic old man who walked up and down inside the walls of his compound… afraid to go out, afraid to go near windows or cell phones, Howard Hughes with a stooped back and slightly longer beard. In his room, he fine tuned the details of attacks that took place only in his mind, pathetically plotting another moment in the terror key light. So sorry to disappoint.. Bin Laden was like a convict in the prison yard… nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait for the fullness of time and what promises to be the harsh judgment of history.

 

The final retreat in a lifetime of them was into a tiny room running in vain from the fate he’d earned ten thousand times over. One in the head, one in the chest and he never felt the floor. Did anyone see the sun come out?

 

At what point do you suppose, his followers realize just how bankrupt the philosophy of hate and murder is? After fifteen years of non-stop terror, what has it all gotten them? Not an acre of land nor a seat at the table. Governments hunt them but they’ve achieved nothing. They are, to be fair, good at killing innocent people. This is not a difficult task, but they have perfected it.

 

Now, contrast that with the remarkable success of this fruitful Arab Spring. Governments that stood firmly on the foundation of oppression, have toppled into the sea of history; others are teetering. They seized the moral high ground, a plateau bin Laden and his minions can’t arch their necks enough even to see. And they did something al Qaeda never did: they won.

 

A Special Forces soldier in Baghdad who was considering retirement was asked a few years ago what he would do after the military. “I’m not sure,” the soldier said. “There’s always someone needs killing.”

Osama bin Laden needed killing. And there are more out there.

 

The President has said he won’t release the pictures of Bin Laden’s corpse. It’s a good decision. They will convince no one in this age of photo shop, and who cares if people believe he’s dead? He is.

 

Still, it’s a shame Aymen al Zawahiri can’t get the chance to see what he’s getting himself into, what his future holds. Live by the Khalishnakov and die by the M-16.

 

Or, take a seat in Tahrir Square with a few thousand friends, depose a ruthless tyrant and change the course of history.  

 

-Jim Dolan

04/26/2011

Eyewitness News in London for the Royal Wedding

So after months of planning, we are finally here in London for the Royal Wedding.  This assignment is special on its own but for me, it's like reuniting with an old friend.

 Ewninlondon

This picture shows Kemberly Richardson, Angelo Martin, and Tara Zimmerman in London representing EWN.

 

For the past dozen of so years, I have been traveling to London on a regular basis. My sister, Alison and her husband Shawn lived here in central London, until this past November. They are now back in the states. While here in London, they had two children, my 5 year old nephew Dylan and 11 month old niece Sloane. In the past, my one goal, once landed at Heathrow, was to rush through immigration and get to my sisters home so that I would be there in time to pick Dylan up from school.

 

So as you can imagine, arriving here late Saturday night was a bit strange, there would be no lunch "date" with Dylan on Portabello Road. However, what there was, was an exciting journey ahead covering the Royal Wedding. Now on my own in the city, I would soon get to know another side of this dear friend. London is the kind of place that once you come, you will always return. The history, architecture, sense of tradition make it one of my favorite places in the world. And with the upcoming nuptials, well everything is shiny as a penny. A stroll through Saint James Park was breathtaking, the gardens are picture perfect and there is a quiet sense of anticipation in the air, kind of like Christmas Eve, when everyone has gone to sleep, knowing sunrise will bring something remarkable.

 

Continue reading "Eyewitness News in London for the Royal Wedding" »

02/27/2011

NYC in LA

Let me start off by writing that I had hoped to be blogging more on this trip.

But it never fails to amaze me how quickly time can slip by.

All those trips from the hotel room where we are editing Sandy Kenyon’s Oscar pieces to the Red Carpet – Oscar Excitement Central – eventually eat away at any spare time you might have.

All those trips to “In and Out” Burger don’t help with the time crunch either.

 

But enough excuses.

 

Let me tell you about a couple cool connections between NYC and Hollywood, that you might not have heard about yet.

 

The first is something that happened today:

Two students from Hofstra University made a big impression with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and as a result, they are getting the experience of a lifetime.

Luz Pena and Philip Robibero are the Grand Prize winners of the “Oscars Correspondent Contest”, presented jointly by the Academy and mtvU.

