Tag Archives: georgia news

When the State Murders the Innocent, When Will We Really Stand Up?

 Further Reflections on the Planned Judicial Murder of Troy Anthony Davis

Now and again, off and on, everything in this essay consists of ideas and facts that I have been conveying and reporting for years.  The text here basically accomplishes two things.  It presents the information that I received about Troy Anthony Davis when I was a reporter in Savannah on another assignment, in 2003.  It summarizes the meaning of that data, in relation to the likely murder of Troy Davis tomorrow.  It suggests what a rational, powerful response to Mr. Davis’ lawful and stupid and evil execution would be.  As I noted to start, none of this is new.  The lack of a media that has the resources to communicate such material adequately is another item that I have long sought to proffer, something in fact that I’ve been reporting for thirty-odd years as I’ve talked repeatedly about the need for Peoples Information Networks and Popular Action Networks with which they conjoin, especially in relation to the Southern U.S.

Several times in the Winter and Spring of 2003, I found myself in Savannah to cover the unjust and ludicrously biased disbarment of a powerful and prominent local Black attorney, Joyce Marie Griggs.  As the saying goes, that “is another story.”  However, as a result of that process–with its components of color prejudice, bigotry, and the elimination of threats to the powers-that-be–I learned what the true definition of a mistake is, in the context of one of several conversations about Troy Anthony Davis.  “A man who says, ‘we made a mistake,’ almost always is asking you to overlook that he has just violated you in the most profound way, robbed you of your humanity, and that he hopes to escape any consequences for such brutality.”

The speaker, a promoter of a Black Holocaust Museum in Savannah, was comparing the lynch-mob justice that had caught Troy Davis in its web, with the vast crimes of slavery and Jim Crow, responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans and African Americans.  He affirmed what three other Savannah residents, as well as Attorney Griggs, testified to as common knowledge ‘in the ‘hood’ in the city.

  •  First, Troy Davis did not kill Officer MacPhail.
  •    Second, the police knew this and had employed strong-arm tactics to gather the necessary ‘evidence’ to convict an innocent man.
  •  Third, the police, and many in the community, knew who had killed Officer MacPhail, one of the ‘witnesses’ against Davis.
  •  Fourth, this man–occasionally an informant for the police–had terrorized and threatened and eliminated people who had suggested that they would rat him out.
  •  Fifth, the Savannah police were notoriously brutal and corrupt, in the nature of an organized gang of thieves and dictators who operated rackets in the city for the upper classes.

As I have said, I have spoken and written about these matters before.  I have implored various individuals and agencies for help in investigating these allegations.  Even a hint of truth to most of them ought to exonerate Troy Davis, perhaps even extricate him from prison.  Nothing ever has come of these requests on my part; now and again, though, I have continued to write about this matter.

What these reported facts imply is clear.  The likely execution of Troy Davis tomorrow will be the most horrific sort of soulless, brutal, and evil act, a murder based on false witness and opportunism and hypocrisy and corruption.  Millions of Georgians, either through collusion or silence, will become accessories to a venal and vicious homicide.

Someday, within a couple of years at the most, Georgia will admit that it “made a ‘mistake,'” though unfortunately Mr. Davis will likely be dead.  If it manages the second time to nab the Black man–a career criminal, according to many witnesses–who did in fact gun down Officer MacPhail, then in a sense, this most bigoted of States will be getting ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ in ridding itself of two African Americans.

That those who carry out this murder will argue that they were ‘mistaken’ cries out for a response.  What should people do about this murderous duplicity and criminal impunity on the part of constituted authorities?

Organizers of a ‘liberal’ bent have been beating the bushes to save Mr. Davis’ life.  They have, through a heroic effort, gathered 600,000 signatures calling for clemency, which the State Board of Pardons and Parole, predictably, ignored.  They have conducted vigils and marches and speaking tours.

Unfortunately, their tactical response otherwise has been tame.  ‘Write letters,’ they have advised.  ‘Make phone calls’ to complicit leaders, they have counseled.  ‘Quietly and peacefully protest,’ they have asked.  The time for such tactics has passed, in my estimation.  Here are some minimal ways that people should react, should Davis die by a ‘mistaken’ needle tomorrow.

  •  Everyone, in and out of Georgia, should do the utmost to boycott Georgia businesses, unless they have explicitly contributed to and participated in the effort to commute Davis’ sentence.
  •  No one except those who like to pal around with murderers should ever again go to college in Georgia, again unless an institution clearly fought for sparing Davis’ life.
  •  No convention should ever again occur in Georgia, until reparations and justice have been provided, except of course that those organizations that support judicial murder of the innocent ought to come only to Georgia.
  •  Everyone who can speak, write, and otherwise communicate should set aside time each year to continue condemning Georgia as in league with all that is satanic and wrong in the human condition.
  • Anyone who works for the state of Georgia, or does business for the State of Georgia, should quit their employment, or quit providing services to the State of Georgia, unless they want to support judicial murder of the likely innocent.

