Sunday, May 06, 2012

Truest statement of the week

I recently inadvertently and fortuitously ended up at a meeting with a U.S. State Department-sponsored group of young professionals from the Middle East who were brought to the United States to learn more about our country. I mentioned that I was attending the hearings for the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.
The reaction of the group was stunning. Immediately hands for questions went up. The questions began with a comment: Without WikiLeaks, I would never have learned what my own governments was doing, its complicity in secret prisons and torture, in extraordinary rendition, in cooperation in the U.S. wars in the region. WikiLeaks exposed what our politicians and elected officials are doing. Without WikiLeaks, we would never have known!
And that is what Bradley Manning's trial is all about and what the charges against six other government employees who face espionage allegations for providing information the government classified to protect its own wrongdoings -- to silence other potential government whistleblowers.

-- Ann Wright, "Government seeks to silence those who would expose wrongdoing" (Daily Progress).

Truest statement of the week II

A lot of people in the country say to me, "What's happened with the press? What's happened with political coverage in America?  We don't feel connected to it."  I was out on the road when the White House Correspondent Dinner popped up again. And I looked at the CSPAN coverage and read all of the accounts of it.   If there's ever an event that separates the press from the people that they're supposed to serve symbolically, it is that one.  It's time to rethink it.  Look, I think George Clooney is a great guy. I'd like to meet Charlize Theron.  But I don't think the big President in Washington should be that kind of  glittering event where the whole talk is all about Cristal champagne, taking over the Italian embassy and who had the best party and who got to meet the most people.  That's another separation between what we're supposed to be doing and what the people expect us to be doing. And I think the Washington press corps has to look at that.  By the way, I'm a charter member of the White House Correspondents Association.  I was there early on and often enjoyed it, but it's gone beyond what it needs to be.

-- Tom Brokaw, Meet The Press roundtable, May 6th.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

This one was one that resulted in a 100% vote.  That doesn't always happen.  It rarely does.  Ann Wright. 
This one?  Ava and C.I. brought it in.  One less vote for it and we would have had a different Truest II.  (For the record, I [Jim] voted for this one.) 
We had no editorial.  C.I. was pissed.  She's nodding as I type that.  We worked and worked and couldn't get an Iraq editorial -- we had three different topics that we took multiple swipes at.  To be done quickly, she'd agreed to a Q&A based on readers questions.  So she and I did that.  Dona pointed out when we had no editorial that we could just pull our statements -- C.I. and mine -- on PTSD and PTSI from the Q&A and have an editorial.  A little bit would need to be added, but not much.  So that's what we did.  (Melanie, your question was the first I asked.  Though it's not up here in any article, I did e-mail you C.I.'s response.  And the Q&A will run in Hilda's Mix Tuesday.)

Ava and C.I.  Oh how mad they were at me.  I really felt we needed a look at the Sunday chat & chews.  In part because readers were asking what the big stories were?  Was John Edwards an issue?  So Ava and C.I. wrote this.  They had planned to be done by seven a.m. at the latest.  Doing this piece changed that since the three programs wouldn't air until after that.  This is probably the strongest piece of this edition.  I came up with the title.  Ava asked me, "Do you know what cud is?" I really didn't.  I had to look it up.  After I saw what it was, I really wanted it to be the title. :D

We agreed this needed to be covered.  It's a huge issue to our readers and we had over 100 e-mails about it last week.

This is also a huge issue to our readers who feel they are being screwed over yet again.  Don't be surprised if Barack loses the post-college youth vote.

Law & Disorder Radio continues to provide regular updates on Bradley Manning -- one of the few programs that do.

Bradley Manning.  This is one to watch closely.

Our favorite part is when Carly Simon sings her line in the verse.

From Jill Stein's campaign.
Repost of Workers World.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Removing the stigma


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be about to become Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.  That will be debated Monday in Pennsylvania at the American Psychiatric Association's convention. 

Changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will be addressed. Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) reported yesterday on General Peter Chiarelli's work to get PTSD changed to PTSI.

The thinking is that an injury is something a veteran will be more likely to seek treatment for. 

Though important, that's a small part of what needs to be done.  Among the many other pressing needs:

1) Money needs to be there.  It's not and that's why you're having scandals like in Washington state where people were rediagnosed apparently to cut spending.

