Advocates for child victims of sexual abuse are calling on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to grant clemency to Terrance "Terry" Williams, who is scheduled to be executed on October 3. In 1986, Williams was convicted of killing Amos Norwood. What the jury in that case did not know is that Norwood had sexually abused Williams and had allegedly violently raped him the night before. Furthermore, Williams had suffered years of physical and sexual abuse by older males. Most recently, evidence has emerged that prosecutors tried to make robbery seem like the motive for the murder, even though Williams’ co-defendant knew about the sexual abuse. A hearing on this part of the case was set to take place Friday in Philadelphia. Now, as Williams’ execution is set to take place in less than a month, five of the jurors in his case have since come forward to say they believe life without parole would have been the appropriate sentence because they did not know all the facts.
When Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, was discovered to have raked in millions of dollars from the super lobbyist — and eventually convicted felon — Jack Abramoff, Reed wound up in political purgatory. But outraged by the election of Barack Obama, and responding to what he describes as God’s call (via Sean Hannity), Reed returned to start the Faith and Freedom Coalition with the aim of toppling Barack Obama from the White House.
This week, Moyers & Company tracks Reed’s rise, fall, and return: does it signal a new revolution, or an old racket?
A federal judge has refused to throw out a request from James O’Keefe, who infamously and secretly filmed an ACORN worker while supposedly pretending to be a pimp. The selectively-edited video, typical of O’Keefe’s punk hackery, ultimately led to the defunding of ACORN by Congress and its subsequent bankruptcy.
The video above, from The Rachel Maddow Show that originally aired on April 6, 2010, is part one of that show that details the unedited version of O'Keefe's video which was initially used to depict the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as assisting a pimp and his accompanying prostitute in human trafficking to show that... wasn't... quite... how it happened.
This portion of the video details everything, including how the defunding of ACORN by Congress was later ruled unconstitutional, and the GAO's 38-page report that surveyed over 31 federal agencies, probing how ACORN used federal funds and whether adequate controls on spending existed. The report found no evidence of fraud, lax oversight or misuse of federal funds. All this came too late for the not-for-profit group, unfortunately. Part two of the show can be viewed here.
Yet even with the release of the original videos before they were edited, and being completely cleared of any wrongdoing by Congress, disparaging reports continue to pop up in the conservative media. Conveniently, they "forget" to mention that fake scandalmonger O'Keefe is a convicted criminal, or that ACORN was cleared by Congress.
Juan Carlos Vera sued O’Keefe, and his associate Hanna Giles in Federal Court on privacy claims, related to O’Keefe secretly filming Vera at an ACORN office in National City in 2009.
"ACORN is in the business of providing counseling and support for the community on various matters," Lorenz wrote. "By its very nature, the organization handles personal matters with individual clients. Defendants walked into ACORN and asked for plaintiff's help with tax forms. ... Specifically, they solicited his help with setting up an illegal prostitution business with underaged girls. ... Plaintiff, as a worker for an organization like ACORN, reasonably believed that the content of the conversation was sensitive enough that it would remain private."
O'Keefe duped Vera by asking if the conversation would remain confidential, before he launched into details of the nonexistent scheme, Lorenz wrote.
Over the course of a 40-minute conversation, Lorenz noted, the three "abruptly paused their conversation" after Vera's supervisor, David Lagstein, entered the office, and continued talking after the supervisor left.
"Based on the surrounding circumstances, plaintiff reasonably believed that the conversation was private because it was held in his office with no one else present, and he believed that no one else was listening in on his conversation," Lorenz wrote.
Because of this "genuine dispute," Lorenz denied O'Keefe's motion for summary judgment.
Pretrial hearings are set for October 15, 2012.
I happen to know a few former ACORNS, all wonderful, kind-hearted people who -- not surprisingly -- again work helping those in need. (Yes, Fox News, former ACORNS have new jobs...is that okay with you?)
If having a day in court with James O'Keefe brings them any solace or would bring some sense of justice, after all the years of great service they provided while with ACORN, and enduring this right-wing witch-hunt, let the ACORN lawsuits commence.
Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist imprisoned for his role in a wide-ranging Washington corruption scandal, has appeared as a pundit on CNN. The BBC asks "Why have US television networks turned into comeback springboards for disgraced public figures?"
Excellent question, and nice to hear that others wonder the same thing.
On Thursday, Abramoff joined presenter Soledad O'Brien, New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza and others to analyse the recent US Supreme Court decision ratifying President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.
Introducing Abramoff, O'Brien acknowledged he had spent more than three years in federal prison - then plugged his new book.
She questioned him about the impact of the healthcare decision on the lobbying profession and how lobbyists would seek to influence Congress on the matter.
"Always nice to have you," she concluded. "We appreciate it. Thank you."
What conclusion did they reach?
"The journalistic mission became secondary to using notorious names to attract audiences."
It's an interesting outsiders look at what the BBC refers to as "decline of public moral standards" in American television news. Full article here.