They beat out teams from across the country in the competition, and as a result they get a spot on the Red Carpet and get to go backstage in the Press Room and the Governors Ball.

We hope to learn more about this dynamic duo when we turn the tables a bit and interview THEM Sunday morning on the Red Carpet.

 

Hey, we can’t say enough good things about designer and former FIT student Katelyn Bischof. If you watched Sandy’s piece at 11:00 PM on Saturday, you got just a peek at what a pleasant and charismatic individual she is. But more than that, she is talented! Katelyn is the sole designer from New York in this year’s Oscar Designer Challenge 2011. The competition has been documented in the web series, “Oscars Designer Challenge: Behind the Dress” at Oscars.com. The winning design will be announced during “Oscars Red Carpet Live” on ABC-7 at 7:00 PM on Sunday.

 

 

A fellow Brooklyner of mine, Luke Matheny, wrote, directed and starred in the live-action short "God of Love".

It was turned down by the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals.

But now “God of Love” is nominated for an Academy Award.

Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/godoflovefilm and http://www.youtube.com/user/lukemathenyfilms

www.lukemathenyfilms.com.

 

 

Finally, Josh Fox is a theater director in NYC.

He directed the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Gasland.”

Its portrayal of greedy energy companies and sickened homeowners is so offensive to the natural gas industry that the industry tried to have Academy reconsider the documentary’s eligibility.

The Academy refused.

You can watch Diana William’s interview with Mr. Fox on “Up Close” this Sunday.

 

Good luck New Yorkers! We are all so proud of you.

 

Lights, cameras, and lots of action!

-Andy Savas

02/23/2011

Greetings Again from LA

Hello Eyewitness News fans,

One year ago, I wrote my first blog entry from Los Angeles, as I was field producing Eyewitness News’ Academy Awards coverage with Sandy Kenyon.

It was an exhilarating assignment for me, not only because I was on the red carpet in Hollywood, but because it was such an extreme change of pace.

I normally produce the 6:00 AM on Channel 7.

I have access to a world of information from my desk – but it also means that I am, well, at my desk.

Covering the Oscars meant I got to stretch my legs, literally, outside, as I booked satellite windows, set up interviews, and oversaw Sandy Kenyon’s live shots.

It was a total blast and one of the highlights of my career.

 Now, I have the extreme fortune to have the assignment again, and I am most grateful.

Already Sandy, photographer extraordinaire Mike Thorne and I are off to a flying start.

 

This morning we were set to interview Academy President Tom Sherak and the producers of the Oscars telecast.

But some news here in LA threw us for a little loop.

See, Ms. Lindsay Lohan had a court hearing… and the judge wasn’t too happy with her.

In fact, he told her today "I don't care that you're Lindsay Lohan."

And he told her that no matter what, she was going to serve jail time.

 

Well, we got the call from our bosses in New York: Sandy now needs to front a new piece, not Oscar-related, on Lindsay Lohan.

Suddenly, we had twice as much to do with the clock ticking… and since there is a discrepancy between New York time and LA time, we essentially had 3 hours less to complete everything.

That sent us off to the races.

 

As we were waiting for Mr. Sherak to meet us for the interview, Sandy was writing his piece on Lindsay Lohan, using information he and I were able to grab on our Blackberries and smart phones from the wires, online newspapers, and other sites.

Our assignment desk back in NYC was also a huge help (thank you Mark Crudele).

As Sandy was interviewing Mr. Sherak, I was setting up new satellite windows for the added live shot and trying to pinpoint video sources for the writer who would be assembling the piece in NYC that Sandy was writing in LA.

Tick, tick, tick…

 

With the Academy President interview over, and the telecast producer unable to break away at the time, we raced back to our hotel rooms, where Sandy finished writing his Lohan piece, and Mike and I sent the material we had shot earlier that morning to NYC (FTP is a wonder). At some point, we wolfed down lunch (or is it breakfast? My body still doesn’t really know).

 

Then it was time to head out to the red carpet for our live shots for the 5:00 PM show (2:00 PM PST).