2) The VA needs to get people speaking about it.  It's the same with suicide.  You need to hear stories from the top to realize (a) others have been through it and (b) you can make it to something better.  If General Smith has PTSD from the Persian Gulf War or Vietnam or whatever and Smith speaks of it, she or he is sending a strong message to those struggling right now.  The message is: "I got help.  And I made it to general.  My life is better and your life can be better too."

At The Common Ills for weeks now there's been a strong effort to take the post-traumatic stress down to the basics.  Meaning to talk about what it actually is.

To pull it away from the confusion that has it labeled as 'abnormal' or 'unnatural.'

It's actually a method of coping, a survival component.  The body and mind -- and soul -- are coping with an experience, a stressful and potentially deadly experience. 

You are placed in an environment in which people aren't safe.  You respond with heightened awareness, with hyper vigilance and this is how you survived.  Think of it as something hardwired into the human species.  Here's where this survival mechanism becomes a problem: You're no longer in that difficult situation.  You're back home among friends and family.  But you're having trouble turning that survival skill off. 

Turning the 'switch on' was a natural response to the environment the person was placed in.  Turning it off requires assistance and that's what therapy and treatment can be about.

When post-traumatic stress can be seen as a surival skill, a good thing, that now, back home, isn't necessary, you'll find many more people willing to get help.


Illustration is a VA illustration for Cognitive Processing Therapy.  For more on CPT, click here.

TV: Chewing their own cud

ABC, CBS and NBC all kid that they bring you the 'newsmakers' each Sunday morning and, even more outlandish, that the conversations are of value or, hold your sides on this one, sophisticated.  90% of the time, they bring you public access on basic cable with better lighting and possibly worse guests.


If this morning provided a landscape of surreal, the Dadaist moment on top surely had to have been the segment on Face The Nation (CBS) with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and US Senator Chuck Schumer.  Presumably, there are many things that both men can speak of with personal knowledge and expertise.  For example, Schumer's currently championing the need for funding training programs for veterans, something we think most people would applaud.

But there are things they can never be experts on.  In other words, try as he may, Howard Dean is no Meryl Streep.

His big talking point was that women and Latinos were "terrified" of Republican plans.  Last time we checked, Dean's roots were wealthy Anglo White and he was neither born with a vagina or had surgery to be provided with a facsimile.

There was a time when this was the norm.  When the whole world supposedly was enthralled to listen to White, hetero men 'explain' gay people, 'explain' other races, 'explain' women.  But among the accomplishments of the 60s Gay Liberation Movement, Civil Rights Movement, the Native American Movement,  the Women's Liberation Movement and many more was that we can all speak for ourselves.  We don't need some White, hetero male telling us what our own lives and experiences are.

Not only is that insulting today, it telegraphs just how shallow the Democratic Party is at the top that they have no women or Latinos to put forward when it's time to talk of their issues.

It also shouldn't be forgotten that Howard Dean was DNC chair during the last presidential election and never said a damn word during the primaries about the rampant sexism.  Asked of it on ABC's This Week in June 2008 -- after the primaries -- Dean responded, "There has been an enormous amount of sexism in this campaign on the part of the media, including the mainstream media."  And that would be it until The New York Times raised the issue nearly two weeks later.  At which point Dean said he was calling for "a national discussion" on sexism.

 As November 2008 drew to a close, Dean appeared on the Smithsonian Associates' Presidential Election Analysis forum and noted the sexism   On an all male panel.  That they tried to publicly justify by saying "with scheduling" it was just too hard to get a woman on the panel -- all women in the United States were apparently still ovulating and apparently all on the same cycle and, as a result, on intense bed rest.  At least in the minds of the male panel and the Smithsonian Associates.

Howard Dean's never done a damn thing for women.  He needs to sit his tired ass down.  Women do not ever need to hear from Dr. Dean about what their lives are like.  He doesn't know and when he could have made life better for women, he refused to.  He refused to call out sexism during the primaries of 2008, when it surfaced in the general election, he refused to call it out.  When reporters pressed him on the subject, he would toss out a sentence or two but it was all fakery as evidenced by the fact that if you are the DNC chair and you call for a national dialogue on sexism, one takes place.  If only a DNC sponsored event with DNC staffers, it takes place.

