Friday, September 30, 2011
Somehow they manage to call it justice.
Five Years for Pot? Multiple Sclerosis and Medical Marijuana Patient Faces Bail Hearing TomorrowClarence Thomas
John Ray Wilson has multiple sclerosis, a disease, like many others, for which medical marijuana is proven to be incredibly beneficial: It helps to control symptoms like pain and spasticity and slows the disease's disabling progression.
The medical benefits of marijuana have prompted many states to allow MS patients access to the plant. For John Ray Wilson, however, the legislation came too late. Tomorrow, Somerset County, New Jersey Judge Marino will determine whether Wilson will be released from prison or wait, incarcerated, until the Supreme Court reviews his case.
In August of 2008, Wilson was arrested in New Jersey for growing 17 marijuana plants. Two years later, in January of 2010, New Jersey legalized marijuana for multiple sclerosis patients. Shockingly, around the same time as the new legislation, a judge convicted Wilson of marijuana "manufacturing." Even more disturbing is that Wilson was barred from disclosing his MS diagnosis in court. The judge gave him the minimum sentence for growing marijuana - five years behind bars.
After five weeks in jail, Wilson was released on bond, pending the results of his appeal to an astounding five-year prison sentence. But in late July of this year, an Appellate Court upheld Wilson's conviction, despite the recent medical marijuana laws (have not yet taken effect) that would qualify Wilson to legally use marijuana. He was incarcerated on August 24, 2011.
According to a press release,Attorney William Buckman has filed a petition to the State Supreme Court. The bail hearing tomorrow will determine if Wilson can remain with his family as the Supreme Court appeal is considered. Mr. Buckman’s office reports that the State intends to vigorously oppose the release of Wilson.
“New Jersey already has some of the most draconian laws in the nation with respect to marijuana, costing taxpayers outrageous sums to incarcerate nonviolent, otherwise responsible individuals-- as well as in this case -- the sick and infirm,” said Buckman. “As it stands, the case now allows a person who grows marijuana to be exposed to up to 20 years in jail, even if that marijuana is strictly for his or her own medical use. No fair reading of the law would ever sanction this result.”
Wilson told NBC he used marijuana because alternative medications were too expensive. He is currently incarcerated at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility for the New Jersey State Prison system in Trenton, New Jersey. According to the press release, Wilson's father, Ray, says Wilson is scheduled for transfer to maximum security Northern State Prison in Newark, NJ, where he may serve the remainder of his ludicrous five-year sentence.
I mean, he's no Wall Street slag, although you wouldn't know it, he's a Supreme Court Justice for Christsake. A bent one!
GEORGE! George Carlin, where are you? Coming soon little one, see below.
Clarence Thomas has his own tag here.
Clarence Thomas Should Be Investigated For Nondisclosure, Democratic Lawmakers Say
WASHINGTON -- Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a federal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on annual financial disclosure forms.
Led by House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), 20 House Democrats sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States -- the entity that frames guidelines for the administration of federal courts -- requesting that the conference refer the matter of Thomas' non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice.
The letter outlines how, throughout his 20-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas routinely checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income. But in reality, the letter states, she earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone.
Slaughter called it "absurd" to suggest that Thomas may not have known how to fill out the forms.
"It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income," Slaughter said in a statement. "To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas’s explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible."
The letter also cites a June report in The New York Times indicating Thomas may have regularly benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane owned by real estate magnate Harlan Crowe and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement.
Current law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge the conference "has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported."
Slaughter's press statement also notes that the Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer.
"The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today," Slaughter said. "I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other members of Congress, as suspicious." HuffPo
When you've read the report, should you wish, you can go here and follow the link and listen to the events of the evening that Dizaei had Waad al-Baghdadi nicked.
Originally I had featured both the Guardian and Telegraph reports on this astounding piece of news, both are now consigned to the memory hole in favour of this report from the London Evening Standard, who seem to be a bit more in touch with the reality of the situation.
Though I guess, in the case of a prosecutor, it's something you would hardly want to go to court with, there arise certain situations where one has to ask a question, of yourself or others or the world for that matter. Let me give you a for instance.
A three year old child, in the care of her parents goes missing without a trace. The parents claim she was kidnapped. The dogs are brought in, and everywhere stinks of death.
What are the odds?
From the highest echelons of the shiny buttons brigade, to the lowest of the low, the barely literate woodentops, corruption runs through the Met like water over Niagara, always has, always will, and like the water over Niagara, in amounts that stagger the imagination.
That one of the shiny button brigade, gets nicked and convicted for misconduct, such a polite term isn't it? Now none of us are strangers to cases of wrongful conviction, but when one of the shiny button brigade, gets nicked and convicted for corruption and abusing his power, among other things, and then somehow manages to have that conviction overturned, what are the odds?
Police forced to give Ali Dizaei his job backCome back Andy Hayman, all is forgiven.
30 Sep 2011
The officer won his job back four months after his convictions for misconduct were quashed by the Appeal Court.
Mr Dizaei, 49, who spent a year in prison, was allowed to return by a secret meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority's professional standards sub-committee.
He said: "I am delighted and really happy to be back in the police service. I intend to clear my name and I will do that irrespective of how long it takes."
However, it is understood MPA officials today took the decision to suspend him as a police officer pending his retrial on corruption allegations.
Technically he has been reinstated as a £90,000-a-year Met commander on full pay and conditions. He said he would appeal to the High Court against any decision to suspend him.
Mr Dizaei claimed the MPA committee took the reinstatement decision after a police appeals tribunal headed by a QC "unanimously" dismissed his sacking. Neither the MPA nor the Met made any initial comment today.
But the decision sent shockwaves through Scotland Yard, with insiders describing the decision as "unbelievable".
Mr Dizaei's lawyers are expected to challenge his suspension in the courts, arguing that other senior white police staff have been allowed to stay in their posts while investigations into misconduct take place.
Mr Dizaei will be formally reinstated when his police warrant card is re-
turned. It is understood that other members of the MPA were unaware of the move this morning.
The decision was taken last night by six members of the sub-committee, who held a session behind closed doors to discuss the case.
