Wednesday Reads: Criminals, Whistleblowers, Journalists and Artists…Posted: November 30, 2011
Wednesday is upon us again, and today we have some interesting reads for you…as the title teases, we cover just about everyone.
At least the European parliament hasn’t forgotten the Wikileak Whistleblower who has been held captive in a US military jail. The MEP’s are asking questions about Bradley Manning, and want to send a UN special reporter on torture to visit Manning and check on his condition. So here are a couple of links about this request. Bradley Manning treatment in custody concerns MEPs
More than 50 members of the European parliament have signed an open letter to the US government raising concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning, the US soldier in military detention for allegedly leaking classified US documents to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks.
The call on the US government comes before a pre-trial hearing – Manning’s first appearance in court – which begins on 16 December.
The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning’s treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by “clear conflicts of interest”.
They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning.
Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.
That the US authorities are refusing to allow Mendez visitation, it makes one think, “What are they trying to hide?”
The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN’s work elsewhere, “particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses”.
“In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial,” they wrote.
“We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning’s right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement.”
You can read the entire letter for yourself here: Bradley Manning: MEPs’ open letter to the US government
Manning will attend an Article 32 hearing, the US military equivalent of a pre-trial hearing, on 16 December. This is expected to last five days. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has indicated he wishes to call 50 witnesses at the hearing, but military authorities are considered unlikely to grant such a request.
The Article 32 hearing then makes a recommendation to a general as to whether to proceed to a full trial.
Now, compare this to recent news from China…Ai Weiwei’s wife detained by police.
The wife of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was detained by police yesterday, the latest move in what has been seen as a concerted campaign to silence one of the government’s most vocal critics.
Speaking to The Independent, the artist, whose works include the Sunflower Seeds exhibition at London’s Tate Modern last year, described his wife Lu Qing’s three-hours of questioning as “ridiculous. They accused her of being a criminal suspect. When she asked them what crimes, they said it was a secret.”
Four policemen took Ms Lu, also a high-profile artist, from the couple’s Beijing studio to a local police station where she was questioned about a design company that manages Ai’s art, which is currently the focus of a £1.5m tax-evasion case.
“She is quite hurt. She’s very innocent; she doesn’t know anything about politics.” Mr Ai said.
Her cameraman and assistant has also been detained for questioning, in regards to one of Lu’s photographs that is now being labeled by the police as “pornography.”
What can you say, it does not seem to be much difference between China and the US.
In fact, this next link from the ACLU has information on the process of detaining US Citizens using the ICE’s Secure Communities. Detain First, Investigate Later: How U.S. Citizens Are Unlawfully Detained Under S-Comm
Detain first, investigate later — that is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) mantra when it comes to its Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program, a program designed to immediately ensnare any immigrant in the deportation pipeline the moment they come into contact with the criminal justice system.
Under S-Comm, the fingerprints of every person arrested by the police are shared with ICE at the moment they are booked into police custody. Without investigating the person’s immigration status, ICE immediately sends an “immigration detainer” or a request back to the police if they want the person to continue to be detained for immigration purposes. Detain first, investigate later.
See a problem with this? Not only does it violate the Fourth Amendment’s basic prohibition against detaining a person without probable cause to do so, but it commonly ensnares the wrong people, including people who are not even immigrants, but United States citizens, causing them to be unlawfully detained.
The post goes on to describe personal experiences with the policy of Detain First, Investigate Later.
ICE, quite clearly, has no business arresting and detaining American citizens. But as described in a recent report by the Warren Institute at University of California — Berkeley, they do so over and over again through the fundamentally-flawed S-Comm program. (ICE’s own data in the first year of S-Comm activation revealed that five percent of persons identified by S-Comm were in fact U.S. citizens.) And they do so by enlisting the unwitting participation of local jail authorities in these unconstitutional practices.
The costs and consequences of S-Comm’s detain first, investigate later are borne out every day in the jails and police stations across the country where non-deportable citizens and noncitizens suffer needless detention, while they beg for ICE to finally investigate their cases so that they may be released from jail.
Which makes me think of the recent Immigration Law passed in Alabama. Via Atrios: But The Law Was Only Supposed To Apply To Brown People
…many foreign manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda, have set up there. Its business-friendly reputation took a serious blow with the arrest in Tuscaloosa of a visiting Mercedes manager who was caught driving without his license and taken to jail as a potential illegal immigrant.
You see, you aren’t business friendly when you’re locking up the people who run the business, only when you’re locking up the people who work for it.
I know it isn’t funny, but the fact that they treated this Mercedes executive like an illegal immigrant made me laugh out loud.
