Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series The wider contexts

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How American Judges Can Be Made To Feel The Heat Over Controversial Verdicts

Posted by Peter Quennell





Why American judges can envy Italian judges part deux.

As we surely all know now, most Italian judges advance along a career path. Only a few are politically appointed and none are elected.  All of the time their rulings are under minute scrutiny and (as we have seen with Judges Hellmann, Marasca and Bruno) the powerful Council of Magistrates can stop their advancement in a heartbeat if any of those rulings look suspect.

American judges are mostly elected with little training requirements or qualifications testing. If they seem to have stepped out of line some of them can face political hearings and discipline boards (as Judge Heavey did) but not all do.

But the worse reaction many fear more is the media and the public turning upon them, made vastly more possible because of the Internet and happening time and time again these days. 

The American judge now much in the news - and not in a good way - is Jean Boyd of Texas.

In March 2012 Jean Boyd, then a Juvenile Court judge, sentenced a 14-year-old black boy to 10 years for killing a smaller boy with one powerful punch.  She was criticised for being way too harsh then.

In December 2013 she veered sharply in the other direction.

She sentenced a now notorious teenager to mere probation and rehabilitation after he had killed four people and maimed a fifth for life when drunk-driving. The psychological defense she bought into was that his family was so rich that he grew up without the right parenting.

This was apparently a unique defense and one that has never been attempted for poorer people. Judge Boyd was widely criticised for being way too light then.

The two cases dropped out of the news for a while.

But now the notorious white teenager Ethan Couch is all over the news again. A few weeks ago he was caught on video drinking - which could lead to his serving time in prison - and a couple of weeks ago he disappeared along with his mother.

Considering that he has not yet even been charged with a transgression of his probation, the size and cost of the manhunt was extraordinary. Somehow the US Federal Marshall Service pinpointed his phone in a Mexican apartment, and the Mexican police arrested him along with his mother and locked them up.

Today he is being held in an Mexican prison with his mother. It is just reported that they are fighting extradition.

Good luck with that one.

Judge Boyd actually retired a year ago in face of a petition demanding she be fired. She was given some credit by the local newspaper.

But her verdict never convinced an angry public or the families of the four dead and one maimed victims, and both he and his irresponsible mother also now seem headed for prison.

And it seems Ms Boyd is not returning phone calls.


Below: Tonya Couch and Ethan Couch at the trial in 2013





Posted on 12/30/15 at 04:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, December 25, 2015

Capturing Collective Memories: Of Broadway Dance And Of Family Life

Posted by Peter Quennell

The only YouTube so far,  with costumes & lighting & orchestra the dances really take off


There’s an astonishing Broadway show on in NYC now.

If you are part of the million visitors in NYC at any one time (absurd, right?) it’s at the Joyce Theater, tkts are only $45 if you can get them, its a sponsored run. Its called American Dance Machine. Some 18 Broadway dancers and a fine orchestra onstage at the back.

The promotional video above gives a hint but for-real it is a terrific jolt. Its only a brief season because the dancers are some of the best and are in great demand. A couple are from the several ballet companies here.

The purpose is to capture and show again many dance routines and several songs from Broadway musicals that are mostly gone, some long gone, and wont be back again, and show just how good they were. Maybe every year there will be another brief season like this.

How did they put this together? There was an audience panel of the creators and some dancers after the show one night and they explained. They had to hunt round and find choreographers and dancers who had memories of the routines and find videos of the routines at the Arts library at Lincoln Center. The collective memory is mostly still there but its elusive and spread around and it will fade.

So. To the real point of this post, Does anyone have a family blog? The reason for having one is really the same. Collective memory, in this case of the family, while memories going back awhile are still around. Put down the family history as you know it and get some others in on it and pass it down.

It might make those who follow want to write online in a more empowering and permanent way than social media, which scrolls away fast and can have limited satisfaction and real-results effects. Best of the family videos and photos can go there.

Some 20-40-60 years hence those who come next are going to value that body of family history so much. They may not know you but they will know about you and what you did and felt and feel they are part of a great team going forward.

Season’s cheer!

Posted on 12/25/15 at 10:28 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

“Spotlight” Movie About Fine Example Of Investigative Journalism Is Oscar Best-Picture Favorite

Posted by Peter Quennell





Hollywood has rewarded movies about investigations many times over the years.

Maybe not such a bad thing when media are under such internet and political pressure - and too often prone now to propagating dishonest PR and misleading their audiences, as we have seen.

“Spotlight” portrays an investigation by a Boston Globe newspaper team in 2001 and 2002 into myriad sexual abuses by priests in that very catholic city.

This was the first-ever such investigation into the sexual abuses. It started very small - less than 10 priests were initially suspected - and ran into roadblocks and was nearly shut down several times.

it eventually cascaded into the exposure of hundreds of priests in the US and many more worldwide. Numbers of victims are unknown but worldwide are numbered at minimum in the hundreds of thousands.

The pace of the film is phenomenal. There is jolt after jolt as the reporters - most of whom are themselves catholic or lapsed-catholic and take some heat - in repeated disbelief find the numbers of priests and victims growing and growing.

Pope Francis himself is reported as in favor of investigations continuing.  The various support groups representing the numerous “survivors” have welcomed the film.

Some American priests have raised some objections. They dont seem to fault the movie for honesty though.

Prophet’s Prey is a similarly gripping and unflinching movie, about children abused by fundamentalists. It is a documentary, and may be nominated for an Oscar in that category.

Posted on 12/16/15 at 10:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, December 07, 2015

Counterterrorism: Another Way Italian Law Enforcement Is An Effective Model For Everywhere Else

Posted by Peter Quennell





We have often mentioned these major justice-system pluses:

(1) That Italy has one of the industrialized world’s lowest crime rates and that US cities have been observing its model.

(2) That it has a very prominent and much admired police presence, and a small and much admired court and penal system.

Now Thomas Williams is reporting this third big plus from Rome in Breitbart Business News

A leading military analyst is citing Italy as a model of counterterrorism done right, pointing out that despite many factors going against it, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.

In the most recent issue of Nikkei Asian Review, Romanian born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak lays out a persuasive theory explaining how Italy has been so successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts. In a word: Italy is not afraid to deport those it considers to be a threat to national security.

In his essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasts Italy with France and Belgium, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.

So where France has been “caught by surprise again and again by terrorist attacks with many lives lost” and in Belgium “terrorists have been coming and going for years, buying military weapons with remarkable ease,” Italy has remained unscathed.

It would seem that Italy doesn’t have much going for it. It has porous borders and a Muslim population that exceeds 2 million and has played an active role in military expeditions in Islamic territories. Moreover, the Vatican is the “most iconic target in Europe,” and tops the list of objectives of the Islamic State, Luttwak observes. And yet, “nobody has been killed by Muslim terrorists in Italy.”

Italian counterterrorism has been on full alert since 9/11, Luttwak says, and its combined forces “have detected and interrupted hundreds of terrorist plots large and small, at every stage from mere verbal scheming to fully ready actions.”

So where terrorists have successfully attacked in Madrid, London, Paris, Toulouse, Copenhagen, Brussels and elsewhere, in Italy they have been foiled time after time.

Luttwak suggests that Italy’s success is all a question of method, based on the insight that the only thing that can be done to stop potential terrorists is to follow those who are suspected to be truly dangerous around the clock so that they can be arrested or killed at a moment’s notice. Since the numbers of probable suspects can be astronomical, Luttwak says, their numbers must be effectively reduced if this strategy is to bear fruit. And this is exactly what Italy has done.

State intelligence agencies throughout Europe monitor suspects, filling out reports and keeping files, but they often fail to take the action needed. The Italians, however, immediately conduct an interrogation on credible suspects, and many are sent home or arrested, if their situation merits it. Italy currently has more than 180 radical imams in prison, Luttwak notes.

Employing this method, Italian authorities are able to keep numbers of suspected potential terrorists within a reasonable range and thus are able to monitor them effectively.

Earlier this month, Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force, said he intended to protect citizens from the danger of terrorism “by adopting all the preventive measures necessary,” and noted that “we must be prepared to give up some of our personal freedoms, in particular in the area of communication.”

