The Top Stories and People of 2010

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“There is no good on earth, and sin is but a name.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown (1835)

“Even a liar can be scared into telling the truth, same as an honest man can be tortured into telling a lie.”
William Faulkner, from Light in August (1932)

The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson

It seems almost inevitable that about this time every year, while joining the rest of the press in searching the world over for a good man or woman to highlight as the person of the year, I sort of feel like Diogenes the Cynic, who you may recall from the story, supposedly walked around naked and homeless in ancient Athens, Greece — holding up a lantern looking for an honest man.

While none of Diogenes’ writings actually survive from his time of about 400 years before Jesus trod the earth, the tale has been passed down through history in many forms over the generations. The story of Diogenes is remembered as a lesson in ethics. He mocked the idea of finding true human virtue and even the idea that we could ever really know the truth about human nature.

The most famous such search in the modern media, of course, is Time magazine’s cover story on the person of the year. For 2010, the magazine named Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg: “For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives.”

As a recent convert to Facebook myself, I can see why the editors made that choice, although it clearly remains to be seen whether Zuckerberg’s creation will ultimately be used for good or evil. It allows for some amazing connections to be made and helps citizens bypass traditional barriers to knowledge, but it also has a couple of serious down sides. The loss of individual privacy for one.

Then, it is another tool that continues to allow the hyper concentration of wealth into the hands of too few people, a problem that will plague this country until enough people face the facts and fight to turn the tide. Perhaps we can use Facebook to do just that — unless they screw it up and corporatize it, which seems to be the direction the Internet is going like every technology that came before.


There was a time when newspapers were used for good, followed by radio and then television. Now it is hard to find a newspaper, radio station or television station that is not corrupted by capitalist greed.

When I put up my first Website 15 years ago, there was much talk about the “democratizing power” of the Web.

I still believe in the possibility of that power. But just like newspapers, the positive examples of actual results are hard to quantify. The WikiLeaks story should at least get a mention in any story of the top media stories for 2010, although it is too early to know where to put it on the list. There will be plenty of time for that over the next few months.

In looking back on the Top Stories and People of 2009, I believe our choices were good ones, naming Mark Ingram and Nick Saban, Barack Obama and John Wathen.

For their excellence, class and humility in the face of success, Saban and Ingram deserved the honor. Is Auburn’s Cam Newton equal to the same honor because of his individual achievement of winning the Heisman Trophy this year? I’m not so sure.

While President Barack Obama remains the Most Admired Man of 2010 according to the Gallup Poll, does he truly deserve the honor again this year? Or does his lackadaisical response to the BP oil disaster and his compromise with the Republicans on tax cuts for the rich constitute enough of a chink in his armor to knock him off the list — and even threaten his reelection chances? I think so.

Moving on down the list, there is no doubt in my mind that the top national, regional and local story of the year was the worst environmental disaster in our history, what has come to be called the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, even though it was not a spill at all. More like a disaster or a catastrophe, the explosion and sinking of one of the deepest offshore oil rigs ever drilled was followed by a gusher of more than 4.9 million barrels of oil, or 205.8 million gallons, into the Gulf.

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Riki Ott
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John Wathen and Tom Hutchings

There is also no doubt in my mind that the most censored story of the year was The Untold Story of Human Health Effects From BP’s Oil Disaster, and that many people along the coast deserve credit for their citizen activism, including Hurricane Creekeeper John Wathen and South Wings pilot Tom Hutchings of EcoSolutions. For braving the oil and chemical polluted air out to 50 miles in the Gulf in a single engine airplane on a number occasions to provide an independent documentation of what was actually happening, as opposed to the industry and government white wash, these two deserve a special mention — so we have an interview and video in the works to publish in the next few days.

It is also our view that Dr. Riki Ott deserves a special mention — for coming down from Alaska to help the folks on the Gulf Coast as an expert from the Exxon Valdez days on Prince William Sound.

Just for the record, we should also acknowledge here the 11 men who lost their lives on that oil rig: Jason C. Anderson, 35, of Midfield, Texas; Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, of Philadelphia, Miss.; Donald Clark, 49, of Newellton, La.; Stephen Ray Curtis, 39, of Georgetown, La.; Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, of Jonesville, La.; Karl D. Kleppinger Jr., 38, of Natchez, Miss.; Gordon L. Jones, 28, of Baton Rouge; Keith Blair Manuel, 56, of Gonzales, La.; Dewey A. Revette, 48, of State Line, Miss.; Shane M. Roshto, 22, of Liberty, Miss,; and Adam Weise, 24, of Yorktown, Texas.

But as my thinking has evolved on this subject over the past few days, I believe 2010 was such a bad year all around that perhaps we should highlight some of the most evil people in the country and on the planet instead of those striving for good.

In that vein, we should not allow this opportunity to slip by without mentioning BP CEO Tony “I just want my life back” Hayward, who Democrat Henry Waxman admonished to his face for his “astonishing complacency” about safety warnings over the company’s drilling platform, which exploded on April 20.

But there is another story that may end up having an even more profound impact to the detriment of American life, and for that we must acknowledge a few other evil people.

Perhaps the most important quotes that explain how profoundly wrong the Supreme Court was this year, when it upheld the novel legal theory that corporations are “persons” and ruled in Citizens United vs. FCC that corporations may contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, came from retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Sixty Minutes.

The ruling majority on the Supreme Court was led by Chief Justice John Roberts, who some readers will recall was the lawyer who presided over the cover up of the Iran-Contra Scandal during the Reagan years. Roberts has to be on any list of the worst people of 2010, along with the guy who appointed him, former President George W. Bush.

But perhaps even more importantly, the power broker who is now in charge of carrying out the continued destruction of the American Dream, the Middle Class and the rights of workers in the U.S. is the very same political animal who was known as “Bush’s brain” and “the architect” of Bush’s election victories for governor of Texas and president of the United Sates. That’s right, the very same political guru who helped orchestrate the Republican takeover of U.S. House of Representative last year and the Alabama Supreme Court in the 1990s.

We know him around here as Karl ‘Turd Blossom’ Rove, who just happened to be in Birmingham signing books the week the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have done more than take Rove’s picture and get in his face that day, because he is the evil doer to watch for 2011 and 2012 as well. He is sitting on a secret cache of corporate campaign cash of at least a billion dollars, sources say, and he is carrying out the decision that threatens democracy.

For the evil that Rove has orchestrated on this country already in his political career, and for the evil he has the potential to wreak in the years ahead, The Locust Fork News-Journal names Karl Rove as the Person of the Year for 2010.

We will have much more to say about this MoFo in the months ahead…

© 2011 – 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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