Now here are some links involving Journalism and Journalists…which according to one link, calling some of the media’s reports “journalism” is rather a large leap.
First, this report about Lynsey Addario, New York Times Journalist, Strip Searched By Israeli Soldiers.
Israel’s Defense Ministry apologized Monday for the treatment of a pregnant American news photographer who said she was strip searched and humiliated by Israeli soldiers during a security check.
Lynsey Addario, who was on assignment for the New York Times, had requested that she not be forced to go through an X-ray machine as she entered Israel from the Gaza Strip because of concerns for her unborn baby.
Instead, she wrote in a letter to the ministry, she was forced through the machine three times as soldiers “watched and laughed from above.” She said she was then taken into a room where she was ordered by a female worker to strip down to her underwear.
Wait, they forced her to take the x-ray three times and then made her strip?
In the Oct. 25 letter sent by the newspaper said Addario, a Pulitzer Prize winner who is based in India and has worked in more than 60 countries, had never been treated with “such blatant cruelty.”
The ministry said an investigation found that the search followed procedures but noted that Addario’s request to avoid the X-ray machine had not been properly relayed.
Addario said she made the request not to go through the X-ray machine before arriving at the crossing.
“We would like to apologize for this particular mishap in coordination and any trouble it may subsequently have caused to those involved,” the statement said.
Hopefully, the x-ray screening did not harm her fetus…
Here in the US, CBS and CNN is getting flack for its recent “Exclusive Interviews” that are not real interviews, but video of a reporter knocking on the door and being told to f-off. Laurie Fine Interview On CNN
On Nov. 15, CBS touted an exclusive interview with Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, the man who allegedly saw and reported Jerry Sandusky abusing a boy in the locker room shower. The interview with Armen Keteyian lasted a whopping 24 seconds and its only legacy was a brief “shaken like a snowglobe” Internet meme. To say it was roundly mocked by anyone watching would be an understatement.
On Monday, CNN — with far less lead-up fanfare — touted an exclusive interview with Laurie Fine, wife of former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who is accused of molesting team ball boys. This interview lasted 18 seconds, and consisted of AC 360‘s Gary Tuchman knocking on the door of the Fine house, and swatting down “no comments” from Laurie Fine by asking more questions. He eventually got the door shut in his face as a dog barked at him.
The Mediate post goes on to breakdown these “interviews” and honestly it is a laugh.
Keteyian’s interview consisted of 68 words, 29 of which were McQueary’s. Tuchman’s was 70 words, 21 of which were Fine’s…And we never see Laurie Fine’s face. Just a voice from inside the house, caught on a microphone that Tuchman had on him.
Video at the link above.
I’m giving you another link to Mediaite, this time highlighting a segment on Colbert: Stephen Colbert On CNN iReporters: ‘This Bold Move Will Help You Get Rid Of Your Remaining Viewers’
On Monday night’s The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert deftly tore into CNN for laying off dozens of its employees and choosing instead to rely more heavily on free (and, as one might be inclined to point out, often irrelevant) viewer-produced “iReports.”
“Why buy the cow,” Colbert mused, “when you can have it shakily videotape its own milk for free?”
Perhaps if CNN used an iReporter for the Fine interview, it would have been better than the professional one Tuchman taped?/snark
Colbert also noted that readers are reimbursed for their efforts with badges, which, he assumes, can probably be used to pay for food and rent. So far, readers have submitted personal vacation footage, a little girl’s weather report, and footage of some rambling man who calls himself “Blitz” or some such.
“Bravo CNN,” added Colbert, “for getting rid of all those pesky professionals. Hopefully this bold move will help you get rid of your remaining viewers.”
Too damn funny!
Okay, now this next journalism link is serious…and very interesting. h/t Susie Madrak: Tehelka – India’s Independent Weekly News Magazine
‘Journalism, not truth, is the first casualty of war’
WAR IS a well-produced reality show. Embedded journalism is the star cast. Yes, there are innocents dying, but why let that interfere with what the boss wants reported? Award-winning documentary filmmaker-journalist John Pilger is like the Censor Board in reverse. He hunts down secret footage and uses it as damning evidence, countering what war mongers want you to believe. His 2010 documentary The War You Don’t See had its Indian premiere in Delhi recently. Its footage of a US chopper firing on unarmed Baghdad residents and injured children being ignored as collateral damage raises questions about the media’s engage ment with war. Ironically, the journalists were conspicuous by their absence. For someone who has covered every major war of our times, even Pilger, 72, underneath his composed exterior, seemed disappointed. He tells Karuna John that journalists owe their loyalty to telling the truth. Period.