The fact that the Italians lump together anti-mafia operations with counterterrorism is also telling. Unlike other European states, with the exception perhaps of the UK, Italy has a long history fighting serious organized crime within its borders, coming from the different branches of the Italian mafia working in various parts of the peninsula.

The Italian interior ministry has reportedly also increased its “targeted expulsions” of persons considered to be a risk to national security. So far this year, 55 individuals have been deported and the ministry has said the numbers will only grow.

According to Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, intelligence and counterterrorism units are reevaluating information gathered in recent months on some 56,000 people, scouring case files to see whether anything could have been overlooked.

Given Italy’s impressive counterterrorism track record, it may be about time for other European nations to sit up and take note.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wide Concern In US At A Killer Groupie Who Helped Dangerous Killers To Escape

Posted by Peter Quennell



We have occasionally dwelled upon what drives killer groupies. The phenomenon is widespread and it has been around a long time.

A desperation for money and new jobs and status. Perversions, chips on shoulders, previous brushes with the law - that last driver actually accounts for about half.

Sheer besottedness is one quite common cause. Some people really do love dangerous jerks. 

Now a killer groupie is responsible for a huge and expensive manhunt, and for hundreds of thousands 250 miles north of New York City and up into Canada locking their doors and buying guns.

They fear an attack, even death, from two dangerous killers on the loose.

The sole cause of their breaking out of a secure prison which had seen no prior breakouts in 150 years is a killer groupie, a woman married with children employed on the prison staff, who supplied them with power tools to cut their way out. and who was to drive the getway car.

Joyce Mitchell has been arrested and charged with a felony and may face eight years inside. [She was sentenced to 7 years, in Sept 2015.]

As she failed to turn up on the night - maybe cold feet, maybe a medical emergency as she seems to claim - the two killers are believed still to be close. Bloodhounds picked up a scent in marshes near the prison only a couple of days ago.

Nice going, Joyce, do call Amanda Knox. Oh, but wait…

Posted on 06/13/15 at 07:43 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, May 08, 2015

Why Italy Doesnt Look For Guidance On Its Justice System From What It Sees As Foreign Smartasses

Posted by Peter Quennell





Italy is following closely the sad disarray currently obvious in the American system

Read our numerous posts setting right for example the false claims of Michael Heavey and Steve Moore.  And then read this post and this post and this post and these new stories on US justice. And then answer the question below.

Michael Schwanke: Koch behind push to overhaul criminal justice system

Each year it’s estimated the United States spends almost a $100 billion on prisons. According to Mark Holden, Senior VP at Koch Industries, that’s three to four times what the country spends on education.

Holden and Charles Koch authored a letter titled “The Overcriminalization of America” and now are behind a nationwide push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

The letter points to the many federal laws created over the years. “Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. Over time, this has translated into more than 4,500 federal criminal laws spread across 27,000 pages of the United States federal code.”

“We all agree that our system isn’t working. Whether you’re a conservative, evangelical, social liberal, progressive, or libertarian there’s something for you. I don’t think there will be a lot of negative reaction to it,” says Holden speaking to Eyewitness News after addressing the downtown Rotary.

Holden says the U.S. accounts for about five percent of the world’s population, but holds 20 percent of the prison population. Most are non-violent offenders. Holden says one in three people in the U.S. has a criminal record which leads to poverty and joblessness.

Cara Tabachnick: Poll: Young Americans have “little confidence” in justice system

Nearly half of American young adults lack confidence in the nation’s justice system or don’t trust their local police to do the right thing, though that perception is deeply divided by race, according to a national poll of 18- to 29-year-olds released by Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

African-American youth had the deepest distrust of the nation’s criminal justice institutions, with 79 percent of those polled expressing little to no trust in their local police department to do the “right” thing.

Hispanic youth weren’t far behind, with 62 percent of those polled expressing little or no trust in their local police force. In stark contrast, just 31 percent of the white youth polled expressed little or no trust.

More than 3,000 people were polled by the Harvard Institute of Politics between March 18-April 1, on questions of criminal justice and other issues, including politics, climate change and terrorism.

Over all, there was an even split on the U.S. judicial system’s ability to “fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity.” About 49 percent of those polled said they have little to no confidence that the justice system can operate without bias.

Jason Fyk: Baltimore’s Criminal Justice System Is Corrupt, I Know Because I Was Imprisoned there

n 2011, I was arrested by Baltimore City Police on charges of conspiracy to commit first degree attempted murder.

You might be asking yourself, “Why? What did he do?” I took a cell phone video of a small drunken scuffle in a downtown Baltimore parking garage. I was not a participant in the fight, nor was I an instigator. Despite what the facts of the situation presented, a personal family relationship with one of the so-called “victims” took precedence over the law. What started as a typical two-sided misdemeanor became a one-sided fight for freedom. I spent 50 days in the Baltimore City Detention Center facing two life sentences, and a host of other charges mounting to well over 200 years in prison, all for simply taking a video.

I’ve seen the corruption firsthand. I’ve seen how a law enforcement agent’s personal agenda can destroy a life. I’ve seen how charges are ramped up in order to make a lesser charge stick. I’ve seen detainees entering jail with worse injuries than the participants in the fight I captured on video, all at the hands of police. I’ve also seen the corruption that resides in BCDC on my 50-day tour of the jail.

The conditions at this facility were sub-human, in some cases. Ignoring the mice, cockroaches and decaying conditions, basic necessities of life were severely lacking. The food was nearly inedible and, in some cases, hazardous. For example, the drink flavoring had a poisonous emblem on it, eggs were often brown and rotten when served, and during my stay we even lost water for four days, which meant toilets and sinks did not work. All we had was a cooler jug that was brought in to drink from. Showers were so hot (not adjustable) you could not stand in the water. I saw a detainee drop on the floor, having a seizure from withdrawal, because drugs are not administered for close to a week after arrival. My experience in jail was that of an educated observant, and what I saw was appalling. The list goes on and on.

So Italy or the USA - which country would you pick to do a crime in? Do Heavey or Moore tell you this? How many times have Heavey and Moore found justice lacking in the US? Apparently no times at all. One-note bashing of Italian justice is all that they do.

Posted on 05/08/15 at 08:57 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, April 06, 2015

Columbia University Journalism School Blasts Fabricated Story - But What Of Hundreds In Our Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell


1. The Damage From False Media Reports

Once a false meme is put out there it can do immense harm and be almost impossible to turn around.

Public relations houses try to propagate memes, and if they are false that is sleazy and unethical but usually does not contravene criminal law.

But serious media spreading such memes have a very strong moral mandate and at times a legal mandate to check, double-check, and check again.

Often the real damage extends way beyond immediate victims and witnesses and families and friends. It can chill and distort right across law enforcement and the justice system and deeply affect paranoia-prone minds.

2. The Rolling Stone Article Report

What was misreported in the fortnightly Rolling Stone is described chronologically today by Rolling Stone itself here.

Essentially, an experienced reporter with a valid story did not go the extra mile to check if her highly inflammatory flagship claim was true.

There seems no question now that it was not.

The first report that the story did not smell right was posted by a respected reporter here. A week later, the Washington Post reported serious discrepancies here and here.

A few days later Rolling Stone itself cautiously began to ‘fess up. The story was indeed untrue. Neither the reporter nor the editor had checked, double-checked, and checked again.

Its owner Jann Renner contracted with the Columbia University Graduate Journalism School to publish an in-depth report.  The supposed victim was increasingly contradicted by her own friends and shown to have changed stories a lot. On 23 March local police reported that their investigation turned up no sign of a crime.

Yesterday the journalism school published their conclusions on “What Went Wrong” and they will make available and summarise the full version of their report on April 8th.

Damage has rippled on and on not least to women who have a huge interest in being taken seriously when they have a complaint.

The University of Virgina is in full damage control mode (that campus is about one hour’s drive southwest of Washington). Who could now be charged or sued is discussed here in the Washington Post. Many reputations have come out looking worse.

3. Relevance To Meredith’s Case?

On 27 June 2011 (right in the middle of the Hellmann appeal) Rolling Stone published one of the least accurate and most damaging and defamatory of literally hundreds of inaccurate reports.

