Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reminder: 2015 Day of Mourning

Congress Is Irrelevant on Mass Surveillance. Here’s What Matters Instead.

The “USA Freedom Act”—which its proponents were heralding as “NSA reform” despite its suffocatingly narrow scope—died in the august U.S. Senate last night when it attracted only 58 of the 60 votes needed to close debate and move on to an up-or-down vote. All Democratic and independent senators except one (Bill Nelson of Florida) voted in favor of the bill, as did three tea-party GOP Senators (Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Dean Heller). One GOP Senator, Rand Paul, voted against it on the ground that it did not go nearly far enough in reining in the NSA. On Monday, the White House had issued a statement “strongly supporting” the bill.

The “debate” among the Senators that preceded the vote was darkly funny and deeply boring, in equal measure. The black humor was due to the way one GOP senator after the next—led by ranking intelligence committee member Saxby Chambliss of Georgia (pictured above)—stood up and literally screeched about 9/11 and ISIS over and over and over, and then sat down as though they had made a point.


Cover Story: Bruce McCall’s “First Thanksgiving”

“It’s not profound, you know—nothing I do is profound—but I wanted to address the whole kerfuffle over the Redskins’ name,” Bruce McCall says.
Many Native Americans have said that the longstanding name of Washington’s N.F.L. franchise is repugnant and offensive to them. Bruce McCall’s cover brings attention, through satire, to what has become the subject of numerous editorials and rallies. In August, the Washington Redskins franchise, owned by Dan Snyder, filed a lawsuit to overturn the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel its trademark registration. Snyder has said that he’ll never change the name, because “it was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.”

McCall thinks differently. “This is 2014, and it seems a little late to be dealing with that stuff,” McCall says. “It should have been quashed a long time ago. We did everything to the Indians that we could, and it’s still going on. It seems crude and callous. Names like the Atlanta Braves come from another time. So, in my cover, I’ve brought the cultural arrogance of one side back to the sixteen-hundreds and the first Thanksgiving dinner, just to see what would happen.”



Washington State to Sue U.S. Government Over Nuclear Cleanup

(Reuters) - Washington state's attorney general said on Wednesday he intends to sue the U.S. government for not adequately protecting workers involved in the decades-long cleanup of a decommissioned nuclear site, saying dozens have been sickened by toxic vapors.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a World War Two-era nuclear weapons site in southeastern Washington, has 56 million gallons (211.98 million liters) of nuclear waste in 177 underground tanks, several with known leaks, according to federal officials.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which owns Hanford, is responsible for cleanup at the site, including the hiring of contractors and workers to extract the waste from tanks for safe disposal.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday the Department of Energy was not doing enough to protect tank workers with dozens reporting illnesses over the past two decades, including 44 over the past 12 months.

"Hanford workers face a very real and immediate health risk," Ferguson said during a conference call Wednesday. "I want these protections now and I want them for the duration," he said.

A study released last month by a panel of independent experts found strong evidence of a causal link between chemical vapors and adverse health effects in tank farm workers and also that the system for measuring such vapors was inadequate.


29 November, NYC: Poets Organized for Oscar Lopez Rivera's Release!

The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
Telephone: 718-601-4751

Poets Organized for Oscar Lopez Rivera's Release!
Saturday November 29th, 2014 @ 3pm
La Marqueta in El Barrio
East 116th St. and Park Avenue

"While there exist challenges, there is life, and as a consequence, we can be creative even in the urns of hell!" . . . Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican Political Prisoner

Join us for an afternoon of Poetry, Hip Hop, and Spoken Word for Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera!

33 years is too long!  It’s time Oscar came home!  Help us denounce his unjust incarceration!


Rafael Landron
Ben Ramos
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
and other invited guests...

Poets Organized for the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera and
TheProLibertad Freedom Campaign

Swedish Court Upholds Assange Warrant, Criticizes Prosecutor

A Swedish appeal court has upheld an arrest warrant against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, wanted for questioning over sexual assault claims.

The Court of Appeal refused Mr Assange’s attempt to have a detention order issued in 2010 revoked.

Mr Assange, who denies the allegations, has sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition.

If he goes to Sweden, he fears he could be extradited to the US to face charges of leaking government documents.

Wikileaks has published thousands of secret documents, which have caused intense embarrassment for the US and lifted the lid on diplomatic relations.

Two women in Sweden accuse Mr Assange, 43, of sexual assault.

Thursday’s decision at the Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm ruled on an appeal against a similar decision by a lower court.

Mr Assange’s lawyers argued that the arrest warrant should be repealed because it could not be enforced while he was in the Ecuadorean embassy.


SOA Watch Marks 25th Year Of Speaking Out

For a quarter of a century, the government has tried to silence them. It’s beaten them, spied on them, infiltrated their ranks, denied them permits, arrested them, strip-searched them, handed them steep fines and maximum sentences.
And yet they keep speaking out — determined to shut the doors of a secretive U.S. combat school for Latin American soldiers and to keep alive the memories of those tortured and killed by its graduates.
This November marks the 25th year that SOA Watch — a human rights group founded by Roy Bourgeois — has organized demonstrations outside Fort Benning, Ga., home of the U.S. Army’s controversial School of the Americas, known since 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
The annual events began on Nov. 16, 1990, on the first anniversary of the murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador — murders carried out by SOA-trained officers.

AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sues Obama Over Immigration Order

Nov 20 (Reuters) - An Arizona police chief who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" sued Barack Obama on Thursday soon after the U.S. president imposed sweeping immigration reforms, saying the changes were unconstitutional.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose force used racial profiling during a crackdown on illegal migrants last year according to a judge, said Obama has overstepped his powers by bypassing Congress and bringing in the changes himself.

Arpaio's lawsuit said the reforms, which eased the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, amounted to an amnesty and would encourage more people to cross the border illegally.

The biggest overhaul to immigration in a generation has set up a confrontation between the president and Republicans, who took full control of Congress this month and also said the president had gone too far by imposing the changes.

It was Obama's biggest use of executive actions in a year in which they have become his signature way of working around congressional gridlock.

"(Obama's immigration) programs are unconstitutional abuses of the President's role in our nation's constitutional architecture and exceed the powers of the President within the U.S. Constitution," read Arpaio's complaint filed in a federal court in Washington.

Obama earlier dismissed Republican accusations that the changes amounted to an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Judge Issues Court Orders To Uphold Right To Record Police In Ferguson

A federal judge in Missouri issued three court orders on Friday upholding the rights of the public to record and document law enforcement officers on duty, after several violations of a previous agreement between the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the County of St. Louis and the City of Ferguson.

The announcement comes ahead of a grand jury decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

District Judge John A. Ross granted three court orders against the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the County of St. Louis and the City of Ferguson in response to a preliminary injunction by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The initial agreement, signed in August, read, "Parties acknowledge and agree that the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement unless it obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of others, or physically interferes with the ability of law enforcement officers to perform their duties."

The ACLU of Missouri hailed the orders in a statement on Friday.


#TDIH: JFK Assassinated

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. The suspected gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.