Thursday, August 1, 2013

Comment on Cryptosporidium Outbreak in Baker City and Follow-up Articles on Bradley Manning Conviction

A comment on the recent Cryptosporidium outbreak in Baker City and  a few articles on the importance of Bradley Manning's conviction for "espionage."
[Edited 8/2/13]

Crypto Outbreak in Baker City, Oregon

Yesterday morning around 8:30 AM I received a call from a friend that rumors were flying around where he worked that there was a Cryptosporidium outbreak in Baker City and that people had heard this from reliable sources. I immediately checked the City website and found nothing so I called the City's main telephone number and was told by a woman answering the phone that it was "just a rumor" but that they were checking it out and would have someone call me back when they knew more.  Around 9:30-10:00 Am I received a call back from the City telling me that the County Health Department had gotten reports, apparently from doctors, that there were positive cases of disease caused by Cryptosporidium showing up in a few patients. I suggested to her that Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife introduced Mountain Goats in the vicinity of Goodrich Reservoir in our Baker City watershed might be responsible because I had seen quite a bit of goat scat on a recent hike to Elkhorn Peak just above the reservoir. Given that the goats are known to water at the reservoir it certainly seems possible that their excrement may contain Crypto and that it also may be getting into the reservoir.

                 Goodrich Reservoir as seen from ridge near Elkhorn Peak

At 11:22 AM yesterday, I called the Baker County Health Department and inquired about the number of cases of cryptosporidiosis that had been reported. I was transferred to the message machine of Alicia Hills who was supposed to answer my questions. The Baker City Herald, whose printing deadline is around 9:30 AM, had an article on their website at 7:38 AM quoting Mike Kee, Baker City City Manager, who confirmed before that time that there was indeed an outbreak and that there were five confirmed cases. The article appeared in their afternoon edition of the newspaper. The information about the five cases would have been reported to the Baker County Health Department by local doctors or the hospital.

While I was in contact with Mike Kee and two other city officials to compliment them on their efforts to contain the outbreak and to suggest they collect goat scat samples at Goodrich, they gave me no information except to say that state epidemiologists would be in town today to get water and goat scat samples from Goodrich reservoir.  I asked the City an additional question today, but they have not responded.


Why did the City tell a citizen, me, that it was just a rumor when I called around 8:30 AM when the City had already reported to a local commercial paper that there was indeed an outbreak?

Why hasn't Alicia Hills at the County Health Department called me back well over a day later?

Why is the news first reported on a for-profit commercial media website instead of on the City or County website?

Why is information continuing to show up first on a commercial media website instead of on the City website supported by the citizens of Baker City?

There are several potential true answers, but one that is certainly true is that a business, the Baker City Herald, has a special relationship with the City aristocracy, including Baker City officials. The City takes care of the Baker City Herald, and the Herald takes care of them. You come later. That's why Planning Commissioner and ex-City Manager Tim Collins told those assembled at a recent City Planning Commission meeting that he had no sympathy for anyone who didn't read the paper. They are sort of like embedded reporters who can be counted on to not dig too deep for the whole story in return for continued special access--the access they need to produce revenue. Additionally, if the City gives them special information before the City posts it on their website, then the Herald gets an "exclusive" that will attract hits to their website and keep their revenue producing advertisers happy.  All in all it's a great arrangement for the Herald and City officials.

To me, it looks like a load of this:
                                    Goat Scat on Elkhorn Crest, 7/23/13

More on the Crypto outbreak later, but for some background, see:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Accountability for Baker City's Cryptosporidium Fiasco--is the elephant still in the room?

In This Edition:
- Review and Summary of Events
- Council responses to my question , i.e.: When were you first informed that Crypto was in the water?
- Crypto Time line, from Council reports and etc.

                       Rocky Mountain Goat on Elkhorn Crest, 7/23/13


Bradley Manning Conviction

Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network details the threats to investigative journalism and general resistance reporting because of the verdict in the Bradley Manning case:
Manning Verdict Risks Freedom Of The Press If The People Do Not Act