Howard Dean provided cover for the 2008 attacks on women.  He can't now pretend to be the voice of women.  Again, he needs to sit his tired ass down.  No woman needs to hear from Howard Dean about what her life is like.

One of us (Ava) would further add that being the former governor of a state that currently has less than 2% Hispanic population and, when you were governor, that figure was less than 1%, shut your damn mouth about Latinos because you're no expert, you don't know our issues and nobody voted you 'honorary Latino.'

Dean wanted viewers to know that "women are terrified of what the Republicans are talking about.  They're talking about basically stripping away their ability to have insurance pay for their birth control."

 Oh, how stupid the man is.

Women are not all using birth control pills.  Some women are too old, some women are trying to get pregnant, etc., etc.  In addition, most statistics show birth control pills and having your tubes tied to be pretty much equal with both over 25% (but both under 30%).  After that, you've got condoms at less than 20% and IUDs and male vasectomies.

So when he reduces it to "birth control pills," he's talking about less than 30% of less than 70% of women.  And his slice of the pie gets even smaller because so few women have insurance and many depend upon clinics for their birth control.

There's another factor Dean forgot and we wanted to be sure to spotlight it all on its own.  Howard Dean is a joke and has always been a joke.  For the Iraq War before he was against it before he was back for it before he was against it . . . He also received applause for what?  Civil unions.  Same-sex civil unions became legal in Vermont in 2000, while Dean was governor.  Vermont was the first state in the US to do this.

Dean wasn't a leader on this.  The state supreme court was -- they made it possible (if not required) in December 2009 with a verdict.  The state house and the state senate then passed the bill.  Dean didn't initiate it.  All he did was sign it.

But this 'gay champion' Howard Dean wanted to declare this morning that birth control pills were the issue that had women terrified  of the GOP.  How many lesbians does Howard Dean believe are on birth control pills?  And could the good doctor explain to us why any lesbian would be on birth control pills?

On the topic of marriage equality, Vice President Joe Biden declared his support for it on NBC's Meet The Press while speaking with David Gregory.

Vice President Joe Biden: Look, I just think that, uh, the good news is that as more and more Americans become to understand what this is all about, it is a simple proposition.  Who do you love? Who do you love?  And will you be loyal to the person that you love?   And that's what people are finding out is what-what all marriages at their root are about -- whether they're marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.

David Gregory:  Is that what you believe now?

Vice President Joe Biden:  That's what I believe.

David Gregory:  And you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?

Vice President Joe Biden:  I, look, I am Vice President of the United States of America.  The President sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, heterosexual men and women marrying each other are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties and, quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.

It was a rare and intelligent discussion on the Sunday Chat and Chews.  [Disclosure, we both know and like Joe Biden.  One of us -- C.I. -- has known Joe for decades.] It made us wonder what would happen if more people broke away from their talking points? Or if more people showed up willing to discuss more than what the party sent them out for?

It also reminded us of the closed minded.  The opponents to marriage equality.

When we say that, being Democrats, we're sure some readers assume we're about to launch into an attack on Republicans.  Not to worry, we don't have to.  What it reminds us of the two big opponents to marriage equality in the 2008 Democratic primaries were Barack Obama and John Edwards.  As we noted in January 2008 of a debate:

John Edwards also embarrassed himself in that debate noting he was against "gay marriage" and "I do not" support it leading us to shout back at the screen, "Gee, John, we weren't aware you were being inundated with proposals!"

So there you have it, marriage is a sacred institution that you enter into to cheat on your terminally ill wife, to have a mistress, to have a mistress and a child, to ensure that your wife's final years on this earth are sheer agony and public embarrassment.  Thanks for sharing, John Edwards and we're really enjoying your trial.

Over on ABC's This Week, Jake Tapper filled in as host.  David Axelrod was the first guest, apparently on to remind the American people that if Barack loses the 2012 election, they'll never have to see David Axelrod on their TVs again.  (Possibly the GOP should use that message to drive up donations?) After the segment was over, Jake Tapper would offer, "Well you heard David Axelrod talk about how Mitt Romney was blunderbusting around.  It's true that even conservative pundit Bill Kristol said that it was foolish for Mitt Romney to make these comments in the middle of this international kerfuffle."

