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Egypt Gives Al Jazeera Journalists 7-10 Years

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Monday, June 23, 2014

President El-Sissi Declares He Won't Interfere With Ruling

Heart & Soul Pays Writer, Says It Hopes to Rise Again

Mekahlo Medina Sole Seeker of NAHJ Presidency

Calif. Auditor Confirms Investigative Report on Sterilizations

Canadian Band's Idea Fits Redskins Controversy to a T

Craigslist a Window Into Uncensored Thoughts on Race

CBS Report Spotlights Racism in Stands at World Cup

N.Y. Post Unrepentant in Central Park Five Case

Short Takes

Baher Mohammed, left, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste of Al-Jazeera English (video) (Credit: Al Jazeera)

President El-Sisi Declares He Won't Interfere With Ruling

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi "said Tuesday he will not interfere in court rulings, a day after three Al-Jazeera journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison in a verdict that prompted an international outcry," the Associated Press reported from Cairo.

"The ruling, on terrorism-related charges, stunned their families and brought a landslide of condemnation and calls for [el-Sisi] to intervene.

"According to Egypt's constitution, the president has the right to issue a pardon or commute the sentences. U.S., Australian and other officials have urged el-Sissi to use this right to immediately release the journalists. . . ."

Aided by reports from agencies in Cairo, Patrick Kingsley reported Monday for Britain's Guardian newspaper, "Egypt's judiciary has dealt a shocking blow to the principle of free speech after three journalists for Al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.

"The former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, from Australia, the ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, and local producer Baher Mohammed were jailed for seven, seven and 10 years respectively. Four students and activists indicted in the case were sentenced to seven years.

"The judge also handed 10-year sentences to British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and the Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, who were not in Egypt but being tried in absentia.

"The courtroom packed with journalists, diplomats and relatives erupted at the verdict which came despite what independent observers said was a complete lack of evidence.

"Shouting from the defendants' cage as he was led away, Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, said: 'They'll pay for this'. Greste's reaction could not be heard, but the faces of his two younger brothers — both present in court — were grim.

" 'I'm just stunned,' said Andrew Greste, as reporters were pushed from the courtroom. 'It's difficult to comprehend how they can have reached this decision.'

"Fahmy's mother and fiancée both broke down in tears, while his brother Adel, who travelled from his home in Kuwait for the verdict, reacted with fury.

" 'This is not a system,' he said. 'This is not a country. They've ruined our lives. It shows everything that's wrong with the system: it's corrupt. This country is corrupt through and through.'

"Diplomats and rights campaigners who have observed the trial expressed incredulity at the verdict. . . ."

The Associated Press reported, "The prosecution provided little evidence in the case, showing video footage found in their possession — most of which had nothing to do with the case, including a report on a veterinary hospital in Cairo, Christian life and old footage of Greste from previous assignments elsewhere in Africa."

Brian Stelter of CNN reported, "On Sunday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke 'specifically about Al Jazeera journalists' during a meeting with the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

"While Kerry did not elaborate on the outcome, he said generally that they 'discussed the essential role of a vibrant civil society, a free press, and rule of law, and due process in a democracy.' . . ."

Sheera Frenkel and Maged Atef reported for BuzzFeed last week that the Qatar-based Al Jazeera closed its offices in Egypt.

"The shocking news comes as Egypt continues to crack down on media outlets," they wrote. "No organization has been targeted more frequently, or with harsher consequences, than Al Jazeera, which Egypt sees as an extension of Qatar's pro-Muslim Brotherhood agenda. Three of its journalists are currently on trial, on charged with 'terrorism-related' activities.

"Al Jazeera has not reported from Egypt since Dec. 29, 2013, when the three reporters were arrested while working out of Cairo's upscale Marriott Hotel. But the network has continued paying salaries to drivers, cameramen, and office workers.

"Many of those still employed worked with local Al Jazeera affiliates, and did not report for the news team due to fears that any person with a connection to the network was at risk of arrest. . . ."

