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Al Jazeera America Lands, Kids Riot in Polk County, Executioners Cry For Drugs

| August 19, 2013

School's open again. (Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets)

School’s open again. (Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets)

Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

Al Jazeera America Is Here

al-jazeera-americaAl jazeera America launches its all-news channel in the United States on Tuesday, Aug. 20, on DirecTV Channel 358 and DISH Channel 215. (Check local availability here. This is not the Al_Jazeera broadcasting in the Middle East, but a network specifically targeted at American audiences. From the Denver Post: “Journalists are excited, but some of the viewing public is more than a little wary of the latest entry in the field. Here comes a network with virtually unlimited resources, buying its way into the American TV news market, hiring award-winning journalists to fill its newsrooms, opening a dozen bureaus around the country, and launching with access to nearly 50 million cable/satellite households. And it’s owned by Qatar. Al Jazeera, the network which paid $500 million to buy Current TV and land a place on American cable channels, is a mystery to many potential viewers. […] The goal is not to mimic CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (which reach 100 million households), but to offer more news and fewer shouting matches. Those of us who have streamed Al Jazeera English, a reliable online source during breaking-news stories, are eager to see what Al Jazeera America offers. (The staff call it AJAM to avoid confusion with Al Jazeera Arabic.)” And from The Times: “Fourteen hours of straight news every day. Hard-hitting documentaries. Correspondents in oft-overlooked corners of the country. And fewer commercials than any other news channel. It sounds like something a journalism professor would imagine. In actuality, it is Al Jazeera America, the culmination of a long-held dream among the leaders of Qatar, the Middle Eastern emirate that already reaches most of the rest of the world with its Arabic- and English-language news channels. The new channel, created specifically for consumers in the United States, will join cable and satellite lineups on Tuesday afternoon. Al Jazeera America is the most ambitious American television news venture since Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes started the Fox News Channel in 1996. It faces some of the same obstacles that Fox eventually glided over — including blanket skepticism about whether distributors, advertisers and viewers will give it a chance. But that is where the parallels to other channels end, because Al Jazeera America is going against the grain of seemingly every trend in television news. “Viewers will see a news channel unlike the others, as our programming proves Al Jazeera America will air fact-based, unbiased and in-depth news,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, the channel’s acting chief executive, on a news conference call last week. He was explicit about what will be different, saying, “There will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings.””

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Juveniles Riot at Polk County Prison

The Avon park prison, termed an 'academy' by its wardens.

The Avon park prison, termed an ‘academy’ by its wardens.

From The Ledger: “A riot broke out at an all-male Florida Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Avon Park on Saturday night that left 18 buildings damaged and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The Avon Park Youth Academy is on 36 acres in unincorporated Polk County at the Avon Park Air Force Range off state Road 64 East. Officials said 138 boys between 16 and 18 years old were being housed at the academy. None escaped during the commotion. Seven boys were taken to Florida Hospital in Sebring with mostly minor injuries, including cuts, bruises and a concussion. […] The facility is maintained by the state Department of Juvenile Justice but the security employees are contracted through G4S, a private security company headquartered in Jupiter. By rule at the facility, none of the security personnel are allowed to carry any specialty equipment like pepper spray, according to the DJJ. […] About 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a group of five boys from St. Petersburg and a group of five boys from Orlando wagered three Cup O’ Noodles soups on a basketball game. The team from St. Petersburg lost the game but then refused to pay. A fight broke out between the teams and other boys joined the conflict as it escalated into a riot, according to the Sheriff’s Office. […] The rioters were subdued and restrained with plastic handcuffs as more than 150 law enforcement officers arrived at the academy. The damage was done though. Clothes and trash littered the streets of the complex, windows were smashed out, and the medical center was raided in an apparent search for drugs, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Computers and refrigerators were turned into ruins. An office building that housed juvenile records was set on fire during the riot. [T]his was the first conflict of this scale at the academy, which opened in July 2003. She said it is one of the largest juvenile justice facilities in the state.” The full story.

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A Shortage of Lethal Drugs for Executions

lethal-injection-sanquentinFrom the Times: “With manufacturers now refusing to supply corrections departments with the drugs they had been using for executions, some states, like Georgia, have been resorting to obtaining drugs from unregulated compounding pharmacies — specialty drugmakers — which death penalty opponents say lack the proper quality control. Other states, as they run low on their old stock of drugs and are unable to replace them, are turning to new, untried methods like propofol or simply announcing that they are searching for a solution. In the beginning, it was relatively simple and uniform. Several dozen states adopted the three-drug cocktail for executions first used by Texas three decades ago — a sedative (usually sodium thiopental) was mixed with a paralytic agent (pancuronium bromide) followed by a drug inducing cardiac arrest (potassium chloride). The idea was to provide a quick, painless method to replace the electric chair, gas chamber and firing squad. But a shortage of pancuronium bromide a few years ago led some states to switch to a single-drug method, often simply administering enough sodium thiopental to cause death. The manufacturer of that drug, however, the Illinois-based Hospira, stopped providing it to corrections departments after workers at its Italian plant, and European officials, objected to the use of the drug for executions. Many state corrections departments switched to pentobarbital, another powerful sedative, in their three-drug cocktail. But when its manufacturer, the Danish-based Lundbeck, learned that its product was being used in death penalty cases, it refused to sell any more to corrections departments and insisted that its American distributors also refuse to supply the drug. Then, just last month, a federal judge in Washington ruled that sodium thiopental could not be imported into the country at all, because it had never been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. (It had been introduced before such F.D.A. approvals began.) […] “This drug issue is a temporary problem that is entirely fixable,” [said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty.] “It is not a long-term impediment to the resumption of capital punishment.” Death penalty opponents, however, feel that the rejection of one drug after another will inevitably limit capital punishment. The full story.

