The Execution of Michael Selsor

Michael Selsor

Michael Selsor

Oklahoma carries out more executions per capita than any other state in the USA (though things might slow down as the state is currently down to its last dose of pentobarbital, the anesthetic in its lethal injection cocktail).

In September 2010, Al Jazeera reporter Josh Rushing put together a video piece on the Oklahoma and U.S. death penalties. Now, he has supplemented that with his interview of Michael Selsor, who was first sent to Oklahoma’s death row in 1976, and a blow-by-blow description of Selsor’s execution on May 1, 2012 for the 1975 killing of convenience store clerk Clayton Chandler in Tulsa.

The interview with Selsor (which took place back in 2010 and was the only one he ever gave) is particularly interesting and reveals a man who was remorseful, reflective, somewhat resigned but also prideful.  He was sorry for his crime, but never reached out to the victim’s daughter:

“And really if I could say look I’m sorry for what I’ve done, I’m sorry I killed your dad, what the hell would that mean to her?”


Hopefully Kashmir Won't Be a Forgotten Conflict

Abid Nabi was protesting against the killing of his younger brother Fida (17 yrs old). (Photo courtesy of Majid Pandit.)

Al-Jazeera English launched a special human rights spotlight on Jammu & Kashmir called “Kashmir: The Forgotten Conflict”.

It’s an apt description given the difficulty human rights organizations have faced in highlighting the abuses that have occurred in the past two decades. For example, we need 30,000 signatures on this petition to improve juvenile justice in the state!

Now, it’s not to say that Kashmir never gets in the news. The problem is that when it is in the news it’s always talked about in the context of the Pakistan-India conflict.


Egypt Continues Media Crackdown

Protests in Egypt continued into a seventh day today as thousands of Egyptians demonstrated against widespread corruption, police brutality and poverty in their country.  The Egyptian government has tried hard to censor its citizens — cutting off internet and phone access — and now journalists find themselves a target in the crackdown on freedom of expression.

Demonstrators have used phone cameras to expose police abuses © Demotix / Nour El Refai

Al Jazeera English said that six journalists were detained today at an army checkpoint outside Cairo’s Hilton hotel. The journalists were held only briefly but their cameras and other equipment was confiscated.

Yesterday, the Cairo bureau of the Al Jazeera network was officially shut down by order of Egypt’s Information Ministry, the network said.

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“This government action against Al Jazeera is just its latest attempt to close down reporting of the protests on the streets and the free flow of information.

“The authorities are clearly trying to intimidate the media and to prevent the truth coming out about abuses by its security forces, as they struggle to maintain their grip on power in the face of unprecedented protests and demands for fundamental change.”

Local and international journalists were assaulted, arrested and their equipment confiscated by security forces throughout recent mass protests against poverty, police abuse and corruption.

The government must not be allowed to put the whole country under an information blackout, and that message needs to be sent to them very clearly by their friends and allies abroad.  You can help send that message by emailing US authorities now and urging them to use their influence to stop these abuses.


Sri Lanka: "Just Gimme Some Truth"

Last Friday, I watched the Al Jazeera video, “Sri Lanka admits military bombed ‘no-fire’ zone,” in which the Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary denies, then admits, then denies again that the Sri Lankan military bombed in the government-designated “no-fire zone” in northeastern Sri Lanka.  Recently released U.N. satellite photos show craters that the U.N. said were most likely created by bombs dropped from planes since March 16.

Later that night, I found myself thinking of some lines from one of John Lennon’s songs:  “All I want is the truth/Just gimme some truth.”

Then, one of the songs from the soundtrack for the movie “Once” came to mind:  “You’re moving too fast for me/And I can’t keep up with you/Maybe if you slowed down for me/I could see you’re only telling/Lies, lies, lies.”

Al Jazeera Video on AI Mission

In a moving story on Al Jazeera English, Amnesty International researcher Donatella Rovera walks through a bombed out home in Gaza and discusses how AI has found evidence that Israel fired into civilian areas.

Amnesty International has called upon the US to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas.

In other news, the UN has halted aid after it learned that supplies were seized by Hamas.  Meanwhile Arab TV stations have reported that a Lebanese ship carrying aid was fired upon by Israel. The Guardian reports:

A Lebanese boat said to be carrying ­humanitarian aid but which Israel claims is carrying activists, has been intercepted by the Israeli navy on its way to the Gaza Strip.

Reporters from the Arab TV stations al-Jadeed and al-Jazeera, who were on the vessel, said the Israelis fired at the ship before boarding it and beating the crew. The journalists said they were unable to show pictures of the incident as the Israeli force smashed their broadcast equipment.

At the moment, an estimated 80% of Palestinians in Gaza depend on UN assistance for food.