[Updated June 24]

Heart & Soul Pays Writer, Says It Hopes to Rise Again

"A lot of people are committed to this magazine and making sure it comes back to

Heart & Soul magazine, which has paid only about half of what it promised a dozen freelance and writers more than a year ago, has been unable to make good because "we didn't have the business last year.

"We were barely able to keep the doors open," Wil Adkins, managing director of a merchant banking firm who was brought in separately to assist the magazine, told Journal-isms by telephone on Monday.

However, Adkins paid Allegra Bennett, who describes herself as a contractor doing business as a writing and editing consultancy, last week. "I contacted her, and we paid her," Adkins said. "We are a virtual operation, and sometimes you get people who were overlooked. I'm the guy paying the bills," Adkins said. "It is our intention to pay everyone." The publication formerly had offices in Silver Spring, Md.

Bennett was so frustrated that she went public on her Facebook page on June 11.

But on Monday, she told the same forum, "I received payment from H&S Friday. I most appreciated the old fashioned phone call from the new finance guy I got the day before I received the check apologizing and alerting me that the payment was in the mail. An investment banking company is now involved helping the magazine address old debts and obligations and navigate the future.

"It was good to hear they weren't throwing in the towel and ditching the mag. I love Heart & Soul's concept and mission and really want to see it thrive. There's nothing like it in the marketplace for women of color. I wish them well." [Adkins clarifies that while he is involved, his firm is not. "The company is not in a position to raise capital at this time and will not be until the payables are addressed."]

Heart & Soul, a health-and-wellness publication founded in 1993, targets women of color.

The National Writers Union and representatives of Heart & Soul magazine had agreed that a dozen freelance writers and editors would collect more than $125,000 in unpaid fees. But, Adkins said, "no one could predict what the business was going to be like. Business for last year was down significantly. There were quite a few issues of the magazine that were unprofitable."

Adkins said he was contacted by a Heart & Soul partner to advise the magazine's owners. "Last year we hope was the bottom. A lot of people are committed to this magazine and making sure it comes back to where it once was."

While there is no permanent editor, Adkins said, Anita Kopacz, a former writer at Uptown magazine who describes herself as an author and spiritual adviser, edited the most recent edition of the six-times-a-year magazine. She is author of "Finding Your Way: Alphabetical Keys to the Divine."

Mekahlo Medina Sole Seeker of NAHJ Presidency

Mekahlo Medina

Mekahlo Medina, a technology and social media reporter at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles and vice president for broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is the association's sole — though unofficial — candidate for president, NAHJ President Hugo Balta told Journal-isms on Monday.

Balta cautioned that the organization is still going through the vetting process, so no candidate is officially on the ballot. Voting is to be completed at the association's convention in San Antonio Aug. 6-10.

Nominations closed June 15. All potential candidates are unopposed.

The others are:

Vice president/broadcast: Ivette Davila-Richards, associate producer at CBS News' Newspath in New York, and Region 2 director.

Vice president/online: Rebecca Aguilar, the incumbent, a Dallas-based freelance news reporter for television, online, print and radio.

At large officer: Ken Molestina, anchor and reporter at KTVT-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth, who now has the post on an interim basis. He has been Region 3 director.

Spanish at-large officer: Cesar Arredondo, president of the Los Angeles chapter. He is principal at the Q&A Communications consulting firm and at the Web project

Academic officer: Yvonne Latty, the incumbent. She is director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation programs at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

When Medina ran for the vice president/broadcast position in 2012, defeating Nick Valencia 148 to 95 with nine write-ins, his campaign material said, "He has a proven record of innovation and success as a pioneer of the country's first digital news channel, an anchor/reporter at NBC Los Angeles focusing on technology and social media and as a journalist entrepreneur attempting to bridge the divide between relative content and consumers.

"Mekahlo also has a deep understanding of NAHJ's mission and priorities. He has been active with NAHJ since he was 16 as a participant of the student projects. . . ."

Medina, 36, messaged Journal-isms Monday on why he wants to be NAHJ president:

"NAHJ is on a positive path forward. We are growing, we are stronger and most importantly, members believe in NAHJ again!