Already, the red carpet is coming alive. And as Sandy said to Diana Williams and Sade Baderinwa, it is a working construction zone. Several times we almost got hit by golf carts carrying huge golden Oscar statues.

And we still are not done. Right now Mike and I (but really Mike is doing all the heavy lifting) are putting together a piece that will air tomorrow on the remarkable back story of the writers of “the King’s Speech”.

Trust me, it’s a great story!

 

I can’t wait for Day 2!

 

One last note:

Last year, when I arrived in LA for my first Academy Awards, my wife Aransas called me with the wonderful news that she was expecting our second child.

Derby was born in November and is now 4 months old, joining her older sister Savannah, now 2 ½.

To my beautiful girls: I miss you so, and I will see you son,

Lights, cameras, and lots of action,

-Andy

02/13/2011

Wedding Celebration in Liberation Square

“Arruz” the woman kept saying in Liberation Square today. She was clearly excited about the “arruz”, and as much as I wanted to share her excitement, the Arabic word meant nothing to me. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Arab world, but that word just never came up. It was not the scene around us she was excited about. It wasn’t the celebration of new freedom, or a revolution that succeeded, or the neo-natal Democracy rising from the suddenly rich Egyptian soil. She had something altogether different she wanted me to know about.

 

Joe was off shooting some locals who were painting an ornate metal fence with paint they had bought and brushes and rollers donated by a local civic club.  The government, or what’s left of it, played no role. Earlier I had asked one man, who was wearing a suit coat and carrying a brief case, why he had stopped his day to paint a fence that was clearly the province of the government, and he said “because Egypt belongs to me now. The fence is ours and we must take care of it.” 

 

Thousands joined in. They painted buildings and polished statues and washed grime that had grown unchecked for a generation. It was a nation washing that man right out of their hair and in all my travels I have never seen people working so hard and  smiling so broadly. But it had nothing to do with “arruz.”

 

In a lot of countries, its not very difficult to find someone in a crowd who speaks enough English to help out. But its not that way in Egypt. Education, one of the key gripes of the revolution, is restricted to a select few and even for them is hardly world class. Of course, there are times when a translator is unnecessary. There are times when all you need is to be lead by the hand.

 

One of the rules for men in the Muslim world is that you never touch a woman who is not your wife. Ever. You don’t shake their hands or pat them on the back or help them over a puddle. In Pakistan and some other countries, it’s a good idea to avoid eye contact if you would like to keep your eyes. Sometimes a woman who has had experience with the west or is not particularly religious will reach a hand out to shake yours, but its smart to wait for that gesture before you offer. I have never before been grabbed virtually by the scruff of my neck by a Muslim woman and marched as if to the principals office.

 

Frustrated with my obvious ignorance, the woman in Liberation Square did just that. And I marched until I saw it. Arruz.

 

It means wedding. In the heart of Liberation Square, in the middle of a revolution that empowered and transformed a nation, in the final moments of one reality or the dawning moments of a new one, a couple had decided to  make the holiest of vows to see this new world in together.  The bride wore white and a smile as wide as the Nile itself. The groom wore a black suit and his pride in his new family and new nation as clear as the dawning day. And none of that needed a translator. Just a woman with a strong hand and an unyielding faith in her country’s future.

 

Arruz. Pretty sure it means wedding. Meet the couple in my 11:00 report on Sunday.  

02/12/2011

Jim Dolan in Egypt

The bridge over the Nile was so packed with traffic, both cars and people, that we worried for a time about collapse.

 

Horns blared and flags waved in the final cacophonous moments of a dimming day, the final day and the first day and a day like the world has rarely known. The bridge almost seemed to sag. What could possibly hold up beneath the weight of all that hope?