Again, this is a minimalist response, one which I have on other occasions embedded in both text and conversation.

However, the likely murder of Troy Anthony Davis demands a more stringent response.  This is also something that I have said in the past.

Self-defense is the very essence of much that passes for “human rights.”  As a matter of self-defense, citizens must begin to organize to take action that goes well beyond any ‘hat-in-hand’ request for assistance.  We must in fact, begin to organize to be able to show up, en masse and in force, to participate in bringing democracy–majority rule–to fruition, in some ways for the first time in U.S. history.

 Joe Hill is another victim of judicial murder.  Only recently, have scholars demonstrated ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt,’ the way that corrupt criminals in power ‘made a mistake’ and shot Joe Hill to death by firing squad in Utah.  He might well have advised us to consider thinking along the following lines.  ‘If 100 people showed up to blockade a prison and demand the release of those held within, the ‘forces-of-disorder’ in charge of the world would arrest them and put them behind bars; if a thousand people showed up at such a blockade, the authorities would arrest or shoot them down; they might even mow down ten thousand; but would they so easily be able to subvert the popular will if 100,000 or a million citizens showed up at the prison gates and demanded, with Moses, “Let my people go!”?

In any event, until we have the capacity and the will to manifest such a potent expression of majority rule, then we will never be able to say, as Georgia’s most magnificent preacher did before he too was cut down, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

Georgia Power’s Appeal for Front-loaded Funding of Its New Nuke Plant

If the people of Georgia are not tired of getting fleeced, then they are not paying attention. Every day, some new excess of the rich and powerful costs the common citizens of the Peach State dearly. A recent example of this is Georgia Power’s apparently successful insistence that it should receive advance financing for its new nuclear dreams at Plant Vogtle, in Eastern Georgia.  Though only through a miraculous meeting of its production schedule would ratepayers see a single watt of electricity before 2017, the corporate fiduciaries at our electricity monopoly want to start charging us for the hypothetical honor of a completed project no later than 2012.

Even if an informed citizenry might accept this political and technical decision to build a new reactor, paying for it up front is suboptimal for at least three reasons.
1) Business basics militate against such moves.
2) Georgia needs a strategic assessment of its energy needs and possibilities, including more alternatives, that is impossible to imagine in the context of both a multi-billion dollar additional utility debt and Georgia’s taxpayers already paying for a future that they neither chose nor participated in planning.
3) Questions of cost, safety and transparency need further discussion.
For these reasons and more, Georgians need to be very suspicious of this most recent instance of official presumption and, apparently, cupidity.

Surely the Southern Company wants to hold itself out as an honest organization.  Surely, then, the company is well aware that under provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, 80% new reactor loan guarantees are available from the federal governmet.  Moreover, French nuclear interests are discussing guaranteeing the remaining 20% of all loans.  Southern Company reps want more than 100% financing, apparently–more like 200% financing.  Interest on a guaranteed loan may hurt cash flow, but it does nothing to reduce long-term prospects, particularly if the underlying investment is not only viable but state-of-the-art peachy keen, as Southern Company execs and nuke supporters would have us believe.

Furthermore, the Southern Company and the Georgia legislature are structuring this deal inequitably in relation to different classes of customers.  Large commercial users will pay nothing extrato finance this new scheme–according to Senate Democratic Party leader Robert Brown, “they(big business)got a deal,”  whereas everyone else will get soaked.

Nuclear Bill Gets a Push in Georgia Finally, the whole situation has the whiff of the something fraudulent about it; on the one hand, the Southern Company wants Georgians to believe that this new power source is the best deal possible; on the other hand, 100% financing from the Feds is not enough to proceed with this great deal.  Why, in such a context, should Georgia’s citizens pay a second time for something that won’t be ready for 5 – 10 years?  Though very brief and rudimentary, even these points utterly undermine any sense of commercial trustworthiness in the Georgia Power position: it is either disingenuous falsehood or it is fraud.

As bad, or even criminally liable, as such misrepresentation is, far worse is willful ignorance. Any contemporary community without an energy plan is woefully ignorant.  At best, people who choose ignorance are unwise.

