August 23, 2012
By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II
Stephon Tull was looking through dusty old boxes in his father's attic in Chattanooga a few months ago when he stumbled onto something startling: an audio reel labeled, “Dr. King interview, Dec. 21, 1960.”
He wasn’t sure what he had until he borrowed a friend’s reel-to-reel player and listened to the recording of his father interviewing Martin Luther King Jr. for a book project that never came to fruition. In clear audio, King discusses the importance of the civil rights movement, his definition of nonviolence and how a recent trip of his to Africa informed his views. Tull said the recording had been in the attic for years, and he wasn't sure who other than his father may have heard it.
“No words can describe. I couldn’t believe it,” he told The Associated Press this week in a phone interview from his home in Chattanooga. “I found ... a lost part of history.”
Many recordings of King are known to exist among hundreds of thousands of documents related to his life that have been catalogued and archived. But one historian said the newly discovered interview is unusual because there's little audio of King discussing his activities in Africa, while two of King's contemporaries said it's exciting to hear a little-known recording of their friend for the first time.
Tull plans to offer the recording at a private sale arranged by a New York broker and collector later this month.
Tull said his father, an insurance salesman, had planned to write a book about the racism he encountered growing up in Chattanooga and later as an adult. He said his dad interviewed King when he visited the city, but never completed the book and just stored the recording with some other interviews he had done. Tull’s father is now in his early 80s and under hospice care.
During part of the interview, King defines nonviolence and justifies its practice.
“I would ... say that it is a method which seeks to secure a moral end through moral means,” he said. “And it grows out of the whole concept of love, because if one is truly nonviolent that person has a loving spirit, he refuses to inflict injury upon the opponent because he loves the opponent.”
The interview was made four years before the Civil Rights Act became law, three years before King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and eight years before his assassination. At one point in the interview, King predicts the impact of the civil rights movement.
“I am convinced that when the history books are written in future years, historians will have to record this movement as one of the greatest epochs of our heritage,” he said.
King had visited Africa about a month before the interview, and he discusses with Tull’s father how leaders there viewed the racial unrest in the United States.
“I had the opportunity to talk with most of the major leaders of the new independent countries of Africa, and also leaders in countries that are moving toward independence,” he said. “And I think all of them agree that in the United States we must solve this problem of racial injustice if we expect to maintain our leadership in the world.”
Raymond Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Maryland's Morgan State University, said the tape is significant because there are very few recordings of King detailing his activity in Africa.
“It’s clear that in this tape when he’s talking ... about Africa, he saw this as a global human rights movement that would inspire other organizations, other nations, other groups around the world,” said Winbush, who is also a psychologist and historian.
“That to me is what’s remarkable about the tape.”
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Freedom Rider and lunch counter protester who worked with King while a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, said hearing King talk about the sit-ins took him back to the period when more than 100 restaurant counters were desegregated over several months.
“To ... hear his voice and listen to his words was so moving, so powerful,” said Lewis, adding that King’s principles of nonviolence are still relevant today.
“I wish people all over America, all over the world, can hear this message over and over again,” he said.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King, agreed.
“I can’t think of anything better to try,” Lowery said of nonviolence. “What we’re doing now is not working. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Matching violence with violence. We’ve got more guns than we’ve ever had, and more ammunition to go with it. And yet, the situation worsens.”
A spokeswoman for King’s daughter Bernice, head of The King Center in Atlanta, said she was traveling and couldn’t comment on the audio.
Tull is working with a New York-based collector and expert on historical artifacts to arrange a sale. The broker, Keya Morgan, said he believes that unpublished reel-to-reel audio of King is extremely rare and said he’s confident of the authenticity of the recording based on extensive interviews with Tull, his examination of the tape and his knowledge of King. He’s collected many of the civil rights icon’s letters and photos.
“I was like, wow! To hear him that crisp and clear,” Morgan said. “But beyond that, for him to speak of nonviolence, which is what he represented.”
August 16, 2012
By CHUCK BARTELS
Police in Arkansas released a video reconstruction on August 14 meant to show how a 21-year-old man who was handcuffed behind his back could have shot himself in the head while in the backseat of a patrol car.
In the video, an officer played the part of Chavis Carter, a Southaven, Miss., man who died from a gunshot wound to the temple July 28 despite being frisked twice by Jonesboro police officers. Carter was Black and both of the officers who arrested him are white, a dynamic that has generated suspicion among some members of the city’s Black community.
The officers stopped a truck in which Carter was riding after they received a report of a suspicious vehicle driving up and down a residential street. They arrested Carter after learning he had an outstanding arrest warrant related to a drug charge in Mississippi. Police also alleged Carter had marijuana.