 

Egypt is just now a giddy nation. It is so easy to get all gushy and romantic about this. It was brave beyond words and bold and righteous and it was so dramatic. But the people of Egypt are no more capable of free elections tomorrow than I am of striking out Derek Jeter on two pitches. They have no parties they have no infrastructure, they have no candidates, they have no history of running anything but pretend elections, shows for the camera’s that were more fiction than reality.  And, even if they could field a decent field of candidates and parties, take a look back through history and count how many military’s have ever voluntarily given up power just because the people wanted it. Few, but that’s what will have to happen here: the military runs Egypt now and they will have to usher in this ancient nation’s modern era of openness, if it's to happen. I’m not sure where the smart money is on this, but I do know they’ve been in charge for a day and all the camera gear Joe and I brought to Egypt that was confiscated under the old regime is still impounded under the new regime. They don’t want the world to see what’s going on here anymore than Mubarak did.   

 

So from this reporter, a salute to the bravery of a nation that today can raise its children to its shoulders and tell them with confidence to look to the horizon and a future as bright as it has ever looked. But to those who thought the hard part was getting rid of Hosni Mubarak, be aware that Democracy is harder still, and crossing the rugged terrain from here to there will take the will of a nation and the patience of a saint. And it will require the strength of steel - a steel strong enough to carry the weight of all the hope this country has invested in the future.

 

That bridge over the Nile, so loud and joyful and teeming with optimism, still stands, by the way. Strong steel for a suddenly muscular nation that this week chooses its destiny and all the work that goes with it.

Jim

(Below is Jim's report from Friday on Eyewitness News at 11pm)

 

 

 

 

07/05/2010

We climbed Mt. Fuji!

“A wise man climbs Mt Fuji once; only a fool does it twice”

(unknown)   

So here are the pictures of our climb.  We made it to the top, in time to see the sunrise and what a sight; though it was short lived.  The sun popped through a layer of clouds at about 10,000 feet (We were at 12,388 ft.) and then disappeared about 20 minutes later into another higher layer of clouds.  But it was worth it. 

 Diana9_070510

   The journey began late on Friday, July 2nd.  It was just the second day the mountain was officially opened to hikers.  We set off separately.  My husband and daughter weren’t sure how long it would take them, so they went ahead starting at 5 p.m..  My son and I followed about an hour later, and caught up with them at the 6th station.  The hike begins at what’s called the 5th station, which is not much more than a giant bus stop with lots of restaurants and stores selling Fuji souvenirs.  Seventy percent of tourists who travel to the 5th station never go any higher. 

   

The path to the summit takes you up a series of switchback trails to the sixth station and then a rocky trail to the seventh and eighth stations and then the summit.  By 8 p.m. it was dark and headlamps and a flashlight guided us up the path.  At this point we were scrambling over rocks.  We planned to sleep at a hut at the 8th station and arrived there at 9:30 pretty pooped.  

  

 Sleeping in a hut is like going to a “not so nice” sleep-away camp.  Everyone sleeps communally under quilts in bi-level bunks. The huts are privately owned and some have been in the same family for generations.  It appears to be lucrative business.  For just a few hours sleep we paid 6500 yen…that’s about 65-70 dollars per person.

     

 Diana8_070510

We were in a room with about 20 other people, and managed to get a few hours sleep.  My husband left at 1am to get a head start, the rest of us took off at about 2:30.  We shuffled our way to the top with dozens of others along the path-headlamps twinkling.  And by 4:30 we reached the top….just in time to see the sunrise…cheering at the sight along with  about 200 other hikers.  Take a look at the photos.  Glad we did it…but as the saying goes, once is enough.

Diana3_070510

06/27/2010

Climbing Mount Fuji

There is more way than one to scale a mountain. Many have several routes to the top.  Mt Fuji has four.  Along the trail, there are huts, big and small, where weary hikers can stop and rest. You can hike during the day, but most people choose to hike at night so they arrive at the summit in time to see the sunrise at about four thirty a.m.  It means the walk up starts at 10 or 11 o'clock the night before.

Of course you can also try what four people are going to do this fall.  They will climb Fuji four times in 24 hours to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  That means on average it will take them six hours to go up and down. It will take us 10 to 12.  

Since I have only read about the huts and trails I will wait until we have firsthand experience before going into more detail.  I will tell you we are doing this without a guide.  The trails are marked and because there are so many other hikers we should be fine.  We will follow the pack and hope they are going in the right direction.
 