Yes, limited minds do think alike so we're not at all surprised that Axelrod and Kristol would think alike.  However, the issue of Chen Guangcheng is not one that requires silence.  Quite the contrary, silence is what allowed it to really blow up.

More importantly, silence is how China imposes 'discipline' and 'order' and abuse.  (If that's news to you, check out this report by Calum MacLeod for USA Today.)  So how dare Axelrod and Kristol suggest that any American should ever ape that policy, should ever be silent when human rights are threatened.  Every American is guaranteed the right to speak up and speak out.  If Axelrod doesn't like that fact, he and Kristol can honeymoon in Bejing.  We'll gladly kick in our contribution, guys, just let us know where you're registered.

A stronger segment was Tapper's interview with Senator John McCain.  A number of topics were touched on.  We'll zoom in on Iraq:

Senator John McCain:  And Iraq.  He keeps bragging about Iraq.  Iraq is unraveling.  We all know that there should have been a residual force there.  And now the whole situation is unraveling.  In the words of General Keene, the architect of the surge, "We won the war and are losing the peace."  Thanks to the President's commitment to get completely out.

There's nothing wrong with McCain's opinion's voiced above.  What's wrong is that we never get a dialogue.  Jake Tapper was too quickly noting, "We're running out of time" and the segment was over.  The dialogue isn't among Obama-opponents and Obama-supporters.  Iraq is the issue.

We are for and have always favored immediate withdrawal. But we'll agree with McCain that a residual force is needed.

Why is it needed?

It's needed because the US government won't butt the hell out of Iraq's business.  It's needed because the Iraqi people voted for someone OTHER than Nouri al-Maliki in the 2010 elections but the White House and the Iranian government foisted Nouri off on them.  Iraq's been in trouble ever since. Political players in Iraq have attempted to legally take on the issues including replacing Nouri and what they find is the White House repeatedly undercutting them, repeatedly making deals with one bloc to support Nouri, doing everything outside the democratic process and behind closed doors.

If Iraq is the 51st state of the United States, by all means keep the US military forces there in a large number than they are currently.  (Over 700 US military personnel remain as 'trainers,' at least 200 Marines remain to protect the embassy, Special-Ops remain in Iraq doing 'counter-terrorism' work, the CIA and the FBI remain in Iraq and thousands and thousand of contractors working for the US State Dept. remain in Iraq as well.)

But if the White House can take it's big nose out of Iraq, if it can let the Iraqi people decide what's best for them?  Then no military force is needed.

Why does backing Nouri mean US forces need to be on the ground?  Because as Joe Biden noted in 2008, we're now taking sides in a civil war.  The only thing that prevented Nouri from going hog wil on his enemies was a large US military presence.  As soon as the bulk of the US military left in December, he began targeting his political enemies -- insisting Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on terrorism, that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post (for the 'crime' of telling CNN that Nouri was turning into a dictator) and that's not even counting the provincial officials he's had charged or all the academics he's run off campuses.

Nouri is out of control and the Iraqi people are attempting to bring their country back to order.  That's very hard to do when the White House is offering bribes to political players if they'll support Nouri, when the White House is working overtime to marginalize Iraqiya (the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections).

We're not upset by John McCain's statements though they are in conflict with our own opinions.  Those are sincerely held beliefs by McCain.  We're glad they were aired.  We're just bothered that, all this time later, no other opinions can be aired and that, just as pre-2009, Iraq was discussed on the Sunday chat & chews as whether or not Bush had done the right thing, today it's discussed as whether or not Barack has done the right thing.

It's never acknowledged by the hosts or the bookers that Iraq is its own country, with its own people and its own right to self-determination.  Whenever you might think that view was coming up, there's always a Jake Tapper to announce, "We're running out of time."

"We're running out of time," more than anything else, explains why these programs are so bad.  They're nothing but filler.  And when a real issue gets touched on and could be explored, watch them immediately rush to their respective corners instead and begin issuing talking points passed off as a conversation.


