Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fall guys charged in killing of Russian journalist

Suspects charged over murder of Russian journalist

Anna Politkovskaya was a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian prosecutors have formally charged at least four of 10 suspects detained over the murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a defence lawyer says.

Russian prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika said on Monday 10 people had been detained and anti-Kremlin forces abroad had ordered the killing of Ms Politkovskaya to discredit President Vladimir Putin...

Ms Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in her block of flats on October 7 last year.

A senior editor at the Novaya Gazeta newspaper where Ms Politkovskaya worked, Sergei Sokolov, said he did not think the crime had been solved...

"The question of the person who ordered this killing has not been worked out in full - the interpretation of the prosecutor-general is more political than judicial."

Mr Chaika said on Monday said no political pressure had been exerted on prosecutors.

He said Ms Politkovskaya was killed by an organised crime group led by an ethnic Chechen and including at least five serving and former law enforcement officers.

- Reuters
August 28, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chauncey Bailey dies investigating a group gone wrong

A Journalist's Death
Chauncey Bailey is murdered while performing an essential task of democracy.
Washington Post Editorial
August 11, 2007

THERE WAS a time when many people in Oakland, Calif., admired Your Black Muslim Bakery, a neighborhood enterprise founded in 1968 by a charismatic African American known as Yusuf Bey. Community members, politicians and the local media hailed the bakery as an example of black self-help in an otherwise dispiriting environment of urban poverty. For years, they tended to ignore or play down reports about the more violent side of Mr. Bey's operation, or about such disturbing events as a political rally at which Mr. Bey remarked that Jews "are not worthy of being hated." Among the many who were a bit soft on the bakery was a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, Chauncey Bailey, who doubled as news director for a television channel that Mr. Bey paid to broadcast his sermons.

But in 2002, the East Bay Express, a local alternative newspaper that had praised the bakery, ran a penetrating series of articles on the activities of Mr. Bey's minions, including the alleged torture of a Nigerian immigrant. That series earned reporter Chris Thompson threats from Mr. Bey's group. Mr. Bey's arrest in 2003 on 27 counts of raping four girls further damaged both Mr. Bey's image and that of his organization, though most of the charges were dropped and he died before his trial.

Mr. Bailey began to take a second journalistic look at Your Black Muslim Bakery. Having become editor of the Oakland Post, a small weekly newspaper focused on the African American community, Mr. Bailey probed the bakery's murky finances -- until the morning of Aug. 2, when a masked man approached and fired a shotgun at his head. According to police, a 19-year-old employee of the bakery has confessed to the murder, saying he carried it out because of Mr. Bailey's reporting. The suspect denies he confessed and claims he is innocent.

Job-related murders of journalists are extremely rare in the United States: The last one took place in 1993, and there have been only 13 since 1976 (including Mr. Bailey's), according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Yet this murder is a reminder of the need for reporting by professional journalists, even in an era when amateur video of war zones can be had at the click of a mouse. Aggressive journalism is still a vital part of every community's defenses against corruption and crime. It can save lives.

Chauncey Bailey died doing his duty as a reporter. That duty is not only indispensable in a democratic society; it's also risky...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

John Davies silences public comment at Charter Review Committee

From San Diego City Beat's "Last Blog on Earth"
August 10th, 2007
by David Rolland

"...at last night’s Charter Review Committee meeting, committee chair John Davies refused to allow CityBeat’s favorite City Hall-watcher, Mel Shapiro, to speak at the podium about some of the items on the agenda. I recounted how committee member Mike McDade urged Davies—a stern fellow who wants to limit public comment to one time at the start of the meetings—to let Shapiro speak..."


Death of a young American journalist in Oaxaca

City Beat has an excellent story this week by John Ross on the murder of American journalist Brad Will in Oaxaca in October 2006.

Here's the URL: http://www.sdcitybeat.com/article.php?id=6051

Here's an excerpt:

"...Two of the gunmen were later identified by Mexican news media as Pedro Carmona, a local PRI political fixer and cop, and Police Commander Orlando Manuel Aguilar Coello. One of the men crouched down behind Carmona was Abel Santiago Zárate, aka "El Chino" (the grasshopper). Santiago Zárate and Aguilar Coello were reported to be the personal bodyguards of PRI Municipal President Manuel Martinez Ferrea. The other two men would be fingered as Juan Carlos Soriano (aka "El Chapulin") and Juan Sumano, both Santa Lucia police officers.

"You can see the gunmen in the film Brad Will shot just moments before the bullets hit him, and they are clearly framed in a picture taken at the same time that ran on the front page of El Universal.

" When the shooting erupted, Will took cover on the opposite side of the narrow street from the rest of the press. He was crouched against a lime green wall when his bullet came for him. You can hear the shot on the sound track and listen to Will's cries as it tears through his Indymedia T-shirt and penetrates his heart. A second shot caught him in the right side. There was little blood, the first slug having stopped his heart from pumping. On film that Gustavo Vilchis and others took, the entrance wound looks like a deep bruise..."

Is the San Diego Union-Tribune clueless?

Today the SDUT editorial page derided the intelligence of left-leaning bloggers who want to unite to bargain for health insurance.

The SDUT thinks that this idea makes no sense. Bloggers are silly to think they can bargain, says the SDUT, because the bloggers don't have employers.

Here's how the SDUT puts it: "Now along comes a story about some of these lefty bloggers that is so flabbergasting it demands this observation: So we're clueless?"

(This question is apparently directed to left-wing bloggers who think that the mainstream media don't "understand how the world really works nowadays.")

Economics lesson #1 for Bob Kittle and friends:
You don't need an employer to bargain for a better price for health insurance. All you need is a large number of people who are combining their purchasing power. As the quantity being purchased increases, the price goes down. This method works whether you're buying health insurance, office supplies, fleets of cars, or potatoes.

The answer to Bob Kittle's question ("So we're clueless?") would seem to be YES. Not always, of course. But in this case, I'm afraid so.

But, to be fair, I did like the editorial about the team of students from Mexico who won the National Geographic World Championship. And I do like print journalism. In fact, I think San Diego would be much better off if we had two print newspapers instead of one. Perhaps the North County Times and the East County Californian will expand into downtown and make San Diego a great American city with two competing print newspapers.