Ask the Presidential Press Corps: Are you journalists, or stenographers?

Stand up for Jorge Ramos: A free democracy depends on a free press

If you don’t know Jorge Ramos, he’s been called the Spanish-language Walter Cronkite,1 and he does what American journalists rarely do anymore: he asks tough questions of people in power. When politicians try to change the subject, he holds them accountable and shows the world what they really think. He’s a well respected, world-famous journalist with a huge audience in the United States.

Asking questions of the powerful was exactly what got him in trouble at a recent press conference in Iowa on the presidential campaign trail. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refused to answer a question from Ramos about immigration, and told him to “go back to Univision.”



The linked petition, which I hope you’ll sign and share, says:

To the presidential campaign press corps:

“A free democracy depends on a free press. You didn’t walk out in protest when Donald Trump forcibly ejected Jorge Ramos for doing his job and asking tough questions. The American people want to know: Are you a journalist or a stenographer?”

While stenographers and talking head punditz (spelling intentional) were resoundingly damning Ramos for doing what he’s supposed to do, a real journalist stood up for him. Glenn Greenwald wrote:

What Ramos did here was pure journalism in its classic and most noble expression: He aggressively confronted a politician wielding a significant amount of power over some pretty horrible things that the politician is doing and saying. As usual when someone commits a real act of journalism aimed at the most powerful in the U.S., those leading the charge against him are other journalists, who so tellingly regard actual journalism as a gauche and irreverent crime against those who wield the greatest power and thus merit the greatest deference.

Congress and our regulatory agencies have failed us. They have allowed media ownership to become so concentrated that their products – newspapers, magazines and broadcasts – cannot be trusted. Even PBS and NPR can no longer be counted on; their broadcast content is increasingly dominated by multinational corporations.

If Donald Trump has what it takes to be president, he can easily manage to take questions from journalists and stenographers alike. And if Trump has what it takes to be a great president, he should welcome journalists’ hard questions, and be disdainful of stenographers’ corporate-scripted non-questions.

Please sign and share the petition. Thank you.

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Reprieve: Pakistan plans proceduce for executing man paralyzed by their negligence

Reprieve +44 (0) 7792 351 660
For immediate release: Mon Aug 31, 2015

Jail to explain tomorrow how it will hang disabled prisoner

Jail authorities in Lahore have been given 24 hours to explain how they will physically hang a disabled prisoner.
At a hearing at the Lahore High Court today, lawyers for Abdul Basit, 43, argued that his execution would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, prohibited under Pakistani and international law. Basit is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair as a result of an illness he contracted while in prison, for which he did not receive adequate treatment. Basit’s lawyers contend that he has already suffered unusual punishment, and to try to execute him now would be a form of “double punishment”, and a breach of Pakistani law. His execution was scheduled for last month, but has been postponed by the court.
Pakistan’s Jail Manual gives no instructions on how to execute disabled prisoners, and at today’s hearing, it emerged the jail had given no thought to how they would practically carry out Basit’s hanging. The judge told jail officials today that they would have to come up with a detailed plan within the next 24 hours if they were to be allowed to proceed with the execution.
Pakistan has executed over 200 people since resuming executions in December 2014. Recent reports have suggested that the vast majority of those killed have had no links to terrorism, despite a claim by the authorities to be hanging ‘terrorists.’ Among the prisoners hanged so far have been juveniles, mentally ill prisoners, and people with strong innocence claims.
Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “It is astonishing that the jail authorities continue to push for the hanging of Abdul Basit, whose terrible treatment in prison has already left him paralyzed from the waist down. Basit’s hanging would be a grotesque spectacle and cruel injustice. We must hope that the court puts a stop to this inhumanity and saves his life.”  [emphasis added]

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7792 351 660

2. Pakistan’s execution protocols can be found in its jail manual, here, while a recent report by the Pakistani medical board into Abdul Basit’s condition can be found here.

3. Further details on Abdul Basit’s case can be found in a petition for mercy submitted by his lawyers to the President of Pakistan, here.

4. A recent Reuters report on those prisoners already executed can be found here.

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Turning Up the Heat on DNC for More Debates

Susan Chandler:

We need more Democratic presidential debates; Americans deserve to make an informed choice. Please sign the petition, add your voice to nearly 30,000 others. Thank you.

Originally posted on Aware & Fair:

Debate Debate gets to the heart of the issues!

Many Democrat and independent voters think the DNC is making a huge mistake to have only six Democrat candidate debates. Four are scheduled before the nomination, and two after. This is in stark contrast to previous election cycles.

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Grassy Narrows First Nation declares State of Emergency over unsafe drinking water

RELEASE                                                                                        Aug. 27, 2015

Turbidity exceeded limit by 120x, uranium and possible carcinogens found in samples

Grassy Narrows – Today the Grassy Narrows First Nation is declaring a state of emergency over unsafe drinking water conditions in the community.  The community is delivering bottled water door to door to ensure that their families, many of which have already been impacted by mercury poisoning, have safe drinking water.  Drinking water tests done by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment found turbidity at a level 120 times the safety limit.  Chemicals that are possible human carcinogens were also present at elevated levels.