In producing the video, the agency used the same type of handcuffs that were used on Carter and the same model of handgun found with Carter after he died, a .380-caliber Cobra semi-automatic. An officer of similar height and weight to Carter — 5 feet 8 inches, 160 pounds — sat in the back of a cruiser, leaned over and was able to lift the weapon to his head and reach the trigger.
“We just wanted to get a good perspective on how it could be done and the ease with which it could be done,” said Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates.
As far as how Carter concealed the gun, Yates said it’s possible he hid it in the patrol car after officers first frisked him. He was then in the car un-handcuffed until officers eventually decided to arrest him. They then conducted a more thorough search of Carter.
“It’s obvious they did miss the weapon on the first search. It is likely, since he was placed into the car un-handcuffed the first time, that he had an opportunity to stash the weapon in the car,” Yates said. “The second search, which was more thorough and inclusive, did not disclose the weapon either.”
The incident and the subsequent investigation has prompted criticisms of the Jonesboro Police Department. Several critics came to a Monday night meeting on August 13 about the department's reaccreditation.
George C. Grant, retired dean of the library at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, asked that the reaccreditation be put on hold until the investigation into Carter’s death is complete, The Jonesboro Sun reported. Grant and others also complained that Yates hasn’t pushed to hire minorities. Only three of 145 members of the police force are Black, the Sun reported.
Yates didn’t offer a timetable for when the internal police probe would be complete. He said he’s waiting for an autopsy report, a report from the state Crime Laboratory on the gun and details on Carter’s phone records.
At a town hall meeting late Tuesday, some people said they had a hard time believing the police department explanation of what happened and voiced their frustrations to Department of Justice community relations representative Reatta Forte.
Others said Carter’s death was part of a larger issue of how Blacks are treated by police officers and recounted their own negative experiences.
Forte said she would review their comments and later convene a panel of the officials and agencies involved to discuss them, the Jonesboro Sun reported. She also said the state Crime Lab had been pressured to get the results of tests performed in the case back as soon as possible.
“I know they are putting a rush on it,” she said, urging patience from the audience.
Russell Marlin, a Memphis, Tenn.-based attorney representing Carter’s family, said Tuesday that he's conducting his own investigation. Martin said it was too early to give his own assessment of how Carter died, but he said Carter wasn’t suicidal. Martin said he would make a statement once his inquiry is complete.
“By all accounts, he was a healthy, happy guy. There’s no reason to think he would have killed himself,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, the FBI is monitoring the case. The state and local branches of the NAACP have asked the Justice Department to investigate. Craighead County NAACP Branch President Perry Jackson didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.
Prosecutor Scott Ellington, who will review the investigative file to determine whether any charges are warranted, said he didn’t expect to receive anything before the end of the week.
Police say video and audio recordings, as well as statements from witnesses, show neither officer pulled his weapon nor fired a shot during the traffic stop. Police have refused to release those recordings, citing the investigation.
Yates said other agencies have contacted him and told of similar incidents that occurred over the years.
Less than two weeks after Carter was shot, a man shot himself in the torso while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car in Mobile, Ala. The man survived. Police who searched him found two knives but missed the gun.
Charles Ellis, a training supervisor at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in East Camden, wouldn’t offer an opinion on what happened in Jonesboro. But he said both the initial pat down and the post-arrest search should reveal any weapons.
After a pat down and once a person is under arrest, “an officer can go in and search inside the pockets and inside the shoes, any place anything may be hidden on a person,” Ellis said.
August 16, 2012
By ABDI GULED
Two more Somali journalists were killed in the nation’s capital, bringing the number of journalists slain in the country this year to nine and highlighting the dangers media workers continue to face in the Horn of Africa nation despite increased security in Mogadishu.
U.N. and African Union officials decried the deaths and demanded that the Somali government put a stop to the killings. None of the people involved in the nine media workers deaths this year have been prosecuted.
“The Somali authorities must institute investigations into these killings with a view to bringing the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice,” said a top African Union official, Boubacar Diarra. The African Union military force “is ready to provide any assistance it can to help with such investigations,” he added.
A man dressed in a high school uniform shot and killed Yusuf Ali Osman, a veteran reporter who has been serving as the director of Somalia’s Information Ministry, said Bashir Khalif Ghani, an editor with the state-run Radio Mogadishu. Osman was killed near his home while on his way to work, he said. The attacker fled the scene.
A second Somali journalist was killed August 12 after government troops opened fire on each other at a sports stadium. The audience fled in panic. A stray bullet struck and killed Mohamud Ali Yare, said Abdirashi Abikar, a journalist colleague.
“He died after several bullets struck him. It was a shocking killing,” Abikar said.
Somalia and Syria have been the two most dangerous countries this year for journalists. In Somalia, the killings of media workers often happen in the government-controlled areas that journalists often consider to be safe.
Despite government’s promises of prosecution for media workers killings, criminals walk freely without facing justice.