One insider said officials were left with no legal alternative but to overturn the decision to dismiss the officer after the appeal court quashed his conviction.
Mr Dizaei last year became the most senior officer in 33 years to be jailed for corruption.
He was convicted in February last year after a jury at Southwark crown court found him guilty of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office.
The policeman was found to have arranged the false arrest of Waad al-Baghdadi, a web designer who had done some work with him.
Iranian-born Mr Dizaei, who wore his uniform at the time, was accused of arresting Mr al-Baghdadi outside the Persian Yas restaurant in Kensington, despite knowing he did not have reasonable grounds to do so.
He was also alleged to have perverted the course of justice by falsely claiming in written statements that he was a victim of an unprovoked assault by the man.
Mr Dizaei, previously a high-flying officer tipped as a possible Met Commissioner, was dismissed from the force in March last year.
In May this year he won an appeal against conviction.
The appeal court ruled that he should face a retrial and the case is expected to be heard early next year.
Fairewinds Introduces a Japanese Language Edition and Identifies Safety Problems in all Reactors Designed Like Fukushima
Gundersen expresses concerns that the nuclear industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are not addressing major safety issues that have become evident since Fukushima. These issues include serious design flaws in the BWR Mark 1 containment, fundamental flaws in the Boiling Water Reactor vessel design, and problems with detonation shockwaves. The NRC and the nuclear industry are using a flawed cost benefit computer code that underestimates the value of human life and minimize property damages after an accident, which has the effect of justifying continued operation of reactors without safety modifications.
Also, Fairewinds announces the launch of the Japanese language version of its site, Fairewinds.jp.-Transcript
Hi. I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds.
It's been about three weeks since we posted a video, although there have been a couple radio interviews posted. That doesn't mean we haven't been busy here at Fairewinds. I have been doing expert witness testimony but more importantly Maggie and Kevin Hurley have been busy converting Fairewinds.com to Fairewinds.jp which will be a Japanese translation of our website. I’d like to thank a large number of dedicated Japanese speakers who have worked with us in translating all these videos into Japanese. Today is the first day that Fairewinds.jp and Fairewinds.com will be broadcasting the same material. Thank you very much to those volunteers.
In the last several months the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a review of safety as a result of the Fukushima accident. They just published their report in several key areas that they wanted to look at in more depth. That report is on our website but more importantly the Union of Concerned Scientists, acting as a watchdog over the NRC, has issued a critique of that initial nuclear regulatory report. We posted that Union of Concerned Scientists critique as well, and there are important lessons that the NRC has identified but more importantly there are issues that the Union of Concerned Scientists have recognized where the NRC needs to really put their money where their mouth is and not just study safety issues but actually implement safety changes.
Well today what I would like to talk about are four things that are not in the NRC 's report that I really think should be in the NRC's report. They are the containment, the reactor, the explosion and the last thing called Severe Accident Mitigation Analysis. The first thing is the containment on this boiling water reactor and the 35 other boiling water nuclear reactors that are exactly like that. Back in February, about three weeks before the accident, Maggie and I were walking and Maggie said, “You know we are doing a lot of expert reports and we are finding a lot of problems,” and she asked me, “Where do you think the next accident will occur?” I said I don't know where but I know for sure it will be in a Mark 1 boiling water containment. Well that's what the Fukushima reactors were: Mark 1 containments. This picture of a boiling water container was taken in the 70's. This is identical to the Fukushima reactors. Let me walk you through this.
There's two pieces to the containment, the top looks like an upside down light bulb and that's called a drywell. Inside there is where the nuclear reactor is. Down below is a doughnut looking thing called a torus and that's filled almost all the way with water. The theory is that if the reactor breaks steam will shoot out through the light bulb into the doughnut creating lots of bubbles which will reduce the pressure. This thing is called the pressure suppression containment. At the bottom of that picture is the lid to the containment. When it's fully assembled that lid sits on top.
The containment is about 1 inch thick. Inside it is the nuclear reactor that is about 8 inches thick. We will get to that in a minute. This type of containment was designed in the early 70's, late 60's, and by 1972 a lot of people had concerns with the containment. I want to read to you a NRC memo from 1972 that talks about the problems of this pressure suppression containment:
"Steve's idea to ban the pressure suppression containment scheme is an attractive one. However, the acceptance of the pressure suppression containment system by all elements of the nuclear field including regulatory and the advisory committees on reactor safeguards is firmly embedded in conventional wisdom. Reversal of this hallowed policy, especially in this time could well lead to the end of nuclear power. It would throw into question the operation of licensed plants and it would generally create more turmoil than I can stand."
So in the early 70's the NRC recognized this containment system was flawed. In the mid-70's they realized the forces were in the wrong direction: instead of down they were up, and large straps were put into place. Well then in the 80's there was another problem that developed. After the Three Mile Island [accident], they realized this containment could explode from a hydrogen build up. That had not been factored into the design in the 70's, either. What they came up for this containment was a vent in the side of it. The vent is designed to let the pressure out and a containment is designed to keep the pressure in.
So, rather than contain this radioactivity engineers realized if the containment were to survive an explosion, they'd have to open a hole in the side of it called a containment vent. These vents were added in the late 1980's and they were not added because the NRC demanded it, what the industry did to avoid that [demand] was to create an initiative. They put them in voluntarily. That sounds really in fact very proactive, but in fact it wasn't. If the NRC [had] required it, it would have opened up the license on these plants to citizens and scientists that had concerns. By having the industry voluntarily put these vents in it did two things. One, it did not allow any public participation in the process to see if they were safe and the second thing is it did not allow the NRC to look at these vents and say that they were safety related, in fact, it sidetracked the process entirely.
These vents were never tested until Fukushima. This containment was never tested until Fukushima. In fact it failed three times out of three tries. In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Looking at the procedures for opening these vents in the event electricity fails requires someone fully clad in radiation gear to go down to an enormous valve in the bowels of plant and turn the crank two hundred (200) times to open it. Now, can you imagine: in the middle of a nuclear accident, with steam, and explosions, and radiation, expecting an employee to go into the plant and turn a valve two hundred times to open it? So, that was the second band-aid fix that failed on a containment that, forty years earlier, was designed too small.
