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May 2013 24

by D.S. Wood

Who in the hell didn’t already believe Rob Ford was on crack anyway?

I’m not sure it would even make the Top 10 Most Ridiculous Things Toronto’s Mayor, Evil Chris Farley, Has Done. It’d explain some of them, maybe…

But an allegation made based on a video nobody has been able to produce to date does not, necessarily, a crackhead mayor make.

Late May 16, New York City-based news blog Gawker, posts the story, “For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine.”

In the story, John Cook writes about flying to Toronto to hang out with shady Somali drug dealers who showed him cell-phone-shot video footage of, apparently, Rob Ford huffing on a crack pipe. Cook did not return with the video, but said shady types wanted six figures for it.

So he wrote about what he saw. He doesn’t say it could be Ford in this video he cannot produce, instead he asserts it categorically is:

“The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford.

“‘Pierre Trudeau was a faggot!’ is the one phrase the lodges in my mind. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath.

“Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales.”

Later late May 16, the Toronto Star posts breaking news, reporting Gawker reported the story.

Later still, late May 16, the Star posts new breaking news, stating two of their reporters — Kevin Donovan and Robyn Doolittle — have seen the video. Two and a half weeks earlier, in fact.

They don’t have the video either.

So they write about what they saw. They play the accusation a little safer. It could be Ford, sure looks like him:

“It appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Ford is incoherent, trading jibes with an off-camera speaker who goads the clearly impaired mayor by raising topics including Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the Don Bosco high school football team Ford coaches…

“…Throughout the video Ford’s eyes are half-closed. He lolls back in his chair, sometimes waving his arms around erratically. He raises a lighter in his hand at several points and moves it in a circle motion beneath the glass bowl of the pipe, then inhales deeply.

“The reporters were allowed to watch and listen to the video three times. After, both reporters separately made written notes of what they saw and heard. Both reporters, prior to watching the video, studied numerous city-hall-related videos of Ford and, to the best of the reporter’s abilities, they separately concluded the man in the video was Ford.”

To recap:

Gawker basically runs with “Can’t prove it but he done it — I seen it!”

Meanwhile, the Star basically retorts: “Samesies. But first!”

Later than later still, late May 16, folks from Gawker and the Star and concerned Pajama People on behalf of both argue who should or shouldn’t be calling the story exclusive — basically, who saw harder this thing neither party can produce.

Also. They agree to disagree on which Trudeau “is a faggot.”

The Star went ahead and ran it front page, morning of May 17. A story about a video they do not have.

Then ran react stories all day May 17, asking important folks what they think about a video they haven’t seen.

End of day, the Star’s website has an entire section dedicated to its dozens of stories about this video scandal they can’t prove.

Given the Star’s folks claim they saw the video May 3 and Gawker’s guy says he started his hunt a week and a half later it seems likely the Star was sitting on it until proof they could present presented itself.

When someone else suddenly made the story public it seems likely they panicked and unloaded what they had.

Other news outlets play chase, writing about the video they not only don’t have, but also haven’t seen.

Meanwhile, Gawker is trying to crowdfund six figures to buy the video. They call it a crackstarter.

Pride in journalism.

It’s not that I do not believe there’s a video of Rob Ford smoking crack — it strikes me as entirely plausible there’s a video of Rob Ford smoking crack.

Oh, to be the man to top the Toronto mayor who used his mayoral might to declare war on the weather, hung out with biker gangs for photo ops and once expressed to reporters his fear Kenyans would turn him into soup.

(Note: See Mad Mel Lastman)

Ford is that man. That silly, silly and well-documented man. And writing it’s because he might be a crackhead and calling it news is not much different than writing about snow in winter and calling it news.

No, it’s not that. We do that.

It’s that professional media outlets are now the better bit of a week in, reporting the video exists without the ability to prove the video exists. Yeah, it’s relevant, and on Day One, sure, I will take a person entrusted with the truth at their word. Day Three or Day Six or Day Nine? I’ll need a little more than pinky swears.

The further removed from Day One we become, still having no video, the less credible the people claiming there is a video seem.

The Star knew that — I would assume that’s why they were sitting on the story until Gawker threw down.

They wanted the video. Or something that proves the existence of the video.

Because there needs to be a video.