The link takes you to a Q & A with John Pilger, and after reading the “crap” being called “journalism” at CNN…it is refreshing to read about the real thing.
Just a few more links for you this morning. I find it curious that in Georgia, Herman and Newt’s extra-marital affairs are actually illegal. Map: Is Adultery Illegal? Why is the religious right so silent? Hasn’t both of these presidential candidates broken a few of those laws written on stone that folks like Pat Robertson are so passionate about?
Times are tough, the economy sucks ass and it doesn’t look like any help will be on the way soon.
Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars This is a video link to a segment from this week’s 60 Minutes.
More than 16 million children are now living in poverty and, for many of them, a proper home is elusive. Some cash-strapped families stay with relatives; others move into motels or homeless shelters. But, as Scott Pelley reports, sometimes those options run out, leaving an even more desperate choice: living in their cars. 60 Minutes returns to Florida, home to one third of America’s homeless families, to find out what life is like for the epidemic’s youngest survivors.
Add to this an article from the New York Times that highlights the loss of jobs within the black community. As Public Sector Sheds Jobs, Black Americans Are Hit Hard
Though the recession and continuing economic downturn have been devastating to the American middle class as a whole, the two and a half years since the declared end of the recession have been singularly harmful to middle-class blacks in terms of layoffs and unemployment, according to economists and recent government data. About one in five black workers have public-sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in the public sector.
“The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert H. Zieger, emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida, and the author of a book on race and labor. “But it is also a vulnerability.”
A study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California this spring concluded, “Any analysis of the impact to society of additional layoffs in the public sector as a strategy to address the fiscal crisis should take into account the disproportionate impact the reductions in government employment have on the black community.”
Jobless rates among blacks have consistently been about double those of whites. In October, the black unemployment rate was 15.1 percent, compared with 8 percent for whites. Last summer, the black unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent, its highest level since 1984.
Economists say there are probably a variety of reasons for the racial gap, including generally lower educational levels for African-Americans, continuing discrimination and the fact that many live in areas that have been slow to recover economically.
Hmmm…maybe Obama’s lack of attention to African-Americans high unemployment also is not helping matters…please give the entire article you time. The story is a sad one, and many of us are familiar with the stresses a family will go through when jobs are lost and people are in survival mode. The holidays make it even more difficult.
This next link discusses how the Recession hits families hard as half of Americans fear they won’t be able to do their holiday shopping . The article points out that one in five American families do not have disposable income.
Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people’s expectations this season.
While the deals in stores and online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are meant to encourage shoppers, many people’s bank statements are having the opposite effect.
As a result of the difficult financial times and the diminishing disposable cash in many American households, half of the country is concerned that they will not be able to buy the gifts they want for family and friends this holiday season.
A CBS poll reports that 33 per cent of those polled will not have enough money for holiday shopping.
Okay, very depressing news…and very depressing numbers. Let’s end this post with some geeky news about True Random Numbers Created by Firing Lasers at Diamonds
True random numbers are very hard to come by, as this article from Geeosystem points out:
Computers have an especially hard time creating random numbers since they operate by algorithm. Sure, you can get a pseudo-random number by using a “randomly” selected seed and running a whole bunch of operations on it, but that’s still not random. For that matter, neither is rolling dice. Granted, we generally don’t have enough information to predict the outcome, so rolls are effectively random, but not actually random. Now, Ottowa physicist Ben Sussman has come up with a way to create large quantities of true random numbers, with science!
The process works a little something like this. Sussman takes
a big old beam of sciencea laser, and fires a several-trillosecond burst through a diamond. In the process of going through the diamond, the laser fundamentally changes in completely random ways, providing those true random numbers everyone craves. That’s right. Ben Sussman makes random numbers by shooting lasers at diamonds, for science. This is exactly the kind of experiment I imagined scientists doing when I was about 6 years old. The only way this could be cooler is if it were all going down in space.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “So what’s so random about this? After all, if dice rolls aren’t random because we theoretically could predict them, what makes this laser-diamond stuff any different?” Well, we theoretically can’t predict these numbers. It’s not that we don’t know how the light changes inside the diamond. It’s that we can’t know. It is unknowable. To know would defy the very laws of physics.
As you can probably guess, quantum physics is to blame for this one. While traveling through the diamond, the laser experiences a quantum fluctuation, and according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, it is literally impossible to figure out what happened in there; all we can do is take a look at what’s coming out the other side. Basically, when you shoot a laser through a diamond, quantum physics does a whole bunch of stuff that is literally impossible to know, ever. Are you getting this?! This is science, baby!
What are you all reading about this morning!