To avoid such a lack of intelligence, Georgia needs a strategic energy policy, not continued handouts to fatten already bloated corporations. Such an energy policy, at a minimum, would include a comprehensive energy audit of Georgia communities and businesses; at a minimum, it would include opportunities for immediate conservation by all state agencies, local government entities, and individuals and businesses; at a minimum, such a plan would include investigating all Georgia’s reasonable energy choices; at a minimum, such a plan would include raising the energy literacy of all Georgians, in elementary schools, in middle schools, in high schools, in colleges, and in communities; at a minimum, such a plan would include an ongoing debate about choices in which citizens played the leading role–this last is what differentiates a participatory democracy from a dollar dictatorship.  I’d personally feel more comfortable dishing out an extra $40 a month of my electric bill to finance those propositions, than to expand the bottom line of the already profitable Southern Company.

Southern Company and renewable energyLacking these and other elements of an energy plan, Georgia consigns itself at best to the good intentions of Georgia Power.  While such a decision is clearly in alignment with the army of Southern Company lobbyists who camp out in the legislature every Winter, for middle class and struggling Georgians, such a deal is a dubious proposition at best, a dubious proposition only attractive to the willfully ignorant.

The final reason for not turning over hundreds of millions of dollars a month to Georgia Power from the wallets and purses and paychecks of working Georgians is that we need to consider several important issues about nuclear power that have not been a part of the debate thus far before the Senate.
The first concerns the lack of information and disclosure that characterizes the nuclear industry.  Nuclear advocates cannot simultaneously insist on secrecy at the same time that they insist on having their way.  When clean-up technicians participated in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident thirty years ago, General Public Utilities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission insisted on signed confidentiality agreements and security clearances for all participants.  Over 20% or the early documentation of the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission–NRC’s predecessor–remain classified as many as sixty-odd years after the fact.  This environment of secrecy is compounded by the general lack of information about matters atomic, except if someone has the time and resources to file Freedom of Information requests and generally has the skill sets and patience of a top-notch bird-dog private investigator.

This lack of transparency affects other issues concerning nuclear power as well, such as questions about public health. Comprehensive tracking of populations adjacent to reactors is not standard operating procedure, for example, as it must be if we’re really concerned about the impacts of nukes.  We know–no reasonable scientist disputes–that low-level radiation causes cancer, birth defects, and heart disease, among many other negative health effects.  Only sporadically do long term studies happen at all; furthermore, when they do, the necessary data to track actual exposures and compare health outcomes is never available, so that population studies, which notoriously almost never yield definitive ‘proof’ of harm, are the only investigations that epidemiologists conduct.  We simply don’t know, though compelling evidence might suggest caution, what the real long-term outcomes are of living with a nuke in the neighborhood.  In such an environment, when clean and lower impact technologies are readily available, committing almost exclusively to atomic energy is paradoxical, except from the stand-point of profitability for corporate utilities.

Multiple other matters about nuclear reactors are troubling, or perhaps worse than troubling.  Reports from Europe suggest that nations that have followed the nuclear path have been surreptitiously dumping various levels of waste in the world’s oceans.  For fifteen years or more, American reactor operators have been availing themselves of opportunities to ‘recycle’ metals and other materials exposed to radiation and classified as ‘low-level’ waste, meaning that forks and spoons and braces might contain fission products that result from, or the unstable metals that make up, nuclear reactions that utilities use to deliver electricity.  To date, we have no proven mechanism for dealing with a growing cesspool of high level nuclear waste that, though theoretically possible to compress into a small volume, also has the theoretical capacity to cause tens of millions of fatalities or more.

A complete list of problematic considerations concerning nukes would be much longer.  Proliferation of nuclear weapons is also plausibly an inevitable accompaniment of nuclear power, as the case of India proves, and as our government’s concern about Iranian reactors strongly implies.  Investments in nukes unavoidably compromise opportunities to research and develop other techniques not so beset with issues of cost, health, and safety.  Investments in nukes preclude a longer-term commitment to sustainable technologies that require no further technical maturation to be applicable today at competitive or even superior prices–technologies such as wind power and solar heating, in particular.  And we haven’t even considered matters such as terorist threats or other catastrophic breakdowns to which radiation-generated power is liable.

True enough, we face stark choices about energy.  And we may have little option, at some juncture, other than to rub the nuclear lamp again and hope that the genie their turns out to be friendlier than we feared.  However, the present return, after a thirty year detour that followed in the aftermath of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, to a nuclear powered future is at the very least inappropriate without further democratic review.  And that’s at the very least.  At most, and significantly more likely, given the evidence that is available to anyone who does decide to pay attention, this represents another case of a fraud being foisted on a complacent and ignorant populace.  At the very best, we will be buying the new reactors at Plant Vogtle at a cost that is dear but about which we have little choice.  And that’s at the very best.  At worst, and much more likely, given even more copious data that the discerning can see, we are signing a death warrant for unknown legions of our children and grand children, all to enrich the already fabulously wealthy.

And they want us to pay in advance.  It’s crazy, at the best.