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Saberi Had Confidential Iranian Document

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Speaking to reporters in Tehran on Tuesday, Roxana Saberi said she had no specific plans but to "relax" with her parents and friends. (Video) (Credit: BBC). 

Freelancer Found Guilty of Keeping Classified Report

"Iran's case against U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was based on her acquiring a confidential government report on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, one of her defence lawyers said on Wednesday," Zahra Hosseinian reported from Tehran Wednesday for Reuters.

"Saleh Nikbakht gave details about the charges against Saberi two days after an appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a two-year suspended term and she walked free after more than three months in Tehran's Evin jail.

"He said the 32-year-old freelance reporter had copied the report, which was prepared by a strategic research body at the Iranian president's office ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. But she never used the information, he said."

The Associated Press added, "He says she did so while working as a freelance translator two years ago for the Expediency Council, a powerful clerical body in Iran's government. "

"Saberi's release removed a snag in U.S. President Barack Obama's attempts to improve U.S.-Iranian relations after three decades of mutual mistrust. On Monday, Obama welcomed Iran's move to free Saberi as a 'humanitarian gesture,' " the Reuters report said.

"'She had obtained a report that, at that time, the Centre for Strategic Research had prepared on the future attack of America on Iraq (in 2003),' Nikbakht told Reuters, without saying how or when Saberi got hold of the document.

The eight-year jail sentence handed down by a lower court on April 18 was also based on the argument that she had cooperated with a hostile country, the United States, Nikbakht said.

This was later changed by the appeal court but she was still found guilty of obtaining and keeping a classified report. 'Because she did not have bad intentions and did not use it, she was sentenced to a two-year suspended jail term,' he said.

Her other lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, earlier said that Saberi in an appeal hearing on Sunday had "accepted she had made a mistake and got access to documents she should not have. But there was no transfer of any classified information."

"And she traveled to Israel, which the authorities claimed was suspicious and illegal," Mike Shuster added later Wednesday for National Public Radio. "She acknowledged traveling to Israel to seek work as a journalist.

Nikbakht "said Wednesday that the prosecution's case also included the allegation that Saberi had met with a person identified only as Mr. Peterson, who told her he worked for the CIA and tried to recruit her into the agency," Shuster reported.

"'She said that yes, she had met a Mr. Peterson,' Nikbakht told NPR, 'and that Mr. Peterson asked her to work for the CIA. But she took it as a joke, and didn't take him seriously.'

"It appears that in an earlier interrogation, Saberi had been questioned about this Mr. Peterson and had given answers that she then recanted during the appeals procedure. She told the appeals court, according to Nikbakht, that 'what she said about Peterson earlier had been a lie.'

"It is not known where and when she met Peterson.

"As for the trips to Israel, during the appeals procedure, Saberi said she had traveled to Israel 'for fun as a tourist,' Nikbakht said."

The disclosures about the bases for the charges come to light after weeks of speculation about the reason for Saberi's arrest. Early on, it was said to be on the pretext that she had bought a bottle of wine.

As the Associated Press reported, "Saberi, who was crowned the 1997 Miss North Dakota, moved to Iran six years ago and had worked as a freelance journalist for several organizations, including NPR and the British Broadcasting Corp.

"She was arrested in late January, but it was not known until Feb. 10, when she called her father in Fargo and told him she had been detained. She said it was because she had bought a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran but available on the black market. Her parents decided not to publicize the news until early March when their concerns grew because their regular communications with her were cut off.

"The next day, Iran's Foreign Ministry acknowledged her arrest, saying she was working in the country illegally because her press credentials were revoked in 2006. But when she was put on trial in mid-April, she was convicted on much harsher charges of spying for the United States."

Newspaper Editors Cite Diminished Ability to Inform

"Nearly three-quarters of U.S. newspaper executives responding to a recent survey said their ability to inform readers has diminished with their steadily shrinking staffs," Michael Liedtke reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.

"The survey conducted by the Associated Press Managing Editors illuminated the doubts and concerns hovering over newspapers as the industry reels from a slump that has been worsening since last fall."