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Gov. Rick Scott’s Pay to Play Administration

rick-scottFrom a Tampa Bay Times editorial: “How do you turn a budget turkey into a peacock? Contributing at least $210,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election effort does wonders. That’s how much cash the governor received between vetoing state money for a Sarasota rowing center in 2011 and approving millions for the boondoggle he celebrated last week. The rowing center symbolizes Scott’s transformation from a candidate who paid for his campaign himself to an incumbent who embraces Tallahassee’s pay-to-play culture. […] Over the last two years, Scott has allowed $10 million in taxpayer money to flow to the rowing center. During the same period, Scott’s “Let’s Get To Work” committee received $125,000 in donations from Benderson Development, which owns the land for the rowing center. […] In addition to the $10 million in state money, the rowing center has received $19.5 million from Sarasota County and $1.5 million from Manatee County. Private donations are expected to make up the balance of the $40 million price tag. But Tampa Bay already has a venue for rowing teams from around the world to train and practice — along the banks of the Hillsborough River near the University of Tampa campus. And it is free. Scott spent more than $70 million of his own money to become governor, campaigning against the special interests and pledging to be different. It turns out he is not different at all. His political committee just collects bigger checks.” The full editorial.

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Richard Ford’s Top 10 Bits of Advice to Writers


1 Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.

2 Don’t have children.

3 Don’t read your reviews.

4 Don’t write reviews. (Your judgment’s always tainted.)

5 Don’t have arguments with your wife in the morning, or late at night.

6 Don’t drink and write at the same time.

7 Don’t write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)

8 Don’t wish ill on your colleagues.

9 Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself.

10 Don’t take any shit if you can ­possibly help it.

Conserving Alexander Calder’s Circus

From the Whitney Museum: “In this video, Whitney conservators Carol Mancusi-Ungaro and Eleonora Nagy, archivist Anita Duquette, and art historian Joan Simon describe the process of restoring one of the most beloved works in the Whitney’s collection, Alexander Calder’s Circus. The research team enlivens the character of the Circus through contemporary associations and offers a new look at conserving the inherent fragility of the figures that have delighted Whitney audiences for generations.”

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Video: A Rare Phenomenon in Skies Over Scotland

From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Why would the sky still glow after sunset? Besides stars and the band of our Milky Way galaxy, the sky might glow because it contains either noctilucent clouds or aurora. Rare individually, both are visible in the above time lapse movie taken over Caithness, Scotland, UK taken during a single night earlier this month. First noted in 1885, many noctilucent clouds are known to correlate with atmospheric meteor trails, although details and the origins of others remain a topic of research. These meandering bright filaments of sunlight-reflecting ice crystals are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere. The above video captures not only a variety of noctilucent clouds, but also how their structure varies over minutes. Lower clouds typically appear dark or fast moving. About halfway through the video the clouds are joined by aurora. At times, low clouds, noctilucent clouds, and aurora are all visible simultaneously, each doing their own separate dance, and once — see if you can find it — even with the Big Dipper rotating across the background.” Watch:

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10 Responses for “Al Jazeera America Lands, Kids Riot in Polk County, Executioners Cry For Drugs”

  1. A.S.F. says:

    Re: Juveniles riot at Polk County Prison–And, once again, it is proven how privatizing services at prisons works so much better than hiring regular government employees…NOT. Folks, you get what you pay for (and, in cases like this, sometimes less.) We ended up using an overkill of state resources on this occasion because of a stupid situation that was allowed to spiral out of control. As far as Rick Scott is concerned, is anyone really surprised? The only people I can think of who defend him anymore are people who voted for him as a show of contempt for what they considered to be opposing liberal forces…and they will continue to defend him as long as they refuse to face the fact that they were idiots for doing so.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    Nice Wire. Where to start?
    1.- Al Jazeera America. OK, why do we get “News” that is different from the rest of the world. We used to get BBC news on TV, now you have to go to your short wave radio, and it isn’t that different from BBC America. But it used to be. I remember a Canadian friend when I lived in Miami who was Gung-Ho on the Iraq war. Couldn’t understand why I wasn’t until he went home to Ontario one summer. When he got back, he said Smitty, you wouldn’t believe how different the news is in Canada. They show dead bodies on the news and talk about things we never hear on Fox or MSNBC. No shit. Al Jazeera is fuilly funded by Qatar, one of our “allies” in the War on Terror. I don’t expect to much outside of the normal bullshit propaganda from the Powers that Be..