Well, with all this in mind, I think we really need to ask the question: should the Mark 1 containment even be allowed to continue to operate? The NRC’s position is, “Well, we can make the vents stronger.” I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Now, all those issues that I just talked about are related to the Mark 1 containment. The next thing I’d like to talk about is the reactor that sits inside that containment. So, that light bulb and that doughnut are the containment structure. Inside that is where the nuclear reactor is. On a boiling water reactor, the nuclear control rods come in at the bottom. On a pressurized water reactor they come in from the top. All of the reactors at Fukushima, and 35 in the world with this design, come in from the bottom. That poses a unique problem and an important difference that the NRC is not looking at right now. If the core melts in a pressurized water reactor there are no holes in the bottom of the nuclear reactor. It’s a very thick eight to ten inch (8-10 Inch) piece of metal that the nuclear reactor core would have to melt through. But that didn’t happen at Fukushima. Fukushima was a boiling water reactor. It’s got holes in the bottom. When the nuclear core lies on the bottom of a boiling water reactor like Fukushima, or the ones in the U.S., or others in Japan, it’s easier for the core to melt through because of those sixty (60) holes in the bottom of the reactor. It doesn’t have to melt through eight inches of steel. It just has to melt through a very thin-walled pipe and scoot out the hole in the bottom of the nuclear reactor.
I’m not the only one to recognize that holes at the bottom of a boiling water reactor are a problem. Last week an email came out that was written by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission right after the Fukushima accident where they recognized that, if there’s a core meltdown and it’s now lying as a blob on the bottom of the nuclear reactor, these holes in the bottom of the reactor form channels through which the hot molted fuel can get out a lot easier and a lot quicker than a thick pressurized water reactor design. This is a flaw in any boiling water reactor, and the Nuclear Regulatory is not recognizing that the likelihood of melting through a boiling water reactor like Fukushima is a lot more significant than the likelihood of melting through a pressurized water reactor.
The third area is an area we’ve discussed in depth in a previous video. That area is that the explosion at Unit 3 was a detonation, not a deflagration. It has to do with the speed of the shockwave. The shockwave at Unit 3 traveled faster than the speed of sound, and that’s an important distinction that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the entire nuclear industry is not looking at. A containment can’t withstand a shockwave that travels faster than the speed of sound, yet all containments are designed assuming that doesn’t happen. At Fukushima [Unit] 3, it happened. We need to understand how it happened and mitigate against it in the future on all reactors. Now, I measured that. A scale the size of the building against the speed at which the explosion occurred, and determined that that shockwave traveled at around a thousand miles per hour. The speed of sound is around six hundred feet per second (600 ft/sec) so, if this is what I think it is, it could cause enormous damage to a containment. They are not designed to handle it. Yet, the NRC is not looking at that.
So, we’ve got three key areas where the NRC and the nuclear industry don’t want people to look, and [those are, one]: should this Mark 1 containment even be allowed to operate? Two: are boiling water reactors more prone to a melt-through than a pressurized water reactor? And the third is: can containments withstand a detonation shockwave?
If the nuclear industry wants to implement a safety change, they have to do something called a cost-benefit analysis. What that means is the cost to implement the change has to be exceeded by the benefits to society if the change is made. This brings me to the last point today which is called “SAMA,” S, A, M, A. It stands for Severe Accident Mitigation Analysis. It uses a really fancy computer code that calculates exactly what the costs are to society in the event of a big accident. Those costs are in terms of human life, and they’re in terms of damages to property. The computer code is wrong. It’s been known to have been wrong for a long time, but it continues to be in use. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission puts the lowest possible value on a human life of any of the agencies in Washington. And, the cleanup after an accident is also artificially low. The net effect is that when a cost to make a modification is compared against the benefits to society, this computer code distorts the benefits and lowers them. So, it appears that there’s no need to make the change because the costs are too high and the benefits to you and I, and society, are too low. Fukushima has taught us that that’s just not true. The costs to clean up Fukushima are going to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars U.S. [The costs will be] at least two hundred billion dollars U.S. And yet, this computer code that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses never, ever, calculates a high number like that. Unless we adjust the cost/benefit analysis, what will happen is: as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission identifies problems that should be corrected, their own computer code will show that it’s not justified, that the risks to society are really too low, that we don’t need to spend that money. The problem is in the computer code, and until we upwardly adjust the cost of a human life, and the cost of damage to property we won’t be able to come up with an effective way of judging the costs and the benefits of these safety modifications.
Well, that about sums it up. There are at least three key areas that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear industry, both in Japan and the United States, are not looking at: containment design, boiling water reactor vessels, and detonation shockwaves. But, no matter what they look at, if they don’t do the cost/benefit analysis right and properly evaluate the cost to society, none of these changes will be implemented.
Again, I’d like to thank our Japanese viewers and welcome them to Fairewinds.jp, and also to thank all of our viewers over the last one hundred and seventy days, and thank them for watching Fairewinds.com.
I had the misfortune recently, to watch him present a television program, Fukushima: Is Nuclear Power Safe? Where, from the off, he reassured us of his impartiality.
Oh how I wish, because I can honestly say, I have never watched such unmitigated biased drivel in all my fucking life. So much so, had you watched the program and taken it at face value, you would have come away with the opinion that both Chernobyl and Fukushima were a couple of inconsequential mishaps.
Just my opinion mind, but he did seem to be just the man for the ever so impartial BBC.
BBC: Six months after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the release of radiation there, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to discover whether nuclear power is safe.
He begins in Japan, where he meets some of the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. He travels to an abandoned village just outside the zone to witness a nuclear clean-up operation.
Jim draws on the latest scientific findings from Japan and from the previous explosion at Chernobyl to understand how dangerous the release of radiation is likely to be and what that means for our trust in nuclear power.
Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Residents Flee
By Yuriy Humber, Yuji Okada and Stuart Biggs
Sep 27, 2011
Beyond the police roadblocks that mark the no-go zone around Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, six-foot tall weeds invade rice paddies and vines gone wild strangle road signs along empty streets.
