North Carolina Obstructs DNA Testing for Condemned Man

The State of North Carolina is refusing to perform a DNA test in the case of Jerry Conner. He maintains his innocence of the murder of Minh Rogers and the rape and murder of Linda Rogers. A DNA test could show he did not commit these crimes. The State of North Carolina and Governor Easley must act fast because Mr. Conner is scheduled to be executed on May 12.

It appears that earlier DNA tests taken by the FBI in 1991 are not as reliable as test done today. Not only that but, “The SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agent in charge of handling, preparing and transmitting the 1991 DNA to the FBI was Brenda Bissette, an agent who was forced to resign from the SBI lab for mishandling DNA evidence in up to 50 cases.” [1] Instead of preventing new DNA tests the State of North Carolina should fix the mistakes of one of their former employees. ESPECIALLY if it could mean the death of an innocent man.

The information in this post was obtained from the blog called jerryconner.blogspot.com. You can find many more facts there. (I also know one of the Attorneys working on Mr. Conner’s case. I have great trust in the attorney so I trust this information.)

If you want to help stop Mr. Conner’s death you can do several things. All the links bellow will take you to the info you need to act.
1) Contact Governor Easley
2) Contact Attorney General Roy Cooper
3) Contact Your Legislators
4) Write a Letter to the Editor
5) Write a blog post
6) Record a podcast

Mastering podcasts with Audacity

Johnathon Williams has written a good article called Mastering podcasts with Audacity over at Newsforge. He describes in an understandable way some important and complex concepts for voice audio post production. (Great for podcasters.) The article introduces topics like the compressor, waveform, frequency spectrum, decibels (db), the envelope tool, envelope tool, etc. These are all things you need to know to make your podcast sound professional.

All of this can be done with the great software Audacity but the concepts are the same no matter what software or hardware you use. Very valuable information that is quite accessible. I found it an excellent review of concepts that I knew but didn’t entirely understand. Most important to me was his excellent writing style and the step by step explanations. Thanks Johnathon!

PhillyIMC video of Norg UnConference

Albert aka DragonBall Yee hipped me to a neat unconference in Philly that just happened. (Ed Cone is blogging about it too) From what I’ve learned in the past thirty minutes it’s called NORGS. This is the wikipedia definition. (Subject to rapid change):

Norgs are news organizations that may produce a printed newspaper, a website, podcasts, blogs or any combination of these and other news products. Norgs have certain qualities, including wide distribution of news, ethical standards, resiliency, interactivity, giving voice to the audience, aiding media literacy, and a positive cash flow. Will Bunch, a writer and blogger with the Philadelphia Daily News, coined the word in October 2005 [1]. A discussion group met in an unconference on March 25, 2006, at the University of Pennsylvania to outline guidelines for an initial Norg architecture. Usage is common on websites discussing the future of news, particularly local news. See phillyfuture [2], buzzmachine [3], and blinq [4] .

Check out Albert’s photos and watch the PhillyIMC video. I’m podcasting – vlogging – that video, btw. My favorite part of the video is Amy Webb‘s comments. Go 3min 46sec into the video to view. Basically she expresses concern about the “great digital divide” between newspaper editors and their young readers. Hearing the words blog and podcast from editors makes her cringe. It’s evidence that they still don’t get it. Because people, who editors are trying to reach, knew those words (blog and podcast) years ago.

She is also concerned about people claiming we need paper news because everybody can’t afford computers. Ten years, or less from now, she says everyone will. Paper based news is a romantic ideal that will be gone. If it isn’t completely gone in 10-20 years it will be supplanted by other deliver methods. These words are prophetic!

To make it super clear the video linked to bellow and encluded in my podcast was created by the PhillyIMC. Thank you PhillyIMC for making it and allowing the public to “rebroadcast” it. I podcast it from my server space to save them the bandwidth costs. 🙂

MOV 7m 41s 11.46MB 44.1kHz 320×240

Mayberry Machiavellians, a mashup by ANON

Artist: ANON
Album: The Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians
Song Title: Mayberry Machiavellians
Genre: Mashup/Electronic
Track #: 5 of 8
Description: Al Gore grows a spine and points out publicly the crimes of George W. Bush. Trying to become emperor of the United States is treason against the people of the world! But then again Mr. Gore was just quoting the obvious… “It is the Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians”.

MP3 4m 33s 5.3MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

Obama’s Podcast Aint Bad

US Senator from Illinois Barack Obama has a podcast. It sounds really good. He’s mostly speaking as if he’s having a conversation with you. Fortunately it doesn’t come off like a pre-packaged speech. I really felt like I got to know him better. There is something about the human voice that can touch you this way. But it’s obvious he knows what he wants to say and has said it before. This podcast is an excellent way to learn about his politics and issues in general.

Now that US national politicians are adopting podcasting – are they working for bottom up control of government or just using the latest hyped communication medium?

Senators, let me hip you to something. Podcasting didn’t come about to reinvent radio and PR. Podcasting was nurtured on the energy of individuals with their own messages. This is the very core of a grassroots democracy. Share more of your process of governing with all the people who live in America. (Citizens and non-citizens) Let them have a hand in your government. Let them be creative! For tips on how to do this look at how local politics are conducted. I’m talking about a town or county level. Reproduce that nationally!

NPR is Commercial Radio

When you think of advertising at National PUBLIC Radio you think of unobtrusive announcements. Commercial businesses donate money in exchange for a short mention. This type of promotion can have a informative air. When done properly, these promotions can be valuable to communities. Unfortunately many national and local NPR stations are playing full on ads. They have a much more commercial feel than they used to.