Otherwise it’s shoddy journalism — there’s little point pulling the trigger before the gun’s loaded. Reporters ask Ford for comment first thing, May 17. Ford calls the story “ridiculous,” says it is just the Star attacking him, as is their rep to do, gets into his car and is gone.

That’s all he has to do, because there is no video — not one that matters.

The only video that matters is the one that can be produced, and that video does not yet exist — it might never exist.

Unless, of course, Gawker’s crackstarter hits $200K.

And then, then all of those dollars have to be delivered to shady Somali drug dealers and I’m sure that’ll go smashingly well and we’ll see a video of Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack straight away.

Professional spectator and deadline artist, D.S. Wood (@maddesperado) is a Canuck journalist and, on occasion, also a writer of Other Things.

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May 2013 23

by Blogbot

This Thursday May 23rd on SuicideGirls Radio our special guest is the gorgeous and super talented singer, songwriter, DJ and producer, Charissa Saverio, a.k.a. DJ Rap. She’ll be joined in studio by hilarious guest host Jessica Sattelberger, who is making her mark on LA’s standup circuit and currently co-hosts Dave Navarro’s Dark Matter show on Playboy Radio. The lovely Juturna Suicide, who has just returned from a wild and wicked Vegas trip, will occupying the co-host chair.

You can listen – and watch – the world’s leading naked radio show live on Thursday nights from 6 til 8 PM at our new state-of-the-art all digital home: TradioV.com/LA.

You’ll also be able to listen to our podcasts via Stitcherdownload the app now!

If you have questions for the SG Radio crew or our guests, you can call in during the live broadcast at: 1-855-TRV-inLA (1-855-878-4652)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About DJ Rap
Charissa Saverio, a.k.a. DJ Rap, has been the undisputed queen of the turntables and voted the number one female DJ in the world! DJ Rap has infiltrated the music industry with her arsenal of talent. She has established herself as the CEO of her labels: Propa and Impropa Talent, and developed her creative direction as a full-fledged producer. She is also a classically trained pianist and songwriter, amongst many other talents. Rap has dominated such genres as house and drum & bass. However, her love for music has taken her through many reflections of genres and musical experiences. Ultimately, millions in a global capacity have embraced her and her music. Over the course of DJ Rap’s career she has collaborated and worked with many talented and influential professionals. Such talents consist of BT, Eric Morrillo, Hans Zimmer, Hybid, and DJ Tydi, to name just a few. Rap has produced music for Playstation, Wii, and seven major motion pictures.

For more on DJ Rap follow her on Facebook and Twitter and check out her website and YouTube channel.

**UPDATE**
ICYMI: Here’s the recording of last week’s show feat. DJ Rap and special guest host Jessica Sattelberger – plus an update on the Weev / CFAA case from Nicole Powers.



Video streaming by Ustream

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May 2013 09

by Nicole Powers

“I know something of the life that this man lives in this film,” says Pierce Brosnan when asked what attracted him to Love Is All You Need. It’s without doubt his most personal role to date. He plays a character very different from the cool, calm, and collected men of action that dominate his résumé, which includes the title role in the TV series Remington Steele, and leads in movies such as Dante’s Peak, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Tailor of Panama, as well as a four-film stint as James Bond in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and Die Another Day.

Though still suave and sophisticated, in Love Is All You Need Brosnan’s character Philip is very vulnerable beneath his expensive suits and default crabby demeanor. Philip is an English businessman isolated by geography in Denmark, and cut off from love due to the untimely and sudden death of his wife. As a coping mechanism, he divorces himself from his emotions and thrusts himself into his work running an international fruit and vegetable import/export empire. However, on the way to his son’s wedding at a picturesque but neglected Italian villa, surrounded by orange and lemon groves, that he once shared with his late wife, love literally and metaphorically crashes into Philip’s life.

The somewhat chaotic Ida, played with extreme candor and subtlety by Danish actress Tinre Dyrholm, is the last thing Philip wants in his well-ordered and controlled world. But she is everything he needs. They bump into each other when Ida reverses her beat up car into Philip’s pristine one in an airport parking lot. As they exchange information, to their mutual horror and embarrassment, they realize they are both en route to the same wedding since Ida is the mother of the bride.

