Child on trial for murder in Michigan

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THE WORLD SOCIALIST WEBSITE reports from Pontiac, Michigan on the murder trial of Nathaniel Abraham, age 13. Abraham stands accused of first degree murder for a crime he allegedly committed when he was just 11 years old. Thanks to a new Michigan law, in effect since Jan. 1, 1997, Abraham is being tried as an adult. The statute eliminated juveniles’– of any age — immunity from being prosecuted as adults.

The WSWS reporters make no secret of their bias that it is a broken social system, not child murderers themselves, who are to blame for crimes like that of which Abraham is accused. Whether you agree with them or not, their coverage offers a refreshing counterbalance to a mainstream media obsessed with “child predators.”

Abraham’s story is particularly troubling. Not only was he just 11 at the time of the murder, but a court appointed psychiatrist who interviewed him after his arrest determined his mental maturity to be that of a six to eight year old. His IQ was measured at 78, and his verbal skills determined to be those of an average kindergartner. Before the time of the murder, Abraham’s mother had sought help from police and mental health system, but no resources were made available to her.

For even more background on the case, check out this earlier WSWS investigation, published in July, 1998.


How the Net wrecked a lefty city

Oct. 28

Paulina Borsook, the cyber-elite’s second-least favorite curmudgeon (Clifford Stoll wins that prize), offers this observation in SALON.COM of how money-grubbing 20-somethings in the Internet business have destroyed San Francisco’s penchant for left-wing politics and community involvement. Borsook, whose legendary swipe at the “Cyberselfish” in the pages of Mother Jones put her on the digerati’s “don’t bother” list, makes some good points (Full disclosure — I say that as a friend of Borsook’s, and a fellow Technorealist, but that’s another story …).

The minority neighborhoods in SF are being diluted by white, SUV-driving, cell-phone-talking yuppies; the newcomers all drive too much and use public transit too little; they’ve driven up housing prices more than 40 percent in the past year and have priced out the elderly and less monied, turning the landscape into a tableau of apolitical hip conformity, Borsook says. The city’s “Multimedia Gulch” is, ironically, smack-dab in the center of the district which saw the legendary longshoremen’s labor strike in 1934 (you can bet there are no relevant labor unions in the Web biz.)

“So what can San Francisco mean,” writes Borsook, “if it’s not a place where you can be arty or subversive or living in genteel socialist poverty?”

Sure, it’s a totally provincial attitude. But I’ll take it.


MLK widow assails black homophobia

Oct. 27

Coretta Scott King told the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER that she believes pervasive homophobia in the black community — even among its leadership — is to blame for the appallingly high rate of HIV infection and AIDS among African Americans.

“African Americans,” King said, “have suffered for too long because of prejudice and bigotry to be parroting the rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups who bash people because of their sexual orientation.”

AIDS is the leading cause of death among black men between the ages of 25 and 44.


‘Low calorie’ shift leftward in Latin America

Oct. 26

While they seem to be proceeding with caution, voters in Latin American countries are increasingly aligning themselves with left-of-center political parties and candidates, reports THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR’s Howard LaFranchi.

In the coming weeks, elections will be held in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. All three countries are expected to elect candidates from more liberal-minded political coalitions. In Mexico, the six major candidates for next July’s presidential election are all attacking the “neoliberal” market-economy model.

The rhetoric that has accompanied this shift to the left has been decidedly low key. In Chile, it has been referred to as “decaffeinated socialism.” In Argentina, “low-calorie change.” It is indicative of the fact that voters are not interested in radical change, or even identifying with one end of the political spectrum over the other. Rather, they are placing a greater emphasis on social equality and economic opportunity. In Latin America the top 20 percent accounts for 17 times the wealth of the lowest 20 percent.


Damning insider evidence for NATO embassy bombing

Oct. 25

Remember the “accidental” bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade last May, resulting in three deaths? Defense Secretary William Cohen’s excuse was never stellar: “The bombing instructions were based on an outdated map,” he said, provoking complaints about military incompetence and general disbelief. Now the LONDON OBSERVER reports that NATO lied about the bombing’s accidental nature.

THE OBSERVER patched together reports from senior military and intelligence sources, concluding that NATO meant to bomb the Chinese embassy, which was used to broadcast messages to Yugoslav troops. NATO had earlier destroyed transmitters in Slobodan Milosevic’s residence. THE OBSERVER speculates that China hoped to receive information about Stealth technology from a downed NATO plane in return for the transmissions.

The October 17 story was picked up immediately by the Times of London, Canada’s Globe and Mail, the Times of India, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Irish Times. Why didn’t U.S. papers follow suit? FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING asks the same question in an article investigating the silence around the story.



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