"I want to spend the next two years continuing to work for members by connecting them with employers, providing more training/development and improving on virtual and real time networking.

"We want to continue to secure NAHJ's financial ship, but also grow services. It's important that members use NAHJ as a tool to enhance and advance their careers.

"I also want to grow NAHJ's advocacy work. We want to ensure that Latinos are fairly and accurately covered in the media. I believe that starts with advocating for more Latinos in management and leadership roles. We will continue to do that with media companies and work with them to provide the training to ensure more Latino journalists are hired in these positions.

"We will also continue with our Media Watch program that is designed to hold media companies accountable for their coverage of Latinos and provide training for those companies.

"For me, NAHJ is about Familia. It's about members like Steve Malave who mentored me as a 16 year old college freshmen that was accepted to the student projects 20 years ago. It's about founding members like Carla Aragon who took an 18 year old student's phone call and agreed to critique my resume tape every time I was home for Christmas break. Members like Rebecca Aguilar who met me when I was 22, at my 2nd TV station and told me I had talent in my live shots and mentored me on how to get better. It is about all those members that saw a dark skin, wide nose, poor, gay kid born without a left hand and said 'We believe in you!'

"NAHJ is family to me and I will work to my last day to make sure NAHJ is that for more Latino journalists that have a hard time trying to find a place to fit in."

Medina was part of the NAHJ delegation to the Unity: Journalists for Diversity board of directors. It voted the leave the coalition last year over what NAHJ called a lack of transparency and dissatisfaction with its revenue-sharing formula.

Calif. Auditor Confirms Investigative Report on Sterilizations

Corey G. Johnson

A California state audit last week validated the conclusions of an investigative report by Corey G. Johnson of the Center for Investigative Reporting that found that "Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals."

Johnson wrote the story about the audit himself, although it was also reported by such major news organizations as the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Time magazine.

"The California state auditor today blasted federal and state oversight of sterilization surgeries for female prison inmates, finding numerous illegal surgeries and violations of the state’s informed-consent law," read Johnson's story, which was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates from fiscal years 2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found, more than a quarter – 39 – were done without lawful consent, according to the report by State Auditor Elaine Howle. The 'true number' of illegal procedures might be higher, the audit said, because auditors found seven cases at one hospital for which health records were lost in a routine purging.

"The findings 'made me sick to my stomach,' said state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, who was the first to call for the Medical Board of California to investigate the surgeries after The Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story nearly a year ago. That probe has not been completed.

"Former inmates and prisoner advocates have claimed that prison medical staffers coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison after they were released. The new audit notes that all women receiving tubal ligations in state prisons from 2005 to 2013 had been incarcerated at least once before. However, prison medical officials have denied any ill intent. . . ."

Johnson is one of the few black journalists doing investigative reporting full-time.

T-shirt from A Tribe Called Red is a play on Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indi

Canadian Band's Idea Fits Redskins Controversy to a T

"What's in a T-shirt? Turns out, quite a lot," Derrick Clifton wrote Wednesday for

"Using little more than the shirts on their backs, award-winning Canadian band A Tribe Called Red just sent a bold message: Native Americans aren't here for your entertainment.

"The shirt is part of the continuing controversy over the use of Native American imagery for the logos of professional sports teams like the Washington Redskins. Simultaneously sarcastic and witty, the shirt — a play on Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indians logo — draws attention to franchise names and mascots that demean Native Americans while lampooning the creators and perhaps the most vocal supporters of such team mascots: Caucasians.

"Sadly, the backlash to the band's creative statement has already begun . . ."

Meanwhile, William C. Rhoden, sports columnist for the New York Times, told readers on Saturday, "I've committed to stop using the nickname in public and in private, except in columns addressing the debate," noting that "other journalists do the same, and some news media outlets are refusing to use the nickname in coverage. . . ."

(©2014 Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Reprinted with permission.)

Craigslist a Window Into Uncensored Thoughts on Race


Not if you check the Craigslist personals, Wendi Muse writes for Racialicious.

