Dr. Rob Cohen on John McCain’s legacy – Fox 5 DC and On The Hill Podcast

~Former staffer for Sen. John McCain and expert on Republican Mavericks, Dr. Rob Cohen~

On the one year anniversary of Senator McCain’s death, Dr. Rob Cohen, a former McCain staffer, Physician, Army veteran, host of the DemoCRISES podcast looks how even after his passing McCain’s legacy still haunts the Republican party, even as few in the GOP seem interested in carrying on McCain’s “maverick” reputation.

That’s because the struggle between maverick and orthodox Republicans goes back a century. 2019 is not only the first anniversary of McCain’s passing but also the hundredth anniversary of the passing of the original maverick, Theodore Roosevelt. In a conversation on Fox 5 DC this past weekend, he drew interesting parallels between the two mavericks. Check out Dr. Cohen’s segment on Fox 5 Morning News Sunday here https://www.fox5dc.com/podcasts/on-the-hill-episode-31-a-chat-with-dr-rob-cohen-former-staffer-for-sen-john-mccain

In an interview with the host of “On The Hill” podcast, Dr. Cohen strongly believes Sen. McCain’s shadow continues to hang over President Trump. Listen to the podcast here https://www.fox5dc.com/podcasts/on-the-hill-episode-31-a-chat-with-dr-rob-cohen-former-staffer-for-sen-john-mccain

The Third Act of Jack Owens – Profile in Portico Magazine

Retired FBI Agent and reality television competitor now writing dark comedies with a spiritual twist

Jack Owens has lived one heck of a life. Spend a few minutes talking with the retired FBI agent and it’s hard not to feel slightly boring.

Owens spent more than 30 years in the FBI (mostly in Birmingham) doing everything from tamping down prison riots to catching draft dodgers and bringing serial killers to justice. Since then he’s become an in-demand public speaker and interview subject on topics as wide-ranging as criminal justice to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He even competed on season four of the CBS reality series Big Brother finishing sixth while competing against others half his age. Now he can add writer to his increasingly impressive resume.

Owens has four books under his belt, including his memoir recounting some of the more humorous stories from his days with the feds. Titled Don’t Shoot, We’re Republicans, published in 2009, Owens peels back the curtain on a career that, at times, didn’t always follow official FBI protocol. For instance, Owens’ own account of finally catching a Vietnam-era draft dodger in which he drove to the prospect’s home in Leeds, Alabama, in his beat-up Volkswagen Beetle instead of an FBI-approved sedan.

“I broke every rule in the book,” says Owens. “It’s almost farcical to see an FBI agent drive a VW to Leeds to arrest a guy.”

In an even odder twist to the story, Owens sat down with his newly-caught and handcuffed suspect to a plate of delicious-smelling collard greens before booking him in the FBI office downtown.

“What I told headquarters is not exactly what always happened,” says Owens. “You treat headquarters like a mushroom. Best to keep some things in the dark.”

Then there is the story of the night Owens and a group of agents accidentally ensnared a pair of older ladies on their way home from a rally with President Ronald Reagan at a roadblock while lying in wait for a dangerous suspect. “We had our guns drawn, ready to charge and the poor ladies, frightened out of their wits, threw their arms in the air while one yelled,  ‘Don’t shoot. We’re Republicans.’”

During his 30-year FBI career, Owens was involved in many high-profile and, at times, dangerous cases. For instance, he was a member of the team that successfully defused a 1991 prison riot at the Federal Correction Institution maximum-security prison in Talladega in which 120 Cuban detainees armed with homemade weapons took seven Bureau of Prisons and three Immigration and Naturalization Service employees hostage.

The standoff began after the men, who had exhausted their appeals through the legal system, demanded they not be sent back to Cuba. After 10 days of tense negotiations, the situation soured to the point that the George H.W. Bush administration feared it was turning deadly and the order came to “blow the doors and rescue the hostages,” Owens explains. “The inmates had drawn names out of a hat to see which guard they were going to kill, so we had to go in.”

Owens was one of approximately 180 FBI agents from Birmingham and Atlanta who entered the FCI Talladega Alpha Unit using shaped charges, rescuing all hostages without injury.

Owens was also part of the team that in 1981 brought to justice Wayne Williams, a serial killer believed to be behind almost two dozen murders in Atlanta. He also assisted in the investigation of the mail-bomb assassination of Mountain Brook resident and United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit judge Robert Vance in 1989, resulting in the conviction and 2018 execution by lethal injection of Walter Moody. Owens and Judge Vance had become friends earlier in Jack’s career and this brutal murder was one he took personally.

Far from the popular culture depiction of an FBI agent getting into gunfights left and right, Owens only fired his weapon once during a drug investigation in rural north Alabama, though he was a crack shot at the range and trained regularly. The majority of his time in the field was spent investigating crimes, interviewing people, and anticipating the bad guy’s next move.

One such anticipation saved his life in the Pickwick Hotel.  Jack went up to the fifth floor alone to arrest a guy who seemed willing enough, but Jack felt something was amiss. The guy was nonchalantly reaching for a gun in his sock when Jack pinned him down and cuffed him. As he later admitted, “I broke the cardinal rule which is ‘always call for backup.’”