So dumb they made Netflix look smart

Netflix looks so much better this month.  No, not because it pumped up the profits of CBS, Time Warner, Comcast and Viacom.  And not even because it suddenly did something smart.  James Marshall Crotty (Forbes) noted last week Netflix's continued image as a corporate buffon:

Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings is known for making the biggest business blunder of 2011. In July, he announced that subscribers to both the Netflix streaming and DVD service now had to pay for each separately, a sudden 60% increase that took the Netflix subscription from an $8 a month charge you barely noticed on your statement to a $16 a month charge you definitely noticed. To make matters worse, in September, Netflix spun off its popular DVD-by-mail service into a new entity called Qwikster.

Those image problems still exist.  What makes an idiot look smarter?  A dumber idiot emerging.

Enter Hulu.


Last week, Hulu out-dumbed Netflix.  As Michael Grotticelli (Broadcast Engineering) explains, "Hulu, the [New York Post] report said, attracted 31 million unique users in March under a free-for-all model. But the newspaper quoted sources saying the move by Hulu toward the new business model -- called 'authentication' because viewers would have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number -- was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to sell out its share of Hulu after five years." Stan covered the news in real time (see "Hulu or not Hulu?" and "Tell Hulu NO!").

Hulu proved itself to be the supreme idiot by refusing to issue any statement silencing or clarifying the rumors.  When a corporation refuses to answer a rumor -- one that is harming its image -- that's generally a sure sign that the rumor is true.

Last week, Hulu made half-a-billion dollars in ad revenues.  It did that by showing commericals.  It did that by showing commercials to people who viewed their product.

Hulu makes how much if they switch over to this verification model?

Not as much.  That's for sure.

But when in American history has Big Business ever shown great sense without public pressure?

The Free Press has made voicing your opinion very easy:

This is how we watch TV in the 21st century: We fire up our laptops, our Roku boxes or our mobile devices. We open Hulu. We search for Parks and Recreation. Done.
But Hulu’s owners — Disney, News Corp. and Comcast, which respectively own ABC, Fox and NBC — are trying to ruin this experience.1 If they have their way, you’ll need a cable subscription to watch any TV show on the Internet.
Back in the days before cable, people paid nothing to access network TV over the air. But cable programmers introduced a new model: You pay a lot of money to subscribe to a bundle of channels and then you get all the TV shows you want — and many more that you don’t want.
It turns out people don’t want to pay exorbitant fees for hundreds of channels they’ll never watch (Bruce Springsteen wrote “57 Channels and Nothin’ On” even before the advent of DogTV).
Enter Hulu. The Internet TV site makes it easy for you to watch the shows you want to watch, when you want to watch them, for free. If you want to view them on your mobile device or with an Internet-connected TV, you pay a small monthly fee. That fee, along with traditional commercials, generates revenue.
Hulu now boasts 31 million subscribers who like it that way. It’s how many of us watch TV, and an innovative model for the future of online entertainment.
But Hulu’s owners, including Brian Roberts, Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch, are chucking all of that out the window.
These gatekeepers at Comcast, Disney and News Corp are moving to an “authentication” system that would allow only cable TV subscribers to access Hulu.

These guys are trying to put the Internet genie back in the bottle while destroying the concept of free television that dates back to the earliest days of the medium. It’s up to us to tell them to stop.
Josh, Tim, Candace and the rest of the Free Press team 
1. "TV in Real Dime," the New York Post, April 30, 2012:
P.S. Like our work? The Free Press Action Fund is powered by donations from people like you. We don’t take a single cent from business, government or political parties. Please keep us going strong with a gift of $10 — or more — today. Thank you!


College loans? Don't fall for the oike-doke

Barack Obama thinks he can inspire the young voters with a few crumbs of bread.  He thinks calling for legislation to keep low interest rates on college loans (college loans yet to be issued) will win him support.


His campaign really is as craven as it is stupid.

When you're 19 and 20, the world awaits you.  You will overcome, you tell yourself.

6.5% interest rate?  12% interest rate?  What does it matter because when you get that degree, better believe it, you are going to set the world on fire!

It doesn't really matter to that age group.

The group it matters to is the group Barack's pissed off with his latest oike-doke.

That would be the millions of Americans who are paying off student loans.  Some have their wages garnished.  Some have their IRS refunds garnished.  Some are barely able to survive because so much of their earnings each week go to student loans.

And Barack's not doing a damn thing for them.

Not proposing a damn thing for them.

They are the one who understand how interest rates add up and hurt.

And he's doing nothing.

While pompously pretending to help.