None of the 20 questions, which elicited responses from 351 editors and publishers. touched on diversity.

"APME surveys typically elicit a smattering of responses to very specific questions about a topic in the news. But this one clearly touched a nerve as it sought to find out how newspaper management is coping with a downturn that has wiped out $11.6 billion, or nearly one-fourth, of the industry's annual advertising revenue since 2005.

"'Our newspaper's biggest revenue source today is foreclosure notices,' wrote Clifford Buchan, editor of the Forest Lake Times, a free weekly newspaper in Minnesota. "We have uncertainty once that run ends, as it most surely will."

"To cope with the hard times, 65 percent of the survey respondents said they have laid off workers since January 2008. Nearly 30 percent said they have lowered wages.

"Nearly 68 percent of the respondents cited staffing shortages as the chief impediment to change; more than 57 percent said they didn't have enough money to innovate. Thirty-one percent said their personnel didn't have the skills to change with the times. . . .

"Many editors seem to be having second thoughts about the industry's practice of giving away stories and photos on their Web sites. . . .

"Despite the challenges facing newspapers, 72 percent of the survey's participants said they are staying in the industry because they believe in 'the mission of journalism.'"

Obama Opposes Release of Prisoner Abuse Photos

"In an about-face, President Barack Obama is seeking to withhold photos of past abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing that their release could endanger soldiers abroad and threaten national security - an assertion that his lawyers failed to make in court only weeks ago," Margaret Talev and Jonathan S. Landay wrote Wednesday for McClatchy Newspapers.

"Obama's shift, announced Wednesday, drew swift condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union, whose 2004 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Bush administration's Department of Defense led a federal court in New York to order the photos released. A federal appeals court upheld the decision in September, and refused to rehear the case on March 11.

"The Obama administration had agreed earlier to release at least 44 photos by May 28. The administration now has until June 9 either to reargue the case before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York or petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Obama made a brief statement on his decision late Wednesday afternoon. He said he'd concluded that the photos wouldn't add useful knowledge about detainee abuse but would 'further inflame anti-American opinion and . . . put our troops in greater danger.'

"The request for what's effectively a legal do-over is an unlikely step for a president who is trained as a constitutional lawyer, advocated greater government transparency and ran for election as a critic of his predecessor's secretive approach toward the handling of terrorism detainees.

"Eric Glitzenstein, a lawyer with expertise in Freedom of Information Act requests, said he thought that Obama faced an uphill legal battle. 'They should not be able to go back time and again and concoct new rationales" for withholding what have been deemed public records, he said."

Inquirer Challenged Over Columns by Torture Figure

Philly's  Harold Jackson, left, John Yoo"I have to admit: When I called Harold Jackson on Monday and asked him why the Philadelphia Inquirer keeps printing columns by torture memo author John Yoo, I expected something of a pro forma response — something along the lines of “We believe in vigorous debate from voices across the political spectrum etc. etc.," Joel Mathis wrote Tuesday in the Philadelphia Weekly. "And Jackson, the Inquirer’s editorial page editor, did get around to saying stuff like that.

"But this is what he said first:

"'The short answer is he is under contract,' Jackson told me. 'We have an obligation to fulfill the contract and we intend to.'

"On Monday, Will Bunch, a writer for The Philadelphia Daily News ‚Äî which is owned by the same company as The Inquirer, Philadelphia Media Holdings ‚Äî wrote about Mr. Yoo on his blog, saying that people who worked in the building that houses the two papers 'weren‚Äôt immediately aware (myself included) that Yoo was now a regular columnist,'" Richard P?©rez-Pe?±a added in the New York Times. "He called on The Inquirer to fire Mr. Yoo and called on readers to join him in the effort."

Jackson "said the decision to hire a columnist was his, but that 'Mr. Yoo was suggested by the publisher,' Brian Tierney," the Times story continued.

“'There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the criticism of The Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication,' Mr. Jackson said. 'We made a conscious effort to add some conservative voices to our mix.'”