As this blog goes out, we should be arriving in Tokyo.  I will have more in a day or two, provided all gadgets are in working order. 

-- Diana Williams

06/26/2010

Diana Williams heads to Mt. Fuji

Another year, another mountain and this year it is Mt Fuji in Japan. My family and I will attempt to climb Japan's highest mountain next Thursday.  We are gathering gear, climbing poles and more, and hoping that the mountain roads on Fuji will be open by next week.  Right now they are still closed.  Climbing season for many mountains is during the summer because there is less snow or none at all.  Apparently, there is still a great deal of snow on top of Fuji.  It’s a long way to go to find they have hung out a "closed to climbers" sign.  So keep fingers crossed for us.

 

Mt. Fuji’s climbing season runs from July 1st to August 31st.  There are four routes to the top and none of them is scenic.  More than 200 thousand people climb the mountain each summer. Think of trying to walk along crowded 5th Avenue at Christmas time. That's how jammed the trails get near the top.  Sometimes you just shuffle along with the crowd.   It will be cold, crowded, and possibly rainy, and at 12,388 feet, one or more of us may be sucking on a can of oxygen.  As my kids say, another fun hike with mom.

 

Majestic Mt Fuji-San is a sacred mountain.  It is named after the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi.  Summiting is more pilgrimage than climb.  The spiritual element is what makes the crowds, the weather, and the grim rocky landscape all bearable.  At least that’s what I keep telling the family.  We will also spend some time in Tokyo and Kyoto.  My first trip to Asia, so if you have any advice, please feel free to leave a message on my Facebook page.  I am hoping all my gadgets will work on the other side of the world.

 

Tomorrow I’ll have more details on the hike itself. 

 

- Diana Williams

 

 

05/11/2010

Shahzad and his possible connection to the Taliban

I don't presume to know anything Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't, which is why his insistence that Times Square bomber Aisle Shahzad was a tool of the Taliban in Pakistan is so confusing. I'm not suggesting that Shahzad had no contact with the Taliban, or that he didn't aspire to join some anti-American terror group, but the evidence that he succeeded just isn't there.
 
With brutal and ruthless regularity, the TTP, or Pakistani Taliban proves they know well how to build bombs that kill people. They sometimes fail to detonate, so do bombs and missiles built by American defense contractors, but never is there a bomb that doesn't have the proper components to do plenty of damage.
Taliban bombs don't use propane or fertilizer or m-88's, all ingredients found in Shahzad's SUV. In fact, it would be hard to find any anarchist website that would suggest so rudimentary and ineffective a device.
The Attorney General suggests that Shahzad had "training" from the Taliban, perhaps months of it. But, there is nothing about this bomb that suggests there was any training behind it, no one who knows how to build a bomb would use these components the way Shahzad did.
 
So why point this out? Clearly, Shahzad intended to kill Americans, clearly he wanted to strike at the Crossroads of the World. Why does it matter if he was guided by the Taliban or simply inspired by them?
The terror groups operating here in Pakistan, and there are many, have varying agenda's. Some seek to trigger a war with India and eventually overtake it. Some seek to overtake Pakistan and install a fundamentalist, Islamist government. Some just want to help the Afghan people expel Americans. Some have ambitions of imposing Sharia, or Muslim law over the whole world. But all of them share this: A venomous hatred for The United States. Their ambitions overlap in this one area alone, and they are determined to strike America here and, if possible, on American soil. In this way, they are inspired by September 11th and al Qaeda. As a woman who studies terror groups operating here in Pakistan told me, they are planning as we speak.
 
If we look at this pedestrian, inept effort by Faisel Shahzad as all that these groups are capable of, than we are doomed to be victims of them. They are smarter than this, they are more capable than this, and when they decide to strike with all of their resources and sophistication, we need to be ready. It would be a shame if Faisel Shahzad's failure lead America into a false sense of security, if we believed that there will always be a vendor who sees the smoke, there will always be a cop who calls in the bomb squad. When the real terrorists decide to strike, the only smoke we will see will be from the explosion. The challenge is to make sure they don't get that far. And pinning our hopes on "see something-say something" slogan will not be sufficient.