Ida’s vulnerabilities are far less well concealed than Philip’s. Indeed her wig is knocked off when her car’s airbag inflates, revealing a scalp left hairless due to the rigors of chemotherapy. But hair – and a breast – are not the only losses Ida’s recently endured. Her husband has also just walked out on her, and into the arms of a younger woman. As a result, Ida is barely able to keep it together as she suffers the weight of Philip’s frustration and scorn. But her kindness, dignity, and cheerful spirit in the face of adversity prevail, chipping away the stone that encases Philip’s heart.

Though dealing with the grim realities of breast cancer in an unusually honest way, the film — which was directed by Academy Award-winning Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier and produced by Vibeke Windeløv, who has worked extensively with Dogme director Lars von Trier — is very much a celebration of life and love. The two central characters ultimately come to terms with their respective losses, and find a way to move past them, and it’s this aspect that resonates deeply with Brosnan’s own experience.

The Irish born actor lost his first wife, Cassandra Harris, after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer in 1991. She was just 43. Like Philip, Brosnan eventually allowed himself to love again, and married journalist Keely Shaye Smith after a 7 year courtship in 2001. The couple have now been together for over 19 years and tirelessly campaign to raise awareness and money for environmental causes and women’s healthcare issues.

I met up with Brosnan at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, to talk about Love Is All You Need, which is in theaters now.

Nicole Powers: You must have been at this all day.

Pierce Brosnan: I have actually. All day, all yesterday, all week, but it’s good, because the film is a beautiful film.

NP: I was just going to say how beautiful it was. It’s a very unusual love story too, because it’s not just about the transformative power of love, it’s about the transformative power of a little honesty and a lot of kindness.

PB: It is. You’re absolutely right in that regard. It is about kindness, it is about affairs of the heart, it’s about the humanity of people’s lives who are mangled by love or by their own infidelities. It’s also about a woman who’s dealing with the rigors and the stress of breast cancer and trying to cleave her way through the healing of that, and a man, like myself, who is dormant within his own widowdom. That’s the power and the glory of Susanne Bier, she’s a really fantastic writer, a fantastic director.

NP: I love the brave choices she made. I mean, there’s the traditional Hollywood portrayal of cancer, but she chose not to take that route. There’s a particularly powerful bathing scene where you actually see…

PB: Her breast.

NP: And her wound. And that was important, to see that and have that honesty in the portrayal.

PB: Yes. I think it’s one of the most gorgeous scenes in the movie. I think it’s probably the epicenter of the movie. You see the vulnerability of this magnificent woman played by Trine Dyrholm. You see the joy away from the pain of cancer [as she’s] just bathing in these gorgeous waters – naked and abandoned to life. Then he thinks she’s drowning, it’s very tender and really beautifully done. It was an amazing setting to play the scene out in, and to see Trine do it with such courage and be naked. It’s not easy to be naked and have a camera on your as well.

NP: I also think it was a very courageous film for you to take on, because it must have brought back some painful memories from your past.

PB: It was come the day for the memories to go there, to go back to the loss of a wife that you loved, to go back and touch into that space and time and heart. But one does that in many different ways in your work. That’s what the job and the art of acting is, to go back to places that you don’t necessarily want to go back to and to bring them alive. That’s the challenge. And if you have a piece like this that is so supportive for those memories, and you have a director like Susanne Bier, who’s directing you through the piece, then you can surrender to it. And you have actors like Trine before you who make you real.

NP: Yes, she’s incredible. When you first saw the script what attracted you to it?

PB: Because I could identify with the emblems that were in this character’s life. Losing a wife, being a single parent, being a widower, being, not necessarily a workaholic — because I do like to do work. I love working, I love acting, and it’s what I do.

NP: And finding love again?

PB: And finding love again, I knew about that. I’ve got a great girl, a great woman who’s my North Star, 19 years together going down the road. So, you know, I know something of the life that this man lives in this film. It’s about faith, new beginnings, all in the celebration of a wedding. Everyone can identify with a wedding. It’s the bringing together of two families, it’s a bringing together of a man and a woman, a boy and a girl, their love in the eyes of god. So there’s all of that ceremony that is timeless, generation after generation. And then the crazy, madcap world within that, when they clash and the alcohol flows, and the music flows and the resentments come out and people really begin to show themselves.

NP: The whole thing with family is that you have to love them despite their flaws.