By Kevin B. Zeese

August 01, 2013 "Information Clearing House - The verdict in the Bradley Manning trial has already begun to create reverberations as people start to understand its impact, beyond the impact on Manning.  While the greatest threat to Manning, Aiding the Enemy, was defeated, another threat, The Espionage Act, was not.  The  crimes Manning was convicted  of mean he is risking 136 years in prison.  For a whistleblower who exposed war crimes and unethical behavior in U.S. foreign policy to be facing a lengthy prison term, while the people exposed by government documents are not even investigated, shows how confused the United States has become.
In fact,  the crimes Manning exposed  were much more serious than the crimes of which he has been convicted.  The  “Collateral Murder” video  which showed U.S. soldiers slaughtering innocent Iraqis, and two Reuters journalists, with joy and glee is one example of many civilian killings that deserve prosecution.  The documents which include the  Iraq  and  Afghanistan War Logs  and the  diplomatic cables  show:
· That U.S. troops  kill civilians  without cause or concern and then  cover it up  (more examples of hiding civilian killings  here here  and  here ), including killing reporters ;
· The CIA is fighting an undeclared and unauthorized  war in Pakistan  with  Blackwater mercenaries ;
· The  President of Afghanistan  is not trustworthy, that Afghanistan is rife with  corruption and drug dealing ;
· That Israel, with U.S. knowledge, is  preparing for a widespread war  in the Middle East,  keeping the Gaza economy at the brink of collapse  and show  widespread corruption  at border checkpoints.
These are some examples among many, and the documents have  changed the world in many ways , including helping to spur the Arab Spring, which expanded a global revolt against neoliberal economic policies.
These examples show that Bradley Manning was a whistleblower, one of the most important whistleblowers in history. They also show the importance of whistleblowers to a free press and informed public.  Shouldn't  the American people and the people in countries affected by U.S. policy know these facts?
Manning's convictions for espionage are the first time a whistleblower has been convicted under the Espionage Act.  This 1917 law passed during the propaganda effort to support World War I was designed to criminalize spying against the United States. For a whistleblower to be turned into a spy is a great risk to the First Amendment.  Julian Assange described the verdict  as “calling journalism 'espionage'”  Reporters Without Borders sees the verdict  as a threat to investigative journalists and their sources. The  Center for Constitutional Rights writes in reaction  to the verdict: “What is the future of journalism in this country?  What is the future of the First Amendment?”
This question is even more frightening when the prosecutor's argument on behalf of the government is understood. The prosecutor's position was that merely publishing information that is critical of the United States would violate the law because it would provide enemies of the United States with a tool to build their movement. If that position is ever accepted by the courts, there will be no First Amendment remaining.
And, during the trial the treatment of the media by the military showed their utter disregard for press freedom. In many respects it seemed to be  journalism itself that was facing court martial . Routine coverage was severely restricted by limiting access to court documents and records, frequent lack of any internet connection, and inadequate physical accommodation for reporters. During the closing argument we saw  outright intimidation with intense security , including  armed camouflaged troops walking up and down the aisle peering over journalists' shoulders. Reportedly this security was  ordered by Judge Denise Lind .
It's a sad irony that the significance of this trial for the future of press freedom has largely been lost on the mainstream press, who've been missing in action in this trial - as in many other historic developments over the past decade and more.
The key legal basis for turning whistleblowers that expose crime, fraud and abuse; as well as journalists reporting on such information into traitors treated as spies under the Espionage Act, is the removal of a “bad faith” requirement. In  United States v Truong , the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals commented on the notion of bad faith being a requirement for conviction writing that an “honest mistake” was not a violation. However, in the Manning case as well as the prosecution of former CIA agent John Kiriakou, the trial courts found no evidence of bad faith was needed. Academics, journalists, human rights lawyers and others concerned with the First Amendment need to build the case that bad faith is an essential requirement of prosecution under the Espionage Act in order to protect the First Amendment. The Manning appeals may become the vehicle for making this case and changing the law.
Judge Denise Lind now begins the sentencing phase of the Manning court martial.  This is expected to last two to four weeks.  Actual sentencing is expected at the end of August or beginning of September.  Even the sentencing phase of this trial is controversial as the government will call  13 witnesses who will testify in executive session  and rely on  three “damage assessments”  that will also not be publicly available (even Manning will not be able to see one, only his lawyer). During the sentencing phase, issues that were excluded in the guilt phase will be relevant, e.g. Manning's intent, the impact of the release of the documents.
People should take heart from history.  Throughout U.S history, bad decisions have led to social movements that created transformative change.  In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott decision that slaves were property without any human rights. The Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves occurred six years later in 1863.  Paxton's Case, in the pre-revolutionary period, upheld the right of the British to search homes, businesses and the persons of American colonists based on meaningless general writs.  At the end of that trial, a young court reporter, John Adams, wrote “Then and there the child Liberty was born.”
And, Bradley Manning should take heart from the experience of Daniel Ellsberg.  Unlike Manning, Ellsberg released top secret documents, Mannings were low level secrets that hundreds of thousands had access to. Ellsberg was also called a traitor and threatened with over 100 years in prison; if not for Nixon administration prosecutorial abuses he may have been convicted.  But today, most people recognize Ellsberg is a hero for exposing the fraudulent foundation and purposes of the Vietnam War.  Manning is considered a hero by many today and no doubt will be considered a hero by most Americans in the future.
Let the legacy of Manning's courage be a rallying cry for all of us.  It as an opportunity to push back on the U.S. security state and demand that the First Amendment protecting ourrights to Freedom of Speech, Assembly and to a Free Press, be re-invigorated.  It is an opportunity to build a movement against U.S. empire and militarism and a complete re-thinking of U.S. foreign policy.  These demands are ones for all Americans to insist upon; and they are for each of us to work for. Success in restoring these Constitutional rights and ending U.S. military interventionism would be a great legacy for the courage of Bradley Manning.
Kevin Zeese serves as  Attorney General in the Green Shadow Cabinet , and is a member of the Steering Committee of the  Bradley Manning Support Network  and an organizer of  Popular Resistance .

Bradley Manning Lynched by the US Government

By Pepe Escobar

August 01, 2013 "Information Clearing House -  The verdict for Manning was predetermined, and the show trial in a kangaroo court – a post-modern American remix of China in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution – just signed, sealed and delivered it.
The President of the United States (POTUS) had already said he was guilty. US corporate media had been screaming for three years he was guilty. Now the US government – who criminalized Manning with “evil intent” - has shown there will be hell to pay for anyone who dares to reveal American war crimes, which are, by definition, unpunishable. 
As if there was a need of additional evidence of the “bright” future awaiting Edward Snowden – right on top of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s pathetic letter promising Snowden would not be tortured if extradited to the US.   
All this as the Angel of History once more threw a bolt of lightning irony; Bradley Manning was pronounced guilty on no less than 19 counts by a Pentagon judge just next door to Spy Central, the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.  . . . . See link above for rest of article.

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