Bradley Manning


Last week on Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), they provided another update on Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleb blower the US government has now held for two years.

Heidi Boghosian:   We continue our updates on the Bradley Manning trial.  Senior staff attorney Shane Kadidal from the Center for Constitutional Rights recently returned from one of the hearings in Fort Meade, Maryland.  Welcome, Shane to Law & Disorder.
Shane Kadidal: Thanks for having me, Michael.

Michael Smith:  You know, Heidi and I, were down at the Mumia demonstration in Washington, DC yesterday.   We took the train down from New York.  We're sitting on the train, passing the Fort Meade exit on the train, you were sitting in that courtroom, in that semi-secret trial of Bradley Manning.  And we thought about, 'Well we'll get to talk to you today about what's going on in that semi-secret trial? And what do you think's at stake?

Heidi Boghosian: [laughing]  Are you allowed to talk about this, Shane?

Shane Kadidal: [Laughing.]  We are. It was funny sitting there to contrast, for instance, to Guantanamo occasionally classified hearings and every word of what's said in there is presumed classified until you get told otherwise.  It wasn't like that, but it was odd in other ways.

Michael Smith: Well it's odd because it's not like you can't say what you want to say but because  you don't have access to the court pleadings, you don't have access to the off-the-record discussions with the judge, you don't have access to court orders so a lot of this trial is a secret trial which I always thought to be against the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Shane Kadidal:  Right. It's interesting to note two things about that.  You know, first of all, people think about this First Amendment right to access to judicial proceedings being about basic Democratic values.  It's good to have government in the sunshine just as a philosophical principle.  But that's not what the Supreme Court says about it.  What they said about that very clearly in a number of cases in the late seventies and the early eighties, you know, openness actually helps the truth finding function of trials.  It gives a disincentive to witnesses to commit perjury.  It lets new witnesses come out of the woodwork and so forth.  By having the factual basis for legal ruling sort of exposed to the light of day and having the legal arguments exposed as well, it means that the court is less likely to make mistakes.  And that makes a difference when it comes down to accuracy.  And you can imagine how this might play out in a case like Manning's where an awful lot is riding, for instance, on the testimony of a supposedly quite drugged out and unreliable informer whose name actually happens to be redacted from the few public documents that we do have.  So that's one point, that openness helps the accuracy of judicial proceedings -- and it's especially important in cases like this.  The other is sort of a meta-point about media coverage.  While I was down there, there were only about two or three reporters that came out of the media room  during the breaks and sort of milled about and talked to us which I think was a little bit shocking giving the significance of this case.  You know, supposedly the largest set of leaks in American history, a set of leaks where the documents dominated news coverage globally for a good year-and-a-half.  And yet there are only two or three reporters there.  And I think it shows that when the government manages to choke off the flow of interesting detail about a case by redacting it out of documents or not releasing documents or holding proceedings off the public record, that is almost more effective at diminishing press coverage of an issue than completely barring the press from the courtroom as happens in classified hearings.  Because completely barring the press piques the press interest but simply blacking out all the colorful detail or the stuff that kind of makes a story interesting just results in boring coverage and eventually people sort of give up.  And I think that might be what's happening here.

Heidi Boghosian:  Well, Shane, since the media wasn't there, can you give us a sort of nutshell version of what happened?

Shane Kadidal:  You know, at the Tuesday hearing which I was at, one of the first issues up actually was around our letter to the court -- CCR's letter demanding that the court release its own orders including the protective order that governs what can be sealed off from public access and what can be released and what should be redacted.  So the court's own orders, then all the government's motions and the government's responses to the defense's motions.  And then a third subject which is an awful lot of the argument happens in what are called 802 conferences where the parties can agree to discuss anything in chambers and the public never has any sense of the legal arguments that are made or the conclusions that happen which is kind of different from a lot of public access issues because it means both parties can collude to keep something out of the public sight.  A little different from the usual situation where it's usually the government trying to keep something out.

Michael Smith.  Especially in a shocking case like this with, for example, one of the things that Manning was allegedly accused of releasing was a 39 minute video called The Collateral Murder Video where you've got US soldiers in a helicopter murdering two Reuters journalists and then seriously injuring two children.  It's all on video.  It's a War Crime.  They're trying to cover this up in this semi-secret trial. It's really shocking.  I remember the famous Judge Damon Keith saying, "Democracy dies behind closed doors."  So what do you think your chances are of prying open those doors?

