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The Anniston Star has long been the voice of independent, serious journalism in the middle of Alabama. In today’s Star, I offer some comments on the Siegelman case—how justice went off the tracks, and how a consolidated print media that dominates the state from Huntsville to Mobile contributed to the injustice.
Today former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is interned at the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Louisiana, where it is said he is being given routine chores including cleaning floors. He was dragged away from his sentencing hearing bound in handcuffs and manacles on orders of federal judge Mark Fuller, who was appointed by the current President Bush and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Alabama Republican Party.
The scene was sufficiently shocking that even staunchly conservative Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Birmingham questioned the treatment given the former governor. Forty-four former attorneys general from around the country, a good many of them Republicans, taking note of the often-crude irregularities in the prosecution, trial and sentencing proceedings, petitioned Congress for a special probe of the case. Congress, in the form of the House Judiciary Committee, decided to act, issuing as a first step a demand that the Justice Department supply documents relating to its prosecution of Siegelman.
Nothing quite like this has ever happened before, and it reflects a very high level of skepticism on the national stage about the quality of justice meted out by the Bush Justice Department generally, and particularly in federal courts in Alabama.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”