PB: Yeah, you do. Because we’re all cracked and fractured, that’s love and only love really. It’s the essence of being human, being kind with whatever you do — writing, painting, being a dentist or being an accountant or whatever — I think it’s to be kind, to be loving.

NP: How long did you get to spend in Italy? The location was stunning.

PB: We spent just over a month there. It was amazing. It was just fabulous. Sorrento is a gorgeous part of the Italian coastline.

NP: I went on vacation there. It was the best trip I’ve ever had in my entire life. And seeing that villa set amongst the orange and lemon groves made me want smell-o-vision, because it must have smelt good.

PB: Oh, it was mighty, it was really, really unbelievable. I had the time of my life. It’s a film that I will carry in my heart forever and a day, because of the nature of it. Then that it’s there on film, that Morten [Søborg], the DP, captured it in such glorious color. And to wake up every day and go to work. And Vibeke [Windeløv], one of the producers on the film, who’s a very charismatic lady. She found a villa for me, so I lived in the Villa Tritone, which was down the back streets. Do you remember when you were there, you could go down the back streets of Sorrento, down to the little village, the little bay? Well, as you go down that avenue, just before you get to the Saracens’ Gate, if you remember that, where the Saracens came through all those centuries ago, on the right there were green gates, and there was the Villa Tritone. So I stayed in this villa. Vibeke made a deal with the lovely owners. I stayed there, and then consequently all the cast and crew could come in — because they wanted to have James Bond in their house. [laughs] God love ‘em! God bless ‘em! [Puts on thick Irish accent] I’m just an actor. There you go, let’s party guys!

NP: This movie, and Mamma Mia, which is also set in a Mediterranean surrounding and centered around a wedding, made me realize that Europeans know how to eat, drink, and be merry, in a way that…

PB: Americans do, Americans do as well.

NP: But the lushness of the land, and the connection of it to the wine and the produce on the table…

PB:: Well, there is that old worldliness to it — that’s what’s so beguiling and captivating. These films are like bookends, Mamma Mia and this one. They sit there like bookends on the shelf. Because both are surrounded by the epicenter of a wedding.

NP: Did the locals enjoy the fact that James Bond was staying in their town? Were there any particularly funny moments with the locals while you were in Sorrento?

PB: Erm… Yes, but I can’t really talk about the one that comes to mind. [laughs] It involves… Oh no, I couldn’t. You’ll have to read the memoirs for that one. [laughs]

NP: [laughs] Damn, that’s a tease!

PB: It’s a tease, isn’t it? No, not really. I wondered around and, you know, the locals… I’d get out and about and I’d go to church Sundays, because the churches are everywhere, on every corner, and they’re so magnificent and such a celebration of faith. And the food was fantastic. I met a family who had a boat, so some days I’d just go around the coast and down the coast of the Amalfi.

NP: Ah, the Amalfi Coast.

PB: It was just around the corner, literally.

NP: Yeah, I took a bus trip along the coastal cliff road, and the bus was so long and the corners were so sharp it felt like we were going to plunge over the edge at times.

PB: Yeah, best not to look too closely. That opening scene with us in the car, that was all along the Amalfi Coast. I don’t know how the hell we managed to do it but we did… But it was an embarrassment of riches.

NP: Well your career’s almost been an embarrassment of riches. I mean you got a big break early on when Tennessee Williams handpicked you to be in the UK premiere of his play [The Red Devil Battery Sign], and then you’ve work with Roman Polanski on The Ghost Writer — is there anyone you feel that you’ve yet to work with?

PB: Oh, so many, so many.

NP: Who? Put their names out into the universe and see what comes back.

PB: I’d love to work with Ang Lee and David O. Russell, I’d love to work with Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino — he wanted to do James Bond.

NP: Yeah?

PB: Yeah.

NP: I could see that actually.

PB: We got so, so polluted one night, he and I. Just absolutely in our cups at the Four Seasons.

NP: That’s a nice euphemism. What were you getting “polluted” on?

PB: Apple Martinis.

NP: They’re lethal.

PB: Ah, lethal.

NP: Because they’re so fruity.

PB: Ah, fruity, we were being very fruity that night, the two of us.

