Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Journalism is NOT a Crime!

Post-holiday greetings, all.

While looking for something on tv, there was a special on Al Jazeera America on the hazards facing journalists today, with a special focus on three of their journalists now held in jail in Egypt for more than a year.  "Journalism is not a crime" is their phrase used to rally support for their colleagues.

They also had a segment on the subject of the new film, Rosewater, Maziar Bahari, and the film's director, Jon Stewart.  Mr. Bahari, a journalist and filmmaker, was jailed in Iran, interrogated daily, and was also tortured.  He was finally released after 118 days.  His family memoir formed the basis for the film.

There was also a segment on some of the statistics on jailed journalists kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists. There is a great summary of the data at their website.  They count 220 jailed journalists worldwide, the second worst total since they've been keeping the statistics.  Reporters Without Borders also has some data on their homepage, which is worth viewing.

All of us should be concerned that Freedom of the Press is observed worldwide.  That includes our own country.  We should take note of how journalists were treated in Ferguson, and how the government is fighting almost all efforts to be transparent and accountable.  Mr. Bahari's book was originally titled:  Then They Came for Me.  That is, of course, a reference to a "golden oldie" quote, whose message we should definitely heed. (and you might like to visit my take on it - here  ).


Developments in case of Al-Jazeera journalists held in Egypt

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Must be Stopped

It was hard to come up with a title for this post. How can you rationally talk about torturers and apologists dominating the media?  How can you rationally talk about torturers, those who developed the programs, those who authorized these depraved acts, tried to rationalize them, and still defend them, NOT yet being held in any way accountable?

For starters, why has the media so obediently allowed torture apologists to dominate coverage?   And that article was even before Cheney was his despicable self on NBC's Meet the Press.  I have called ABC's World News Tonight and e-mailed the NPR News ombudsman about this.  Oh yes, and NPR as well as the Washington Post don't use the word torture here.  Shame on them for using euphemisms!  I told the receptionist at WNT that I objected to them having Brennan on to "defend the indefensible."

There is a new article up at The Intercept looking at the CIA officer in charge of one of the black sites operated by the CIA and the man who died there - frozen to death.  The death of Mr. Rahman is one of the worst cases uncoverd so far in investigations of CIA torture.

So let's get this straight:
  • Detainees get tortured, with lasting effects I would imagine, and Mr. Rahman dies... but this CIA officer does well for himself
  • Torturers, program architects and authorizers, and apologists for depraved acts walk around with impunity while John Kiriakou, the whistleblower, is the only one so far even prosecuted
  • The msm, main source of news for many citizens gives plenty voice to torture defenders
While I'm left wondering...WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

I have been somewhat heartened by the diverse spectrum of citizens protesting police violence following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Tamir Rice.  We desperately need some of this adrenaline to spur some protests and action against torture.  We must fight to see that it never happens again. We must fight to see all those involved brought to justice.  We must fight to not let there be any argument about "if it works."  We must oppose it on absolute moral grounds.  We must fight the media who are by default, siding with torturers while they want to claim "objectivity."

So I do hope that you readers (if there are any!) will lift your voices against torture.  The FAIR article at the above link has some contact info for some major media outlets.  I also posted a list of phone numbers in the comments.  I'm also going to post that link here.  Let them know we are watching, listening, and oppose torture and its defenders.

media phone contact list

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guess What Day It Is...

Well, those reading this blog for some time or attuned to such issues will know that today is Human Rights Day.

But it is with a sickening feeling of outrage that I have to post today.  The Senate committee's torture report (executive summary, really)  was released yesterday.  Here is a link to the executive summary, still heavily redacted.

My feeling, anyway, is that torture is one of the most egregious human rights violations.  Let's remember that the U. S. is a signatory of the U. N. Convention Against Torture, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Read through this discussion at Human Rights Watch and it should be pretty clear that torture is to be condemned and not to be permitted.  Ever.

At The Intercept there are so far three articles that are report related: I'll just give a link to the first one, an overview article by Glenn Greenwald, et al..  Please also check out the other two articles by Murtazza Hussein and Ryan Tate.

I have not read the report.  But just the pieces I've read in the articles covering it sicken me.  And this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  I really don't know how, with any sense of humanity, these acts of torture can be justified or condoned.

I'm also sickened by media pundits, politcos, and intelligence community members and apologists who are justifying such acts.  And the Exec. Director of the ACLU called for pardoning the torturers!  Honestly, how could he or anyone advocate that?  These evil acts need accountability if we're serious about really stopping such practices.  I sent them an e-mail decrying that proposal.

I don't know how torturers and their apologists live with themselves.  Maybe their consciences have been surgically removed or something.  But the rest of us must not let this issue (and others) go away.  More of us must say "Not in my name."  More of us must scream for the perpetrators of these despicable actions to face justice for what they have done.  More of us must not forget.  I'm sure the intelligence community (and most of the msm) would love for this to all go away.  So we must make sure our attention lasts more than a few seconds.  That it lasts past the next celebrity scandal.  This and other issues need us to be aware and for us to cry and push for action.  We must insist that America turn from its dark path.  We must drag it if we must, into light.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Protest Poem

I came across a site and one of the prompts it had was to list ways a person could protest an injustice (feel free to list some ways in comments :-)  ).  In pondering that, I thought of protest songs.  I don't have a formal melody for this, but I just might try singing it - even if just for my cat to hear!  But for right now, it's a "protest poem."  - at least I hope it's in the protest tradition. Here goes:

What Matters

All our lives matter
Yes, every one
Brothers and Sisters
Under the Sun

We must use lenses
That do not distort
To better envision
Collective support

Let’s stand for justice
And help to repair
A system that’s broken
To make it more fair

For all our lives matter
Yes, every one
And working together
Our task’s just begun

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No Justice Until ALL Lives Matter

Hello all:

It is so sad that we again have to decry the sad state of our justice system.  The grand jury in the Eric Garner case has declined to indict.  Here is a pretty good article about the response of some NYC Congresspeople.

I saw part of their news conference. Rep. Jeffries was also excellent, I thought, as was one of the last to speak, but I can't call his name right now.

It should be clear that we certainly have a race problem still in America. Just read some of the articles online which describe problems ---- and some of the intolerant comments you'lll find in comments to some articles about these issues if you don't believe we still have institutional racism. We also have another problem which should be evident in the aftermath of the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown,and Tamir Rice (and please see the latest update in post about his case).  That is "Blue Privilege."  Despite it supposedly being easy to obtain a grand jury indictment, the probability of a police officer being indicted is very low. Let's not forget the increasingly militaristic tone to policing; the original response to Ferguson protests showed laid that bare.  However, this is likely to continue, seeing as the Pres. has declined to reign in, scale back, or otherwise curtail the 1033 program which 'gives' military stuff to local police forces (and which Congress failed to put any brakes on as well).  Here's a good read on this.

There is also a very good article by Steven Thrasher which is definitely worth reading.

So, in wake of slogans such as "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace", I'm proposing this:

"No Justice until ALL lives matter!"


A Cleveland man's experience is told as report is released.

The Phoenix, AZ case.