“We are scared that our drinking water has been unsafe for a long time now and the federal government does not seem to care at all,” said Councilor Rudy Turtle.  “Our people have already been poisoned by mercury and now we have to deal with unsafe drinking water.”

Parts of the community have been on a “Do Not Consume” water order for over 2 years due to elevated levels of uranium, while the entire community has been on a “Boil Water” order for over a year. However, boiling water does not remove the chemicals that are a possible carcinogen.  It is likely that these drinking water conditions persisted for at least 15 years before provincial MOE testing highlighted them and federal advisories were put in place.  A Bimose Tribal Council assessment from 2001 rated the community water system as high-risk for public health due to the levels of turbidity and some of the same cancer related chemicals found by the MOE in 2015 (THMs).

Water treatment on reserves is primarily a federal responsibility.

“We lack the resources needed to fix and upgrade our drinking water system, so we are bringing in bottled water to make sure that the water our children and elders are drinking will not hurt them,” said Health Director Wayne Hyacinth.  “We had to take action now because we fear that someone will be hurt while the federal government is missing in action.”

Basic parts of the water treatment plant are missing while others are broken.  The low-income community lacks funds to carry out the necessary repairs and upgrades.  Many of the current treatment plant deficiencies were identified in the 2001 report.

The boil water advisory was not issued until after a drinking water specialist from the Ministry of the Environment began visiting the treatment plant and monitoring the drinking water in May 2014.  He quickly found that turbidity levels were at 120 NTU, while the health limit for turbidity is 1 NTU and the guideline goal is 0.1 NTU.  Further testing this summer identified tricholormethanes  (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), and hexaclorcyclopentadiene in the drinking water.  These are disinfectant byproducts (DBPs) that are likely created when chlorine treatment reacts with organic matter in the turbid water.  DBPs are considered to be a possible human carcinogen and have been linked to cancer of the liver and bladder.  They are not removed by boiling.

Tests done at the Grassy Narrows Daycare in 1999 found some of the same DBPs above the guideline level (THMs).

The CBC reported in June that Aboriginal Affairs held back more than $1 billion in promised spending for social services over the last five years, more than any other federal department.  A 2011 report for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada calculated that $1.08 billion would be enough to cover the total estimated construction cost to upgrade all First Nations water and wastewater treatment plants to meet INAC’s Protocols, and federal and provincial guidelines, standards and regulations

For more info go to:

For monthly updates on Grassy Narrows activism join the FreeGrassy email list.


Grassy Narrows First Nation asks the public to speak out in support:

Call Greg Rickford, Grassy Narrows’ MP and encourage him to fix Grassy Narrows’ tap water now!
Telephone: 807-468-2170
Fax: 807-468-4896

Please share the Release on facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Thank you.

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Wolf-PAC Gaining Ground In Missouri (Video)

Susan Chandler:

Love, love, love the apt new phrase in the video available from the original blog post … #CampaignIndustrialComplex.

Originally posted on Aware & Fair:

Cenk Uyger gives an update on the anti-corruption work Wolf-PAC* is doing in Missouri. A resolution for free and fair elections made it through the Missouri Senate, but there was not enough time to get it through the House. Next year looks hopeful.

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Paynes Prairies’ Pain

Susan Chandler:

Please sign this petition to save Paynes Prairie, and please go to the original Walking with the Alligators post to join the Facebook page from there (you’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful photos). Thank you.

Originally posted on Walking with the Alligators:

The Paynes Prairie Ecopassage
Picture credit: Ebyabe

This week was our trip up to Gainesville for my latest Skin cancer check up.
It was, as always, a great journey as it goes through the most beautiful part of Central Florida.
My check up went well, no more new melanomas, only two minor things and I was sent off until end of November.

But, while we were up there a story came on the news that made both of us furious.
It was about plans to bring more cattle to a place that many Floridians and visitors alike, consider to be the closest thing we have here to Heaven, it is the Paynes Prairie Preserve, a wild ecopassage just before you get to Gainesville on 441.

We have been through it hundreds of times over the past ten years, and it has always been the highlight of our trip.
It is just after you pass Micanopy, on either side of the road, for as far as the eye can…

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Major Development in CA Lawsuit Against Solitary Confinement

Originally posted on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity:

Media Advisory – Friday, August 28, 2015

Rally and Press Conference:
Major Development in CA Lawsuit against
Solitary Confinement

Press Contact:  Mohamed Shehk – 408.910.2618 –
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

What:     Rally and Press Conference

In anticipation of a major development in one of the most significant cases brought by prisoners in the struggle against solitary confinement, Ashker v. Brown, activists, prisoners’ family members and loved ones, and prisoner advocates will be holding a press conference and rally.

Who:      Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS)

PHSS is a statewide coalition that includes California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Critical Resistance, California Prison Focus, American Friends Service Committee, and many other organizations and individuals who work against imprisonment and solitary confinement.

Statements will be read on behalf of prisoners by family members of people in solitary confinement.

When:    Tuesday, Sept 1, 2015

Where:   Elihu M…

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