Publicist: [walks through the door and interrupts our conversation to bring the interview to a close] On that fruity note… So sorry

PB: On that fruity note… there we go…

NP: Nooo! Just as I’m getting the story of the night Pierce Brosnan gets drunk on Apple Martinis with Quentin Tarantino. Argh!!!!

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May 2013 07

by Blogbot

This Thursday May 9th on SuicideGirls Radio hosts Nicole Powers and Juturna Suicide will be joined in studio by Chris Wyse and Jason Mezilis from the band Owl. They’ll be talk about their rock & roll experiences – Chris also plays with The Cult – and playing songs live from Owl’s new album, The Right Thing.
.
You can listen – and watch – the world’s leading naked radio show live on Thursday nights from 6 til 8 PM at our new state-of-the-art all digital home: TradioV.com/LA.

You’ll also be able to listen to our podcasts via Stitcherdownload the app now!

If you have questions for the SG Radio crew or our guests, you can call in during the live broadcast at: 1-855-TRV-inLA (1-855-878-4652)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About Owl

After releasing their self-titled debut in 2009, Owl captivated audiences alongside the likes of Helmet, Jet and Hollywood all-star rock collective Camp Freddy. Between touring and recording commitments with Wyse’s other gig – playing bass in The Cult – Owl began writing what would become the band’s self-produced The Right Thing in early 2011.

Approaching timeless rock structures through a healthy amount of experimentation and instrumental intricacy, Owl takes flight locked and loaded with unforgettable hooks and impressive delivery on The Right Thing. It’s a combination that instantly impacts and takes up residence inside your head as all great hard rock should.

For more on Owl visit their Website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channel.

**UPDATE**
ICYMI: The recording on our May 9th show featuring some amazing live musical performances from Chris Wyse and Jason Mezilis from the band Owl.



Video streaming by Ustream

[..]

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Apr 2013 30

by Blogbot

This Thursday May 2nd on SuicideGirls Radio host Nicole Powers will be joined in studio by producer and DJ Borgore, and special guest co-host Juturna Suicide.

You can listen – and watch – the world’s leading naked radio show live on Thursday nights from 6 til 8 PM at our new state-of-the-art all digital home: TradioV.com/LA.

You’ll also be able to listen to our podcasts via Stitcherdownload the app now!

If you have questions for the SG Radio crew or our guests, you can call in during the live broadcast at: 1-855-TRV-inLA (1-855-878-4652)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About Borgore

Hailing from Israel via London, dubstep badass Borgore –– the man who claims he “ruined dubstep” and bass culture’s enfant terrible –– is one of the most colorful characters in electronic dance music (EDM) today. He is infamous for his propulsive, interactive live shows, which have turned him into one of electronic music’s most popular, controversial figures. Expect nothing less than bass-in-your-face frenzy.

Tickets for Borgore’s spring tour, which kicks off on Friday May 3rd in Austin, TX are available now via borgore.wantickets.com/. For more info, visit his Facebook and Twitter.

[Juturna Suicide in Beads and Bows]

About Juturna Suicide

Juturna Suicide was born and raised in Los Angeles. By day, she works at a loan office, but singing, modeling and doing makeup are her passions. She’s been singing since elementary school and is currently looking to front a band. She joined Suicide Girls at 18 (she’s now 23) and has officially been a Suicide Girl for 2 years. “It has been an amazing experience so far,” says Juturna. “I love it. I enjoy getting tattoos and piercings. I have 14 tattoos but my collection has only just begun!”

You can see more of Juturna on SuicideGirls and follow her adventures on Twitter.

**UPDATE**

ICYMI: Our May 2nd show featuring Borgore, Shay, and Juturna Suicide.



Video streaming by Ustream

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Apr 2013 30

by D.S. Wood

D.S. Wood is a Canuck journalist who occasionally takes an interest in news outside the scope of his day job in the mainstream media. He reached out to the family of Sunil Tripathi to get their take on amateur sleuths and mainstream media failing their lost loved one, and spoke with Sangeeta Tripathi, Sunil’s sister, for 45-minutes by phone.


Sunil Tripathi (center) with his sister, Sangeeta Tripathi (left) and brother, Ravi Tripathi (right).

Shaken by bomb blasts in Boston, Sangeeta Tripathi returned to Providence to discover the missing younger brother she’d moved there to find was labeled a suspect.

He was called a terrorist.

He was called a killer.