"Asked if the release of the memos affected his view of hiring Mr. Yoo, Mr. Jackson said: 'From a personal perspective, yes. We certainly know more now than we did then, but we didn’t go into that contract blindly. I’m not going to say the same decision wouldn’t have been made.'

"But Mr. Tierney said the memos did not alter his opinion.

“'What I liked about John Yoo is he’s a Philadelphian,' Mr. Tierney said. 'He went to Episcopal Academy, where I went to school. He’s a very, very bright guy. He’s on the faculty at Berkeley, one of the most liberal universities in the country.'”

Limbaugh Says Obama's Plan is "Forced Reparations"

Rush Limbaugh"As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion," conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who some have called the leader of the Republican party, said on his show Monday.

"The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps. But in the Oval Office of the White House, none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return to it to the nation’s quote, 'rightful owners.' Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on."

Principal Chief Jim Gray, seated, with Osage News staff Shannon Shaw, left, Benny Polaca and Chalane Toehay. (Photo credit: Dawn Haney/Osage Nation Communications)

Osage Nation Grants Paper Editorial Independence

"Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray issued an executive order last week declaring the tribal newspaper's independence from the tribal government," Clifton Adcock reported for the Tulsa (Okla.) World.

"Though the newspaper, The Osage News, will still be funded by the tribe, the order states that tribal officials will 'refrain from interfering with the critical reporting of all issues of relevance to the Osage people,' and that the paper 'shall be independent from any undue influence of the Osage Nation Executive Branch and free of any particular political interest.'

"Last year, the newspaper nearly had its funding withdrawn by the tribal congress after it printed a story that was critical of some members. Some in the congress said that Gray controlled the newspaper's content and the move to cut funding was an attempt to force the chief to enact a piece of legislation they said would make the newspaper independent.

"The funding was restored, however, when the measure came before the full tribal congress, and the newspaper has continued to print since then.

"Gray's executive order also establishes an editorial council, whose membership eligibility includes being more than 25 years old with no felony record, having a demonstrable professional credential for at least five years and not being an employee or elected official of the tribe. Council members must swear an oath to uphold the accepted ethics of professional journalism."

Are Media Still Thinking "What Color Is That Victim?"

"I remember as a young deputy city editor at The Daily News attending my first 'sked meeting,' a large gathering of editors held every afternoon to consider which stories would go into the next morning’s paper and how they would be played," Bob Herbert wrote Monday in the New York Times.

". . . One of the stories being pitched was about a baby that had been killed on Long Island. The editor running the meeting was completely relaxed. He was sprawled in his chair and was holding a handful of papers. His legs were crossed.

“'What color is that baby?' he asked.

"A tremendous silence fell over the room. Everyone understood what he meant. If the baby was white, the chances were much better that the story was worth big play. It might be something to get excited about.

"The Daily News has changed radically since those days, and my career flourished there. But that old story came to mind last week as I followed the lavish newspaper and television coverage given to the murder of a 21-year-old Wesleyan University student, allegedly by a man who had attended a summer course with her at N.Y.U. a couple of years ago.

". . . the press is still very color conscious in the way it goes about covering murder. Editors may not be asking, 'What color is that victim?' But, on some level, they’re still thinking it.

"Which is why we’ve heard so little about an awful story out of Chicago. Some three dozen public school students have been murdered since the school year began, most of them shot to death. These children and teenagers have been killed in a wide variety of settings and situations — while riding a city bus, playing in parks, sitting in the back seats of cars, in gang disputes, in robberies, in the crossfire of sidewalk shootouts.

"It’s an immense and continuing tragedy. But these were nearly all African-American or Latino kids, so the coverage has been scant.

'In contrast, the news media gave the public enormous amounts of information about the Wesleyan student, Johanna Justin-Jinich, and — in another big story — about Julissa Brisman, the masseuse who had advertised on Craigslist and was killed in a Boston hotel room last month."

