Tuesday, July 22, 2014

25 July: USA Out of Puerto Rico, NYC

Syracuse Drone Activist Released On Appeal

Last night Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on $5,000 bail from the Syracuse Justice Center after appearing before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller who granted a stay of execution of her one year sentence, pending appeal of the Order of Protection granted to Col. Earl A. Evans by the DeWitt Town Court judges requiring drone protesters to stay away from the Hancock Airbase. Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was the first alleged violator of the 50 drone activists who have been given the Order of Protection in 2012. She was tried and sentenced for a year in jail. Despite being out on bail, she still faces returning to jail. Her appeals process will take months. “There are 30 upcoming trials over the next year. DeWitt Town judges threaten to sentence activists to a year in jail, many of them in their 60’s and 70’s,” said Judy Bello of Rochester.

More:  http://www.popularresistance.org/syracuse-drone-activist-released-on-appeal/

American Cities Criminalizing Homelessness

The latest report from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty reveals that most municipalities believe in criminalizing, not helping, the down and out. For the report, the organization studied laws in 187 cities. Seventy-six percent of towns prohibit begging in specific public places, a 20 percent increase since 2011. However, the most dramatic uptick, the authors write, “has been in city-wide bans on fundamental human activities” such as sleeping in your car. A full 43 percent of cities prohibit people from sleeping in vehicles, an increase of a shocking 119 percent since 2011. And 53 percent of cities prohibit people from parking themselves on a curb or against a building. That’s down 3 percent since 2011, but at a time when the number of homeless people is expected to rise in 2014 and affordable housing is in short supply, these ordinances and laws come off as draconian.

More:  http://www.popularresistance.org/american-cities-criminalizing-homelessness/

Fukushima: Bad and Getting Worse

IPPNW concludes that Fukushima’s radiation disaster is “far from over”: the destroyed reactors are still unstable; radioactive liquids and gases continuously leak from the complex wreckage; melted fuel and used fuel in quake-damaged cooling pools hold enormous quantities of radioactivity “and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error.” Catastrophic releases of radioactivity “could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades.” IPPNW finally recommends urgent actions that governments should take, because the UNSCEAR report, “does not adhere to scientific standards of neutrality,” “represents a systematic underestimation,” “conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment,” and its conclusion is phrased “in such a way that would most likely be misunderstood by most people…”

More:  http://www.popularresistance.org/fukushima-bad-and-getting-worse/

Israel And Palestine, An Animated Introduction

There is a long history to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. What's it all about? Here is an easy to understand, historically accurate Jewish Voice for Peace mini- primer about why Israelis and Palestinians are fighting, why the US-backed peace process has been an impediment to peace, and what you can do to make a difference. This conflict is essentially about land and human rights, not religion and culture. The animation is endorsed by Palestinian, Israeli and American scholars and peace activists.


Speaking Out About Palestine? This Could Happen To You

A man is taken from his home by 20 armed, militarized police in fascist black uniforms. They break in through the doors and windows, rappel from the roof with ropes, storm the home where he lives with his wife and four children, in the dead of night. They take him away, and no one hears from him for days, and then weeks, and then months. He isn’t charged with anything; for a long time he is simply disappeared. There is no official charge, but he is a known political activist, a writer, a lecturer. This isn’t news, because the country is Jordan, the orders come from the US or from Israel, and the man is an Arab, a Palestinian.

More:  http://www.popularresistance.org/speaking-out-about-palestine-this-could-happen-to-you/

A Brutal Loss, but an Enduring Conviction

Rita Bender, 22 when her husband Michael Schwerner was killed by the Klan in Mississippi in 1964, says challenges remain in the fight for racial justice.

For the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, we contacted Bender. She was reluctant to speak with us, repeating a concern that she has voiced continuously through the years — that too much focus has been paid to the white Northerners who came down that summer, and that the embrace of that narrative has slighted all the black Mississippians who had fought for civil rights before, during and after Freedom Summer. But after learning that hers would one of a diverse group of voices in ProPublica’s occasional series, “Dispatches from Freedom Summer,” Bender agreed to talk about the impact of that summer and how far our nation has come since.

More:  http://www.propublica.org/article/a-brutal-loss-but-an-enduring-conviction?utm_source=et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

Feds: 75 Percent Of Newark Police Pedestrian Stops Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON -- A three-year federal investigation into the conduct of the Newark Police Department found that the vast majority of pedestrian stops conducted by police were unconstitutional, that many officers used unreasonable force and that some officers even stole from prisoners, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

DOJ's Civil Rights Division, working with federal prosecutors in New Jersey, found that about 75 percent of pedestrian stops had an insufficient constitutional basis, that 20 percent of reported use-of-force incidents were unreasonable and unconstitutional, and that the Newark Police Department was plagued by inadequate supervision, training and investigations.

While the federal investigation did not collect enough data to reach a conclusion on whether Newark police intentionally discriminated against black people, it did find that 85 percent of the individuals stopped and 79.3 percent of the people arrested by the Newark Police Department were black, even though African-Americans make up just over half of Newark's population. The report did conclude that Newark's black community "bears the brunt of NPD's unconstitutional stop practices."

The Obama administration has been aggressive in investigating police departments across the United States. In Newark, the city and the feds will enter into an agreement intended to combat unconstitutional policing. It includes improved internal affairs practices, increased documentation and review of use of force, and improved data collection to make sure Newark's policing is bias-free.

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/newark-police-doj-investigation_n_5609853.html

Pass the Smarter Sentencing Act

Piper Kerman, whose story the TV show is based on, spent 13 months in prison. During that time, she met so many women who were locked up for far too long, their lives thrown away – and wrote about them in her book Orange is the New Black.

The length of her sentence was not normal. Instead, excessively long sentences are common practice—destroying families and creating bloated, overcrowded prisons. The worst part is that we are still wasting billions of our taxpayer dollars that could be better invested in our communities. Simply put, policies that contribute to mass incarceration are not smart.

Our chance to rein in mass incarceration is here, but the clock is running out. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are in support of the Smarter Sentencing Act–a critical bill which could roll back some extreme federal mandatory minimum sentences.

Tell Congress to schedule a vote on the Smarter Sentencing Act – and support its passage - before its members go home on August 1st.

Our federal prison population is out of control. While America has only five percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prison inmates–an 800% increase in the last 30 years.

Unless we curb policies like extreme sentencing, our prison population will continue to grow at these staggering rates. And taxpayers like you and I will continue to suffer the financial burden caused by this rapidly expanding prison system.

We're not stupid enough to continue to waste our money on broken policies. That's why we're calling on Congress to make our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more humane by passing the Smarter Sentencing Act.

Will you add your name?

It's time for Congress to make smarter sentencing reforms a priority.

The death toll in Gaza surpassed 500

The Palestinian death toll in the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip rose above 500 on Monday as the army said it had killed 10 militants who tunneled into Israel, while Gazan officials said an Israeli tank shelled a hospital, four killing civilians.

Hamas, which killed 13 Israeli soldiers in Gaza on Sunday in the biggest one-day toll for eight years, continued to fire rockets deep into Israel and dispatch infiltrators. Israeli jets, tanks and artillery constantly pounded the densely populated coastal strip, killing 28 members of a single family at the southern end.

Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Cairo to try to secure an end to the two-week conflict. Despite a UN Security Council appeal on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire, neither Hamas nor Israel appeared ready to stop fighting. President Obama said Monday that the U.S. has “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”

More:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/21/us-palestinians-israel-idUSKBN0FP00U20140721