He was called one of the most wanted men in America.

Sunil Tripathi was none of these things.

He was a 22-year-old student at Brown who left his apartment early in the morning March 16 never to come back.

He was not a terrorist.

He was not a killer.

He was not among America’s most wanted until someone – who in a grainy image pulled from a surveillance camera maybe bore a slight resemblance to him – planted homemade bombs about the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.

“It was striking and painful for us,” Sangeeta says.

As those first pics of suspects are released, the internet decides it’s going to find the terrorists.

On Reddit, a user says they recognize one of them. Went to school with this guy, looks just like him –– name’s Sunil Tripathi. On Twitter, somebody says they heard that name spoken over Boston Police Department radio waves. All over The internet word is spread, complete with Photoshopped images showing that grainy surveillance pic alongside one swiped off the Facebook page of a family desperately trying to find out what’s become of a missing member.

Retweet, retweet, retweet.

Three days after the bomb blasts, that Facebook page was hit with accusatory message after accusatory message and Sangeeta says her phone rang off the hook with media calls requesting words with the family of the bomber.

“It got way out of control,” Sangeeta says.

“Hearing the confidence that people on multiple media platforms were speaking with (without evidence) was absolutely shocking…if that’s the bar, it’s a pretty worrisome bar.

“We were 100% completely sure this was not Sunil at all.”

By the end of the week the authorities had two suspects accounted for –– one dead and one probably just wishing he was –– and sure enough, neither was an Indo-American Brown student.

***

Sangeeta always told “Sunny” he was too smart for her. He was apt with computers –– if something wasn’t working the way it was supposed to you took it to him.

He was musically inclined — he played the saxophone. He had just a year left at Brown, taking philosophy. Boy genius.

Then, in the early morning hours of March 16, it seemed the world opened up and swallowed him, leaving no real trace to be found.

He was just gone.

“He was taking a bit of time off to slow down a bit and get things together,” Sangeeta says. The night before he disappeared, Sunil had gone out to dinner with his best friend, phoned his grandmother, and sent a text message to his aunt.

“He turned off his computer at 1:14 AM (and then) he left at 1:34 AM,” Sangeeta says. “He left alone…His wallet, IDs, book bag, bicycle –– he left everything in his apartment.”

It wasn’t long before Sunil’s doting family descended on Providence, with no intention of leaving until they found him.

It brought the family closer together; Sangeeta doesn’t remember the last time the lot of them were under one roof day in and day out like that, and she thinks it’s helped each of them deal with what has otherwise been a nightmare.

“It’s been very beautiful and interesting to watch,” she says.

A private family, there was a lot of hesitance to take the effort online –– and they couldn’t have known then the turn it would take –– but they made a choice to set up a Facebook page. They figured social media could only help.

***

It’s ironic, Sangeeta says, that she, her other brother and their uncle were in Boston for the marathon and the madness that ended it, given what happened after.

One of Sunil’s friends, who had joined the search in Providence, was in the event, and they’d come out to support him, she explains. Maybe 10 blocks away from them, one explosive went off, and then another one quickly followed.

***

On the one-month anniversary of Sunil’s disappearance, instead of renewing the push to find him, his family was shutting it down. When connections were made between one of their own and the horror they’d witnessed, they went dark.

They closed the Facebook page.

They stopped taking calls.

They sat and waited for this second nightmare to run its course.

“We felt that any statement from any family member wouldn’t be the best use of our energy,” Sangeeta says.

“No,” she says, when asked if, in hindsight, she thinks speaking out might’ve made any difference. “There were many strong currents at play and those strong currents were bigger than us…[We were in] the challenging position of trying to sit tight.”

Their emotional reserves already low, Sunil’s family watched helplessly as the online footprint of their missing loved one suddenly grew, greatly, but into something far, far darker.

Nothing dies on the internet.

Nothing goes away.

It all lives forever, waiting for the right combination of keywords to be typed into search engines.

In the aftermath of the Boston bombing, the right combination was simply “Sunil Tripathi.”

Even now his family is still waiting for it to end.

“If you search his name right now there’s still a lot of traffic that’s not associated with our love and our search for him,” Sangeeta says.

Because someone said they thought they recognized someone.

Because someone said they thought they heard something.

Because someone with basic Photoshop skills had nothing to do one night.