Nathaniel Rich reported only in English, of course, from safely across the Atlantic, and there was zero due diligence by the editor at Rolling Stone (the same editor as today). His false claims were very widely quoted elsewhere. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Rolling Stone inflamed public opinion through false claims.  It added to the perception that an extradition battle could drop two governments in the soup. That may have impacted the Supreme Court.

Yes, this case of mass misreporting seems every bit as bad. 

Posted on 04/06/15 at 09:59 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meredith May Not See Justice (Yet) But She Will Leave At Least Three Legacies

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Meredith’s goal in life was to help people, and she had thought of making a career in the European institutions in Brussels.

So much of human organization is messy and very hard to make better. She would have found that.  But somehow, often in a terrifying lurch, systems do sometimes tend to get better.

These better systems between them benefiting millions may all be attributed to Meredith. More than 99% of humanity can achieve in a lifetime.

1) Perugia is a safer more thriving place now

This is a repeat of our post of 9 April 2010 - there has been a mayor-change, but the broad safety and economic trends continue.

Meet Wladimiro Boccali. The mayor of Perugia.

A year ago when Mr Boccali ran for office (video above) it was in the context of a city-wide desire for prosperity, public safety, support for the police and the court system, the enhancement of Perugia’s reputation, and the clamping down on drug dealing and student excesses.

A mood that very much flowed from the shock of Meredith’s passing. A sense that certain things had gone too far.

Since then, Mr Boccali has been in the Italian national news almost daily, and he is coming to be seen as the kind of political leader Italy could really use in a turbulent future.

He is in the news again right now, because there was a riot in the main piazza of the old city by some drunks late last saturday night.

In part inspired and encouraged by good town leadership, Perugia’s economy is now one of the more thriving city economies in Italy. Perugia’s median IQ is extremely high (Perugia is probably one of the smartest cities in Europe) and a lot of very advanced research goes on there.

Perugia’s town administration does many caring things, such as the special city council meeting for Sonia Marra.

And seemingly attracted by all of this, people are moving to Perugia in droves - its population is increasing at double the national growth rate.

So. Meet the new Perugia. Meredith’s own qualities, writ large.

Since that post Perugia and the university have recognised Meredith by way of a scholarship and a one-day seminar.

2) American universities acted to stop future Knoxes

Knox behaved grossly irresponsibly in heading to Perugia under-funded, intent on drug-doing, and with zero intention of seriously studying.

The University of Washington and many others realised they could have huge liabilities if they did not distance themselves a lot from such loose cannons in future.

In October 2009 we reposted this report by Andrea Vogt which described the initiation of measures many American universities have now come to implement.

Mirroring a nationwide trend, the University of Washington is overhauling how its students and professors interface with foreign countries….

The UW study abroad experience today involves much more oversight than it did two years ago when Amanda Knox left on an unsupervised European adventure that quickly degenerated into a nightmare.

When Knox, who is on trial for murder in Italy, left her familiar U-district environs in late summer 2007, she embarked on her own independent study in Umbria with very few guidelines or institutional oversight.

She arrived in the tolerant student melange of Perugia, a vibrant college town with temptation at every turn and many paradoxes (drug deals and party plans are often made on the steps of the cathedral).

A month later, the honor student’s pub-crawling, pot-smoking college shenanigans had taken a very serious turn and she was being hauled off to the Capanne penitentiary, where she remains today, pleading her innocence as the trial and controversial accusations against her plod forward.

Once her troubles began, the university tried to offer support, but had very few official guidelines to follow for responding to the kind of complicated legal-judicial matter Knox faced.

It’s different now….

In the wake of several negative overseas episodes, officials are busy raising awareness about the positive impact the UW is having worldwide and taking steps to improve communications, regulation and emergency preparedness for its students abroad.

Compared with two years ago, international education officials are more closely tracking who, where and what study-abroad programs involve. The university has new rules:. The department chair has to sign off on the program. Insurance is required. So is a cell phone. No program money can be used to buy alcohol, just for starters.

“There’s a much more formal process now,” said Taso Lagos, a UW professor who teaches international communication and manages a study-abroad program in Greece. “With administrators that are very aware, with lines of communication open and policies in place if something happens.”...

The UW’s growing commitment to international education—- even in a budget crisis—is reflected in some developments. [UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Hanson] was named a vice provost in January, and in the spring, the UW dedicated an entire wing of the Gerberding Hall administration building to growing an international mission and profile.

This year, a travel security and information officer is coming on board to oversee emergency response and preparedness, as is Peter Moran, a new director of international programs and exchanges who previously worked at the Fulbright Commission office in Katmandu, Nepal.

New guidelines are being put in place to streamline communications, ease financial transactions and institute mandatory training for faculty taking students abroad. The Global Support Project, a rapid-response team with one person from each branch of the central administration, takes on cross-disciplinary international challenges.

Such reforms aren’t unique to UW.

Universities across the country are examining how better to organize study abroad to meet blossoming demand from students (and prospective employers) for foreign experience. Many are turning to independent service providers whose business it is to contract housing, health care or niche risk management services dealing with legal, financial or public relations crises when things go haywire abroad…..

Though the university bore no responsibility for any of the events Knox became entangled in, media across the world continued to mention the University of Washington—whether it was because of character witnesses who were her college buddies, reports of wild off-campus parties Knox attended in Seattle or her studies while in prison.

3) Italy’s justice reforms will be nudged hard

Italian justice has a systemic problem, it has been made to tilt hard toward defendants over the years. That problem was described here and here and touched on in many other posts.

Polls have show that though Italians admire and trust their justice system and especially the brave people within it (over 100 have died fighting mafia) a majority would like some rebalancing toward victims and families.

Justice reforms are now on the national agenda. What happened in Rome yesterday to deny Meredith justice is stirring Italy and seems certain to impact them.’

Court days to flow continuously? Some backing off from automatic appeals? No juries at the second level? Prosecutors and judges to be allowed to speak out more? Maybe in lieu of some of those onerous sentencing reports? Limits to defendants talking without cross-examination in the courtroom?

These are not extreme, they are mainstream in the common-law system, and they would speed Italy’s up, make it fairer, and cost less (a lot less!).

***

All incredibly worthwhile. For one so young, in death Meredith may come to help millions for the better.

Posted on 03/28/15 at 04:01 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, March 23, 2015

So Is James Moninger The One Moonlighting As Anonymous Spokesman For Dept Of State?

Posted by Ergon

Above: the unfavorable context which persuades Sec of State John Kerry to stick most carefully to the rules

1. Overview

This is the second of two posts on the real source of an increasing flow of anonymous but seemingly official State Department claims that Knox’s extradition is not in the cards.

My first post noted an increasing flow of anonymous but seemingly official claims that Knox’s extradition is not in the cards.

Also there is a certain sameness in all of the news reports of secret State Department agreements and assurances alleged to save Amanda Knox from extradition. This is a very typical one.

Paul Thompson in The UK Express for Sunday 22 March 2015 2015

US officials: Amanda Knox will never go back to Italian jail

AMANDA KNOX will never be extradited from America, even if an Italian court this week upholds her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, according to US sources.

“Lawyers for Knox, 28, are confident she will remain free even if Italy asks for her to be sent back to resume a 28-year jail sentence.

US State Department sources say the uncertainty of the case against Knox means they will not agree to any extradition request.

Knox also has a huge amount of public sympathy in the US where she is seen as a victim of a miscarriage of justice by a foreign court.

A source at the State Department said: “There is a feeling that the whole case is flawed and that a US citizen should not have to go to jail because of that. If there is an extradition request from Italy it will be denied.”


2. My Hunt For “Anonymous Source” Begins

The question of who is the State Department source (Burleigh calls him ‘American diplomat’) was highlighted in my previous post.

  • Former US Ambassador David Thorne?

  • Some low level employee at State or Justice?

  • Completely made up by Anne Bremner and co?

So I reached out to my sources and this is what they told me informally for general background.

They considered it extremely unlikely that Ambassador Thorne or any one in Rome would pass on such assurances to Anne Bremner or even the likes of Nina Burleigh. While they could not confirm whether high level talks had taken place they did point out that John Kerry, as Secretary of State would respond differently now than when he was in the Senate and pointed to his statement “he would do his duty”.