Carlos Watson Launching News and Opinion Site

Carlos Watson"Another personality who first made a name in traditional media is putting the final touches on an ambitious online destination. Carlos Watson, an MSNBC anchor who also hosts a weekend show on talk radio network Air America, and a small band of staffers are readying The Stimulist, a news and opinion site slated to go live on May 12," Jon Fine wrote Monday on his Business Week blog.

"Watson bills The Stimulist as being aimed at what he terms "'the change generation;' that is, an audience of young professionals between the ages of 25 and 49. Watson is still on the shy side of 40 and counts himself as a card-carrying member of this cohort, and freely uses the words 'we' and 'us' to describe his intended audience. 'People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s—educated but edgy,' he says. 'I don't think of us as the same as the yuppies of 20 years ago. We are more down to earth, more digitally savvy, and more diverse.' And more global: The Stimulist aims to draw 30% of its traffic from outside of the U.S., which would be significantly more than even a site like nytimes.com gets.

". . . Watson, who worked for McKinsey & Co. and started and sold an educational company before beginning a media career, is the sole bankroller behind The Stimulist, though he expects to lure outside investors eventually. The site's managing editor is Max Linsky, a former editor in the Creative Loafing chain of alternative-weekly newspapers. Its chief operating officer and chief revenue officer is Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu, who has worked closely with Watson on his TV shows."

Short Takes

  • "Brooklyn state Sen. Kevin Parker was busted last night after allegedly attacking a New York Post photographer who was trying to take his picture, police said," the newspaper reported on Saturday. "Parker, a Democrat from the 21st District, became enraged when Post staff photographer William C. Lopez snapped a shot of him getting out of a car at his parents' home on Avenue H in Flatbush at about 7 p.m. Lopez, who filed a formal complaint with cops, said he was standing on a public street ‚Äî where it's legal to take pictures ‚Äî when he shot the photo of the politician."
  •  That Italian Vogue At just 20 years old, model Sessilee Lopez seems a little young for a career comeback. But she says that's exactly what happened after Steven Meisel gave her the cover of the July 2008 Italian Vogue featuring black models exclusively," Bennett Marcus wrote for New York magazine. "'Definitely, it‚Äôs opened up doors for not only myself but for a lot of new faces and young girls of color. With the whole fashion world embracing diversity this past year, this has been quite amazing,' Lopez said.‚Äù
  • "Radio and TV Mart?? will lay off 20 percent of their workforce in a shake-up aimed at retooling the struggling anti-Castro stations in the face of a steep federal budget cut," Frances Robles reported Tuesday for the Miami Herald. "In its funding request to Congress, the agency that oversees the Miami-based Radio and TV Mart?? submitted a budget that allocates $2.4 million less on the controversial broadcasts. The U.S.-funded broadcasts, aimed at breaking the information blockade on the island, will change formats in response to the proposed budget cut. Radio Mart?? will go to an all news format, and TV Mart?? will have a five-minute news update every half hour, with other shows in between.
  • "'The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,' public broadcasting‚Äôs nightly newscast, is getting a makeover, designed to bring it more fully into the digital era, give it a livelier look and nudge it, however slowly, toward the day when its longtime anchor decides to retire," Elizabeth Jensen reported Tuesday in the New York Times. "In the fall Mr. Lehrer will be joined by one of three co-anchors drawn from the show‚Äôs current team: Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff or Jeffrey Brown. The co-anchor will vary, and when Mr. Lehrer, who remains the executive editor, is off, two of them will anchor."
  • Ben Gray, longtime Omaha, Neb., photojournalist and talk show host, Ben Gray defeated three-term incumbent Frank Brown, former radio reporter, for a seat on the Omaha City Council, Henry J. Cordes reported Wednesday in the Omaha World-Herald. Gray is a founding member of the Omaha Association of Black Journalists.