“We were appalled by the murder of Mr. Osman. It was a brutal killing and we condemn it,” Abdiqadir Hussein Mohamed, Somalia’s information minister, said in a statement. “He was a veteran and diligent director who helped Somalia through difficult years.”
The U.N. representative to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, condemned the killings and underscored the fact that no attackers of any journalists in Somalia have been arrested for trial.
“I send my deepest condolences to their families and to all Somali media professionals, who for too long have seen their colleagues targeted, injured and assassinated without a single perpetrator being brought to justice,” Mahiga said.
Mahiga said that the U.N. has repeatedly called for full and independent investigations into what he called “unacceptable and cowardly acts.”
“This culture of impunity must end. We must not allow the fundamental freedoms that a free press represents to be compromised by those willing to use violence to serve their personal agendas. This is a decisive time in the political process and the work of media needs to be protected so that the Somali people are fully informed,” Mahiga said.
It’s not clear who has been carrying out the killings of journalists. Al-Shabab militants, warlords, criminals, and even government agents all could have reasons to see journalists killed in Somalia, one of the most corrupt and dangerous countries in the world.
August 16, 2012
By SOPHIA TAREEN
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat who took a hushed medical leave two months ago, is being treated for bipolar disorder, the Mayo Clinic announced Monday August 13.
The Rochester, Minn.-based clinic specified his condition as Bipolar II, which is defined as periodic episodes of depression and hypomania, a less serious form of mania.
“Congressman Jackson is responding well to the treatment and regaining his strength,” the clinic said in a statement.
Bipolar II is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is likely caused “by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors,” the clinic said. The statement also mentioned that Jackson underwent weight loss surgery in 2004 and said such a surgery can change how the body absorbs foods and medications, among other things.
The recent statement was the most detailed to date about the congressman's mysterious medical leave, which began June 10. But it raised new questions about when the congressman can return to work.
A Jackson aide said last week that the congressman was expected back in the district within a matter of weeks, but Jackson’s spokesmen declined to comment.
His father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, wouldn’t say much about the diagnosis.
“I’m glad he’s getting the treatment he needs and is responding well,” the elder Jackson said, adding that “there’s no timetable” for his recovery.
Experts and mental health advocates say many people are able to work and function in their daily lives while managing treatment.
Treatment includes medication and psychotherapy, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The institute estimates about 5.7 million American adults suffer from the disorder, which can be a lifelong disease.
At least one other member of Congress has suffered from it while in office.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has talked openly about his lifelong struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction. He's was a leading voice in Congress for removing stigma linked with mental illness. The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy was a congressman for 16 years and retired last year.
The younger Kennedy was arrested in 2006 after an early morning car crash near the U.S. Capitol that he said he could not remember. After spending a month at Mayo for treatment of addiction and depression, Kennedy pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs.
“I had two of the biggest successes in politics after I went to treatment,” Kennedy said, referring to getting nearly 70 percent of the re-election vote in 2006 and his legislative victory of getting a bill requiring mental health parity passed in 2008.
“It was because I ran toward the problem and not away from it. When I returned to my district, I spoke openly about it,” he said.
Kennedy said he planned to visit Jackson this week. He said he and Jackson had a lot in common: Both served on the House Appropriations Committee together and had famous fathers.
Jackson’s office didn’t announce his medical condition until nearly two weeks after he went on leave, and it initially described the problem as exhaustion. Later, his office disclosed that Jackson had “grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time.” A statement from an unnamed doctor said Jackson had a “mood disorder.”
Earlier this month, Jackson’s office announced he was at Mayo and being treated for depression and gastrointestinal issues, after a transfer from the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona.
Though the Mayo Clinic mentioned Jackson’s weight loss surgery, its statement Monday stopped short of directly tying it to his mental health problems. Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Traci Klein declined to comment.
Dr. Jaime Ponce, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, said there is no evidence that the type of surgery Jackson had can cause bipolar disorder. A deficiency of the nutrient thiamine can cause a brain condition that could mimic bipolar disorder, Ponce said, but “bipolar disorder is totally different.”
Jackson underwent a duodenal switch procedure in 2004, which involves removing part of the stomach and rearranging the intestine so less food is absorbed. He lost 50 pounds.
Dr. Vivek Prachand, associate professor of surgery at University of Chicago, said people already taking medications for depression can undergo weight loss surgery but may need their medications adjusted afterward. Prachand added that surgery is a drastic change that can trigger an episode in someone with a history of depression.
Jackson aide Rick Bryant said last week that Jackson appeared in good spirits and wanted him to push forward on projects in the district, which includes Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Jackson, who first won office in 1995, is on the November ballot with two little-known candidates and is widely expected to win re-election.
The timing and manner in which the medical leave was handled has invited scrutiny.
Jackson is under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jackson’s office announced his leave just days after a former fundraiser connected to the probe was arrested on federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson has denied wrongdoing.