Takako Harada, 80, returned to an evacuated area of Iitate village to retrieve her car. Beside her house is an empty cattle pen, the 100 cows slaughtered on government order after radiation from the March 11 atomic disaster saturated the area, forcing 160,000 people to move away and leaving some places uninhabitable for two decades or more.
“Older folks want to return, but the young worry about radiation,” said Harada, whose family ran the farm for 40 years. “I want to farm, but will we be able to sell anything?”
What’s emerging in Japan six months since the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While nature reclaims the 20 kilometer (12 mile) no-go zone, Fukushima’s $3.2 billion-a-year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture’s mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished.
The March earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear crisis and left almost 20,000 people dead or missing may cost 17 trillion yen ($223 billion), hindering recovery of the world’s third-largest economy from two decades of stagnation.
A government panel investigating Tokyo Electric’s finances estimated the cost of compensation to people affected by the nuclear disaster will exceed 4 trillion yen, Kyodo News reported today, without saying how it got the information. The stock fell 6.2 percent to 243 yen, the lowest since June 13.
The bulk of radioactive contamination cuts a 5 kilometer to 10 kilometer-wide swath of land running as far as 30 kilometers northwest of the nuclear plant, surveys of radiation hotspots by Japan’s science ministry show. The government extended evacuations beyond the 20-kilometer zone in April to cover this corridor, which includes parts of Iitate village.
No formal evacuation zone was set up in Hiroshima after an atomic bomb was dropped on the city on Aug. 6, 1945, though as the city rebuilt relatively few people lived within 1 kilometer of the blast epicenter, according to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. Food shortages forced a partial evacuation of the city in the summer of 1946.
On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl reactor hurled 180 metric tons of nuclear fuel into the atmosphere, creating the world’s first exclusion zone of 30 kilometers around a nuclear plant. A quarter of a century later, the zone is still classed as uninhabitable. About 300 residents have returned despite government restrictions.
The government last week said some restrictions may be lifted in outlying areas of the evacuation zone in Fukushima, which translates from Japanese as “Lucky Isle.” Residents seeking answers on which areas are safe complain of mixed messages.
“There are no simple solutions,” Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, said. Deciding whether life should go on in radiation tainted areas is a “question of acceptable risks and trade offs.”
To Mousseau, one thing is clear.
“There will be consequences for some of the people who are exposed to levels that are being reported from the Fukushima prefecture,” Mousseau said by e-mail from Chernobyl, where he is studying radiation effects.
Japan abandoned any ambition to develop atomic weapons after the 1945 bombings. Two decades later, the nation embraced nuclear power to rebuild the economy after the war in the absence of domestic oil and gas supplies.
Tokyo Electric’s decision in the 1960s to name its atomic plant Fukushima Dai-Ichi has today associated a prefecture of about 2 million people that’s almost half the size of Belgium with radiation contamination. In contrast, Chernobyl is the name of a small town near the namesake plant in what today is Ukraine.
The entire prefecture has been stained because of the link, according to Governor Yuhei Sato.
“At Fukushima airport you don’t see Chinese and Korean visitors like before because of negative associations,” he said. More Bloomberg
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Michael Moore: Man Interviewed by Democracy Now! on Troy Davis Execution Inspired My Georgia Boycott
Michael Moore: Man Interviewed by Democracy Now! on Troy Davis Execution Inspired My Georgia Boycott
Michael Moore: ....."Fine, then I’m going to donate whatever royalties I make on this book to The Innocence Project, which is a group who has got many people off death row. And, I’m also going to donate to a voter registration drive." There were 600,000 African Americans in the last election that were not registered to vote in Georgia. Georgia is one of these states that is making it increasingly difficult for people to register to vote, and to vote, on election day. So I will not touch any of the money that this book makes from the state of Georgia. I just don’t want anything to do with it, and I cancelled going there, to Atlanta on my book tour. I won’t go there. I will not participate. And, myself and my website guys, we’ve been talking to the African American students at Morehouse and some of the colleges down there. And there’s a number of people that are going to have a much more organized response to this with the state of Georgia. We’re going to identify those politicians and we are going to identify corporations in Georgia like Home Depot and Coca Cola and others who contribute money to these politicians that allow this death penalty to exist. More at the transcript link.
Filmmaker Michael Moore was a part of the global audience tuning in for Democracy Now!'s live coverage from outside the Georgia prison where death row prisoner Troy Davis was executed on September 21. Moore describes how he was inspired by one of the people Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman interviewed on the scene after news of the execution was announced. The man, who introduced himself as Wesley Boyd, immediately called for a boycott of the state of Georgia in response to Davis' execution. Moore says he then asked his publisher to recall all copies of his new book from stores in Georgia, saying, "I don’t want any commerce being done in my name in the state of Georgia." When he was told the books were already on the shelves, Moore decided to donate proceeds from the sales in the state to the Innocence Project and a voter registration drive. He also discusses his previous work on the case of a death row prisoner who shares his name, a topic he writes about in the chapter, "The Execution of Michael Moore," in his new memoir Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Minneapolis. Today we play the second part of my interview with one of the most famous independent filmmakers in the world, Michael Moore. For more than two decades, Michael has been one of the most politically active, provocative and successful documentary filmmakers in the business. His films include, Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, for which he won the Academy Award, Fahrenheit 9/11, SICKO, and Capitalism: A Love Story. He has a new book out, it’s called, Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life. You can see part one of the interview with Michael Moore on our website at democracynow.org. After Monday’s program, I had a chance to ask Michael Moore about the execution of Troy Anthony Davis that took place on Wednesday, September 21. The state of Georgia killed Davis despite significant doubt about his guilt in the killing of a white, off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989. Seven of the nine non-police witnesses in the case later recanted or changed their testimony, and there was no physical evidence linking Troy Davis to the crime. Democracy Now! was there, reporting live from the death row prison grounds in Jackson, Georgia when Troy Davis was executed. Davis will be buried on Saturday in Savannah, Georgia, where he grew up. I began my interview with Michael Moore by playing a clip of Troy Davis speaking during an Amnesty International conference call in 2009. Transcript
Fukushima’s Contamination Produces Some Surprises at Sea
By David Jolly
September 28, 2011
Six months after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the news flow from the stricken nuclear power plant has slowed, but scientific studies of radioactive material in the ocean are just beginning to bear fruit.