These days, Owens is putting his FBI training to good use as a fiction writer. To date, he’s written three novels beginning with a fictionalized story of the aforementioned Kennedy assassination, Watchman: JFK’s Last Ride, published in 2013. His newest novel is titled Pock: Give Them Over To Death, the second installment in a planned trilogy of dark comedies centered around a disfigured but highly intelligent serial killer.

Owens introduced the troubled character in 2016 in the first novel of the series, simply titled Pock. Pock’s life is a tragic one, often gaining sympathy from the reader even as he enacts his own twisted sense of religious justice. Pock is born horribly disfigured with a face not even his mother could love. “People call him ‘Pock’ to mock him. He’s got bad ideas about how to live his life,” Owens says.

Despite his tragic life, Pock is highly intelligent and possesses some interesting supernatural abilities. “He talks to plants and they bend at his will,” says Owens.

Jack will tell you that life has been good to him and luck played a part of it all. “Being assigned to the Birmingham FBI office was a stroke of luck that I still can’t believe.  I got to know Bear Bryant, chase bad guys, and raise my family in an incredible community. What more could I ask for?”

Link to article online – https://porticomagazine.com/third-act-of-jack-owens/

After US, Mine 9 gets a thumbs up in Canada as well


By Jim Slotek

Rating: B

Darkness is a great equalizer in the film business. A big-budget Game of Thrones battle and a low-budget mine cave-in survival story are both gripping when the mind’s eye does the heavy lifting.

And Mine 9, an indie film about a team of Appalachian coal miners trapped two miles down, trying to crawl their way up with an hour of oxygen, makes maximum use of the dark in all its frightening implications.

The kind of movie that comes off like a true story, but isn’t, Mine 9 seems utterly plausible in these days of coal’s decline. Writer/director/producer Eddie Mensore introduces us to our central characters with a jolt. While working deep, with heavy machinery crushing seams of coal, Zeke (Terry Serpico) and his crew discover that methane levels are spiking, with sparks ominously flying where machine hits rock. Following protocol, they take cover behind what is effectively a sheet.

The scene evokes the “duck and cover” films of the Cold War era for its obvious ineffectiveness in an explosion.

But this isn’t the movie’s big moment, merely a foreshadowing of what is to come. Back on the surface, Zeke is furious, demanding that deaf-eared management address the current lack of a supervisor and a rescue team on standby.

The rest of the team is aware they’re pushing safety limits even more than usual, but is also aware that any declaration of “their” mine as unsafe will lead to them losing their jobs. They vote to carry on regardless.

Time often being of the essence in an indie movie (Mine 9 clocks in at an efficient 83 minutes), there is a socially busy church picnic scene where all the main characters’ family connections and conflicts are neatly laid out. Zeke is uneasy that his teenage nephew Ryan (Drew Starkey) – who doesn’t know a water table from a picnic table – is about to go down in the mine for the first time. Ryan’s girlfriend (Annie Thrash) expresses her concern, and his response – that without a job in the mine he can’t even afford to put gas in his car – encapsulizes the prospects for young people in King Coal towns in a single sentence.

Ryan’s father Kenny (Mark Ashworth) sees putting Ryan into the same pit as him as part of the circle of life. He hits the bottle heavily, while the amiable, Bible-reading John (Clint James) is a recovered alcoholic – two characters on opposite sides of truth about where flirting with death for a living can lead you.

As an extra ingredient in the tragic soup, we meet Teresa (Erin Elizabeth Burns), the acting manager of the understaffed mine, in over her head, and already being given the skunk eye by the miners’ wives to let her know they’ll hold her to blame for anything that happens.

Cue the big event. Given the confluence of accidents, the survivors of the initial blast risk drowning, burning and suffocation, all under the shadow of darkness and the glow of helmet lights. Mensore keeps a taut rein over the sequence of events, the frustrations, losses and despair right to the end, with Zeke’s all-for-one leadership tested every other minute.

Mine 9’s verisimilitude is aided by its use of Appalachian folk tunes, both in the soundtrack and as sung by the miners and families. The credits are worth watching as well, for the reminiscences of several West Virginia miners, some of whom have spent up to 45 years of their lives underground for six or seven days a week.

Given the litigiousness of some of the biggest players in the coal industry, a “fictional” story about a believable cave-in is probably the best way to go. The movie offers no answers to the moribund state of states that rely on coal, or the hazards faced by its miners. Like the characters it portrays, Mine 9 simply does its job as best it can with the resources at hand.

Mine 9. Produced, written and directed by Eddie Mensore. Starring Terry Serpico, Drew Starkey, and Mark Ashworth. Opens Friday, August 16 in Toronto, with a later release in other Canadian cities.

Read the article here – https://www.original-cin.ca/posts/2019/8/13/mine-9-appalachian-disaster-indie-drama-is-a-horribly-plausible-horror-with-darkness-as-its-chief-special-effect