And Italy had a new government and foreign secretary, so the latest news reports seemed entirely made up. State and Justice had been following the case quite closely and they were not going to risk offense to Italy for this case. Not to say they hadn’t been nervous when Knox went back to the US and got such heavy hitters in the media go to bat for her, but, also duly noted that public support for her was really paper thin.

This left either a made up story or some low level civil servant speaking out of turn with personal opinions … we know that The FOA lie, but also, they sometimes seize on a wisp of rumour, or some ‘source’ whose importance they tend to exaggerate.

We know about retired Justice Department lawyer J. Michael Scadron who’s been saying State and DOJ would never allow extradition. There’s even a photo of him at the Vashon Island gathering, in all his fan boy glory.

But then another person showed up on my radar. Take a look.






I’m so tired of debating with the kooks, but when some members asked me to help them out on a closed Facebook Page (275 members)  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Roundtable which was run and overrun by FOA I joined to help out.

It turned out one of the admins was a State Department employee called James Moninger who is indeed, a ‘diplomat’, working in some role for State in Hawaii. Consular, maybe.

His Facebook friends are the entirety of the FOA it would seem (see some below), and he is an active member and admin of several other pro Knox groups. Quite the fan boy too, it seems.

He hemmed and hawed about my inclusion but within the course of a few hours I was bounced out of the group twice.  He wrote to me:

Naseer,

“I am writing to confirm that I removed you from the Amanda Knox Roundtable group. This was my decision, and I have advised the other administrators accordingly.

Earlier in the day I received a plea from one of the group members who claimed that you have harassed her in the past and contacted her employer. I have no opinions on this issue, but as site owner I am unwilling to take on a potentially significant liability.

Please don’t feel that this action was in any way predicated on the opinions you expressed in the forum.”

James Moninger

Here is my reply:

Hi, James,

“It’s your group and you’re welcome to do as you wish. That you didn’t give a chance to respond to the (false) allegation is par for the course and no loss for me. As you know, I have far bigger platforms to present my views; it was YOUR group that invited me to participate in the first place.

I already know the source of that slander from other forums and will respond appropriately.

You should also know I’d contacted the State Department previously concerning the Daily Mail and Express articles that “sources in the State Department” have said “Amanda Knox will never be extradited to Italy”.

Imagine my surprise to see you are the owner of this pro-Knox debate site, and membership in several others, which you have every right to. However, since your bio says you are a State Dept. employee, and your rather lengthy list of friends and followers have been actively advocating that Knox would never be extradited, with all sorts of references to internal department sources it is my responsibility to ask for comment:

1. Have you in any way told them the State Department would deny an extradition request?

2. Have you advised the Amanda Knox campaign in any way how to lobby the State Department or how it would respond to an extradition request?

3. Please explain the following comment on the Amanda Knox blog on February 7, 2014 at 20:38.

“Concerns about this case would more appropriately be directed to the US Department of State; not to Congress. There is little or nothing the legislative branch of the government can do to affect treaties that are already in place. (Senate hearings, etc. are not the way the federal process works.) Using profanity with senior members of Congress can never be helpful.

I am hopeful that the State Department is watching this case carefully and is prepared to choose the correct path, whatever that may eventually entail, to protect a US citizen from any further violations of human and legal rights.”

Are you, as a State Department employee, stating that Amanda Knox’s human and legal rights were violated? In a G7 country? Would you like to retract it?

I will be writing my story in 48 hours or so. Please reply at your earliest”.

Naseer Ahmad

He never replied, and it’s been a while though he did agree with someone else who called us “haters” ?

Conclusion: I will end with this. PMF/TJMK member Odysseus wrote to UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, expressing his concerns. He got a reply from the North America Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

“If the Italian authorities were to make an extradition request to the US Government, we would expect that it would be considered in accordance with US laws.”

Funny sort of a coincidence, but. I sent a list of questions three days ago to the Kerchers through an intermediary. Q. 4 was “Will they call for extradition Amanda Knox if she’s convicted?”

I know they haven’t received it yet, but, in The Sunday Times the Kercher family say Knox must be extradited

Tom Kington Rome

March 23 2015

“Amanda Knox must be extradited from the US if her conviction for murdering Meredith Kercher is upheld by Italy’s supreme court this week, the family of the British student have urged.”

“Meredith’s family hope that the sentence is upheld and the law is carried out to its fullest extent,” said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing the family. “If that means extradition for Knox, that’s what they want.”

As always, we are with them on this. Knox needs to serve her time. Zero mistake has been proved - except for hers.


Below: some of the self-important James Moninger’s “friends” on Facebook

Posted on 03/23/15 at 08:04 PM by ErgonClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamSollecito teamMore hoaxersOther legal processesExtradition issuesThe wider contextsN America context
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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Ten Of The Ways In Which The FOA Petition That The State Department Accepted Is Dishonest

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




1. Post Overview

It is hard to believe that the Knox PR is guided by a professional - good PR operatives know to just shade the truth.

Again and again in sharp contrast the Knox PR tries to go 180 degrees the other way. Down is up. Black is white. “Don’t believe your lying eyes” stuff.

Instead of making one or two mistakes, it makes hundreds - and then lets them stand when challenged. Many amount simply to childish tantrums.

In Italy all the lawyers (on both sides), and all the judges, and all the media, simply ignore them.

This is made easy enough, as they are usually pushed out only in English in relative safety across the Atlantic.

This is a great example.

2. The ChangeOrg Petition by The Knox PR

The guilt of the pair was confirmed by the Nencini appeal court in Florence six weeks ago. What was particularly telling was the stark two-day presentation of the massive evidence by Prosecutor Crini.

It caused Sollecito to miss the second day and then head off “secretly” to the Dominican Republic to seek help there. 

It also caused this shrill and inaccurate petition in which, tellingly, none of the defense lawyers played any part - possibly as they have been highly critical of previous scaremongering.

The petition consists mostly of blustery innuendo. No supporting facts are pointed to. It is inaccurate on the judicial sequence, on official motives throughout, and on Italian law. It omits the prosecution case which took Prosecutor Crini two days to present.

In the shrill tone and false claims it resembles the Knox email to Judge Nencini ten weeks previously, and numerous attempts by Knox apologists Heavey & Bremner and Italian MP Rocco Girlanda to influence top leaders (all failures).

Any Italian court would take this to be an attempt to throw an ongoing legal process through dishonest means, a mafia technique, which is a felony (vilipendio) in Italy.

These are some of the major errors. 

1) Unspecified claim of corruption by Italian state

Neither defense team ever claimed this. There was demonstrably no official corruption at any point, and no obvious reason for it. The entire legal process was closely supervised by a series of judges including Supreme Court justices and fully documented.

There IS public proof of corruption (the Hellmann appeal court was subverted) but that was effected by the defense teams.

2) Unspecified claim of abuse of RS and AK

Neither defense team ever claimed this. Both were treated extremely well. Knox conceded that at trial. There was no abuse of the pair, ever, and significantly no paper trail of complaints by either the two defenses or the US Embassy monitoring the process.

In fact the defenses have almost invariably inclined the other way, stating that claims of abuse by the PR are a foolish way to go. In 2008 they publicly requested that Knox stop lying.

3) Claim of abusive interrogation of Knox

Neither defense team ever claimed this. There was no abusive interrogation of Knox on 5-6 Nov - in fact, there was no interrogation at all. In great detail what happened was described at trial.

Knox had insisted on being there, and when asked she agreed to list possible perps, all of whom the cops extensively checked out. She herself incessantly offered explanations on the night (all part-true and part-false) when she was told Sollecito did not support her latest alibi.

She herself insisted on putting them in writing. The investigators tried hard on the night to calm her as she herself confirmed at trial.

4) Legal representation denied

Neither defense team ever claimed this. Knox was repeatedly told she should have a lawyer present when she explosively “confessed” on 5-6 November 2007. Knox herself shrugged off the need for a lawyer on that night as her statements came pouring out - even after Dr Mignini had read her her rights - as multiple witnesses testified.

Knox still cant explain why she twice claimed she headed out alone on the night, leaving Sollecito behind. Or why she lied about Dr Mignini abusively questioning her at her first session finishing at 1:45 am when in fact he was home in bed.