The word from the land is bad enough. As my colleague Hiroko Tabuchi reported on Saturday, Japanese officials have detected elevated radiation levels in rice near the crippled reactors. Worrying radiation levels had already been detected in beef, milk, spinach and tea leaves, leading to recalls and bans on shipments.
Off the coast, the early results indicate that very large amounts of radioactive materials were released, and may still be leaking, and that rather than being spread through the whole ocean, currents are keeping a lot of the material concentrated.
Most of that contamination came from attempts to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools, which flushed material from the plant into the ocean, and from direct leaks from the damaged facilities.
Japanese government and utility industry scientists estimated this month that 3,500 terabecquerels of cesium 137 was released directly into the sea from March 11, the date of the earthquake and tsunami, to late May. Another 10,000 terabecquerels of cesium 137 made it into the ocean after escaping from the plant as steam.
Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist, paid his respects at Namiwake Shrine outside the city of Sendai, Japan, before departing on a cruise to study radiation releases into the ocean from the Fukushima power plant.Ken Kostel, Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionKen Buesseler, a marine chemist, paid his respects at Namiwake Shrine outside Sendai, Japan, before departing on a cruise to study radiation releases into the ocean from the Fukushima power plant.
The leakage very likely isn’t over, either. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, said Sept. 20 that it believed that something on the order of 200 to 500 tons a day of groundwater might still be pouring into the damaged reactor and turbine buildings.
Ken Buesseler, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who in 1986 studied the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the Black Sea, said the Fukushima disaster appeared to be by far the largest accidental release of radioactive material into the sea.
Chernobyl-induced radiation in the Black Sea peaked in 1986 at about 1,000 becquerels per cubic meter, he said in an interview at his office in Woods Hole, Mass. By contrast, the radiation level off the coast near the Fukushima Daiichi plant peaked at more than 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter in early April.
Before Fukushima, in 2010, the Japanese coast measured about 1.5 becquerel per cubic meter, he said.
‘‘Chernobyl might have been five times bigger, over all, but the ocean impact was much smaller,’’ Mr. Buesseler said.
Working with a team of scientists from other institutions, including the University of Tokyo and Columbia University, Mr. Buesseler’s Woods Hole group in June spent 15 days in the waters off northeast Japan, studying the levels and dispersion of radioactive substances there and the effect on marine life.
The project, financed primarily by the Moore Foundation after governments declined to participate, continued to receive samples from Japanese cruises into July.
While Mr. Buesseler declined to provide details of the findings before analysis is complete and published, he said the broad results were sobering.
“When we saw the numbers — hundreds of millions of becquerels — we knew this was the largest delivery of radiation into the ocean ever seen,’’ he said. ‘‘We still don’t know how much was released.’’
Mr. Buesseler took samples of about five gallons, filtered out the naturally occurring materials and the materials from nuclear weapon explosions, and measured what was left.
The scientists had expected to find ocean radiation levels falling off sharply after a few months, as radioactive substances were dispersed by the currents, because, he said, “The ocean’s solution to pollution is dilution.’’
The good news is that researchers found the entire region 20 to 400 miles offshore had radiation levels too low to be an immediate threat to humans.
But there was also an unpleasant surprise. “Rather than leveling off toward zero, it remained elevated in late July,’’ he said, up to about 10,000 becquerel per cubic meter. ‘‘That suggests the release problem has not been solved yet.”
The working hypothesis is that contaminated sediments and groundwater near the coast are continuing to contaminate the seas, he said.
The international team also collected plankton samples and small fish for study. Mr. Buesseler said there were grounds for concern about bioaccumulation of radioactive isotopes in the food chain, particularly in seaweed and some shellfish close to the plants. A fuller understanding of the effect on fish that are commercially harvested will probably take several years of data following several feeding cycles, he said.
‘‘We also don’t know concentrations in sediments, so benthic biota may be getting higher doses and if consumed (shellfish), could be of concern,’’ he wrote later in an e-mail, referring to organisms that dwell on the sea floor.
The study also found that the highest cesium values were not necessarily from the samples collected closest to Fukushima, he said, because eddies in the ocean currents keep the material from being diluted in some spots farther offshore.
The overall results were consistent with those previously found by Japanese scientists, Mr. Buesseler said.
He said more research was urgently needed to answer several questions, including why the level of contamination offshore near the plant was so high.
“Japan is leading the studies, but more work is needed than any one country, or any one lab, can possibly carry out,” he said. NYT
Previous: FBI Manufacturing Domestic Terror Plots
U.S. Man Arrested for Plan to Fly Remote Controlled, Bomb-Filled Planes Into Pentagon, Capitol
A US follower of al-Qaeda was arrested Wednesday on charges of planning to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled airplanes into the Pentagon and the US Capitol, authorities said.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was arrested and charged with the aerial bombing plot to attack Washington and attempts to deliver bomb-making materials for use against US troops in Iraq, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in Boston.
"The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nations Capitol," Ortiz said.
During the alleged plot, undercover FBI agents posed as al-Qaeda-linked accomplices who supplied Ferdaus with one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms that he allegedly envisioned using in a simultaneous ground assault in Washington.
The plan, according to the criminal complaint, was to strike the Pentagon and the Capitol's famous white dome and "decapitate the entire empire. (It will be the) final nail in the coffin."
However, "the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees," the FBI said.
Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, near Boston, immediately after putting the newly delivered weapons into a storage container, the FBI said.
Authorities described Ferdaus as a physics graduate from Northeastern University who was an enthusiastic fan of al-Qaeda and had been committed to "violent jihad" since early last year.
He also apparently possessed a knack for technical work.
Ferdaus is accused of modifying mobile phones for use as electrical switches in bombs to be used against US troops in Iraq.
"That was exactly what I wanted," he is alleged to have said when told -- falsely -- that one of his phones had been part of a bomb that killed three soldiers.
