Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quigley: Too Little Too Late for Haiti, Marjorie Cohn: Keeping Same-Sex Marriage in the Dark

This morning I neglected to mention the huge numbers of armed
forces, mainly from the US, running rampant through the streets
of Port-au-Prince and much resentment expressed by the populace.
They've already begun shooting people. Nothing surprise's me, and
there will surely be more sent about this developing situation. -Ed

From: zhelp@zcommunications.org

Too Little Too Late for Haiti? Six Sobering Points

By Bill Quigley
ZNet Daily Commentary: Jan 15, 2010

Point One. $100 Million - Are You Kidding Me?

President Obama promised $100 million in aid to Haiti on January 14, 2009. A
Kentucky couple won $128 million in a Powerball lottery on December 24,
2009. The richest nation in the history of the world is giving powerball
money to a neighbor with tens of thousands of deaths already?

Point Two. Have You Ever Been Without Water?

Hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti have had no access to clean water
since the quake hit. Have you ever been in a place that has no water? Have
you ever felt the raw fear in the gut when you are not sure where your next
drink of water is going to come from? People can live without food for a
long time. Without water? A very short time. In hot conditions people can
become dehydrated in an hour. Lack of water puts you into shock and starts
breaking down the body right away. People can die within hours if they are
exposed to heat without water.

Point Three. Half the People in Haiti are Kids and They Were Hungry Before
the Quake.

Over half the population of Haiti is 15 years old or younger. And they were
hungry before the quake. A great friend, Pere Jean-Juste, explained to me
that most of the people of Haiti wake every day not knowing how they will
eat dinner that day. So there are no reserves, no soup kitchens, no
pantries, nothing for most. Hunger started immediately.

Point Four. A Toxic Stew of Death is Brewing.

Take hundreds of thousands of people. Shock them with a major earthquake and
dozens of aftershocks. Take away their homes and put them out in the open.
Take away all water and food and medical care. Sit them out in the open for
days with scorching temperatures. Surround them with tens of thousands of
decaying bodies. People have to drink. So they are drinking bad water. They
are getting sick. There is no place to go. What happens next?

Point Five. Aid is Sitting at the Airport.

While millions suffer, humanitarian aid is sitting at the Port au Prince
airport. Why? People are afraid to give it out for fear of provoking riots.
Which is worse?

Point Six. Haiti is Facing A Crisis Beyond Our Worst Nightmares.

"I think it is going to be worse than anyone still understands." Richard
Dubin, vice president of Haiti shipping lines told the New York Times. He is
so right. Unless there is a major urgent change in the global response, the
world may look back and envy those tens of thousands who died in the quake.

Wake up world!

Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a long
time human rights advocate in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com


From: zhelp@zcommunications.org

Keeping Same-Sex Marriage in the Dark

By Marjorie Cohn
ZNet Daily Commentary: Jan 15, 2010

On Wednesday, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court overturned a
ruling made by a federal trial judge that would have allowed limited
television coverage of a trial that will decide the fate of California's
Proposition 8. The trial, which is currently proceeding in San Francisco, is
one of the most significant civil rights cases of our time. The plaintiffs
are seeking to overturn a ballot initiative that makes same-sex marriage
illegal in California.

It was unusual that the Supreme Court even decided to hear this case. The
high court takes very few cases. It generally decides issues about which the
state or federal courts are in conflict or cases that raise important
questions of federal law. Yet relying on the Supreme Court's "supervisory
power" over the lower courts, the five conservative justices - Roberts,
Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy - joined in an unsigned 17-page decision
and chided Chief Judge Vaughn Walker for seeking to broadcast the trial
without a sufficient notice period for public comment.

Justice Breyer wrote in the dissent joined by Justices Stevens, Ginsburg and
Sotomayor that he could find no other case in which the Supreme Court had
intervened in the procedural aspects of local judicial administration.
Indeed, Breyer cited a case in which Scalia wrote, "I do not see the basis
for any direct authority to supervise lower courts."

Moreover, in the comment period that Walker did allow, he received 138,574
comments, and all but 32 favored transmitting the proceedings.

The majority concluded that the same-sex marriage opponents would suffer
"irreparable harm" if the trial were broadcast to five other federal courts
around the country. But all the witnesses who allegedly might be intimidated
by the camera were experts or Prop 8 advocates who had already appeared on
television or the Internet during the campaign.

No one presented empirical data to establish that the mere presence of
cameras would negatively impact the judicial process, Breyer wrote. He cited
a book that I authored with veteran broadcast journalist David Dow, "Cameras
in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice." It describes
studies that found no harm from the camera, and one which found that
witnesses "who faced an obvious camera, provided answers that were more
correct, lengthier and more detailed."

The five justices who denied camera coverage noted at the outset that they
would not express "any view on whether [federal] trials should be
broadcast." Toward the end of their decision, however, they stated that
since the trial judge intended to broadcast witness testimony, "[t]his case
is therefore not a good one for a pilot program."

In my opinion, it is no accident that the five majority justices are the
conservatives who, in all likelihood, oppose same-sex marriage. Why don't
those who oppose same-sex marriage want people to see this trial?

Perhaps they are mindful of the sympathy engendered by televised images of
another civil rights struggle. "It was hard for people watching at home not
to take sides," David Halberstam wrote about Little Rock in The Fifties.
"There they were, sitting in their living rooms in front of their own
television sets watching orderly black children behaving with great dignity,
trying to obtain nothing more than a decent education, the most elemental of
American birthrights, yet being assaulted by a vicious mob of poor whites."

The conservative justices may think that televising this trial will have the
same effect on the public. Witnesses are describing their love for each
other in deeply emotional terms. Religious fundamentalists who oppose them
will testify about their interpretation of scripture. Gay marriage is one of
the hot button issues of our time. Passions run high on both sides. This is
not a jury trial in which jurors might be affected by the camera or a
criminal case where the life or liberty of the defendant is at stake.

In spite of what the conservative majority claims, the professional
witnesses are not likely to be cowed by the camera. Modern broadcast
technology would allow the telecast without affecting the proceedings in the

There is overwhelming public interest in this case. It will affect the daily
lives of millions of people. The decision denying limited broadcast coverage
at this point effectively eliminates any possibility that it will be allowed
before the trial is over. The conservative judges are using procedural
excuses to push this critical issue back into the closet.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and
co-author, with David Dow, of "Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the
Pursuit of Justice."

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives

No comments:

Post a Comment