5) The pair held unfairly before trial

Neither defense team ever claimed this. RS and AK had SIX opportunities between November 2007 and January 2009 to get themselves freed or moved to house arrest. They failed each time and all courts gave detailed reasoning. In one of those it was the Court of Cassation which turned them down. Each often blamed the other.

The supervising magistrate Judge Matteini documented an extensive list of evidence against them and ruled that if allowed house arrest they could flee or cause harm to witnesses. This was not based on a single fact as claimed.

6) Guede’s process unfair to them

Neither defense team ever claimed this. The claims about Guede in that petition are upside down. He did not target the pair in 2008 - in reality they went gunning for him and sustained that right through trial on a daily basis to the final appeals.

This was public knowledge in mid 2008 as this UK report shows.

Claims have been made of a pact between Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24. It is alleged their lawyers have agreed to work together to blame the murder on Rudy Guede, 21, a part-time gardener from the Ivory Coast and the third accused.

Now, Guede’s lawyers are threatening to call for a separate trial for him alone - well away from the legal teams of the other two whom they fear could prejudice his case.

It is a pact, says Guede’s lawyer Walter Biscotti, that can be traced back to July when Sollecito sent Knox a bouquet of yellow flowers on her 21st birthday which both celebrated in prison.

‘There is a clear desire to make Rudy the guilty party, and it’s clear they will try anything,’ Biscotti said.

Added: In July 2013 lawyer James Raper put up this post: Did Guede’s Separate Trial REALLY Impact Negatively On RS And AK?

7) Guede fingered the pair

Neither defense team ever claimed this. Guede did not testify at the 2009 trial, he just sat there mute and then went away. In sharp contrast, the RS and AK teams introduced witness after witness attempting to do maximum harm to him long before his own legal process was concluded. For example: 

    (a) The witness who said Guede was in his apartment; but he had not even reported that to the cops, and Judge Micheli concluded he was a publicity hound at best.

    (b) The two lawyers who said someone broke into their office; but even they hinted it was really a work-related hit as legal documents had been gone though and some probably copied and removed in a car by several persons.

    (c) The head of the pre-school in Milan; but she could not even call Guede’s presence a break-in, because he must have been given a key to get in.

    (d) Both defenses labeled him a drifter, drug dealer, woman-molester and habitual thief. No proofs for any of these charges was presented.

This was highly unfair to Rudy Guede. His own legal process was far from over. Neither he nor his lawyers were even in court to cross-examine or repudiate any of those witnesses. The prosecution took zero role - merely observed, and asked zero questions - so in reality it was the RS and AK defenses and not Guede who had an unfair edge here.

8) Courts wrongly tied them with Guede

Neither defense team ever claimed this. The closed sessions at trial in 2009 showed conclusively to the judges that there had been THREE attackers which the defenses simply had to agree to.

The Sollecito defense put Alessi and Aviello on the stand. Bizarrely, the mafioso Aviello pointed AWAY from Guede; he claimed two others had done it; then he claimed the Sollecito defense team had offered payment.

Cassation did not say in ending Guede’s process that it must have been RS and AK along with Guede at the crime. It left who they were open.  Cassation simply agreed that there were three

9) Guede did the crimes by himself

Neither defense team ever claimed this, for the reason explained directly above: too much evidence. This was not a one man crime by a rapist or burglar (a burglar at 8:00 in the evening, with cars around and some tenants probably at home in the house?). It was provably a 15-minute torture and humiliation pack-attack, fueled by rage, drugs,  and quite probably jealousy.

Knox’s trial and appeal courts both concluded that she plunged in the knife. Sollecito and Guede have shown strong signs of not having not been pre-warned, and remaining sore and resentful of Knox ever since.

10) Omitted is enormous factual evidence

As usual with the PR a huge amount about the case and RS and AK is simply left out. Here is a comment from another thread attacking CBS which explains how this lies-of-omission approach works (or doesn’t work) and the same omissions apply to the petition.

If you watch the numerous CBS videos or read the numerous attacks on Italy on their site, do you spot a trend? CBS 48 Hours is prone to leaving an awful lot out.

Where is CBS’s translation of even one major document? Where is evidence of knowledge of even one court transcript? Where is the real reason the appeals were allowed? Where are the six opportunities RS and AK were given before trial to prove they had no role? Where are the bad times the defense had in 2009? What about the lengthy trial sessions behind closed doors? Where are the numerous conflicting alibis?  Where are the numerous whacks at one another by RS and AK? Where is AK’s disastrous stint on the stand? Where is any mention of the dealer Knox screwed for drugs? Where is the current trial of RS for his book? Where is the trial of Oggi for Knox’s book? Where is the Knox interrogation hoax? Where is the Carabineri lab nailing the “science” of C&V? Where is the known corruption of the Hellmann court? Where is the downfall of defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello? Where is the Guede/lone-wolf hoax?  Where is the downward spiral of Frank Sforza now on trial in Italy and wanted by US and Canadian police? Where is any fair remark about the Italian system or its staff? Where is the long overdue expose of the Preston hoaxes? Why are Spetzi’s many losses in court not there? Where is the truth about the Narducci 22? Where is Dr Mignini’s total rebound and promotion after Cassation sharply repudiated a rogue prosecutor and judge in Florence?  Why does CBS feel such a need to defame so many Italians in English from so far? Where is any mention of the PR’s corrupting very big bucks?

We have no problem seeing the foolish petition remain up - but in their own best interests Knox herself and Sollecito himself should want the incriminating thing taken down. It will merely further annoy the courts.

And they really should tell the blundering Marriott and his online thugs to get lost.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Laments: Short Scripts With Inspiration From The Usual Suspects

Posted by Grahame Rhodes




1. Lament At A Dimly Lit Table

Amanda: ”Iʼm worried Michael, just because I have sex with Frederico Martini they can use it to convictorize me and then I will be transported back.”.

Michael slightly drunk…..”No worries Amanda. You donʼt know the law and I do (hic) Did you bring the money by the way plus another bottle of wine? and anyway, what do you mean by convictorize?”

Amanda: .....”Well I donʼt know. Bruce said I would be exterior-ronerated or something but Iʼve never heard of that position. I wonder if that includes being tied up? He also said when he phoned me in the middle of the night that I would have to be evacuated. That does sound exciting too, Iʼve never done that one either. Of course this was after he apologized for knocking me up so late.”

Michael: .....”Listen Amanda, the law in any case is made up of facts. Iʼm a judge and Iʼm in control of all the facts hand me the bottle….........(he takes a long swig)

Amanda: .... But they will send me to jail….... Here give the bottle back.

Michael: .... “Of course you will be extradited, but consider what this will mean Amanda. You will be famous and your family will be very wealthy including the Moores and the Fischers not to mention all the TV promotions and the commercials that tell what kind of soap you use in Capanne. Do you still wash by the way?........Here! (He takes another long swig) Did you bring another bottle?”

Amanda: .....”But Iʼll be in jail!!”

Michael:.... Ah yes but think of how wonderful your life will be in Capanne and how much money you will make for everyone including me. There will be books written about you. There will even be a reality TV series. Have you ever heard of ʻJoan of Ark?ʼ

Amanda: ..... Oh yes sheʼs a hooker that lives two floors below me.

Michael:.... Now that would be the crowning glory to your life. The hooker with the heart of gold. HEY!!! Put down that knife.”

2. Lament Of The Invisible Security Guard

Steve sat behind his desk watching his phone in the hope it would ring. It was cramped in his office which was a converted broom closet and he always had to climb over the two packing cases that passed for his desk

He covered his ears in a vain attempt to block out the screaming. Yes! His wife was trying to sing again. Finally the noise stopped and so he poured himself a water glass full of gin and took another pill.

He looked at all the photos on the wall of which he was very proud, after all they had taken a lot of his time and effort to produce. There was the one with his arms around Dick Chaney and George W, or the other photo of him and Marilyn Monroe which he had signed “To Steve with all my love Marilyn”

The photo over the door though was his pride and joy which was the picture of him being awarded the star of bravery by Queen Elizabeth. Ah thank God for photoshop. He stared at the phone again willing it to ring, willing it to be Amanda so he could save her from the evil Mignini and his Chinese Pirates. He was obsessed with crime and with Amanda as well.