Aided by the FBI undercover team, Ferdaus was also developing far more grandiose plans, according to the authorities.
"Ferdaus stated that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to 'small drone airplanes' filled with explosives and guided by GPS equipment. According to the affidavit, in April 2011, Ferdaus expanded his plan to include an attack on the US Capitol," the FBI said.
The planes were large enough to carry "a variety of payloads (including a lethal payload of explosives), can use a wide range of take-off and landing environments, and fly different flight patterns than commercial airlines, thus reducing detection," according to the criminal complaint filed in court.
In May and June 2011 Ferdaus delivered thumb drives to the undercover team with step-by-step plans for his alleged plot.
This included using three remote-controlled planes and six people who would be armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades.
The plan, according to the FBI, was to use the "aerial assault" to "eliminate key locations."
The Capitol's dome would be blown "to smithereens," Ferdaus was quoted in the complaint as saying.
At that point the attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and "open up on them" and "keep firing."
"It ought to result in the downfall of this entire disgusting place," Ferdaus is alleged to have said.
Republican lawmaker Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the arrest was a reminder that 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda and its sympathizers "remain committed to attacking the US homeland."
The New York congressman said it "also underscores the need to continue efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of 'lone wolf' extremists."
Ferdaus made a first court appearance before a federal judge in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Wednesday and was scheduled for a detention hearing on Monday.
If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison for supporting a foreign terrorist organization, up to 20 years for attempting to destroy national defense sites, and the same again for attempting to use explosives against buildings owned by the United States.
Little personal information was given out about the accused man, other than that he is unmarried and has no children. AlterNet
I think you really have to be an atheist to truly appreciate the futility of what this jesoid is prepared to die for.
But you don't have to be an atheist to appreciate what an evil bunch of backward fucktards the members of the Iranian regime really are. And people I suppose, I wasn't going to include them in this statement, but there will be more than enough, equally backward bunch of evil fucktards clamouring for him to be strung up.
Pastor Faces Execution in Tehran for Apostasy
By Martin Fletcher & Ruth Gledhill
29 September 2011
The Foreign Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury intervened last night to try to save a Christian pastor in Iran who has refused to renounce his faith to escape a death sentence.
An Iranian court gave Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, a third and final chance to avoid hanging, but he replied: “I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant.”
The panel of five judges will decide within a week whether to confirm his execution for apostasy, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, his lawyer, told The Times.
William Hague said he “deplored” Pastor Nadarkhani’s plight, and a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomat telephoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in London to protest.
“This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom,” Mr Hague said. “I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani, who has no case to answer, and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, broke his silence to express “deep concern” at the sentence faced by Pastor Nadarkhani, and at the persecution of religious minorities in Iran generally.
Sources said that Christian clerics and advisers had been working hard behind the scenes to save the pastor’s life, but had sought to avoid “megaphone diplomacy” in case it did more harm than good.
The US Department of State has also condemned the Iranian judiciary for demanding that Pastor Nadarkhani renounce his faith or face execution.
“While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing,” it said. more RDF
Here's another fine example of delusional, watch her performance and listen to what she has to say, starting 30s mark.
Constantly friendly, caring, loving and trustworthy. You couldn't make this stuff up if you lived to be as old as Noah. Was he eight, or nine hundred years old, I forget off hand?
If I remember rightly, somewhere in the archives, I have the quintessential cartoon for this occasion, let me go and have a root around.
Voila! here you go. Purrrfect.
Just another niggrah and just another example of Gawjah Justice I guess!
Judge Rules East Dublin Shooting Justified
Sep 8, 2011
A Laurens County magistrate judge ruled Thursday afternoon that a July 2010 fatal shooting by a police officer was justified.
Judge Donald Gillis declined to issue a warrant against East Dublin police office Jeffery Deal for killing Melvin Williams.
Gillis cited police-cruiser dashboard video that seemed to show Williams as the aggressor before he was shot and killed.
Earlier Thursday, he heard recorded statements from two witnesses to the shooting, who said they saw Williams attack the officer and try to take his gun.
He said Deal's lack of arrest powers was not a factor in his decision.
Gillis ruled around 6:45 p.m., after a hearing that lasted for more than five hours in the Laurens County courthouse.
Williams' family stood and left the courtroom while Gillis was still announcing his ruling. District Attorney Craig Fraser and East Dublin police chief William Leutke also left without comment.
Deal shot and killed Williams in July 2010, but GBI records show that the officer lacked arrest powers. Williams family argues that he had no authority to stop and shoot Williams, calling that "false imprisonment."
Then, a lawyer for the Williams family questioned Leutke -- who, according to the GBI, also lacked arrest powers, because he failed to get the required training.
He was asked when he realized that almost his entire department lacked arrest powers, and he said, "At this time, it was brought to my attention," but he did not explain.
Williams' family also argues that the dashboard video of the shooting contradicts Deal's account of the arrest, that the traffic stop was not warranted, and that East Dublin's department lacked any training or policy on the use of deadly force.
Leutke said he did not investigate the shooting, which was turned over immediately to the GBI.
He says he comforted Deal at the shooting scene because he was "upset."
Later, Judge Donald Gillis heard from GBI investigator Jerry Jones, who discussed the shooting investigation. In answer to a question from the Williams family's lawyer, he said a crack pipe was found on the passenger seat of the cruiser that Deal was driving.
He said Deal didn't know where the crack pipe came from and said it wasn't his normal cruiser. (Whatever you say officer)
Later, the judge heard recorded statements from two witnesses to the shooting, who said they saw Williams attack the officer and try to take his gun.
Lawyers in both sides completed closing arguments after 6 p.m. Source and photo.
Georgia! Georgia USA, trailer trash capital of the fucking world. Try a Google image search for East Dublin GA and see what you get.
Time has moved on since I first posted this, but I think we can rest assured the situation hasn't.
Kind of reminds me of the tale of Billy Bob Bodean, who moved from Bumfuck Alabama to Scrotumville Georgia and the average IQ of both towns went up.
First posted here, George Wallace "The Little Judge" and All Round Good Ol' Boy. Quite an amazing bit of redneck, racist, social and political history.
"segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Today Twitter's CEO said they may in the future "edit out any...clearly offensive [trending topics]." He also said "we edit out any [trending topics] with obscenities."
AlterNet has the rest of it/them, because Twitter aren't alone in this.
Why Troy Davis Wasn't a Trending Topic: Progressive Email and Twitter Messages Censored in US and UK Alternet
The second and much lengthier piece, (link only) is a chat between Moore and Amy Goodman, where Moore talks about his formative years, his film making and his new book, Here Comes Trouble. Towards the end of the piece there is a clip of Moore accepting his Oscar for Bowling For Columbine, the ruckus his acceptance speech caused, and its consequent effects on Moore's life, and the threats to that life.
I posted excerpts from Here Comes Trouble that covered that period of his life in a post entitled Michael Moore Croissant-Eater.
"Something Has Started": Michael Moore on the Occupy Wall St. Protests That Could Spark a Movement
Oscar-winning filmmaker, best-selling author,and provocateur laureate Michael Moore joins us for the hour. One of the world’s most acclaimed — and notorious — independent filmmakers and rabble-rousers, his documentary films include Roger and Me; Bowling for Columbine for which he won the Academy Award, Fahrenheit 9/11, SICKO; and Capitalism: A Love Story. In the first part of our interview, Moore talks about the growing "Occupy Wall Street" protests in Lower Manhattan, which he visited on Monday night. "This is literally an uprising of people who have had it," Moore says. "It has already started to spread across the country in other cities. It will continue to spread. ... It will be tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people ... Their work ahead is not as difficult as other movements in the past ... The majority of Americans are really upset at Wall Street ... So you have already got an army of Americans who are just waiting for somebody to do something, and something has started." Democracy Now
"Here Comes Trouble": Michael Moore Tells The Formative Tales Behind His Filmmaking, Rabble-Rousing
For more than two decades, Michael Moore has been one of the most politically active, provocative and successful documentary filmmakers in the business. We talk to Moore about his new memoir, "Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life," which comprises 20 biographic vignettes that capture how his political and sociological viewpoints developed. He also discusses the numerous attacks and death threats he received after speaking out against former President George W. Bush, after winning a 2003 Academy Award for his film, Bowling for Columbine. He first discussed these fears and necessity to hire a security team on Democracy Now! last year, which ultimately encouraged him to write publicly about these incidents in his memoir. Watch Democracy Now
Having more respect for, than I had knowledge of, I rectified that shortcoming by reading Amy Goodman's bio on Wiki. Link here if you are of a like mind.
Not had chance yet to watch it myself, probably later.
The Wonderful World of Tony Blair
Since resigning in June 2007 Tony Blair has financially enriched himself more than any ex-Prime Minister ever. Reporter Peter Oborne reveals some of the sources of his new-found wealth, much of which comes from the Middle East.
On the day Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official representative Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. By January 2009 he had set up Tony Blair Associates - his international consultancy - which handles multi-million pound contracts in the Middle East.
It is so secretive we don't know all the locations they do business in. Dispatches shows that at the same time as Blair is visiting Middle East leaders in his Quartet role he is receiving vast sums from some of them. If Blair represented the UK government, the EU, the IMF, the UN or the World Bank, this would not be permitted. watch
Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
5 Signs That America Is Moving Away from Religion
If you look closely there are promising signs that American attitudes are changing in a way that may blunt the impact of religion on politics and culture.
By Tana Ganeva
September 28, 2011
In between bragging about the number of people they've killed and vilifying gay soldiers, the GOP presidential candidates have spent the primaries demonstrating how little they respect the separation of church and state. Michele Bachmann seems to think God is personally invested in her political career. Both she and Rick Perry have ties to Christian Dominionism, a theocratic philosophy that publicly calls for Christian takeover of America's political and civil institutions. (Even Ron Paul, glorified by civil libertarians for his only two good policy stances -- opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and drug prohibition -- sputtered about churches when asked during a debate where he'd send a gravely ill man without health insurance.)
GOP pandering to the Religious Right is just one of those facts of American political life, like climate change denial and Creationism in schools, that leave secular Americans lamenting the decline of the country, and of reason and logic. Organized religion's grasp on the politics and culture of much of Europe has been waning for decades -- why can't we do that here?
But there are signs that American attitudes are changing in ways that may tame religion's power over political life in the future.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, tells AlterNet that she thinks what happened in Europe is (slowly) happening here. While questioning religion remains controversial -- Gaylor says the group's work on church and state issues often elicits hate-mail strongly suggesting they move to, you know, Europe -- atheism, skepticism, and agnosticism are becoming more widely accepted.
"The statistics show there are more of us ... If you're in a room of people you can count on more to agree with non-belief or to be accepting of non-belief," says Gaylor.
Here are five trends that give hope one day religion will reside in the realm of personal choice and private worship, far away from politics -- something like what the Founders intended hundreds of years ago.
1. American religious belief is becoming more fractured
The intrusion of religion into places where it doesn't belong, like government or public education, naturally requires high levels of organization and control -- it's not something that just happens. So it's a good sign that even many Americans who maintain a personal religious faith are distancing themselves from heierarchical, top-down religion. Polls have repeatedly shown that even among the devout, emphatic proclamations of faith do not translate into actual churchgoing. In fact, church attendance rates hovered at around 40 percent until pollsters realized there's a major gap between what Americans tell them about their religious habits and their actual religious habits. Tom Flynn summarizes the over-inflation of US churchgoing and offers more accurate stats:
Americans may believe in a god who sees everything, but they lie about how often they go to church. Since 1939, the Gallup organization has reported that 40% of adults attend church weekly. (The most recent figure is 42%.) Gallup's figure has long attracted skepticism. Were it true, some 73 million people would throng the nation's houses of worship each week. Even the conservative Washington Times found that "hard to imagine." New research suggests that there may be only half to two-thirds that many people in the pews.
Americans are also actively shaping their religious beliefs to fit their own values. Profiled in USA Today, religion expert George Barna shares recent findings that show religion is becoming increasingly personal. Believers might drift from faith to faith until they find one that works for them, or cobble together a belief system drawn from many religious traditions. The US is becoming a place of "310 million people with 310 million religions" Barna is quoted as saying. Go to page two, or be like me, don't.