Have you noticed this change? Hundreds of other people have. They’ve complained to the NPR Ombudsman about Wal-Mart ads on NPR. Wal-Mart is the anti-sponsor for traditional NPR listeners. The problem is not the fact that Wal-Mart advertises itself on NPR but that they’re using the radio network to repair their image because of illegal labor practice, etc.

An article on the front page of the Friday, March 17, Wall Street Journal called As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line lays out the details of a big change in fund raising at NPR. (I actually read it in the paper version.)

It appears a study conducted for NPR found that listeners hate pledge drives. (Surprise! Me too.) This and a serious decrease in Federal funding, neo-cons trying to destroy the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB funds NPR), and the dot com bubble burst pushed NPR to raise money more like a commercial radio station. NPR and it’s affiliate stations are non-profits… remember!?!

I’m all for non-profits finding new ways to be self sustaining but NPR has gone to far. If NPR wants to retain their non-profit tax free status they shouldn’t be selling commercials like for-profit media.

What can NPR do to raise money and be non-commercial?

1) First realize the telephone pledge drive is dead. Get used to it. Abandon it once and for all. Quite trying to reinvent it. Have a funny mock funeral for it on air. It’ll be fun.

2) Get *really* creative about fundraising. Find new ways to engage your listeners. Give them a REAL sense of community. Make them coop owners of your station(s)/Network. (ex. REI, Weaver Street Market (Carrboro, NC), etc.)

3) Create attractive online community sites like flickr, digg, or del.icio.us. Social networking powered fundraising is where it’s at. Without a feeling of community listeners won’t give. I know many NPR listeners aren’t computer geeks. But online communities will only grow and can support you financially.

4) Hire a consultant that understands network centric advocacy. Invigorate your grassroots. Run your organizations bottom up. Not top down. Think flash mob fundraising.

5) Renew your commitment to being a non-profit community organization. Create a LARGE PR campaign to shout it loud and proud. “We are a not-for-profit community station!”

6) Publicly renounce commercial and political ads. Cancel your contracts with Wal-Mart. Tell your listeners. Create a public campaign to match the money commercial sponsors used to give you.

Try these suggestions out NPR. We love what you do – most of the time – and need your style of news now more than ever!

March Against War

March 19, 2006 marks the third anniversary of the Bush war of aggression against Iraq. Again with sadness and a bit of anger we take to the streets to yell again and again, END THE WAR IN IRAQ! BRING THE SOILDERS HOME NOW!

Find an event in your town here at the United for Peace and Justice website. They have a good system to help you search by state, country, and date. There appears to be over 500 3rd anniversary events planned. Wow!

If for some reason you’re still supporting the war in Iraq – or are on the fence – try having a conversation with a solider who has returned home from war with a physical or mental injury. See what they think about combat.

Respect the Warrior NOT the War!

An Interview with Charlene Mitchell by Amber Cortes

This podcast is an interview with Charlene Mitchell by Amber Cortes. Charlene Mitchell was the first African-American woman to run for President. She was a third-party candidate in the United States presidential election in 1968 and represented the Communist Party USA.

This is audio was produced for WBAI by Amber Cortes. I found it when Amber commented on my post The Stories of Experienced Radicals. She has graciously allowed me to link to this audio and thus share it with you. Her new blog and podcast is called You Never Know. This audio is from her blog post International Women’s Day Special: Women Who Ran For President. More great audio there. Check it out!

I hope more folks tell me about interviews with experienced radicals. I define experienced radicals as politically left men and women from around the world who’ve worked many years for positive social change. Maybe we can create a podcast site full of valuable stories that can teach the radicals of the future.

MP3 13m 19s 10.7MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

National Change Starts Locally

I’ve been reading Emergence by Steven Johnson. Part of it is about organized complexity and discusses how global/national change happens when we interact with our neighbors locally. It’s confirming evidence I already have in the form of Ruby and OrangePolitics.org.

If you know me even just a little bit you might be thinking I’m biased on this. (I’m getting married to Ruby in July. The best decision I ever made.) Hell yes I am! But that is beside the point. Really!

In this day and age, when our national government is run by money hungry religious fanatics with no space for people who are different than them and will stop at nothing to retain control, you start looking around you for options. Really close around you. Options for positive change that you think have a chance.

One good example of the national-local phenomena is municipal internet networks. (WiFi) Network World writer Susan Briedenbach in her article Building boom for Wi-Fi networks says,

This ripple in the pond of municipal infrastructure advancements quickly became a tsunami. By the middle of last year, MuniWireless.com noted that it was “raining RFPs,” and The Yankee Group analyst Lindsay Schroth estimates there are some 320 U.S. municipalities that have or are planning to cover themselves with broadband wireless networks.

When you have access to the entire worlds worth of information – not a big exaggeration – you pull the power of global politics to you. When power is near you it’s local. When your local government can empower it’s citizens – and our guest non-citizens that work so very hard for us – the balance of power shifts. This is only one example of real change happening locally.

Ruby was just on a panel at SXSW (South by Southwest Interactive) called Revenge of the Blogs. She was joined by national blogers Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos – US Liberal) and Mike Krempasky (Right March Red State – US Conservative). In her post Revenge of the panelists she shared some of what happened,

We struck a good balance between talking about the influence of local and national blogs, and some people even began to draw a connection between the two. Judging by the people who came up to talk with me afterward, I think I must have said some interesting and useful things.

She’s been modest I’m sure. She’s been trying to convince liberal activists for years that if you mobilize your neighbors electronically you’re activating the real grassroots. These people are the ones that cause actual change to happen in national politics. The people who are very close to you.

I think that some US national politicians understand this. But they already have their piece of the power pie and are afraid of sharing. Many other circumstances prevent them from really listening to their grassroots. This is not democracy. This is not how the US should exist.

Work with your neighbors online and in person to take over national and local politics.