Also he had told anybody who would listen that he knew the real identity of Jack the Ripper. It was that rancid milk deliveryman who called on his wife every day whenever he was out.

That thought reminded him to get rid of all the frozen yogurt and multitude diary products the deliveryman always left behind. It had puzzled him as well because his wife was on a lactose free diet.

The phone still did not ring so he looked at his prize possession which was a photoshopped picture of himself on the rear deck of the presidential limo consoling Jackie Kennedy after the assassination.

Next to it the photo of him shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Ah so much history. He took another pill and washed it down with gin. Suddenly the thought striking him, he picked up the phone and started dialing the British Secret Service because of his true identity, that of James Bond Moore secret agent, only he couldnʼt remember the number so he put the phone back and waited again for Amanda to contact him but she never did.

Worst of all his wife had started screaming again. Not only that but he was out of pills. Douglas?

3. Lament Of A The Invisible Ex-Judge

The retired Judge’s mind was in a turmoil encased in a quandary which had was been once owned by Ringo Star.

Could it be?

He was faced with a dilemma made out of brown paper and string.

Was it possible that he had been wrong?

The ugly prospect of Amanda’s guilt stared him in the face.

He stared back trying to decide if a coat of paint would improve it but to no avail since the avail had dandruff. His mind was tossed on the horns of a dilemma that had been given to him by the famous KKK Grand Dragon David Duke.

Could he have been wrong he asked himself for the upseenth time?

He wished that he was still a judge on the bench in Camp Courageous.

People were scared of him then because he ruled his court with an iron fist, then with a wooden foot, then with a piece of string. Bailiffs were scared of his tongue lashings which he kept in a box in his desk.

He had even written a white paper on it and submitted it the judges weekly news but it had been rejected. Undeterred he had resubmitted it as a brown paper then finally an all leather one with an index made of string part three.

He emitted a long sigh, actually it was several short ones but the space between them was so short you couldnʼt tell the difference. He shook his head releasing a large colony of dust mites. Screaming they fell to the ground.

There was no avoiding it. He decided, since he had surrounded himself with questions made out of modeling clay, questions which had only one answer. It was obvious that Knox was guilty as charged.

He shook his head once more and asked a passing stranger if he had any money for a cup of coffee. With nothing else to do he sat there in the ʻslough of despondʼ and the rain wondering what the nemesis Mignini who had never heard of him was doing.

4. Lament Of An Invisible Store Salesman

Bruce Fischer was obsessed with Amanda Knox and considered her to be a fur—-fatale. He was furious for being unable to fur—-millierize himself with her fur—-brile ways and her fur—-natic need to fur—-mulate her actions.

He coughed up another fur—-ball and fur—-rowed his brow thinking about the fur—ar that Knox had caused. He thought about his fur—fathers and fur—bished himself with another drink.

How could she have been so fur—-brained as to fur—-nicate with all those fur—eners in particular the drug dealer Fur—-nando Martini when he himself “International fur—-rier to the Stars.” was available.

For this he was fur—-ious at her having wasted her fur—tiellity when he could have done it for her. But if she comes around, he thought, then I will fur—-give her.

So…....... In a fur—-y and with a fur—lourish he unfur—-led the flag while looking fur—tive . The flag which fur—-ther fur—-nished the message which had caused the fur to fly.

Guilty as charged.

5. Lament Of A Daddy Wishing there Were More

Curt felt a twinge of conscious just below his left knee but ignored it and poured himself a glass of single malt Scotch and lit a cigar.

He lamented only that the gravy train was puffing slower these days.

Still, he had been very clever having separated so much money from his daughter Amandaʼs fortune, or in this case misfortune. He livened up..

It had been such a busy time and once more, he was amazed at how easy it had been to put all the liberated money in his secret Cayman Island account.

Thank God for the stupidity of others such as the unsuspecting Chris who unwittingly had become the equivalent of his stooge. Gabby Hayes to his Roy Rodgers or Costello to Abbot or Stan Laurel to his Oliver Hardy.

He was amazed too that Edda had been fooled so easily considering his lifelong track record of never paying for anything without a fight.

He thought about the future and did an impression of Monty Burns on the Simpsons by saying, “Excellent. “ It was indeed wonderful since he knew Amanda would be extradited thereby guaranteeing all the extra money he would make from TV interviews, commercials or even a reality show.

As for his daughter, he could care less since for so many years she had been a drain on his finances plus an embarrassment.

Now of course she was a gold mine and with any luck he could keep this going for years. Ah yes! The future looked bright indeed. Now, if only I could find some more idiots such as Bruce and Steve who, thankfully, always did what his lunatic ex-wife told him to do.

He smiled once more. A smile that was just the same as his convicted daughters. A smile identical to those who have a dark secret. He laughed out loud and poured himself another drink and relit his cigar.

Posted on 03/01/15 at 11:27 PM by Grahame RhodesClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoRudy GuedeThe wider contextsN America contextKnox-Mellas teamSollecito teamHeavey, Bremner
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Paul Ciolino Hit With A $40 Million Suit For Real Railroad Job From Hell

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Paul Ciolino And Meredith’s Case

Investigator Paul Ciolino provides expertise for the CBS Network’s 48 Hours crime unit.

The staffing of that unit are all obsessively supportive of Amanda Knox and all unquestioningly channel the PR. Despite claims such as “16 months of investigation” they seem to have never settled down to do reality checks or due diligence of their own.

They include the talking head Peter Van Sant (from Seattle), producers Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse, and Joe Halderman (fired for attempted blackmail) and the serial fabricator Doug Preston who with major CBS help has perpetrated various damaging hoaxes

In late 2008 Paul Ciolino helped to get the Perugia reporting by CBS off to a very unpromising start.

As Kermit showed Ciolino made a huge mistake in a gotcha attempt upon witness Nara Capezzali.

She had reported to the police that she heard footsteps on gravel by the house and directly below her window on the top deck of the parking facility and then clanging footsteps on the steel stairs a few yards to her right. She also reported seeing several figures on the run.

She would not talk with Ciolino, who got the locations very wrong and also ignored altogether what Madame Nara saw. His replication of the footsteps was by runners down on the bitumin street, which is about three times as far away as Madame Nara heard some steps, with a surface nothing like the gravel drive by the house. Then Ciolino reported that he couldnt hear anything. Hardly a surprise.

In 2009 Ciolino was the main speaker at the infamous Knox fundraiser at Salty’s in West Seattle. His presentation was shrill even by their standards. He was apparently the first ever to describe the case as a “railroad job from hell”.

That inspired this extended rebuttal by Kermit.

Included in Ciolino’s presentation at Salty’s was an angry demonizing rant about Dr Mignini’s sanity. This rant was widely reported, not least in Italy.

In Perugia Knox’s own legal team protested the PR thrust. The BBC interviewed Dr Mignini and in a report on their website concluded the precise opposite to Ciolino’s claim.

In April 2009 CBS 48 Hours with biased takes by Ciolino and Preston aired American Girl, Italian Nightmare, the most misleading major US TV report as of that point, and Peter Van Sant aired his own misleading take.

Later still in 2009 CBS 48 Hours Producer Joe Halderman was arrested and charged with blackmail. Halderman had to resign after pleading guilty and is long gone.

In 2011 CBS 48 Hours aired the so-called untold story of Knox. CBS 48 Hours also aired numerous other short segments (you can find them on YouTube) simply regurgitating the tales by Knox and her PR gang whole, absent any checking of facts.

CBS attempt no balance, nobody with a deep knowledge of the case ever appears. No Italians are ever interviewed. PR shills repetitively appear without being introduced as such. Almost all hard facts are simply left out; the lies by omission are huge.

CBS has done zero translation of major documents, or even reported on them in summary when released. Peter Van Sant and Doug Longhini have posted several dozen of the nastiest and least truthful analyses of the case on the CBS website. A really huge effort, simply channeling the PR.

Although quieter now, Paul Ciolino didnt quite dry up on the case. After the Nencini appeal in Florence he was quoted as saying:

Amanda is a political football, and not so much a murder suspect….They know she didn’t do it. Anyone with half a brain knows she and Raffaele weren’t involved in this thing. This is about national pride, about showing who’s boss in Italy. They are sending the message that, ‘You cannot bigfoot us. You can’t outspend us. We’re going to show you who runs this country and it’s not some little American twit from Seattle.