Update: The Revolution Begins at Home AlterNet
Lawrence O'Donnell on Police Brutality at Occupy Wall Street
27 September 2011
by: Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC | Video Report
This weekend a few troublemakers turned a peaceful protest against Wall Street greed into a violent burst of chaos. The troublemakers carried pepper spray and guns and were wearing badges. Truthout
It was only Monday evening as it happens, that a friend was relating the story of her friend who was taking his first vacation somewhere in Florida. Having just arrived at the apartment that he was staying in, he wandered down to the grocery store to buy milk etc.
Taking a tourist's interest in things novel, he looked at two cops sat in a cruiser, the next thing he knew, he was slammed against a wall with a gun to to his head to the accompanying shouts of ''What the fuck are you looking at?'' Nice Huh?
Below is a post that was in progress, but now I shall post it as is. It was going to be, and still is for that matter, dedicated to all the men and woman around the world that find themselves behind the wire.
It's not designed to be Irish political specifically, the application of the songs is universal.
Occupy Wall Street Protest: Democracy Now Video
Don't Flush The Loo In Oceania
This Is What A Police State Looks Like
Indiana Official Police State
Tyranny In The Heartland. Amerika's Stormtrooper Police
There's plenty more under the Fascism tag, but I think you get the idea.
It's BSF here (before sparrow fart) so I haven't as yet watched the Democracy Now clip, but given my Jose Padilla post of two days ago, I thought this a very apt article.
Having watched the clip, quite lengthy, some twenty odd minutes, it becomes essential viewing, to truly appreciate that America doesn't have a moral leg to stand on. And Iran? Moral and Iran don't belong in the same sentence.
Bloggers. If you want to increase the size of Democracy Now's default player, change the 300 part of this code to whatever you require. You are watching this at 640.
What media coverage omits about U.S. hikers released by Iran
By Glen Greenwald
Sep 26, 2011
Two American hikers imprisoned for more than two years by Iran on extremely dubious espionage charges and in highly oppressive conditions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were released last week and spoke yesterday in Manhattan about their ordeal. Most establishment media accounts in the U.S. have predictably exploited the emotions of the drama as a means of bolstering the U.S.-is-Good/Iran-is-Evil narrative which they reflexively spout. But far more revealing is what these media accounts exclude, beginning with the important, insightful and brave remarks from the released prisoners themselves (their full press conference was broadcast this morning on Democracy Now).
Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, "solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives." Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the "32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran," and said: "the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility." After complaining that the two court sessions they attended were "total shams" and that "we'd been held in almost total isolation - stripped of our rights and freedoms," he explained:
In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they'd remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.
We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments - including the government of Iran - to act in kind.
[Indeed, as harrowing and unjust as their imprisonment was, Bauer and Fattal on some level are fortunate not to have ended up in the grips of the American War on Terror detention system, where detainees remain for many more years without even the pretense of due process -- still -- to say nothing of the torture regime to which hundreds (at least) were subjected.]
Fattal then expressed "great thanks to world leaders and individuals" who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and "elements within the Iranian government," as well as U.S. officials.
Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference. Instead, typical is this ABC News story, which featured tearful and celebratory reactions from their family, detailed descriptions of their conditions and the pain and fear their family endured, and melodramatic narratives about how their "long, grueling imprisonment is over" after "781 days in Iran's most notorious prison." This ABC News article on their press conference features many sentences about Iran's oppressiveness -- "Hikers Return to the U.S.: 'We Were Held Hostage'"; "we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten" -- with hardly any mention of the criticisms Fattal and Bauer voiced regarding U.S. policy that provided the excuse for their mistreatment and similar treatment which the U.S. doles out both in War on Terror prisons around the world and even domestic prisons at home.
Their story deserves the attention it is getting, and Iran deserves the criticism. But the first duty of the American "watchdog media" should be highlighting the abuses of the U.S. Government, not those of other, already-hated regimes on the other side of the world. Instead, the abuses at home are routinely suppressed while those in the Hated Nations are endlessly touted. There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America's lawless detention of them for years -- often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know -- and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?
This is a repeat of what happened with the obsessive American media frenzy surrounding the arrest and imprisonment by Iran of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted in a sham proceeding of espionage, sentenced to eight years in prison, but then ordered released by an Iranian appeals court after four months. Saberi's case became a true cause célèbre among American journalists, with large numbers of them flamboyantly denouncing Iran and demanding her release. But when their own government imprisoned numerous journalists for many years without any charges of any kind -- Al Jazeera's Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, Associated Press' Bilal Hussein for more than two years in Iraq, Reuters' photographer Ibrahim Jassan even after an Iraqi court exonerated him, and literally dozens of other journalists without charge -- it was very difficult to find any mention of their cases in American media outlets.
What we find here yet again is that government-serving American establish media outlets relish the opportunity to report negatively on enemies and other adversaries of the U.S. government (that is the same mindset that accounts for the predicable, trite condescension by the New York Times toward the Wall Street protests, the same way they constantly downplayed Iraq War protests). But to exactly the same extent that they love depicting America's Enemies as Bad, they hate reporting facts that make the U.S. Government look the same.
That's why Fattal and Bauer receive so much attention while victims of America's ongoing lawless detention scheme are ignored. It's why media stars bravely denounce the conditions of Iran's "notorious prison" while ignoring America's own inhumane prison regime on both foreign and U.S. soil. It's why imprisonment via sham trials in Iran stir such outrage while due-process-free imprisonment (and assassinations) by the U.S. stir so little. And it's why so many Americans know Roxana Saberi but so few know Sami al-Haj.
An actual watchdog press is, first and foremost, eager to expose the corruption and wrongdoing of their own government. By contrast, a propaganda establishment press is eager to suppress that, and there is no better way of doing so than by obsessing on the sins of nations on the other side of the world while ignoring the ones at home. If only establishment media outlets displayed a fraction of the bravery and integrity of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran's sins but -- a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal -- chose instead to present the full picture. Salon