Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe U.S. media have been fixated on yet another white, brunette young woman. This one went missing after going out for a marathon run near Atlanta, Georgia. A clump of hair and discarded sweats were found in the woods. Fox’s Greta Van Susteran quizzed former L.A. detective Mark Fuhrmann and medical examiner Michael Baden on the scant clues. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly devoted half his Friday show to the lost young Caucasian bride-to-be.

Only the local police, who for unstated reasons called off the search early yesterday — and Keith Olbermann, who questioned her mental stability and noted how her eyes bugged out in all the photos — seemed to have a clue. This morning, Jennifer Wilbanks turned up safe. She’d run away. (More below.)

Thousands of miles away, another young woman — unknown to U.S. media — faces a firing squad on Monday. There is no photo of her, and only scant publicity. But her story, which includes imprisonment and rape, is vastly more compelling and time-critical (How to help in comments!):
First, a word for those of you who do not live in the U.S.: It is impossible to describe to you adequately the amount of time and resources that U.S. media devoted to Jennifer Wilbanks. CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, the major networks, newspapers — all the media — gave constant updates, interviews with every person who’d ever known this woman, and constant analyses with “experts” on criminal investigations from the FBI, police, and medical examiners’ departments.

She is a white, middle-class brunette bride-to-be, and her fiance looked, on television, slightly suspicious. And those are the key factors — like the Laci Peterson saga — that made her story a “hit” on television. And those maddening factors are what drive the Americans who frequent this blog away from television.

Reuters, one hour ago:

Missing Georgia Bride-To-Be Found with Cold Feet

Jennifer Wilbanks, a 32-year-old medical assistant, called her family early Saturday morning, saying she had been kidnapped while jogging on Tuesday night and taken to New Mexico, where she was released.

She soon recanted her story, telling police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that she had fled Georgia by bus because she was scared about her upcoming nuptials, according to Randall Belcher, the police chief in Duluth.

I turned to CNN at 9AM PDT. It is now 9:37 AM and, even though she’s been found, this is the only story reported in the last half-hour by CNN.

A Word About Missing Persons:

There are thousands and thousands of other missing people in this country alone. Look at the photos of missing people in Manhattan alone: Stephanie Servio, Last seen 07/03/04, Manhattan (black); Veronica Aguires, Last Seen 12/22/03, Manhattan (Hispanic); Rafine Caballero, Last seen 04/15/04, Manhattan (Hispanic), Lucia Casa, Last seen 04/15/04, Manhattan (Hispanic), and on and on. The police department asks that their photos not be reproduced elsewhere.

Then, as we learned last night from David Brancaccio on PBS’s NOW, the family of Haj Ali — the famous man in the hood — searched for him after he went missing. Haj’s family went to Abu Ghraib and, when they asked if he were a prisoner, were told by U.S. authorities that no, he was not at Abu Ghraib. One can only imagine his family’s suffering, not knowing what had become of him until his abrupt release from Abu Ghraib.

Did we ever hear a word about the Ali family’s search? Or about the search for Stephanie, Veronica, Rafine, or Lucia? Of course not.


From Amnesty International UK — the story the U.S. press ignores –about a 21-year-old woman who was tortured and then confessed to murdering her husband when she was 15 and who subsequently was raped in prison, giving birth to a child, now a toddler:

Yemen: Young mother faces execution for crime committed when 16

A 21-year-old woman, the mother of a toddler, reportedly faces execution on Monday (2 May) in Yemen, despite being only 16 when the death sentence was passed, said Amnesty International today. The Yemeni Penal Code expressly prohibits the execution of anyone convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18. She had reportedly been tortured to force her to confess, and has since maintained her innocence.

Amina Ali Abduladif only escaped the firing squad in 2002 because the executioners noticed she was pregnant, according to reports from her lawyer.

She was reportedly raped by one of the guards at al-Mahaweet prison. As a result she gave birth to a child, who is with her in Sana’a Women Central prison and is now very nearly two years old.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We have only four days to stop the execution of Amina. I hope the people and government of the UK will join Amnesty in its campaign to prevent this unnecessary death.

“Amina was only sixteen when her husband was killed. She maintains that she is innocent and that her confession was tortured out of her.

“The death penalty is always cruel, always unnecessary, always wrong. But with Amina the case for commuting the death penalty is stronger than ever.” …

The Yemen Times reports that “Mrs. Shadha Mohammad Nasser, a lawyer at the supreme court appealed, on behalf of Amina Ali Abduladif suspected of killing her husband Hizam Hassan Miqa’el, to the President and Chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council to repeal the execution of the suspect.”

The total number of news stories after a Google News search: Two. Both from The Yemen Times.

Compare that to the number of stories about Ms. Wilbanks:

Washington Post

Missing woman’s fiancé considers polygraph exam

Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription), GA – Apr 29, 2005

The fiancé of a Duluth woman missing since Tuesday night has told police he will let … Most of the 14 bridesmaids — who are to wear long black gowns — have …

Organizers halt search for missing bride-to-be Indianapolis Star

$100K Reward For Missing Bride CBS News

Anguish, mystery deepen in search for missing woman Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription)

The Casper Star Tribune – all 1,183 related »

What might we do for Amina? I didn’t find an “action” suggestion at the UK Amnesty International site.

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