Italy really awoke to the Knox PR and the biased reporting of CBS etc only late in 2011 in conjunction with the highly evident hijacking of the Hellmann appeal and moreso in 2012 with the defamatory Sollecito book.

2. The $40 Million Lawsuit Against Ciolino And Protess

The news video above and this Chicago Sun-Times report explain the main thrust of the $40 million lawsuit which Ciolino along with Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former professor now faces.

Prosecutors in 2014 in releasing an innocent man after 15 years in prison blamed that group for false evidence and a false confession and for letting the real murderer walk free. Here thanks to our main poster Jools is the lawsuit document itself, an amazing read if you need more proof of how sleazy Amanda Knox’s help can be.

Here are the lawsuit’s opening paragraphs.

1. In 1999, Plaintiff Alstory Simon was wrongfully incarcerated for a double-murder he did not commit. Arrested at the age of 48, Simon spent more than 15 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated on October 30, 2014.

2. The horrific injustice that befell Simon occurred when Defendants, Northwestern University Professor David Protess, Northwestern University private investigator Paul Ciolino, and attorney Jack Rimland, conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.

3. As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.

CBS is mentioned half a dozen times. It helped in the framing with nationally broadcast segments. In paragraph 85 we are told CBS got an exclusive. What a real surprise THAT is…  The lawsuit document paints Ciolino’s behavior as dishonest and ruthless and possibly criminal as well.

Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern Medill students repeatedly attempted to get the eyewitness to change his testimony, with Protess offering him $250,000 and 20% in “upfront” money for his rights in a book and movie deal;

Protess also told the eyewitness that he could have sex with either of two Northwestern Medill students if he would change his testimony.

Quoted in the lawsuit is this about Ciolino. It is actually written by Protess.

On March 15, Charles McCraney’s appearance was anxiously awaited at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kankakee, Illinois. Paul Ciolino’s hair was slicked back. The private investigator wore a sharkskin suit and white-on-white shirt with gold cuff links, his tie secured by an ornate pin. Sitting opposite him were David Protess and Rene Brown, dressed down for the occasion…  Protess introduced himself [to McCraney] and then Brown. ‘And this is Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer I was telling you about,’ said Protess as Ciolino extended his hand….

In paragraph 94 Ciolino’s alleged threatening of Simon into a confession is described as follows. .

Ciolino and a fellow private investigator “bull rushed” (in the words of Ciolino) Simon in his home with their guns drawn; 

Ciolino told Simon that he was a police officer;

Ciolino showed Simon a videotape of a man, who is now known to be an actor, falsely claiming that he saw Simon commit the murders;

Ciolino threatened Simon that they could do things the “easy way or the hard way” and mentioned that he would hate to see Simon have an accident;

Ciolino showed Simon what Ciolino described as a “devastating” five minute CBS-TV broadcast of Protess and Inez claiming Simon committed the murders;

Ciolino falsely told Simon that he was facing the death penalty and that the Chicago police were on their way to Simon’s house to arrest him;

Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty by providing a statement that he shot the victims in self defense but that Simon had to act quickly because Ciolino could no longer help him once the police arrived;

Ciolino promised Simon that he would be provided a free lawyer if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon that Protess would ensure he received a short prison sentence if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon would receive large sums of money from book and movie deals about the case if he agreed to give a statement.

Believing he had no other viable option, and acting under extreme duress and the influence of narcotics, Simon was knowingly and intentionally coerced into providing a false statement implicating himself in the murders.

It is this supposedly forced confession that above all cost Simon 15 years.

There is so much more. This may be a very tough lawsuit for Ciolino to beat as well as a career-killer. Northwestern University is no friend of Ciolino and may choose to go hard against him.

They do have a favorable track record.  The students of the journalism school had for years been questionably used by Protess’s arm of Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project to gather defense evidence slanted to getting supposed innocent prisoners released.

Protess was fired for this by the university several years ago as hangers-on tried to defend him.

The Innocence Project again… This is all too reminiscent of Greg Hampikian in Boise, Idaho, who corrupted Hellmann’s DNA consultants to try to frame people, and misrepresented hard evidence to try to allow guilty people to walk free.

And all broadcast by your local CBS station. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Journalist Andrea Vogt Highlights Non-Damning Nature Of Rome Embassy Cables About Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell



Ambassador to Italy David Thorne with Secretary of State John Kerry

1. US Freedom Of Official Information And Politics

Since 1967 the US Federal Government has had to provide certain official information to requesting citizens and organizations.

Most of those are watchdog groups and reporters. The relevant rules are quite elaborate, and can be read here and here.

About half of all information requested is handed over fully, about 3/8 is handed over with excisions and withholdings, and about 1/8 is not handed over at all, with summary reasons for the refusal. This can then be appealed or alternately brought to the attention of someone in Congress.

If a powerful congressman or committee staffer picks up the ball then the information can flow quite magically.

If the information can embarrass the presidential administration the other party can gleefully extract the information, if necessary with the issuing of a subpoena. The news media will usually pick this up and run with it, especially if a Congressional committee decides to ask questions or hold hearings.

We reckon that our readership and the case-watchers in general extend right across the political spectrum from left to right. No easy trick and we have always been quite pleased with this. It is usually impossible to tell what the political position of any poster or emailer is.

Same with the US media. Fox News cable news is generally thought to be right-wing and MSNBC left-wing and CNN tries to make it in the middle. But all three have had left-wingers and right-wingers on their shows supporting either Italy and justice or the anti-justice anti-Italy misinformation Knox campaign.

In other words support by Americans for Italian justice or for giving Knox a pass has had nothing to do with party lines. But that could change some.

Right now the presidential administration is on its back foot, as the other party controls both the houses of Congress. The Secretary of State and the Ambassador in Rome both work for the administration, and can be called to account by that Congress.

Knox happens to live in a city and state which largely goes along with the presidential party and administration. Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell are in the presidential party as is Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle.

Senator Cantwell is STILL the only influential politician who has taken a public stance anti-Italy; nobody from the opposite party ever has.

In 2009 Cantwell was sharply rebuffed and her facts corrected by the State Department and CNN’s legal analyst and even by some pro-justice Seattle voters..

In October 2013 Cantwell flashed in and out of a bizarre misinformation panel perhaps embarrassed to be associated with it.

Bottom line? The presidential administration and party does not seem in a strong position to refuse to hand over any documents, or without very strong reason to take a pro-Knox anti-Italy position.

We are not guaranteeing that this case will become a political football. But it could. If it does, the Knox gang will have only weak political allies (if any) and what the Rome Embassy reported to the State Department 2007-2015 is really going to matter.

How does all this relate to what Andrea Vogt has recently encountered?

2. Andrea Vogt And The Cables From The Rome Embassy

Andrea Vogt in effect holds a giant lever. She has long pursued her right as an American journalist to surface what the consular officers in the Rome Embassy who watchdogged the 2009 trial and 2011 and 2013 appeals and Knox’s stint in prison had been reporting back to the State Department in Washington.

Releases of copies of cables in 2010 showed “no cause for concern” over Knox’s treatment and copies of cables in 2011 showed likewise.

There was zero official paper trail helpful to a Knox fight against extradition. That was despite a very nasty effort by Knox forces to lean on the Embassy and the State Department by complaining directly to President Obama.

Now Andrea Vogt is reporting on the Freelance Desk in “Update Feb 13 2015” on her experience with a new batch of cables.

Oddities to our eyes are that (1) in this batch, some requested cables were not released; and (2) a cable in October 2011 at the end of the Hellmann appeal wrongly declared “case closed”.

Passages of special interest have been highlighted here by us.

Many may view the cables as just routine bureaucracy, which in large part they are, but I believe they are important documents to add to the public record for two reasons.

First, they show insight into how American citizens in trouble abroad are supported (or not, depending on your viewpoint) by their government.

Second, they contribute transparently to the established written government record, clarifying diplomatic aspects of the case that until now have remained hidden while the saga played out solely in Italian courtrooms and the media.

