Film review: Kill the Messenger and the Contra-cocaine-CIA scandal

I saw this yesterday and it was excellent. The filmmakers wisely decided to make the entire film cover the two year period 1996-1997 which saw Gary Webb break the series of stories titled Dark Alliance for the San Jose Mercury News that exposed the shady links between the US-backed Contras in Nicaragua, the CIA, and the drug dealers who were ravaging the black communities in the inner cities of the US by flooding them with crack cocaine. (See my earlier posts on this story and film here and here.)
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The cost of not facing history

Jon Stewart has an excellent interview with New York University professor of law and director of that university’s equal justice initiative Bryan Stevenson about his new book Just Mercythat looks at how the failure of the US to face up honestly to its past has resulted in the atrocious penal system that we now have where even children are sentenced to draconian prison terms and where black people are highly likely to end up in prison even if they are innocent.
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US gets delay of release of force-feeding videos

The US government continues to try to prevent the public from seeing videos of the way that it is force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo. They have appealed to the US district judge who had ordered that they would be shown at a trial of one of the people subjected to it to suspend her order for 30 days and she has granted that request.

It is likely that the Most Transparent Administration in History will appeal to a higher court that the order to release the tapes be overturned. Of course, they will say that releasing the tapes will harm the war on terror, the standard excuse for brutality and secrecy.

Texas’s restrictive voter ID law to remain in effect

In a ruling issued early this morning, the US Supreme Court upheld the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Texas voter ID law SB 14, one of the most restrictive in the nation, should stay in place through the current election, thus likely disenfranchising many poor and minority and student voters, the ones most likely to vote for the Democratic party.
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More on what women (voters) want

Stephen Colbert looks at the GOP’s efforts at gaining greater acceptance among women by using bridal dress ads based on a TV show Say Yes To The Dress, that has been customized to each race. But he then offers them an even better ad that creates an even more intimate connection between women and Republican candidates. Looks like a winner to me.
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Countries that have recognized Palestine

I wrote recently about Sweden recognizing Palestine and the UK parliament voting to urge the government to do so. This was noteworthy in that they were the first western European countries to take this action. But as this map shows how, year by year, other countries around the world have recognized it long before Europe got around to doing this. The isolation of the west on this issue becomes pretty glaring.
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There is a new film out with the title Dear White People that was triggered by the series of photographs and the video I, Too, Am Harvard that had students of color at that university talk about the ‘micro-aggressions’ that they experience in an environment that is mostly white. Micro-aggression is the term given to often unthinking actions and statements based on ignorance, stereotypes, and prejudices. This has spawned similar efforts at other universities.
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New documentary on Snowden released

Award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras has just released her new film Citizenfour about Edward Snowden. (The title of the film is taken from one of the aliases he used in his initial communications with her.) Spencer Ackerman provides a review of the film while George Packer provides a lengthy profile of the notoriously publicity-shy Poitras and also discusses the film which he saw in Berlin before its release.
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