***

The internet gave a collective “Oops” when done praising itself for inching out the traditional media that week, which had been taking cues from Twitter feeds and cop scanners anyway.

After the Tsarnaev brothers were identified, Sunil’s family re-opened the Facebook page and those accusatory voices were replaced by apologetic ones. Sangeeta says several media outlets have phoned her back to express regret.

On Reddit, a blog post from the site’s general manager Erik Martin states:

“Though started with noble intentions, some of the activity on Reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties…

“We have apologized privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Tripathi, as have various users and moderators. We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure…”

What the family of Sunil wanted was for the search to move forward –– he was still missing and still missed –– and sadly that’s exactly what happened.

After a month with no answers, Sangeeta and the others finally have one. But it’s the last one they would have wanted: Sunil Tripathi is dead.

A body was pulled from the water off of Providence April 23 and the family has released a statement saying it is indeed their loved one.

Along with expressions of grief over his loss and gratitude to those who aided the quest to solve the mystery of his disappearance, in a statement from the family, which Sangeeta emailed to me, was one last thought on the unexpected, unwanted circus that surrounded the family:

“As these days have shown us, the media is a powerful tool to be used carefully. We hope you continue to exercise caution and treat human lives with delicacy…This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too.

“Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.”

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Apr 2013 30

by Dustin Slaughter

Oral histories of political movements give us glimpses of the participants who helped shape the world we know today. They often provide raw, personal first-hand accounts of peoples’ struggles. These projects also help to maintain historical truths that are often tainted by government revisionism and lost to cultural amnesia.

Tacit confidentiality agreements between historians and interviewees are naturally crucial to the birth of these histories.

So what happens when the Department of Justice and the Police Service of Northern Ireland decide to violate the spirit of a treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom by subpoenaing a confidential collection of taped interviews detailing Northern Ireland’s militant past?

The purity of historical record, as well as fundamental First Amendment issues like freedom of the press, and more specifically source confidentiality, are now under attack by none other than US prosecutor Carmen Ortiz – the same district attorney criticized for what many people called overzealous prosecution that likely led to activist Aaron Swartz committing suicide – and the DOJ, at the behest of Northern Ireland’s police forces. These parties apparently see fit to enflame a tenuous peace in Northern Ireland by tearing open historical wounds through their desire to prosecute former Irish Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries for unsolved crimes.

Beginning three years after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, heralded by some as the beginning of a new – and peaceful – chapter between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre began tape recording interviews with members of Irish paramilitaries and their Loyalist foes. Their objective was to contribute a better academic understanding of what motivated otherwise ordinary individuals to join the armed conflict, as well as document the turbulent and important history known as The Troubles. They concluded their interviews in 2006 and the Belfast Project is stored today in Boston College’s Burns Library.

The lynchpin of the project was the confidentiality agreement McIntyre and Maloney forged with participants – from both sides of the conflict – some of whom divulged the names of militants. The stories were not to be released without their written consent or until their death.

Fast forward to 2011, when the Department of Justice, by way of a Clinton-era initiative called the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), attempted to force Boston College to release the tapes by recklessly (and improperly, as I’ll address below) subpoenaing these confidential interviews at the behest of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Authorities claim that Belfast Project interviews will assist in investigating the re-opened case of Jean McConville, who was kidnapped and murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1972. Current Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, among others, have been implicated in the crime. Republican militants admitted their culpability some 20 years later.

Some, like Anthony McIntyre – a writer, historian and former IRA member who was jailed for 18 years in Northern Ireland’s infamous Long Kesh prison and was released in 1996, believe the motivation for the subpoena is more complicated – and sinister – than a mere desire to solve a horrible crime that happened in 1972 however.

“[The justice angle] does not have much traction, given that the PSNI was heavily involved in using law enforcement to break the law and immerse itself as a player in the conflict [during the Troubles],” he tells me through email.

“It is certainly not interested in solving homicides per se. It is interested in the selective solving of some homicides. Hence we have killings involving state agents not being pursued but others involving people opposed to the state pursued.”

The checkered history of Northern Ireland’s security forces supports McIntyre’s suspicion that the subpoena is politically motivated. The former incarnation of the PSNI, from 1922 until 2001, was the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). This law enforcement organization has a storied history of human rights transgressions, as detailed in a number of reports, including one issued in 1991 by Human Rights Watch, which cite a wide range of abuses against Irish nationalists and which also point out numerous instances of RUC collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries.