The results of this second batch of FOIA requests were of particular importance due to the grave accusations being launched against the Italian police and members of its judiciary by members of Knox’s family, supporters and public relations team during the period of her incarceration.

The question at hand: was Amanda Knox abused, mistreated or robbed of a fair trail in Italy? How closely was the state department monitoring the case and what did embassy officials do, or not do, as it evolved?

The answer, first revealed in this first batch of embassy cables released to me in 2012 and dating back from 2007-2009, is that embassy and state department personnel actively monitored the case and provided aid from the very first days after her arrest. Other state and federal documents that I published back in 2010 ... show how Washington State’s congressional delegation, namely Sen. Maria Cantwell, was also involved.

This second batch of FOIA-requested embassy cables was released to me in late 2014 in response to another more extensive FOIA request made in 2012 (a two-year lag time is not unusual for broad requests)...

In brief, these new cables shows that the trend of close state department monitoring of the case was constant, with consular involvement up until the day (Oct 11, 2011) that the U.S. Ambassador Thorne in Rome sent a cable to the secretary of state in Washington D.C., officially declaring the matter “case closed.”

The communications are noteworthy because they bust a number of media myths about Amanda Knox’s release and immediate departure from Italy after her release in 2011, namely that the U.S. embassy did not receive her in the hours immediately post release for consular services, as she was traveling on a valid U.S. passport.

The other interesting point is that though the case was far from over in Italy,  once Amanda Knox was off Italian soil, it no longer considered the case to be of interest. “With the verdict of Oct. 3 overturning Amanda Knox’s prior conviction, her immediate release from prison and her subsequent departure from Italy today, Post considers this case closed. THORNE.”

For American citizens abroad, it is a welcome reminder that the embassy works on citizens’ behalf, as are the four documents released with excisions that show Knox was regularly visited by consular officials every six weeks and brought reading materials.

It is worth noting that the only persons to publicly report to have regularly visited Knox in prison to bring her reading materials were those associated with the Fondazione Italia USA, namely Italian parliamentarian Rocco Girlanda and Corrado Maria Daclon, the two men also present with her in the car that drove Knox out of prison the night she was acquitted.

Coincidence or are these the consular visits the cables refer to?

As soon as Knox was out of the country, the embassy declared “case closed,” perhaps not expecting that her trials would continue. Those who have followed the case know that the acquittal that prompted her release was later annulled in its entirety by Italy’s Supreme Court, which called for a second appeal trial to be held in a separate venue: Florence….

For the British and Italian authorities, and family members of Meredith Kercher who have patiently waited out the Italian legal system, perhaps the “case closed” cable jumped the gun. Once an American citizen is out of the country where he or she is in trouble, what duty does the embassy have to keep following legal developments that involve an American not physically in the country?

Did the embassy re-open the case later once the Supreme Court quashed the acquittal or is it “out of sight, out of mind,” and once an American in trouble abroad is no longer abroad, the embassy in that country can effectively wash its hands of the matter? Is it still considered “Case Closed”?

As the possibility of an extradition process hangs in the balance with the upcoming March 25 supreme court decision, the documents may provide some additional material for legal scholars to consider.

As the State Department letter points out, there are still 11 documents that fall under the umbrella of my initial FOIA request that have not been released that require further coordination.

Based on the content of my 2012 request, I believe these may be documents relating to then Sen. John Kerry and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, of which he was chairman from 2009-2013 [ed note: and Senator Cantwell was a committee member] and to which specific FOIA requests were made, and for which I have not yet received response.

I have scanned and uploaded the 2-page FOIA response and 5 released cables (Oct 2011, June 2011, March 2011, November 2010, September 2010) below…

Andrea Vogt included images of those six seemingly mundane documents she received below the report, praises the Embassy and State, and voices no suspicions.

Amazingly, not one other American reporter has pursued this obvious angle. Still, in a political fuss, all those many others described in Part 1 above could also choose to do so.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Meet The New President Of The Republic Of Italy; Dr Mignini Was Also One Candidate Named

Posted by Peter Quennell





Constitutional court judge Sergio Mattarella (image above) has been elected the new President of the Republic of Italy.

He follows President Giorgio Napolitano (shown below voting) who recently decided to step down. He becomes the ultimate head of the Italian justice system in addition to other functions.

He was the firm favorite of the party of Prime Minister Renzi so his winning the final vote by more than 2/3 of the 1,009 parliamentarians and regional officials eligible to vote (see images of voting below) was not surprising.

Dr Mignini’s name was also placed in the first round of the balloting, seen as a form of honor for him for his fine career work and especially his admired success in bringing the Monster Of Florence case to a conclusion with strong evidence pointing to Narducci as the killer - and strong evidence pointing to Spezi and Preston as having tried to pull off a despicable self-serving hoax.

The AFP reports this about the career of President Mattarella.

The president-elect is little known among the general public but is a respected figure in political circles after a 25-year parliamentary career and several stints as minister in governments of the left and right.

He entered politics after his elder brother, who was president of the region of Sicily, was murdered by the Mafia in 1980.

Renzi’s backing for Mattarella was interpreted as the end of the temporary alliance the premier had forged with his disgraced forerunner [Berlusconi] in order to drive labour market and electoral reforms through parliament.

Mattarella is seen as an “anti-Berlusconi” figure, having switched sides from the political right to the left in the 1990s, partly because of his distaste for the media tycoon, who still heads the opposition Forza Italia party despite a tax fraud conviction.

Berlusconi was reported to be feeling “betrayed” by Renzi.

He had ordered his party to cast blank ballots in the vote, but 35 members out of 142 present for voting ignored his orders, signalling a rift within Forza Italia.

“The PD had to show it was the backbone of the system and it did,” Ezio Mauro, editor-in-chief of Italian paper La Repubblica. “For Berlusconi it is certainly a major blow.”

The Forza Italia leader was believed to be hoping for a sympathetic figure to be installed as president to increase his chances of winning a pardon over his criminal conviction which would allow him to return to parliament.

With regard to Dr Mignini, the Italian Constitution says that any citizen above the age of 50 may be elected President of the Republic no matter if he is a candidate or not: there are no official candidates under the Constitution, and he/she may accept or refuse if elected.

Reportedly the vote for Dr Mignini was cast by Elector Andrea Lignani Marchesani the influential political leader of Umbria. He had declared that he wanted to devote an inscription vote to Prosecutor General Mignini to honor “his honesty, his independence and his standing up to intimidation from meddlesome forces”.

This mainly refers to Dr Mignini’s unyielding pushing ahead on the Narducci case, but he is also widely admired for refusing to be intimidated by the pro-Knox and pro-Sollecity forces. He is not active in politics.

Former President Napolitano actually had a role in Meredith’s case, in that he chose to ignore a petition by some pro-Berlusconi parliamentarians to investigate the Perugia prosecutors for their roles.

If the case crosses his desk President Mattarella can be expected to take the same pro-justice line.











Posted on 02/01/15 at 11:12 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxes against Italy9 Mignini v Knox hoaxThe wider contextsItalian context
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Unsavory Company Knox Would Be Foolish To Aspire To: 160 Americans On The Run From Interpol

Posted by Peter Quennell





Meet eight American women on the run from arrest worldwide.

They are all the subjects of Interpol Red Notices. Right now Interpol has 322 active Red Notices, some 160 of them for Americans, of which 51 are women.

If they have not yet been to trial, they are considered innocent unless and until they are proven guilty. At the same time many have cash rewards on their heads and private citizens are warned not to apprehend them.

None of those eight women above are charged with murder or already found guilty of murder - their alleged crimes include kidnapping, drug-smuggling, fraud and insider trading.

Red Notices are sometimes issued for killers, but they very rarely prove necessary. Regardless of the status of mutual extradition treaties, countries who find they are harboring killers tend to regard them as hot potatoes, and most usually simply arrest them.

Some on the list of 322 may be dead, and many will be living close to poverty. We posted here previously on Interpol and here previously on how the ex CIA chief in Italy Robert Lady was forced out of Panama by an impending arrest for a Red Notice.

Robert Lady has lost everything. Seems better to face the music, and end the doubletalk.

Posted on 01/13/15 at 01:05 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsUS etc systemsThe wider contextsEurope contextN America context
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