  • Breaking bilingual ground in Los Angeles, the weekly Jewish Journal and the Hispanic daily La Opini??n are jointly publishing an English-Spanish insert in their May 15 editions, with both publications looking toward future collaborations, the Jewish publication JTA noted.
  • "We've just received word that LAUSD reporter George Sanchez is the latest casualty of MediaNews' cost cutting," Len Cutler of the Southern California News Guild wrote Monday, referring to the reporter who covered the Los Angeles Unified School District for the Los Angeles Daily News. "In addition to his reporting duties, Sanchez played an active role in the bargaining unit, volunteering to serve as both a steward and a member of the bargaining committee. For the newsroom, losing someone with his dedication and commitment to his fellow journalists is definitely a painful sacrifice."
  • "Radio One reports that its net revenues fell by 16 percent in the first quarter of 2009, to $60.7 million," Radio Ink reported on Tuesday. Radio One President/CEO Alfred Liggins said,"Our radio revenue performance mirrored that of the markets we operate in, down 24 percent. Our radio automobile business dropped by 57 percent compared to last year, and we experienced declines in both inventory pricing and sellout rates."
  • 'Chipster' Andrea Vasquez"Nineteen students and young journalists from diverse backgrounds have been named Chips Quinn Scholars for summer 2009 by the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and participating news organizations," the Freedom Forum announced. "Scholars will work in paid internships in more than a dozen newsrooms across the country immediately following a week-long orientation program and multimedia journalism class. . . . Of the Chips Quinn Scholars who have completed their education, 57 percent are employed today at news organizations throughout the United States."

  • Tony Brown, outgoing journalism dean at Hampton University, "said, via HU Spokeswoman Alison Phillips, that he plans to continue speaking nationally, to complete his fourth book and to remain active promoting the need for English fluency," Samieh Shalash reported Wednesday in the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. "When he arrived, the School of Journalism and Communications was in a state of disarray," University President William R. Harvey said in a statement Tuesday. 'Not only has he smoothed out the rough patches, but he has taken it to new heights. His intellect, experience, judgment, and presence will be sorely missed,' he said. Phillips said Brown will continue to serve as dean until June 30, the story said.
  • Jackson, Miss., Mayor Frank Melton died May 7 at age 60, about a week and a half before he and his former police bodyguard, Michael Recio, were scheduled to go on trial on charges of leading an August 2006 sledgehammer attack on a duplex the late mayor considered a drug den, as the Associated Press reported. But apart from his political biography, Melton was a television station owner. "I met him when my publisher had me on a book tour and I was sent to Channel 7 in Tyler, Texas for radio and TV interviews," writes Clara McLaughlin of the weeklies the Florida Star and the Georgia Star. "When I got off the air at the TV station, I was introduced to the station‚Äôs manager, who was Frank Melton. . . . Since he was the first and only Black TV station manager I had met in my many travels, when I decided I wanted to build a television station in Longview, TX, I called Frank. Even though I was going to be his competition, he helped me including providing guidelines in getting my CBS affiliate on the cable system. His stations were ABC and NBC affiliates. He eventually owned the Tyler and Lufkin stations as well as the NBC affiliate in Jackson," WLBT, from 1984 to 2002.
  • "Zimbabwe Independent editors, Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure, were released on US$200 bail after appearing in court on Tuesday, a day after they were arrested for publishing a story that quoted from a court document," Violet Gonda reported Tuesday for SW Radio Africa in London.
  • In Angola, "Reporters Without Borders condemns the foreign travel ban that has been placed on William Tonet, the editor of the independent Luanda-based biweekly Folha 8 (F8), whose passport was seized when he tried to cross by land into Namibia on 9 May. Tonet has been harassed by the authorities ever since the newspaper‚Äôs creation in 1995," the press-freedom organization reported on Wednesday.

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 BugMeNot.com 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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Comments

California budget

Thanks for sharing this information and in addition to this,The California budget has been subject of a lot of coverage over the past year, with a shortfall in the billions. A $20 billion plus shortage is currently the problem it's facing. Governor Schwarzenegger, or the Gubernator, put forth a few measures to the people of California to get their approval to help the state weather the shortage. They might look into a no faxing payday loan, but that wouldn't be enough money for this huge state budget shortfall. Some of the measures included a few billion in cuts; a freeze on legislative pay raises (that passed), but all tax increases were voted down, so no short term loans will be available for the California budget.

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