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The Red Cross -- America’s primary disaster relief agency -- is on the defensive after reports that it’s more concerned about public relations than public assistance.  Is it hiding the truth or is it the victim of sensational journalism?  Is it prepared for future disasters, which could be bigger and harder to handle than those of the past? Also, with midterms looming, Republicans are poised to take the Senate. On today’s Talking Point, bloodstained victims of auto crashes and shootings.  It’s not a Halloween horror story, it’s local TV news.  We talk to the writer-director of Nightcrawler, a new film debuting today.

Photo: Citizens of Long Beach wait in line to receive support from local volunteers in Long Beach, New York after Superstorm Sandy. (US Army photo by Spc. Jeremy Bennett)

Virgin Galactic Flight Crashes 6 MIN, 20 SEC

One pilot has died and another is seriously injured after Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket encountered a problem during a test flight and crashed in the Mojave Desert east of Los Angeles. Ian O'Neill is an astrophysicist and space science producer for Discovery News.

Ian O'Neill, astrophysicist and science writer (@astroengine)

With Midterms Looming, Republicans Poised to Take Senate 5 MIN, 48 SEC

Voting in the midterm elections is already underway, and a consensus is already building about what the results will be and what the next Congress will look like. Ian Swanson is managing editor at The Hill, a publication that monitors the House and the Senate.

Ian Swanson, The Hill (@iswanTheHill)

Does America Need a New Model for Disaster Relief? 34 MIN, 52 SEC

Hurricane Isaac struck Louisiana and Mississippi in August of 2012.  Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey several weeks later.  The Red Cross claimed its relief efforts had been “flawless.” But internal documents and insider interviews show more concern about appearing to provide assistance than actually doing the real thing. That’s according to investigative reports by Pro Publica and NPR, denounced by the Red Cross as sensational “witch hunts.” The agency refused to open its records and went to court, claiming release of what it called “trade secrets” would cause it “competitive harm.” How did the Red Cross spend hundreds of millions of donated dollars?  Is it prepared to handle future disasters?

Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica (@eisingerj)
Richard Rieckenberg, Red Cross
Laura Howe, Red Cross (@infobabe)
Bob Ottenhoff, Center for Disaster Philanthropy (@BobOttenhoff)

ProPublica on 'the Red Cross' secret disaster'

Jake Gyllenhall and the After Dark Side of Television News 8 MIN, 22 SEC

In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a freelance cameraman who races to the sound of police scanners, looking for shots of auto crashes and shootings — hopefully including victims with bloody wounds. It’s appropriate that the film is debuting tonight on Halloween. Nightcrawler is a horror story about the grotesque preoccupation with crime and violence on TV news in Los Angeles.  But the writer-director, Dan Gilroy, says its implications are broader than that. 

Dan Gilroy, filmmaker (@SeeNIGHTCRAWLER)

Listen to Gilroy on 'The Treatment'

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