Most notably, two members of a special anti-terrorist unit within the RUC known as the Special Patrol Group were convicted in 1980 of giving aid to Loyalist forces in the form of transportation, kidnappings, shootings and bombing attacks.

Besides these two Special Patrol Group members, no RUC or PSNI officers have ever been charged with crimes.

But it is what McIntyre calls the “retire and rehire” phenomenon taking place within the RUC-turned-PSNI that gives him the greatest doubt that Good Friday Agreement reforms have changed the police force’s apparent anti-nationalist leanings. A watchdog audit of the PSNI in 2011 found that almost 20% of the over 5,000 RUC officers laid off under reforms were rehired. The report describes the organization’s apparent reversion to its RUC roots as “out of control,” according to the Guardian, which ran the story in October 2011. The push to enter more Irish Catholics into the police force, a key reform from Good Friday, is clearly being rolled back.

And the Boston College subpoena, in light of all this, may very well be a political fishing expedition designed, at least in part, on hunting down old enemies of the British state.

Two plausible scenarios could emerge if the DOJ and PSNI are successful in accessing the Belfast Project interviews: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will face prosecution for his alleged involvement in Jean McConville’s murder. Irish nationalist rage would likely spill out into the streets of Belfast.

Conversely, the PSNI may do nothing with the archive. If that happens, McIntyre tells me, “the British government decides it is too politically sensitive – not least for what may be revealed about their own knowledge and activities – to bring forward any criminal prosecution. Loyalist reaction to this will be, predictably, outrage. They will hardly accept, especially given the lengths that the British are going to obtain this material, that it was worthless.”

Clearly, either outcome could set off the tinderbox – and the two journalists who created the project have, since 2011, been consumed with preventing the potential unraveling of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

They’ve also rushed to protect what they correctly perceive as an erosion of journalistic freedoms enshrined by the First Amendment here in the U.S. More on this latter point shortly.

Anthony McIntyre and Ed Maloney began their protracted legal battle with prosecutor Ortiz after Boston College refused to appeal a lower court’s decision that the DOJ’s grab at the archives was legitimate. The two men found support from the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Irish American Coalition, all of which added amicus briefs to the case. After two years of overturned appeals, McIntyre and Maloney finally kicked the case up to the Supreme Court – only to have the High Court refuse to hear it last week.

With that final blow, every legal avenue is now exhausted.

This leaves only a political redress through a newly-minted Secretary of State John Kerry who, before taking the post this year, served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In a January 2012 letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kerry expressed concern “about the impact that [the subpoena] may have on the continued success of the Northern Ireland peace process.”

Senator Kerry added: “It is possible that some former parties to the conflict may perceive the effort by the U.K. authorities to obtain this information as contravening the spirit of the Good Friday Accords.”

As noted earlier, the DOJ’s actions most certainly violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the U.S. – U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. In a report submitted by Senator Richard Luger in September 2006, Luger states:

“The Senate’s understanding [is] that the purpose of the Treaty is to strengthen law enforcement cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom by modernizing the extradition process for all serious offenses and that it is not intended to reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement or to impede any further efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.”

Kerry and Luger were not alone in their concern.

New York Senator Charles Schumer expressed consternation that the DOJ’s subpoena not only threatened to destroy a fragile peace across the Atlantic, but that it targeted freedom of the press. In a letter sent to both Secretary of State Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, Schumer stated:

“There are significant issues of journalistic confidentiality and academic freedom that are called into question as a result of this legal maneuver that make it dubious…I have always been a champion of protecting sensitive source material that is gathered by researchers – journalists and academics alike—and I am concerned that this action presents an infringement on that underpinning of the First Amendment.”

One need only look at the DOJ’s dogged pursuit of activists, such as the late Aaron Swartz, to see how far the Justice Department will go to score wins in court. It is not a stretch to believe they could use subpoenas to violate journalist-source confidentiality in future cases.

With over 100 similar bilateral assistance treaties between the U.S. and other countries in existence today, the threat this subpoena poses may have far-reaching – and unimaginable – consequences for international political movements, freedom of dissent and our own First Amendment.