In a post originally written in 2007 but reposted for "Throwback Thursday," Muse reported:

"I checked the CL personals about as often as I checked for apartments, or, in other words, every five seconds, even though I wasn't really looking for anything heavy duty in the love department and happened to be quite satisfied with my Brooklyn 2-bedroom and its 14 month lease. Reading the personals was a perfect way to find a little piece of reality TV-esque drama without all the heavy editing, good lighting, and stage makeup.

"The ads were frank, the boards were frequently updated, and the content never failed to amuse me, but behind all the fun, there was an underbelly of racism. This came as a bit of a surprise considering that so many of the CL posters were young, educated, and lived in diverse and densely populated urban environments — all oft-cited demographic factors in the commonly held belief that racism is on its way out. Though politicians, institutions of higher learning, and Ward Connerly would like for us to believe that the United States is on its way to becoming a colorblind utopia, a simple examination of Craigslist personal ads proves quite the opposite. . . .

"In the world of online dating, where a user name, masked email address, and optional photo sharing means freedom to speak [one's] mind in complete anonymity, users frequently abandon political correctness and resort to exotification, stereotypes, and blatant racism when referring to racial/ethnic 'others' in their attempts to choose a mate. While some ads include the user's thoughts on race in more subtle ways, for example, simply stating a racial 'preference' (still, arguably, a sign of prejudice), others are more obvious in their descriptions — ranging from the utilization of explicitly racist phrases or terms to describe his/her own background and/or the background of the person being sought to downright exclusion a la Jim Crow style ('No — insert race here — need apply'). . . ."

Reaction to fans throwing bananas on the World Cup prompted an anti-racism campa

CBS Report Spotlights Racism in Stands at World Cup

"As soccer enthusiasts gather in Brazil to enjoy the World Cup, incidents of racist behavior in the stands have spurred calls for FIFA to do more to stop the problem," Elaine Quijano reported Friday for the "CBS Evening News," referring to the sport's governing body.

The video is one of several items on Black Brazil News, a Facebook fan page "to inform the International community about the Unofficial Apartheid of Brazil."

Meanwhile, "Univision reported its most-viewed telecast involving the U.S. men's national team on Sunday," according to Mike Reynolds, writing  in Multichannel News. "Univision and Univision Deportes Network's simulcast of the 2-2 draw [with Portugal] averaged 6.5 million viewers on June 22, surpassing the tally of 4.8 million watchers for Sam's Army's 2014 World Cup opening match against Ghana on June 16 by 35%. . . "

N.Y. Post Unrepentant in Central Park Five Case

"The Central Park Five," last year's film about the wrongful conviction of five black and brown teenagers in the savage 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park, demonstrated the complicity of the news media in convicting the suspects with their headlines, commentary and television scripts about "wilding" youths and a marauding "wolf pack."

No apologies from the news media have been forthcoming, though the city of New York last week reached a settlement of about $40 million to the five men.

On Sunday, a defiant New York Post editorialized against the verdict with the inflammatory headline, "Wilding for profit."

"There remains strong evidence that, as famed anti-corruption prosecutor Michael Armstrong found in his review of the case, the five 'more likely than not' took part in the jogger attack," the Post said, concluding that "the five, having been declared exonerated and hailed as casualties of racism, will be handed a huge check. This is the real miscarriage of justice."

The Daily News, which like the Post reveled in sensationalizing the original crime, wrote Saturday, "The size of the reported deal demands that the mayor and his top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter, provide a public justification for payments that would be on the extremely high end of compensation for wrongful imprisonment."

Only the New York Times, among the city's dailies, approached contrition. "Mayor Bill de Blasio acted in the interest of justice when his administration agreed to pay about $40 million to the five black and Hispanic men wrongly convicted in the brutal beating and rape of a white, female jogger in Central Park in 1989," the Times editorialized Friday. "If the settlement is approved by the city comptroller and a federal court, it will bring to a close one of the more shameful and racially divisive episodes in New York City history. . . . "

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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