Shane Kadidal: Well I think maybe on appeal they'll be good.  But what we learned on Tuesday was that this judge [Col Denise Lind] doesn't really want to hear it.  So the first thing she said was, 'You know, the Center of Constitutional Rights has sent a lawyer down here and asked for permission to address the court and asked for all this release including making all of these documents public and that motion which is essentially a motion to intervene -- is denied.

Michael Smith:  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press which I think is 45  press organizations did the same thing which is the same thing you guys did at the CCR.

Shane Kadidal:  Right.  They wrote some letters as well.  And, you know, the letters kind of the court had disappeared into a black hole so we sent a second letter to the defense council so that he could kind of read it out in open court.  The judge revealed yesterday that she had, in fact, received both letters, which I guess was good news.  But the bottom line is this allows to go up the chain to the two courts of appeals in the military system  that stand above this judge and demand that we get immediate public access to these documents. And it was a First Amendment case so I was very clear that being deprived of public access to judicial proceedings even for a short period of time is irreparable injury and that kind of principle goes back to the Pentagon Papers case really. 

Shane Kadidal:  A terrific piece which is worth reading.  But, you know, a couple of things. First that Manning's revelations including that the Collateral Murder video you know really were made in the face of military lies about what had actually happened.  You know, the military's initial response was that there was no question that that gunfight involved a hostile force when it turned out that two children and a bunch of journalists were among the people who were shot.  But I think that the bigger picture, I think it's ironic that the government's heavy handed approach -- as Michael said in his piece -- really only serves to emphasize the motivations for whistle blowing of the sort that Bradley Manning is now accused of. It's this kind of blanket approach on the part of the government to secrecy that forces people to reveal things by going outside the letter of the law.

Michael Smith: Shane Kadidal, who is the senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights has been down at Fort Meade, Maryland on behalf of the center at the Bradley Manning trial.  We'll keep checking in on you, Shane.  Good luck with your appeal.

Music video of the week

The video of the week is one about Bradley Manning.

  Cass McCombs'  "Bradley Manning."

Amnesty International gets a theme song

A title card at the start of the "Toast to Freedom" video explains, "To celebrate Amnesty International's 50 years of fighting for freedom and human rights, more than 50 artists from around the world collaborated in a 'Toast to Freedom'."

Carl Carlton and Larry Campbell wrote the song (Carlton of Germany, not the US gospel and R&B singer).   Thursday Art for Amnesty Band performed the song on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Double Your Green Campaign

Jill Stein

Jill Stein (above) is running for the Green Party nomination.  At her campaign website, Ben Manski posts:

Eleven states, led by Maryland, have advanced in the Double Your Green campaign: Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas have all moved to the next level in securing federal matching funds! Congratulations to our supporters in these states, and thanks to the volunteers who have been making phone calls and holding house parties to raise the money to secure matching funds for Jill Stein for President.
To read all about our progress, and to see how much further your state needs to go to qualify, please click here:

Free Mumia

Repost from Workers World:

‘Free Mumia’ echoes in D.C.