    2.- “The facility is maintained by the state Department of Juvenile Justice but the security employees are contracted through G4S, a private security company headquartered in Jupiter” , Formerly called Wackenhut Security now shifted to a subsidiary of British Triple Canopy, the Murdering Mercenary contractors hired by our Defense Department and sucking at the Gov’t tea and getting rich feeding the Bush family through The Carlyle Group and others.

    Here is your Privatization template. We allow the Anti-Gov’t Fascist Right to get multi-million dollar privatized contracts that cost more than the state doing it themselves, and then hire Guards for minimum wage who run at the first sight of an angry 16 year old. Yes! Keep voting to Starve The Beast! Don’t think about Feeding The Pigs! And earn enough money to feed you the Foxshit every day! And make sure you digest it without question, because that what Patriots do.

    3.- A Shortage of Lethal Drugs for Executions? Very simple. Send a car from Starke Prison to the R Section, pick up $50.00 worth of Heroin, go back and shove it into the murders arm. He dies in seconds with a painless smile, we save hundreds of thousands and the Pharmaceutical companies get screwed. Win/Win/Win, simple.

    4.- Gov. Rick Scott’s Pay to Play Administration. Again, Simple. Let him run the States Medicare Fund with his old staff until we get to vote. If he isn’t too rusty, he’ll be able to remember how to steal at least a couple hundred million from the Feds to self-fund his re-election. You know, to prevent the system from being corrupted.

    5.- Richard Ford’s Top 10 Bits of Advice to Writers. I have a serious problem with the bad advice given in item #6.

    6.- Video: A Rare Phenomenon in Skies Over Scotland. Google HAARP and Chemtrails and get used to it. As long as we got.

    A thoughtful Wire, P. Thanks

  3. NortonSmitty says:

    Oh, I’m sorry. I missed the Calder Circus video. First time I ever heard of of it. What a great show! When I was in 7th grade we went to the Pittsburgh Int’l Airport on a Field Trip. One of the highlights was the Calder Mobile slowly moving in the air currents in the main entrance. It was so simple and yet so fascinating, we kept returning to it until we had watched it for what seemed like hours. It had a different look every angle it moved to, and even though it looked so simple it fascinated most of us seven graders for way longer than you would expect even back then, let alone today.
    It made me think that maybe I could be an artist at that age. So I bugged my parents to send away for the Nagy artist kit from the PBS station in the 60’s. I wonder if it was any relation to the Elanora Nagy in the story? Anyhow, I could copy all of the drawings faithfully that came with the kit, to the great admiration of my parents and teachers, but I just was not an artist.

    I did become a pretty good Draftsman though.

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    Al Jezeera! A really great, fact checked (what a concept!) HARD NEWS source! We watch it all the time, when traveling in Europe. Hopefully, they will hire some of the true journalists that have been laid off by CNN and others. . . in favor of pop culture reporting about Britney’s latest underwear color.

    BUT! Watch the comments. . . the “middle East” haters will go crazy over this one! My opinion. . . they should not have kept the name. It needs to be something less controversial sounding. . . like Bob’s Real News (white guys still rule). . . LOL! They have under estimated the huge bias that exists in the USA. Good Luck to them!

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Bob’s Real News! I love it. And while we’re at it, Let’s change Fox News name too. I suggest NNN, Netanyahu News Network.

  5. Sherry Epley says:

    Rick Scott is showing his corruption at every turn! This from the article here:

    ” Over the last two years, Scott has allowed $10 million in taxpayer money to flow to the rowing center”

    A ROWING CENTER getting 1 penny of tax payer money is outrageous! How many jobs is he pretending to buy with that 10 million. . . while gutting education and services to those who really need them!


  6. Liana G says:

    Al Jazeera is the only news network I make a point of watching on tv. Sometimes I’ll switch to BBC and PBS when AJ news becomes repetitive and I’m on the couch and not at my desk. Several months ago, I watched a story featuring the high suicide rate among teenagers in my home country that really hit close to home especially since such stories never make home news. I also watched another documentary on India’s child brides – another issue that also hit close to home for me. And there are the stories that cover important need to know global issues. But I fear that with their presence on American soil, stories of America’s abuse of power and hawkish foreign policy actions around the world will not be aired.

  7. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I look forward to the articles on Barack Obama’s pay for play administration.

    In other news, I’ve been streaming Al Jezzera for a few years, it’s a welcomed change from “entertainment” disguised as news.

  8. Sherry Epley says:

    @ Norton Smitty. . . I gotta say, your comments are often my “laugh of the day”. . . very clever!

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