Published May 2, 2012 10:53 PM

“What else do you need to know about this case? There was a fourth person at the scene of the crime. That person was identified as the shooter. The presence of a fourth person was concealed at trial, and on those bases we are saying that Mumia Abu-Jamal must be immediately released!”
WW photo: Abayomi Azikiwe
With these words, Dr. Johanna Fernandez of Educators for Mumia and a lead organizer of the April 24 Occupy Department of Justice demonstration and civil disobedience action, set the tone for the day’s energy by providing specific details about Abu-Jamal’s case that has, up until now, been intentionally ignored by mainstream media. Fernandez, a professor at Baruch College at the City University of New York, also spoke about the federal investigation done in 1979 by the DOJ on the entire Philadelphia Police Department for corruption and brutality charges.
Over 1,000 demonstrators were privy to the experience of a rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal — a space that invokes diversity, creativity and love. The event was categorized as a “Festival for the Oppressed” as well as serving as a celebration for Abu-Jamal’s 58th birthday. Abu-Jamal was falsely railroaded to Pennsylvania death row in 1982. Due to decades of mass pressure, his death sentence was overturned in 2011. He is presently serving a life sentence in a Frackville, Pa., prison.
People received information from local, national and international organizations that are providing alternatives and resources for people who exist not only in the 99%, but in the bottom 1%. Speakers from organizations including the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the International Action Center, the Free Mumia Coalition (NYC), the Bradley Manning Support Committee, Returning Citizens, Students Against Mass Incarceration, Tucson’s May 1 Coalition and the National Lawyers Guild shared statements of solidarity for Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners as well as addressed issues of wealth disparity, racist profiling as epitomized with Trayvon Martin’s murder and the decimation of social programs.
Among the activists, community members, youth and elders present from all over the East Coast, as well as a delegation from France, was Public Enemy’s Chuck D, the voice of hip-hop’s resistance and self-determination.
“Connect yourself to the planet people. When you hear people talking about, ‘I wish consciousness will come back.’ It’s already here! It might not be here in large quantities, but it’s here in large quality.” His words were a call to action, reminding us of the importance of this moment, of this movement. “Pay attention to the quality of your consciousness, not just its quantity. We live in a country that always tries to say more is better. … If you happen to come here today, the quality of yourself is making a large statement to the world.”
Mumia’s inspiring message
The energy stayed magnetic and consistent with spoken word, dancing and music. Performances by Rebel Diaz, Jaziri X and M1 from Dead Prez kept the people, young and old, engaged throughout the day. Longtime activist Danny Glover called in expressing his words of support, and a very special call from Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy Correctional Facility was projected over the loudspeakers allowing the people to hear Mumia Abu-Jamal live.
“For many years I actually forgot my birthday and would only be reminded if my mother, wife, children or other family would send me a card. That’s because on death row, every day is like every other day. And a day alive is the only day you know you are not dead.”
Abu-Jamal encouraged the demonstrators to pay attention to California and the opportunity it has to end the death penalty there and remove over 684 people from death row, the largest death row in America, stating, “This would be a powerful symbol for the abolitionist movement.”
The final speaker of the program was Pam Africa, who, with her vibrant and contagious demeanor, ignited the people to begin a march to the White House, calling for the end of mass incarceration, the release of all political prisoners, and the demand for jobs, education, health care and not jails!
At the White House, over two dozen demonstrators held a sit-in and refused to leave when police came to disperse them. Those individuals, including several elderly women and a number of high school students, were arrested. Jail solidarity was arranged and a festive crowd of loved ones and supporters were present late into the night to greet them when they were released.
“The spirit of a movement is brewing, and now is the time for us to either answer the call to serve or sit back and exist in complicity. I chose to act,” said D.C. youth organizer Chioma Adaora.
The decision to hold the demonstration on a weekday was not missed by several organizers. “There is a need to show this country that enough is enough. We will sacrifice for the greater good, even if that means taking a day off from work in the midst of a potential double dip recession,” said Occupy DC organizer Damon Bascom.
Actions took place all over the U.S. and the world in honor of Abu-Jamal’s birthday, including the cities of Oakland, Houston, San Diego, London, Mexico City and Berlin. There was also a Wells Fargo protest on April 24 in San Francisco calling attention not only to the home foreclosure crisis, but also highlighting Wells Fargo’s investment in private prisons.
For more information about future actions and coverage of the event, visit


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Celebrity In Chief" -- Isaiah comments on the Celebrity in Chief.

 -- Wally & Cedric and Kat cover the issue of the White House's mis-steps on political dissident Chen Guangcheng.
Ruth continues her coverage of the John Edwards trial:
"THIS JUST IN! HE'S YOUR CHILD!" & "You raised him" -- Wally and Cedric reminding the media who babied him.

 "NPR sells the drone war (2 men, 2 women)" and  "PBS promotes the drone war" -- Ann and Mike on the drone war.
"" and "Barack's disaster economy" -- Trina and Betty address the economy.

"5 men, 1 woman and sexist Fresh Air" -- Ann address sexist Fresh Air.

"Amnesty and Carly" and  "Gareth whispers, Carly spies" -- Elaine and Trina on Carly.

"Princess Brat" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.
"THIS JUST IN! BARRY O IS A JOKE!" and "What a failure" -- Wally and Cedric on the dismal returns of the administration.

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